Wild birds are singing curiously and noisily... Whilst I am sitting next to the window with open sense-doors and thinking:
WHAT SHOULD WE LEARN ABOUT BUDDHISM ON THESE DAYS?
Thanks to the periodical rite that will be arranged in the monastery today, I let myself relax a bit to introspect the vision of the road ahead. For those who are beginners and particularly for those whose doubts are still remained, please keep in mind that I am just a newly nun in around 9 months. So to speak, don't believe until you keep these ideas for your own contemplation.
I was about to share with you my little story of the nun's life. But then, what is more exciting in the midst? That is the 4 Masters who have induced my way. And all four of them are respectful virtuous monks.
The first one is my preceptor who has lived a renunciation life in Theravada tradition since 13. For more than 33 years, he's dedicated himself in studying and serving the Elders. After few years having stayed in the UK and the US, he completed his PhD and came back Vietnam to serve the local Buddhist community. I never think my story would be similar to that though. Nevertheless, I so much admire his dedication and devotion, foremost is his virtue as a simple and common monk. Being Chief Abbot of several monasteries and pagodas, as well as his current positions in the Vietnam Sangha Group (VSG), he is still keeping a simple life as much as possible in return.
The second is one of the surprising on my Rain Retreat at a monastery in Yangon, Myanmar. He is so young, younger than I am as the matter of age; but much older in experiences of renunciation life. His teacher is one of the great Masters in Sri-lanka; who taught him Metta, helped him accomplish that technique and inspired his renunciation life for 10 years so far. As the tallest Euroupean monk living in that Burmese monastery for 3 years, he instructs novices in Burmese, shares his knowledge of Scriptures and teaches English for monks on a daily basis. But that is not what earns my utmost respect. The monks and novices keep primitive tradition of almsgiving everyday at 6:30 am. No matter what happens: rainy or cold weather condition, they walk barefoot towards the village and stay mindful while receiving almsgiving. The young Sayadaw plays a more important role: he takes responsibility of queuing the novices, keeps eyes on them during alms and is always the last in line.
Dated back few decades ago was living a great historic Thai monk namely Bhikkhu Buddhadasa. He is the Great Master to myself. I cannot tell you how much expression or emotions for the first time I read "The prison of life". The more I read, the clearer my mind was, and the stronger my heartbeat felt. So to speak, he is the first one to cultivate my mind of authentic Buddhism. Not Buddhist rituals but Buddhism as a science, a psychotherapy and an art of living. He has opened my (mind's) eyes of what the Heart of Buddhism is. All the teachings from Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago told disciples to extinguish attachments which imprison the mind and heart, enchain one's life in worldly fetters and confine them perpetually. Ajahn (Achaan) Buddhadasa says that all. Instead of strongly criticizing the religious rituals as some in his time, Ajahn Buddhadasa tried to direct followers to the ultimate liberation of the Buddhadhamma. At the end of the day, the utmost goal of an authentic Buddhist is to free their mind from all kinds of attachment, so to say, an emptiness state of mind.
Among the innumerable prestigious current Masters is an outstanding Burmese Elder whose name would be well-known to every Buddhist student in Myanmar: Ashin Nandalamabhivamsa. However, NOT for his NAME awakened my mind, but his TEACHINGS of impermanence, suffering and non-self (anica, dukkha & anatta). Whatever Buddhist doctrine you have learnt or heard, you need go back MEDITATION to contemplate Buddhism by yourself. Have you ever heard about the 7 purifications, 5 stages of vipassana or 9 steps (some say 16 or 17) in the perfection of insight knowledge (nana)? My gratitude to Ashin Nandalama lies in his theory-to-practice instructions. He integrates Abhidhamma into vipassana-nana courses. He's used to teaching Dhamma by beginning with "Thus I have heard..." stories, or simply practicable instances.
So what should be learnt about Buddhism on these days?
First and foremost, it's moral purity; or faultless behaviors [by way of body, speech and mind] should be developed. For the utmost goal of liberation or freedom from attachments, one cannot succeed without practicing meditation. Whether beginning with samatha or vipassana, only Right Concentration (samma-samadhi) and wisdom (panna) or insight knowledge (nana) can help one see things (dhamma) as they really are (insight of the nature of things). This physical body co-exists in the mundane world. But the mind should only take it with other material things as the means for spiritual development until all defilements are gone to attain the cessation of suffering.
_ September 2015 | Yangon, Myanmar _https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-should-we-learn-buddhism-days-hang-serena-