With my utmost humble respect to Lord Buddha. I’m hundred percent Thai Buddhist. I’ve taught Dhamma for 11 years. When my Vipassana meditation teaching has spread out to over hundred thousands of people who read the Thai Dhamma books that I wrote,
they’ve always asked, “Will you have a book in English?” They want their friends and family to read the way I explain Dhamma from my own experience which they
never read from anywhere before. I refused with the reason that I’m not ready and my English is not perfect. Somehow, I started to have foreign students come learn Vipassana meditation, making me have to ask help from my students to translate the Dhamma discourses to record for students to listen to during the course. Often times my foreign students have questions on some points after listening to the discourse. Some felt upset and some felt depressed. They said it’s as if Dhamma or Buddha will turn them into non-human with no love, no feelings, no excitement, no desire and have to let go of everything.
“How can I live my life now? I don’t want to be a monk.” This is a sample of a complaint I received. After I explained to clear the doubt of each teaching directly from my own words, his doubt vanished away and he became more happy to continue practice. I came
From the author to realize that there must be something missing in the delivery of the message, some missing translation or misuse of words that made the teaching unclear or give wrong meaning. Because I don’t have such problems with teaching in Thai. Later on I started to explain the core teachings of the Buddha from my words to a foreigner,he said “That’s it. I understand clearly, more clear than any explanation I’ve heard before. Please fix the translation of the Dhamma discourse because after listening I felt so sad.” He said, “What a relief! I thought Dhamma will take life away from me.”His relief has become my awakening over the lost in translation. Later, I brought this issue to discuss with my
students who have the ability in English translation. I said, “We must improve or adjust the way we translate and the use of vocabulary, it’s clear that there is a lot of misconception of Buddha’s teaching happening from the translation. ”During the meeting I explained the most important teaching of Buddha “Detachment” to them in English.
I spoke slowly with no worry about grammatical mistakes. I explained from my heart, direct from my wisdom. The meeting room of 14 people were in silence, letting the message float into their hearts. In summary, I said Dhamma doesn’t mean it would steal life away from you, you will still have feelings, you will still have joy, you will find meaning in life, and more importantly Dhamma will show you the way to end misery in life. After finishing, some students were almost in tears and one of the students said to me, “Master, I think you should write in English by yourself even though the grammar is not perfect. The reader should read your message directly, it’s more pure, more touching than trying to let the corrections of grammar come in between the message.” I took that comment to my consideration. I always feel that there is a thin line that blocks the true meaning of the Buddha’s teachings from foreigners, that thin line was separating a normal human being way too far from the Enlightened One. In the afternoon while I was
contemplating about this matter, I received a holy stream of energy pouring into my mind and body with the message: “We were taught to be far away from the truth. English learning in the university level is to learn how to cook up english words to make them sound beautiful and to use complex sentence structures. It emphasizes the eloquence of the words rather than their true meaning.”I felt even more alert and decided to write in English rather than write in Thai and send to an English expert to translate my writing. Because if anyone does not practice Vipassana meditation seriously, it will be very
difficult to understand the true and in-depth meaning of the Buddha’s teachings. Buddha also taught that reaching the Ultimate Truth must come from the experience level, the same way one would know if a well-decorated dish of food is delicious or uneatable by
eating it, and not by just admiring how it looks. My original plan is to write the book “Awaken from madness – A message from the Buddha”. It is a book about my meditation experience which leads to enlightenment. The technique to purify the mind is
called Techo Vipassana, which is based on the Four Fundamentals of Mindfulness. Techo Vipassana is a specific technique in using the fire element in the body to purify the mind. The technique has helped me reach the Ultimate Truth at the energy level. I have received
the holy stream in energy form from the Buddha to reveal my journey to others in order to awaken their mind from illusion. The book has required so much energy to write and is not yet complete. Since I have already explained the teaching’s of the Buddha in many occasions, so I have decided to publish this book first as an introduction.I have to thank my students to encourage me that day and also thanks for all the effort they put in to help
make this book. The Top Idea’s part is direct writings from me which most of it I wrote in English. The part of Famous stories in the Buddha’s time I received help from
my students, where the stories were gathered from Buddhist scriptures; Tripitaka (The Pali Canon). The Acharavadee Wongsakon stories come from many sources. I’d like to thank
everyone who helped preserve, and deliver the teachings of the Buddha for us to have guidance to learn and practice.
Happiness or unhappiness is not limited for a certain religion. Buddha never chose to teach only those who vow to be Buddhist. He taught everyone who wished to
find true happiness and wish to end the cycle of misery. To truly understand the Buddha’s teaching, it cannot be reached at the intellectual level, only at the practicing level that can make you reach the Ultimate Truth, especially about oneself. Also I hope this book will help
you find what you are looking for. I wish this book can be a candle to light up true wisdom that awaits to shine upon you and help you find true inner peace which is missing in humans’ life.
WHO IS BUDDHA?
Buddha is the Enlightened One and the father
of Buddhism. His teachings liberate us human beings
from a life in misery. His compassion has brought
peace and harmony to the world.
Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha.
He grew up to excel in all the 18 fields of traditional
arts and sciences ranging from politics to philosophy.
