with the Buddhist Studies Group
at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
15 December 1961
Translated by Roderick S. Bucknell
There are two more words that we meet frequently
in the texts. They describe two kinds of wealth: the wealth of the
worldling, outward wealth; and the wealth of an enlightened being, inner wealth.
We needn't say a great deal about this, Jewels, rings, silver, gold, land,
fields, elephants, horses, cattle, buffaloes, fame, and power - you know very
well that all these are outward wealth, the wealth of the worldling. As for
inner wealth, the noble wealth of enlightened beings is Dhamma - that which
brings about the extinction of suffering (dukkha). The outward wealth of
worldlings consists of material things with which we become infatuated; the
inner wealth of enlightened beings can be perceived only with a superbly refined
mind that is capable of looking deep within.
The relative value of these two kinds of wealth
has been described often; we shall just use one example. Outward wealth is not
part of us and does not really belong to us. It can be stolen, be destroyed by
fire, and fall prey to other disasters; it is never really ours. And what is
more, outward wealth is potentially harmful to us. Often it turns on us,
creating difficulties and hardships for us. By contrast, the inward wealth of
enlightened beings is free from all of these bad properties. It never does harm.
It never makes people weep, and it probably never makes people laugh either,
because weeping and laughing both leave us out of breath and cannot be compared
with freedom, voidness, and equanimity. Thus, the wealth of enlightenment makes
us neither laugh nor cry; it brings only stillness and coolness. That's all! We
have to use mindfulness and wisdom (sati-panna) to penetrate through the
exterior to the within; then we will gain this special kind of wealth, the
wealth that is unique to followers of the Buddhist way.
Now let us talk about illness. We find that a person who sees only the without is familiar only with illness of the physical
kind: bodily ailments, diseases, aches, and pains. He is afraid of them and
always losing sleep over them. He is quite unaware, however, of the existence of
non-physical illness, of the mental disorders. Furthermore, he is unaware that
common ailments of the body are often really due to mental disorders. If a
person is suffering from some mental disorder, he is likely to develop a
physical illness. Certain intestinal complaints, for example, which are a big
problem and very widespread, are recognized by doctors and medical researchers
as being the result of prolonged anxiety or mental stress. Every time anxiety
arises, the blood circulation to the intestines becomes inadequate as a result
of the excessive demands of the overtense, disturbed brain. Consequently, the
intestines become disturbed, too. You may have observed yourselves that if you become very upset about something, you experience abdominal pains so acute as to
prevent you from eating. It could be fatal to force yourself to eat when in that
condition, because the bowels cannot accept food.
The mental ailment comes first in the form of
anxiety. This anxiety is caused simply by mistaken ideas and false views
regarding things of the world. These false views lead one to grasp and cling in
a way that causes anxiety and mental illness, and ultimately physical illness
also. As soon as the mind's condition is weakened, the body's power to resist infection is diminished so that even slight exposure to infection can lead to
serious illness. If we are completely free from mental disorders, if we have a
strong healthy mind as do forest dwelling yogis
and munis (quiet sages), then even
considerable exposure to infection has no effect. Resistance to infection is
adequate so that no illness results and there is no need for medication. Thus,
mental strength and well-being is the foundation for resistance to physical
illness. We ought to look more closely at this connection between physical and
mental disorders, because the only medicine required and the only thing needed
to completely control mental disorders is Dhamma. With Dhamma, ninety-nine
percent of physical illness could be eliminated. We find that people who live
according to Dhamma, such as rishis (ascetics) and
munis, are strong, healthy,
and never know sickness. If we want long life, this is how we ought to live,
If we look into the matter of happiness, we find
another useful comparison. In the texts, two kinds of happiness are mentioned.
One of these is the kind found in home life, called gehanissitasukha, the kind
of happiness that is derived from home life and raising a family. This is
external happiness, with which we are quite familiar. Contrasted with this
happiness is a kind called nekkhammanissitasukha, literally, "the happiness
that comes from forsaking the home life." This refers to a mental
forsaking, a state of mind in which there is no longer the idea of "my
home." That is all it takes; that is all we need to attain the happiness
that comes from forsaking the home life.
