Parithrana, the greatest blessing
Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama Buddha emerged for the happiness and
emancipation of humanity. The universal truth He discovered was a
meaningful message to the mankind. He proclaimed that happiness was
supreme among all belongings and His most sincere wish was the happiness
and well-being of all living beings alike. This was nothing but love and
compassion (Metta) boundless, extended to all without limitation. He saw
life in reality.
His ultimate aim was “May all beings be happy safe and relieved from
evils of life, sufferings of Samsara and attain Nibbana.” This is
clearly stated in His teachings. The gist of Buddhism are the thoughts
of Buddha himself. Buddhism is what has sprung form His intellect, to
bless the people. The great Master’s parithrana recitals are an
In Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings a high position is accorded to
Parithrana Desana. It is invariably a part and parcel of His teachings.
The Buddha being a fountain of compassion spent all His time journeying
from place to place in North India purely for human welfare for their
intellectual awakening. These words of the Fully Awakened One was in
Pali, the common dialect of the region, probably the language used by
Him also widely understood by His disciples all over.
These discourses preserved in pali, the ancient language the Buddha
spoke, is continued up to this day and it is a widespread Buddhist
practice and ceremony to conduct Parithrana Desana. Early Buddhist
literature reveals that people sought the advice and assistance of the
Buddha who was widely known as a healer and a saviour at various times,
when they were stricken with disaster and misfortune.
Through overwhelming love and compassion Parithrana was first evolved
as a protection from great perils and upheavals such as disease,
epidemics and terror caused by evil spirits.
Sakyamuni Buddha believed that a healthy environment filled with
Dhamma fragrance will be a solace to the fear stricken stressful minds
in minimizing the tension caused. The Buddhas approach to these problems
and the soothing effect of Parithrana on human mind was of no small
significance and it was soon realized to be the greatest blessing on
Contents of Parithrana
The ancient Buddhist chant is derived from the discourses of Buddha
himself, the very words of intellect selected to suit different
The discourse on blessings (Mangala Sutta – from the Sutta Nipata)
composed of 12 stanzas is said to have been delivered by the Buddha to
clear the doubts of the Devas (Gods) when they were anxious to know the
true meaning of “Blessings”. The great Master explained that it is not
something transmitted from a divine source but a state of sublime peace
and wellbeing, that develops in one’s mind due to righteous living,
adhering to Dhamma, maintaining human dignity.
The Sakka the king of Devas is said to have requested them to radiate
there loving kindness towards human beings and protect them. Because
every stanza ends with the original words of the Buddha ie. “This is the
Supreme Blessing” (Etam Mangala Muttamam) as being most noble and
worthy, with its soothing effect on human mind.
Ratana Sutta - the Discourse on Jewels another discourse from Sutta
Nipata, is said to have been delivered by the Buddha when the royal
family and the people of the ancient city of Vesali requested the Buddha
to save them, from the three menacing epidemics (plaque) disease, famine
and evil spirits (Thun Biya – which Veedagama Maha Thera illustrates in
convincing poetic language in his Buduguna Alankaraya) a valuable
literary work on the virtues of the Buddha.
The Buddha expressed the above sutta, emphasising the spiritual
values of the Holy Triple Gem Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as a remedial
measure to bring back normalcy to Vesali. After the recital of the
Parithrana, water was sprinkled around the city to be protected by the
healing power of this powerful Ratana Sutta.
At the end of every stanza the Buddha blessed everyone saying – by
this truth may all beings be happy and contented (Etena sacchena suvathi
Here too, Sakka the divine king instructed his retinue to listen
carefully and fulfill their religious obligations to avert human misery.
After grasping the sutta, he had got so delighted that he had added the
last three stanzas on his own, in veneration of the Triple Gem.
Karaniya Metta Sutta
The discourse on universal goodwill is yet another discourse also
from the Sutta Nipata, consisting of 10 stanzas, based on a meditative
theme on loving kindness as the name suggests, which had been delivered
during Buddha’s own lifetime. Sakyamuni Buddha came to the aid of 500
monks who had gone to the forest, to practise meditation. They had been
disturbed and scared by evil spirits.
