Saturday, September 24, 2016

Beset by birth, illness, death (Ayya Khema)

German Theravada Buddhist nun Sister Ayya Khema, All of Us: Beset by Birth, Decay, and Death (; Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
A celestial scene, as from the space World of the Thirty-Three (Chantip Ditcharoen/flickr)
I. The Dharma of the Blessed One is Perfectly Expounded
The Dharma of the Blessed One
is rightly expounded,
[visible] here and now,
not dependent on time
[i.e., immediately effective]. 
Western Theravada nun Ven. Ayya Khema
The first line of this Buddhist chant proclaims real confidence in the Dharma/Dhamma (capitalized to signify the Buddha's teachings). It is not about believing without inquiring, but an inner relationship of trust. When one is faithful to someone, one trusts, one places oneself in that person's hands, has a deep connection and an inner opening.

How much more is this true of the confidence and faith in the teachings of the Buddha? Those aspects of the Dharma which we do not yet understand can be set aside for the moment. That does not shake our confidence, faith, and trust.
If we feel the teaching is completely, perfectly, and "rightly expounded," we are very fortunate, for we know that one thing in this universe is right. There is nothing else to be found that is without blemish, nor is there anything that is becoming perfect.

If we have that trust, faithfulness, and love towards the Dharma and believe it to be rightly expounded, we have found something beyond compare. We are blessed with inner wealth.
The results "to be seen here and now" are up to each of us. The Dharma has been made clear by the Enlightened One, who taught it out of compassion. We have to see it for ourselves with inner vision.
"Here and now" needs to be stressed because it means not forgetting [the very definition of sati or "mindfulness, memory, vigilance, watchfulness, conscientiousness], being aware of phenomena (dharmas)/the Dharma in each moment. 

This awareness helps us to watch our reactions before they result in unskillful intentions, words, or deeds (the three kinds of karma) -- seeing the positive within us and cultivating it, seeing the negative and substituting it. 

When we believe all of our thoughts and claim justification for them, we're not seeing the Dharma, the Truth. There are no justifications, there are only arising phenomena which quickly cease again.
"Not a matter of time" or "not dependent on time" means that we are not dependent upon the Buddha or any buddha being alive in order to practice the Dharma. Although this is a widespread misconception, we can undertake the path-of-practice right now.

Some people think there has to be a perfect situation or a perfect teacher or perfect meditation technique. None of that is true. Mental and physical phenomena (dharmas) are constantly coming, changing, and going (arising, turning, and falling), altering without pause. When we cling and try to hang onto them or consider them our own, we will believe any story our mind tells us without wise discrimination.

We consist of body (form), feelings (sensations), perceptions, mental formations (fabrications), and consciousness, which we grip tightly believing them to be "I," "me," and "mine." We need to take a step back and be a neutral observer of the whole process. These are processes, not things.
Inviting one to come and see,
leading inwards.
The understanding of the Dharma leads to inner depths of awareness. We are invited to "come and see" what is really there. We are not being asked to "come and see" a meditation hall, Buddha statue, stupa (dagoba), or shrine. We are invited to "come and see" the phenomena (dhammas) arising within us. The defilements as well as the purifications are to be found inside one's own heart and mind. More

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