THE AIM OF BUDDHIST WAY OF LIFE
Venerable Dr. K. Sri. Dhammananda Nayaka Thera
As human beings we must have an aim in our life. A person not observing a righteous way of life will never find the aim of life and if he does not uphold some noble principles he can even become a danger to society. No doubts scientists and psychologists have widened our intellectual horizon, but they have not likewise been able to give us a purpose in life, which only noble principles could do.
Religion also originally developed as humanism to uphold humane qualities. Later it was introduced as a divine law. However, a noble way of life is needed to maintain our human values and dignity. The nobler of life to be discussed here is a proven method wherein by cultivating the mind one could gain supreme wisdom.
Countries which attempts were made to supplant the noble principles of religion with socialism or materialism have been proved to be modern day failures. it is apparent that human beings must have some noble principles to gain confidence in life.
Human beings must choose a rational and meaningful way of life based on their firm conviction and not one founded on mere mythological beliefs, traditional practices and theories. One should not force anyone to accept any particular religious laws nor exploit his or her sake of poverty, illiteracy or emotions to induce that person to accept their beliefs.
A person should be free to choose a reasonable way of life according to his or her understanding capacity. Following a religion blindly only abuses humane intelligence and dignity. Human beings have common sense to distinguish between right and wrong .they can adapt themselves to changing circumstances. They should therefore choose respectable way of life that is suitable and one that measures up to their expectations. They must be properly guided in this respect and then given a chance to decide for themselves without recourse to any form of coercion.
THE MIDDLE WAY.
The noble way of life that is being introduced here is a practical educational system of mental culture known to the world some 25 centuries ago. The founder of this way of life was a most enlightened and compassionate teacher. This method is also variously known as the middle path, a righteous way of life, an ethico- philosophical system, a do-it-yourself method and also can be introduced as a path of freedom and reason. It teaches us to do 3 things; namely, to refrain from doing bad deeds, to be of some service to others and to maintain a healthy pure mind.
This message is very meaningful and practical. Yet, people experience difficulties when they try to put them into practice. The reason for this is due to their own inherent human weaknesses. The moral conduct of human beings plays a most important part in this way of life. Its great teacher once said; my teaching is not to come and believe but to practice.
It encourages people to study the teachings fully to allow them to judge for themselves whether they should accept the teachings or not. No one is asked to come and accept this way of life without first having had an understanding of its teachings.
Superfluous rites and rituals, and animal sacrifices have no significance in this noble way of life. Superstitious beliefs, fear of super natural beings and secret doctrines are not encouraged. People have the liberty to investigate for themselves the teachings and to ask questions so as to clear their doubts. According to the teacher of this way of life, one should not believe help one to bear anything merely because the founder of this noble method to be a great sage or because it had all along been traditionally accepted by many. But only by reasoning and common sense can one decide to accept it. This teacher also advises anyone not to accept or to reject anything hastily on impulse but to investigate it thoroughly before coming to a final decision.
The noble eight fold path taught in this way of life is perfect understanding, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect livelihood, perfect effort, perfect mindfulness, and perfect concentration.
This unique middle path is a code of morality which paves the way for people to lead a noble and peaceful life.
The middle path is neither a metaphysical nor a ritualistic path. It is neither dogmatism nor skepticism. Neither self indulgence nor self torture, neither eternalism nor nihilism, neither a law given by some divine authority nor a mere imagination of man. It is a path of enlightment, a means of deliverance from suffering of unsatisfactoriness. This way of life rejects the idea that human beings are sufferings today because their original sins. Every living thing, including plant life, experiences suffering. Every person carries his or her merits and demerits individually. Human beings are solely responsible for their own pain or pleasure.
One who follows the middle path should find real peace and happiness. One should be able to lead a respectable life without being a slave to any form of belief, thus contributing to ones peace and happiness by living in complete harmony with others and the environment.
REAP WHAT YOU SOW
This way of life satisfies humanity s most profound and lofty aspirations. Yet it is able to the stress and strain of every day life, besides giving a purpose to life. It does not instill fear in people. Good begets and bad begets bad. Every action has its reaction.
This noble teacher sacrificed his worldly pleasures for the sake of suffering humanity to seek the truth and to show the path of deliverance from suffering. He visited the poor people whilst kings and ministers had to visit him. After his enlightment he had dedicated 45 years of his life for guiding deluded human beings to lead meaningful, respectable and peaceful lives.
