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The Way to True Happiness
Translated from talks given in Thai by
Venerable Ajahn Dtun Thiracitto

The Ten Spiritual Perfections
Page 59-77


รูปภาพ

The Ten Spiritual Perfections
Translated from talks given in Thai by...
Venerable Ajahn Dtun Thiracitto
Wat Boonyawad, Amphoe Bo Thong, Chonburi
31st December 2555 (2012)

⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱

Today is the 31st of December 2555. It is generally considered to be the last day of the year, or more commonly called New Year’s Eve. On this particular day a great many people think only about wanting to have a good time and this they try to achieve by seeking happiness from sensory pleasures and material objects. Furthermore, many people will go out to a variety of places of entertainment because it is regarded by most people in the world that they will experience happiness and enjoyment there.

Everyone who has gathered here this evening, whether monastic or lay, share a common aspiration to transcend dukkha (suffering, discontent) and to experience true happiness in our lives. By coming here for the evening chanting and meditation period, we are all cultivating the meritorious actions of observing the moral precepts, practicing meditation and finally listening to a Dhamma
*1 talk. In choosing to be here, one is also building up the pāramīs*2 (spiritual perfections) within one’s heart rather than letting one’s time pass by in vain. It is important that we always keep trying to strengthen the ten spiritual perfections because when we do so we are cultivating the path of practice that all the Buddhas and their arahant (fully enlightened being) disciples followed. They slowly built up and matured all ten spiritual perfections.

It is interesting to look at how the Buddhas and their arahant disciples developed the
dāna (generosity) pāramī. In every human lifetime their kind nature would incline them to want to make merit by practicing generosity. Whenever they had the means and resources they would naturally want to share their wealth depending upon the strength of their eagerness to give, as well as the suitability of the time and the occasion.

In every lifetime they would also endeavor to strengthen their
sīla (moral virtue) pāramī.

We too should do the same. When we have enough awareness and wisdom to see the harm in transgressing any of the moral precepts we will naturally see the benefit of maintaining each of the five precepts
*3. For those who see the benefit of observing the eight precepts*4, the ten precepts of novice monks, or the 227 precepts of fully ordained monks, then they will do so respectively. One’s ability to keep a greater number of precepts will of course depend upon the strength of one’s resolve to do so.

To cultivate the
nekkhama (renunciation) pāramī requires that we remove ourselves from our homes, our families and society. In doing so, we put aside all of our work and responsibilities to give more time to developing our Dhamma practice. One may choose to seek out suitable places for practice that are located in either forests, mountains or caves, while some people (just like yourselves) choose to practice in monasteries. One’s choice of place is always made with the aim to devote more time to observing moral precepts and cultivating one’s mind through the practice of meditation. In coming here to practice meditation we are also practicing letting go of the attachment that we have towards other people, our homes, our wealth and everything in general. One actually gets to know how it feels to remove oneself from all of these things. This pāramī must be strengthened every time one takes a human birth.

The strengthening of the
paññā (wisdom) pāramī depends upon the arising of the faculties of mindfulness and wisdom. These two faculties help us to see the benefit, or the virtue, of continually performing good deeds and practicing generosity to the utmost of our ability. It will also assist us to see the pain and the danger of remaining within samsara, the continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth. If we can see this clearly we will then be able to see and clearly understand the nature of dukkha, both mental and physical, by seeing that regardless of however many times we take birth there is no one who can escape from sickness, ageing, and death. Once we have the wisdom to perceive the danger within samsara, then we must use our mindfulness and wisdom to try to find a way out of this cycle. The way out is to let go of our attachment towards absolutely everything. Only then will we free ourselves from all suffering and discontent.

When developing the
khanti (patient endurance) pāramī we need to have the mental strength to be able to endure with the cold, heat, and all other kinds of physical discomfort. The mental discomfort stirred up by our thoughts, moods and emotions must also be patiently endured. The development of the khanti pāramī therefore strengthens our hearts so that we can tolerate both bodily and mental discomforts.

