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Buddhism useful for development of science

SCINCE: During our lifetime most of our doings lead to the manifestation of ‘sanskara’, which are of course ‘kammas’ with the potential to give ‘Karma vipaka’ or consequences later, within this life or in future births, according to the principles of Karma (‘kamma niyama’).

The potential of the ‘Karma’ is emanated from the ‘javan sith’ of the ‘chiththa veethi’ (according to the way we think about something or someone, we give effect to Karma. A thought or a Chiththa with a duration of a fraction of a second, is in fact, composed of seventeen chiththas and seven of them are called ‘javan siths’.)

When the javan siths cease their existence together with other ‘siths’, a form of energy is released which stay related or attached to the ‘Chiththa’/’Vinnana’ continuation of the individual and later give effect to Karma Vipaka at appropriate time and place.

With the passage of the being to the next birth, the potentials of its good or bad deeds (the Kammas) have to be carried away to the next birth, because the being cannot escape the consequences (‘Vipaka’) of its good or bad deeds or mindful actions (‘chethanathmaka kriya’).

‘Na Anthalikke, Na Samuudda Majje, Na Pabbathanan..........’ (Dhammapada 127)

“How the ‘Kamma’ is transferred from one life to the other, with its potential for giving the ‘Vipaka’ intact” is a topic discussed by many scholars and authors. Some were of the view that, the ‘Kamma’ is accumulated in an energy form in the great space Nabogharbha and later takes effect to give the ‘Vipaka’ to the being at the appropriate moment.

The only ‘thing’ a person virtually carries from this birth (bhawa) to the next is the continuation of the ‘Chiththa’. The last ‘Chiththa’ in the previous is the ‘chuthi chiththa’ and the first in the new birth is the continuation of the same as the ‘prathisandhi chiththa’.

Although the bodily life (rupa) in this ‘bhawaya’ is discontinued with death; initiated by the ‘Prathisandhi chiththa’, the ‘nama’ is continued in the next birth or ‘bhawaya’ in a new body or a new ‘rupa (this is based on the concepts related to ‘thanhava’ and the ‘paticca samuppadaya’).

The ‘nama’ cannot exist without the ‘rupa’ and vice versa. Their co-existence or interdependence is aptly illustrated in the Buddhist text by the example of the ‘two bundles of firewood standing inclined to each other for support’.

The first form of life in mother’s womb simultaneously must have both these components - the ‘nama’ and ‘rupa’. (Theravada and Mahayana have different versions about the time lapse between the ‘chuthiya’ and ‘prathisandhiya’.

Then, as the potential of ‘Karma’ is carried away to the next birth (unless it is always present as an energy form in the space to take effect in any birth of the being) one explanation will be within the process discussed above.

This can be related to some facts found in the article of Dr. Sunil Senevirathna Epa, appeared in April 26, 2007 CDN.

‘..... one is born with a set of genes or biological material which is unique to that particular individual.’

‘.... what we fail to understand is why then no two genomes are alike. Why should they be different from each other if they are to perform the same function in the human body’.

‘Not only physical growth, but the behaviour, talents and sometimes diseases and even the cause of death is decided by our genes.

If ‘nama’ and the ‘rupa’ in the new birth begin the voyage together, the ‘prathisandhi chiththa’, with its continuation from the previous birth might have an influence on the newly formed ‘rupa’ in mother’s body.

It can be assumed that, with the simultaneous infusion of ‘nama’ and ‘rupa’, in the newly formed life, the ‘prathisandhi chiththa’, following the ‘chuthi chiththa’, with all its records of the individual’s previous life’s deeds, makes a mark of that in the ‘rupa’ component - or to be precise - in the gene structure, which in turn will decide the future of the new being as mentioned in the aforesaid article, to a ‘great extent’, (in ‘Abhidhamma’, a component called ‘Jeewithindriya’ is discussed. The resemblance of this to the cell structures of the life form is worthy considering.)

The ‘marking’ of the genes could be material or energy process or a combination of both.

However, this process of marking the genes might explain the carriage of the ‘Kamma’ only to some extent, it seems. nature - effected incidents cannot be attributed to gene markings. The following illustrations where the sheer luck or a Kamma like out-of-gene force have a hand, are worth considering:

Two persons walk together and only one person gets attacked by the lightning while other escapes ‘miraculously’ with no harm. One person is washed away by the tsunami,while the other person in the same vehicle ‘miraculously’ escapes.

One person comes late to the station to find the ill-fated train already left, while another person awaiting some other train catches the ill-fated tsunami train, to find his destiny.

These incidents cannot be explained by the gene marking. or can they too! perhaps the mysterious branded genes emit or release energy-type or cosmic messages or communications to control the future behaviour of the being to make sure that its previous birth’s (good or bad) deeds or ‘Kamma’ are properly compensated in this birth, in some unsuspecting natural disaster or incident (for better or worse).

Whatever the validity of these assumptions, one fact that is certain is that, ‘Kamma’ has the potential to give its vipaka’. Built on solid foundation like Four Noble Truths and Eight Noble Paths, Buddhism with its pure form could withstand all the tests the 2500 year time span offered in many forms (the ‘Nikaya Sangrahaya’ is good testimony in this respect).