This great teacher feared none did he instill fear in others. This is one quality that should be cultivated by all in this war-torn world of ours where the most precious thing –life –is sacrificed at the alter of brute force and where armaments are creating fear, tension and hatred. He also did not create temptations of sensual pleasure as a means to introduce his noble way of life.
He was the perfect scientist in the study of life, the perfect psychologist who analyzed the nature of the mind to the extent that his teaching was acclaimed as a scientific method. Modern scientific discoveries never come in conflict with his teaching.
To great philosophers and unbiased thinkers, he is a teacher who understood worldly conditions in its proper perspective. To moralists his teaching was the highest code of discipline. He symbolizes perfection. He was the perfect model of all the virtues he preached. To rationalists, he the most liberal minded noble teacher. To free thinkers, he is a teacher who encouraged people to think independently to find out the truth. To agnostics, he is a very gentle and understanding teacher, who guided humanity.
He was no doubt the most persuasive of all the great teachers. He never used compulsion of fear as a means of gaining converts. He has introduced a noble way of life without even attacking a religious label to it. What he wanted was to see people living in harmony as cultured, harmless and contented human beings by upholding his noble advice.
Forgiveness of sin is not acknowledged in this way of life. One is solely responsible for ones own actions, good or bad. if one has committed evil, one has to face up to the consequences. The only way to purge the mind of evil is to do only good. It is only through a long process of mental training that the mind could become purified.
This way of teaches that death is not the end of life. A living being is a just a bundle of energies holding the elements together. The physical death of a being is just an interlude in the repeated cycle of birth and death. Therefore, a being not the same and not the different continue to live, life after life, until the aim of life is finally attained.
According to this teaching, cause and effect play a very important part in our lives. In a cycle of cause and effect, a first cause in inconceivable for the cause ever becomes the effect, and the effect in turn becomes the cause. Everything that exists is interdependent.
These are universal laws. This way of life fully agrees with these fundamental laws and people have to abide by them and reap what you saw.
People commit evil deeds out of greed, anger and ignorance. Such weaknesses can only be overcome through self realization. The fortunes and misfortunes that people experience in this world are not due to some external influences but to the good and bad deeds words and actions. They themselves had previously committed for this very reason, the teaching says: we are the results of what we were, and we will be the result of what we are. That means we are responsible for everything in our life.
A GREAT TEACHER
The founder of this unique method is not a myth but a great teacher who actually lived in this world. He never tried to present himself as a supernatural being but as a human being who had himself realized the absolute truth: the cosmic of universal law, the secret of life and the real cause of suffering and happiness. He makes no claim to divinity.
Today this teacher is not only honored by hundreds of millions of his followers but also by the cultured people and intellectuals through out the world. although this noble man ,this liberator, this social reformer this democrat and inspirer had passed away, he left behind a noble message for humanity to follow in order to eliminate human suffering , misery, fear, worry, and unsatisfactoriness. From his message one can gain happiness in this life and in the life hereafter: the ultimate liberation of all human suffering.
This great teacher comforted the bereaved. He helped the poor who were neglected. He ennobled the lives of the deluded and purified the lives of criminals. He consoled the weak, united the divided, enlightened the ignorant, clarified the doubts of mystics, elevated those debased and dignified the noble. The rich and the poor, the saint and the criminal loved him. Despotic or righteous kings, famous or obscure prices and nobles, generous or stingy millionaires, haughty or intelligent scholars, and restitutes, paupers, down –trodden scavenger, wicked murderers, cannibals, despised courtesans-all benefited
All by his noble way of life, wisdom and compassion.
His noble example is a source of inspiration to all. His serene and peaceful countenance was indeed soothing to the troubled. His message of peace and tolerance was welcomed by all with indescribable joy and was of lasting benefit to everyone who had the good fortune to hear and practice it. His iron will, profound wisdom, universal love, boundless compassion, selfless service, brave renunciation, perfect purity, magnetic personality, exemplary methods employed to introduce his teachings and his final success- all these factors have inspired about one fifth of the population of the world today to hail and honor this teacher as their supreme master. He was the humble servant of humanity, unperturbed by either praise or blame. He did not ask people to come and worship him or pray to him in order to gain salvation. He did not introduce his message by means of charismatic techniques of so called miraculous powers but by educating and convincing the public.
Samadhi Bouddha Statue - Anuradhapura - Sri Lanka IV-Ve Siècle