To develop the
viriya (effort) pāramī requires that we constantly put forth effort into removing the kilesas (mental defilements) of greed, anger, and delusion from our hearts. With patience and endurance we should energetically apply ourselves to the practice of sitting and walking meditation in order that we can free our minds from all mental impurities.

The
sacca (truthfulness-being true to one’s word) pāramī must be gradually built up and made strong. Whenever we make promises or resolutions we must always attempt to honor them. In every lifetime it is important to practice in this way, never wavering or becoming discouraged. However, for someone who has yet to develop this particular perfection to a strong degree, when they make vows and promises they may not always be able to fulfill them or remain completely true to them. If such is the case, we must then re-establish our intention and try again. And if we fail again, then try again...As the saying goes : “If you fall down, pick yourself up and continue walking on.” We must always keep working at the practice, training ourselves to be resolute and determined. And as a consequence, our sacca pāramī will grow in strength.

The
adhitthāna (determination, resolution) pāramī is all about the establishing of goals and resolutions that we then determine to fulfill, for example : “May I transcend all dukkha and realize true liberation–Nibbana.” Some people may express their aspiration in terms of wishing to attain to a particular stage of enlightenment on the Noble Path to Liberation, for example : “May I always strive for the attainment of Stream Entry (sotāpanna–first stage on the Noble Path.)” Once having set a goal or aspiration for ourself, we must then work to build upon all of the spiritual perfections so as to realize our goal. All the Buddhas practiced in this way by making a solemn resolution to become a future Buddha. Their arahant disciples also established determinations, such as to take the spiritual practice to its very end and thus attain arahantship-full enlightenment. Once having made a resolution they would work to create the causes and conditions that would enable them to perfect the pāramīs to the degree necessary to realize their goal. When making resolutions we should aim for the highest : to realize Nibbana-the complete extinction of all mental defilements within the heart thus bringing dukkha to its final cessation. Even though at times we may feel that we are so far way from our goals and that they are extremely difficult to achieve, but nevertheless, we must still aspire for the highest. If by the end of this present life we have still not realized our goals, the perfections that we have accumulated will serve as a supportive conditioning to continue perfecting the pāramīs in our future lives. It takes many, many lifetimes to build up the spiritual perfections to the degree necessary to attain our goals. It is for this reason that one must always be developing the adhitthāna pāramī because it serves to give direction to one’s spiritual practice.

Mettā (kind-heartedness) is also another pāramī that must be developed. It is a quality that we should always try to have present within our hearts. Feelings of mettā must be directed not only towards oneself, but also towards all fellow human beings and all sentient beings in general. When developed, mettā provides us with an antidote for any feelings of anger, ill-will and vengeance. We must try to cultivate to quality every day until we become skilled at doing so, thus making it habitual or a characteristic of ours. For anyone who continually cultivates mettā, wherever they go they will tend to travel safely and experience very few obstacles. And for anyone who can develop this quality until it is boundless in its extent, their heart will naturally dwell in peace and c oolness.

Whenever we are feeling unhappy or experience any kind of suffering or discontent, we must practice developing the
upekkhā (equanimity) pāramī. This means that we have to develop the ability to make our hearts equanimous and objective towards all feelings of pleasure and displeasure that may arise in relation to sights, sounds, odours, tastes, and bodily sensations. Upekkhā is another spiritual perfection that must be developed until its presence is firm within the heart.

This then is a brief outline of the ten pāramīs that must be practiced and further enhanced in each lifetime that we take a human birth. All the Buddhas had to cultivate each of these ten pāramī to their absolute perfection, thereby creating the necessary conditions for their supreme attainment of self-enlightenment. All arahants had to build up all of the ten pāramīs in the course of their spiritual practice, ever since distant past lives until their very last life. And when all ten perfections were sufficiently developed they were able to realize Nibbana-absolute liberation. Therefore, we must take this present opportunity that we have to develop ourselves by carefully following in the footsteps of the Buddha and his arahant disciples. Every day we must give our care, attention and energy to developing all that is virtuous, together with the ten spiritual perfections.

