The Dhamma of Cats: Cats are a great indicator of various aspects of the Dhamma. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are just as good,; I just happen to own cats.
There are various indicators of the human predicament that are shown by cats. Craving/desire/need for certain things are many of them. Cats crave attention. They demand affection. Now most of us will probably deny that need at our age; but remember back to your teenage years… how demanding of affection were you then? Cats slink around your legs, paw at your knees, wake you in the middle of the night, all for a small show of love. Humans crave love, whether they be 1 or 100. Craving love is a natural condition of the human existence, but one that must be overcome, if we are to reach Nibbana. We have to realise this task, so that we are no longer attached to the love of others, before we can move forward. Continue reading →
Forgiving can be VERY difficult at the best of times, but how do you forgive the person who murdered your child? How do you forgive the person who imprisoned someone for 20 years as a sex slave? How do you forgive a man who has raped children? These are all very emotive and sensitive questions that need answering in the most delicate manner possible.
Human nature is a varied and wild beast. We think we are above the animals because of our intellect, but we are only above them by one level of existence. We still have to deal with our base instincts, our base emotions, our base attitudes to life in general. Continue reading →
To own something is, technically, impossible. Ownership is merely a legal concept used to decide who has the right to possess an item or thing.
Possession is apparent and true. I possess this tablet I am writing this post on. Legally I own it, but all I really do is possess it. If someone breaks in to my flat an steals my tablet, I will no longer possess it, but the thief will. Should the thief be caught, then the courts would decide who, out of the two of us, has the right to possess the item, or ‘own’ it.
If I were to truly own this tablet then I would be able to take the item with me when I pass on, but in reality we only ever really possess things, we ‘own’ nothing.
Take money for example. Do you really own the money in your bank account? All your bank account says is that there are so many pounds and pence in it. they are just 1’s and 0’s recorded on a hard-drive in a server out there somewhere. There are no 5 pound notes sitting in a vault with your name on them. Do you really own those 1’s and 0’s? If the server crashes and those 1’s and 0’s disappear, the bank will say you have nothing. Truthfully you do not even possess those 1’s and 0’s because you cannot hold them in your hand can you?
This may seem a little silly as an example, but when you get down to it, how CAN you own or possess something that cannot even be seen with the naked eye. You have to take it on trust that if you go to the bank and ask for the money that they say you have, that you would actually be given it, and we all know what happened with Northern Rock in the financial crash. They DIDN’T have the money to give to people even though the accounts of the customers said they did have it. So… do you possess, or ‘own’, your money?
You save up for retirement over 30 or 40 years only to find that either the Government or the company has rifled the accounts and your pension pot is next to worthless.
Also, if you have bought a ‘freehold’ house, you say you own the land that comes with the building. How can anyone own part of the planet? It was here several billion years before you were born, and will be here several billion years after you die, so how can you say you ‘own’ the land your house is on? Yes, the government and legal system says you do, but, again, it is just legal jargon for the sake of convenience. You may possess the house and land for the duration you live there because you have the keys to the front door, but you never truly own the land. No one does.
I could go on but I hope you get the idea. Ownership and possession are different matters, one is purely a legal matter, the other is fact for as long as you actually have the item in your hands.
And none of what you think you own or possess can be taken with you into your next incarnation!
If you read enough Buddhist literature you will realise there is not just one Dhamma. The Dhamma that the Buddha taught is not the only one! This can come as a shock to some people but it need not be that way. Everything, from the smallest atomic particle, to the entire universe has its own Dhamma. Every individual person on our planet has their own Dhamma. The roses in you garden, the aphids that attack them and the treatment for those aphids that you use have their own Dhamma. Even your settee has its own Dhamma.
How can this be so?
Dhamma basically means “the way things are”. It’s as simple as that. The Buddha taught Dhamma on a global and cosmic scale, as well as on the day-to-day life scale. He taught how the world works, how suffering is the nature of this world in which we live, and how to escape from that suffering. That is his Dhamma. He taught the Dhamma of this three-dimensional reality. He taught its impermanence, it’s unsatisfactorinss and it’s escape. If we wish to escape suffering, then we best follow his teachings, otherwise we will only end up back here, or worse, if we do not.
Dhamma is how things are. It is their pure nature, it is their fundamental reality. Dhamma explains exactly what makes up the thing in question. Tied in with the concept of Dependent Origination, which is another fundamental concept, you can, with enough practice, understand the true nature of anything you put your mind to. The two concepts may seem difficult to understand at first glance, and I will cover Dependent Origination in a future post, but once you have grasped them, nature falls into place quite easily.
Dhamma does not have to be difficult. At it’s essence, it is incredibly simple, which is why the ‘Breath Meditation’ practice is so simple. Simple practices lead to the realisation of simple concepts. They lead to those ‘Ah! That’s how it is!’ moments. Those moments are another step closer to final liberation.
A friend of mine once told me she had been taught a meditative technique that involved watching a pebble grow. Now I never quite got that at the time, but it would be a wonderful practice now. To actually see a pebble grow does not mean you see it get bigger, but it means you see it’s nature and reality as it really is, thus the pebble becomes more than your mind thought it to be in the first place. The pebble is, basically, a pebble, but your understanding of that pebbles nature grows over time. You could use your settee, oven, fridge, best mate or the leader of your country as the subject of your meditation, but a pebble is nice and simple. It will yield the same results thus negating any emotional complications in your practice.
As I said earlier, Dhamma explains the way things are. Atoms do what they do, cells do what they do, people do what they do, even nations do what they do. The world exists in the only way it can because of the nature of this three-dimensional reality. The human rebirth leads us to do what we do, whomever we are, and thus suffering takes place. Kamma acts in the way it needs to, whether good or bad, and 99% of the time no-one has a clue that this is the cause of their situation. To escape this round of rebirth and suffering one needs to follow the Buddha’s teachings. It may not happen in this lifetime, or the next, but if you start practicing now, then you have taken the first steps on the road to freedom.
Free Dhamma is the best Dhamma, especially when it is good Dhamma and I cannot express my gratitude enough for the service that Forest Sangha Publications does for the Thai Forest tradition in particular, and the Buddhist faith in general. They are a publishing house that produces copious numbers of books and pamphlets on the Thai Forest tradition of the Ven. Ajahn Chah and his disciples. The quality and amount of information available is staggering considering you do not have to pay a penny for any of it. They obviously accept donations but they are not expected nor demanded.
Many of Ajahn Chah’s disciples have produced documents that can be ordered for free as well as translations of many of Ajahn Chah’s own teachings. I highly recommend you spend some time going through the library of available documents and ordering a few. I think they have a limit of three books per month, but there is nothing stopping you from ordering more once your first order arrives.
The series of books that form a collection of talks and teachings by Luang Por Sumedho are of particular interest as they cover the Venerable Ajahn’s career from meeting Ajahn Chah, to his retirement a couple of years ago.
Amaravati Monastery and Abhayagiri Monastery are the main monasteries that the monks and nuns come from who have contributed to the material that is available, but there are contributions from others at satellite monasteries. Whichever author you go for, I am sure you will be in for a treat. This is all Dhamma at it’s best, and it is aimed at the lay disciple primarily, so you do not need a PhD in Buddhist philosophy to understand what they are on about.
Please visit, please order and please donate. Your path to liberation will be made just that bit easier if you do.