When he reached the age of 16, his father arranged
his marriage to Princess Yasodhara. They had a son
The Turning Point
One day, the prince wondered what life was like
outside the palace so he made a trip. There, he saw
an old man with a gloomy face, a diseased man laying
with a moan, and a dead person surrounded by his
He then said, “How can I live a life of pleasure
when there’s so much suffering in the world”? Later,
when he saw an ascetic in peacefulness, the prince
thought this would be the path to end the cycle of
the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death.
16 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
Realizing his beloved father and family too would
face the same ending, the prince ran away from the
palace to end the cycle of those sufferings.
The Middle Path
Siddhartha began his monastic life under the
guidance of two famous masters, but they could not
find the path to end the suffering either. He began
searching for a way on his own and starved himself
until he was left with only skin and bones. One
evening the angels, disguised as musicians, played a
lute in front of him while he was sitting in meditation.
Hearing the music, he realized a loose string did not
carry sound and a very tight string would break. The
music was perfect only when the strings were neither
too loose nor too tight. He then found the answer
was to take the middle path: Siddhartha began eating
normally again after six years.
The Reach of Enlightenment
On a full moon day in May, he sat under the
Bodhi tree and vowed, “Even if my flesh and blood
were to dry up, leaving only skin and bones, I will
not leave this place until I find a way to end all
sufferings.” Through a meditation technique now
known as Vipassana, he discovered the Ultimate
Truth about himself, life, and the universe. Siddhartha
was finally enlightened and became Gautama Buddha
at the age of 35. Buddha taught human to be free
from misery and life cycle for 45 years. He reached
Nirvana (died) at age 80.
The enlightenment of Buddha is the state of
mind that maintains the absolute equanimity or
neutrality, not clinging to positive or negative energy,
free from impurity. Buddha discovered the Ultimate
Truth that everything is merely an assembly of
energy. With this neutrality, he made his mind free
from gravity, ending the cycle of rebirth.
The Fundamental Teachings of Buddha
1) Refrain from all kind of sins.
2) Do good deeds.
3) Purify your mind.
The 5 Major Sins in Buddhism are killing,
stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, taking alcohol or
The Core Teaching of Buddha: Equanimity
It means the mind is not shaken by or attached
to happiness, unhappiness, and illusion. Whatever
comes to the mind, it knows without seasoning the
feeling into craving and aversion.
THE IMPORTANT TEACHINGS
Cause of Misery
Craving and Aversion is the cause of misery
because it will develop into Anger and Hatred,
Greed, and Illusion which in Buddhism are called
“Kilesa” or impurity. The impurity causes attachment
to emotions such as obsession, depression, and
anxiety. The attachment also causes misery and the
cycle of rebirth. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is
to end the cycle of rebirth, in another word, to reach
The Middle Path
The Middle Path is a life in morality, not
extremely addicted to happiness and unhappiness
as the addiction eventually leads to depression. When
we’re happy or sad, we know it without letting our
mind sink into those feelings as we realize things are
impermanent. We do not season our feelings into
emotions since this will develop into addiction or
obsession, leading to attachment.
The Four Noble Truths
- Suffering – To suffer from being born, being
old, being sick and dying. These sufferings are
common to us all.
- Cause of suffering – We are the cause of our
- End of suffering
- Path to end suffering – The way to end it.
The Truth of the Universe
- Nothing is lost in the universe – Matters turn
into energy, energy turns into matter.
- Things are impermanent
- Law of Cause and Effect – This law is known as
karma. Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserve it.
“Dhamma has a meaning
associated to goodness,
Dhamma is directly translated as nature or
normality. All things have their own distinctive
characters or qualities. For example, water has a
cooling quality while fire has a heating quality. Good
deeds have the quality that brings happiness and
brightness. Bad deeds have the quality that brings
miseries and trouble.
In Buddhism, Dhamma has a meaning associated
to goodness, righteousness, and appropriateness. It
is timeless. All three factors must be met. A person
practicing Dhamma is said to practice on the path of
1. “The original mind is called
the Knowing Mind or the
Soul. The human’s original
mind has the characteristics
of cleanliness and purity.”
The soul is the most powerful energy. The
mental energy is so refined that no scientific
equipment is capable of detecting its energy. Human
beings, live their lives under the mind’s command.
Matters in the world consist of earth, water, wind
and fire elements. The Buddha added the soul as
another type of energy. All beings in the world
comprise the four elements, with three-fourth of
the world being water and one-fourth the land.
Similarly, a human body is about 70% water and the
rest of earth element.
This means human is a part of nature. A body
without a soul is a corpse. When a soul lives in a
body, that lifeless body becomes a human. A human
has thoughts that drive all life activities. The soul is
therefore the most powerful energy. The Western
world overlooks the importance of the soul and
mostly focuses on studying the brain.
The original mind is called the Knowing Mind
or the Soul. The human’s original mind has the
characteristics of cleanliness and purity. As a type
of energy, it has a particular quality; fire being
hot, earth being solid, for example. The original
mind is free from contamination. The specific
characteristics of the original mind are clean, pure,
peaceful, gentle yet strong and powerful. It is free
from greed, aversion, and ignorance. It also contains
the qualities of gratefulness and consciousness.
