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The Development of Spiritual Emotions

by Anagarika Dharmapala

THE salvation that is insisted on, the Dhamma of the Tathagato, is not a speculative metaphysical salvation but it is an ignorance [of it] resulting in the attainment of knowledge absolute, annihilating all tendencies of the mind leaning towards passionate lust, anger and stupidity. In the individual there must be the desire, the persevering exertion, the energetic will to become pure and free from lust. Some individuals, by the use of their own reasoning faculties, realize the existence of the desire within to attain a nobler condition of life free from the poisoning atmosphere of sensual lust. The introduction of a metaphysical unit into the arena of practical ethics is due to ignorance of the potentialities of the human mind. The questions that trouble the weak-minded imbecile about the metaphysics of the whence, whither, and what am I, have to he brushed aside, being the dusty accumulation of ages of rationalistic indolence. Just as dust will mar the clear transparent glass if it is not daily cleaned, so the rubbish of unenlightened thinking has marred the lustre of the mind from seeing the actuality of its original purity.

The Tathagato declares that the mind in itself is bright, but by evil associations, foreign to its nature, its brightness is destroyed. The foreign accretions that have marred the purity of the mind are ill-will, hatred, harbouring of anger, self-esteem, vilifying others, cunning, hypocrisy, envy, covetousness, stubbornness, revengefulness, haughtiness, conceit, pride of physical beauty, and dilatoriness.

In the Aningana Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, the characteristics of four different individualities are mentioned, and the individual who thinks that there is no possibility of internal spiritual development is not qualified for advancement ; he is a low man, hina purisa. The one who thinks otherwise and makes a start for the betterment of his life is a Setthapuriso he is a superior man.

The process of purification of the soiled mind, which is compared to a soiled cloth, is to remove the impurities by a determined effort, with a strong desire to become pure. In the Vatthupama Sutta, the simplified process of purification is given, viz. to arouse faith in BUDDHA, by reflecting on the supreme-wisdom of Him who is the Holy One, the Omniscient, One possessed of the eight kinds of knowledge and fifteen human perfections, the One of Excellent manners, Infinite in the comprehension of the laws of Universe, the Trainer of men, the Teacher of gods and men, the Buddha, the Blessed One. Next to the Buddha comes the Dhamma Eternal, Noble Truth that can he seen and realized in this life in complete consciousness. It is the " Bhagavata Dhammo," the Excellent Doctrine. Next to the Dhamma, the Sangha, the association of Holy Ones, exacts one's faith. He who has full faith in the Buddha receives the advantage of having realised truth. Perception of truth produces delight (pamujjam), delight produces joy (piti) joy produces serenity of body (passambhati), serenity produces happiness (Sukham), happiness produces peace of mind (cittam samadhiyati).

It is interesting to find at the end of the Vatthupama Sutta an account of the existing conditions at the time of Buddha in connection with the bathing in certain rivers which had the power of washing off sins. Sundarika Bharadvaja, a Brahman, after having finished listening to a discourse, got up and said : " Bhavam Gotamo, I am going to the river Bahuka to bathe." The Buddha said, "Brahmana, what is Bahuka river? What has Bahuka river to do with you? " The Brahman replied : " It is the (loka sammata) public opinion that the Bahuka river is merit-producing, that bathing in it washes off sins (papakamma) " Bathing in Bahuka, Phaggu, Sarassati, Payaga, was then as common as it is now, and it is instructive to observe that Buddha repudiated the idea with the observation that although daily the ignorant wash themselves, yet their black deeds remained ; and He advised the Brahman to practise universal compassion, to tell the truth, to abstain from lying, to abstain from destroying life, stealing, covetousness. At the end of the discourse the Brahman joined the Sangha as a Bhikkhu.

( Maha Bodhi Journal, 1892-1900)

Dhamma Essay:
From Views to Vision by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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