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06/15/12
Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) and Politics15 06 2012 FRIDAYLESSON 637 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And THE BUDDHISTONLINE GOOD NEWS LETTER by ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org Dhammapada: Verses and Stories Dhammapada-Verse 203.Eka Upasaka Vatthu-Worst Disease And Greatest Happiness
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Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) and Politics

15 06 2012 FRIDAYLESSON 637 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And THE BUDDHISTONLINE GOOD NEWS LETTER by ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org

Dhammapada: Verses and Stories Dhammapada-Verse 203.Eka Upasaka Vatthu-Worst Disease And Greatest Happiness

Verse 203. Worst Disease And Greatest Happiness

Hunger is the greatest ill,
the greatest dukkha - conditionedness,
knowing this reality at it is:
Nibbana bliss supreme.

Explanation: The most severe disease is hunger. The worst
of pain is in component things. If this is realistically appreciated,
Nibbana is the highest bliss.

Dhammapada Verse 203
Eka Upasaka Vatthu

Jighacchaparama roga
sankharaparama dukha
etam natva yathabhutam
nibbanam paramam sukham.

Verse 203: Hunger is the greatest ailment, khandhas are the greatest ill. The
wise, knowing them as they really are, realize Nibbana, the greatest bliss.



The Story of a Lay-Disciple

The Buddha uttered Verse (203) of this book at the village of Alavi, with
reference to a lay-disciple.

One day, the Buddha saw in his vision that a poor man would attain Sotapatti
Fruition at the village of Alavi. So he went to that village, which was thirty
yojanas away from Savatthi. It so happened that on that very day the man lost
his ox. So, he had to be looking for the ox. Meanwhile, alms-food was being
offered to the Buddha and his disciples in a house in the village of Alavi.
After the meal, people got ready to listen to the Buddha’s discourse; but the
Buddha waited for the young man. Finally, having found his ox, the man came
running to the house where the Buddha was. The man was tired and hungry, so the
Buddha directed the donors to offer food to him. Only when the man had been fed,
the Buddha gave a discourse, expounding the Dhamma step by step and finally
leading to the Four Noble Truths. The lay-disciple attained Sotapatti Fruition
at the end of the discourse.

Afterwards, the Buddha and his disciples returned to the Jetavana monastery.
On the way, the bhikkhus remarked that it was so surprising that the Buddha
should have directed those people to feed the young man before he gave the
discourse. On hearing their remarks, the Buddha said, “Bhikkhus! What
you said is true, but you do not understand that I have come here, all this
distance of thirty yojanas, because I knew that he was in a fitting condition to
take in the Dhamma. If he were feeling very hungry, the pangs of hunger might
have prevented him from taking in the Dhamma fully. That man had been out
looking for his ox the whole morning, and was very tired and also very hungry.
Bhikkhus, after all, there is no ailment which is so difficult to bear as
hunger.”

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:

Verse 203: Hunger is the greatest ailment, khandhas
are the greatest ill. The wise, knowing them as they really are,
realize Nibbana, the greatest bliss.

Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) and Politics

The Awaken One with Awareness (AOA) had gone beyond all worldly affairs, but still gave advice on good government.
The AoA came from a warrior caste and was naturally brought into
association with kings, princes and ministers. Despite His origin and
association, He never resorted to the influence of political power to
introduce His teaching, nor allowed His Teaching to be misused for
gaining political power. But today, many politicians try to drag the
AOA’s name into politics by introducing Him as a communist, capitalist,
or even an imperialist. They have forgotten that the new political
philosophy as we know it really developed in the West long after the
AOA’s time. Those who try to make use of the good name of the  AOA for
their own personal advantage must remember that the  AOA was the
Supremely Awaken One who had gone beyond all worldly concerns.

There is an inherent problem of trying to intermingle religion with
politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while
that for politics is power. In the course of history, religion has often
been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of
that power. Religion was used to justify wars and conquests,
persecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and
culture.

When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its
high moral ideals and become debased by worldly political demands.
The thrust of the  AOA Rule of Law is not directed to the creation of
new political institutions and establishing political arrangements.
Basically, it seeks to approach the problems of society by reforming the
individuals constituting that society and by suggesting some general
principles through which the society can be guided towards greater
humanism, improved welfare of its members, and more equitable sharing of
resources.

There is a limit to the extent to which a political system can safeguard
the happiness and prosperity of its people. No political system, no
matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and
happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed,
hatred and delusion. In addition, no matter what political system is
adopted, there are certain universal factors which the members of that
society will have to experience: the effects of good and bad Cause and
Condition, the lack of real satisfaction or everlasting happiness in the
world characterized by unsatisfactoriness, impermanence), and
egolessness. To the  AOA, nowhere in Samsara is there real freedom, not
even in the heavens or the world of Brahama.

Although a good and just political system which guarantees basic human
rights and contains checks and balances to the use of power is an
important condition for a happy in society, people should not fritter
away their time by endlessly searching for the ultimate political system
where men can be completely free, because complete freedom cannot be
found in any system but only in minds which are free. To be free, people
will have to look within their own minds and work towards freeing
themselves from the chains of ignorance and craving. Freedom in the
truest sense is only possible when a person uses Rule of Law to develop
his character through good speech and action and to train his mind so as
to expand his mental potential and achieve his ultimate aim of
awaken-ness.

