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Monday, February 1, 2010

The Soul in Buddhism_09

“What, Nagasena, is the characteristic mark of virtue (sila)?”
“Supporting, O king, for it is the basis of all good qualities: the five controlling faculties and the five moral powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, the eight factors of the noble path, the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four bases of success, the four absorptions, the eight freedoms, the four modes of concentration and the eight great attainments.
Each of these has virtue as its support and in him who builds on it as the foundation all these good conditions will not decrease.”
“Give me an illustration.”
“Just, O king, as all forms of animal and plant life flourish with the earth as their support, so does the recluse, with virtue as the support, develop the five controlling faculties and so on. And this was said by the Blessed One:
“When a wise man, established well in virtue, Develops concentration and understanding, Then as a bhikkhu, ardent and sagacious, He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.”

### The five controlling faculties (also the five moral powers)
(1) Confidence
(2) energy
(3) mindfulness
(4) concentration and
(5) wisdom

### The seven factors of enlightenment
(1) Mindfulness
(2) investigation
(3) energy
(4) joy
(5) tranquility
(6) concentration and
(7) equanimity

### The eight factors of the noble path
(1) right view
(2) right thought
(3) right speech
(4) right action
(5) right livelihood
(6) right effort
(7) right mindfulness and
(8) right concentration

### The four foundations of mindfulness
(1) mindfulness of the body
(2) mindfulness of feelings
(3) mindfulness of thoughts and
(4) mindfulness of mind-objects

### The four right efforts
(1) Effort to prevent unwholesome states
(2) Effort to remove unwholesome states
(3) Effort to develop wholesome states and
(4) Effort to maintain wholesome states

### The four bases of success
(1) eagerness
(2) energy
(3) tenacity and
(4) wisdom

### The four modes of concentration
(1) meditations on love
(2) compassion
(3) sympathetic-joy and
(4) equanimity


The Soul in Buddhism_06 - 08

The king said,
“Is there anyone who is not reborn after death?”
“Yes there is. The one who has no defilement is not reborn after death; the one who has defilement is reborn.”
“Will you be reborn?”
“If I die with attachment in my mind, yes; but if not, no.”

“Does one who escapes from rebirth do so by the power of wise attention?”
“He escapes both by wise attention and by wisdom, confidence, virtue, mindfulness, energy, and concentration.”
“Is wise attention the same as wisdom?”
“No. Animals have wise attention but they do not have wisdom.”

“What, Nāgasena, is the characteristic mark of wise attention (yoniso manasikaro); and what that of wisdom (panna)?”
“Taking hold is the mark of wise attention, cutting off is the mark of wisdom.”
“Give me an illustration.”
“How do barley reapers reap the barley?”
“They grasp the barley into a bunch with the left hand and, with a sickle in the right hand, they cut the barley.”
“Just so, O king, the recluse takes hold of his mind with wise attention and cuts of the defilement with wisdom.”


The Soul in Buddhism_05

Then, after the monks had arrived at the palace and finished their meal, the king sat down on a low seat and asked,
“What shall we discuss?”

“Let our discussion be about the Dhamma.”
Then the king said,
“What is the purpose, your reverence, of your going forth
and what is the final goal at which you aim?”
“Our going forth is for the purpose that this suffering may be extinguished and that no further suffering may arise; the complete extinction of grasping without remainder is our final goal.”
“Is it, venerable sir, for such noble reasons that everyone joins the Order?”
“No. Some enter to escape the tyranny of kings, some to be safe from robbers,
some to escape from debt and some perhaps to gain a livelihood. However, those
who enter rightly do so for the complete extinction of grasping.”


The Soul in Buddhism_04

So, Devamantiya, Anantakaya and Mankura went to Nagasena’s hermitage to accompany the monks to the palace. As they were walking along together Anantakaya said to Nagasena, “When, your reverence, I say, ‘Nagasena’ what is that Nagasena?”
“What do you think that Nagasena is?”
“The soul, the inner breath, which comes and goes.”
“But if that breath, having gone out, should not return would that man still be alive?”
“Certainly not.”
“And when those trumpeters and the like have blown their trumpets does their breath return to them?”
“No venerable sir, it doesn’t.”
“Then why don’t they die?”
“I am not capable of arguing with you sir, pray tell me how it is.”
“There is no soul in the breath. These inhalations and exhalations are merely constituent powers of the bodily frame.”
Then the elder talked to him on the Abhidhamma and Anantakaya was satisfied with his explanation.
[Note: Thera (elder) is nowadays normally used only for bhikkhus of ten or more years standing but Nāgasena was only seven rains.]


