Intriguing encounter with the Dhamma :
Path to inner happiness
[Q]Though there were a lot of
Arahants during the period of the Buddha, today we scarcely hear of
them. What could be the reason? Is this due to complex social
developments that have taken place in the modern world?
[A]If one has a lot of high qualities and merit, he/she is more
likely to be born in the time of the Buddha. The best students study in
Colombo or the top students manage to go to Oxford, Cambridge or
Harvard. Similarly the very top students managed to get into the ‘best
university’ which was in the time of the Buddha! When you have the best
teacher and the best facilities you get the best students. The reason is
not the situation of the current society. In fact in the time of the
Buddha the society there was very prosperous. But it too had many social
and political problems. I think it is a wonderful time for Buddhism now,
because we have prosperity- (like peace) in many countries. It means
people have realized that just material prosperity does not give them
much happiness. You have money in most homes, but most of the times
people will say. ‘Is this all?’ Is this all we need”.
Venerable Ajahn Brahmavamso
Recently there was an article of an English woman who bought a huge
mansion after winning a lottery. (Nearly 42 million pounds) The mansion
was so huge with many rooms that she found it really difficult to find
where her children were! So she sold the mansion and bought a very small
house. It was because she realized that in a small house she’ll be with
her children and her husband, but in the mansion she’ll be alone.
Even in Sri Lanka, (though people think that this is a poor country)
there are much better houses now. You can travel around the world and
have a lot of pleasures. But most of the people feel that there is
something missing- what is missing is inner happiness or inner peace. In
order to seek inner peace people have turned to Buddhism and there is a
revival of Buddhism in the modern world.
[Q]There is a view point that it is
medically advisable to consume a little bit of liquor. Is not this
contradictory with the words of the Buddha who was of the opinion that
consuming intoxicants is obnoxious?
[A] That particular scientific evidence was disapproved about two or
three years ago. It is now known as a myth. In fact the idea that
consuming liquor was good for ones health came from a research project
which was done in California. They found in a big survey that many
people who took a moderate amount of alcohol seem to have less cardio
vascular diseases and so the statistics implied that if you take
alcohol, your heart condition was much better. But two or three years
ago this evidence was reexamined. They found out that lots of people who
took wine, especially red wine were the ones who had a high income. In
this particular income level those who take red wine and those who do
not were examined. It was found that those who do not take wine had
Today ask any scientist in the field, he’ll tell you that alcohol is
one of the greatest poisons. It is the one which causes most number of
social problems. It is far worse than heroine or cocaine. It is not a
good thing to take. Give some whisky to a dog, not even the dog would
Science has proved what the Buddha said so many years ago.
[Q]We like to offer Dhana to pious
monks. Doing so means we want to acquire merit. Isn’t this another kind
[A] It is. It is called spiritual materialism. In one sense it is
good. It is used to make merit. Giving is not a form of business. It is
not like investing in the stock market expecting high returns. However
this is what most people do. They like to give alms to monks who have
achieved the Sovan status or to an arahant because high returns are
The Buddha said it is wiser to give it to the Sangha than to a
Buddha. He has said that more merit can be acquired by giving it to both
Sangha Bhikku and Bhikkuni. So it is better to offer Dhana to a
monastery, instead of offering it to an individual. Because of this it
is much my custom to return any personal donations. Even when anything
is given to me such as medicine I always share with my fellow monks and
[Q]In Buddhism we are often said to
forget the past and live in the present. But if the past is not to bind
us where can duty lie? For example we are bound by duty to look after
our parents because they brought us up in the past?
[A] The PRESENT moment is important. Your parents are right here in
front of you. They are not your parents only in the past. They’ll be
your parents even in the future as well. Buddhism says, let go of your
past. Otherwise your parents might have said something to you which you
are not happy with, but that does not mean you should not care for them
So what we do in Buddhism, always, is to let go of the past, so that
we can actually forgive. The past of many people is a place of anger,
guilt and remorse. It is because of this that many people have
psychological problems. Buddhism is the only religion which says that
you can forgive yourself and you should forgive yourself. It is the only
religion which does not practise punishment.