They approached the Buddha for a solution upon which he advised them
to go back to the same place fully armed with ‘Metta’ for their safety.
The Buddha then delivered this Sutta to allay their fears and practise
The main objective of this popular discourse was to instill strength
and create self-confidence, which was a great success. The evil spirits
having repented paid their due respect to the monks. This is therefore
considered to be a very powerful and an important Sutta to achieve peace
This is terminated with the expression “By the firm determination of
this truth may I or you ever be well”. During Buddha time the entire
humanity was benefitted, many disasters, misfortunes and human misery
was done away with by reciting Paritta Suttas describing the highest
qualities of the Buddha. This was first recited in early Sri Lanka to
save the people from famine and plaque during the reign of King Upatissa
(362 AD – 409). The recitation of Parithrana had gradually become a
common practice and it is said that Attakatha had formulated a ritual to
be followed in conducting monks to a house for Parithrana recitals.
These Parittas, too numerous to be mentioned here handed down in Pali,
spreading its sacredness is recited islandwide in most Buddhist homes
for greater blessings.
The ancient Buddhist chant is supposed to be of therapeutic nature
when it is conducted with pure love and compassion, it can absolutely
bring peace, tranquility and healing to others. Every meaningful word of
Buddha when recited, its soothing effect on man’s mind creates inner
peace, serene joy, devoid of hatred and jealousy.
All unwholesome thoughts would disappear when undivided, absolute
attention and concentration is given to the melodious chant and its
vibration within its precincts. Since it is chanted in unison by an
entire congregation of Bhikkhus in a serene tone, the impressive
atmosphere thus created drives one to be completely free of evil
thoughts and be filled with mindful spiritual virtues.
One may reap a stress free mind with protection from unforeseen
danger and mental relaxation for better concentration on Buddha Dhamma –
the key to Nibbana. Let the Motherland be blessed with Parithrana for
Meditation, heart of Buddhism
It’s easy saying “I’m enlightened”, but then something happens like
that and you run a mile. Another monk in Hampstead at the time was just
going for a walk in the afternoon when he passed a pub. He didn’t
realise at the time that there was a big soccer match between England
and Scotland on that day. It had already finished and the Scots
supporters where in the pub getting drunk. Around this period, there was
a popular TV series about a Kung Fu monk who, when he was small, was
called “grasshopper.” These sozzled Scots soccer fans looked through the
window of the pub and said “Och it’s wee grasshopper,” and this monk
These where big Scotsmen and they were very drunk. So he started
running away, and they chased him all the way back to the Temple. “Wee
grasshopper” was running for his life. He lost it. But the sort of
practical letting go that Ajahn Chah did in Hampstead is something which
gives you a sense that you are on the road to enlightenment.
Meditation-The best way to attain inner peace
The Heart of Buddhism is a gradual path, one step after another step,
and you do get results. Some people say you shouldn’t meditate to get
results. That’s a lot of hogwash! Meditate to get results! Meditate to
be happy. Meditate to get peace. Meditate to get enlightened, little by
little. But if you’re going for results, be patient. One of the problems
with Westerners is that when they make goals, they are not patient
That’s why they get disillusioned, depressed and frustrated. They
don’t give their practice enough time to mature naturally into
enlightenment. It takes time, maybe a few life times even, so don’t be
in a rush. As you walk each step, there is always something you get out
of it. Let go a little and you get freedom and peace. Let go a lot and
you feel bliss. This is how I teach meditation both at my monastery and
here. I encourage meditators to aim for these stages of letting go,
these bliss states called Jhana.
Everyone wants to be happy, and the Jhanas are how you can achieve
happiness, I mean real happiness, deep happiness. The only trouble is
these states don’t last very long, only a few hours, but still they are
very attractive. They arise through letting go, real letting go. In
particular they arise through letting go of will, choice, control. It’s
a fascinating thing to experience a deep meditation and understand how
it comes about.
