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04:01, Sunday.November 23 2014
Phật Học Căn Bản
Tài liệu ôn thi vào trường đại học Phật giáo quốc tế tại Miến Điện
Tác giả : TN. Liên Trang and Lệ Chánh
Nhà xuất bản :
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PART VII: LETTERS AND MICELLANEOUS

Topic 49: Letter to a Friend in Myanmar Telling Her How to Prepare for Exam

(346 words)

Dear Tiếu Tâm,

How are you nowadays? I hope everything is going well with you. As for me, I am fine and study hard. I am sure you will be interested in hearing that I am preparing for exam to the International Theravāda Buddhist Missionary University (ITBMU) this year.

Do you know about the ITBMU? Now I am going to tell you something about it. The ITBMU was established on December 9th 1998. It is situated on the Dhammapala Hill in Mayangone Township, Yangon. The Rector of the ITBMU now is Most Ven. Dr. Nandamalābhivasa, and Pro-rector is Most Ven. Dr. Kumarābhivasa. This is the only University offering the genuine teachings of the Buddha in English without fees for all students in the world.

Now I am very busy all the times for preparation of exam. I have to study two papers. For paper I, I am studying books on English grammar, putting emphasis on style, tenses, prepositions, etc. At the same time, I practise not only using proverbs in English, and writing essays in Buddhism but also speaking English for the interview.

For paper II, I am reading The Teachings of the Buddha (Basic Level) compiled by Ministry of Religious Affairs (Myanmar), and the Visuddhimagga for preparing some topics on Sīla, Sāmadhi and Paññā. I have learnt by heart all. I also study history of Buddhism and answer some questions in relation to it. I approached to some Sayādaws to inquire some paragraphs in Buddhist literature to make it clearer and ask how to apply it in practice.

So why do not you try to attend this exam? I am sure with your good knowledge in Buddhism and English, you can easily pass this exam. As for me, I would be very happy if I become a regular student of the ITBMU this year.

I have to stop here. May you be well and happy with the Dhamma. Please convey my regards to your beloved relatives.

With Metta,

Lệ Chánh (Dhamma-sacca)

Topic 50:  Letter to your friend asking him or her to join the academic life of the ITBMU

(Write an essay on the ITBMU)

(413 words)

 

Nāga Hlainggu Monastery,

                                                            Mayangone Hill,

Yangon, Myanmar.

January, 9th 2007.

Dear Thanh Thanh,

Why have you been keeping silence for a long time ? I hope everything will be OK with you. As for me, I am in the pink of health. However, for the time being I am preoccupied with my studies at the ITBMU. You often ask me to tell you about my life here at this University. Now I am going to tell you something about the ITBMU. 

The ITBMU was established on December 9th 1998. It is situated on the Dhammapala Hill in Mayangone Township, Yangon. It is the centre for learning of Theravāda Buddhist literature. It is the best gift given to the world by Myanmar government and its people, as the Pāi verse goes: “Sabba dana dhamma dana jinati” (the gift of Dhamma excels all kinds of gifts).

The Rector of the ITBMU now is Most Ven. Dr. Nandamalābhivasa, and Pro-rector is Most Ven. Dr. Kumarābhivasa. The objectives of the ITBMU as stated in the syllabus are (1) to share the genuine Theravāda Buddhism to the world, (2) to make others comprehend deeply the canonical texts of the Theravāda Tipiaka, (3) to abstain from evil deeds and practise good deeds, (4) to enable to people to believe in kamma and its consequences, (5) to know the difference the mind and matter, (6) to promote the four modes of sublime living and (7) to  encourage and promote knowledge for the Four Noble Truths.

There are four Faculties in the ITBMU (1) the Faculty of Pariyatti, (2) the Faculty of Paipatti (3) the Faculty of World Religions and Missionary, and (4) the Faculty of Languages and Translation. The Sayādaws and lay teachers in the ITBMU are well-versed in Buddhist Theravāda literature. They are also very good at Pāli, English and to some extent, Sanskrit. Some of them are polyglots. The students are also spiritual-minded and friendly in dealing with one another. Once we have an opportunity of learning Buddhist doctrine, we will extend the scope of knowledge and enhance the spiritual power. The serene life of Bhikkhus and the recitation of Pali suttas create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity here. So why do not you try to attend the ITBMU? As for me, I am very happy to study here.

Let me stop my letter here. Please give my regards to your family.

Yours lovingly,

(U Saw Mra Aung.)

Topic 51: Letter to a friend telling why you are interested in the ITBMU

Why do you want to study in the ITBMU?

