Forester & Deforestation





The title of today’s Dhamma talk is “Forester and Deforestation.” Traditionally, people are either categorized as those who live in rural areas or those who live in the city.  In the spiritual sense, however, there is a different perspective.  In the common worldly life, an area of land covered by trees and undergrowth is called a “forest.”  In the spiritual sense, the mental defilements of greed, anger and delusion are regarded as thick forests, and those tainted with these defilements are said to be “Foresters.”  So, even people living in modernized cities are categorized as (Foresters) if they are not yet freed from mental defilements.

Here, we should try to understand the simile of “Forester and Deforestation.”  In the process of deforestation, the forester must:

  1. use both legs (both mental and physical energy)
  2. take a firm foot-hold on the ground (establish purity of moral virtue as a basic foundation)
  3. use both hands (with noble conviction, undertake wholesome actions of generosity, morality and meditation)
  4. hold the iron sword (apply the penetrating knowledge and wisdom of abandoning defilements – just as the deforesting person has to cut the trees and undergrowth of the forest with the iron sword, the meditator must eradicate the gross, moderate and subtle forms of defilements, through insight wisdom, Path and Fruition knowledge.  So, iron sword here is noted as wisdom)
  5. sharpen sword on the whetstone (as the blunt sword must be sharpened on the whetstone, the mind must also be sharpened through concentration in order to develop insight wisdom and discriminating knowledge between mind and matter, clear comprehension of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and egolessness).
  6. cut the large and small trees, and undergrowth (first, the meditator must abandon the defilements of greed, anger and delusion through insight wisdom, and finally eradicate them through noble Path and Fruition knowledge.


Let us study an example cited by the Lord Buddha, during his lifetime in the capital city of Savatthi in India.  The five rich men of the city, after consulting with each other, renounced their household lives and entered the Sangha order.  One day, tormented by the death of an ex-wife, laywoman who had been attending to them personally, the five men wailed woefully.  When some nearby bhikkhus learned about their plight, they took them to the Lord Buddha and reported the matter.

The Lord Buddha admonished them in the following way: Oh! Dear son Bhikkhus, clear the thicket from the defilement forest.  The whole mass of suffering arises dependent on the defilement forest of rebirth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair.  So dear sons, clear the symbolized large and small trees and undergrowth of gross, moderate and subtle form of defilements.  Cut them down with the sharp iron sword of insight, Noble Path and Fruition knowledge.

Taking the Lord Buddha’s words into their hearts, the five ex-rich men bhikkhus, by establishing firm effort, a foot hold in the ground of morality, holding the wisdom iron sword in their hands of faith, sharpened on the concentration whet-stone, contemplated or cut down the trees and undergrowth (defilements), completed the deforestation process (eradicated the ego and skeptical doubt) and attained noble Path and Fruition knowledge.

May all you meditators complete the above “deforestation” process, and realize the Nibbana in the shortest possible time.



Sadhu!…          Sadhu!…          Sadhu!