The Buddha advised the people to follow the moderate way of life

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
All religions follow a course of training in order to groom the “inner-self”.
The avoidance of extreme of self-indulgence and self-mortification are character of Buddhist training. The Middle way is the avoidance of both extremes, enternalism and annihilation.
The Buddha advised people to follow this Middle Path in every aspect of their lives. But many people have not realised that real meaning and usefulness of Noble Path goes beyond the concern with righteous behaviour, avoiding extremes and taking a moderate course in life. The deeper meaning is learning how to use our human sense faculties most effectively, without misuse or abuse.
The term “Middle Way” was used in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the first teaching that the Buddha delivered after his awakening. In this sutta, the Buddha describes the middle way as a path of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. This, according to him, was the path of wisdom.
Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.
Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (the Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nirvana. And what is that Middle Path realized by the Tathagata…?
It is the Noble Eightfold path, and nothing else, namely:
1. Right understanding, 2. Right thought, 3. Right speech, 4. Right action, 5. Right livelihood, 6. Right effort, 7. Right mindfulness and 8. Right concentration.
According to the scriptural account, when the Buddha delivered the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, he was addressing five ascetics with whom he had previously practiced severe austerities. Thus, it is this personal context as well as the broader context of Indian shramanic practices that gives particular relevancy to the caveat against the extreme (Pali: antâ) of self-mortification (Pali attakilamatha).
Among all religions, Buddhism is one that has withdrawn itself from theistic thought. To understand why this is so, we need to know about the other religions in India during the Buddha’s time. During the period of the Vedas to the time of Upanishad, Brahmana influence was very extensive.
The Brahmana believed in the mysterious creation of the universe. Theirs was a philosophy that believed in the existence of a time of cosmic origin. A god created mankind, and it was believed to be the origin of all things. It was called the God of Birth, the God of Prayer, the Brahman, or “I”. Although the title for the creator varied over time, its implications were the same.
The Brahmana believed that the Brahman was the origin of the universe and of mankind. Spiritually, mankind had similar characteristics to the Mahabrahmanas, that was, a permanent, free, and happy “I” or ego. This was the nature of human life. This spiritual “I” of mankind was the same spirit as that in which adherents of the popular religions believed. The spirit had a close relationship with the god.
The Brahmana regarded the nature of the universe and of human life as permanent, free, and happy.
In reality though, the Brahmanas knew that life in this world, be it normal activities, relationships in society, or even our own body and mind, always brings dissatisfaction.
All phenomena are impermanent and constantly rising and falling, coming and going. Why did a permanent, free and happy existence create such an impermanent and uncomfortable world? This was the great contradiction. However, the Brahmana’s intelligence seems to have been deluded by their emotion. They ignored the contradiction, and only thought of ending their suffering in order to regain the permanently blissful state of the Brahman/god. Hence, the theory of liberation arose.
About the Buddha’s time, there was a great change in Indian thought and ideology. The culture of the Brahmana, which originated in north-west India near the Five Rivers, became most popular near the upper stream of the Ganges River, at a place called Kuru. When their ideas travelled east along the Ganges River, the eastern countries such as Magadha and Vashali, which were influenced by the culture of the West, opposed the teachings of the Brahmana. The old religions in Western India were shaken, and the new religions, with various groups of ascetics in Eastern India were very extreme, and this created many doubts among the people. During this transition period where the new Western and old Eastern ideologies met, the Buddha was born. He introduced a new religion to the era.
The Buddha incorporated the theories of rebirth and of liberation into his teachings. But the Buddha denied the Brahmana’s imaginative theistic theory, and set his own foundations upon an intelligent analysis of reality. He made a thorough change in both theory and practice from the old religions. Although the cycle of life and death, and the attainment of liberation in Nirvana were theories that were accepted by Indian society at that time, the problems lay in the questions of why was there rebirth and how could one be liberated. The Buddha gave wise answers to these questions. This was the teaching of the “Middle Path”. The “Middle Path” distinguished the Buddha’s Teachings from other religions.
“Middle Path” may be misunderstood as equivocal. In fact Buddhism is not as such. “Middle” means neutral, upright, and centered. It means to investigate and penetrate the core of life and all things with an upright, unbiased attitude. In order to solve a problem, we should position ourselves on neutral, upright and unbiased ground.
We investigate the problem from various angles, analyze the findings, understand the truth thoroughly, and find a reasonable conclusion.
(The writer is a lay Buddhist & a Social Activist. He can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com)