(368 words)

 

Dear Chánh Tâm (Sammā-citta),

How are you nowadays? I hope everything is well with you. As for me, I am fine and study hard. You often ask me the reasons why I want to join the International Theravāda Buddhist Missionary University (ITBMU) and some problems that I have to solve in advance. Now I tell you something about the ITBMU.

The ITBMU was established on December 9th, 1998. It is situated on the Dhammapala hill in Mayangone Township, Yangon. The Rector of this University is Most Venerable Dr. Nandamalābhivasa, and Pro-rector is Most Venerable Dr. kumarābhivasa.

The objectives of the ITBMU are to share the genuine Theravāda Buddhism to Buddhist all over the world. So all students here have to study and comprehend the canonical texts of the Theravāda Piaka.

There are four Faculties in the ITBMU, namely, (1) the Faculty of Pariyatti, (2) the Faculty of Paipatti, (3) the Faculty of World Religions, Research and Missionary, and (4) the Faculty of Language and Translation.

The Sayādaws and teachers in the ITBMU are well-versed not only in Buddhist literature but also in English, Pāi and Sanskrit.

All students are advised to practise meditation in every semester vacation. I think this is a golden chance for me to cultivate the mind at meditation centers.  My wish is to become a student of the ITBMU and practise meditation during vacations. Hopefully, after 10 years, I will come back my hometown to help my Master - the Rector of the School of Middle Buddhist Studies there. Now I’m trying my best to study English, Pāi, Myanmar and other subjects. Although I know that it is difficult to join the ITBMU, I am always longing for an opportunity to fulfil my wish. I believe that studying at this University could help me improve my Buddhist knowledge and enhance my spiritual life day better day. So why do you not try to attend the ITBMU? As for me, I will be very happy if I pass this exam.

Let me stop here. May you be well, happy and successful in your life. Please convey my regards to your family.

Yours lovingly,

TN Lien Trang.

 

Topic 52:  Letter regarding Myanmar and ITBMU to a Friend

(Written by Sayalay Diệu Pháp)

(237 words)

Dear Susanta,

How are you now? I have got no news from you for a while. Are you still working there?

I have been in Yangon, Myanmar for 6 months already. I meditated here. It was very great! The people here were very kind to me. I did nothing but meditate in the center. My meditation teacher was very humble and straightforward. It was a great experience. I also visited Shwedagon, the very big and famous pagoda in this country. It was dazzling and amazing with many Buddha statues.

I came to visit ITBMU too. In this university, the meditation hall is well-decorated. The campus is spacious and looks great. There are four buildings using as classroom. The lake behind brings the pleasant view to me.

My friend let me know that she enjoyed studying here as she could get help from the monk and teacher whenever she had doubt about her lesson. She did nothing in this university but studied and meditated. And she did not have to pay anything in this school. I admire the generosity and kindness of the Myanmar people here! I believe that the profound Buddhism has influenced the people here.

Now, I am taking the entrance exam to join this university. Hope I can pass! I love to study Buddhism and practice meditation.

Please come to visit Yangon at least once, Susanta. You can be the ITBMU student too.

Yours,

Marry.

 

Topic 53: MY UNIVERSITY - VIETNAM BUDDHIST ACADEMY

(434 words)

Vietnam Buddhist Academy, formerly known as Vietnam Institute of Advanced Buddhist Studies, was founded in 1984. It is situated at Nguyễn Kiệm street in Ho Chi Minh city, South Vietnam.

The Rector of my University is Most Venerable Dr. Thích Minh Châu who has got his Ph.D. in India and has translated the Five Nikāya in Pāi into Vietnamese. The staff of teachers almost got their Ph.D. degrees abroad and well-versed in Mahāyāna sūtras in Chinese. In general, they are competent to teach Theravāda Buddhism at the superficial level and can go in depth of Mahāyana Buddhism and social subjects, but frankly speaking, there are only a few Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunīs who are able to teach Pāli and Sanskrit well.

The objectives of Vietnam Buddhist Academy is (1) to share the genuine spirit of the Buddha represented in Mahāyāna and Theravāda Buddhism, even doctrines of other Buddhist schools in ancient times (2) to update the general knowledge to the new generation of monks and nuns, (3) to teach the art of preaching the Dhamma to those who are able to impart the Buddha’s teachings to people in remote places.

