THE VISIBLE TEACHING
Sivaka, "It is said, 'The Dhamma is directly visible.' In what way is the Dhamma directly visible?"
The Buddha, "What do you think, when there is greed in you will you know there is greed in you? When there is no greed in you, will you know?" Sivaka, "Yes."
"When you know of the greed present in you that it is there; and when you know that when greed is absent it is absent --- that is the way that the Dhamma is directly visible." It is the same with hatred and delusion. With expanded mind and contracted mind, etc. An. VI. 47
Vesak is often a time when followers of the Buddha's Path reflect on the teaching and make resolutions to follow along more closely. It can be helpful when doing so to strengthen intention by examining some of the basic principles. This was brought to my attention recently by a woman, who, after hearing a Dhamma talk, commented that it is all speculation. She, like many, believed that death is a necessary factor in determining kamma and rebirth; therefore, establishing the validity of the teaching is not possible. This couldn't be further from the truth. As the Buddha pointed out many times, he taught suffering and the end of suffering. He also taught that choice is kamma. The two, when understood and practiced together, can give us direct feedback on the validity of the teaching. An easy, immediate way to experience the truth of this is to do a little experiment: Smile and spend a moment or two feeling what happens in the body, then, frown and spend a moment or two feeling what happens in the body. You can take the experiment a little further by investigating further; what thoughts rise in the mind when you are smiling and what thoughts rise when you are frowning. Add Kamma to the experiment by acknowledging the choices that have been made; the choice to smile, to frown, to investigate. The possibility of seeing dependent origination is present: reading, doing, investigating --- each step being dependent on the preceding step. As simple as this experiment seems, it can show us the basic way in which we operate as conscious beings. And, it shows, in large part, what the Buddha was asking us to comprehend. As understanding of the process deepens, the choice to renounce the mental factors of greed and hatred, in all their many forms, both gross and subtle, becomes very attractive; they can be seen to take us out of the divine, radiant, mind states. They feel bad. Delusion then becomes unappealing and right view can become firmly established. As mindfulness of right view is stabilized, the desire to focus on the process is deepened, thus intention is strengthened. The Dhamma really is visible, here and now, if we take the time to see. What a lovely way to start the New Year!
The Buddha image above was made,
and submitted by Thaibao Tran.
Many thanks to him for sharing his beautiful creation with us.