Even an old man who can hardly move about and must
remain at home all the time, if he knows Dhamma at this level, while still
living in the home, may attain the happiness that comes from forsaking the home
life. This is because the term "forsaking the home life" refers to a
mental forsaking to a state in which the mind transcends worldliness and goes
beyond it. A person who is living at home may experience the happiness that
comes from the home life. Or, he may experience the happiness that comes from
forsaking the home life, provided he is capable of looking within using the
technique and method of Dhamma.
The happiness of home life is called lokiya-sukha,
worldly happiness; and the happiness that goes beyond the home life is called lokuttara-sukha,
transcendent happiness. It all depends on the state of the mind. If a person's
mind is this-worldly, he may stay in a monastery or in the forest, and yet
attain nothing more than the happiness of home life, because that person is
still yearning and struggling as if his mind were trying to get out of a cage
and return home. Solitude in a monastery or any other place cannot help him. All
that can help is for the mind to be able to look within.
No matter where we are, we have it in our power to
dwell above and beyond the world, above and beyond the home, simply by looking
within. That is all! If you think about it you will see that there is a big
profit to be made here. Without having to invest any capital, we receive this
special kind of happiness which appreciates all the time. As the Buddha said,
"Laddha mudha nibbutim bhunjamana." This
sentence means that nibbana costs
nothing; it is free and we don't have to pay for it. All
we have to do is "throw away." It's all right to use this
term "throw away". Just throw everything away and nibbana arrives.
This simply means having a mind high enough not to remain stuck in the world.
That is all there is to it. Throw away the world completely and nibbana is here.
We don't have to do anything and we don't have to invest anything. We only have
to be uninvolved and empty. Live rightly and nibbana will come of itself.
The danger of always looking without is that we
get distorted view of things: we see a snake and think it is just a fish. Anyone
who looks within correctly sees all things in their true nature; he sees all
things for what they are. He sees a snake as a snake, and a fish as a fish. A
person who sees a snake as a fish is likely to try and pick it up, and we know
how dangerous that can be. Another way of expressing this is with the saying
"seeing a toothed wheel as a lotus flower." [The
wheel is a dangerous whirling disc with sharp teeth, like a spinning saw blade.
The point of the story is seeing something evil and dangerous as good and
beautiful. (Ed.)] The meaning is the same, but the danger involved is
greater. There is the story of the man who saw a demon with a toothed wheel on
his head, from which blood was spraying all over. He mistook the wheel for a
lotus flower and begged to have it placed on his own head. When we say that some
people would misidentify a snake as a fish, or a toothed wheel as a lotus
flower, we mean that they look at all objects the wrong way, and so fall slaves
to those objects, and are worse off than if they were in prison or suffering the
torments of hell.
These two examples that I have given should
suffice to clarify the point. If I were to go on giving examples, we would be
here all day. What has to be seen is, first, the difference between looking
without and looking within, and then, the importance of looking within so that
this mind can liberate itself from all things.
Now let us look at how we are going wrong, the
ways in which we are behaving incorrectly in respect to this matter. Let us look
at Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha; at hell and heaven; at nibbana; at religion; at
beauty, goodness, truth, justice, and so on; at all the things that we admire
and aspire to. let us see how we stand in respect to them, and whether or not we
are as we ought to be.
We shall look first at the matter of Buddha,
Dhamma, and Sangha. The foolish person considers this to be very simple. It's as
easy as peeling a banana and eating it. He just recites:
Dhammam saraฺnam gacchami
Sangham saraฺnam gacchami
I take refuge in the
I take refuge in the Dhamma.
I take refuge in the Sangha.
And there he has them: Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
So he thinks it's very easy; but of course these words are not the Buddha, the
Dhamma, and the Sangha at all. What he has in mind is merely an outer shell or
even something more superficial than an outer shell.