Chapter 02: The Open Remarks
For the Opening Ceremony of the Boonthin Atthakorn Building A guest house for Buddhist monks – Somdej Phra Nanasangvorn March 27, 1988
In the name of the Sangha which consists of the head monk of the regional Sangha district, the head monk of the local Sangha district, the abbots, the monks, and the novices, I would like to express our happiness for the sponsors of this building who are Khun Boonthin Atthakorn, M.R.Panrueng, their daughter Khun Ginggaew Atthakorn, and their relatives. The abbot has described the building ant its benefits. He also has told us about the history of this temple. It is an old temple built in the Ayudhaya period. The engraved stone has revealed that Chinese merchants built the temple.
At that time the abbot’s name was Phra Khru Nanasangvorn.. We understand that the Sangha name “Nanasangvorn.” Was first used in the Ratanakosin (Bangkok) period to name Somdej Phra Sangkharaj Nanasangvorn, or Phra Sangkharaj Kaithuan. Now we know from the engraved stone that this Sangha name was also used in the Ayudhya period, and the abbot at that time was highly developed in vipassana meditation. In our own times the present abbot is also practicing vipassana meditation and teaches meditation, or as he calls it “the refinement of the mind”. It is truly wonderful that this tradition has continued for so long.
As we all know that there are two main tasks in the Dispensation: the task of learning and the task of vipassana practice. The task of learning is to study the teaching of the Buddha. The task of vipassana practice is to practice meditation. Buddhism has three Good Laws of three true doctrines: the true doctrine of study, the true doctrine of practice and the true doctrine of penetration or the attainable aspect of the true doctrine. In order to understand it we may compare the three Good Laws to a big tree that consists of roots, stem, trunk, leaves and fruit. The roots can be compared to the true doctrine of study. The stem can be compared to the true doctrine of practice. The fruit can be compared to the attainable aspect of the true doctrine.
Thailand has Buddhism as such a big tree with healthy roots, stem and fruit that Thai people have taken good care of and benefited from for a long time. We should take good care of the entire big tree or Buddhism by taking care of the roots, or the task of studying, the Dhamma, and the stem or the task of meditation practice, so that we can eat the fruit or receive the attainable aspect which will bless us with happiness and prosperity.
The true doctrine of penetration is a direct result of meditation practice, because you will receive results as soon as you begin practice, because you will receive results as soon as you begin practice. You can maintain good conduct, donate money, chant, study the Dhamma or practice meditation. You will receive more or less good results as soon as you begin to practice, depending on how much you practice.
The good result is that your mind is in a better state. You will be able to lift your mind from the evil plane of existence toward a better and better existence till finally it escapes the world of existence and reaches the supramundane. The process is called the Path, The Fruition and the Final Goal. So vipassana meditation practice yields results in this world and continues to the plane beyond this world to the supramundane.
People do not normally understand the supramundane, which is beyond the world, nor do they understand the Path, the Fruition and the Final Goal. Most people do not practice until they reach the Final Goal. Actually it is not impossible or too difficult for humans to practice until they reach the Final Goal. We have to ascend many steps, like climbing stairs. We can also compare it to climbing a mountain. We start from the ground at the foot of the mountain and keep on going up. It is not too difficult to walk up step by step and take some rest at a higher elevation.
A genius with great ability to learn can climb this mountain very fast. It can be compared to using a cable car which can bring us to the top of the mountain in a very short time. This does not mean that they can jump. They also have to go up each step, but they can ascend these steps very fast. We call them “persons with quick intuition.”
Other persons cannot learn so fast, or do not have quick intuition, but they can slowly learn and keep on learning. This is compared to slowly walking up a ladder or climbing up the mountain. While they are climbing up the mountain and may not yet have reached the peak, they cannot escape from the mountain.
To practice from the beginning and continue to lift yourself higher is called mundane or belonging to the world. Though you are climbing up the mountain, you are still on the mountain. Continuing to climb up can be compared to cleansing your mind and lifting it away from the bad to the good, away from an unhappy existence of the world of humans, to a heavenly world, to the Brahma world and the higher world. This is the world of mind which are the states of existence inside you.
