Lamps that will not burn out; flowers that will not
Following is an exclusive discussion on the
Dhamma with renowned meditation Guru and the Spiritual Advisor of the
Sri Kalyani Yogasrama Samstha, Most Venerable Na Uyane Ariyadhamma Maha
Thera of the Na Uyana Forest Monastery, Kurunegala. Special religious
ceremonies and Adishtana Poojas were held in the monastery last week to
invoke blessings on all Sri Lankans to coincide with the Thera’s 73rd
Birthday and completion of 55 years in the Sasana.
Q: When natural disasters strike thousands of people die at
the same location. When an individual dies it is said that it is due to
his past Kamma that he faces such a death. How can we explain people
becoming victims to natural disasters and dying in thousands at the same
A: Even though they die at the same time, each individual has
his/her own separate kamma. Though the exact time is not known, all
these people are subjected to the resultant kamma. It has happened by
the conglomeration of previous kammas committed vicariously.
Not all the people who belong to one family had been in the same
family in all their previous births. But in different births they have
committed in wrong deeds. For example one may kill ants by drowning them
in water. When pesticides are used, insects die in large numbers. All
these people have engaged in the same wrong deed though may be at
Q: During medical research, medicines are first tested on
animals such as rabbits and monkeys in the laboratories. Thousands of
animals die or get disabled as a result of being used for medical
research. However if these medicines work well with these animals they
are used to cure human sicknesses. Does using these animals for medical
tests involve committing a sin since the overall intention is to cure
various diseases the mankind face?
the path of the Buddha
Pictures by Saman Sri wedage.
somebody believes in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and believes
that he is following the correct path, due to their absolute
faith he/she will never get a low birth for thousands of
A: It has to be understood as follows. The medicine is tested
on the animal with uncertainty. At the time it is being tested on the
animal it is not certain whether it will work well with it or the
medicine will cause its death/disable it. When medicine is given to the
animal/when medicines are tested on it the person who is involved in the
act is well aware of all these possibilities. He does not mind even if
the animal dies. If the animal is cured by that, then it is used for the
welfare of the human species. Here there is compassion for the human
species, but non compassion for the animals that are being used for the
As you walk on the road if you think “Let thousands of small insects
may get crushed under my feet”, you will be committing the sin of
killing animals each time an insect gets crushed under your feet even
without your knowledge. But if you think let no animal get crushed under
my feet/, let no insect be a victim, even though insects get killed
under your feet without your knowledge, you are not committing any
Akusala as you did not have an impulse to kill somebody. It all depends
on your thoughts (Chethana).
Q: Can a person get the full benefits of meditation while
leading a lay life. Is it a must to enter the Order to get the full
benefits of meditation ?
A: It is possible. It is not a must to enter the Order. One
enters the Order to involve one's self in full time meditation - to
engage in the three fold practice of Seela, Samadhi and Paggna
throughout life. Such practices are equally necessary to lay persons as
well. Even a lay person can achieve it and get its benefits to a certain
The following story is ample proof of it.
During the time of the Buddha sixty monks went to a remote village
called Mathika for the Vas retreat. The villagers were very pious and
prepared Kutis (places to stay) for them and made necessary arrangements
to make their stay a pleasant one. The village was headed by a noble man
called Mathika. His mother who was known as Mathika Matha was a very
pious lady. One evening she went to offer the monks “Gilanpasa’ (drinks
offered to the Maha Sangha) and as she could not see any of them she was
asked to ring a wooden bell in order to summon them. As she rang the
bell all of them arrived from different directions. Mathika Matha
inquired from the monks as to what they had all been doing at different
places. They said that they had been practising the Thirty-two parts of
the Body Meditation concentrating on all the parts of the body from top
As Mathika Matha too showed an interest to learn, the monks gave her
necessary instructions. She practised it methodically and became
Anagami. Through the development of her psychic powers, she checked
whether the monks who were on the Vas retreat too had achieved a higher
Venerable Nauyane Ariyadhamma Maha Thera
|Even if you properly observe the five precepts it will bring results.
If you enter the Order, the possibilities are higher because you have
more mental and physical freedom
On finding that they had not yet achieved Arahathood, she checked as
to why they had so far failed to achieve it. She understood that prior
to entering the Order, these monks had spent luxurious lives and that
their food patterns and types differ from each other. Hence she took
necessary steps to provide each of them with dhana according to their
tastes. Quite soon all these monks became Arahants.