When the original mind is infiltrated or
contaminated by impurities (Greed, Anger, Hatred
and Illusion), in Pali called Kilesa (impurities), its
quality becomes the opposite. It gets dirty and is
driven by the impurities to do bad things, resulting
in problems and distress. As said earlier, the mind
is a form of energy, therefore it falls under the same
rule of physics. Negative emotions are negative
energies and have an ability to weigh down the mind
energy. When the weight of the mind becomes
heavier, it is trapped in the gravity, unable to get
out of the world’s magnetic field. In Buddhist term,
we call it Samsara or the Cycle of Rebirth — endless
cycle of birth, aging, sickness, and death.
Death is just a transition of the energy. The mind
cannot stay inside a dead body. It transforms into a
new form where the mind’s past deeds (karma), good
and bad, will determine the new form of life,
carrying with them the responsibilities of its own
past actions. The soul continues to wander in the
cycle of rebirth indefinitely.
Therefore, those who have not purified their
mind to the level of enlightenment are like two
persons living in one body. In short, there are two
minds, both good and evil in one person. When
goodness takes over, the person will do good things.
When the dark side is in control, he will do bad
things, bringing grievances to himself and others.
“Those who attain enlightenment,
their consciousness is always
clear and stable”
Consciousness is clear awareness of something for
what it is and of an action being done. It is wholesome.
The ill-will actions lack consciousness on what is being
done. As such, the defilements can take control of the
action to commit a sin. Consciousness is an important
quality of the original mind. For those who still have
impurities (Greed, Anger, Hatred and Illusion) in the
mind, it means their Knowing Mind is dominated by
impurities. Those who attain enlightenment, the mind
is pure from impurities. Their consciousness is always
clear and stable. They can distinctively differentiate
wholesome and unwholesome deeds. They will then
choose to merely do decent deeds.
Drunken people lose their mindfulness and
consciousness. They behave inappropriately as well as
act on impulses. They cannot control themselves. That
is the state of lacking the Right Mindfulness and
Consciousness. Practicing consciousness is very
important in Buddhism. It is an essential characteristic
leading to spiritual liberation.
“The karmic effect works
immediately or subsequently.
Sometimes we do not understand
why miseries in life happen.”
KARMA… CREATION OF ONE’S FATE
The Buddha said, “All beings are the owners of
their karma, heirs of their karma, born of their
karma, related to their karma and supported by their
karma.” Karma means actions with intention that is
also reflected through words and thoughts.
It is the law of Cause and Effect and accords with
the law of physics which states that energy with the
same characteristics is grouped together by magnetic
wave. So good karma brings good results and bad
karma brings bad results. Bad deeds cause one’s
rebirth in hell through 3 actions; killing, stealing, and
sexual misconduct, 4 verbal acts; lying, malicious,
harsh, and useless words, and 3 mental acts; greed,
ill will, and wrong view.
In Buddha’s time, there was a story about a
woman being thrown into the sea by her own
husband who was also the captain. Earlier, the ship
they and other seamen boarded stopped without a
reason so they believed someone brought bad luck
with them and must be gone.
Unfortunately, the wife picked the same lot from
all three drawing lots. And so she had to be killed.
Also on board was a group of monks. When they met
with the Buddha, the monks asked the Buddha about
the incident. His reply was that it was the karmic
In a past life, the captain’s wife had a pet dog that
loved her very much and followed her everywhere.
The sight of them always together brought laughter
and teasing from everyone. Feeling embarrassed, she
tied the dog’s neck with sandbag and killed it by
dumping the bag into a river.
After her death, she was punished for a long time
in hell, then reborn and died in the water the same
way for another 100 births.
The karmic effect works immediately or
subsequently. Sometimes we do not understand why
so many hardships happen to us. But through direct
effect of karma it is the result of what we did in the
past. The present is no doubt the offspring of your
past and sets the direction of your future. Bad karma
can diminish positive results from good karma.
Likewise, good karma can thwart the consequences
of bad karma.
Doing “right” can lessen the karmic effect. When
we mindfully act, speak, and think, we can abstain
from wrongdoing and understand a difficulty at hand
as a lesson learned. Create good karma in the present
moment, a blessed future will eventually blossom.
“Buddha taught us not to be
afraid of our own past since
we cannot change it. But we
can change the course of our
When misfortune happens, most Buddhists think
it is because of their bad deeds in past lives. They
struggle to overcome it it by seeking help through
supernatural means. This is a total misconception of
“Reciprocal Deeds” in Buddha’s teachings. We reap
what we sow.
The word “karma” means action or deed. It covers
both good and bad actions. Different karmic actions
result in different life conditions. For example, some
people were born poor because they rarely gave.
Buddha taught us not to be afraid of our own past
since we cannot change it. But we can change the
course of our current life by sorting out our mind,
and start saying and doing the right things.
Some may argue why swindlers continue to be
rich and get away with it. They seem to have a perfect
life but their minds are not at peace, full of worries
not knowing when consequences will come. Moreover,
we should not expect something in return when we
do a good thing. That is greed. The joy of doing good
is already a reward in itself. Do not let money run your
life. It is hard work, honesty, and living within your
means that offer true happiness and inner peace.
There are many times we do not understand why
a certain incident happened to us. We never hurt
anyone but why someone keeps attacking and trying
to destroy us. Why were we robbed? Why did the
burglar just rob us, not others? Why did this person
who looked so good and so capable fail to succeed or
did not receive an opportunity like another person
who seemed inferior in all aspects?