As we cultivate the spiritual perfections, they will gradually grow in strength to become more and more complete. With the frequent practicing of generosity our hearts will grow in strength and we will also be going against any ungenerous tendencies that we may have, until finally we are able to give with a heart that is free from all hesitancy.

Over time our commitment to observing correct moral behavior will also gradually grow stronger. Through our Dhamma practice we will be able to build up the patience and strength of mind that is necessary to prevent us from breaking any of the moral precepts.

To practice renunciation we must do so by having periods of time away from our homes so that we can give more time to cultivating and strengthening our minds through the practice of meditation. If we neglect to develop this particular pāramī by never thinking to come and stay here in the monastery or any other quiet and suitable place, then we will tend to become creatures of pleasure that are attached to their homes and all the comforts that they provide. Also, we will remain overly concerned about not only ourselves, but also our families and relations. It is our attachment towards all of these things that makes it difficult for us to distance ourselves from them. If we develop this pāramī in each lifetime it will wholesomely condition our minds to be resolute and enable us to easily put down all of our worldly worries and concerns.

The remaining pāramīs of wisdom, patient-endurance, effort, truthfulness, resolution, kind-heartedness and equanimity must also be enhanced in each and every lifetime in order to make our hearts strong and resolute. All of the pāramīs that we practice and build up will eventually gather into one single force within the heart causing our hearts to be much stronger than those who have never given any attention to spiritual development. Therefore, the practicing of all that is good, meritorious and wholesome greatly strengthens our hearts.If we have cultivated the strength of the sīla pāramī since previous lifetimes, we will not find it difficult in this present life to observe the five or eight moral precepts. And for some people they will have no difficulty at all in observing the ten precepts of a novice monk or the 227 precepts of a fully ordained monk. This is because they have developed the sīla pāramī to a strong degree in their previous lives hence finding it comparatively easy to be a monastic in this present life. There are other people, however, who meet with continuous difficulties and obstructions when wanting to live the monastic life. This is due to the fact that they have not accumulated the sīla pāramī to a sufficient degree. In truth, there are a great many people who will never be able to live the monastic life in this lifetime. Therefore, if our commitment to practicing correct moral behavior keeps growing in strength over many lifetimes, our sīla pāramī will also grow stronger and we will observe the moral precepts with ever greater ease.

When we wish to develop concentration we will often have to do so in combination with the practice of renunciation by going off into the mountains, forests, caves or other places of seclusion so that we can devote ourselves to the practice of meditation. If in our previous lives we have given a lot of time and effort to the development of concentration, it will serve as a supportive conditioning that will carry through into this present life and we will find it easy to develop the meditative calm of concentration. However, anyone who in their past lives did not make the effort to build up the strength of concentration will find it difficult to develop concentration in this present life. If we are aware that our ability to concentrate the mind is weak then we must put a lot of effort into developing concentration in this present life. If over time we increase our effort in the practice of meditation, the calmness and peacefulness of concentration will gradually arise. The practice of meditation works to strengthen the mind and also supports the development of mindfulness and patient endurance. One’s wisdom faculty, often called mindfulness and wisdom, will also gradually grow in strength.

The path of practice that leads to Nibbana is to practice good deeds and generosity in abundance, together with cultivating sīla, samādhi and paññā-moral virtue, concentration and wisdom. The cultivation of all these path factors will give rise to sati-paññā-mindfulness and wisdom. It is the development of mindfulness and wisdom that enables us to deeply understand the Four Noble Truths; that is, to understand the nature of dukkha, its cause, its cessation and the path of practice that leads to the state of cessation. If we cultivate our hearts according to this path we will be gradually freeing them from all greed, anger and suffering. As a result, our hearts will be slowly cleansed until they are made pure. This way of practice transforms the mind from the state of being unenlightened to that of a Noble One-a being who has attained to any of the four stages of enlightenment on the Noble Path to Liberation
*5.