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What are we looking for?, the Buddha asked

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
What are we living for? Who are we? What are we here for?
Some say, “We’re here to collect garage.” Is that so? Nowadays, people pick through things that others throw away, finding treasures in others’ garbage. People also plagiarize and copy others’ styles, while neglecting their own inherent talents. They rationale, “If copying isn’t allowed, then where did other people get their styles from? “They renounce the essenceand grasp at trivialities, making things worse by clumsily trying to imitate others.
As a result, their own true wisdom remains concealed and undeveloped. The more they direct their own wisdom remains concealed and undeveloped. The morethey direct their attention outwards, the further away they drift!This is truly a great mistake.
But why are we born here? To pan gold and seek profit? No! To make fortunes? No! Money and material things are not truly useful. When the time comes to die, of what use are they?
What have we come into this world for? Since we have been born here, we should help the world and the people in it. Benefiting living beings is our duty. We shouldn’t degrade the value of our life by directing it towards selfish ends.
We should make benefiting others our top priority and always be concerned about humanity as a whole. The first step inbenefiting others is not to obstruct others.
To benefit ourselves at the expense of others, thus bringing them and affliction to others, is not a proper thing to do.
Being born in this world, our first task is to establish merit and virtue; writing literature is secondary. Merit and virtue are invisible, while words are visible. It is said. “When words are cut off, the mind’s activity ceases.” If we arrive at that state, we are not far from enlightenment.
The writer is the president of an NGO called Population Health Institute (PHI). He can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com

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What meaning is there to life from Buddhist’s view point?

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
The lunar year is coming and I hope everyone will make a great resolve to seek enlightenment!
We’re like fish in an ever-shrinking pond.
What joy is there in this?
Great assembly!
We should be diligent and vigorous as if our own lives where in stake.
Only be mindful of impermanence and be careful not to lac.
TIME FLIES, and the year has gone by before we know it. Next year is approaching.
In the same way, people progress from birth to old age, sickness and death come in quick succession as we pass the years in muddled confusion. Ifwe do not wake up to our own birth and death, then, having been born muddled, we will also die muddled.
What meaning is to there to this kind of life?
Take a look! In every country and family, every person is taking this well-worn path muddled birth and death; we lead our muddled lives in total ignorance.
How does ignorance come about? One unenlightened thought produces the three subtle attributes: the attributes of karma, the attributes of manifestation, and the attribution of turning.
The three subtle attributes result in all the various situations, and each has his own lot in life. Once we recognize what is going on, we should make a great resolve to reach enlightenment and seek wisdom and understanding.
We must first do our best to get rid of our bad habits and faults, for only then can our wisdom shine forth.

The writer is a President of an NGO called Population Health Institute (PHI).
He can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@mail.com