The principle of Cause and Effect is not limited
to only the present time. It can be affected from the
past because the mind is the energy current which has
accumulated both good and bad karma. Sometimes,
good karma takes effect while bad karma is waiting to
yield. This is why we see some newborn babies born
to a wealthy family and some abandoned by their
parents at birth. They are pure and innocent babies.
They have not done anything wrong at all. It is the
result of their bad karma accumulated and coded
as negative energy in the subconscious part of their
mind which takes effect at an appropriate time.
The principle of Cause and Effect can be explained
through the nature of trees. If we plant a mango seed,
it will take some time to grow and bear fruits. And
since mango trees are long-lived, they give fruits for
a long time. On the contrary, seasonal plants are short lived, yielding in a short period of time and dying soon after. As humans are part of nature, any incident
happening to us is also caused by the seed that we
sowed. Some seeds take effect for a long time, the
others for a short time. Humans live their life in
separation from nature, so they view the law of Cause
and Effect wrongly. They tend to fix the blame on
others, not looking at themselves.
The same incident also happened to the Buddha.
Before he reached enlightenment, he was mistaken
in the practice. He spent six years in self-torture
through extreme fasting. That was because of his bad
karma in one of his past lives. In that lifetime, he was
born as a man called Chotipatila. He insulted Kassapa
Buddha by saying that, “Will you become enlightened
by just sitting still under the Bodhi tree?”. His words
were an insult at the Dhamma practice of the former
Buddha. Most ordinary people would think that great
enlightenment should be attained from exciting,
supernatural techniques, chanting in mumbo jumbo,
wielding a stick like in Hollywood movie scenes. In
fact, enlightenment is attained at the mind level, not
Focusing on the mind according to the Four
Foundations of Mindfulness taught by the Buddha is
therefore the path to enlightenment. Without
watching his thoughts, words and actions, Gautama
Buddha paid back for one careless remark with self torture
as he believed it was the right path. This is an
example of Cause and Effect that was carried on from
Although we cannot change our past or do not
know what kind of karma we had done, we can do
good in this present life. By living life in virtue, the
good karma will finally bring good results to our life
because Dhamma never betrays humans. Only
humans betray nature.
“The attachment causes the
cycle of rebirth because the
mind energy becomes impure,
hindering its ability to be free”
CAUSE OF MISERY
Craving and aversion is what cause misery. It
drives to Greed, Anger, Hatred, and Illusion which
are considered as impurities in the mind. It is hard
to let go those impurities as they sink into subconsciousness causing unhappiness, anxiety, and
depression. The attachment in emotions and ego is
also the cause of misery. Misery in life is sorrow,
despair, lamentation and separation.
To attach yourself or sink into these emotions is
to make the mind energy stuck in the whirlpool of
the energy current called the cycle of rebirth or
Samsara. The attachment then causes the cycle of
rebirth because the mind energy becomes impure,
hindering its ability to be free from gravity.
This is what Buddha taught a 50-year-old ascetic
named Upaka who was very sad because his 17-year old wife had been treating him badly for the past two
“Upaka, the root of all suffering comes from lust,
attachment, insatiable desires and ambitions, and the
feeling that this is me and that is mine. This includes
an addiction to emotional pleasures. All the things
you hold fast, thinking they are yours and will not
harm or hurt you, never exist and cannot be found
in this world.”
“There are two types
of mindfulness: right
Mindfulness is a mental quality of being aware of
what you are doing. It is the practice to be in a present
moment. Your mind is really focusing on the activity
in front of you, not wandering away. The firm mind
has a willpower to perform any activities effectively
There are three ways to practice mindfulness.
- By focusing on the breathing to use the breath
as a training tool to train the mind to be firm, no mind
- By doing one thing at a time, always staying with
every single moment of the action.
- By walking meditation, learning how to focus
with the movement without thinking of anything else.
The practice of mindfulness involves concentrating
on one single activity at a time, not doing things
concurrently. For instance, while you are walking, your
mind has to concentrate only on the movement of the
walk. Do not think while walking. You need to be
mindful of how your soles are touching the ground.
You look downward 45 degrees to clearly see the
footpath in a short distance. Thinking while walking is
considered a lack of mindfulness. Instead of focusing
on walking, the mind becomes distracted, allowing
impurities to enter the mind.
There are two types of mindfulness: right
mindfulness and wrong mindfulness.
Right mindfulness is a wholesome mind, being
aware of right actions, not causing trouble to others for
one’s own livelihood.
Wrong mindfulness is an unwholesome mind,
being aware of bad actions, causing trouble to others
such as a well-planned robbery.
Therefore, practicing mindfulness alone does not
ultimately lead us to inner peace and harmony. It
requires consciousness and mind purification (also
known as Vipassana Meditation or Insight Meditation).
Mental impurities arising from wrong mindfulness
lead our life to the cycle of illusion. They deceive us
into thinking we live in happiness that we feel never
get enough. This results in the neverending feeling of
craving and aversion.
