Saturday, March 27, 2010

Keeping the Buddhist Five Precepts (Panca Sila)

The ancestral Buddhists made a good beginning of Buddha Sasana. It starts with the most supreme refuges. They are known as the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha. When one becomes a Buddhist he recites heartily: Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Samgham saranam gacchami”. This only firm promise makes someone vow to keep the Five Precepts (Panca Sila). Hence, the Buddha Sasana ends with an arahant fruition.
1. Paying Homage
For paying homage to the Buddha by means of the fivefold manner of touch, say the words in Pali and act at the same time:
Buddham Pujemi, Dhammam Pujemi, Samgham Pujemi.
I pay homage to the Buddha, I pay homage to the Dhamma, I pay homage to the Samgha.
2. Asking for Permission
The devotees first pay homage to the Buddha by reciting the words of obeisance in Burmese* of asking for permission as follow:
2a. Doing Obeisance to the Three Refuges 
O:gatha. O:gatha. O:gatha., Kayagan, Wazigan, Mano:gan, tha' kha'thein:dho: apji'tou.gou pjau'pazeigjin: akjou:hnga, Pahtama. Du.ti.ja. Ta'ti.ja., Dakjein Hnakjein Thoun:kjein mjau'aun, Hpaja:jadana Taja:jadana Thangajadana, jadana mja'thoun:pa: hnin. Hsaja tou.gou ajouathei alei:amya' le'ou'mou: jwei. Shi.khou:puzo hpu:hmjomansho. i. Ashinhpaja:.
2b. Saying Prayer
Ithou. Kado.ja.dho: Ku.dhoukan seidana tou.gjaun. Ape lei:ba:, Ka' thoun:ba:, Ya'pji', Jandhumjou: nga:ba:,'ti.taja: lei:ba:, Bja.thana.taja: nga:ba: tou.hma. akhakha'thein: kin:lu' njein:dhee hpji' jwei. Me' taja: Hpou taja: Nei'ban taja:domya'ko ja.balou i. Ashinhpaya:.
2a. Obeisance: Okasa, okasa, okasa! Venerable Sir, once,twice,thrice to tri-ratana, parents and teachers, I respectfully and humbly raise the two palms together to the forehead, in obeisance, adoration and subdue pride, so as to be free from all offences, done physically, verbally and mentally.
2b. Prayer: Owing to meritorious deeds of the benevolence, may I always be liberated from the four Apayas, the three Kappas, the eight incongruous locations, the five enemies, the four destructions and the five losses and may I very quickly attain Magga, Phala and Nibbana.   
* Myanmar-English Dictionary, Myanmar Language Commission, Yangon,1993.

3. Asking for the Five Precepts 
Aham bhante tisaranena saha pancasilam dhammam yacami anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Dutiyampi “. . .” Tatiyampi “. . .” _ditto_  
Venerable sir, I ask for the five precepts together with the three refuges. Please help me observe the precepts out of compassion for me, ven sir.
For the second time . . . For the third time . . .
_ ditto _
Monk: Ya-maham vadami tam vedetha _ Repeat after me as I say.
Devotee: Ama bhante _ Yes, Venerable Sir.
4. Paying Homage to the Buddha 
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato sammasambuddhassa (three times) 
Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One.
5. Taking three Refuges
Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Samgham saranam gacchami 
Dutiyampi “. . .” Tatiyampi “. . .” _ditto_ 
I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, I take refuge in the Samgha. 
For the second time. . . For the third time. . . _ditto_
Monk: Saranagamanam paripunnam _ You have now completed the act of taking three refuges. 
Devotee: Ama bhante _ Yes, Venerable Sir.
6. Vowing to Observe the Five Precepts
[1] Panatipata veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami: 
[1] I observe the precept of abstaining from killing any living beings.  
[2] Adinnadana veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami: 
[2] I observe the precept of abstaining from taking what is not given by the owner.
[3] Kamesumicchacara veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami: 
[3] I observe the precept of abstaining from committing sexual misconduct.
[4] Musavada veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami: 
[4] I observe the precept of abstaining from telling lies.
[5] Suramerayamajja pama datthana veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami: 
[5] I observe the precept of abstaining from taking any intoxicant or drug that causes forgetfulness.
Idaṁ me Silaṁ magga phala ñāṇassa paccayo hotu. 
May the precepts I keep be a condition for the attainment of magga and phala.
Monk: Tisranena saha pancasilam dhammam sadhukam katva appamadena sampadetha. _ Do observe the five precepts together with the Three Refuges with diligence and steadfast mindfulness. 
Devotee: Ama bhante. _ Yes, Venerable Sir.
Buddham Pujemi, Dhammam Pujemi, Samgham Pujemi.