Through such an experience you realise that the more you control, the
more you crave because of attachments, the less peaceful you get. But
the more you let go, the more you abandon, the more you get out of the
way, the happier you feel. Now this is a teaching of something very
profound, much deeper than you can read in a book or hear in a talk and
certainly much more useful than discussing these things over a coffee
table. You’re actually experiencing something. This is getting towards
the heart of religion, that which people call mysticism. You’re actually
experiencing it for your self. In particular you are letting go of this
“controller,” this “doer.”
Now that is the prime problem for human beings. We can’t stop messing
things up. Very often we should just leave things alone but we can’t, we
don’t. Instead we make a mess. Why can’t you just relax and enjoy
yourself instead of always doing something?
It’s hard to stop in meditation, but the more you stop the more
rewards you get, the more peace you get. When you let go in meditation,
let go the will, let go of the control, when you stop talking to
yourself, you get inner silence.
How many of you are fed up yet with this racket that goes on inside
your head all the time? How many of you sometimes can’t get to sleep at
night when there’s no noise from the neighbours but there is something
even louder between your ears. Yak, Yak, Yak, Worry, Worry, Worry,
Think, Think, Think! This is the problem with human beings, when it’s
time to think they can’t think clearly and when it’s time to stop
thinking they can’t be at peace. When we learn how to meditate we get
this sense of being more balanced, and we know how to let go. We now how
to let go to the point where all thoughts disappear. These thoughts are
just commentaries, they’re just descriptions. The difference between
thought and reality is the difference between, say, reading a book about
New York and going to New York.
Which is more real? When you’re there, you smell the air, you feel
the atmosphere, you sense the character, all of which are things you
can’t write in a book. The truth is always silent. The lie is always
When the Body Disappears
Remember “con men,” “con women” as well. These con men can sell you
anything! There’s one living in your mind right now, and you believe
every word he says! His name is Thinking. When you let go of that inner
talk and get silent, you get happy. Then when you let go of the movement
of the mind and stay with the breath, you experience even more delight.
Then when you let go of the body ,all these five senses disappear and
you’re really blissing out. This is original Buddhism. Sight, sound,
smell, taste, and touch completely vanish. This is like being in a
sensory deprivation chamber but much better. But it’s not just silence,
you just don’t hear anything. It’s not just blackness, you just don’t
see anything. It’s not just a feeling of comfort in the body, there is
no body at all.
When the body disappears that really starts to feel great. You know
of all those people who have out of the body experiences? When the body
dies, every person has that experience, they float out of the body. And
one of the things they always say is it’s so peaceful, so beautiful, so
blissful. It’s the same in meditation when the body disappears, it’s so
peaceful, so beautiful, so blissful when you are free from this body.
What’s left? Here there’s no sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. This is
what the Buddha called the mind in deep meditation. When the body
disappears what is left is the mind.
I gave a simile to a monk the other night. Imagine an Emperor who is
wearing a long pair of trousers and a big tunic. He’s got shoes on his
feet, a scarf around the bottom half of his head and a hat on the top
half of his head. You can’t see him at all because he’s completely
covered in five garments. It’s the same with the mind. It’s completely
covered with sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. So people don’t know
They just know the garments. When they see the Emperor, they just see
the robes and the garments. They don’t know who lives inside them. And
so it is no wonder they’re confused about what is life, what is mind,
who is this inside of here, were did I come from? Why? What am I
supposed to be doing with this life? When the five senses disappear,
it’s like unclothing the Emperor and seeing what is actually in here,
what’s actually running the show, who’s listening to these words, who’s
seeing, who’s feeling life, who this is. When the five senses disappear,
you’re coming close to the answer to those questions.
What you’re seeing in such deep meditation is that which we call
“mind,” (in Pali it’s called Citta). The Buddha used this beautiful
simile. When there is a full moon on a cloudy night, even though it’s a
full moon, you can hardly see it. Sometimes when the clouds are thin,
you can see this hazy shape shining though.
You know there is something there. This is like the meditation just
before you’ve entered into these profound states. You know there is
something there, but you can’t quite make it out. There’s still some
“clothes” left. You’re still thinking and doing, feeling the body or
hearing sounds. But there does come a time, and this is the Buddha’s
simile, when the moon is released from the clouds and there in the clear
night sky you can see the beautiful full disc of the moon shining
brilliantly, and you know that’s the moon.