The curriculum of our University consisted of four years, is arranged equally in four years with all Buddhist subjects, social subjects, and linguistics as well. The followings are typical Vinaya, sūtras and Abhidharmas in Mahāyāna Buddhism studied there: Dhammaguptaka Vinaya, Lankavatara Sūtra, Saddharmapuṇḍarika Sūtra, Vajjraprajña-paramita Sūtra, Vimalakirti Sūtra, Abhidharmakosa, Mahāvibhasa, and so on.

With regard to Theravāda Buddhism, some texts in the Tipiaka in Pāi have been selected to teach during four years. Some suttas are analysed in greater detail, and some are studied in general.

Besides, some non-canonical subjects are taught as follows: History of Vietnamese civilization, History of Vietnamese Buddhism and World Buddhism, History of Buddhist Thought in India, Psychology, Sociology, Aesthetics, Management, Languages: English, Buddhist Technical Terms, Ancient Chinese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.

Similar to other Buddhist Universities, Samatha and Vipassanā meditation have been practised two 2 hours per week under the guidance of Most Venerable Rector Thích Minh Châu. This is a compulsory subject to all students.

In addition to the above subjects, there are extra-curriculum activities such as Report on Current Activities of World Buddhism, Vietnam Culture or some Academic problems, and especially sine 1993 an English speaking club has been opened aiming at training students to be ready for socially engaged  Buddhism and  for higher studies abroad.

In conclusion, the four-year study under the guidance and protection of Most Venerable in Vietnam is indeed a great blessing to me. I have significantly improved my knowledge and really progressed on the spiritual path I have followed. 

 

Topic 54: A REMARKABLE TEACHER

 (369 words)

A remarkable teacher in my mind is none other than Venerable Sayādaw Bhaddanta Kosalla, a recipient of the titles: Aggamahāpaṇḍita and Aggamahā-ganthavaca-kapaṇḍita. He is the presiding Sayādaw of Sukkhahāri Mon Pariyatti Monastery of Bago. At the same time, he is holding the Dean of the Pariyatti Faculty of the ITBMU. The Sayādaw was born of the parents U Thaung Tin and Daw Aye Tin Tin Ye, Mon state on the 7th warning day of tabotwe 1302 M.E (17/2/1941). He was initiated into the Order by the Venerable Sayādaw Bhaddanta Vārinda as his preceptor at about 7 A.M. on the 5th of Tabaung in 1323 ME (25 / 3 / 1962). At 8:45 A.M. of the same day, he was ordained as a full-fledged monk under his preceptor namely the Ven. Sayadaw Bhaddanta Dhammasāra. From that time onwards, he toured various parts of Myanmar in quest of knowledge and studied Pāli scriptures under some eminent Sayadaws.

He obtained his B.A. degree from Yangon University in 1961. He passed the Sivipavaradhamma Cariya examination in Mandalay in 1974 and the Vinayadhara examination in Thaton in 1976. Then he proceeded to Sri Lanka and studied Pali Scriptures at the Kelaniya University. He earned his M.A. degree from that university in 1989. He started his academic service as a tutor at the ITBMU in July, 1999. Now, his capacity is as a Professor and Dean of the Pariyatti Faculty of the ITBMU and is lecturing on the Suttanta Pitaka.

The Sayādaw is an exemplary in humility, contentedness and magnanimity. In spite of holding a high academic position and great religious titles, he lives very humble and simple. Whenever he goes out on his missions, he does so in his old modest mazada jeep. Sometimes, he returns to Bago from Yangon by bus. He is also such a man of peaceful temperament that I have never seen a trace of anger on his face. He always forgives those who treat him in bad manner.

In short, the Sayādaw sets many good examples to us. Never before have I seen so great a personage like the Sayādaw Bhaddanta Kosala. He is a standard bearer for modern community of the Sagha. I always respect him!

 

Topic 55: A TRUE FRIEND

 (288 words)

Everybody has friends. But when I tell about “my friend” I mean something different or special. I like others, but I do not suppose I should care very much if I never saw them again. They are pleasant companions, but that is all. So I might say I have many companions but I have only one friend.

An old saying goes: “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. It is true we cannot live happily without a true friend sharing happiness as well as sorrow. A true friend occasionally makes on the basis of common interest of taste. A genuine friend never pretends. His words and actions are in accordance with his volition. His volition is always pure. If his friend does something wrong, he warms his friend not to go on doing it. If his friend does something good, he encourages his friend to keep doing it. When his friend is in trouble, he feels as if he were in trouble.