Benefits of mindfulness practice
Practicing mindfulness helps the mind gain
concentration power. Your mind can be more focused
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 4
on every single thing you do or what is coming to your
mind. It helps you think clearly and get out of brain
fog easily. Mindfulness also helps boost your memory
because while studying, your mind will not be distracted
by other things easily and can have a complete focus.
With the trained mind, you will also be safe from
danger, for example, when you are behind the wheels,
your mind can concentrate on the driving clearly.
Mindfulness helps organize your life with more
effectiveness and efficiency. Your mind will have more
room for peace and harmony in life.
Once the world has entered the Internet era via
social media, the way people live is against mindfulness.
It leads to lack of peaceful mind because they continuously
receive data in the form of messages or news feed that
keep pouring into their mind. It results in lack of
concentration and patience, with little time for serious
contemplation because the overwhelming digital data
constantly pushes those people’s mind to move forward
all the time, minute by minute. Humans are pushed away
from nature when they live their lives in the opposite
direction from peace. We live our life unnaturally, relying
on the Internet which comes in a pack of heat and
Anything against the nature is considered unnatural.
It brings damage of all levels to those with that kind of
48 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
lifestyle. People living in this unbalanced life will face
so many problems. For example, they lose control of
themselves; unable to stop themselves from doing
wrong or hurt themselves. They feel gloomy, sad, or
have mental disorder. They do not understand what
they are fighting with, so they live their life without a
You can train your mind with mindfulness practice
by doing things at a slower pace, one thing at a time,
not staying online for too long, and spending more
time with nature. All these behaviors will bring the
mind to a more peaceful state. These activities are the
next step leading to the discovery of true happiness.
“The conduct aims at harming no
one including self. It is a universal
rule, not limited to a particular
culture or religion.”
FIVE CODES OF CONDUCT
The Five Codes of Conduct or The Buddhist
Five Precepts is a moral guideline that Buddha has
left behind for people who are not monks. It is the
fundamental life principles which, when adhered
to, bring about peace and harmony to the society.
The conduct aims at harming no one including
yourself. It is a universal rule, not limited to a
particular culture or religion.
Buddhism treated the precepts as the prerequisite to become a complete, truly happy person.
The codes include:
- No killing – Those who often take lives will
either be born unhealthy or die young.
- No stealing – It means not taking tangible and
intangible assets such as intellectual property rights.
Soon the violator or the stealer will lose not only
newly-acquired possessions, but also existing ones.
- No adultery – True love is hard to find or does
not even exist for unfaithful people because not
52 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
only do they fail to cherish their partner’s love, but
also ruin it.
- No lying – Constant liars find it hard to receive
respect and trust from others. This is because they
often broke their promises or betrayed other
- No consumption of intoxicating substances –
Alcohols and drugs rob consciousness and numb
the brain. Heavy drinkers’ brains fail prematurely
and sometimes they do not even have to wait until
the next life to be mentally retarded or suffer mental
The precepts effectively create a line between
right and wrong. Those violating the conduct are
simply heading for trouble, in line with the law of
Cause and Effect.
“Those who want to be
free from the cycle of
rebirth will need to go
through the process of
mind purification taught
by the Buddha.”
The mind that is contaminated with impurities
(Kilesa) is considered impure. The impurities are
emotions of Greed, Anger, Hatred, and Illusion which
are caused by craving and aversion.
Those who want to be free from the cycle of rebirth
will need to go through the process of mind purification
taught by the Buddha in ‘The Threefold Training’,
which is the way to the enlightenment and be free from
the cycle of birth and death. The Threefold Training
comprises the precepts, meditation, and wisdom. For
laypeople, the precepts are five codes of conduct as
explained in Chapter 8.
Holding the precepts will keep the mind at peace
to a certain extent and not discouraged by retributions
from the past karma. To improve further, a person
needs to be trained through focus meditation practice
to sharpen the mind. Then with Vipassana meditation,
the advanced meditation technique, the person will
discover the Ultimate Truth about himself. It is the
truth that cannot be perceived by thinking or seeing
with an eye. At this point, the mind will be free from
temptations and impurities (Kilesa). It will reach the
neutral state, not bound by any positive or negative
energy as it is free from magnetic induction in the
universe. Reaching this stage, the person attains
Apart from cleansing the mind from Kilesa, mind
purification also makes amends of sin and impure
thoughts, words, and actions which are imbedded in
the sub-conscious memory. This belief in “expiation
of sin” has been around for thousands of years, for
example, there is a belief in India that bathing in the
Ganges River three times a day can expiate their sins
because they believe it is the holy river from Hindu
Once, the Buddha went to the river to teach a
Brahmin named Sangkawara who faithfully bathed
in the river three times a day because he believed that
bathing in the river would wash away his sins
although he was very old and frail.
“Brahmin, I say that malevolent acts, malevolent
speech, and malevolent thoughts dirty our mind and they
can be cleansed by Dhamma, which is benevolence,
not from taking regular baths. The water drank by
people with benevolent acts, benevolent words, and
benevolent thoughts is sacred in itself. Brahmin, come
and bathe in my teaching which is profound, clean, not
turbid. It has the precepts as the dock that leads you
into the river, and praised by wise men. Wise people
should take these baths and afterwards they can cross
the cycle of misery without even getting wet.”
“The Buddha taught that
knowing the truth comes in
three levels; thought level,
contemplation level, and
the experience level.”