[Q] The Buddha has said that it is
alright to consume meat if the animal has not been deliberately killed
for your consumption. But if all of us do not consume meat none of the
meat stalls would function. Isn’t this contradictory? If the Buddha said
that we should not consume meat, then there won’t be any meat stalls?
[A]Remember that a Buddha never tells people what to do. He always
advises people, advises them to be compassionate. So Buddhism is not a
religion which says that you should not do this or that. It is called
dictatorship and we all know the problems that may rise when there is a
dictator. Societies where you are often told what to do would never be
successful, because you have to think what to do, and why to do, rather
than be told what to do.
In many countries, even in Sri Lanka, many rules have been imposed.
For example traffic rules. We often see traffic rules being violated.
Rules tell you what you should and should not do. Less people understand
why. So they break these rules. So the Buddha was wise, as he never set
rules- he did not say do it or not do it, but just explained why it is
bad to commit evil deeds. He advised people to be compassionate and wise
and be thoughtful.
[Q]The Buddha himself consumed meat?
[A]He consumed what was offered to him as dhana. So he did. The
reason for that was because as a monk you have to eat what you are
presented. I was a very strict vegetarian once I became a monk, but
since I became a monk in Thailand I was told that I cannot survive as a
strict vegetarian because I cannot buy my own food, I cannot order my
food, instead I have to take what I am given. The worst meal given was
boiled frog. We used to eat snakes, grasshoppers, ants and many
disgusting things. The fact is you have to survive on what you are
[Q]Motherhood is held in high esteem
in any society. But the same enthusiasm is hardly seen when a baby girl
is born to a family. People are not very happy about it. What is the
Buddha’s view about being born as a woman? Is it those who commit less
meritorious deeds in this birth that are born as women in their next
[A]The idea that you are born a woman if you have less Kamma not true
at all. Women have equal opportunities around the world. They have a
different life and credentials in the Last Path. No way can it be said
that it is better or worse.
In Australia right now the head of state is a woman. The Governor
General is a woman. Sri Lanka had the very first woman prime minister.
So women also can reach great heights.
[Q]But it has not conferred on them
much importance. It is firmly believed that those who are born as
females have committed less meritorious deeds in their previous births
and that being born as a woman is insignificant.
[A]No, no, no, no. A thousand times no (laughs). Even in the time of
the Buddha many women became fully enlightened, became great teachers.
They were praised by the Buddha. So women have the full opportunities in
The Kamma which you have done in the past will give you a healthy
body, a weak body, a sick body, a wealthy family, or a big family etc.
But as far as Buddhism is concerned it does not matter, into what
gender, or what country you are born into. It is what you make of them.
You may say that I had very bad kamma in my past life as I was born in
London, and not in a Buddhist country. But nevertheless I struggled and
strived and was happy to find Buddhism and became a monk!
[Q]Does it mean that gender into
which you are born does not depend on your past Kamma?
[A]Sometimes it depends on your past Kamma. And also on your
aspirations. The two causes for rebirth are your Kamma and also what you
want to be born as. Sometimes people feel that they need to be reborn as
a female in order to develop certain Paramitas. Even Ananda Thera was
reborn as a female in one of his previous births. So it should not be
considered as something bad. Different ends, but not bad.
[Q]But the Buddha initially did not
want to establish the Bhikkuni Sasana.
[A] If the Buddha did not want to, why did he establish it?
[Q] Isn’t it because Ananda Thera
kept on insisting that Bhikkuni Sasana be established?
[A] Buddha’s wisdom is so strong and powerful, it does not need to be
persuaded. The very idea that Buddha needed somebody else to convince
him was wrong. It does not make any sense to me.
The Buddha planned it from the very beginning. After Buddha’s
Enlightenment Mara came to see him as he knew that the teachings of the
Buddha would be a great burden to him. So he did not want Buddha to
The Buddha told Mara that he was going to establish a four-fold
committee -Bhikku Sangha, Bhikkuni Sangha, Lay Upasaka, and Lay Upasika.
