Thursday, July 13, 2006

Worldy Happiness and Your Practice

In the Culatanhasankhaya Sutta, The Shorter Discourse on the Destruction of Craving, it is said that Sakka, the ruler of the gods, visited the Buddha and asked him how to eliminate craving. The Buddha gave him a teaching, after which Sakka bowed to the Buddha, thanked him, and returned to his heavenly abode where he lived in ultimate happiness. The monk Maha Moggallana was nearby when this happened, and he questioned whether Sakka truly grasped the Buddha's teaching. So he travelled to Sakka's heavenly realm where he asked him if he recollected having spoken with the Buddha. "Yes," Sakka replied. He then asked him to relate the Buddha's teaching to him, so that he may learn too. Sakka replied, "What was well heard, well learned, well attended to, well remembered, suddenly vanished from us," and asked Maha Moggallana if he wished to see his (Sakka's) palace.

While at the palace, Maha Moggallana realized that he would have to instill in Sakka a sense of urgency to allow him to remember the Buddha's teaching. So he transformed the base of the palace to water, causing the entire palace to quake to and fro. Sakka applauded his power, and was shaken. And this time, he was able to relate the Buddha's teaching, after which Maha Moggallana returned to his realm. (Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Bhikkhus Bodhi and Nanamoli, 2001)

The lessons we learn, that seem so clear and worthwhile when we are lightly troubled, can vanish in an instant when things are going well in our world. Suddenly, the urgency of the spiritual pursuit is put aside for worldly goals and events. If we are not vigilant, we can lose our way in the "good life."

1-Minute Contemplation: Think back to the last time things were going well (hopefully this is recent!), when you were very happy. Did your practice, be it meditation, prayer, chanting, or writing, wane? When the happiness faded, as it always will, did you find yourself asking, "Where did my practice go?" Or "Why is my practice suddenly so hard?" Or were you able to remain vigilant and practice diligently even in the face of such worldly happiness? Which response would you rather have?


Don Iannone said...

Good one Mike. You're an inspiration and a wonderful teacher.

deepsat said...

thats worth pondering upon!! nice one!

Mike said...

Thank you, both of you! Enjoy! :)