The Soul in Buddhism_03

Then the king said, “Venerable sir, will you discuss with me again?”
“If your majesty will discuss as a scholar, yes; but if you will discuss as a king, no.”
“How is it then that scholars discuss?”
“When scholars discuss there is a summing up and an unraveling; one or other is shown to be in error. He admits his mistake, yet he does not become angry.”
“Then how is it that kings discuss?”
“When a king discusses a matter and advances a point of view, if anyone differs from him on that point he is apt to punish him.”
“Very well then, it is as a scholar that I will discuss. Let your reverence talk without fear.”
“It is well your majesty.”
“Nagasena, I will ask a question,” said the king.
“Ask it sir.”
“I have asked it, your reverence.”
“Then I have answered.”
“What have you answered?”
“What have you asked?”
Thinking, “This monk is a great scholar, he is quite able to discuss things with me,” the king instructed his minister, Devamantiya, to invite him to the palace with a large company of monks and went away muttering, “Nagasena, Nagasena.”


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Soul in Buddhism_02

King Milinda went up to Nagasena, exchanged polite and friendly greetings, and took his seat respectfully to one side. Then Milinda began by asking;
“How many ‘rains’ (A bhikkhu’s seniority is reckoned by the number of rainy seasons that have passed since his ordination.) do you have Nagasena?”
“Seven, your majesty.”
“How can you say it is your seven; is it you who are seven or the number that is seven?”
Then Nagasena said, “Your shadow is now on the ground. Are you the king, or is the shadow the king?”
“I am the king, Nagasena, but the shadow comes into being because of me.”
“Just so, O king, the number of the years is seven, I am not seven, but it is because of me that the number seven comes into being and it is mine in the same sense as the shadow is yours.”
“Most wonderful, Nagasena, and extraordinary. Well has this puzzle been solved by you, difficult as it was.”


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Soul in Buddhism_01

King Milinda went up to Nagasena, exchanged polite and friendly greetings, and took his seat respectfully to one side. Then King Milinda began by asking:
“How is your reverence known, and what sir, is your name?”
“O king, I am known as Nagasena but that is only a designation in common use, for no permanent individual can be found.”
Then Milinda called upon the Bactrian Greeks and the monks to bear witness:
“This Nagasena says that no permanent individual is implied in his name. Is it possible to approve of that?”
Then he turned to Nagasena and said,
“If, most venerable Nagasena, that is true, who is it who gives you robes, food and shelter? Who lives the righteous life? Or again, who kills living beings, steals, commits adultery, tells lies or takes strong drink? If what you say is true then there is neither merit nor demerit, nor is there any doer of good or evil deeds and no result of kamma. If, venerable sir, a man were to kill you there would be no murder, and it follows that there are no masters or teachers in your Order. You say that you are called Nagasena; now what is that Nagasena? Is it the hair?”
“I don’t say that, great king.”
“Is it then the nails, teeth, skin or other parts of the body?”
“Certainly not.”
“Or is it the body, or feelings, or perceptions, or formations, or consciousness? Is it all of these combined? Or is it something outside of them that is Nagasena?”
Still Nagasena answered:
“It is none of these.”
“Then, ask as I may, I can discover no Nagasena. Nagasena is an empty sound. Who is it we see before us? It is a falsehood that your reverence has spoken.”
“You, sir, have been reared in great luxury as becomes your noble birth. How did you come here, by foot or in a chariot?”
“In a chariot, venerable sir.”
“Then, explain sir, what that is. Is it the axle? Or the wheels, or the chassis, or reins, or yoke that is the chariot? Is it all of these combined, or is it something apart from them?”
“It is none of these things, venerable sir.”
“Then, sir, this chariot is an empty sound. You spoke falsely when you said that you came here in a chariot. You are a great king of India. Who are you afraid of that you don’t speak the truth?”
Then he called upon the Bactrian Greeks and the monks to bear witness:
“This King Milinda has said that he came here in a chariot but when asked what it is, he is unable to show it. Is it possible to approve of that?”
Then the five hundred Bactrian Greeks shouted their approval and said to the king,
“Get out of that if you can!”
“Venerable sir, I have spoken the truth. It is because it has all these parts that it comes under the term chariot.”
“Very good, sir, your majesty has rightly grasped the meaning. Even so it is because of the thirty-two kinds of organic matter in a human body and the five aggregates of being that I come under the term ‘Nagasena’. As it was said by Sister Vajara in the presence of the Blessed One, ‘Just as it is by the existence of the various parts that the word “Chariot” is used, just so is it that when the aggregates of being are there we talk of a being’.”
“Most wonderful, Nagasena, most extraordinary that you have solved this puzzle, difficult though it was. If the Buddha himself were here he would approve of your reply.”