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Buddhism and politics

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
(Contd from previous issue)
In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force.
In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country’s resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, and provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.
In the Jataka, the Buddha had given to rules for Good Government, known as ‘Dasa Raja Dharma’. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows:
a.    be liberal and avoid selfishness, maintain a high moral character,
b.    be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,
c.    be honest and maintain absolute integrity,
d.    be kind and gentle,
e.    lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,
f.    be free from hatred of any kind, exercise non-violence, practise patience,
g.    and respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.
Regarding the behaviour of rulers, He further advised:
– A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular groups of subjects against another.
– A good ruler should not harbour any form of hatred against any of his subjects.
– A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.
– A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. — (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)
In the Milinda Panha, it is stated: ‘If a man, who is unfit, incompetent, immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people, because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public.’ In a Jataka story, it is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country.
The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules righteously they will bless him: ‘Long live His Majesty.’ (Majjhima Nikaya)
The Buddha’s emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century BC to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Dhamma and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his non-aggressive intentions to his neighbours, assuring them of his goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of peace and non-aggression.
He promoted the energetic practice of the socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence, non-violence, considerate behaviour towards all, non-extravagance, non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious freedom and mutual respect for each other’s creed. He went on periodic tours preaching the Dhamma to the rural people. He undertook works of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals, supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly forbade cruelty to animals.
Sometimes the Buddha is said to be a social reformer. Among other things, He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the people. Despite all these, His contribution to mankind is much greater because He took off at a point which no other social reformer before or ever since had done, that is, by going to the deepest roots of human ill which are found in the human mind. It is only in the human mind that true reform can be effected. Reforms imposed by force upon the external world have a very short life because they have no roots. But those reforms which spring as a result of the transformation of man’s inner consciousness remain rooted. While their branches spread outwards, they draw their nourishment from an unfailing source — the subconscious imperatives of the life-stream itself. So reforms come about when men’s minds have prepared the way for them, and they live as long as men revitalize them out of their own love of truth, justice and their fellow men.
The doctrine preached by the Buddha is not one based on ‘Political Philosophy’. Nor is it a doctrine that encourages men to worldly pleasures. It sets out a way to attain Nirvana. In other words, its ultimate aim is to put an end to craving (Tanha) that keeps them in bondage to this world. A stanza from the Dhammapada best summarizes this statement: ‘The path that leads to worldly gain is one, and the path that leads to Nibbana (by leading a religious life) is another.’
However, this does not mean that Buddhists cannot or should not get involved in the political process, which is a social reality. The lives of the members of a society are shaped by laws and regulations, economic arrangements allowed within a country, institutional arrangements, which are influenced by the political arrangements of that society. Nevertheless, if a Buddhist wishes to be involved in politics, he should not misuse religion to gain political powers, nor is it advisable for those who have renounced the worldly life to lead a pure, religious life to be actively involved in politics.
(The writer is President of an NGO called Population Health Institute (PHI). He can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com)