Let me take example, when I read a book talking friendship. Hellen Keller was an intelligent child but she became wild and unmanageable. Finally, her parents ask the director of the Perkins institute for the blind to help her. He asked Annie Sullivan to help Hellen. At first, she found her a spoilt and rude child with no manners. With patience and understanding, she helped Hellen to become a well-mannered child. Slowly, with great patience, she taught Hellen how to communicate by using a special method. Hellen learnt to read, to write, and finally go to college and graduated. Annie stayed with Hellen through their lives. Thus, Annie was Hellen’s true friend because she was a friend in need.

To sum up, special core is important in making choice of good friend. Only the friend with pure volition should be associated with. Moreover, whenever he or she is trouble, a true friend would like to turn to her for advice. A true friend proved to be a helpful and persuasive friend.

 

Topic 56: Introduction of Myself 

(492 words)

My name is Nguyễn Thị Thoại Ba (the name of a well-known Princess in China). I was born on Wednesday, 2nd September, 1971, in Long An district, which is far about 30 miles from Ho Chi Minh (HCM) city. My parents’ name is Nguyễn Thanh Tùng and Mai Thị Xử. Both are farmers. I have got two older brothers and one younger sister. The former are businessmen and the latter is a doctor. When I was child, I observed Eight Precepts on the full moon day and the new moon day. Whenever I went to a monastery near my house, my Master always repeated the Buddha’s teaching to me:

                                             “To refrain from all evils

                                              To do what is good

                                              To purify the mind

                                              Those are the teachings of all Buddhas.”

When I was sad, my Master admonished me thus: “Try harder, try harder and observe your mind by meditation!”  Since then, I practised meditation two times a day, in the morning and before bed-time. The more I practiced, the better I felt. Until one day, I realised that Nun life is suitable for me. Finally, I left my family and became a nun after graduating from high school at the age of 18. I have studied Buddhism at School of Basic Buddhist Studies in HCM city for 10 years. At the age of 28, I passed the matriculation exam from the Vietnam Buddhist Institute in HCM city, and after 4 years, I graduated.

From my point of view:  “the higher education is the better one’s life.” That is the reason I decided to take entrance exam from the International Theravāda Buddhist Missionary University (ITBMU). Although last year I failed, I thought as the saying: “there is a will, there is a way”. I left Vietnam for Myanmar to accomplish my wish.

 I stayed at Nāga Hlainggu Monastery Hillock for 6 months and attended the Diploma Class at the ITBMU as an observer. I recognized that the objectives of the ITBMU are to share the genuine Theravāda Buddhism to those who want to study and comprehend the canonical texts of the Theravāda Tipiaka. On 1st December, 2006, I went to Shwe-Oo-Min meditation center to practise Vipassanā meditation. After a month, I came back to my country to retake the entrance exam. My wish is to become a student of the ITBMU and practise meditation during vocations. Hopefully, after 10 years, I will come back my hometown to help my Master - the Rector of the School of Middle Buddhist Studies there. Now I’m trying my best for studying English, Pāi and other subjects. Although I know that it is difficult to join the ITBMU, I am always longing for a chance to fulfil my wish. I believe that studying at this university could help me to improve my Buddhist knowledge and to enhance my spiritual life day better day.

 

Topic 57: A Pilgrimage to the Sansawshin Pagoda by Boat

(354 words)

 

Some years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to the Sansawshin Pagogda. Some of my friends accompanied me there. As it is situated on an island in the Bay of Bengal, we have to go there by boat. It was a five-hour ride from my town, a sea port. Every time I look back nostalgically to this experience, it always becomes fresh in my mind.

That very morning, we arrived at the jetty at six o’clock. There I found many people jostling with one another. So we had to elbow our way through the crowd to the boat. Soon after we had boarded the boat, it started to leave. At first, the boat moved slowly. Soon, it gained speed and went faster. In no time, it got to the mouth of the river. The vast expanse of waste appeared suddenly before us. It extended as far as my eyes could reach. I felt as if bounded on all sides by water. The unbroken air coming across the sea made me fresh. It was wonderful to watch the sun peeping lowly over the sea water on the eastern horizon. When the sun was higher, we could see the beauty of the sea more clearly. Many huge waves crested with white surfs came rolling towards our boat. It was tossed and returned their waves, too.  It was happy to see gulls, swooping down on the pieces of bread thrown up by some passengers. Occasionally, I saw in the distance some ocean liners, coasters, cargo-ships and passenger ships heading for their destinations. Now and then, I espied a few islets wooded with greenery coconut groves and rocky islands with towering light on them. Since, I was in the breath-taking beauty of the sea. I did not notice a lapse of five hours.

