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The celebration of Buddhist life

 | May 17, 2011

The greatest spiritual truth, Gautama Buddha revealed was the law of karma.

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Millions across the globe irrespective of race and nationality celebrate Wesak Day today (May 17) in commemoration of Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the “Awakened, or Enlightened, One”, whose renunciation is unprecedented in history.

Born as a prince whose family name is Gautama, Siddhartha lived in Northern India in the 6th century BC, and had all the trappings of a royal and luxurious life. He renounced everything in search of the Truth.

At age of 29, Siddhartha slipped out of the palace after bidding farewell to his wife and son who were asleep. He then roamed the worldly wilderness for six years before attaining spiritual enlightenment.

For more than 2,500 years, millions of faithful adherents continue their life struggle following his “Dharma” (teachings on Universal Law) after Gautama Buddha’s death at the age of 80 at Kusinara, India.

The greatest spiritual truth, Gautama Buddha revealed was the law of karma.

“Karma is an impersonal, natural law that operates in accordance with our actions. It is a law in itself and does not have any law-giver. Karma operates in its own field without the intervention of an external, independent, ruling agent,” wrote the late Ven. Dr K Sri Dhammananda in his widely read publication, “What Buddhists Believe”.

To many Buddhists, as the late Sri Dhammananda had taught his religious community that karma in simple language of the child, means doing good and goodness will come to you, now and hereafter.

On the other hand, do bad and evil will come to you, now, or hereafter. “In the language of harvest, karma also means sowing good seeds and reaping a good harvest. Sowing bad seeds, you will reap a bad harvest,” he wrote in simplicity.

In the Buddhist scriptures “Anguttara Nikaya”, it also warned that karma should not be misinterpreted to mean “complete determinism”.

It also does not mean everything is a result of acts in previous lives, neither a result willed by a Supreme Creator nor everything arises without reason or cause.

But in reality, the Law of Karma is indeed unimaginably complex.

Righteous way of life

Robert E Svoboda who studied under Aghori Vimalananda for many years and who has written a book on the law of karma, contented that the complexity has “cowed the greatest of scholars, loses some of its ability to dismay when viewed through the prism of surrender”.

“Aghora”, literally means “unagitated”, teaches “aghoris” (its practitioners) to focus and intensify their craving for reality until they learn how to transcend all that galls (the ghora) in life.

“Then no internal or external stimulus, however ordinarily “agitating,” will be able to interrupt or interfere with their one-pointed guzzling of the nectar of being,” Svoboda wrote on his spiritual training experience.

The Buddhists may interpret the Aghora’s way as the eight-fold path, or the “Middle-Path”, the righteous way of life in harmony to the law of karma.

The three-pillars of the middle way, governing morality (right speech, right action, right livelihood), mental culture (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration) and wisdom (right understanding and right thoughts).

Since the human race is not created by a fake accident, there must be a life plan of evolution. Being a multi-dimensional creature, the human race is subjected like all physical things, definite laws of the universe or cosmic plan.

A human being comprises the physical, mental and spiritual aspects that must then be subjected to different laws of operatives.

According to Gautama’s spiritual discovery, there are five orders or processes of natural laws which operate in the physical and mental worlds.

They are utu niyama (seasonal laws), bija niyama (biological laws), karma niyama (karmic law relating to moral causation), dharma niyama (natural phenomenon) and citta niyama (psychological laws).

In Hinduism, Lord Krishna once declared in the Shrimad Bhagavata, “Karma is the guru: nay, it is the Supreme Lord”.

It is indeed the simple rule that every physical or mental action produces a reaction which will be harvested by the doer according to its time of karmic manifestation.

Being Man above all Man

It is thus wise for Buddhists to remind themselves that they are humans on a spiritual path or spiritual beings on a human path.

The law of karma is part of the cosmic law and unlike human-made laws of which the extra-terrestrials from the Plejarens (from the Lyra-Vega Planetary system) once commented, “94 per cent of human-made laws are simply barbaric and go against the Universal Creational Laws.”

If the Law of Karma is the “guru”, then the Chinese idiom offers some wisdom to us: “chi de ku zhong ku, fang weir en shang ren”.

“Only those able to eat the bitter of the bitter (experiences in life) can become the Man above all Man”.

As the Aghori Vimalananda had said, and taking a leaf of advice from him: “It is always better to live with reality, because otherwise, without fail, reality will come to live with you”.

It is better to realise the Law of Karma will catch up with you, and hence, it is wise to live according to the harmony of this law.

Perhaps, this is the best piece of advice to Buddhists on this special occasion.

Stanley Koh is a former monk.


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