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Dhamma Articles

Kamman Keththan Vinganan


Karma is the field, consciousness the seed and craving the moisture.
Kisa Gothami a young lady got married at an early age, yet for quite some time was not blessed with a child. After few years she was blessed with the good news and gave birth to a boy. She was quite attached to the son and adored him. Unfortunately after a short period of time the child fell sick and despite the treatments died. The young mother refused to believe that her child was dead as she had never come across an instance of death before, and thinking the son had gone to a deep slumber went to people of all types seeking help to make her son well. People told her that the child is dead but she would not believe them. Then one kind hearted person seeing her plight told her to go to Jetahavana Vihar and see the Enlightened One who should be able to help her.

The young lady carrying the body of the child went to Jethawana Vihar and requested the Enlightened One to find a cure for her son. The Enlightened One did not discourage her saying that the child is dead but instead told her to bring some Mustard seed to give cure to her son. As she left, Buddha called her and said that the Mustard seed must be from a house where no one had died. Encouraged by the words of Enlightened One the young mother went out to obtain sesame seeds from a house where no one has died. The first house she went to, she asked for some sesame seed. But when they were about to give the seeds, she queried whether anyone has died in the past in their house. They told her that many of their people died in the same house. She went from house to house but could not find any residence in which no one had died.

Let us for a moment adjourn here and try to introspect into this sublime Dhamma. The Dhamma expounded by the Buddha is timeless, Akaliko Bhagavato Dhammo. Thus the same principle as during the days Buddha was residing in Sravaththi must apply to present day as well. But today there are many new houses flats and apartments where no one has died. Even though the Enlightened One attained Parinirvana almost 2,500 years ago, the underlying principles of his teachings are timeless. Therefore here it is necessary for us to go deeper into the inner meaning of the Buddha’s teachings.

After attaining Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, the Buddha recited this peon of joy,

Through many a birth in Samsara wondered I,

Seeking, but not finding the builder of this house,

Sorrowful is this repeated birth,

O house-builder! Thou art seen.

All thy rafters broken and thy ridgepole is shattered,

The mind attained the unconditioned.

Achieved is the end of craving.

The Enlightened One here refers to the house builder, and who is this house builder? The often stated answer is the craving. But craving is the moisture in the field. Can moisture by itself make the house? Also he spoke of this house built, and after destroying the rafters and the ridgepole the mind attained the unconditioned and achieved the end of craving. So what is that house?

How can we determine which this house is? For that let us visit the seven weeks the Enlightened One spent after attaining enlightenment. The seventh and last week he spent is known as having stayed in a place called Rajayathanaya. Further after the birth of price Siddhartha it is known that he took seven steps over seven lotus flowers and uttered the words, “I am the supreme to this world, senior to this world, greatest to this world”. From this uttering as well as the inner understanding of the seventh week after enlightenment, The Enlightened One in all those forty five years spent his time in Rajayathana and supreme to the six agencies of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body & mind. On the other hand we the mundane people are under the influence of the world and our house is termed Salayathana. The Rajayathana is only that which an Enlightened One can make.

From this it becomes evident that it is this house of 6 agencies (SALAYATHANA) where all things are happening. Then who built this house, is it the craving?

The Enlightened One says that he achieved the end of craving after destroying the rafters and the ridge pole and that would clearly tell us that craving the moisture is not the maker. The maker of the house continues its activities in the house of the worldly mundane people. During our very long journey in this samsara we have accumulated much karma. What are these karma? When one does good then the nama/rupa of that good volition will illustrate the consciousness positively, and when one does bad, will illustrate consciousness negatively (first two stanzas of Dhammapada).

The nama/rupa and consciousness go round each other as in a vortex. In attaining enlightenment it is clearly stated that the illustrations of nama/rupa are eliminated totally without any residue. From this evident that karma is the product of these actions (the chethana that arise in us) that takes place throughout this inglorious samsara. In other words the consciousness in itself is the maker of this abode. But once the illustrations of nama/rupa are totally eradicated, then consciousness no longer can continue its building activity and that itself is attainment of nibbana.

It is also important here for us to introspect into the co-dependent origination (PATICHCHA SAMUPPPADA). The vingnana and nama/rupa lean on each other. Venerable Arahath Saripuththa in the Nala Kalapa Sutta described the consciousness and nama/rupa leaning against each other as akin to two bundles of bamboo leaning on each other. If one take away one bundle, the other will fall and Vice Versa.