Posted by Nyan U

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Precepts (Sila): Grades, Classes and Levels

Sila is a good practice which makes any observable one well and beneficial. It keeps the devotee from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, using intoxicants, i.e. all bad deeds. It also keeps one from telling lies, making mischief, using abusive words, indulging in trivial talk, i.e. all evil words.
Sila has the two main grades, namely Gahattha-Sila and Bhikkhu-Sila. The former is meant for the lay people and the latter for the monks. The lay person observes lower grade and the monks pay attention to the higher grade.
Moreover, the precepts are also divided into two classes, viz: Caritta Sila and Varitta Sila. Every Buddhist should perform the moral instructions i.e. ethical rules stated by the Buddha, because these are Caritta sila. Caritta sila are mostly regarded in positive forms such as sufficient dutiful help towards parents, teachers, wives, children, respectful elders, the needy, the poor, patients; observance of good manners and etiquettes, etc.
Similarly everyone should avoid all the misdeeds shown by the Buddha as the precepts. All of bad actions recognized as Varitta sila are in negative forms such as killing, stealing, misconduct in sex, lying, use of intoxicants, etc. Both the Caritta and the Varitta silas always have relations with everybody. But most of us used to live to be forgetful of the precepts.
In two classes of sila, the first one for the monks has four types, known as: [1] Patimokkha samvara sila, [2] Ajiva parisuddhi sila, [3] Indriya samvara sila,[4] Paccaya sannissita sila. The second one for laymen consists of [1] Panca sila, [2] Ajivatthamaka sila, [3] Atthanga Uposatha sila, [4] Navanga sila.
The two silas [1 & 2] in the latter are minimum silas for a Buddhist. So they are called nicca silas. Nicca means always. A real Buddhist must keep either [1] or [2] silas always. Panca sila concerns with one's morality to take five vows; Ajivatthamaka sila requires one to refrain from earning a wrongful livelihood for eight vows. In Burma, 8th waxing, full moon, 8th waning, full waning days are generally fixed for keeping Uposatha sila.
There are also different levels of sila. Those are: 
[1] five precepts (panca sila), 
[2] eight precepts (uposatha sila or atthanga sila) or asceticism, 
[3] nine precepts (navanga sila), 
[4] ten precepts (dasa sila) for novice (samanera sila) and nuns (samaneri sila), and 
[5] Patimokkha (Upasampada sila) [the 227 rules for a fully-ordained monk (bhikkhu); the 311 rules for a higher ordained nun (bhikkhuni)] or Vinaya pitaka.
Lay persons (puthujana) generally observe the five precepts that are common to all Buddhists for their lives. When they wish, they can decide to undertake the atthanga sila.
The panca sila is the first step to the Buddhist training. Then it is the most important to be a true Buddhist. One should not be a nominal Buddhist who has been born and grown up in a Buddhist family. If this were so, it will be in vain. Therefore, to practise panca sila is essential for all Buddhists as their lifelong companion. On this account one has been a true and entirely pure Buddhist.
The panca sila is not taken in command of oneself. But the Buddhists live with these training rules for a better life. By this way everyone concentrates his mind with peace, without worries, and then under this condition can also practise meditation well.
Posted by Nyan U

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Precepts (Sila)