This shows even a lay person can practise meditation if they are keen
about it. However it should be practised properly for a long time
whether one sees results immediately or not. Even if you properly
observe the Five Precepts it will bring results. If you enter the Order,
the possibilities are higher because then you have more mental and
If you observe at least the Five Precepts properly, whether you get
results immediately or not you become qualified to obtain good results
Q: There is a common view that offering dhana to the Sangha
would acquire one more merit than offering Dhana to the Buddha. However
in one of his books, Rev.Rerukaane Chandawimala Thera had specifically
mentioned that the supreme offering is the one made to the Buddha.
A: In fact offering to the Buddha is incomparable. When
Prajapathi Gothami, the foster mother of Prince Siddartha , offered a
robe to the Buddha, the Enlightened One told her to offer it to the
Sangha, so that the merit that she gains will be doubled.
It was with great devotion that she prepared the robe and once she
finished the preparation, by that act alone she had gained merit of
offering it to the Buddha.
What the Buddha wanted was to let his foster mother acquire more
merit and to increase people’s respect towards the Sangha by emphasizing
their importance. The Buddha will attain Parinirvana in 45 years and the
Sangha will be there to carry the teachings of the Buddha for over 5000
A: Hence it is not proper to say that the Dhana offered to the
Sangha is greater than the Dhana offered to the Buddha. The Buddha is
called “Agra Dhakshi Nartha” which means he is supreme among the
Q:The Buddha has said that those who have developed absolute
faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha will never condescend to a birth in
the animal domain or the world of demons.
A:Yes, if somebody believes in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and
believes that he is following the correct path, due to their absolute
faith he/she will never get a low birth for thousands of aeons.
Q: It is said that the lamps that were lit at the time of
enshrining of the relics in Ruwanwelisaya will not be extinguished and
lotus flowers will not wither and continue to exist through out the
dispensation of Gauthama Buddha.
A: Yes. That is true. It is because of the determination power
of the Arahants.
Q: If everything is impermanant according to the teachings of
the Buddha can this really be so?
A: It should be taken like this. There is impermanence in the
process of continuation of the lights. Millions of thought cycles
associated with this light will arise and disintegrate indicating the
impermanence of all phenomena.
But the lamps will not extinguish, flowers will not wither and clay
that was mixed with sandalwood and perfume will not dry, because of the
determination power of Arahants, supported by the determination power of
gods and the king.
Q: Are there instances where people have witnessed the inside
view of Ruwanweli Seya?
A: For those who possess psychic powers it will be visible.
Gods and Arahants can see it. In the past it is said that King
Bhathikabhaya who led the country in a virtuous manner got this rare
He was deeply religious.
Once after observing Sil he was contemplating on the virtues of the
Buddha and was determined not to get up from the Maluwa until he saw the
inside of Ruwanwelisaya.
The Arahants felt his need and out of compassion took him inside
using their psychic powers. The king was highly pleased with what he saw
and as he came out he got a painter to paint what he saw on boards and
displayed them on Maha Maluwa on every poya day, so that devotees could
No where else in the world had there been such a unique enshrining of
the relics. The foundation sank to the ground nine times. The height of
each foundation is 9 cubits (riyan). That means the height of the entire
foundation is 81 cubits (riyan). No earthquake can damage the
foundation. No one can break the strong walls.
Q: When Arahants attain Parinirvana it is said that their
relics become crystals.
A: Those relics could take various shapes and colours as
wished by these respective Arahants at the time of their Parinirvana.
Normally Arahants may make such a wish so that people can worship them
later. If they do not make any wish they will look like normal human
The relics of Buddha are in three forms.
There are relics which are similar to green grams (Mun Piyali) in
size and they are gold in colour. The second group of relics which are
pearl coloured are similar to tiny grains of rice in shape and size. The
third category relics had taken the size of mustard seeds and have the
colour of “Da Saman” buds.
They are pleasing to the eye.
Q: We bestow merit on our dead relatives. Can they acquire
A: They can acquire merit only if they are in the group of
“Para Dhaththupa Jeewi.” There are gods called “Wruksha” and “Bhoomi
Asta” who are keen to acquire merit even though they are not directly
aimed at them.
Part 2 of this interview will appear next week.