Timely and therapeutic | Daily News

Timely and therapeutic

At a time when masses in particular cultural and religious milieu are driven to sadness via violence and other forms of terror, the pacifying nature of communication brings about the mental pacification unanticipated. From birth to death masses are driven to threats of varying nature. Those who have understood the nature at times present themselves not merely as therapists, but also as noble sharers of the human experiences encountered. Perhaps great sermons remain as timeless messages depending on the way they are delivered and the content of the same embedded in them.

The series of Dhamma talks as printed in one of the most resourceful work come to the reader as ‘Unexpected Freedom’. The Dhamma talks have been delivered by Ajahn Munindo translated from Thai and compiled by Abhinanda Bhikkhu of Aruna Ratnagiri.

Delight and wisdom

Out of a series of talks, 16 are selected for this compilation. The entire talks centre around day to day human issues that contain experiences analysed clinically avoiding sweeping conclusions and/or pedagogical visions of high-flown nature. Instead, they contain anecdotes that soften and pacify our minds triggering verve of delight and wisdom. The topics centre rounds subjects such as ‘Being Simple, Gauging one’s own Feelings, Getting to know our emotional tendency on falling in love, on the subject of blaming others for one’s own fault, combating one’s anger and ill will, on being fearful, the issues on being comfortable, gauging one’s own identity, contemplating on the concept of happiness etc.

Each of these episodes commences with the relevant rendering of a Dhammapada stanza:

Those who build canals channel the flow of water,

Arrowsmiths make arrows, woodworkers craft wood, and the wise tame themselves.

The learned priest, as a deliverer of sermons, transcends the mere outer layer of sayings, maxims and wisecracks. Instead, he illustrates them through various forms of creative dialogues and monologues in order to exemplify the inner earnings of what he wants to interpret. As such, these talks printed in the form of articles look rather episodes of pacifying creative thoughts needed at various moments in human existence.

Bhikkhu Abhinandana says that it was a pleasure to have listened to the talks and the process of compilation.

Smiling tone

But he had observed that if all the talks we compiled it would have been a great big volume of Dhamma talks. Perhaps in a smiling tone, the compiler Bhikkhu says that he was reminded of a true event in the life of the great painter Pablo Picasso that goes as follows.

“Once Picasso was visiting the Louvre in Paris with an art critic friend. As they were standing in front of one of Rafael’s masterpieces, expressing their admiration, the art critic pointed to one of Rafael’s ethereal renderings of a Greek goddess, and ventured to say: “But Pablo don’t you think he pained this arm much too long?” It was technically true. However, Picasso immediately retorted straight from the heart.

“Ah no, such beautiful arm can’t be long enough.”

The enjoyment of reading and the delight it paves away depend on the mode of transmission of the age-old wisdom that has come down the centuries as modernist versions. One good example is the sensitive rendering on the subject of happening a topic handled quite a number of sermons in all religions. But for the reader perhaps one sees an alternate paradox that goes as follows:

“We get stuck on memories, things that have clearly finished gone. They may well be very painful, we think. If only I could let go of this. We also get overly preoccupied with the future, imagining pleasant or unpleasant things that may happen, we might think “One one more week at work, then I am off to La Gomera. It will be so beautiful there! There is that particular beach. I know where it never rains. It will be so beautiful. In this manner, the mind can be obsessed with beautiful things (that bring happiness) which we imagine are going to happen in the future, but meanwhile, we are not here with what is happening now. This can create problems for us.”

True happiness

This fantasizing, according to the learned Bhikkhu, may bring us a sort of happiness, creating a relaxed mood to adjust oneself to fit into the living conditions. But he then questions the listener (or the reader in this context) whether the fantasy brings true happiness. If it provides a layer of happiness, then, by all means, accept it for it gives delight as against the gloomy cloud of unhappiness.

As laid down in several instances, the learned monk happens to be the pupil of the well known Bhikkhu, Ajahn Chah, who had been a great deliverer of sermons. On remembering Ajahn Chah, he says: “In my early years as a monk, I remember that Ajahn Chah would teach about letting go all the time. Some of his senior disciples used to copy him. Whatever question you asked, they would say “well, just let go. Let go, just do it – as if you could just let go as an act of will. As if we were purposefully hanging on to things.”

With reminiscences, he tries to impart additional interpretation of the concept of letting go. He talks of the physical barriers of possessing more and more, may it be wealth or power.

As a reader, I found that the work titled ‘Unexpected From’ is not only a collection of Dhamma talks but a resourceful therapeutically guidance to most of us who are in search of a new path to mental and physical release from material day to day encumbrances that bring about disaster, violence and ill will.

We, the listeners and readers, are reminded of verse 393 of Dhammapada which goes as follows:

“One should not be considered worthy of respect, because of family or background or any other sign. It is purity and the realisation of the truth that determines one’s worth.”

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