To attain to the first stage of enlightenment, that of stream entry, requires that mindfulness and wisdom be powerful enough to clearly see that the body is not the mind and the mind is not the body. This insight will transform the mind by weakening our attachment to the belief in the existence of a self. And as a consequence the emotions of greed and anger will also be weakened in force. Actually, it is not too difficult at all to follow the Buddha’s path of practice. To develop the strength of moral discipline one must always maintain the moral precepts that one has chosen to observe whether it be five, eight, ten or 227 precepts. Together with this we must also try to make time every day for practicing meditation. When we are able to maintain the mental calmness and equilibrium obtained from practicing meditation, our mindfulness and wisdom will consequently grow sharper. Whenever sights, sounds, odours, tastes, and bodily sensations are experienced our faculties of mindfulness and wisdom will easily abandon any emotions of greed and anger, or satisfaction and dissatisfaction that arise. The mind will constantly see the impermanence of all the arising thoughts, moods, and emotions and will therefore be easily made equanimous.

Once we have established a foundation of concentration within our hearts, our mindfulness and wisdom will be able to contemplate the body with greater clarity. When practicing body contemplation we place the greatest emphasis upon our own body. There are a number of ways or methods that we can use to contemplate the body, and they should be practiced frequently. For instance, one may choose to contemplate the “thirty-two parts,” these being the simple constituent parts that make up a human body, or one may choose to remain within the scope of the five principal objects of contemplation: hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin. Each part should be reflected upon with the aim of seeing its intrinsic impermanence because all parts ultimately break apart and disintegrate. Alternatively, one may choose to contemplate any of the asubha reflections on the loathsomeness and unattractiveness of the body. Asubha contemplations are, once again, practiced so as to see the body’s impermanent nature as it goes through the stages of gradual disintegration with a special emphasis being placed on seeing the breaking apart of the body after death. Another way to contemplate the body is to separate the body out into the four elements of earth, water, air and fire in order to see the body’s impermanence and its complete absence of any abiding entity that could be called a “self” or “oneself.” The result of frequent body contemplation is that the mind will begin to let go of its identification and attachment towards the body.

Body contemplation is not something that we stop doing after clearly seeing the true nature of the body just once. When the mind clearly sees the body it will re-enter into the peacefulness of concentration. And, once having let the mind rest peacefully in this state the mind will re-gather its strength again. This mental strength or energy will serve as a support for one’s mindfulness and wisdom to continue contemplating the body again. The contemplation is always performed with the aim of seeing the impermanence of the body and its complete absence of self. Body contemplation must be made into a regular practice, doing so by taking the body apart-over and over again.

Whenever emotions arise, they must be contemplated immediately in an attempt to let them go. If mindfulness is firmly established in the present moment it will be aware of everything that arises within the mind. Whenever memories arise, our mindfulness and wisdom will seek out a skillful means to stop the mind proliferating about the past. Similarly, mindfulness and wisdom will also be aware of the arising of any thoughts about the future and will contemplate the thoughts so as to make the mind free from them. When mindfulness and the mental equilibrium obtained from concentration can be constantly maintained throughout the day, we will have the wisdom to reflect upon the emotions of greed and anger or satisfaction and dissatisfaction that arise and thereby bring them to an end by letting them go. As a result, the mind will be kept free from thoughts and emotions.

Any time that the mind is free from thoughts and emotions, one should turn to investigating one’s body because it is at this time that one’s mindfulness and wisdom will be able to clearly see the object of its investigation. Let the mind separate the body out, piece by piece, in order to see the body’s inherent impermanence; its nature is to ultimately break apart and disintegrate. With frequent investigation one’s mindfulness and wisdom will begin to grow in experience, becoming more and more skilled in the task of contemplation.

Body contemplation can be practiced at any time. Whether the eyes are open or closed, we can still focus our awareness upon the body with the aim of seeing it break apart and disintegrate. We need to contemplate the body frequently if we are to make the mind acknowledge the body’s impermanence and absence of self. As soon as the mind begins to see this clearly it will begin to gradually let go of its attachment and identification towards the body. Our deluded perception as to the true nature of the body will now begin to weaken, and as a result, the defiling emotions of greed and anger will also weaken in force. The mind will now begin to realize the fruitions, or attainments, of the Noble Path-stage by stage-until achieving full enlightenment, or in other words, Nibbana-the state of true happiness and liberation.