By following the teachings of the Buddha, we can lead a decent life in this ‘bhawaya’, we can be assured of a good life afterwards and most importantly, we can get emancipated form all the worldly sufferings (dukkas) by becoming ‘Arhant’. the path, practically, is through the ‘Samatha’ meditation and specially through the ‘Vidharshana’ meditation.

Therefore obviously Buddhism is miles ahead of modern science, which is still in the stages of development. Although credited with many achievements, modern science will take thousands of years to come any closer to explain the teachings of Buddhism. On the other hand, clearly defend concepts in Buddhism will be useful for the development of science.

However, whenever possible discoveries in modern science have to be considered in the light of the concepts of Buddhism. If scientific evidence are capable of discussing religious concepts, even to some extent, they have to be highlighted by scholars and experts in the field, for the welfare of the general public.

Science based approach will have the benefit of motivating the members of the present day’s ‘fast moving, science and technology affiliated, globalised materialistic’ society towards religious teachings.

That will instil a strong ‘shraddhawa’ in the minds of those busy and preoccupied people, who wouldn’t find time to read writings on Buddhism, including the “Thripitaka”. They will further be inspired to study the Buddhist teachings more and more devotedly.

The above mentioned article, with special emphasis on quantum theory and gene science is of immense value in this respect. I have come across, some times back, another article (of the same author) emphasising the importance of the acceptance in Western Medicine, the mind body - unity or mind - body relationship which has been readily accepted in Oriental healing techniques. The imprudence of the introduction of a Medico - Spiritual Health Model also was highlighted there.

Quite recently, I came across another Enlightening article in CDN (09.05.2007) on ‘Science of meditation’ by Dr. Nimal Rajapakse highlighting a science - based approach to meditation.

“In essence, modern science has uncovered the reasons behind the well-known phenomenon ‘the mind - body connection’. It can be stated in simple terms that when practised regularly, over a period of time, meditation can produce profound physiological efforts”.

“.... it is quite satisfying to see that this age old technique has finally undergone extensive scientific scrutiny...”.


A Dhamma dialogue

I have thought to write this after a colleague with cancer sought my help last week. It will help others too.

Q. What exactly did the Buddha teach?
A. The teaching is about the underlying nature of desire and feeling.

Q. What is the underlying nature of desire?
A. Desire is insatiable.

Q. What is the underlying nature of feeling?
A. There is a tendency for feelings to change, fade and disappear, and arise again.

Q. So what?
A. All feelings, happy and sad, bring despair and grief - dukkha - when there is attachment or holding.

Q. What do you mean by holding?
A. Holding to a thing that has the nature to cease is futile and stupid!

Q. What is meant by arising and ceasing?
A. They are not independent. Ceasing inheres in arising just as all meetings are partings.

Q. Do feelings arise suddenly from nowhere?
A. Nothing arises ex nihilo.

Q. Then where do feelings arise?
A. They necessarily arise in a person - in a self.

Q. How does arising of feeling cease?
A. Ceasing or non-arising of feelings necessarily come from insight of arising.

Q. What understanding of feeling leads to insight?
A. Every experience is dependently arisen.

Q. Dependent on what?
A. Dependent on not knowing dependent arising!

Q. Does this mean that Buddha teaches only about dependent arising of experience?
A. Yes.

Q. Can you enlarge on this?
A. Experience is consciousness in a unique person or self, and all things therefore arise in the self.

Q. So what is the problem in that?
A. The self is not a master of experience: let my experience be this and not that.

Q. Why do I then have control over happy feelings?
A. But you have no mastery over unhappy feelings!

Q. Does this mean it is not rationally that I feel dukkha?
A. It is not a tautology to say it is affectively arisen in the self.

Q. So, the Buddha is not teaching about dukkha but about dependently arisen dukkha?
A. Yes.

Q. Then, is the teaching a science?
A. If by ‘science’ is meant ‘logical’, the teaching is scientific - not however as in physics.

Q. What is the difference?
A. By definition, physics - the king of science - leaves out feeling by an observer!

Q. Does not quantum physics include the observer?
A. It has closed the stable door after the horse is stolen!

Q. Why is the teaching only about melancholy or dukkha?
A. Because, eventually, that is how it is.

Q. How is the body involved in the teaching?
A. Dukkha necessarily arises in mind inseparable from the body.

Q. Does it mean that to understand the mind, there must be mutual understanding of the body?
A. Yes.

Q. What does the Buddha teach about the body?
A. The body is dependently arisen, and whatever is dependently arisen is inherently unstable.

Q. We know that the body ages, decays and dies, so what is special about that?
A. But we do not know how to escape from aging, decay, disease and death!

Q. What exactly do you mean by ‘escape’?
A. It means the end of dukkha.

Q. Is escape possible in this life or in a future limbo?
A. Siddharata Gotama escaped from dukkha at the age of 35 years and taught how, from compassion.

