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Freedom From Thought: The Message of Sanghamitta Therani

13 December 2016 12:02 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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he introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka took place on Poson Poya Day with the arrival of Arahat Mahinda. The arrival of Arahat Mahinda’s sister Arahat Sanghamitta Therani to Sri Lanka laid the foundation for the establishment of the order of nuns or Bhikkhuni Sasana on the Unduwap Poya Day. Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka and his sister Sanghamitta who carried the sapling of the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree where Prince Siduhat attained Enlightenment at Buddhagaya, established the Buddha Sasana, Sangha Sasana and Meheni Sasana in this thrice- blessed island. Therani Sanghamitta travelled by ship to Lanka and landed in a port close to Jaffna called Jambukola. King Devanampiya Tissa accepted the Bo-sapling which was planted in the Mahamegha Vana garden and it still exists, to be the oldest historically-known tree in the entire world.   
Charming Princess Sanghamitta got married to Prince Aggribrahama at the age of sixteen, and they were blessed with a son named Sumana. Prince Tissa, Emperor Asoka’s brother became a monk and entered the Buddhist order, followed by Aggribrahama along with his seven-year-old son Sumana. Her brother, uncle, husband and son entering the order left Sanghamitta with no option. She decided to enter the Bhikkhuni order under the direction of two elderly nuns, namely Dhammapali and Ayupali, and attained arahantship like his brother Mahinda Thera. Therani Sanghamitta, who was responsible in making Sri Lanka the ‘Dhammadeepa’ along with her brother Mahinda Thera, passed away at the age of 61, during the reign of King Uttiya. The brother and sister were responsible of creating a great impact on the lives of Sri Lankans, and they together changed the social, cultural and spiritual way of life of the islanders. The society changed— a proud civilization, a Buddhist literature, culture, economy, arts and crafts developed on deep-rooted Buddhist thoughts.   
Entering the order at the age of eighteen, Princess Sanghamitta along with her brother Mahinda Thera never used any unjust method, but that of universal love and compassion in spreading Dhamma in Sri Lanka. The most significant happening on an Unduwap full moon day is the establishment of Bhikkhuni Sasana. When Buddha refused to accept women into Sasana, Mahaprajapathi Gothami shaved her head and donned the yellow robe, and with a large contingent of followers, she covered a distance of 350 miles by foot to Jetavanaramaya seeking Bhikkhuni status.   

 

"Do listen with full attention, so that in the very act of listening the old memories, the old habits, the accumulated tradition, will gradually be wiped away"

 


Arahat Moggallana was begging in Vesali for alms: Wimala, the daughter of a courtesan of Vesali, having seen the elder, followed him to his dwelling and attempted to entice him. Elder Moggallana censured and reprimanded her; finally she became a lay follower and later entered the order. After a great effort, she attained arahantship. An extract from her Udana verses tells her story —   


 Violence and Peace 

In every country under the banner of peace, there is violence; in the name of reality there is exploitation, misery: millions are starving; there is suppression under great dictatorships, social injustice prevails. War, conscription, confusion and terrible violence have become the order of the day in certain parts of the globe. When one is aware of these, one is uncertain and confused, as to what to do; ultimately carry on with one’s own prejudices and inclinations. Seeing all this, you naturally want to know for yourself what to think, how to live a different kind of life.   
There is the difficulty as one’s brain functions in old habits. The brain has been conditioned to think in a certain way, to respond according to our culture, tradition and education; that same brain tries to listen to something new and is not capable of it. That is where our difficulty is going to lie. A talk recorded on a disc can be wiped out and begun again; unfortunately, the recording on the brain has been impressed on it for so long that it is very difficult to wipe it out and begin again. We repeat the same pattern, the same ideas and physical habits, over and over again, so we never catch anything fresh.  

 
Do listen with full attention, so that in the very act of listening the old memories, the old habits, the accumulated tradition, will gradually be wiped away.   
One has to be serious when confronted with the chaos of the world, the uncertainty, warfare and destruction - where every value has been thrown away in a society which is completely permissive, sexually and economically. There is no morality, no religion; everything is being thrown away and one has to be utterly, deeply serious; if you have that seriousness in your heart, you will listen. It depends on you.   
All depend on how you look at these phenomena both inwardly and outwardly, and also on how serious you are. If you are actually serious, then when you look, the old energy, the recurrence of the old ways of thinking, living and acting come to an end. For most of us, the complexity lies on being free of the old practices of thought: `I want to fulfil myself’, ‘I am something,’ ‘I want to become,’ ‘I trust my opinions,’ ‘This is the correct way’, ‘I belong to a particular sect, religion.’ The instant you take a stand, you have alienated yourself and have therefore become incompetent of looking at the total process. 

 

‘Cogito, ergo sum’ 


If you see ‘what is’ it does not insist on an explanation; the man who doesn’t see `what is, is lost in explanations. We have to see this; understand this so essentially that you are not caught by words. Explanations blind us; they prevent us from actually seeing ‘what is.’ Descartes’ celebrated statement ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (I think, and therefore I exist) established a distinction between mind and body in Western scientific thinking that placed the realm of mind above that of matter-body.   
One has to be free from fragmentation, that you are no longer a Sinhalese, a Tamil, and an American. Then you are free from your conditioning in a particular culture or religion which binds you, according to which you have your understanding and knowledge, which lead to further conditioning. We have to look at the whole movement of life as one thing; and a mind has to be free to find out what actuality is, not an actuality which is invented or imagined. There must be total liberty in which there is no division. This can only happen if you are completely serious - not according to someone who says - This is the approach to be serious; toss that all away. Find out for yourself.   

 

"See what is going on in the world, the racial riots, the poverty, the utter purposelessness of education, the various divisions of religion, there is only one reply, one action, not a partial or fragmentary action"

 


See what is going on in the world, the racial riots, the poverty, the utter purposelessness of education, the various divisions of religion, there is only one reply, one action, not a partial or fragmentary action. If one seriously and understandingly sees that, there will be quite an unusual action.   
If one wants to find out how to live quite an unusual kind of life, a life in which there is no hostility, resentment, in which there is complete inward freedom; one is keen to find out and intends giving energy, time, thought, everything to that; such a person, a serious person not easily put off, his course is set. He does not adjust. He will pay attention to others, think, examine and observe. So you will, at all times, be listening, enquiring and pursuing.   
You need to have a brain that is sensitive; a brain that is not performing in habits.   
May all beings be happy!   

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