Connect with us

Features

Path to deliverance from suffering

Published

on

By Dr. Justice Chandradasa Nanayakkara

The Buddha declared ‘the world is established on suffering, is founded on suffering’ (Dukke loko patititthhito). All problems in life bring about unsatisfactoriness as we attempt to put an end to them, they give rise to another. Solution of one problem leads to a another problem in many other diverse ways. We are constantly confronted with fresh problems in our daily life and problems go on incessantly and interminably. Such is the nature of suffering, and it is the universal characteristic of sentient existence. Suffering constantly appears and passes away only to reappear in other forms. Suffering and impermanence continually present challenges and people are faced with various life obstacles that are out of their control. Suffering can be either physical or psychological. Buddha declared everything subject to origination is subject also to dissolution”. The law of anicca or impermanent stipulates that all contingent existence is transitory. Nothing is in exact state it was in the previous instant and nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. What is built eventually crumbles and fall, whoever is born will eventually die, and what comes together will eventually separate. Corona virus pandemic which is raging the whole world has brought in to sharp relief the fact of suffering. Dukka is inescapable and ubiquitous and it constitutes the first of the four Noble Truths in Buddhism. This does not mean every facet of life or every one of our experiences is miserable. Buddhism does acknowledge that life can be replete with pleasures and delights of various kinds. But they are ephemeral and impermanent.

In one of the discourses recorded in Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha offers the following simile to explain the fleeting nature of human life. “Just as a dew drop on the tip of a blade of grass will quickly vanish at sunrise and will not last long, so too Brahmin, human life like a drop of dew, it is limited, brief and fleeting and it has much suffering, full of tribulation …. none who is born can escape death. Therefore, given the limited and fleeting nature of human life, it becomes important for Buddhists to tread the path leading to the deliverance from suffering.

In the first Noble truth, the Buddha defines the truth of dukka thus: “What monks, is the Noble Truth of Dukka? Birth is dukka, decay is dukka, death is dukka, sorrow, lamentation, pain displeasure and despair are dukka; union with the unpleasant dukka, separation from the pleasant dukka, not what one wants is dukka; in brief, the five aggregates of clinging are dukka. These monks, is the Noble Truth of Dukka”.

The solution for the aforesaid problems of dukka (unsatisfactoriness) of life is the Noble Eightfold Path propounded by Lord Buddha more than 2600 years ago. This is the only way to the cessation of suffering and also a vital step in emancipating ourselves from interminable cycle of rebirths.

It is said that this path leads to the cessation of dukka. This path consists of a set of eight interconnected factors or conditions, that when developed together, leads to the cessation of dukkha.

The eight factors of the paths are 1. Right Understanding (sammaditthi) 2. Right Thought (sammasankappa) 3. Right Speech (sammavacca). 4. Right Action (sammakammanta) 5. Right Livelihood (sammaajiva) Morality or Virtue Group sila 6. Right Effort, (sammavayama). 7. Right Mindfulness (samma sati) 8. Right concentration (samma samadhi).

These eight factors aim at promoting and perfecting the three essentials of Buddhist training and discipline. For the purpose for coherent and better understanding of the eight divisions of the path have been grouped according to under mentioned three heads.

The first two are classified as Wisdom (panna), the second three as Morality (sila) and the last three as Concentration (samadhi). These three stages in the Eightfold Path are encapsulated in a Buddhist stanza (sabba papassa akaranan – kusalassa upa sammapada – sacitta priyo dapanan – etan buddhanu sasanan). To ease from all evil to cultivate good to purify one’s mind that is the advice of all Buddhas.

The eight steps of the path are not expected to be realised in sequence, one after the other. Rather, they are considered a unity, an organic whole. They are interdependent and interrelated. All eight factors are preceded by the word “Right” classified as Right, which means perfect. It is a mode of transcendence and leads to the transcendence to arise, namely sotapanna sakadagami, anāgāmi and arahant. No doubt, it is a difficult feat to be achieved. The Noble Eightfold path is in effect the path to Nibbana., Which avoids the extreme of self-mortification that weakens the intellect and the extreme of self-indulgence that retards moral progress. Although it is generally spoken as a path to be treaded, in actual fact eight steps signify mental factors to be practised. All eight factors should converge simultaneously, each supporting other and reach a sufficient level of development to experience of sotapanna, sakadagame, anāgāmi or arahant. It is said the path proceeds from a lower state of purity to higher state and factors of the path should coalesce at a certain level of perfection. Path is not meant to be practiced a little each day.

According to Walpola Rahula, the divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path s should be developed more or less simultaneously, as far as possible according to the capacity of each individual. They are linked together and each helps the cultivation of the others.

As far as the Right Understanding in Wisdom group of the Noble Eightfold Path is concerned it is the understanding of things as they really are, particularly the clear comprehension of the Four Noble truths. The Right Understanding has been treated as the first step as an intuitive understanding as it provides the necessary motivation and impulse to start on the Eightfold Path. Importance of understanding in general sense can be seen from the Buddhas own statement.

“Do not be guided by hearsay or by tradition, legendary lore or what has come down in holy scriptures; nor on grounds of reason or logical inference; nor because of preconceived opinions or simple likelihood, nor because of a teacher’s authority. Only when you know for yourselves: these things are good and beneficial, are praised by the wise, and when taken up and carried out lead to welfare and happiness-then you should make them your own and live in accordance with them Anguttara Nikaya.”

