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Jun 24, 2011

The Dhamma Protection - One's Real Life Insurance Policy

(from original article 'Dhamma - Our Shield' by Sayagyi U S.N Goenka in 1982 issue of Vipassana Newsletter.)

Remaining anxious about the future has become human nature. To have a pleasant and secured future, one seeks the refuge and beneficence of various mundane and supernatural phenomena. But apart from Dhamma, Truth, there is no refuge nor any other power which can really shield us, which can really secure our future, which can free us from all our anxieties about the future.

The Dhamma that shields us is the Dhamma that we develop within ourselves, the Dhamma that we apply in our lives. This is the shield of Vipassana practice - experiencing the truth of impermanence, every moment. This purity developed within alone fully secures our well being. 

The Dhamma that arises and develops in someone else is of little importance to us unless it becomes our own. Dhamma developed in others can at best show us the path and inspire us to develop the same in ourselves by lighting the torch of insight and truth within us so that we may live the life of Dhamma ourselves. This means that taking refuge in Dhamma is actually taking refuge in the experiential wisdom developed within through Vipassana meditation. This really helps us, protects us.

Pagoda of Dhamma Giri as it was in 1982....

..... Pagoda of Dhamma Giri now (in the foreground are individual meditation cells)

Hence the Buddha has said Attasammapanidhi Ca, etammangalamuttamam—that is, our greatest good lies in directing our attention properly towards our own selves. This is taking refuge in the truth within. If we take refuge in some imaginary external power and direct our attention towards it this can only make us dependent, weak and insecure by entangling ourselves in more and more delusions.

When we direct our attention properly towards our own self, i.e. through Vipassana practice of observing the continuously changing bodily sensations, we start purifying ourselves and thus start developing Dhamma within ourselves. This Atta-Sarana (taking refuge in yourself) is Dhamma-Sarana (making Dhamma your island) and vice versa.

Atta-Dipa (becoming an island to yourself) is Dhamma Dipa (making Dhamma your island) and vice versa.

In every time of trial, every moment of travail, we have to awaken the Dhamma within us and through our insight we become an island unto ourselves so that our lives find a secure mooring.

The best thing for us to do to ensure our well being is to 1) remain in wisdom (panna) - i.e, with equanimity be aware of the sensations that arise with every thought; 2) with control of our minds, keep our Sammadi (concentration) sharp to continuously observe subtlest of sensations and 3) by restraining actions of mind, body and speech, to be established in sila (morality). Sila, sammadi and panna support and develop each other.

The Dhamma protects us and shields us in our lives in the same proportion through the Dhamma we have acquired : as we get established strongly in sila, sammadi and panna, become more awakened to it, and as we apply Dhamma more in our lives.

It has been well said by Lord Buddha “Dhammo have rakkhati dhammacarim”—i.e. Dhamma automatically protects the one who practices it. So for complete protection now and for the future let us light the torch of Dhamma within us (by observing arising, passing of bodily sensations), let us keep this torch lit (by maintaining continuity of this awareness of sensations). Let us protect this torch of Dhamma and Truth to keep it shining. In this lies our well-being, in this lies our protection, in this lies our good.

May All Beings Be Happy! May All Beings Be Liberated from All Suffering !

                                         Activating the protection of Anicca in Everyday Life

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