Also when Mara came to Buddha three months before Great Parinirvana the
Buddha told him that he had now established Bhikku Sangha, Bhikkuni
Sangha and many thousands of white clad male disciples and female
The point here is that the Buddha planned from the very beginning to
initiate/set up a four-fold committee.
To be continued
Child psychology, the visa to pre-school teaching
Montessori teacher is expected to be well equipped with certain
subjects that shape and sharpen her in her career. She who designs the
future of the country through the dough she handles should have thorough
knowledge of her subject ‘Montessori Method’. Further she should have a
sound knowledge of Child psychology and Methods of Teaching in order to
cut and polish the game she handles. Child psychology, the steering
wheel of pre-school education directs the
towards success in understanding, helping, accepting and appreciating
her students and also helps them to be themselves. Plato emphasizes that
one should “know thyself, accept thyself and be thyself.” This concept
is very important for the teacher in helping her students in the
pre-schools. Teacher is responsible to help kids ‘know themselves,
accept themselves and be themselves.’
Teacher who is well outfitted with Child Psychology is like a
qualified specialist doctor who could diagnose the illnesses and
prescribe medicine. Child Psychology is similar to a visa that opens
safe passage to foreign lands. It makes the teacher quite confident
before her students and handling any classroom situation. Understanding
the children is very important in pre-school teaching. In handling them
the teacher should know the children’s likes and dislikes and abilities
and weaknesses. Child Psychology helps the teacher identify her
students’ capabilities and disabilities and even to solve all these
problems then and there.
Children are different and their moods get disturbed quite often.
Sticking to a particular target for few minutes is not an easy task for
them. They are bundles of activity. These are the instances the teacher
should use her knowledge on Psychology and the Play Way Method to create
interest in her students’ learning and maintaining it throughout the
day. Otherwise the children would not like to turn up the next day.
Children are open and frank. They have nothing to hide. They are
innocent. They react soon. Teachers should be vigilant to their
reactions. Such reactions should not be neglected because they would
cause loss of faith in the teacher. Therefore, the teacher should always
keep an eye on the children and use her knowledge on Psychology to
handle them. on Psychology to handle them. If not, the tache fails
before her children and the parents. In order to avoid frustration,
teacher should have a thorough knowledge on child-psychology.
Pre-school is a garden full of beautiful flowers. It is a place of
pleasant education where little ones learn through activities and learn
through mistakes. Children should be exposed to new experiences from the
beginning. Teacher should listen and observe her children because they
always have something to say or share. That should not be neglected.
Teacher should let them open their hearts and minds before her and voice
their opinion. Further, the teacher should let the children be
Education they gain in the montessori directs them towards their
goals in life. Teacher has to understand her little students who are
going to be the owners of the future. Montessori is the best place where
the kids gain socialization. This is an important acquisition because it
has much socio-cultural value. In the montessori kids get a chance for
adjustment, readjustment, maturation and learning. If the Montessori has
a pleasant learning atmosphere and the Pre-School mother loves the kids,
they will undoubtedly attend the montessori daily and shape themselves
for a better tomorrow.
Pre-schools should be located in a pleasant environment conducive to
learning. Wide space for indoor and out door activities, a garden with
play objects and natural environment that influences maturation and
happy learning are a must. Pre-school teachers should consider these
basic needs and also the parents should think twice before selecting a
pre-school for their kids. If the foundation is strong, the construction
is undeniably strong. Parents do everything possible and the best for
the well-being of their children. Therefore, their selections especially
in education should be perfect. Otherwise they are the losers and not
After identifying the child with his inborn talents the teacher’s
duty is to use her knowledge on child psychology on coaching the child
while concerning the four main components head, heart, hand and health.
Child needs to be gifted with new knowledge through exposing him to
explorations and engaging in activities that lead to improvement of
knowledge and experience. Moral values and positive attitudes should
also be inculcated in him for socialization and his own well being among
his peer group.
To be continued