The path of practice is to develop sīla, samādhi, and paññā, moral virtue, concentration and wisdom. This is the way to gradually bring the mental defilements of greed, anger and delusion to their complete cessation and thus make our hearts pure. This way of practice will lead our hearts away from all suffering and discontentment, and thereby take us to Nibbana.

Our practice, therefore, is to cultivate goodness within our hearts in each and every lifetime. We do this by developing moral virtue, concentration and wisdom, as well as continually building up all ten of the spiritual perfections. Anyone wishing to go beyond suffering must strengthen the spiritual perfections within their heart. When developing the pāramīs it is important to never allow the feeling of discouragement to enter into the heart. Also, we must always take advantage of this present opportunity to practice while our health is still strong. If we are ever to realize our desire for true happiness, or the transcendence of all dukkha, then we must always follow in the footsteps of the Buddha and all of his arahant disciples because the path walked by them leads to the remainderless extinction of all greed, anger and suffering within the heart.

Therefore, we must be patient and persevere with the practice of gradually developing the spiritual perfections without ever becoming disheartened. As laypeople, you must go about your work, duties and family responsibilities as best as you can. The work of cultivating the mind, however, is a duty that one has towards oneself. This task needs to be undertaken by patiently and persistently putting forth effort into developing sīla, samādhi, paññā so that we can gradually cleanse our hearts until making them pure. This is how we cause true happiness to arise within our hearts.

Today all of you have made an intention to come here to the monastery. Some of you have been here since this morning when you came to offer dāna (food and requisites) to the monks, while some of you have come here later on this evening with a wish to observe the moral precepts and practice meditation. In doing so you are gradually strengthening the spiritual perfections within your hearts. This is what it means to have right view within one’s heart. And if we can maintain this right view and continue to practice accordingly for the rest of our life, then when we die, we will surely take rebirth in either the human, the devatā, or the Brahma
*6 realm. By maintaining right view within our heart, we will continue to create the causes and conditions that will bring about a lessening in the number of future lives until ultimately realizing Nibbana.

So for tonight I offer just this much for you to reflect upon. May I end this talk here.


---------------------------------------
>>> Footnote : *1
Supreme truth : the right natural order underlying everything; the teaching of the Buddha.

*2 Ten spiritual perfections (pāramīs) cultivated as a support for realizing enlightenment : 1) generosity; 2) morality; 3) renunciation; 4) wisdom; 5) effort; 6) patient endurance; 7) truthfulness-being true to one’s word; 8) resolution; 9) loving kindness; 10) equanimity.

*3 The sixth precept is to refrain from eating at the wrong time i.e. the period between noon until the following dawn. The seventh precept refrains from entertainment, beautification and adornment. The eighth precept refrains from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place. In observing the eight precepts there is, however one significant revision of the five precepts. It comes in the third precept which changes from refraining from sexual misconduct to refraining from any kind of intentional sexual behavio.

*4 The five precepts are : To refrain from destroying living creatures. To refrain from taking that which is not given. To refrain from sexual misconduct. To refrain from incorrect speech. To refrain from intoxicating drink and drugs which lead to carelessness.

*5 There are four stages of attainment on the Noble Path : 1) sotāpanna-the stream enterer or one who has entered the stream that flows inexorably to Nibbana; 2) sakadāgāmī-the once returner; 3) anāgāmī-the non-returner; 4) arahant-a fully enlightened being.

*6 Heavenly beings composed of purest light. Their existence is more subtle than that of devatas (celestial beings that experience pleasure through the five senses) due to the refinement of their minds’ being able to access states of mental absorption (jhāna), thus they abide in the highest heavens.
⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱⊰⊱

:b44: Teachings of Ajahn Dtun Thiracitto
http://www.dhammajak.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=50225

:b44: Autobiography of Ajahn Dtun Thiracitto

.....................................................
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โพสที่ยังไม่ได้อ่าน เมื่อ: 08 ส.ค. 2020, 12:15 
 
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