Reaching the truth from practicing mind
purification is to realize the Four Noble Truths,
namely suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of
suffering, and the path to end suffering (In Pali
language, they are called Dukkha, Samudaya,
Reading about the Four Noble Truths cannot
make anyone reach the Ultimate Truth at the level
of Knowing Mind because he has no direct spiritual
experience. For example, we see the suffering in
injuries, death, and loss of possessions from seeing
or reading about people displaced by war. We also
see the cause of suffering; the conflicts that lead to
the war. The end of suffering is normalcy. The path
to the end of suffering is the end of war. All of these
are an intellectual comprehension, not a perception
through direct experience of the incident. Unless the
person is in the middle of the war, he will never
realize how miserable it is and how the end of those
grievances can bring happiness to the war victims.
The Buddha taught that knowing the truth comes
in three levels; thought level, contemplation level,
and the experience level. Enlightenment is the state
of reaching the truth in the experience level. It is to
reach the Four Noble Truths in oneself not in others.
When the truth in oneself is discovered, that person
will also reach the truth in all things in the nature
because Dhamma is nature.
The Buddha clearly explained that sufferings are
birth, old age, sickness, and death. When a person
has experienced them by himself, he will truly
understand this teaching. Those who never get sick
do not realize how uncomfortable it is to be sick.
Some patients even beg for death because they
cannot bear the pain. The Buddha therefore called
this cycle ‘the cycle of misery’.
“The Noble Path is the way
to the Middle Path, which
is about a balanced life”
THE NOBLE PATH,
THE MIDDLE PATH
To reach the Noble Truths, a person will have to
follow the map that leads to the truth. The Buddha
then taught about the Noble Eightfold Path, the
path of the wise that will bring a noble man to be
liberated from the cycle of misery. It consists of:
The Right Speech: to abstain from lying, inciting,
talking nonsense, and speaking rude words.
The Right Action: to abstain from killing, stealing
and sexual misconduct
The Right Livelihood: to have an occupation
which does not exploit or bring harm to others or
society, and is not illegal or immoral such as
abstaining from selling weapons, drugs, and alcohol.
The Right Effort: to make an effort not to commit
any sinful or evil act, to do good deeds and purify
The Right Mindfulness: to be mindful, to act with
mindfulness, not let the mind wander
The Right Concentration: to be concentrated, to
adhere to good things
The Right View: to have correct view with belief
in goodness and badness
The Right Thought: to think and act with morality
The Noble Path is the way to the Middle Path,
which is about a balanced life; not being obsessed
with one’s own happiness without contributing to
the society or being too harsh with oneself. This can
be clearly seen from a yogi’s self-torture such as lying
on a bed of nails or walking like a dog in a belief that
these practices could free them from suffering.
However, vigorously practicing mindfulness and
Vipassana meditation correctly is not self-torture but
a session of mind training. It’s not different from
athletes or soldiers constantly training themselves
in order to acquire skills required for their duties.
The thought that meditation practice is self torture comes from the Kilesa (impurities) which exist
in out minds deceives those who have uncertain and
weak minds. Therefore, be aware that self-torture is
different from self-training.
“The Buddha never taught us to
have blind faith. We should not
believe anyone or anything just
because it has been said, heard,
or done for a long time. ”
The Seven Noble Treasures are unlike any other
treasures in this world that everyone has to leave
behind when they die. The Treasures accompany the
soul to the next life. They consist of Faith, Morality,
Moral Shame, Fear of Karmic Retribution, Dhamma
Study or Contemplation, Generosity, and Wisdom.
Faith is the first noble treasure and very important.
Without faith, it is impossible to conduct life on the
Noble Path. However, the Buddha never taught us to
have blind faith. We should not believe anyone or
anything just because it has been said, heard, or done
for a long time. We should develop faith after
reaching a reasonable conclusion or learning from
Wisdom as the Noble Treasure is the wisdom to
reach the Ultimate Truth about oneself and the
truth of existence. The truth that all beings are living
in a world made up of illusion. It is not the intellectual
wisdom. Without spiritual wisdom, a person cannot
see the Ultimate Truth, resulting in his attachment
to emotions. The Wisdom is the opposite to
Ignorance which is the main cause of cycle of
rebirth. That is why Buddhism is considered the
religion of wisdom.
In Buddha’s era, there was a leper named Suppabuddhakutthi. He was orphaned, lived as a miserable
wretch, and was the poorest man in Rajagaha city. One
day he saw a large gathering of people in Venuvan
Temple and thought he might get some food if he went
over to the crowd. After entering the temple, he saw
the Buddha was giving a sermon and thought, “Great.
I will listen to Dhamma.” There he was sitting among
the others with the intention to hear the Buddha’s
The Buddha was preaching about generosity,
virtues, heaven, corruption of sensuality, sorrows
from Kilesa (impurities), and the benefits of mind
training. The Dhamma opened Suppabuddhakutthi’s
eyes. He reached the first stage of enlightenment
right there and bowed his head in front of the
Enlightened One, vowing to take a lifelong refuge in
the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha).
An angel saw the incident and wanted to test him.
