Reflections on 2015

January 1, 2016

I started the website sometime in early January of 2014. I am pleasantly surprised to see a marked increase in audience in 2015 compared to 2014. Actually, the increase in time spent at the site (indicated by the bandwidth and pages) has increased much more than the number of visits. That is what I really like: those who “really get it” spend more time learning pure Dhamma.

1. First of all, my heartfelt thanks for the many kind comments on the usefulness of the site, and also making 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 has also pointed out many errors in posts which led to improvements.

  • Many others have pointed out such errors and suggested improvements to the site, and I am grateful to all.
  • There are readers from over 50 countries and for the month of December, 2015, the top 20 countries are: United States, Singapore, New Zealand, Great Britain, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Netherlands, China, Canada, France, Indonesia, Thailand, Austria, Brazil, Hong Kong, and Russian Federation. Pure Dhamma seems to have no national boundaries, as it should be. It describes the true nature of our world.
  • In early December, 2015, I upgraded the hosting platform to have a virtual private server and it also seems to have helped speed up the page loading.
  • If you encounter problems accessing the site, avoid the www in the address line: It should just be: https://puredhamma.net. Normally, typing just “puredhamma.net” should direct to https://puredhamma.net. Or, one could Google search “puredhamma” and the link will come out on the top.
  • I also upgraded to a more secure “https” from “http” just to assure that the content will not be tampered with. I encourage sharing or using anything that is on the site. Anyone is “free to copy” any of the content. Reference to the site is a courtesy, but not required.

2. The most common feedback I get is on the usefulness of the site. I appreciate those comments.

  • When I started the site, some of my friends warned me that “pure Dhamma” is too difficult to understand, and I may turn off people. But my goal is to present the true message of the Buddha as much as possible. Not everyone may be able to understand it initially, but for those who can, it will be a life-changing experience as it has been for me.

3. Another related comment from some is their anxiety of why it is taking too long for them to attain the Sotapanna 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 on contemplating the anicca nature of this world. The rest will follow”.
  • 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”.

4. In the same way, one just needs to learn pure Dhamma and live by it. One needs to understand what Nibbana or Nivana is, in a step-by-step process. Initially, one does not need to worry about stopping the rebirth process (this is true even up to the Sotapanna stage). One should first focus on “quenching the fires that burn inside”: One should experience the “peace of mind” that is palpable when one gradually loses extreme greed, hate, and ignorance (not knowing the true nature of this world).

  • Ragakkhayo Nibbanan, dosakkhayo Nibbanan, Mohakkhayo Nibbanan” (“Cooling down is attained with getting rid of greed, hate, and ignorance”) is valid from this initial “cooling down” all the way to the attainment of the Arahant stage. Just concentrate on getting rid of the strongest immoral acts via the body, speech, and the mind first.
  • Thus the best way to gauge the progress is to see how much greed, hate, and ignorance has been lost over a given time.
  • Here, “getting rid of ignorance” is an important aspect, which can come ONLY via learning Dhamma, i.e., only via learning the true nature of this world.

5.  When one follows this basic process, one WILL start feeling the resulting cooling down. One will realize that one becomes more thoughtful and tolerant of others, even when they do inappropriate  things.

  • And with time, one will see that others also seem to act less harshly. It is hard to believe but one’s mindset CAN affect how others treat oneself. It is a feedback loop that may not be noticeable initially, but will become apparent with time.

6. Then one day, one will realize that one does not have the gathi even remotely resembling of those in the four apayas: no extreme hate suitable for a hell being, no extreme greed suitable for a preta (hungry ghost), no “animal gathi“, and one does not have the mindset to rely on others (asura). Then one realizes that one is a Sotapanna.

  • When one understands that the consequences of extreme immoral acts can be much more harsh in the long-term compared to any short-lived satisfaction, then one’s mind will automatically reject such thoughts. Comprehending the anicca nature will do the same.

7. 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.

  • 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 vile to just being ignorant of the true nature of the world) making us do immoral things.
  • One with a purified mind can live in the most seductive place and yet not be perturbed.
  • 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 Sotapanna stage is attained, one will never, ever go back.  (if one becomes a Sotapanna magga anugami, one will never go back in this life).
  • Even if one is not be able to attain the Sotapanna 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.

Happy New Year! May the Blessings of the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) be with you always!

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