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Buddhism and politics

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
The Buddha had gone beyond all worldly affairs, but still gave advice on good government.
The present political scenario signifies that since the last 15 years, the citizens of Manipur have been victimized in many different ways therefore, a lot of people have said or rather felt that it’s high time for a change.
Manipur to vote for change and development. But who is going to change? Is it going to be BJP or CONGRESS or us, the people?
Since something is better than nothing, and therefore the people cannot deny the fact that the Congress, during the last 15 years of its regime had done some good, bad and ugly works and any Tom, Dick and Henry can see and feel that therefore the Congress definitely have at least done something good, bad and ugly works and for that reason, they are not scared of the opposition at all, of course if they win in this forthcoming general election, the congress have nothing to worry.
But, at the same time, I think it’s high time that the Congress should also correspondingly start preparing answers for questions which, of course they will have no answers to answer for the uncountable number of questions that are going to be thrown upon them by whom? The Buddha knows and of course, we the public too also know to some extent.
Voluminous people of Manipur have stated that they have given enough chances to Congress government since independent but the Congress betrayed the people of Manipur in many ways; especially rising the corruption rate, lack of development in the state, rising of unemployment rapidly and totally breakdown of law and order situation in the state.
Many citizens of Manipur are saying that BJP deserves at least one chance in Manipur for political reasons. Let the Congress prepare to accept their mistakes and move forward for a change. However, it is also said that the people of Manipur will be happy to give a chance to Congress party when they realize their mistakes and when they are ready to serve the citizens of Manipur under the law of the land.
On the other hand, many people say that they will not regret for giving a chance to BJP in this election.
I appeal to all the people that The Buddha bless the people of Manipur and its resources!
The Buddha came from a warrior caste and was naturally brought into association with kings, princes and ministers. Despite His origin and association, He never resorted to the influence of political power to introduce His teaching, nor allowed His Teaching to be misused for gaining political power. But today, many politicians try to drag the Buddha’s name into politics by introducing Him as a communist, capitalist, or even an imperialist. They have forgotten that the new political philosophy as we know it really developed in the West long after the Buddha’s time. Those who try to make use of the good name of the Buddha for their own personal advantage must remember that the Buddha was the Supremely Enlightened One who had gone beyond all worldly concerns.
There is an inherent problem of trying to intermingle religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while that for politics is power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion was used to justify wars and conquests, prosecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture.
When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its high moral ideals and become debased by worldly political demands.
The thrust of the Buddha Dhamma is not directed to the creation of new political institutions and establishing political arrangements. Basically, it seeks to approach the problems of society by reforming the individuals constituting that society and by suggesting some general principles through which the society can be guided towards greater humanism, improved welfare of its members, and more equitable sharing of resources.
There is a limit to the extent to which a political system can safeguard the happiness and prosperity of its people. No political system, no matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. In addition, no matter what political system is adopted, there are certain universal factors which the members of that society will have to experience: the effects of good and bad kamma, the lack of real satisfaction or everlasting happiness in the world characterized by dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence), and anatta (egolessness). To the Buddhist, nowhere in Samsara is there real freedom, not even in the heavens or the world of Brahama.
Although a good and just political system which guarantees basic human rights and contains checks and balances to the use of power is an important condition for a happy in society, people should not fritter away their time by endlessly searching for the ultimate political system where men can be completely free, because complete freedom cannot be found in any system but only in minds which are free. To be free, people will have to look within their own minds and work towards freeing themselves from the chains of ignorance and craving. Freedom in the truest sense is only possible when a person uses Dhamma to develop his character through good speech and action and to train his mind so as to expand his mental potential and achieve his ultimate aim of enlightenment.
While recognizing the usefulness of separating religion from politics and the limitations of political systems in bringing about peace and happiness, there are several aspects of the Buddha’s teaching which have close correspondence to the political arrangements of the present day. Firstly, the Buddha spoke about the equality of all human beings long before Abraham Lincoln, and that classes and castes are artificial barriers erected by society. The only classification of human beings, according to the Buddha, is based on the quality of their moral conduct. Secondly, the Buddha encouraged the spirit of social -cooperation and active participation in society. This spirit is actively promoted in the political process of modern societies. Thirdly, since no one was appointed as the Buddha’s successor, the members of the Order were to be guided by the Dhamma and Vinaya, or in short, the Rule of Law. Until today very member of the Sangha is to abide by the Rule of Law which governs and guides their conduct.
Fourthly, the Buddha encouraged the spirit of consultation and the democratic process. This is shown within the community of the Order in which all members have the right to decide on matters of general concern. When a serious question arose demanding attention, the issues were put before the monks and discussed in a manner similar to the democratic parliamentary system used today. This self-governing procedure may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies of Buddhists in India 2,500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of the parliamentary practice of the present day. A special officer similar to ‘Mr Speaker’ was appointed to preserve the dignity of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, was also appointed to see if the quorum was secured. Matters were put forward in the form of a motion which was open to discussion. In some cases it was done once, in others three times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If the discussion showed a difference of opinion, it was to be settled by the vote of the majority through balloting.
The Buddhist approach to political power is the moralization and the responsible use of public power. The Buddha preached non-violence and peace as a universal message. He did not approve of violence or the destruction of life, and declared that there is no such thing as a ‘just’ war. He taught: ‘The victor breeds hatred, the defeated lives in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.’ Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace, He was perhaps the first and only religious teacher who went to the battlefield personally to prevent the outbreak of a war. He diffused tension between the Sakyas and the Koliyas who were about to wage war over the waters of Rohini. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom of the Vajjis.
The Buddha discussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles.
The Buddha once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.’ (AnguttaraNikaya). (To be contd)
(The writer is President of an NGO called Population Health Institute (PHI). He can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com)

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Being a good (and wise) parent from Buddhist’s perspective

