18 December 2015

"Election" - Part Two

Teaching of Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Ottamasara
Delivered on 8th November 2015
at Thabarwa Centre (Thanlyin)

Part Two

(3)  Cleanest, Freest and Fairest Election
Do not expect to be good if you are doing bad things. Do not expect to gain merit if you are doing unwholesome deeds. Do not expect to gain demerit if you are doing wholesome deeds.  This is the cleanest, the most beneficial and the fairest Wholesome v.s. Unwholesome deeds election.  Anyone can cast their votes. Anyone can run for wholesome v.s. unwholesome election. It is wrong not to participate in this important dual party election. It is worthy of participation. This, indeed, is an election concerning an infinite number of sentient beings residing in this universe.

This election involves everyone, without any exclusion.  Not only the yogis, but also the politicians, entrepreneurs, students, children, senior citizens, infirm, Buddhists, non-Buddhists, free thinkers, multi-racial, multi-ethnicity, multi-faith, multicultural, citizens by birth, naturalized citizens, citizens by substitution and stateless, regardless of profession, age, health status, race, religion, citizenship, everyone can get involved in this extraordinary free and fair election. Each and every one of us needs to try his very best to get involved in this election, which has no bias against race, religion or citizenship, representing an infinite number of sentient beings residing in this universe. 

We should not abandon the mundane General Election of Myanmar.  At the same time, we also should not grasp it as a real election and hit a dead end. As a human being, we have imperfections. For the General Election, we need to be vigilant in choosing the party and candidate who has fewer imperfections, great knowledge, high calibre and who is willing to serve the masses.  

Do not stop at politically inspired General Election dead end. You need to continue participating in the wholesome against unwholesome deeds election, where infinite numbers of sentient beings, including the winners, losers, voters, non-voters, monks, nuns, elders, youths, the healthy, the sick, human beings, celestial beings, Brahmas (the supreme beings) can also unanimously participate. As in the General Election of Myanmar, your participation in this wholesome against unwholesome deeds election is also compulsory.  In order for the merit-making party to claim victory in this election, we must always be mindful and do all kinds of good deeds continuously and diligently.

Always be mindful and cast your vote for the merit-making party. You need to understand and accept the fact that ordinary worldlings tend to have unwholesome attitudes, conduct, and verbal actions, in the past, at present, and that they might also be committing the same mistakes in the future. The powers of our wholesome deeds must unceasingly triumph over the powers of unwholesome deeds.

As a community leader I lead by example. I do a diversity of good deeds continuously.  At the same time, I am also training my disciples, each and every yogi, to follow my merit making footsteps. The improvement or decline of physical and mental states, success or failure, convenience or inconvenience, all are solely depending on you. You must have the right attitude, right perspective, right conduct and right verbal actions at all times. Always try to advocate and pass on these good qualities and moral virtues to yourself, to your own family, to each and every one in the society as well as the society as a whole.

(4)  USA Cinema Music Event

As Myanmar’s General Election was taking place, the Cinema Music Event, a charity fundraising concert to raise money to build hostels for the elders at Thabarwa Centre, was held in the United States of America.

The elders at Thabarwa Centre represent all the elders in Myanmar, as they come from all regions of Myanmar.  By nature, people take care only of their own relatives, grandparents and those related to them. This egocentric nature is not wholesome. Also, instead of condemning or criticising the people who are in distress for their dreadful mistakes, hopeless fate or bad karma, when the opportunity arises, take that golden opportunity to help, assist and look after those who are not related to you, those who are not Myanmar citizens, those who are facing difficulties and need your help.

Thanks to those who are facing difficulties and who are in need, we have the chance to use our money, assets, possessions and labour for a good cause to accumulate merit. By nature, ordinary worldings are not selfless. We need to go against our will, take pleasure in the happiness of others and learn to be selfless even if no one else knows. 

We need to do as many meritorious deeds as possible with right understanding in mind. Since these are not our usual or habitual tasks, we always need to go against our will to do them. By doing so, the outcome will always be meaningful and fulfilling despite facing and enduring numerous sufferings, difficulties and obstacles along the way.

The majority of ordinary worldings habitually spends most of the time, effort and life doing unwholesome deeds, including having an unwholesome point of view, uttering unwholesome words and doing unwholesome actions. By going against mundane nature, if someone or some association takes a lead role in organising merit-making events, assembles people to participate and overcomes difficulties along the way, these actions can also be considered as voting for the merit-making party.

Whilst some people might participate in merit-making activities, the majority will still be leading their usual life, not making any effort to eradicate ugly loba, dosa and moha blemishes. By opposing the nature of ordinary worldings, the Cinema Music Event can also be considered as participating in the election between wholesome and unwholesome deeds on the side of the merit-making party.

The success of the merit-making election should not be measured by how many donations are collected or how lavish an even looks or how much time, money and effort are spent in preparations. You can consider a merit-making event as successful so long as you managed to make it happen.  Due to the self-centred nature of human beings who are not interested in helping others, this merit-making event might face failure at the planning phase or initial execution phase, or half way through, or might be unable to reach completion. 