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Debate of King Milinda (00)


* "The Debate of King Milinda, an Abridgement of The Milinda Panha"
* Edited by “Bhikkhu Pesala”
* Previously Published by Inward Path, Penang, Malaysia


Milinda was the king in the city of Sagala. He was learned in the arts and sciences and was of an inquiring disposition. He was skilled in debating and no one could resolve his doubts about religious matters. Though he questioned all the famous teachers none could satisfy him. Assagutta, one of a large number of arahants living in the Himalayas, knew of the king’s doubts by means of supernormal power. So he convened an assembly to ask if there was anyone who could answer the king. There was no one, so the whole assembly ascended to the heaven of the thirty-three and requested the god Maha-sena to take birth as a man in order to protect the religion. One of the monks, Rohaoa, agreed to go to Kajangala where Maha-sena had been reborn and wait for him to grow up.
The boy’s father, Brahman Sonuttara, had the boy educated in the three Vedas but the boy, Nagasena, declared:
“Empty are these three Vedas and as chaff. There is in them neither reality, worth nor essential truth.”
Realising that the boy was ready, Rohaoa appeared and the parents consented to their son becoming a novice. So, Nagasena studied the Abhidhamma. After gaining perfect knowledge of the seven books of the Abhidhamma, Nagasena was admitted to the Order of monks and Rohaoa sent him to Vattaniya Hermitage to study with Assagutta. While spending the rainy season there, Nagasena was asked to preach a sermon to the pious lady who was Assagutta’s supporter. As a result of the discourse both the lady and Nagasena attained the Eye of the Dhamma, the knowledge that whatsoever has a beginning also has the inherent quality of passing away. Assagutta then sent Nagasena to Dhammarakkhita at the Asoka Park in Panaliputta where, within the space of three months, he mastered the remainder of the Tipinaka. Dhammarakkhita admonished his pupil not to be content with mere book knowledge and the very same night the diligent pupil Nagasena gained “Arahantship”. He then went to join the other “Arahants” who were still staying in the Himalayas. Having completed his education Nagasena was ready to meet anyone in debate.

Meanwhile, King Milinda continued his spiritual quest by visiting the Bhikkhu Ayupala at the Saukheyya
Hermitage and asked him why the monks renounced the world. The elder replied,
“It is for the sake of being able to live in righteousness and in spiritual calm.”
Then the king asked,
“Is there, venerable sir, any layman who lives so?”
The elder admitted that there were many such laymen, and the king retorted:
“Then most venerable Ayupala, your going forth is of no use. It must be in consequence of sins committed in some former birth that recluses renounce the world and even subject themselves to the added constraints of one or other of the ascetic practices such as wearing only ragrobes, eating only one meal a day, or not lying down to sleep. There is no virtue therein, no meritorious abstinence, no righteousness of life!”
When the king had spoken thus the venerable Ayupala was silenced and had not a word to say. Then the five hundred Bactrian Greeks who accompanied the king said,
“The elder is learned but he is also diffident, so he makes no reply.”
To this the king replied by exclaiming:
“All India is an empty thing, it is like chaff. There is no one who is capable of debating with me and dispelling my doubts!”
However, the Bactrian Greeks were unmoved so the king asked,
“Is there then, my good men, any other learned sage who is able to discuss things with me and dispel my doubts?”
Then the minister Devamantiya said,
“There is, Great King, an elder named Nagasena who is learned, of subdued manners yet full of courage; he is capable of discussing with you. He is now staying at this Saukheyya Hermitage, you should go and put your questions to him.”
At the mere mention of the name ‘Nagasena’ the king became alarmed and the hairs of his body stood on end. Then the king sent a messenger to say that he was coming. Attended on by the five hundred Bactrian Greeks, the king mounted his royal chariot and went to the place where Nagasena was staying.
To be continued…………



Dear Readers,
I will post a new series of posts written about the philosophy of Buddha, soon.
It is really famous series in Buddhism.
It is called “The Debate of King Milinda” (in pali; Milinda Panha).
This Milinda Panha is an ancient and much venerated book of the Buddhists.
It is based on the conversations between King Milinda and Nagasena (the holy-educated monk) took place five hundred years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha (after the holy death of the Buddha).


