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Mar 9, 2010

What Really Matters

(All who benefit from Vipassana, and the Global Pagoda, would have infinite gratitude to Venerable Webu Sayadaw (1896-1977). In 1941, this highly respected monk in Burma was the first to strongly advise Sayagyi U Ba Khin to teach Vipassana. In 1997, Sayagyi U Ba Khin's most distinguished student Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka declared the start of the Global Pagoda project to commemorate the birth centenary year of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Below is one of the well-known discourses of Webu Sayadaw)

WEBU SAYADAW:
You have taken up moral conduct (sila). Now that you have undertaken to perfect yourselves in morality, fulfill it to the utmost. Only if you fulfill morality to the utmost will all your aspirations be met. You will be happy now and in the future.
Nothing but the teachings of the Buddha can give you real happiness, in the present and in the remainder of samsara, the cycle of repeated birth and death.. The teachings of the Buddha are enshrined in the Tipitaka, the three baskets of the scriptures. The Tipitaka is very extensive. If we take the essence out of the Tipitaka we shall find the thirty-seven factors of awakening. [1] The essence of the thirty-seven factors of awakening is the eight constituents of the Noble Eightfold Path. The essence of the Noble Eightfold Path is the threefold training — the higher morality, the higher mind, the higher wisdom. The essence of the threefold training is the one Dhamma or Universal Law.
If your body and mind are under control, as they are now, there can be no roughness of physical or verbal action. This is the higher morality (adhisila).You have taken up moral conduct (sila). Now that you have undertaken to perfect yourselves in morality, fulfill it to the utmost. Only if you fulfill morality to the utmost will all your aspirations be met. You will be happy now and in the future.
Nothing but the teachings of the Buddha can give you real happiness, in the present and in the remainder of samsara, the cycle of repeated birth
If morality becomes strong, the mind will become peaceful and tranquil and lose its harshness. This is called the higher mind or the concentrated mind (adhicitta). If concentration becomes strong and the mind stays one-pointed for a long time, then you will realize that in a split-second matter arises and dissolves billions and billions of times. If mind (nama) knows matter (rupa), it knows that matter originates and disintegrates billions and billions of times in the wink of an eye. This knowledge of arisal and disintegration is called the higher wisdom (adhipañña).
Whenever we breathe in or out, the incoming and the outgoing air touches somewhere in or near the nostrils. The sensitive matter registers the touch of air. In this process, the entities touching are matter and the entity knowing the touch is mind. So do not go around asking others about mind and matter; observe your breathing and you will find out about them for yourselves.
When the air comes in, it will touch. When the air goes out, it will touch. If you know this touch continuously, then greed (lobha), aversion (dosa), and delusion (moha) do not have the opportunity to arise, and the fires of these defilements will subside.
You cannot know the touch of air before it actually occurs. After it has gone, you cannot know it anymore. Only while the air moves in or out can you feel the sensation of touch. This we call the present moment.
While we feel the touch of air, we know that there is only mind and matter. We know for ourselves that there is no "I," no other people, no man and woman, and we realize for ourselves that what the Buddha said is true indeed. We do not need to ask others. While we know the in-breath and out-breath, there is no "I" or self.
When we know this, our view is pure; it is right view. We know in that moment that there is nothing but nama and rupa, mind and matter. We also know that mind and matter are two different entities. If we thus know how to distinguish between mind and matter, we have attained to the analytical knowledge of mind and matter (nama-rupapariccheda-ññ).
If we know the touch of air as and when it occurs, our mind is pure and we get the benefits thereof. Do not think that the benefits you get thus, even in a split-second, are few. Do not think that those who meditate do not get any advantages from their practice. Now that you have been born in a happy plane and have met the teachings of a Buddha, you can obtain great benefits. Do not worry about eating and drinking, but make all the effort you can.
Is this present time not auspicious?

DISCIPLE: Yes, sir, it is.
SAYADAW: Yes, indeed! Can't those good people attain their aspiration for Nibbana who, with an open mind, receive and practice the teachings of the Buddha, just like the noble people of the past who received the instructions from the Buddha himself?
D: Yes, sir, they can.
S: So, how long does the Buddha's Teaching last?D: For five thousand years, sir. [2]
S: And now tell me, how many of these five thousand years have past?
D: Sir, about half this time-span has gone.
S: So, how much remains still?
D: About 2500 years, sir.
S: What is the life-span of a human being now? [3]
D: About one hundred years, sir.
S: How old are you?
D: I am thirty-seven years old, sir.
S: So, how much longer do you have to live?
D: Sixty-three years, sir.
S: But can you be sure that you will live that long?
D: That I don't know, sir.
S: You don't know yourself how long you are going to live?
D: No, sir, it isn't possible to know this for sure.
S: But even as we are born we can be sure we have to suffer old age, disease and death.
D: Yes, sir.
S: Can we request old age, pain and death to desist for some time, to go away for some time?
D: No, sir.
S: No they never rest. Can we ask them to stop their work?D: No, sir, we cannot.
S: In that case can we be certain we have to die?
D: Yes, sir, it is certain that we all have to die.
S: It is certain that we all have to die. What about living?
D: We can't be sure how long we have left to live, sir.
S: Someone whose life-span is thirty years dies when the thirty years are up. If your life-span is forty or fifty years, you will die when you are forty or fifty years old. Once someone is dead, can we get him back?
D: No, sir, we can't.
S: However many years of your life have passed, they have passed. What is it that you have not accomplished yet?
D: The happiness of the path and fruition states and the attainment of Nibbana. [4]
S: Yes, inasmuch as you haven't attained the paths and fruition states yet, you have been defeated. Have you used the years that have passed well, or have you wasted your time?
D: I have wasted my time, sir.
S: Then do not waste the time that you have got left. This time is there for you to strive with energy and steadfastness; you can be sure that you will die, but you can't be sure how much longer you have got to live.
Discourse continues at......: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/webu/wheel375.html#what
Notes:
1.Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma. These are thirty-seven aspects of practice taught by the Buddha, including the four foundations of mindfulness, the four great efforts, the four bases of accomplishment, the five spiritual faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of awakening and the eight constituents of the Noble Eightfold Path.
2. A Buddha's Teaching (Sasana) lasts about five thousand years on the human plane and then is lost.
3.The life-span of human beings changes according to the level of their morality, ranging from an "incalculable" down to ten years and then back up again.
4.The paths and fruits of stream-entry, once-returner, non-returner, and Arahatship.
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