What is Nama? It is

• Feeling (vedana)
• Perception (sanna)
• Thoughts (chethana)
• Touch (passa)
• Attention (manasikara)

What is Rupa? It is rupa sanna or form-perception

When Enlightened One told the young mother to bring some sesame seeds from a house where no one has died, it was to give an opening for the young lady to open up to wisdom. When the householders told her that many relatives has died in their houses, it probably dawned upon her that the death in itself is happening in the mundane whose consciousness and nama/rupa are leaning against each other all the time and that the co-dependent origination is timeless in beings who have not eradicated without residue the craving for existence. In the house of these six agencies there is simultaneous birth and death. The stream enterer realizes this, that which arise ceases then and there (YAN KINCHI SAMUDAYA DHAMMAN, SABBANTHAN NIRODHA DHAMMAN). The fetters are,

• Self View
• Doubt
• Attachment to rites and rituals
• Sensual desire
• Ill will
• Lust for material abode existence
• Lust for immaterial abode existence
• Conceit
• Restlessness
• Ignorance

Nama arises and ceases then and there and so is the Rupa. She realized that this somatic death only bring in another birth but not an end to suffering. She threw away the dead body to the cemetery and went to Jethavana Vihar and on listening to the Dhamma expounded by the Enlightened One became a disciple of Buddha. Having ordained herself she strived hard and one day observing the flickering flame of a lamp realized that so is our life, of impermanence. The Enlightened One then projected his image before the young Kisa Gothami and uttered this stanza,

“Yo ca vassastham jive – apassam amatham padam
Ekaham jivitham seyyo – passatho amatham padam”


Though one should live a hundred years without seeing the Deathless State, yet better, indeed, is a single day’s life of one who sees the Deathless State. Striving diligently she finally attained full liberation as an Arahath. In those who have enlightened not only the Buddha, the consciousness is devoid of nama/rupa and termed non-illustrated consciousness. Such a consciousness will no longer hold on to any nama/rupa and are in the sublime state of Nibbana.

The Enlightened One never told any disciple to spend time looking at his somatic body or for that matters as it happens today looking at the statues of Buddha. Indeed disciple Vakkali who spent almost all his time looking at Buddha was told to leave the place. He told the Bhikku that the one who realizes this Dhamma only will see the Buddha and one who realizes this co-dependent origination will realize Dhamma and thus see the Enlightened.

It is well known by all the Buddhist disciples that as ascetic Sumeda so long ago he could have attained nibbana by listening to a stanza of four lines from the Enlightened One Deepankara. Yet he decided not to do so but dived back into this current of existence with the resolve that one day he too will attain enlightenment and help others too to attain nibbana. But sadly today many are doing other things such as making offerings to various places, recite stanzas but are not in the path shown. Those of us who do not follow the path will indeed be most ungrateful because it is to get us out of this existence that the Enlightened One chose not to attain nibbana so long ago. Thus our bounden duty is to follow this path and achieve the goal of nibbana.

“Thumhehi kichcham athappan – akkatharo Thathagatha
Patipanna pamokkanthi – jhayino Marabandana”

By you must the effort be made: the Tathagathas only will show the way. Those who walk that path (in contemplation), free themselves from the bondage of Mara.

If we strive, get down to Mindfulness and Vipassana Meditation, and then we too can attain at least the level of Stream Enterer in this life. But if we think that The Enlightened One is no more and procrastinating hope to realize our ultimate goal at a later date then it is a demonstration of our self being under the influence of the ten armies of mara.

So dear folks let us not procrastinate and begin now if you have not done so and follow this clear and beautiful path to Nirvana.

“Kiccho manussapatilabho - kichcham maccana jivitham
Kicccham saddhammasavanam - kiccho Buddhanam uppado”

Hard it is born to be a human being, hard is the life of mortals. Hard it is to gain opportunity to hear the good Dhamma, and hard indeed, to encounter the coming of an Enlightened One.

People driven by fear, go for refuge to many places – to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines. This indeed is no safe refuge; not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such refuge is one released from suffering.

One who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, penetrates with wisdom the four noble truths – suffering, cause, cessation of suffering and the noble path.

This indeed is the safe refuge, this is the refuge supreme. Having gone to such refuge, one is released from all suffering.

Sugath Rajapakse
Formerly Senior Commercial Manager at Sri Lankan Airlines and presently Consultant to Air India GSA in Sri Lanka.

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