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
When dealing children, it’s helpful to rely on the four sublime abidings –
1) Loving-kindness
2) Compassion
3) Sympathetic and
4) Equanimity
When we bring children into the world, our first instinct is always going to be loving-kindness. We have love for them because they are our children. And one of the foremost qualities of a good parent is helping without wishing for anything in return. We aren’t looking for anything bad, we just give. This is correct-we should always have the sense of well-wishing and kindness for our children. Then when they fall into suffering into any kind, compassion naturally arises. We don’t want them to suffer and so wish for any kind an end to their suffering. Conversely, when our children meet with any kind of success or happiness in life, we can share in that by feeling happy for them and hoping it continues. And finally, if in certain situations they are having problems but it is beyond our ability to help them, then the correct approach is that of equanimity. We have to understand that everyone is subject to their karma, and our children bring their own karma, accumulations – habits, characteristics, personality traits – with them into the world.
If our children are having problems but there is nothing we can say or do, then we have to stay back. This is equanimity, where we have sense of balance and patience. We understand karma and accept that at the moment there is not much we can do to change things. “Oh, at the moment the situations is like this. It’s beyond my control there is not much we can do.” There is still love for them, but we are not trying to force them to change. Conditions will change on their own.
If our children are not able solve things by themselves then maybe later we may be able to teach and help them. But we have to remember, especially in the long term, that things are not certain, that people change. Sometimes children are really good. They have many good qualities, and because of this they are popular. Then they grow up and get married and move away. They have their own families now, their own responsibilities. And that’s it. They have no time left for us because they already have their own duties and obligations.
Our children may start off as being not very ‘good.’ Not very successful, not very responsible. But later on they might be the ones who end up looking after us and helping us most when we are older. I have seen this on many, many occasions. And thinking that the ‘good’ child will stay and look after you and the ‘bad’ child will go away and never help – these are not sure things. They can change one- hundred percent over the course of a life time. So we should remember that Karma is changeable. In the same way, people are changeable. It is not the case that everything is going to be fixed as it is forever. When we remember this truths, it help us to let go a bit more. Our child may have all kinds of good qualities that simply haven’t flowered yet. If we have patience and think in this way, then we don’t have to suffer or worry so much. We can let go and just see what happens.
The writer is a President of an NGO called Population Health Institute (PHI) and he can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com

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All can become Buddhas: Creation never stops, transformations never cease

Thangjam Sanjoo Singh
THE BUDDHA’s light can create living beings by transformation, and so it is said, “All living beings have the Buddha –nature, and all can become Buddhas.”
As people, our breath can also generate an uncountable number of microorganisms. In the breath of one of these microorganisms, limitless numbers of other living beings can also appear by transformation. However, while living beings transformed from the Buddha’s spirit can become Buddhas as soon as they cultivate , the living beings who are transformed from those living beings are one level removed, so it isn’t as easy for them to become Buddhas.
Animals can also create beings by transformation, because they have breath. A profusion of microorganisms is hidden in their breath. Under suitable conditions, they can turn into living beings. If the aiding conditions aren’t present, they disappear. Similarly, there are infinite numbers of germs and bacteria in our bodies which are also living beings. The germs can also create more germs by transformation.
If we analyse this more deeply, we find that large living beings can create large living beings by transformation. They are all multiplying prolifically, each within its own kind. Consequently, there are boundlessly many living beings in the world, and the more they multiply, the more numerous they become. When they multiply to the point that there isn’t enough room in the world for so many living beings, the world will be destroyed. This world will be destroyed and, another world will be created. This is all part of the process of becoming deluded and muddled in this process, we don’t try to gain a clear understanding because we think we already understand very well.
The Doctrine of the Mean says, “People all say, “I know,” but when they are driven into various nets, traps, or pitfalls, they don’t know the ways to escape.” Would you called that wisdom or stupidity?
Living beings all need to eat. The reasons whales can be trained to perform tricks obediently is that they want to eat. If they are rewarded with a piece of meat, they will do whatever they are told. People are controlled by their desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep; as a result they become deluded and muddled. They are travelling along a dangerous road and have forgotten to return home. The more they wander, the farther from home they stray. The farther they stray, the more they wander. Drifting and flowing in the bitter sea of birth and death, they don’t know enough to pull themselves out. See how pitiful they are!
If living beings aren’t confused by money than they are confused by sex. They are always involved with these two things, and cannot get away from them. They may also be confused by food, fame, or by sleep. These are all false attachments of living beings. They have no way to smash through their confusion. If they could, they will be free.
(The writer is a student of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, whose Dharma name is An Tse and style name is TuLun. He is also called The Monk in the Grave. The writer can be reached at thangjamsanjoo42@gmai.com)