The path towards this victory is a journey of obstacles, hurdles and difficulties.  As long as you manage to overcome all the disruptions along the way and organise the merit-making event successfully, this can be called an event where wholesome deeds gained a glorious victory over the unwholesome deeds.

Sooner or later, at present or in future, you will experience the favourable consequences and benefits of the wholesome deeds that you have done successfully.  This is very much fulfilling since you will gain as much merit as the effort you put in.

It does not matter where you start. As long as you start doing meritorious deeds, it will not be difficult for you to continue doing them. As long as you do wholesome deeds and vote for the merit-making party, it does not matter whether it receives a single vote or many votes, your effort will not go wasted. 

As long as you manage to convince as many people as possible to participate and do as many good deeds as possible, and continue doing them as long a period as possible, it can be considered as a glorious victory of the wholesome deeds. Indeed, this kind of voting will not be in vain.  Instead, it is very meaningful and worthy of your best efforts.

Note  :  In order to honour Miss Valerie Sheibel, a.k.a. Barbie, the main organiser of the USA Cinema Music Event held at Lowell High School, Carol Channel Theatre, San Francisco, the Mayor of Daly City has announced 7th November as Valerie Sheibels's Day of Daly City.

The total donation received from the generous donors in order to build hostels for the elders of Thabarwa Centre (Thanlyin), was more than USD 22,800 (more than Kyat 270 lakhs).

To be continued …..

15 December 2015

“Election” - Part One

Teaching of Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Ottamasara
Delivered on 8th November 2015
at Thabarwa Centre (Thanlyin)

(1)  Wholesome Vote and Unwholesome or
Merit Vote and Demerit Vote (Kusala Vote and Akusala Vote)
Today is an Election Day in Myanmar.  For all eligible voters, those who wish to cast their vote can go to the voting stations to vote either for their preferred candidate or the party. Though all the religious personnel (monks and nuns) are prohibited from voting on Election Day, by doing dana, observing sila and practicing meditation bhavana, we are also casting Wholesome Votes and Unwholesome Votes on daily basis.

In the mundane world, there are various types of professions available for people with different intellects. At personal level, in order to prevail over unwholesome deeds, we need to refrain from giving full support to mundane endeavours.  In order for our merit making party to be triumph over its opponent, we should strive to do more wholesome deeds like doing dana, observing sila and practicing meditation bhavana.  We must propagate this victory over to our surroundings, ward, township, city, state, country, world and the whole universe.

At personal level, we do dana, observe sila and practice meditation bhavana on top of our mundane responsibilities. At Thabarwa Centre, I especially teach and train all the yogis to carry out their mundane responsibilities without interrupting their dana, sila and bhavana duties.

You can overcome initial difficulties by doing wholesome deeds repeatedly. Whatever endeavours you undertake, including practicing meditation, always try to do wholesome deeds (dana, sila and bhavana) continuously, for everyone. Your actions will become unwholesome if you think of yourself only with egocentric point of view.

You cannot avoid the impressions, misunderstandings, gossiping, bickering, accusations, condemnations, arguments and disputes of others.  When made by others, these mistakes will not be so important to you.  But they will become seriously unwholesome and tarnish your dana if you grasp your perception of 'who said what to me’, ‘who has what impression about me’, and take others’ wrong doings with an egocentric point of view. These kind of blunders are even happening in meditation centres.

Whatever you do with good intention is wholesome. While walking on the path paved by the noble ones and doing wholesome deeds, though you do not need to purposely avoid others impressions, misunderstandings, gossiping, bickering, accusations and condemnation, you also do not need to grasp and attach to them. If you grasp them, you will create either loba (greed) or dosa (anger) or moha (delusion) and it will be unwholesome. Thus, when dealing with these situations, strive to experience-only, use-only and do-only.

Other people’s wrong words are not your wrongdoings or unwholesome deeds (akusala). Your actions will become unwholesome only when you do wrong things.

Your actions will not become virtuous base on others’ compliments. Your actions will become wholesome only when you do right things. 

Your actions will not become virtuous base on others’ favourable impressions. Neither will they become your wrongdoing based on others' unfavourable impressions. Your actions will become virtuous only when you do right things.

Your actions will not become unwholesome base on others’ dislike. Your actions will become unwholesome only when you do wrong things.

Mundane (worldly) endeavours must be carried out according to the preference of the public.  Thus, the opinion and impression of the public might be important in worldly situations.  In contrast, practicing meditation or doing wholesome deeds must be done individually.  Thus, it is important for you to take the right action when you are doing wholesome deeds.  If you are given a choice, which candidate will you vote for … the wholesome deeds (doing dana, observing sila and practicing meditation bhavana) or unwholesome deeds :
-          Will you vote for the wholesome deed, doing dana, or for an unwholesome deed?
-          Will you vote for the wholesome deed, observing sila, or for an unwholesome deed?
-          Will you vote for the wholesome deed, practicing meditation bhavana, or for an unwholesome deed?
-          Which candidate will you vote for?

Even though these wholesome and unwholesome deeds are your own actions, you still need to cast your vote for either side. The choice is yours. Though by nature we tend to vote for the wrong candidates, we still can amend our wrongs.