The moon is there; the moon is real, and it’s not just some sort of
side effect of the clouds. This is what happens in meditation when you
see the mind. You see clearly that the mind is not some side effect of
the brain. You see the mind, and you know the mind. The Buddha said that
the mind released is beautiful, is brilliant, is radiant. So not only
are these blissful experiences, they’re meaningful experiences as well.
How many people may have heard about rebirth but still don’t really
believe it? How can rebirth happen? Certainly the body doesn’t get
reborn. That’s why when people ask me where do you go when you die, “one
of two places” I say “Fremantle or Karrakatta” that’s where the body
goes! But is that where the mind goes? Sometimes people are so stupid in
this world, they think the body is all there is, that there is no mind.
So when you get cremated or buried that’s it, that’s done with, all
has ended. The only way you can argue with this view is by developing
the meditation that the Buddha achieved under the Bodhi tree. Then you
can see the mind for yourself in clear awareness - not in some hypnotic
trance, not in dullness - but in the clear awareness. This is knowing
Knowing the Mind
When you know that mind, when you see it for yourself, one of the
results will be an insight that the mind is independent of this body.
Independence means that when this body breaks up and dies, when it’s
cremated or when it’s buried, or however it’s destroyed after death, it
will not affect the mind. You know this because you see the nature of
That mind which you see will transcend bodily death. The first thing
which you will see for yourself, the insight which is as clear as the
nose on your face, is that there is something more to life than this
physical body that we take to be me. Secondly you can recognise that
that mind, essentially, is no different than that process of
consciousness which is in all beings. Whether it’s human beings or
animals or even insects, of any gender, age or race, you see that that
which is in common to all life is this mind, this consciousness, the
source of doing.
Once you see that, you have much more respect for your fellow beings.
Not just respect for your own race, your own tribe or your own religion,
not just for human beings, but for all beings. It’s a wonderfully
high-minded idea. “May all beings be happy and well and may we respect
all nations, all peoples, even all beings.” However this is how you
achieve that! You truly get compassion only when we see that others are
fundamentally just as ourselves.
If you think that a cow is completely different from you, that cows
don’t think like human beings, then it’s easy to eat one. But can you
eat your grandmother? She’s too much like you. Can you eat an ant? Maybe
you’d kill an ant because you think that ants aren’t like you.
But if you look carefully at ants, they are no different. In a forest
monastery living out in the bush, close to nature, one of the things you
become so convinced of is that animals have emotions and , especially,
feel pain. You begin to recognise the personality of the animals, of the
kookaburras, of the mice, the ants, and the spiders.
Each one of those spiders has a mind just like you have. Once you see
that you can understand the Buddha’s compassion for all beings. You can
also understand how rebirth can occur between all species - not just
human beings to human beings, but animals to humans, humans to animals.
You can understand also how the mind is the source of all this.
The mind can exist even without a body in the realms of ghosts and
angels (what we call in Buddhism Devas). It becomes very clear to you
how they exist, why they exist, what they are.
These are insights and understandings which come from deep
meditation. But more than that, when you know the nature of the mind
then you know the nature of consciousness.
You know the nature of stillness. You know the nature of life. You
understand what makes this mind go round and round and round, what makes
this mind seek rebirth. You understand the law of Kamma.
The Three Knowledges
The First Knowledge. When the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree,
according to tradition he gained three knowledge’s. The first knowledge
was the memory of past lives. When you get close to the mind, there are
certain powers that come with that experience.
The powers are no more than an ability, a dexterity with the use of
the mind. It’s like the difference between a dog that has been running
wild and a dog that has been well trained. You can tell the trained dog
to go and pick up the newspaper. It wags its tail and goes and picks up
the newspaper for you. Some people have got their dogs so well trained
that they can actually pick up the telephone. Maybe they could answer
the telephone as well, then that would really save you a lot of time!
When you get to these deep states of meditation often, the mind
becomes well trained.
To be continued