Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms
Talk No. 4
September 3, 2000
By Ajahn Suchart (Abhijato Bhikkhu)
Translated by Chantaporn Gomutputra
Edited by June Gibb
attano nadho, we are our own refuge is the central theme of Buddhist teaching.
The Buddha teaches us to rely only on ourselves because we are the
creator of good and evil, and the one who will reap their corresponding results
of happiness and pain. The creating
mechanism of good and evil, joy and sorrow, heaven and hell are inside our mind.
Mind is the principal architect.
The Buddha therefore concludes that the mind is the chief, the forerunner
of all things. It is both a doer
and a receiver of its own actions. The mind is the master who gives order to his
servant, the body, to do and say things.
are three kinds of actions or kamma namely physical, verbal and mental.
When we do good kamma, happiness, progress and heaven will be the results
that follow. On the other hand when we do evil kamma, then pain, worry, anxiety
and degradation will follow. After
death, the mind will go to one of the four states of deprivation (apaya-bhumi)
such as hell for example. Therefore,
the Buddha insists that we must rely only on ourselves.
We shouldnít wait for someone else to create happiness and prosperity,
heaven and nibbana for us. We must
do it ourselves. To pray to Buddha
images or to ask monks for blessings of success and prosperity is not the Dhamma
teaching of the Buddha because he can only point the way to peace, happiness,
and prosperity, and the way to suffering and deterioration.
His teaching can be summarized as follows: avoid doing evil, do good and
cleanse the mind of all impurities.
good kamma or making merits such as giving to charity is like depositing money
in a bank. The more we deposit the
more money we will have accumulated. The interest will also increase and soon we
will be rich. On the other hand,
doing evil kamma is like borrowing money from the bank in which we would have to
pay back the loan plus the interest as well. It can become a heavy burden to
bear. People in debt are always
anxious and worried, unlike those who have money in the bank, who are always
smiling because their money keeps growing all the time. It is the same with making merits. It gives us peace of mind; make us feel happy and content.
But when we do bad kamma, our mind would be set on fire.
We become worried and restless. This
we can see because itís happening in our mind instantaneously, here and now,
not in the next life. Therefore, if
we want to be happy and prosperous, to sleep well and suffer no pain, then we
must do only good kamma and avoid doing bad kamma.
are ten ways to make merits or do good kamma as recommended by the Buddha namely,
Dana, giving, liberality; offering, alms.
Specifically, giving of any of the four requisites to the
monastic order. More generally, the inclination to give, without expecting any form of repayment
from the recipient.
the quality of ethical and moral purity that prevents one from falling away from
path. Also, the training precepts that restrain one from performing unskillful actions.
mental cultivation or development; meditation.
merits to the deceased.
congratulating on the merits or good kamma done by others.
or correct view.
to a Dhamma talk.
we are doing today is called dana or giving.
After we have given something good and valuable like money for example,
we would feel content because we have overcome our selfishness, greed, and
miserliness. If we only think of
ourselves, are greedy and selfish, we would always be hungry and lusting.
By giving we can overcome them and make ourselves happy and satisfied.
have sila is to abstain from hurting others by what we say and do such as
killing, stealing, committing adultery, telling lies, and drinking alcohol,
which could only hurt us and other people.
Sila helps us eliminate stress, anxiety and worry that come from our
misconducts. When we lie, cheat or
steal we would worry about being caught and punished.
bhavana is to cleanse our mind of defilement or kilesa like craving, greed,
anger and delusion that make us depressed and miserable. It is like washing our
clothes. In order to do it
successfully following the example of the Buddha and his noble disciples, we
need to have mental collectedness (samadhi) and discernment (panna) just as we
need water and detergent to do our laundry.
developing samadhi and panna the Buddha eventually achieved enlightenment, thus
becoming a Buddha, one who rediscovers for himself the
liberating path of Dhamma, after a long period of its having been forgotten by
the world. He also became an
arahant, a worthy one or pure one; whose mind is free of defilement (kilesa),
who has abandoned all ten of the fetters (samyojana) that bind the mind to the
cycle of rebirth, whose heart is free of mental effluents (asava), and who is
thus not destined for further rebirth. Along
with enlightenment the Buddha also realized the supreme bliss that is
unsurpassed by anything in this world be it wealth, status, praise or sensual
pleasure. The only way we can acquire it is through the practice of mind
development (bhavana), developing samadhi and panna until the mind realizes
vimutti or freedom from all forms of suffering (dukkha).
dedicate merits to the deceased means to share the
of well being that comes from having acted rightly or well.
The recipients of our dedication are those people who have passed away and
acquire the existence of a peta, a hungry ghost, one
of a class of beings in the lower realms, sometimes capable of appearing to
human beings. The peta are often depicted in Buddhist art as starving beings
with pinhole-sized mouths through which they can never pass enough food to ease
their hunger. We
canít dedicate our merits to the living since they can make merits for
themselves and in greater quantity. The
peta on the other hand are not able to do so
and must rely on the living to do it for them. Those
who are reborn in the human world or in the heavens have accumulated enough
merits to keep them satiated and happy or are able to acquire more merits if
they wish to do so. Those who are reborn in hell canít also receive our
dedication because they are completely consumed by the fire of suffering.
peta who lust for our dedication are like beggars. Only a tiny fraction of the merits we have accumulated can be
shared with them, like money for a bus fare or a cheap meal. That is all.
