The Struggle





The title of today’s Dhamma talk is “The Struggle.” Regarding this discourse, there are two kinds of struggles: External and Internal.


1) External struggle means to make strenuous effort, to overcome extreme attachment to grasping at animate and inanimate sensual objects, which is the main source of greed.  It is affirmatively stated in the Pitaka scriptures that sharing or giving away one’s possessions to other needy or worthy persons is like fighting the enemy in battle, because one has to suppress greed to be generous.


For example, during Buddha’s lifetime in India, in the capital city of Sävatthi, there lived a brahmin couple.  They were so poor that they possessed only one shawl to share between them, and so they were called the  EKASATAKAJetavana Monastery, the desire to listen to the discourses arose in their heart.  But as they had only one shawl, they could not go to the Monastery together.  So, they decided that the wife would attend the day sermon and the husband would attend the evening sermon. (single shawl) couple.  One day, when they heard that the Lord Buddha was giving Dhamma discourses at the Jetavana Monastery, the desire to listen to the discourses arose in their heart.  But as they had only one shawl, they could not go to the Monastery together.  So, they decided that the wife would attend the day sermon and the husband would attend the evening sermon.


While the husband was listening to the Buddha’s evening discourse, a strong Saddha (faith) arose within him to make an offering to the Lord Buddha.  Since he had nothing else, he thought to offer their only possession, the shawl.  At that same moment, an opposing thought arose arguing that without the shawl his wife would be obliged to stay indoors at home, and therefore would not be able to attend the Buddha’s Dhamma discourse the next day.  Thus, the conflicting thoughts of offering or not offering the shawl began to struggle in his mind for the entire evening discourse.  For every thought of offering the shawl, 1000 opposing thoughts arose in the mind.  However, the opposing forces of conflict in his mind were not in proportion; as a valiant warrior can vanquish 1000 ordinary soldiers on the battle front, he conquered his opposing thoughts and succeeded in offering the shawl to the Buddha at dawn.


2) Now let us discuss Internal struggle, which means the effort made to subdue and eradicate negative forces that defile one’s mind.  Out of the two struggles, this internal struggle is more difficult to combat, for which the Lord Buddha had elaborated a detailed strategy in Mahasatipathana sutta including: (a) the targets to be attacked; (b) weapons to be equipped; (c) the time to assault; and (d) the prize of victory.


(a) The 4 targets to be attacked are the material or physical parts of the body; the feelings or sensations; the mind and it’s concomitants; and the dhamma or all mental and physical objects that arise through the six sense doors of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking.

(b) Weapons to be equipped are: Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration, Discriminating Knowledge, and the application of mind into the object.


(c) The time to assault (which in this case means the time to mindfully note) is at the moment when an object arises.  Although mindfulness is of the greatest importance, other faculties of energy, concentration, wisdom and initial application should also be included.  To clarify, let us apply the simile of choosing one target in the body during sitting meditation, such as the abdomen which rises and falls.  One should mindfully note the rising and falling of the abdomen, as the sensation arises.  Also, when thinking, remembering or experiencing any other object that arises through the six sense doors, one should mindfully note the mental or physical phenomena as it arises.  This relentless and mindful noting of all mental and physical phenomena from the six sense doors, as they arise, amounts to the time of assault.


(d) Now, the prize of victory; the benefit of mindfulness meditation is the complete eradication of greed, anger and delusion.  When one incessantly contemplates all objects as they arise through the six sense doors, and clearly perceives their natural characteristics, craving, anger and all other mental defilements are eradicated.


Truly, all living beings, unaware of the arising and passing away of all mental and physical phenomena, become attached to, and perceive objects as permanent, pleasant, and identified with a person.  But meditators, who most attentively contemplate these phenomena, clearly perceive their impermanent, unsatisfactory and egoless nature, at the moment they arise.  In this way, one can completely eradicate the mental defilements of greed, anger and delusion, and attain the successive stages of Path and Fruition, and realize the perpetual bliss of Nibbana.


May all beings be able to fight against the defiling enemies, and gain the perpetual bliss of Nibbana in the shortest possible time.

Sadhu!…     Sadhu!…     Sadhu!