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Suspense in Manipur

Manipur has been under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act since the end of 1979. Irom Sharmila Chanu’s 16-year-old fast for its repeal failed to impress the powers that be. After giving up her lone crusade in August this year, on 18 October she formed a political party and is determined to replace three-time chief minister Ibobi Singh so as to be able to recommend that the Centre withdraw it.
Manipur is the only state in the North-east with multi-faceted problems. With the NSCN (IM) demanding the integration of all Naga-inhabited areas, it faces the threat of being disintegrated. Then there are problems like growing unemployment, non-fulfilment of the people’s democratic aspirations, lack of development, continued insurgency and demands by various ethnic groups for a separate homeland or autonomy and the presence of a large number of migrants.
With the next assembly election round the corner — expected in February-March — political parties are gearing up but so far none have come out with any concrete agenda.  The people want them to present practical plans that can be acted upon and sustained to solve the state’s problems. The big question is: will Ibobi, serving his third consecutive term, be able to deliver the goods?
Or can the BJP, with its dynamic Prime Minister, pledge a viable solution to Manipur’s problems to win votes? To achieve this, it has to come out with concrete proposals, like a vision document, and take a stand on whether or not it will be specific on the continuation/discontinuation of the much-hated AF(SP) Act. People have had enough of pre-poll rhetoric and promises in the past. And money/muscle power is not likely to work.
Some disenchanted Congress legislators have already sought greener pastures, thinking the ruling team will bite the dust. Not unexpected, because legislators in the state are too fickle-minded and easily lean towards whichever party is in power at the Centre.
Seasoned Congressman Nongthombam Biren is already with the BJP.  He wants a firm stand on outsiders not dictating terms in the state before India’s Act East Policy becomes effective. The idea is to prevent powerful and influential parties from holding on to the state’s land for their business. He also wants the BJP to stop the activities of tribal rebel groups that are in the “Suspension of Operations” mode for some years, by signing deals with them, make the National Highways four-lane, ensure security along these by deploying  a protection force and not disturb the state’s boundary to please the Nagas  while signing the final deal with them. Last but not least, he wants a separate budget for the hills to bring about a balanced development.
The other to desert is dissident Congress leader Y Irabot. Some other MLAs are also under pressure by Inner Line Permit volunteers and activists to join the BJP. Visits by Central leaders have boosted the morale of the state unit.
Another Congress MLA to have quit is Francis Ngajokpa from Tadubi. Four sitting Trinamul Congress MLAs, meanwhile, have joined the Congress,
The Congress wants to enact bills to check infiltration and the BJP also seems to favour this. So it remains to be seen how it will respond when the Congress government introduces a Bill to this  effect and also what its stand will be on the demand by the Meiteis for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes list.
So far, no official word has come out on these issues from political parties. And sooner or later they will have to take a stand. And what about the “Framework” Agreement signed by the Centre and the NSCN (IM) last year?
Maybe this is where the Congress will attempt to deliver blows on the BJP, reminding the people that the phrase “‘ceasefire without territorial limits” was inserted when the BJP extended the Nagaland ceasefire to Manipur’s four hill districts in June 2001 when the state was under a short spell of President’s Rule and the BJP was in power at the Centre. The BJP may hit back with the assertion that there is a “Congress leader” who has actually backed the demand for Naga integration some time back.
The present political scenario is one of a total breakdown of law and order and people feel they have been deprived of their constitutional rights for far too long. They feel it is time for a change and they have a legitimate right to effect such a change.
Being a resourceful state, Manipur’s people wish to have a sincere, committed and dedicated government that can be practical in solving problems like corruption, lack of development, total breakdown of law and order, something which the Ibobi government has not been able to tackle. Only a strong, selfless and dedicated leadership will be able to lift Manipur from the morass.