Therefore, every time we have done something right or well like giving to
charity and would like to do something for those who have passed away such as
members of our family or friends, we could dedicate this merit to them.
They might be waiting. But
for us who are still alive, we shouldnít be complacent.
Donít expect that after we die, others would share merit with us.
Even if they do, itís very little.
We can accumulate a lot more merits ourselves while we are still alive
like what we do today, coming to the temple to give alms, keeping the moral
precepts and listening to a Dhamma talk, which are a lot more merits than what
the peta would receive. Every time
we give alms we should share this merit with those who have passed away.
If they are waiting they would receive it and we would also gain more
merit by sharing it.
is to congratulate someone who has acted rightly or well. When we show our
appreciation we would feel good. Acting rightly or well doesnít hurt anyone;
it only brings benefits. Even if we donít directly benefit from it, we should
not feel jealous, because it is a form of kilesa that would only make us feel
miserable. On the other hand, if we congratulate and show our admiration, we
would be happy. Acting rightly or
well is like waves in the ocean that will eventually hit the shore, sooner or
later the benefits will eventually come to us.
When someone in the community acts rightly or well, the community as a
whole would gain by making it safe and peaceful and will benefit. It becomes a
good, peaceful community. When the community is peaceful, we who live there will
benefit from that. Therefore, when we see someone acting rightly or well we
should show our support and admiration.
serve others is quite obvious, so thereís no need to go into further detail.
or modesty is a virtue that can only endear us to others; as opposed to
arrogance, which can only generate aversion.
If we still need the support and goodwill of other people and donít
want to be isolated, we should be humble and modest.
have right or correct view is to understand the law of nature or the truth that
governs our existence, such as attahi attano nadho, we are our own refuge
because we are the one who makes us happy or sad, good or bad. When we realize
this, we would know how to live happily and prosperously, because we know that
by acting rightly or well we would be happy, and by acting wrongly or badly we
would be miserable.
we believe this law of nature and act wholesomely and meritoriously we would
gain happiness and a favorable outcome. If
we donít, but still act wholesomely, we would also reap the same benefit. But if we donít believe and act unwholesomely we would
surely gain an unfavorable outcome. If
we believe we would definitely not dare to misbehave or do wrong. Believers
would benefit from this law of nature while non-believers would not because they
would rather misbehave. Driven by the domineering kilesa such as greed, anger
and delusion, they would rather act wrongly or badly since they donít believe
in heaven or hell, in rebirth and in reaping the fruits of their kamma in a
is due to having the wrong view of the law of nature that would propel them to
endless rounds of rebirth and ceaseless pain and suffering resulting from their
unwholesome actions, because of their inability to get rid of greed, anger and
delusion. On the other hand, those who have the right view of the truth would
know that it is their unwholesome kamma that generates the unfavorable
consequences that they themselves would have to bear. They would then act
rightly and well because they wouldnít like to reap the undesirable outcome.
By continuing to act wholesomely and meritoriously, their minds would
gradually advance until reaching the same level that the Buddha and his noble
disciples have achieved
listen to a Dhamma talk is a very profitable experience because the Dhamma is
like a light in the dark that will dispel the delusion in our mind that blind us
from the truth. There are no
benefits to be gained from associating with those who are similarly deluded. We
should instead stick with those who are not deluded, like the Buddha and his
noble disciples who have acquired the light of Dhamma that makes them know right
from wrong, good from bad. If we
regularly listen to their Dhamma teaching, we would gain knowledge, wisdom and
insight that would make us do only whatís good and right and would generate
good and favorable outcome. For
these reasons listening to a Dhamma talk is another way to make merits
Dhamma to others is another way of making merits. If we know some Dhamma,
however little, we should teach it to others.
When someone we know has fallen on hard times and doesnít know how to
get out of his or her predicament, a little word of Dhamma advice could be
extremely useful, and could give him or her the strength to carry on.
These days we are lacking in Dhamma. When in trouble, we donít know
where to turn to for support and encouragement because we havenít been going
to the temples to listen to the Dhamma teaching, to train and develop our mind.
So when we run into troubles we wouldnít know how to cope with them when in
fact they could all be easily dealt with if we could accept the fact that
whatever will be, will be. We must
face up to reality. Whatever we do
we would have to pay for it sooner or later.
we did something wrong, accept it and be ready to face the consequences.
If we should lose everything, so be it. If we think like this, there
would be nobody committing suicide. But these days when we are confronted with
unfavorable outcome, we wouldnít know what to do except thinking of killing
ourselves to escape from it, not realizing that we could only kill only the body.
The mind would continue to suffer in hell. When we are reborn as a human being
again, we would commit suicide again when we run into troubles that we
couldnít cope with. The Buddha says that for each suicide committed another
500 suicides would follow in future human existences because itís habit
only way to break this vicious circle is to turn to Dhamma and use it to cope
with our adversity. Use patience,
perseverance and tolerance to face up to our problem, however severe it may be.
We must not run away, even if it means going to jail or condemnation, just think
of it as the consequence of our past unwholesome kamma. Once itís paid off it
would be gone forever.
of us probably think that to make merits is to give to charity only when in fact
there are other ways to make merits. Like eating, we donít eat rice alone; we
also consume vegetables and fruits. Our body needs the five food groups in order
for it to be strong and healthy. Similarly, our mind would only develop if we
cultivate the ten ways to make merits. It
is therefore incumbent on us to put what we hear today into practice.
Then and only then would we reap the favorable outcome of bliss and