Finally, our boat reached our destination safe and sound; and we went a shore happily. Then we paid homage to the Buddha, donated flowers, joss-sticks and candles there and went round the pagoda festival grounds and the whole island edged with a wide stretch of silvery sands. Indeed, it was an exhilarating trip for me.

 

Topic 58: An Unforgettable Event in My Life

or My Happiest Day in My Life

(381 words)

Life is a series of experiences and events. With a lapse of time, most of the experiences and events sink into oblivion. But some remain etched in our minds. One of my memorable days happened some years ago. It was the day on which our exam result was announced.

That morning, I jumped from my bed when the clock strokes six. Then I had a hasty breakfast, and changed clothes. After that, I set out hurried for school. Light was then creeping slowly upon the world. Everything was coming to life again in the golden rays of the rising sun. Off and on, I saw some students by twos and threes on the way. They were in a hurry. They were heading for school. They were all wearing anxious facial expressions. On reaching the school, I saw many students pushing and pulling in front of the bill-board. I also saw some students crowing over their success and some hanging their heads some and returning home with heavy steps. On seeing this, in great excitement, my heart missed a beat. With a throbbing heart and shaking steps, I shouldered my way through the crowd to the bill-board. As soon as I got right in front of it, I ran my eyes quickly over the list of successful candidates. At first, my eyes failed to see my name. Alas, my hope is shattered ! So exited and worried was I that I almost slumped down onto the ground. But I took heart. I gnashed my teeth. I clenched my firsts. I held my breath. And then, I looked patiently and thorough for my name. At long last, I found my name followed by two distinctions. To my great amazement, my hard work bore fruits. Fate smiles upon me! I jumped, cried and danced in tremendous joy.

I came back home. No sooner had I reached home than I shared news of my success with my family.  They all were overjoyed. So they burst into all smiles. Mother looked much happier. Tears of joy came to her eyes. Father also gave me a pat on the back. My brothers and sisters also congratulated me on my success. Prizes and praises heaped on me. It was indeed a red letter day in my lifetime.

 

Topic 59: PROVERBS

***

1. Practice makes perfect

This proverb means that doing something regularly can improve our skills. In the beginning you may find it difficult to perform something. But don’t be depressed. Persist with it. After doing it for several times, you will find easier to do it. For example, it is difficult to do some exercise to some students, but it will be easier after doing it frequently.

2. As you sow, so shall you reap

This proverb means that if you sow seeds, plants will sprout out of them after a few days and will grow. They will become trees and bear fruits in due time. Then you will have to reap the fruits. According to the law of kamma, if you sow the seed of hatred, we will surely reap of its consequences, that is, if we do a deed of hatred to a person, he will take revenge on us and we will suffer from the hateful consequences. On the other hand, if we cultivate loving-kindness to a person, he will return loving-kindness to us. This shows that as you sow, so shall you reap.

 

3. The birds of the same feather flock together

This proverb means that the birds with feather of the same colour live together. In other words, people of the same character and temperament can associate with one another for a long time. If they are of different character and temperament they will never agree with one another in many cases and will come into conflicts. As a result, they will be on bad terms with one another, and live in separation. This shows that the birds of the same feather flock together.

 

4. Silence is Golden

This proverb means that speaking too much can make other people despite speaker. So it is said that silence is golden; speech is silvery. It bears the sense that keeping silent is much better than speaking, for most wise men always keep to themselves. They are men of few words. It is because they know that the more they speak, the more mistakes they can make. Knowing this, they avoid speaking too much. But foolish persons speak a lot, not knowing that what they say are right or wrong. As a result, they are condemned by others. So this shows that silence is golden.

 

4. Knowledge is Power

Knowledge means wisdom and potential which can separate the right from the wrong, the good from the bad. Information about science, arts, etc. is regarded as knowledge. Knowledge or well-informed men with their high intelligent quotient and richness in knowledge can overcome all difficulties they face and accomplish whatever they do. In other words, the tool of their knowledge is so powerful that they can conquer everything or all obstacles in life. This shows that knowledge is power.

 

5. No pain no gain

Gain is effect, pain is cause. Without cause there is no effect. Similarly, there is no gain without pain. Gain comes out of pain. Gain necessarily follows pain. If we want a certain profit, we have to invest a certain amount of money. Profit cannot come out without investment. Profit is compared to gain. Investment is compared to pain. Therefore, the saying “No pain, no gain” is reasonable.