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What is Buddhism ?

What is Buddhadharma? Buddhadharma is simply worldly dharma, but it’s a variety of worldly dharma that many people are unwilling to use. Though Buddhadharma simply means worldly dharma, nonetheless first we should know what Dharma actually means. It means truth, that which really is; it also means law – the law which exists in the man’s own heart and mind; it is the principle of righteousness; therefore, the Buddha advises to man to be noble, pure and worthy of honour. Dharma, this law of righteousness, exists not only in a man’s heart and mind, but exists in the universe also. The etymological meaning word is ‘that which has upholds or supports’, therefore is Dharma is every principle on which on the cosmos operates.

The entire universe is an embodiment or revelation of the Dharma. The law of nature which modern science has discovered is the revelations of Dharma, for Dharma is that law within the universe which makes matter act in the way studied to physics, chemistry, zoology, botany and astronomy. Dharma exists in the universe just as gravity, wind and heat. The teaching of the Buddha is called Dharma because he explained how natural occurrences take place according to world conditions and universal law. Buddhism is the philosophy of awakening. Buddhism as religion or a science is unique in the importance it attaches to philosophy and metaphysical inquiry. As such, it is often regarded as the most advanced of the philosophic systems of India. Ethics, science and philosophy are delicately interwoven into the system, which is divorced from mythology and which attempts to unravel the real nature of life.

There is no aspect of the Buddha-Dharma, or the Buddha teachings, which does not stem from the logical and rational foundations of that philosophy. The Buddha Dharma is to pave the way for final salvation by leading a noble life. Buddhism may be defined as way of life, called the Noble Eightfold Path, leading to a goal called Nirvana. This goal or deliverance is the state of supreme good, because it is free from defects, and has ultimate peace, purity and the highest happiness that our minds can conceive. Yet, it is something, which cannot be conferred by another person, however exalted he or she may be, but must be won by one’s own effort. Buddhism teaches the principle that everything in the world comes on account of something else. There is no first event or first cause.

Most people keep themselves busy running around and are constantly hurried and agitated. The primal source of all this activity is selfishness, motivated by a concern to protect one’s life and possessions. Buddhadarma, on the other hand, is unselfish and public-spirited, and springs from a wish to benefit others. As we learn the Buddhadharma, our every action gradually comes to include in its scope a concern for others. The ego gradually loses its importance. We should give up our own interests in service to others, and avoid bringing affliction to others. These are the hallmarks of the Buddhadharma. But most people fail to clearly understand these basic ideas. When that lack of understanding reaches even Buddhist circles, then struggle and contention, troubles and hassles and contention, quarrels and strife may result.

If that happens, then how Buddhists behave will not be all that the way most anyone behaves. Sometimes the relationships within the Buddhist groups don’t even measure up to the standards of ordinary social conduct. That occurs when people study Buddhism on the one hand and creates offences on the other. They do good deeds, and in the nest breath destroy the merit and virtue they’ve earned. Instead of advancing the cause of Buddhism, such behaviour actually harms it. The Buddha referred to such people as “parasites on the lion, feeding off the lion’s flesh.”

We Buddhists cannot expect any results from our cultivation if we are selfish and profiteering, unable to put things down and see through our attachments.

The motto of Buddhists must be:

Let me truly recognize my even own faults, And not discuss others’ shortcomings. Others’ faults are just my own: Being one with all things in Great Compassion.