Doing of purity in one's life is the good behaviour. The precepts (sila) actually provide someone's stability with the considerable concentration (samadhi). Without concentration there is no achievement of insight (panna). In other words, spiritual practice by the three stages are the virtue (sila), the concentration (samadhi), and the comprehension (panna). As a lay person a corner-stone begins with the virtuous deed (sila), on which one's consciousness comes to a climax as the concentration (samadhi), and at last stage attains fully understanding (panna).
Sila, Samadhi and Panna are the main bases of the Buddha's teachings. So, before meditation, one must have the steadfast precepts. In practising meditation with any great success, the practice of sila is actually needed. If we practise rightly, sila will give us much benefits. Thus it is sure that the concentration based on the precepts can make someone for a higher insight and a way to Nibbana.
Sila (in Pali) is usually defined asmorality; behavioural discipline; ethics; virtue; moral conduct or observance of precepts.Morality is the set of disciplinary rules of conduct prescribed by the Buddha. Some often thinks of the five precepts (panca sila) as a set of commandments. It is not so. Anyone or practising Buddhist can voluntarily accept the precept, as a particular set of training rules by himself. The rules are appropriate for living in the world. Especially some devotee of Buddhism understands the value and the usefulness of sila. So they also learn and discipline their three kamma, namely the action, the speech and the mind.
It is not also same as the rules and regulations of the government in the country. The governmental rules and regulations constrain variety and diversity. However, the precepts shown by the Buddha had never been done by force. It is a real moral code with one's faith, not under duress. Sila is a mode of mind and volition. All the verbal and physical actions start from our mind. Those are indeed depending on the motivation or benevolence (cetana). Sila is mainly manifested in speech or bodily action. It is also a clear conscious and intentional restraint from the evil deeds.
Buddha made it unchangeable and precise under the universal law of cause and effect. It is a kammic action in terms of the attitude of all beings. It is an intentional effort as well as one of the three practices i.e. sila, samadhi, panna in sequence. Sila is also the second stage in the ten perfections (dasa parami). In addition Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood of the Noble Eightfold Path are main factors in the practice of sila.
We can consider such actions as good or evil deeds. Simply the principles of sila are definitely sure of acceptance and usefulness to all till today, because it rooted in the nature of universal truth. Moreover it confines to the moral purity of thought, word or deed. Sila refers briefly to overall principles of ethical behaviour in all beings. If anyone strictly and voluntarily observes the five precepts (panca sila), he can be recognized as a noble person. Then the owner of strict virtue (sila) is greatly respected by the human society as well as celestial world (deva loka).
Posted by Nyan U

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Leper Suppabuddha Became Deva

All beings depend on their own deeds. Each one has to reap what he sowed. Thus, nothing is strange that the leper Suppabuddha became deva.  

Suppabuddha was a richman's son in his previous birth. He was proud of being rich and looked down upon others. Once, on his way to a garden, he met a Paccekabuddha going for alms-round. Regarding as a prowling leper in his mind he spat rudely upon the Paccekabuddha and left. For this evil deed, he had to suffer in the hell for many hundreds thousands of years. Then he became a poor, miserable leper, namely Suppabuddha.  

While begging for food, the leper Suppabuddha saw a large crowd of people from a distance. He thought he would get some food if he went there. When he did so, he found the Buddha, preaching the Dhamma to that assembled of people. Willingly, he sat at the back of the crowd and listened attentively to the Buddha's discourse. Soon, he attained Sotapatti Fruition.

Suppabuddha wished to inform about his achievement to the Buddha. So he followed the Buddha to the monastery. The devas' king, Sakka approached Suppabuddha to test his faith in Tisarana: the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. The Sakka bargained Suppabuddha to give him immense wealth if he denied his belief in the Tisarana. Suppabuddha replied that he was no longer a poor helpless leper. He certainly was a rich person possessing the seven attributes of the ariyas. Wealth is nothing for him and thus no way to deny his faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.

After reporting his attainment of Sotapattiship to the Buddha he left the monastery. On his way, a wild cow attacked him to death. He was reborn in Tavatimsa as a deva, outshinning in beauty and in glory than others.

Three existences of Suppabuddha: a rich man, a leper and a deva undoubtedly showed that every beings have to accept the effect of the cause that they themselves did.

In Dhammapada verse 66, the Buddha said: ''With themselves as their own enemies, fools lacking in intelligence, move about doing evil deeds, which bear bitter fruits''.

Posted by Aye Sat