While recognizing the usefulness of separating religion from politics
and the limitations of political systems in bringing about peace and
happiness, there are several aspects of the  AOA’s teaching which have
close correspondence to the political arrangements of the present day.
Firstly, the  AOA spoke about the equality of all human beings long
before Abraham Lincoln, and that classes and castes are artificial
barriers erected by society. The only classification of human beings,
according to the  AOA, is based on the quality of their moral conduct.
Secondly, the  AOA encouraged the spirit of social -co-operation and
active participation in society. This spirit is actively promoted in the
political process of modern societies. Thirdly, since no one was
appointed as the  AOA’s successor, the members of the Order were to be
guided by the Rule of Law. Until today very member of the Order is to
abide by the Rule of Law which governs and guides their conduct.

Fourthly, the  AOA encouraged the spirit of consultation and the
democratic process. This is shown within the community of the Order in
which all members have the right to decide on matters of general
concern. When a serious question arose demanding attention, the issues
were put before the monks and discussed in a manner similar to the
democratic parliamentary system used today. This self-governing
procedure may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies
of  AOAs in India 2,500 years and more ago are to be found the
rudiments of the parliamentary practice of the present day. A special
officer similar to ‘Mr. Speaker’ was appointed to preserve the dignity
of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, was also appointed to see if the quorum
was secured. Matters were put forward in the form of a motion which was
open to discussion. In some cases it was done once, in others three
times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a
bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If the discussion
showed a difference of opinion, it was to be settled by the vote of the
majority through balloting.

The  AOA approach to political power is the moralization and the
responsible use of public power. The  AOA preached non-violence and
peace as a universal message. He did not approve of violence or the
destruction of life, and declared that there is no such thing as a
‘just’ war. He taught: ‘The victor breeds hatred, the defeated lives in
misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.’
Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace, He was perhaps
the first and only religious teacher who went to the battlefield
personally to prevent the outbreak of a war. He diffused tension between
the Sakyas and the Koliyas who were about to wage war over the waters
of Rohini. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom
of the Vajjis.
The  AOAdiscussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good
government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate
and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust.
He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on
humanitarian principles.

The  AOA once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the
ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good,
the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are
just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank
and file become just and good, the people become just and
good.’(Anguttara Nikaya)

In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the  AOA said that immorality and
crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise
from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through
punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force.
In the Kutadanta Sutta, the  AOA suggested economic development instead
of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country’s
resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could
embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support
to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to
maintain a decent life with human dignity.

In the Jataka, the  AOA had given to rules for Good Government, known as
‘Dasa Raja Dharma’. These ten rules can be applied even today by any
government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as
follows:

1) be liberal and avoid selfishness,

2) maintain a high moral character,

3) be prepared to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,

4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity,

5) be kind and gentle,

6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,

7) be free from hatred of any kind,

8) exercise non-violence,
9) practice patience, and

10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.

Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:

- A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and
discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another.

- A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects.

- A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.

- A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be
enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the
authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and
with common sense. — (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)

In the Milinda Panha,it is stated: ‘If a man, who is unfit, incompetent,
immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned
himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be
tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people,
because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously
in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and
transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is
equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the
ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public.’ In a Jataka
story, it is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and
does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country.

The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct
in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public
opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and
mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules
unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the
wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other
oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react
against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules
righteously they will bless him: ‘Long live His Majesty.’ (Majjhima
Nikaya)

The AOA’s emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to
improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the
Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of
this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Rule of
Law and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his
non-aggressive intentions to his neighbors, assuring them of his
goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of
peace and non-aggression. He promoted the energetic practice of the
socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence,
non-violence, considerate behavior towards all, non-extravagance,
non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious
freedom and mutual respect for each other’s creed. He went on periodic
tours preaching the Rule of Law to the rural people. He undertook works
of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals,
supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of
wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly
forbade cruelty to animals.

Sometimes the  AOA is said to be a social reformer. Among other things,
He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke
on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the
importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and
the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of
humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society
should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the
people. Despite all these, His contribution to mankind is much greater
because He took off at a point which no other social reformer before or
ever since had done, that is, by going to the deepest roots of human ill
which are found in the human mind. It is only in the human mind that
true reform can be effected. Reforms imposed by force upon the external
world have a very short life because they have no roots. But those
reforms which spring as a result of the transformation of man’s inner
consciousness remain rooted. While their branches spread outwards, they
draw their nourishment from an unfailing source — the subconscious
imperatives of the life-stream itself. So reforms come about when men’s
minds have prepared the way for them, and they live as long as men
revitalize them out of their own love of truth, justice and their fellow
men.
The doctrine preached by the  AOA is not one based on ‘Political
Philosophy’. Nor is it a doctrine that encourages men to worldly
pleasures. It sets out a way to attain Eternal Bliss. In other words,
its ultimate aim is to put an end to craving  that keeps them in bondage
to this world.’The path that leads to worldly gain is one, and the path
that leads to Eternal Bliss (by leading a religious life)is another.’

However, this does not mean that  AOAs cannot or should not get involved
in the political process, which is a social reality. The lives of the
members of a society are shaped by laws and regulations, economic
arrangements allowed within a country, institutional arrangements, which
are influenced by the political arrangements of that society.
Nevertheless, if a  AOAwishes to be involved in politics, he should not
misuse religion to gain political powers, nor is it advisable for those
who have renounced the worldly life to lead a pure, religious life to be
actively involved in politics.

-ooOoo-

VOICE OF SARVAJAN


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