Right Thought in the Wisdom group is threefold and it denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love and thoughts of non violence, which are extended to all beings. Cultivation of such thoughts enables a person to act accordingly at the appropriate time. One should practices benevolence and goodness in relation to indifferent people as well as those who are inimical or unfriendly. Persons should not entertain thoughts of selfish desire, ill will hatred and violence in all spheres of life whether individual, social or political.

Next group is Morality (Sila), based on love and compassion, in which are included three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path: namely Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood. (Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in the list).

Right speech means abstention (i) from telling lies, (2) from backbiting and slander and talk that may bring about hatred, enmity, disunity and disharmony among individuals or groups of people, (3) from harsh, rude, impolite, malicious and abusive language, and (4) from idle, useless and foolish babble and gossip. When one abstains from these forms of wrong and harmful speech one naturally has to speak the truth, has to use words that are friendly and benevolent, pleasant and gentle, meaningful and useful. One should not speak carelessly: speech should be at the right time and place. If one cannot say something useful, one should keep ‘noble silence’.

Right Action aims at promoting moral, honourable and peaceful conduct. It admonishes us that we should abstain from destroying life, from stealing, from dishonest dealings, from illegitimate sexual intercourse, and that we should also help others to lead a peaceful and honourable life in the right way.

As far as the Right Livelihood, in the Noble Eightfold is concerned, it should be stated that Lord Buddha has not expatiated much on it,. As the major part of one’s daily life is taken up by one’s employment, the way one earns his or her livelihood has ethical and social implications either positive or negative. Buddha simply declared that a layman should not pursue certain trades which are considered to be morally and ethically wrong. For this purpose, he listed five trades which he considered to be inimical and harmful to the people and the society. They are trading in poison, trading in weapons, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants and trading in humans (diganikaya).

However, these forbidden trades are the very ones that have increased phenomenally as a result of the free marketing forces and globalisation in the world today.

Next stage is concentration (samadhi) group which Embodies three other factors of Noble Eightfold Path namely Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

These three factors Right Effort, Right mindfulness, and Right Concentration constitute mental culture or concentration. Together these three steps encourage and enable one to be self-reliant attentive and calm. Right effort means undertaking our tasks with energy and vigor with a will to carry them through.

Right Effort (sammavayama) in general sense means cultivating positive attitude towards whatever we undertake to do. It means undertaking our tasks with enthusiasm and energy with a will to carry them through. In other words, if we fail to put effort into whatever we do, we cannot hope to succeed. But the effort must be controlled and balanced so that effort should not become too tense or too extreme. Similarly, it should not become too slack and not abandoned. Right effort (sammavayama) involves persevering four great efforts”. (1)The effort to avoid the arising of evil, unwholesome thoughts that have not arisen ye, by exercising right restraint of the senses and self-control, (2) the effort to overcome, to dispel quickly evil, unwholesome thoughts that have already arisen. (3) the effort to develop noble wholesome thoughts that have not yet arisen, (4), the effort to maintain noble, wholesome thoughts have already arisen Therefore, it is evident that the function of the right effort is to maintain constant endeavor and diligence in checking unhealthy thoughts, and to cultivate, promote and maintain wholesome and pure thoughts.

The second step of the Noble Eightfold Path that is embodied in the category of Concentration (mental development) is Right Mindfulness. Right Mindfulness is essential in our ordinary mundane activities. Mindfulness simply is awareness or attention avoiding a distracted and clouded state of mind.

It should be noted Right Mindfulness is the basis for all of the other components on the path. Unless one is mindful, there cannot be a right view, intention, speech, action livelihood, effort and concentration. Mindfulness is all about presence of mind and paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness leads to serenity, insight, deep concentration or wisdom. It does not lead to undirected unguarded thoughts. Right mindfulness is developing an accurate and precise awareness of the present moment unclouded by ideas beliefs, memories and expectations.

Right mindfulness is essential requirement in our daily life. Mindfulness simply is awareness or attention, avoiding a distracted and clouded state of mind. This would be necessary even in our ordinary mundane activities. For example, when a person is driving a vehicle, or crossing a busy street or doing some other task which requires attentiveness if one is unmindful of what one is doing there bound to be mishaps. It should stated that most of the majors traffic accidents that occur in Sri Lanka is due to lack of mindfulness. Therefore, practice of mindfulness plays an important role in our day today activities as enunciated in buddhism. The practice of mindfulness has been, developed to include four particular applications. They are application of mindfulness with regard to body (kayanupassana), (b) feelings or sensations (vedanupassana), (c) states of mind (cittanupassana) and (d) mental objects (dammanupassana). The discourse on “The Setting Forth of Mindfulness” (Satipatthana sutta) deals dials with it.

Right Concentration is the steady fixing of the mind on a single object to the exclusion of all others. This is call samadhi or one-pointedness of the mind. The practice of concentration helps us to maintain the mind in a state of balance. It also refers to the sphere of meditation, and specially to the four jana (absorption). Meditation in Buddhism is classified into two systems, concentration of mind (samatha) and insight (vipassana) of these two, concentration has the function of calming the mind.

According to Buddhism there are forty subjects of mediation which differ according to the temperaments of individuals.

It is said that before practising samadhi an aspirant should select carefully the subject of meditation. In the past, it was customary for aspirants who are bent on meditation to seek guidance of a competent teacher to choose suitable subject according to his temperament.

–– Ven. . Naradha



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Features

Glimmers of hope?

Published

on

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

Continue Reading

Features

Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis

Published

on

By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.

FERTILISER ISSUE

1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.

Recommendations

1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

Continue Reading

Features

Thomians triumph in Sydney 

Published

on

Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

Continue Reading

Trending