Question and Answer and Dhamma Discussion
with Overseas Disciple from USA
QUESTION : I personally believe that we can make donations only when we have capacity to donate. That is the reason why we have to work hard to earn money in order to donate. May I know your opinion please?
Sayadaw : In reality, you can do good deeds as long as you have strong determination. It is immaterial whether you are carrying out your created actions (endeavours) or doing good deeds, as long as you have strong determination, you will surely be able to do them (if you have will, you have ways).
The perception of 'one can do good deeds only when one has capacity and capabilities to do so' is not the complete perception as it pays central emphasis only on 'having or not-having'.
In reality, you should pay central emphasis on the cause (effort), 'doing or not-doing'.
Paying central emphasis on 'having or not-having' means paying central emphasis on the 'effect' (result).
If you have good 'cause' in mind or if you place central emphasis on good 'cause', you surely can do good actions or good deeds. It also does not matter whether you are rich or poor, you still can do good deeds if you have strong determination to do so.
In terms of studying, you study without knowing whether you will become learned (academic) one day but you keep on studying just because you have strong determination to do so.
In terms of doing business, you hop into the business wagon without knowing whether you will be successful one day but you keep on working so hard just because you have strong determination to do so.
In terms of seeking medical treatments, you spend tons of money on the best specialists, medicines and medical treatments without knowing whether your illness or disease can be cured but you keep on seeking treatments till you have nothing left to sell (penniless) just because you are willing to do so.
Those examples show that if you have strong determination to do something, you can, you surely can do it.
Similarly, in terms of doing 'dana', if you have will, you surely can do it. It is more important for you to have will and determination to do 'dana' or good deeds.
Use your eyes ….. Do not end your path with eyesight.
Use your ears ….. Do not end your path with hearing.
Our conventional understanding of 'dana' is not so accurate and correct. Hence, the 'dana' as you traditionally understand does not encourage you to abandon your desire and actions (endeavours) to earn more money.
Likewise, no matter how much you observe 'sila' in conventional way, you still unable to abandon all your physical and oral actions. One good example is those who take precepts in traditional way. These people tend to take pride in how many precepts they can take or how long they can take how many precepts. It shows that these people place central emphasis on 'doing' (taking precepts) without abandoning other actions beyond the precepts that they take, e.g. saying this and that, talking about this and that, etc while taking those precepts.
Observing 'sila' according to your understanding might not be the real and correct way of observing 'sila'.
In terms of practicing meditation according to your knowledge, no matter how much you concentrate or contemplate on or how long you have been practicing meditation, if you still cannot abandon your thoughts, worries, angers, frustrations, doubts, suspicions, greed, etc (actions of mind), your ability of practicing meditation, concentration and contemplation can still be considered as your ability of 'doing actions'.
As long as you cannot abandon the other actions of your mind, the meditation that you practice might not help you to achieve your ultimate goal of enlightenment and might not help you to attain insight wisdom.
The real and genuine 'sila' is abandoning power to all physical and oral actions and 'bhavana' is abandoning power to all mental actions ... an abandoning power to all the actions of your mind and this must always be your understanding. One the other hand, it should also be called as abandoning traditional understanding and embracing on more complete understanding.
By doing so, your mind power of abandoning will gradually be improved and reached to the fullest. Your ability of 'doing-only' will eventually be improved.
If you place emphasis on 'doing' actions, only your mind power of 'doing' actions will be increased.
Try to understand "what should be done" by using "what must be done."
In the case of meditation, practicing meditation by applying all kinds of conventional knowledge and methods can be considered as merely 'doing' actions without abandoning the habit of the mind.
In reality, you always have to remember the truth, 'abandoning', in your mind while carrying out the activities of the body (kaya kamma), oral (vaci kamma) and mind (mano kamma). This is called trying to abandon those activities in your mind while physically doing them.
Your power of abandoning will eventually be improved if you keep on doing 'abandoning' all the time in your mind.
Central emphasis should not be placed on 'doing' or 'not-doing'.
Central emphasis should not be placed on 'doing created actions' or 'not-doing created actions'.
Central emphasis should not be placed on 'doing meditation' or 'not-doing meditation'.
Placing central emphasis on the following actions can merely be called as 'habitual way of placing central emphasis on actions'. They are ... must do meditation, must do routine actions, must seek for medical treatments, must depend on yourself, must depend on doctors, must depend on parents, must depend on teachers, must depend on Buddha, Dhamma and Sanga (Triple Gems), etc ...
The above mentioned examples are the glaring evidences that you are still unable do 'abandoning' in your mind. You are merely 'doing actions' in your mind. By carrying out 'doing actions', your power of 'doing' will eventually be increased. You can merely 'do actions' but unable to 'abandon actions' in your mind.
To be continued
Mental disorder in human beings is one of the evidences that those people are incapable of doing 'abandoning' in their mind. If people start to do whatever they wish to do and say whatever they wish to say according to their wish and will, regardless of the situation, they will eventually become mental patients.
Only when you can practice 'abandoning' in your mind, you will gradually be able to stop using life as if you are the owner and master of your own life, stop grasping life as if it is your own and stop referring to life as yours.
('abandoning' = abandoning physical actions, oral actions, mental actions, grasping of living and non-living beings as well as stop using things for grasping purpose, start using things for abandoning purpose, using life for abandoning purpose, etc)
The essence is to 'abandon' your habit of using life in a wrong way. As a result of the power of abandoning, you will gradually know how to use things, life, all other actions in a right way of 'using only, doing only, etc'.
Use your life ….. Do not end your path by the definition of man, woman and lose yourself.