 

6. Prevention is better than cure

This proverb means that to stop something bad from happening is better than to something which has already happened to deal with a problem. For example, we should prevent ourselves from disease if we try to cure a disease only after it has been afflicted with us, we will need to spend money, time, etc and be overcome with anxiety. If the disease is unable to cure, we do nothing, but wait for death. So I agree to the proverb “prevention is better than cure.”

 

7. There is no time like the present

Strive iron while it is hot

This proverb means that we should make effective use of an opportunity when it arises. For instance, if a student studies his lessons only the exam draws near, he finds it hard to pass. If he studies his lessons regularly from the beginning of the academic year, he can pass it easily. Therefore, we should take advantage of any opportunity in our hands to fulfil our wishes.

 

8. A little knowledge is dangerous

This proverb means that insufficient knowledge can bring nothing but dangerous or trouble. For instance, a medical doctor with insufficient professional knowledge may give improper treatment to the patient. As a result, the patients’ condition will be worse. Eventually, they may die. So we get moral lessons from this proverb that we should do any task with sufficient knowledge. 

 

9. A stitch in time saves nine

The fire which starts from a piece of rubbish can burn down the whole palace. 

This proverb means that if we do not solve problem when it is small, it will gradually grow bigger. Consequently, we must take more time and energy to solve it. For example, if we do not mend a tear in a dress when it is small, it will be bigger and bigger. As a result, we will have to take more time and stitches to mend it.

 

10. Make hay while the sun shines

    Time and tide wait for no man

This proverb literally means we should dry grass when the sun rises. If we dry it when the sun has already set, it will be fruitless. Hence, this proverb advises that we should make an effective use of a good opportunity when it arises because it rarely comes twice in life. So, when it has come we should make use of it to benefit ourselves and others.

 

11. One man’s meat is another man’s poison

 

12. The child is father of man

 

INTERVIEW SECTION

 

60. SHORT NOTES

***

1. It is never too old to learn

One who stops learning is old. One who is still learning is young. Pursuit of knowledge is the greatest pleasure on earth. There are the sayings of the learned. There is another saying similar to the given heading. That is “it is never too late to learn.” If we start learning today, today is the right time for us. If we will start learning tomorrow, tomorrow will be the right time for us. Important thing is to start leaning. Today or tomorrow is not a question.

If a man wastes his time in an idle way, he will never have education. The man without education is like a blind man. If a man has a little education, he is far-seeing fairly. If he has much education, he is far-seeing the better. Start learning today. Then your knowledge will raise your life proportionately. High or low position of one’s depends on his education. The higher one’s education is, the higher one’s life is. So we are never too old to learn. In the same way, we are never too late to learn.

As a matter of fact, the aim of learning is not only for earning, but for the welfare of life at present and for liberation from suffering in life. In other words, education is conducive to one’s life here and hereafter. Without education, one will be blind with eyes open. He will be dear with his ears open. He will be dumb with his mouth open. To sum up, we are never too old or too late to learn.

 

2. A friend in need is a friend indeed

Everybody has friends. There are a lot of mouth-friends (pretending friends). But true friends are only a few in number. I think that a genuine friend is one in thousand. Such a friend never pretends.  His words and actions are in accordance with his volition. His volition is always pure. If his friend does something wrong, he (the genuine friend) warns his friend to go on doing it.

A false friend is not so. He never neglects his friend in trouble.  If his friend does something wrong, he does not warn his friend to stop doing it. Instead he even encourages his friends to go on doing the thing wrong. He is very sweet in words. But in practice, he is not so. When his friend is in trouble, he neglects his friend. Such a friend should not be associated with.

Special care is important in making choice of good friend. A genuine friend never pretends while a false one pretends. A false friend has honey-mouth but he has bitter heart. We have to take care of those who have honey-mouths. Mouth-friends should be kept away. Only the friends with pure volition should be associated with. We should keep the following saying in mind: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

 

3. The cycle of birth and death

Each and every being has birth. After birth, a being is sure to die. This means birth is the cause and death is the effect. Again, after that there is another birth. This time, death is the cause and birth is the effect. In this way, birth and death go on circling unceasingly. This is known as sasāra.

 

4. A brief description of ordination ceremony for Sāmanera and Bhikkhu

Buddhist custom of Novice ordination begins with Ven. Rāhula, the son of the Buddha. Afterwards it is applied for those who would like to become Sāmaeras. Firstly, the applicants have to find robes and bowl for themselves and ask permission from the preceptor to give them ordination. In the ceremony, the applicant is requested to repeat the Ten Sīla (Dāsa Sīla) given by the preceptor. Then the ceremony is over.

