Striving for the Right Effort | Daily News

Striving for the Right Effort

‘There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.’ - Bertrand Russell

The most significant event on Nikini Poya was the holding of the First Dhamma Council or Sangayanava which was a landmark in the history of Sasana. The next being commencement of Vassana.

The First Dhamma Council was conducted under the auspicious of Arahant Maha Kassapa Thera, and patronized by King Ajasatta, at Rajagaha. The Buddha entered Parinibbana in his eightieth year. The pratagjana monks [those who have not attained any spiritual status] were grieving and crying, while some other Bhikkhus, especially who joined the order with ulterior motives requested the mourners not to weep. Subaddha, who joined the sasana in his old age, led this group and he addressed the grieving bhikkhus, he said they should be happy that they are now free from strict Vinaya rules imposed on them.

The Master is no more and that they can act the way they desired. Subaddha further expounded that the Master had been a hindrance to their freedom and liberty. Arhant Kassapa Thera on hearing the unhealthy saga decided to courageously step in to conduct the Sangha Council. The Arahant Thera just 21 days after the parinibbana of Buddha, decided that a Dhamma Sangayana must be held with the commencement of the rains retreat for putting things back in order. It was held three months after the demise of the Buddha, at Sattapanni Rock Cave in Rajagaha.

Matters discussed

Ananda, Upali and Anuruddha Theras assisted him as coordinators. Venerable Upali and Anuruddha Theros were Arhants and Ananda Thera achieved the status only the previous night, just a day before the council. Ananda Thera’s commanding retentive memory was tremendously useful in matters discussed before the council. Disciplining the Buddhist monk Order, was the top priority in the agenda of the first Sangayana held for the purpose of arresting the further decline of the Sasana and the Order. This is undoubtedly the top priority today as well.

Religious leaders lose divine charm when religion is politicized. Today Buddhist institutions have become adherents to competing political parties; this is the sad but true story of ‘Buddhism’ and Maha Sangha in Sri Lanka. The Sangha has been drawn into the political field by leaders of both the political divide since SWRD Bandaranaike opened it up in 1956.

Once they are encouraged into the arena the political leaders become enslaved to their demands. When Bandaranaike attempted to resist their pressure he had to pay with his life. The successive governments continued the practice of politicising the religion and using the Buddhist monks to accomplish and help them in holding on to power. Regrettably, today the ‘Maha Sangha’ has become a permanent team member in party politics. The fear of losing popular support at electoral contests prevents the politicians from questioning a violation of Vinaya by monks. Unfortunately, the Nikayas and Mahanayaka Theras are turning a blind eye to anti-Buddhist activities of some political bhikkhus. The task of cleansing the Sasana has to come from within the Sasana itself.

The Buddhist ascetic community is silent on introducing any necessary reforms allowing the staining of Sangha reputation to continue. It is actually a few of the monks who behave in an unacceptable way. The leaders of Buddhist societies like All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, the YMBA and learned bhikkhus who are leading university campuses can enforce pressure upon the Maha Nayake Theras to come forward and embark on such reforms before it further deteriorates.

The rainy retreat or Pasu Vas and Pera Vas

Anujanami Bhikkave Vassane Vassan Udaganja - I advise oh monks! To observe the rainy retreat during the Rainy Season, under one roof.

Actually, the rainy season commences with Esala full moon, when Monks are assigned to stay indoors and the Nikini Pasalosvaka is the beginning of Rainy Retreat–the Vas Season. Peravas is when the monks start their retreat – the day after the Esala poya. Pasuvas is observed by bhikkhus a month later on Nikini poya. The retreat is practised according to rules laid down for the monks by the Buddha—these are the two days for observing the Rainy Retreat –Vassana. The Buddha advised the monks not to live outdoors, - in the open air, under trees, cemeteries and forests. They were instructed to live in the temples during the Rainy Season or Vassanasamaya.

Rainy retreat or Vas has two diverging views on how it originated. There is a school of thought which believes that the Awakened One imposed the regulation after detecting the suffering of a group of monks who called on him after walking an enormous distance on foot during extreme weather.

The monks had to experience untold misery due to adverse and excessive rainy weather on their way to Rajagaha. The other school of thought views it differently, that Bikkhus’ participation in spiritual activities and missionary jobs during the rainy period being regarded with contempt and denounced by Jain sects.

As Bikkhus exposing themselves to unfavourable weather came for severe criticism, and that the Buddha who always respected constructive criticism appreciated the Jains point of view on the matter and decided to recommend to the monks to confine themselves to the temple during the entire period of Vassana. Thus began the ritual vas or rainy retreat.

Concluding the first Council, Elder Maha Kassapa assigned the responsibility of conserving through memorizing and passing down to posterity, entire code of discipline to the chief in charge of discipline, Arahant Upali Maha Thera, and his retinue of students. Similarly, the responsibility of learning by heart and preserving, and passing down to posterity all of the long discourses; thirty-four in all, grouped as Digha Nikaya to Arahant Ananda Thero and his group of pupils. The Majjima Nikaya, [Middle Length Discourses] to Elder Sariputta Maha Thera and his students. The Samyuktha Nikaya, he kept to himself and his pupils, while the Anguttra Nikaya to Arahant Anuruddha Thera.

“Many things can be achieved by appointing the right person at the right place. Capable persons should be appointed irrespective of religious differences, If true Dhamma is practised, this will eventually lead the way to good governance in our country.” - Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera

Secularism and Dhamma

The Dhamma, as taught by the Buddha, leads to the cessation of suffering through an effort to gain insight into central truths about the human order. These truths are exclusively codified in the Dhamma as the four-fold truth, the eight-fold path and the twelve-fold dependent origination. The objective and result of the hard work and discoveries made by people who practice the path are released from suffering.

The Dhamma in actuality catalyzes our personal experiences that everything we are, see, smell, taste, think and feel is changing, impersonal and impermanent. Nibbāna, is not part of any material universe, self, god, and which go beyond any fear, hate, delusion, ‘ism’ or viewpoint, and is realised and can be entered by practising Dhamma.

As the Buddha unveils it, Dhamma’s empirical nature is one of its important features. The Dhamma is not a religion or philosophy, or the Buddha’s viewpoint or belief. The Buddha only discovered Dhamma in the same way that Newton discovered gravity. The Dhamma exists, and the one who discovers and give further details about it is known as Buddha.

The notion of secularism makes a nation officially impartial and unbiased on matters of religion, it does not support a particular faith or religions.

A secular state takes care of all its citizens in the same way in spite of their spiritual affiliations, and stay away from preferential treatment for a citizen from a given religion over others. The secular country does not have a recognized religion.

Ego and craving

Since birth men are trained to see themselves as exceptional, they are certain to believe superior to those who do not fit into the same setting, culture, language, religion, and country. As long as they see themselves dissimilar from one another, the longing of the ego become bigger even more.

But that is all pretence, a daydream generating a separation between human races to make them think of an imaginary enemy.


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