If we want to thoroughly understand the truths of Buddhism, then we must first cultivate patience and giving. Then we can come to accomplishment. We must turn ourselves around and be different from ordinary people. We can no longer flow along with the turbid currents of life. Cultivating the Way simply means “turning ourselves around.” This means simply “giving desirable situations and benefits to other people, and keeping the unfavourable situations for ourselves.” We renounce the petty self in order to bring to perfection the greater self.

All disciples who have taken refuge with the Buddha are like the flesh and blood of his own body. No matter which piece of flesh is severed from his body.  His hurts him just the same. No matter where he bleed, the wound injuries his constitution. Because of this, all of you must be united. To make Buddhism expand and flourish, you must take a lost in situations where most people are unable to. You must endure the insults that ordinary people find unendurable. Expand the measure of your minds and be true in your actions. When you’re not trying to be true, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas are aware of it. No one can cheat them. Each of you should examine your own faults and earnestly correct the flaws in your character. Truly recognize where in the past you’ve been upside-down and where your behaviour has departed from principles. Be honest, forget about yourselves, and work for the sake of all Buddhism and all of society.

No matter where you look in the world, every organisation and every society has its own complications and power struggles. At the Way-places, schools, and institutes that belong to the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, we must correct these faults. Naturally, we can’t expect perfection immediately,but we can hope to improve step by step. We can change things until we reach the ultimate point of perfection. Then in thought after thought, we must preserve this wholesome behaviour and maintain our resolve and purpose as we go about disseminating Buddhism, so that its light spreads far and wide. All disciples of the Buddha share this responsibility equally. We must think, “If Buddhism fails to flourish, I haven’t fulfilled my responsibilities”. Don’t pass your duty to others. If we can shoulder our responsibility in this way, then in the near future, Buddhism will certainly expand and spread to every corner of the world!

As Buddhist disciples, do we seek the Buddhas’ aid every day? Do we pray that the Buddha will help us get rich, help us to rise in power, or help us to develop wisdom? Are we concerned only with personal advantages? Do we forget all about making a contribution to Buddhism? Have we brought a genuine resolve or not? Is it right at this point that we must reflect inwardly. When we took refuge with Triple Jewel, we made the four vows of Bodhisattvas:

1. Living beings are numberless, I vow to save them all. Ask yourself, “Have I saved any living beings?” If so, then why not save a few more? And if not, then quickly turn them over right away!

2. Afflictions are infinite, I vow to cut them all off. There is a limitless quantity of afflictions, but we must reverse them, transform them into Bodhi. “Have I reversed them?” If not, then quickly turn them over right away!

3. Dharma – doors are measureless, I vow to learn them all. Ask yourself, “Have I learned any of the Buddhadharma? Have I brought forth the slightest bit for strength for Buddhism? Have I been too rigid and inflexible in my study of the teachings? Is my study of the various Dharma- doors off and on?”

4. The Buddha Way is supreme, I vow to realise it. There is no dharma on earth that surpass the Buddha’s Way, no one that is more ultimate. Have I really made a resolve to accomplish Buddhahood?

What’s more, we shouldn’t resolve to accomplish the Buddhahood for ourselves alone, but to take all living beings across the Buddhahood. In the past, Shakyamuni Buddha “cultivated blessings and wisdom for the three great innumerable eons, and develop the fine features and hallmark for one hundred eons.” His sincerity in seeking the Dharma was truly noble. We should all imitate his model of vigour. Don’t fail to gain any genuine benefit from the Dharma. Don’t fail to experience the greatest of the spirit of the Buddhadharma. Be sure not to place yourselves outside the Buddhadharma, without being able to deeply enter it.

Our attitude should be, “if Buddhism is going on to flourish, then it must begin with me.” What we need are true hearts, endowed with a genuine spirit of devotion to the Buddhadharma. Work hard and break free of the small circles that you’ve drawn around yourselves. Take the entire Dharma Realm as your own body! Let all of empty space be your field of action! This means, “bringing forth thoughts that linger nowhere.” If every person would really do this, then Buddhism could truly flourish in Manipur.
(You can reached the writer at thangjamsanjoo42@gmail.com)

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