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 …..

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