The world is burning

3 February 2024
Posted in Vipassana
3 February 2024 nishantgathwal@gmail.com

An excerpt from Adittapariyaya Sutta (The Fire Sermon):

Thus, I heard. On one occasion, the Blessed One was living at Gaya, at Gayasisa, together with a thousand bhikkhus. There he addressed the bhikkhus.

“Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?

“The eye is burning; forms are burning; eye-consciousness is burning; eye-contact is burning. Also, whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging, and death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, griefs, and despairs.

“The ear is burning; sounds are burning…

“The nose is burning; odors are burning…

“The tongue is burning; flavors are burning…

“The body is burning; tangibles are burning…

“The mind is burning; ideas are burning; mind-consciousness is burning; mind-contact is burning. Also, whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with mind-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging, and death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, griefs, and despairs.

“Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard (the truth) sees thus, he finds estrangement in the eye, forms, eye-consciousness, eye-contact, and whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, in that too he finds estrangement.

“He finds estrangement in the ear… in sounds…

“He finds estrangement in the nose… in odors…

“He finds estrangement in the tongue… in flavors…

“He finds estrangement in the body… in tangibles…

“He finds estrangement in the mind, finds estrangement in ideas, finds estrangement in mind-consciousness, finds estrangement in mind-contact. Also, whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with mind-contact for its indispensable condition, in that too he finds estrangement.

“When he finds estrangement, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He understands: ‘Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.'”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were glad, and they approved his words.

Now during his utterance, the hearts of those thousand bhikkhus were liberated from taints through clinging no more.

After reading this, one might develop a perception that Buddha was against life, but that is not true. Also, there are so many perceptions about him because the teachings have diluted and the times have changed. Some of them I’ll explain below:

1. Buddha was against householder life: This is not true at all, as of course he himself was destined to reach the zenith of his life and leave all behind in pursuit of ultimate liberation, knowledge, truth. But once he got liberated, he not only spread the word of Dhamma to his monks but also laid down rules and regulations for the householders as he considered them very important for the balance and to carry forward the society.

2. Women weren’t included: Women were, in fact, included not right from the start when he got enlightened but gradually as the practice preached by him was universal. So many, in fact, got liberated; like there was a lady who had lost everyone she loved, her family, and started roaming the streets naked like a madwoman but once she reached the Buddha’s sermon gathering she was given clothes to cover herself and gradually after practicing the technique she got liberated. Her name was Patachari. Like her, there were many others.

3. Buddha started Buddhism: Buddha never preached a sect, a religion, or wanted his followers to worship him. What he preached was his teaching of dhamma, vipassana, for all human beings. But what happened later in history was how it panned out. Dhamma is a law of nature that is applicable to one and all, but the word meaning was manipulated and used as per the needs of a community or society.

4. Only Buddha got enlightened: People don’t know, and they argue without even trying the first step into dhamma. There were many, many people in his time who became arahant men and women. And Buddha was unique because he discovered this technique through himself. So one should know, of course, it is a good omen for a Buddha to arise and also there were many countless Buddhas before him so it’s not a monopoly of Siddharth Gautam but a trait acquired through unflinching purification of self across lifespans.

Some things that I read online and circulating on social media make me feel worried about all those who haven’t as yet developed the wisdom to discern right from wrong and also those who have walked on opposite paths to great lengths. But then I remember that I need to work on myself as a first priority, which is the only controllable aspect that I can control.

Peace and love 🙂

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