The angel insulted Suppabuddhakutthi, calling him
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 69
a poor man. His reply was, “You said I’m a poor
destitute but I’m not. I’m happy and I possess a large
amount of treasures. They are faith, morality, moral
shame, moral fear, learning, generosity, and wisdom.
If men, women, or any wise ones possess these
treasures, they are not poor. Their lives will not be
without Buddha if they have the Noble Treasures.”
“That is the concentration
practice for spiritual liberation
from all sufferings, not for
seeking supernatural power”
Concentration is when the mind focuses on one
static emotion. In other words, we must pay full
attention to a given thing in order for the mind to
become sharp and still. Previously, the mind was
filled with a lot of impurities with characteristics of
a monkey; always jumping from one place to another.
As a result, the mind loses the unity and became
vulnerable and unstable. It is very hard to succeed in
anything when we have a vulnerable and unstable
mind. Such a state of mind makes us easily give up
on any obstacles and lack inner peace.
The Outcome of the Practice
Therefore, the practice of concentration will help
our mind to be stronger and more stable. Also, its
result can also help us to be smarter and have a
sharper memory. During the practice, we can feel
the peace of mind because there is no distraction.
More importantly, concentration also plays an
important role in Vipassana meditation which leads
to the freedom from the cycle of rebirth.
Concentration practice exists not only in
Buddhism, but also in other religions. Each religion
has its own concentration technique, but the
concentration technique of the Buddha is mindfulness
on breathing called “Anapanasati Meditation”. In this
technique, we focus our attention on our own
breathing by fixing the mind to the nostrils without
chanting any Mantras. The breath will become a tool
for creating the peace of mind, not for analyzing and
following any thoughts floating up during the
meditation. We simply train our mind to remain on
one static point like the breath. It seems difficult to
practice at the beginning but in the end it gives a lot
However, if we want to have a good and right way
of practice, we need to have a teacher who can guide
us to the right direction. That is the concentration
practice for spiritual liberation from all sufferings,
not for seeking supernatural powers. Some people
practice meditation to gain supernatural powers, to
have celestial vision or to see other existence in
different dimensions. But that kind of power has both
advantages and disadvantages.
In Buddhism, there is no commercial charge for
students who want to learn about concentration
practice as it will bring greed, anger and delusion to
See the meditation technique taught by
Vipassana Meditation Master Acharavadee
Wongsakon at Youtube: Knowing Buddha,
‘Discover the Spiritual Life’
To join a meditation retreat
and learn the way of Buddha,
(free of charge)
the teacher’s mind. Teachers are usually willing to
teach because they consider the teaching as a form
of giving and eventually, it will help their students
find happiness and peace of mind.
“It is about seeing things
as they are, not the way
we want them to be.”
Vipassana meditation is the supreme meditation
technique for mind purification in Chapter 4
“The Soul” or “The Knowing Mind”. However,
before starting Vipassana, you must undergo
focus meditation first in order to cultivate a strong
foundation for mindfulness.
There is this principle of meditation called
Mahasatipatthana Sutta (the Four-point Foundation
of Mindfulness). The principle is about being mindful
of the body (movement, action), the feelings, the
mind (thoughts, state of mind), and the Dhamma
(the nature of things, beings). It is about seeing things
as they are, not the way we want them to be, seeing
them with intent and firmness without reacting to
what arises in the mind.
This is also the basis of equanimity practice; to
be unwavering with emotions, pleasant or unpleasant,
and keep the mind neutral. Equanimity is the core
Dhamma the Buddha discovered. The aim of the
practice is to purify the mind from Kilesa (impurities)
which cause Craving and Aversion, leading to cycle
Vipassana meditation trains the mind through
continuously and persistently observing the mind
and staying equanimous the whole time by not
reacting to whatever comes to the mind. To practice
equanimity is to not be swayed by emotions pleasure or pain. It helps free the mind from the cycle
of becoming as the mind is in a neutral state, not
attached to negative or positive energies.
Vipassana meditation allows true purification of
the mind, bringing wisdom, and revealing the truth
within the practitioner’s mind depending on the
person’s level of spiritual progress. The mind will
be free from deceptions and temptations as the
impurities are weakened and destroyed through
different techniques. Each Vipassana technique yields
the same outcome but is different in terms of speed of
progress. However, all techniques can purify the mind.
The difference of Vipassana meditation and normal
meditation is that Vipassana meditation focuses on
mindfulness, with clear consciousness of the surrounding
environment and the reality within the mind and body
without thoughts to it. But the normal meditation’s focus
is on the calmness and stillness of the mind.
The Result of the Practice
The practice of Vipassana meditation results in
mind purity, free from impurities; Craving and
Aversion at the sub-consciousness (Sangkara in Pali
language) level. They are the true causes of grievances
in life. While other meditation techniques suppress
those feelings, giving the meditator a sense of
peacefulness that only lasts during the session, Vipassana
calms the meditators’ mind even after the session ends
because what they feel is the peace from within.
Eventually, it liberates the soul from suffering
as the soul attains enlightenment, ending rounds
of rebirth in this world. And even if one is not
enlightened, one will see clear changes with oneself
in everyday life. A Vipassana practitioner will get
less upset about things, let go of disappointments
easier, feel at peace, become more mindful, and
have clarity in life both spiritually and worldly. The
mind develops a profound understanding of
‘Impermanence’. These are called ‘True Wisdom’ that
shows through the person. One will also be inclined
to live in goodness without feeling pressured or
forced. That is the characteristic of spiritually refined
mind; full of genuine compassion and gratitude.