As regards Bhikkhu Ordination ceremony, it is more complicated. The number of monks in the Sagha must be over four, including the Preceptor. The formality has to be done in accordance with the Kamma of the Sagha. The ceremony is held in the Ordination Hall (sīma). The applicant sits in front of Bhikkhus and has to answer clearly what the Preceptor asked and has to repeat what the Preceptor announces. Then the Ordination is over.

 

5. What is morality? How can we have morality?

Morality in English can be understood as Sīla in Pāli. However, Sīla is rendered in a variety of terms in English such as precept, virtue, morality, rule, regulation, or even ethics. In short, morality is a good behaviour or actions of a person derived from his good intention or motivation (cetanā).  Morality in fact cannot be evaluated only on outside expression. So we have to look deeply what intention that the action comes out.

To be called moral persons or persons of morality, we have to train ourselves not only by making efforts in expressing our actions or attitude properly or righteously but also knowing the evils to abstain from and what is good to cultivate. At a higher level, we should see our defilements arising in the mind whether they are gross or subtle to purify them. That is the way how to have and how to live with morality in my opinion.

 

6. Do you agree with the statement “Religion is necessary for a person to control of his social and moral life.

I agree with it. To some extent, religion is really necessary for him. Thanks to belief and regulations or precepts in religion he can govern himself to suite with conventionally social and moral life. However, to some people, his blind faith in religion can be a great danger or disaster to society. Many fanatics of Christianity or Islam in the past and in the present have destroyed and caused innumerable miseries for mankind. Moreover, religiously minded people are always conditioned in dogmas and they are unable to free themselves to find the real way of peace in mind. So in this aspect, the so-called religion is indeed unnecessary for any person.

 

61. REFERENCES

 ENTRANCE EXAM  (Composed by Sayalay Dieu Phap)

1.                  What is (the essence, nutshell, brief disclosure, basic, main points of) Buddhism?

 

- Answer: 4 Noble truths: truth of Suffering, Cause of suffering, Cessation of Suffering and the Way leading to the Cessation of Suffering

- Why? Because during 45 years of preaching the Dhamma, the Buddha has been teaching the world nothing but these 4 truths.

1.                  Truth of Suffering: 3 types

a.                  Birth, disease, aging, death, physical pain, mental distress, grief, dissociation from the beloved one, association with the undesirable things, etc. are suffering.

b.                  Craving for the pleasure that one has experienced means suffering. (Eg: She is used to the cold weather in Canada. Now, she stays in the Asian country. The weather here is humid and hot. Thus, she feels suffering craving for the coolness in Canada.)

c.                  Except Nibbāna, all things in the world arise and dissolve according to its Law of Nature. We cannot control anything. We can not live forever. Thus, it is impermanence, suffering and non-soul. Being controlled in such way is suffering.

This truth covers all types of suffering in the world.

2.                  Truth of the Cause of Suffering

It is craving. By craving, beings are reborn again and again. And birth is again the starting point for all sufferings. (The Arahant has no more craving; therefore, he has no more suffering, i.e. no more rebirths).

There are 3 types of craving; for pleasure, for existence, and for non-existence.

3.                  Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.             It is the extinction of suffering namely Nibbāna.

4.                  Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering

This means the 8-fold path including: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

Thus, the Buddha shows the world suffering caused by craving, and the absence of suffering due to the power of the 8-fold path. Among them, the Truth of Suffering (Dukkhasacca) should be known; the Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Samudayasacca) should be eradicated; the Truth of Cessation of Suffering (Nirodhasacca) should be gained; and the Truth of the way leading to the Cessation of Suffering (Maggasacca) should be developed. The Buddha’s purpose is to show the world the way to end suffering and gain the foremost happiness (Nibbāna). This is the essence of Buddhism.

 

2. Samatha and Vipassanā

Samatha (tranquility meditation)                                   Vipassanā (Insight meditation)

-be known and practiced even in                                  -be known in the world only when the time no Buddha appears                                                             Buddhas appear

- Object: 40 samatha objects                                         - Object: any object (mentality or materiality) arising at the present moment.

- Method: focusing (fixing) the mind             only on 1 samatha object at all time            appears prominent at the present moment

 

- Purpose: to develop concentration and                    - Purpose: to develop Insight wisdom

gain Rūpa and Arūpa jhānas seeing the 3 characteristics (of impermanence, suffering and non-substantiality), and eradicate all defilements

- 5 jhāna factors: initial application, sustained             - 8 fold path factors: Right Understanding,  application, joy, pleasant feeling and one-pointedness    Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action,

Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

 

- Defilements are subdued but can not be                   - Defilements can be eradicated.         

eradicated.

