“DHAMMA TALK ON FREEDOM”
BY NAYAKA MYITTHA SAYADAW, VEN.U VASAVA
MAHASI MEDITATION CENTRE,
Today, my Dhamma talk is on the subject of Freedom or Liberation. This admonishment was delivered to the five hundred Yogavacara Bhikkhus or devoted meditators, by the Lord Buddha, over 2500 years ago, while he was residing at the Jetavana Monastery, which was built on the garden
First, let us try to understand the meaning of the word “Freedom” or “Liberation.” Freedom means that everyone must be free from oppression and torture, without any infringement on one’s individual rights. Freedom may be distinguished between two types. One is temporary freedom, and the other is perpetual freedom. In other words, it may be stated as worldly freedom and samsaric (cycle of rebirths) liberation; worldly freedom is just temporary, and samsaric freedom means perpetual liberation.
Yes, in this hostile world, individuals, partisans and countries transgress each others rights by misusing their economic power and military might. The so-called super powers enslave the weaker ones, and exploit their resources by oppression and torture. This kind of misfortune that one encounters in this life may not extend to future ones. He may be liberated at the demise of this existence. Hence, we say that such kind of liberation is temporary, or worldly freedom.
The most frightful suffering is to be swept away in the
Avijja, ignorance, unknowing, synonymous with delusion (moha), is the primary root of all evil and suffering in the world, veiling man’s mental eye and preventing him from seeing the true nature of things. It is delusion which tricks sentient beings by making life appear permanent, happy, substantial and beautiful, and prevents them from seeing that everything is impermanent, liable to suffering, void of I and mine, and basically impure.
Influenced by Avijja, Tanha (craving for the sense objects) arises. Motivated by tanha, one performs the action by body, speech or mind through kamma or volition. That is what the Lord Buddha called action, (Cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami). These kammical actions cause rebirth with resultant consequences of sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, despair, old age and death.
The deliverance from this samsaric cycle of rebirths and suffering can only be regarded as perpetual liberation. To attain such perpetual freedom, one must strive to eradicate Avijja, tanha and kamma (ignorance, craving and volition).
Now let us try to understand how the five hundred Yogavacara Bhikkhus practiced in accordance with the Lord Buddha’s admonishment and achieved perpetual freedom. The five hundred Yogavacara Bhikkhus went to a forest retreat and practiced Vipassana meditation. When they could not achieve satisfactory progress in their practice after some time, they returned to the Lord Buddha for further instructions. The moment they entered the compound of the Jetavana Monastery the rain started falling heavily. So they had to take shelter from the rain in a nearby building. While they were waiting for the rain to stop, they saw the rain drops from the edge of the roof falling into the waterbed on the ground from which foam bubbles formed and disappeared. As they continued watching the scene, their attention diverted to their own bodies and they contemplated the physical and mental phenomena arising and dissolving from moment to moment like those foam bubbles.
The Lord Buddha being aware of their state of mind by divine eye, exhorted them from His residential quarters: Oh! Dear son Bhikkhus, just as you have witnessed the foam bubbles forming and instantaneously dissolving, the same as the flash of a lightening disappearing immediately, so are the mental and physical phenomena in the Sankhara Loka of your bodies arising and passing away from moment to moment. By strenuous contemplation, if you clearly perceive with full awareness their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, impersonality and loathsome character, you will escape the domain of death and be perpetually freed from the undesirable suffering of repeated rebirth, aging, sickness and death.
While attentively listening to the Lord Buddha’s teaching, they contemplated with full concentration on the physical and mental phenomenas in their bodies. They attained various stages of meditational insight and ariya magga phala (Path and Fruition), and became Arahats. After the attainment of Arahatship, as the Avijja, tanha, and kamma kilesas are completely eradicated, they are perpetually freed from the undesirable suffering of rebirth, old age, sickness and death.
May all of you meditators, also, by making use of the Lord Buddha’s admonishment contemplate on the meditation objects most earnestly and annihilate the Avijja, tanha, and kamma kilesas completely, and be perpetually liberated from the undesirable samsaric suffering of rebirth, old age, sickness and death.
Sadhu!.. Sadhu!.. Sadhu!