Q. Was he the first?
A. Yes and why he is called ‘Buddha’.

Q. Why is re-becoming or ‘re-birth’ included in his teaching?
A. Like in a jig-saw puzzle, it completes the structure of the dependent arising of dukkha.

Q. Then, is belief in ‘re-birth’ essential to understand the teaching?
A. Buddha teaches about escape from present dukkha and thoughts of the past and future are irrelevant.

Q. So why this obsession with karma and vipaka, of intention and result leading to bad and good re-birth?
A. There is vested interest in frightening the gullible that all intentions are karma with vipaka though all intentions such as breathing and defecating are not karma - with dire result!

Q. So, is understanding the teaching straightforward?
A. Only a Buddha can analyse dependent arising and ceasing of dukkha to describe it many ways. It is relatively not difficult for the prepared mind to penetrate and have insight of it.


Man’s purpose is within man

Sri Lankan Buddhist monks march during a felicitation ceremony for soldiers in Colombo. Hundreds of Buddhist monks paraded to bless the Security Forces that captured the Tigers’ last Bastion in the East. AP

wisdom: Having practised the ten paramis (perfections) of generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity in their higher and highest proportions, over millions of rebirths, the Buddha aspirant Prince Siddhattha was born for the last time fully matured to launch on his final mission to break through the barrier of ignorance to see things in their true perspective.

This stupendous operation required the development of his mind with insight meditation from which everything unfolds. Insight is mental penetration which arises with the understanding that all phenomena are in a state of constant change from moment to moment and what is changing is unsatisfactory for the reason that in the case of man it brings about aging, disease, decay and death and what is changing has no permanent self or entity.

With such insight, the mind gets cleansed of the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion and is thus fully awakened. In this process, rebirth producing energy runs its course to a finish and rebirth which is the cause of misery, ends. A Buddha arises in the world to reveal the truth of suffering, its cause, its ending and the Eightfold Path leading to its ending.

The super-human endeavour to reach that supreme state of mental perfection needed such a strenuous effort and what the Buddha discovered seemed so profound, difficult to perceive and so subtle that he was in a quandary not knowing how he was going to disseminate his knowledge among mankind.

Casting his all-seeing eye, he saw as a blessing some human beings with less dust in their eyes to receive the fruits of his labour and he thus delivered his first sermon - “Setting The Wheel of Law in Motion”, to the group of five ascetics who were his erstwhile companions in quest of the facts of life.

Kondanna who fully understood the substance of the discourse became a stream-winner and progressed to become an arahant i.e. one who had ended the round of existence.

What did this discourse deal with? It dealt with the quintessence of the Buddha’s teaching - suffering, cause of suffering, cessation of suffering and the Path leading to the cessation of suffering.

To go into details - birth is suffering, diesese is suffering, death is suffering, to be united with the unpleasant is suffering, to be separate from the pleasant is suffering, not to get what one desires is suffering.

The cause of this suffering is craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence and craving for non-existence. The Eightfold Path comprises right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration of mind.

The scientific theory is that nothing happens without a reason. Going on this principle, one is here not by chance or accident but by one’s own making, one’s own will. One’s kammic energy together with one’s flow of consciousness from past rebirths put one into shape to be what one is.

In this context it is relevant to know that for the formation of the embryo in the mother’s womb re-linking consciousness has to descend which happens with the past consciousness together with its entire history linking together with the new existence. It thus follows that the new life must start from the consciousness of a past life.

One will go on and on with each new rebirth lending the opportunity to improve oneself. One should not lose sight of the fact that being a part of the universe what one thinks and does intentionally, has a definite impact, positive or negative as the case may be, on the world system making it respond. From this follows the Buddha’s statement. “He who treads the path of the dhamma (truth) is protected by the dhamma.”

The prime question that arises is, “What are we here for?” The answer is to observe the five precepts - not to kill, not to take what is not one’s own, not to commit sins of the flesh, not to bear false witness, to shun drinks and drugs that confuse the mind, spread freely among all living beings metta (loving-kindness) and karuna (compassion) and awaken one’s mind with sila (mental discipline), samadhi (concentration) and panna (wisdom).

Following others blindly for the reason that one is not willing to develop one’s strengths to light up one’s way, does not get on to one’s due place. Should one be worthy of being born into the world on account of one’s own merit, it necessarily follows that one is equally worthy of receiving nature’s bounty without let or hindrance, to one’s best advantage.

The idea is to elevate one’s mind to think in terms of a winner. According to Buddhist teaching TRUTH has to be self-analysed, self-realized, self-experienced. Interpretation of truth according to those who claim to have found it or for the reason that it is found in books held sacred has to be stringently tested before acceptance. Faith alone does not validate such claims.

Faith must arise from the conviction that a thing under scrutiny has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

As much as the purpose of the seed is within the seed itself to grow into a tree, spread its branches, bear flowers and seed and disperse itself, the purpose of man is within man to work out man’s salvation with diligence. Salvation means breaking the bonds that bind man to samsara (round of rebirths) for -

“ ................. There spring the healing streams

Quenching all thirst there bloom the immortal flowers

Carpeting all the way with joy! there throng

Swiftest and sweetest hours!”



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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