3. Precepts for Buddhist

 

5 precepts:           1. Abstaining from harming living beings

2. Abstaining from taking what is not given

3. Abstaining from committing sexual misconduct

4. Abstaining from telling a lie

5. Abstaining from using intoxicant and drug

 

8 precepts:           1. Abstaining from harming living beings

2. Abstaining from taking what is not given

3. Abstaining from sexual intercourse

4. Abstaining from telling a lie

5. Abstaining from using intoxicant and drug

6. Abstaining from taking food at improper time (i.e. after lunch in a day)

7. Abstaining from dancing, singing, watching show, using garlands, perfume, or things for beautification or adornment

8. Abstaining from using high and luxurious seat or bed

 

·        9 precepts: 1. Abstaining from harming living beings

2. Abstaining from taking what is not given

3. Abstaining from sexual intercourse

4. Abstaining from telling a lie

5. Abstaining from using intoxicant and drug

6. Abstaining from taking food at improper time (i.e. after lunch in a day)

7. Abstaining from dancing, singing, watching show.

8. Abstaining from using garlands, perfume, or things for beautification or adornment

9. Abstaining from using high and luxurious seat or bed

 

·        or:                    1. Abstaining from harming living beings

2. Abstaining from taking what is not given

3. Abstaining from sexual intercourse

4. Abstaining from telling a lie

5. Abstaining from using intoxicant and drug

6. Abstaining from taking food at improper time (i.e. after lunch in a day)

7. Abstaining from dancing, singing, watching show, using garlands, perfume, or things for beautification or adornment

8. Abstaining from using high and luxurious seat or bed

9. Sending loving-kindness (metta) to all beings.

 

4. Theravāda Buddhism

-“thera” = elder, i.e. the elder monk.

- “vāda” = speech, word.

- “Theravāda”: speech or words of the elder monks who are expert in the doctrine taught by the Buddha and in the practice. Thus, Theravāda Buddhism is the original sayings of the Buddha which are well preserved by the elders from generation to generation (staring at the Buddha’s time until now).

This doctrine includes 3 parts: Vinaya (227 rules for bhikkhu and 311 rules for bhikkhuni), Suttanta (the discourses) and Abhidhamma (profound doctrine regarding the 4 ultimate realities). All these 3 covers the doctrine (pariyatti), practice (paipatti), and realization (pativeda).

Vinaya: 5 books.

 

1. Pārājika               (Major Offences)

2. Pacittiya              (Minor Offences)

3. Mahāvagga        (Greater Section)

4. Cūavagga          (Smaller Section)

5. Parivāra              (Epitome of the Vinaya )

 

Suttanta: 5 Nikāyas, with 23 books

 Dīgha Nikāya ( Collection of Long Discourses)

Majjhima Nikāya ( Collection of Middle-length Discourses)

Sayutta Nikāya  ( Collection of Kindred Sayings)

Aguttara Nikāya (Collection of Discourses arranged in accordance with number)

Khuddaka Nikāya (Smaller Collection).

 

Abhidhamma: 7 books

1. Dhammasagani  (Classification of Phenomena)

2.  Vibhaga (The Book of Analysis)

3. Puggalapaññatti (Designation of Individuals)

4. Dhātukatha (Discussion with reference to Elements)

5. Kathāvatthu (Points of Controversy)

6. Yamaka (The Book of Pairs)

7. Paṭṭhāna (The Book of Relations)

 

The essence of Theravāda Buddhism is to point out the Law of Nature (impermanence, suffering and non-subtantiality), the absence of Creator God, the suffering, cause of suffering, and the end suffering by practicing the 8-fold path.

 

Ten Kinds of Meritorious Deeds

1-     Dāna = charity or generosity.

2-     Sīla = morality or good moral conduct.

3-     Bhāvanā = meditation or mental culture.

4-     Apacāyana = reverence or paying due respect to those who are worthy.

            5. Veyāvacca = helping others perform good deeds.

      6. Pattidāna = sharing of merit after doing some good deeds.

                  7. Pattānumodana = rejoicing at others’ merit making.

8.      Dhammasavana = listening well to the Doctrine.

9.      Dhammadesanā = preaching and teaching the doctrine.

10. Diṭṭhiju kamma = straightening one’s view.

 

****

May  you  be  successful  in  your  exam !

May  the  best  of  lucks  always  come  to  you !

May  the  Triple  Gem  always be  with  you !  

The end of December, 2006.

Yangon, Myanmar.  

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