Dhamma Discussion Topic June 19, 2013
Dhamma Discussion Topic June 19, 2013
If you did not attend Meditation Class last week be sure to catch-up with us, this is a great article that talks about the benefits of having Right View with regards to Karma. Karma is a universal phenomenon regardless of religion, read below to find out why!
We are living in an age where scientific discoveries have caused great advancement in technology and tremendous changes in society. Human beings have gone from agriculture to industry and now to the age of information in just a couple of centuries. In this age of information with its fast and extensive network of communication, the world has become a global village.
Scientific advancement and the corresponding changes in society have an impact on how we think and what we believe. In ancient times, people believed in things that they could not see such as deities. This kind of belief was the origin of theism on which many religions were based. Some of these religions remain to this day. With technological advances, people began to put faith in what could be rationalized and proven. During the time period where theism reached its pinnacle and had worldwide influence, there was an Italian physicist and astronomer called Galileo. He had made discoveries that had a negative impact on theism. As Galileo gained popularity because of his discoveries that could be proven and rationalized, he was persecuted by the dominant religion of the time throughout the rest of his life.
Different forms of theism persist until now with some modification to fit better with the current age. Education plays an important role in developing human intelligence and intellect. Recent surveys in regards to religious belief have been conducted in many countries and it was found that more and more people do not subscribe to any religious belief. Some people think of religion as being nonsensical because its teachings cannot be proven. Some people do not see any advantages that can be gained from having a religion. They would just as soon live without any religious obligation or restriction.
The results of these surveys are worrying because if people do not subscribe to a religion, how would it affect society and the world at large? Without any religious principles to guide the way one should conduct one‟s life, one would become further and further distant from morality and other ethical standards. The difference between right and wrong becomes more and more blurred. One becomes increasingly materialistic and lives life as one pleases. When that is the case, what good then can come out of one‟s life?
The student has probably learnt about the origin of different religions and found that most religions provide useful teachings that foster a happy lifestyle and peace in the community. Here we will mention only Buddhism, which is the religion about cause and effect. The Buddha taught us how to live our lives so that we can be happy in this, next, and future lifetimes and ultimately until we can rid ourselves of all defilements. Even the great scientist Albert Einstein acknowledged that Buddhism shared the same principle as science in that it is all about logic.
For individuals who do not subscribe to any religion, which include those that disbelieve in the Law of Kamma, the Buddha gave concrete instructions for how they should live their lives. These Teachings were recorded in the “Apannaka Sutta‟. Here, relevant teachings of this Sutta which will enable the student to understand the way non-believers in the Law of Kamma should conduct their lives. The student can then act as a virtuous friend to these people and help them to live a happy life in the present and to have a safe journey in the round of rebirth.
For this purpose, only one example will be given here. For a more in-depth study on the teaching, the student should consult the “Apannaka Sutta.‟
On one occasion, the Buddha asked the Brahmins and the wealthy men of
“Do you have a favorite Master who can inspire you to have faith because his
teachings are logical?” The people answered in the negative. Therefore, the Buddha took the opportunity to
give the “Apannaka‟ sermon where He cited different dogmas as well as the
advantages and the harm of each dogma and concluded with the instruction on
right conduct. A part of the teaching
concerning two groups of Brahmins that have opposing views can be cited as
follows: Sala City
The 1st Group: These people believe that alms-giving has no consequences, aid-giving has no consequences, revering those who are worthy of our reverence has no consequences, bad Kamma has no consequences, the hereafter does not exist, etc. Members of this group refuse to perform good deeds but commit only misdeeds. They are immoral. They have “Wrong View‟, “Wrong Thought‟, and “Wrong Speech‟. They are enemies of Arahats. For members of this group, the Buddha gave the following advice:
If the hereafter does not exist, after these individuals die, all will be well.
If the hereafter does exist, these individuals will be reborn in the States of Loss and
Woe, the States of Unhappiness, the Place of Suffering, the Hell Realm.
Even if the hereafter does not exist, regardless of whether these individuals‟ view is right or wrong, they will still be condemned here and now for their conduct.
If the hereafter does exist, these individuals will receive two forms of punishment:
1) They will be condemned in the present for their conduct.
2) They will be reborn in the Hell Realm.
The 2nd Group: These people believe that alms-giving has consequences, aid-giving has consequences, revering those who are worthy of our reverence has consequences, etc. As a result, members of this group abstain from any misdeed but perform only wholesome deeds. They are moral. They have „Right View‟, „Right Thought‟, and Right Speech‟. They are not enemies of Arahats.
If the hereafter does exist, after they die they will be reborn in the States of Happiness, in the Celestial Realm.
If the hereafter does not exist, regardless of whether these individuals‟ view is right or wrong, they will most certainly be admired for their conduct in the present.
If the hereafter does exist, they will receive two rewards:
1) They will be admired in the present for their conduct.
2) They will be reborn in the States of Happiness, in the Celestial Realm.
The Buddha taught that the first group of Brahmins had “Wrong View‟ whereas the second group had “Right View‟. He also advised wrong-viewed individuals on how to change their view such that they could conduct their lives accordingly. He gave the second group of Brahmins confirmation that their view was correct and they could confidently continue to follow their dogma.
This teaching can be applied to non-believers in the Law of Kamma or in any religion because it provides them with a guiding principle by which to live their lives. Whether they believe or disbelieve in the reality of this world and the hereafter or the Law of Kamma, they can at least conduct their lives in such a way that they can meet with happiness in the present by not incurring condemnation from other people for their misdeeds. And just in case death is not final and the hereafter does exist, they will not have to endure horrific suffering in the States of Loss and Woe. Therefore, the belief in the Law of Kamma provides only advantages to its believer. It provides the correct roadmap for how to live our lives.
In conclusion, the main point of this topic is to enable the student to look at the Law of Kamma from different angles and to gain a deeper understanding of the law.