Today’s Dhamma talk is entitled
“ A FLOWER AND LOFTY NIBBANA ”
BY NAYAKA MYITTHA SAYADAW, VEN.U VASAVA
MAHASI MEDITATION CENTRE,
“A flower and lofty Nibbana.” This discourse was expounded by the Lord Buddha over 2500 years ago, while he was residing at the JetavanaSavatthi in
There lived in Savatthi, a young handsome man, the son of a goldsmith. Out of reverence for the Sariputta Mahathera, he entered the Sangha Order under the preceptor-ship of the Sariputta Mahathera. After reflecting that the young Bhikkhu, being handsome and at the prime of his youth, may well be inclined to craving for sensual pleasures, the Elder Thera decided to give him the Asubha bhavana (contemplation on loathsomeness of the body) as a meditation object to curb sensual craving.
Here, it should be noted that because the meditation object given by the Elder did not suit the young Bhikkhu’s propensities, he could not progress in his practice, even for three months during a retreat in the forest.
It has been affirmed in the Buddhist texts that an individual’s dormant proclivities could not be penetrated by anyone but the Buddha. The Elder, realizing this fact, took the young Bhikkhu and related the matter to the Buddha.
Thereupon, the Lord Buddha scrutinized the matter and read the thoughts of the young Bhikkhu’s mind for his inherent idiosyncrasies and gave him a suitable meditation object. The Buddha created a beautiful golden lotus flower using his psychic power and said to the young Bhikkhu “Dear son Bhikkhu,” take this golden lotus flower to a secluded corner of the monastery, sit cross legged intent on strenuous effort, gaze at the flower and contemplate incessantly making verbal notations “Lohitakam ! Lohitakam ! (golden-red ! golden-red !).
The reason the Buddha gave this particular meditation object to the young Bhikkhu was that, in his previous five hundred existences prior to this present one, the young Bhikkhu was born as a goldsmith’s son successively, and the attachment to the golden-red color was latent in his heart. “Salvage the drifting boat by using another boat” as the saying goes. So, the Buddha used the golden-red color of the lotus as the object of meditation to attract and fix the young Bhikkhu’s mind in concentration.
Thus, intently contemplating, the young Bhikkhu’s mind was cleansed of the mental defilements or kilesæs and as his concentration became stronger and deep, he attained access concentration and hence, all four stages of absorption concentration or Aappana Samadhi in succession.
But what he had attained was just mundane Samatha Jhana only, and it surely was not the final goal of his meditation. To attain the final goal of NibbanaVipassana Bhavana), that of contemplating on the three characteristics of all psychophysical phenomenas, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and egolessness (Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta) and thereby successively acquire the various stages of insight knowledge. through Path and Fruition knowledge, one must practice Insight meditation (
Buddhas arise in this world for the benefit of all living beings. The Buddha kept the meditating young Bhikkhu under surveillance to assess his progress or otherwise guide him through his contemplation. When the Buddha discovered the young Bhikkhu’s inability to progress further, the Buddha willed, using his psychic power, that the lotus flower be faded, and fall petal by petal to the ground.
This incident touched the young Bhikkhu’s heart causing emotional apprehension that “even such a flower, a product of the seasons had to fade and fall to the ground, what will become of my body, compounded by the four conditions of kamma, Citta, (mind or consciousness) season and nutrient.” With that moral fear, he contemplated intently and incessantly, clearly perceiving the impermanent (Anicca), unsatisfactory (Dukkha) and egoless (Anatta) characteristics of all psycho-physical phenomena. This in accordance with the aphorism quoted by our late benefactor, most Venerable Mahasi Mahathera: “When the true nature of impermanence is clearly perceived, the remaining two characteristics are also comprehended”.
As the young Bhikkhu’s meditation gathered momentum, the Lord Buddha, using psychic powers, radiated the aura of light from Jetavana monastery and exhorted this message: Oh dear son Bhikkhu! As an autumn lotus flower is crumpled to destruction by hand, you as a meditator must eliminate all mental defilements by cultivating the path (Magga ñana) of insight knowledge. The Buddha expounded “the cessation of craving is the true bliss of Nibbana. So, you should incessantly and perseveringly develop the Noble Eight Fold Path.”
On receiving the Buddha’s admonishment, the young Bhikkhu, by applying the simile of the “Lotus Flower,” ardently contemplated the aggregates to clearly perceive the impermanent nature of mind and matter. He attained successive stages of insight knowledge, and realized the lofty Nibbana Dhamma through the four stages of Path and Fruition knowledge.
May all you meditators, like this young Bhikkhu, be able to apply the nature of impermanent characteristic of external objects to that of one’s aggregate mind and matter, and contemplate to clearly perceive the impermanent characteristic, thereby realizing the lofty dhamma Nibbana, the complete elimination of craving.
Sadhu!… Sadhu!… Sadhu!