Friday, June 26, 2009


Source: wikipedia

In Indian philosophy, the concept of a self is called ātman (that is, "soul" or metaphysical self), which refers to an unchanging, permanent essence conceived by virtue of existence. This concept and the related concept of Brahman, the Vedantic monistic ideal, which was regarded as an ultimate ātman for all beings, were indispensable for mainstream Indian metaphysics, logic, and science; for all apparent things there had to be an underlying and persistent reality, akin to a Platonic form. The Buddha rejected all concepts of ātman, emphasizing not permanence, but changeability. He taught that all concepts of a substantial personal self were incorrect, and formed in the realm of ignorance. The Buddha criticized conceiving theories even of a unitary soul or identity immanent in all things as unskillful in the Great Discourse on Causation. In fact, according to the Buddha's statement in Khandha Samyutta 47, all thoughts about self are necessarily, whether the thinker is aware of it or not, thoughts about the five aggregates or one of them.

In a number of major Mahayana sutras (e.g. the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, the Srimala Sutra, among others), the Buddha is presented as clarifying this teaching by saying that, while the skandhas (constituents of the ordinary body and mind) are not the self, there does truly exist an eternal, unchanging, blissful Buddha-essence in all sentient beings, which is the uncreated and deathless Buddha-nature ("Buddha-dhatu") or "True Self" of the Buddha himself. The "tathagatagarbha"/Buddha nature does not represent a substantial self; rather, it is a positive language expression of "sunyata" (emptiness) and represents the potentiality to realize Buddhahood through Buddhist practices; the intention of the teaching of tathagatagarbha (Buddha nature) is soteriological rather than theoretical.[4]

This immaculate Buddhic Self (atman) is in no way to be construed as a mundane, impermanent, suffering "ego", of which it is the diametrical opposite. On the other hand, this Buddha-essence or Buddha-nature is also often explained as the potential for achieving Buddhahood, rather than an existing phenomenon one can grasp onto as being me or self.

Anatta is discussed in the Questions of King Milinda, composed during the period of the Hellenistic Indo-Greek kingdom of the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE. In this text, the monk Nagasena demonstrates the concept of absolute "non-Self" by likening human beings to a chariot and challenges the Greek king "Milinda" (Menander) to find the essence of the chariot. Nagasena states that just as a chariot is made up of a number of things, none of which are the essence of the chariot in isolation, without the other pieces, similarly no one part of a person is a permanent entity; we can be broken up into five constituents – body, sensations, ideation, mental formations and consciousness – the consciousness being closest to the permanent idea of "Self", but is ever-changing with each new thought according to this viewpoint.

According to some thinkers both in the East and the West, the doctrine of "non-Self", may imply that Buddhism is a form of nihilism or something similar. However, as thinkers like Nagarjuna have clearly pointed out, Buddhism is not simply a rejection of the concept of existence or meaning, but of the hard and fast distinction between existence and non-existence, or rather between being and no-thingness. Phenomena are not independent from causes and conditions and do not exist as isolated things as we perceive them to be. The lack of a permanent, unchanging, substantial Self in beings and things does not mean that they do not experience growth and decay on the relative level. But on the ultimate level of analysis, one cannot distinguish an object from its causes and conditions or even distinguish between object and subject (an idea appearing relatively recently in Western science). Buddhism thus has much more in common with Western empiricism, pragmatism, anti-foundationalism, and even poststructuralism than with nihilism.

In the Nikāyas, the Buddha and his disciples commonly question or declare "Is that which is impermanent, subject to change, subject to suffering fit to be considered thus: 'This I am, this is mine, this is my self'?" The question which the Buddha poses to his audience is whether compounded phenomena are fit to be considered as self, to which the audience agrees that it is unworthy to be considered so. And in relinquishing such an attachment to compounded phenomena, such a person gives up delight, desire and craving for compounded phenomena and is unbounded by its change. When completely free from attachments, craving or desire to the five aggregates, such a person experiences then transcends the very causes of suffering.

In this way, the insight wisdom or prajñā of non-Self gives rise to cessation of suffering, and not an intellectual debate over whether a self exists or not.

It is by realizing (not merely understanding intellectually, but making real in one's experience) the three marks of conditioned existence that one develops prajñā, which is the antidote to the ignorance that lies at the root of all suffering.