Dhamma Articles

The Mind Olympics

From an economic perspective many winners will be approached by the clothing, perfumes, accessories and various other industries to be the brand ambassador for their brands. Such endorsements will result in athletes receiving large sums of money from these companies.

In 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Jesse Owens won four gold medals, 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4x100 meters relay. Yet in later years of his life he had to race against horses, do dry cleaning business and work as gas station attendant to make a living.

He is no more, yet has left his legacy behind. Then you also begin to wonder, what did he win? Some may say he won four Olympics gold medals at 1936 games. But that too he left behind. Some of the competitors who will compete in the Rio games too will win medals. But that will be only for this life and not beyond.

This year we also witnessed the Euro 2016 Soccer Championship won by Portugal while the rest did not win anything. The same happens in all these, be it sports, politics, other competitions where just a few end winning something while the rest become losers.

In victory, the victor creates kind of hatred at having vanquished the other while the loser is filled with sadness. But those who are of sublime peace jettison both victory and defeat and live happily. In other words, happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin. When you lift the happiness side you invariable will take the other side too.

However The Mind Olympics can make all winners provided they are able to strive with wisdom and clarity in the mind. The mind Olympics that I am going to write about is meditation, both Mindfulness and Vipassana. The many great and beautiful things achieved vide meditation cannot be matched by any other worldly thing.

To begin with there is no need to spend Billions of dollars to construct and maintain the various facilities. The Rio Olympics is said to have cost US$ 9.7 Billion. Mind Olympics can take place in isolation or with others, either at one’s own residence or a meditation center.

Unlike in sports or any other exercise seeking victory one will not create any personality ethic with mind Olympics. Indeed mind Olympics enables anyone who practices to get rid of the personality ethic.

Let me relate a story from Zen Buddhism. Once upon a time there was a meditation teacher who was known for his strict discipline. Two friends who went to the retreat were told to play a game of Draughts. One was very good at Draughts while the other was not.

With each move the friend who was not good at Draughts was moving to a losing end. The other player realizing that his friend was going to lose suddenly made two moves which changed the complexion of the game and was now on the verge of losing. The teacher was watching the game with a sword in his hand, and the loser was afraid for his life.

What happened next? Suddenly the teacher bent down, took the Draughts board and threw it away together with the game pieces. It is said that the two players both achieved SATO, or became stream Enterers (SOTHAPATHTHI).

Mind Olympics will not create hatred towards losers or sadness in losers. Also the benefits derived will multiply with each day’s meditation. When will the citizens of this planet ever realize the value that can be gained both spiritual as well as in health from Meditation?

Realize that you are only the caretaker

Brahmin Bavari at the tail end of his life having retired from the king’s court was dwelling in an abode near a river. One day another Brahmin came to see him and asked for some money. Bavari told him that whatever money he had in possession was spent on worshipping deities and that he was devoid of any money. The other Brahmin got enraged and cursed Bavari saying that his head will break up into seven pieces.

Hearing these words, Bavari became very sad and contemplated about what might happen. Then a certain god told him that the other Brahmin does not know the head or breaking of the head into pieces. He also informed that the Enlightened One is now in this world, dwelling in Sravasthi and told him to see the Enlightened One.

Since Bavari was old and feeble he requested 16 of his disciples to visit the Enlightened One and to ask questions by thinking about the questions only and not to speak with the Enlightened One.

Among the youth was one young person named Kappa. Approaching the Enlightened One he thought of his question thus,

“Stranded in the middle of a lake and about to be engulfed by huge currents, Enlightened One please tell them of an island of refuge”

Then the Enlightened One said, yes Kappa I will tell you of that island of refuge, “neither owning nor grasping, that is the island of refuge where old age and death no longer is there”

What are the four currents? They are Desire, View, Existence and Ignorance. These currents have engulfed us and make us believe in a self, and thus creation of self-view. This self wants to own it all, of self, those around us, of all the things around us. But sadly we do not realize that we own nothing from the time of coming till the moment we depart.

The Enlightened One often used similes to explain the deeper meaning of the dharma. In my most humble way with utmost reverence to the Enlightened One I shall try to use a simile hoping that it would provide an understanding and shed some light on the matter.

Let us think of a motor car. It is owned by a person but is driven by a driver. The wise driver will wash the vehicle daily, top up radiator with water and fill the tank with fuel & oil and if an electric car charge the battery.

He will drive the car carefully on the road. If it meets with an accident, will inform the owner and get it repaired may be through insurance. But he does not try to own it knowing it is not his vehicle but that he is only the driver cum caretaker.

On the contrary the owner will get unhappy if the car gets damaged or if corrosion sets in.

It is the same with this somatic body, and we are only caretakers for a certain period. We did not bring it and nor will we take it away with us. This body is there not to be glamorized or glorified, because it is a heap of many forms of fecal matters with a very thin coating covering it. To the wise it is a means given to help them understand the impermanence of it all.

In the KAYANUPASSANA section of SATHIPATTANA SUTTA it is stated, “This own body is there for attaining mindfulness, for development of ultimate knowledge & wisdom, development of mindfulness and live not leaning on this six-agency world and not grasping it either.

Thus we must understand this body of ours is a facility that can be used to contemplate the impermanence and striving with mindfulness and wisdom attain the ultimate, nibbana, just as the extinguishing of a lamp.

According to the Dhammapada - Magga Vagga (The way or the path), “Eso’va maggo natth anno - dassanassa visuddhiya - Etamhi tumhe patipajjatha - marass etam pamohanam” - This is the only path and there is no other for the purification of vision. Tread this path to overcome Mara (Death).

“Sabbe Sankhara aniccati - yada pannaya passati - Atha nibbindati dukkhe - esa maggo visuddhiya” - He who realizes that all conditioned things change will be passive in pain. This itself will lead him to purity.

“Vacanurakkhi manasa susamvuto - kayena ca akusalam na kayira - Ete tayo kamma pathe visodhaye - aradhaye maggam isippaveditam” - Let a person watch his speech, restrain his mind and not engage in bodily misconduct. He who purifies these three paths of action will tread the way proclaimed by the sages.
“Yoga ve jayati bhuri - ayoga bhurisankhayo - Etam dvedha patham natva - bhavaya vibhavaya ca - Tath attanam niveseyya - yatha bhuri pavaddhati” - Wisdom arises from meditation and it wanes in the absence of meditation. Knowing this two-fold way for the arising and waning (of wisdom), let one engage himself in the way wisdom grows.

According to the Dhammapada - Dhammattha Vagga (The just or righteous), “Na tavata dhammadharo - yavata bahu bhasati - Yo ca appamapi sutvana - dhammam kayena passati - Sa va dhammadharo hoti - yo dhammam nappamajjati” - One who speaks much is not a bearer of the Dhamma on that account. One who lives according to the little he hears of Dhamma, not neglecting the Dhamma, is indeed a beaver of the Dhamma.

“Na vakkaranamattena - vannapokkharataya va - Sadhurupo naro hoti - issuki macchari satho” - A jealous, selfish and deceitful man cannot be called a virtuous person merely because he is eloquent and handsome.

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

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