When you combine all the wrongdoings or the virtuous actions of individual people, individual yogis, or individual monks or nuns, these will become the wrongdoings and virtuous actions of the whole centre. At the centre level, compete and conquer the unwholesome deeds with the wholesome deeds of sila (morality), samadhi (concentration) and panna (wisdom/insight).  At the individual level, always try to do wholesome deeds and vote for the merit-making party. We need to work hard for the merit-making party to claim victory at every stage and level, starting from the collective level.

(2) Merit-making Party and Lack-of-Merit Party (or) Good Party and Bad Party
There are two main parties, the Merit-making Party and Lack-of-Merit Party, or, the Good Party and Bad Party.

We need to unanimously vote for the good party in order to prevail over its opponent. This kind of election that is held regularly is concerned not only with the country but also with the whole world and the whole universe. Good deeds and bad deeds, justices and injustices, are contending for victory in groups, individually, worldwide and universally. The powerful team can mutually defeat other teams.

There will be positive results if the merit-making party is victorious. Otherwise, more votes for the bad or demerit party will bring negative results. Doing dana, observing sila and practicing meditation are good or wholesome deeds that we all should do consistently. If we do not do those good deeds continuously and diligently, we will instinctively vote for the bad or lack-of-merit party.

If we want to act for the welfare of ourselves, our families, our organizations, our communities, our countries, our world and our universe, we must choose to do good deeds such as dana, sila and meditation practice. Besides, we must try to purify our mind and stay calm. We must not leave our mind as it is. This means we should not let our mind follow our desire. Otherwise, our mind will become unstable and impure.

If we do not do right and beneficial deeds, we will choose spontaneously to do wrong deeds and worthless deeds. Therefore, it is necessary to have right understanding all the time. That's why we must try to do more dana, sila and bhavana.

It is necessary to choose to do good deeds that can be done at anytime, anywhere, in any situation. We must try to win over the wrong action of choosing to vote for doing bad deeds (lack-of-merit).  Just practicing meditation once a day is not enough. Whatever we do we must try to be mindful with right understanding at anytime, in any situation. In this way, we must try not to vote for the bad or lack-of-merit party. We must try not to act with greed, anger and delusion.

Voting for the good or merit-making party one time means being mindful with right understanding and doing good deeds.  This kind of voting is not done in vain. It is very meaningful and worthwhile. It is very rewarding, because you will get as much merit as the work you put in. This reward cannot be destroyed. No one can falsify the results of a good deed as they could the results of an election. 

To be continued …..

2 December 2015

The Bank of the Meritorious Deeds (The Parahita Kutho Bank)

The Bank of the Meritorious Deeds

‘Gain and accumulate merits
by investing in the Bank of the Meritorious Deeds.’

The activities of ThaBarWa Center in Thanlyin, Myanmar, are wide and various, serving the spiritual and physical needs of thousands of people from far and near.  It is a meditation and dhamma centre cum non-profit humanitarian organization working for a noble cause, propagating dhamma (Vipassana Insight meditation), advocating the spirit of helping, caring, assisting and protecting the needy, and cooperating with help providers from all over Myanmar and abroad.

With the aim of inspiring and cultivating greater interest in doing meritorious deeds in our society, one of ThaBarWa Centre’s noble activities, the first Bank of Meritorious Deeds (Parahita Kutho Bank) was inaugurated on 29th August, 2015 at Tang Stream, Nam Sang Township, Shan State.

The core inspiration of the Bank of Meritorious Deeds are:
  • to help and assist those who seek our help, regardless of time, place, situation and circumstances, and
  • to provide a conducive environment for those who are interested in doing meritorious deeds and helping others.  

The primary objectives of the Bank of Meritorious Deeds are :
  • to provide emergency assistance and response services for car accident victims, transportation accidents and other emergencies;
  • to assist individuals and families displaced by natural and man-made disasters and
  • to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, aid, support and assistance to the poor and needy locals.

All emergency, disaster and humanitarian assistance rendered by the Bank of Meritorious Deeds is totally free, provided through the support, cooperation and generosity of the local authorities, uniformed services, hospitals, social welfare organisations, religious associations and generous donors from far and near.

Indeed, many generous local and foreign individual donors, associations and charitable organisations have been donating rice, oil, food items, medicines, clothing, household and other necessary items to ThaBarWa Centre, Thanlyin.  ThaBarWa will organise and distribute some of the donations to the genuinely needy people through its nearest Bank of Meritorious Deeds.

In order to provide timely assistance in crisis situations and to better serve the local community, the Banks will make systematic documentation of the current situations and requirements of the poor and needy locals.

Indeed, ThaBarWa Centre and the Bank of the Meritorious Deeds are the most conducive places where :
  • you can seek help and assistance at any time.
  • you can come forward to render help and assistance.
  • you can take what is necessary for you.
  • you can lend a helping hand to someone in need.
  • you can show your very best of compassion, humanity and spirit of giving.

Any help and assistance that you can provide would be gratefully received and put to the greatest use.

‘Gain and accumulate merits by investing in the Bank of the Meritorious Deeds.’