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Vipassana Meditation

Master Acharavadee Wongsakon

For many years, I used to take my kids to join in the candlelight procession at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple, Bangkok, on important Buddhist days. Now, we mostly chant and practice meditation at home although I go to the temples on certain occasions.

If most Buddhists only chant and practice meditation at home all the time, other people including those of other religions may think that Buddhists no longer make merit on these important days. They may presume that we don’t have strong faith anymore. For this reason, we have to take the middle path; never ignore the temple and persevere with the practice.

Whenever you can go to a temple to make merit and join in the candlelight procession, please do so. And if you have young children at home, bring them along. Spending time among people who have strong faith in the Buddha will cultivate faith in their hearts. If anything happens in the future, their good conscience will somehow help them keep their faith

We can never perfectly describe the supreme kindness and compassion of the Buddha. After attaining Enlightenment, he spent only seven weeks enjoying the bliss of liberation, and then started teaching what he discovered until the last day of his life. Despite all difficulties, he traveled through places, in extremely hot and cold weather, in order to teach people.

In the Pali Canon, the Buddha mentioned the people who have great benevolence: 1) Those who teach usto take refuge in the Triple Gem. 2) Those who teach us to reach the first stage of Enlightenment, to be Sotapanna. 3) Those who teach us to reach Enlightenment, to become an Arahant (someone who is completely free of worldly attachments). We can say that the benevolence of the Buddha who is the greatest teacher and all venerable monks or spiritual teachers is truly immeasurable.

The Prophet once said that even if that student brought an enormous amount of money equivalent to the amount that could fill the space of the Universe, it’s still not enough to pay the debt of gratitude to that teacher.

This doesn’t seem very important to most Buddhists. Only when we carefully think about it, we will realize that the Buddha had actually turned people who had no faith, living blindly in arrogance into faithful ones. With faithful mind, they openly declared in front of the Buddha that their sole refuge would be the Triple Gem and chanted “Buddham saranam gacchami, Dhammam saranam gacchami, Sangham saranam gacchami”, or “Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa.” That means they stepped out of the darkness and walked on the path to end their suffering.

Let me share with you a story from the Buddha’s time.

“In Himavanta, there was a mountain called Satakiri; a very pleasant place where giants in the angelic realm lived. They were called ‘Satakiri Giants’ who guarded the entrance to Himavanta. They had a chance to listen to the Buddha’s teaching. With faith and respect, they said out loud, ‘Namo’ which referred to the Buddha who is above all humans, angels, brahmins, devils, giants, and all animals.

When a giant named Asurindharahu, heard the reputation of the Buddha, he also wanted to learn the Dhamma but was reluctant to see Him because he thought the Buddha was so small like an ant compared to him. Later, when the Prophet’s reputation had become widely known across all the realms, he finally decided to go, thinking that he would shrink himself once he reached there. But to his surprise, this giant had to raise his head up so that he could see the Buddha’s face. Listening to the Wise One’s teachings softened his rough heart so much that he started chanting, “Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa” which means “I pay ultimate respect to the Blessed One who has reached complete spiritual enlightenment through his own wisdom.”

Because of the Buddha’s supreme kindness, the giant stepped out of the darkness and walked the bright path.

ped out of the darkness and walked the bright path.The benevolence of the Buddha and the teachers who teach their students to attain stages of Enlightenment is therefore immeasurable. Nothing is enough to repay this debt of gratitude.

We must repay our debt of gratitude.

Practicing meditation is the best way to show our gratitude. Other than that, supporting Dhamma work, promoting His teaching, and protecting the Prophet and Buddhism are also admirable.

Even a tremendous amount of money that can fill the space of the universe is not enough to pay this debt of gratitude. We therefore must hold gratitude deeply in our hearts and try our best to repay it for the rest of our lives.

On this Visakha Bucha Day, I’d like to remind those who still enjoy living in delusional world that all difficulties in our lives are caused by carelessness. These are the Buddha’s last words before he passed into Nirvana.

“Bhikkhus, this is my last advice to you. All conditioned things are impermanent. Strive on heedfully.”

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