Pure Dhamma – Reflections on 2016

January 1, 2017; revised (#7) January 6, 2016

1. Buddha’s true message is contrary to the message embodied in all other religions and philosophies/world views. The goal is not to just live a moral life, but also to see the dangers in “maintaining status quo” by just living a good, moral life. It is imperative to get out of the rebirth process in order to prevent unimaginable types of suffering in future lives.

  • This unconventional message of the Buddha is “a world view that has never been known to the world” or “pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu“.
  • However, it is not possible for a “normal human mind” — no matter how brilliant — to comprehend the fact that this apparently pessimistic message of the Buddha is actually the best message that one could receive and is more valuable than anything in this world.

2. I know this by own experience and that is why I am willing to state this straightforwardly, even though it may scare off some, who have been erroneously led to believe that  Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) is not that different from other religions or world views that confine a life’s goal to just to live a moral life.

  • It is definitely true that one MUST live a moral life. If one lives an immoral life, one’s mind will be too contaminated to grasp that critical message of the Buddha.

3. Expressed in a different way: One needs to live a moral life and follow the mundane Eightfold Path first to get rid of the worst defilements (cobwebs that cover the mind) so that one could grasp this unique message.

  • So, after three years of writing, and contemplating how to guide someone through the easiest path to grasp that key message of the Buddha that goes against our traditional beliefs, I have started a new section — “Living Dhamma” — that can hopefully make this process easier.
  • One starts at a place even without having to accept any key foundational concepts  like kamma and kamma vipāka or the validity of the rebirth process.
  • One does not need to believe in anything except one’s own experience. Through the improvements in one’s sense of well-being, one’s mind will become clear and will be able to grasp the key aspects of Buddha Dhamma.

4. My goal is to make this section section the centerpiece of the website. Anyone — regardless of one’s familiarity with Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) — should start at the very beginning, because it is imperative to grasp the very basics. I have had enough correspondences with many readers over these three years to see that many have not fully grasped the basics; that could leave out key pieces in the big picture.

  • It could be a big mistake to assume that one knows the basics and thus skip them.
  • It is also a mistake to try to contemplate on concepts like anicca, dukkha, anatta or sunyata without grasping the essential fact that one needs to start experiencing the “peace of mind” (niramisa sukha) by staying away from those thoughts, speech, and actions that can defile and make a mind stressful and not susceptible to grasping “a world view that has never been known to the world”.
  • The goal should be to “capture the essence” and not to try to memorize everything. Bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will start falling into place, leading to joyful “Aha! moments”.

5. The website is completing three full years in existence, and I am glad that there an increased interest among countries all over the world despite the fact that pure Dhamma is unconventional.

  • When one starts seeing and experiencing the “true Dhamma”, it will become a joyful experience and one will be compelled to dig deeper and find more.

6. This is why I am appreciative of many kind comments on the usefulness of the site; that gives me confidence that there are people who can see the value of pure Dhamma.

  • My thanks also to those who made comments/suggestions/questions that have led to improvements of many web pages. Special thanks to Mr. Seng Kiat Ng from Singapore for putting together all the posts in an eBook format and for updating it every weekend as I write new posts and update some old posts. He and many others also pointed out many errors in posts which led to improvements.
  • There are readers from many countries and for the year 2016, the top 20 countries are: United States, Singapore, New Zealand, Great Britain, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Australia, India, Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Thailand, France, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Indonesia, South Africa.
  • A few more statistics from Google Analytics on user experience: Sessions = 50,688; page views = 720,269; Pages / Session = 14.21; Bounce Rate = 1.83%; % New Users = 54.41%. And in December, 8.3% spent over an hour at a time at the site according to the web host.
  • Pure Dhamma seems to have no national boundaries, as it should be. It describes the true nature of our world.

7. Another related comment from some is their anxiety of why it is taking too long for them to attain the Sotāpanna stage, and how can one know for sure whether one is even making progress.

  • This is a very important question. The Buddha was asked the same question. His answer was: “Do not worry about those things day in and day out. Just concentrate on learning Dhamma and keep living by that Dhamma”.
  • His gave a simile: “How does a good farmer go about making sure that he gets a good harvest? He prepares the field, uses good seeds, and once they germinate he makes sure to keep the weeds out and provide necessary nutrients. He does not waste time worrying about the harvest”.
  • The best way to gauge one’s progress is to look back and see whether one has made improvements in controlling one’s anger and greed by being mindful of one’s thoughts and actions.

8. I would like to share a personal experience that illustrates the “anicca nature” of this world. I eat healthy and exercise regularly (yoga and cardio), and have been able to avoid even a minor ailment since 2009. But two weeks ago, a herniated disk (which was first diagnosed in 2008) started giving me physical pain on my left arm/shoulder without any obvious physical cause.

  • By the way, I can also confirm that it is impossible to get into jhānā when one is under such physical pain. Therefore, there is no relief from this obvious kamma vipāka.

This is a good example of the anicca nature: unexpected problems can arise even if you take necessary precautions. I must hasten to point out two facts:

  • I am not saying that this happened without a cause. It is obviously a strong kamma vipāka that was hard to avoid despite taking precautions (eating well/exercise) or in the Abhidhamma language, not making bad conditions (samanantara paccayā) for such kamma vipāka to bear fruit.
  • If I had not been engaging in a good exercise program or had not paid attention to what I eat, I am sure I would not have been able to go 7 years without a significant health problem.

But with my productivity plunging (it is almost impossible to concentrate with such acute pain), it has brought me back to reality.

9. Finally, I very much want to highlight the fact that Buddha Dhamma is not about hiding in a remote place and shying away from the society or subjecting oneself to harsh living.

  • Even if one is not be able to attain the Sotāpanna stage in this life, the effort will not go to waste: it will make it easier in the future. As the Buddha advised, just follow the Path if it seems to make sense; results will follow.
  • But to get there, one needs some self-control to stay away from such extremes initially. Learning pure Dhamma is the only way to break through that first barrier. Once the Sotāpanna stage is attained, one will never, ever go back.  (if one becomes a Sotāpanna magga anugami, one will never go back in this human bhava, which could be many more human births).
  • One with a purified mind can live in the most seductive place and yet not be perturbed.
  • It is not those enticing or seducing things that make us do immoral things and make our minds stressed in turn; rather it is our own defiled minds (defilements can vary from hate and excess greed to just being ignorant of the true nature of the world) making us do immoral things.

Happy New Year!

May the Blessings of the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Saṅgha) be with you always!

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