The mind with the state of loss and woe is a low state of mind consisting of dense defilements, no moral shame and no moral dread, so it is capable of doing all evil actions. A human whose mind is with the state of loss and woe is called a hell-being or ghost-being. If he practices meditation, and gains morality, learning, liberation and wisdom, he will be able to lift himself up from the state of loss and woe. This is called the refinement of the mind from the common human world to a human with noble growth, having moral shame, moral dread, faith and good conduct. When the mind is further cleansed, it will develop to the higher state of the heavenly world, the Brahma world, which is a state of very pure mind. The will have a sublime state of mind, full of loving-kindness and compassion. This can be compared to climbing up the mountain or using the cable car up to the peak. When you attain on the summit, you can escape the mountain. The peak that you reach is the state of the supramundane, which is beyond this world, that is escaping from being Brahma, and angel, a human, or a low state of existence.
The Buddha answered the question as to whether he was a human, an angel or Brahma. He was none of them but he was Buddha, one who attained enlightenment. He was free from any state of existence, from the human world to the peak, or the supremundane which is beyond these worlds.
Therefore, the Buddha is the guide in the refinement of the mind, lifting it from the lowest state to the Final Goal.
According to Buddha’s teaching, learning and practicing can help people refine their minds. This development can progress to the end, there is no place else to go when you reach the peak. This is the ultimate development. The Buddha called it “finishing the righteous task”, that is to refine the mind to the ultimate. This is the end of learning and practice or the refinement of the mind as the Buddha and the Worthy Ones had attained.
The Buddha’s teaching contains the details and the benefits. The wording is pure and perfect, without any error. This is perfect purity to the highest goal.
In climbing up the mountain, we all have to start from the first step and keep on climbing to the top. It is not too difficult because it proceeds step by step. The difficulty is when you look to the top from the foot without starting, you think it is too high and do not even try to climb. It is very hard if you want to fly to the top. But it is not too difficult to reach the Final Goal if you study Buddha’s teaching and follow his advice by practice.
Regarding “clinging” and “abandoning”, the teaching of non-clinging is to abandon or leave everything. At the beginning, you cannot abandon everything. While you are climbing up the stairs, you have to pause somewhere and you have to hold that step to rest. Before you can go on to the next step you have to leave the first step, lifting you feet from the first step and proceeding to the second step, hold there and rest on the second step before you go on to the higher steps. So there is clinging and abandoning step by step. You cannot leave everything altogether at the same time. We cannot suddenly get rid of all the defilements, or the mental roots of bad actions by trying to leave them or throw them away or destroy them as if they were objects, because they are states of mind. We need to use morality, concentration and wisdom to get rid of defilements. We also need to know when to abandon and when to cling accordingly.
We must abandon evil and cling to goodness and keep on doing it step by step. However, it is not good to cling to goodness too firm. You have to abandon the elementary goodness and go on to the advanced step, according to the systematic practice taught by the Buddha.
This is the right way to practice Buddhism. In order to reach successful results, we need to have the Threefold Training, which consists or training in morality, in concentration, and in wisdom. You can do it by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path. You have to practice and refine these together; you cannot omit any one of them. Wisdom is the top of the practice. It does not mean that you only have to meditate, but you have to practice the Threefold Training and the Noble Eightfold Path. Keep vipassana meditation as the most important practice.
You will gain good results when you practice in the right way. You will realize that the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha really exist. They bring you prosperity, faith, wisdom and Dhamma. This is the refinement of the mind according to the Buddha’s teaching.
The abbot of Wat Ambhavan has devoted his life and happiness to the task of vipassana meditation. He practices vipassana meditation himself and teaches others so that they understand the Dhamma and attain happiness. When people can rightfully practice, they will be happy in Dhamma and know the flavor of the Dhamma. The Buddha said that all the ocean’s water has but one taste-salty; and so as does his Dhamma, which has the extinction of defilements as its taste.
Therefore, anybody can taste his Dhamma at any state of every Dhamma practice and will know its benefits, that is the extinction of defilements, the escape from sadness and suffering. You will attain peace, happiness and serenity every time you meditate. The happiness in Dhamma and the benefits of the Dhamma are co-jointed. We can gain it from vipassana meditation as the abbot of Wat Ambhavan has taught it at this temple.
Now many people come here to learn vipassana meditation and also donate other necessary requisites such as food, lodging, labor and knowledge. The sponsors have faith and have donated money to construct this building, which will provide lodging for many monks who come here to teach vipassana meditation and practice Dhamma. The Dhamma can be continuously taught and practiced so that people can continuously attain successful results.
Therefore, I am happy for the sponsors of the building we are opening today. I am also happy for the abbot, every monk and each person who has helped in the process of learning and practicing the Dhamma at this temple. We are glad to see it has been well done.
May I pray for the blessing of the Triple Gem and the power of merit to bless everybody with prosperity, good health, happiness and good life. May all of you progress in Dhamma practice and find happiness and attain the benefits of the Dhamma…..
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