“Through Vipassana meditation,
the practitioner will find that
letting go becomes increasingly
Non-attachment is a core Dhamma that the
Buddha taught. It is the abandonment of clinging to
emotions including greed, hatred, and delusion. It also
includes detachment from ego. The mind overcomes
addiction to pleasures and suffering. It has no craving
and aversion for worldly successes, lust, and obsessions.
To truly reach the state of detachment is very
difficult. Most people are successful at the intellectual
level. Their minds get carried away with the flow of
different emotions. Therefore, the mind must undergo
purification process in order to be totally free.
Impurities in the mind are the culprit for deep
Through Vipassana meditation, the practitioner
will find that letting go becomes increasingly easier as
they gain spiritual progress. Once he or she reaches the
stage of enlightenment, the person will become an
Arahant, or a liberated one.
That being said, the ‘freedom’ from emotional
attachment does not mean that person will turn into a
cold, lifeless robot. A liberated person can still feel
everything just like others. They can feel love,
contentment, disappointment, excitement, delight, and
regrets. But these feelings are not seasoned into
emotions. Feelings define human beings. But a person
with pure mind does not season his feelings into
emotions. His level of emotional involvement does not
go up to the degree of obsession or deep passion. He
just accepts when feelings arise but does not mourn
when the happiness is gone. For example, when he
tastes delicious food, he enjoys it but is not compelled
to have more. When he hears praises, he accepts it and
feels proud but his ego does not get inflated. When
faced with disappointment, he does not feel sad for
long and quickly gets himself together.
There was an ascetic named Upaka. His heart was
badly broken by insulting words from his own wife
Suchawadee, a 17-year-old girl who was forced by her
father to marry the 50-year-old Upaka.
Even though Upaka was determined to live a
monastic life to cleanse his mind from impurities or
Kilesa, he did not receive correct teaching nor had the
right teacher. So when he saw the beautiful teenager,
the lust that had been suppressed surged immediately,
overwhelming him with crazy passion. He abandoned
his ascetic life to marry her but the marriage was
nothing but bitterness. Suchawadee felt only hatred
towards him. She never appreciated whatever he had
done to please and take care of her and constantly put
him down with humiliating remarks about his poverty
and old age. Unable to tolerate it, Upaka went to see
the Buddha to ask for help out of his miserable life.
Buddha taught Upaka to see the harm in Craving
and Aversion. He said, “Behold, Upaka, you should see
this world as emptiness. Keep mindfulness at all times.
Remove your ego and detach from the self. You will
feel light, less sad, less worried. There is no other
happiness comparable to the ultimate happiness from
letting go and establishing yourself in Dhamma.”
Supreme Dhamma practice does not turn a person
into a log but rather pulls him out of the emotional
pitfall, transforming him from a victim of his own
reactions to a reasonable and compassionate human
Emotions are high-density energies with very
strong pulling force. If your mind is deeply stuck in an
emotion, you are strengthening your addiction to
clinginess energy, imbedding your soul in the magnetic
field and gravity current. But if you can let go of those
emotions, they will be released before dissipating
eventually, allowing equanimity to rise. That is the
“What one gains from
enlightenment is a
mind and freedom from
craving and aversion.
No more falling victim
to emotional pitfalls.”
Enlightenment is the state of mind that achieves
ultimate spiritual insight, enlightened with the
Ultimate Truth about oneself and about the illusion
of this world. This is the state of liberation or the final
stage of enlightenment. The enlightened mind
destroys all the impurities that had hidden the truth
about the mind.
What one gains from enlightenment is a
completely neutral mind and freedom from craving
and aversion. No more falling victim to emotional
pitfalls. The mind is no longer stirred by happiness
and sadness, full of appreciation for all things the
way an ordinary mind cannot understand. It is
because an enlightened mind is the purest energy as
it bears no harmful thoughts and only feels
compassion for all beings. The compassion stems
from a true understanding that all creatures are
trapped in the cycle of rebirth and that they all face
the same suffering namely separation, frustration,
and agony for innumerable lifetimes.
Buddha reached enlightenment after rigorous
mind training through countless reincarnations to
seek the liberation. His mind was full of loving
kindness and compassion. That was what drove him
to start his journey to teach the Dhamma he had
discovered to as many people as possible until his
“Nirvana is the state of pure
mind and pure energy, no
impurities, no grievances,
no more birth and death”
Nirvana is the condition of death in an enlightened
soul. When the Buddha or an enlightened soul
passes away, their souls will not return to the cycle
of rebirth anymore. We do not use Nirvana in the
case of an ordinary person’s death.
Another definition of Nirvana is the place of
supreme happiness where enlightened souls reside.
It is for those with an entirely pure mind and thus
out of the cycle of rebirth and the gravitational force
of the universe.
Nowadays the definition of Nirvana has been
distorted way beyond its original meaning. In
Tipitaka (The Pali Canon), the word was only used
when the Buddha passed away, signifying that the
enlightened mind will go to the another dimentional
realm where peace is longlasting. It is the land of
pure mind and pure energy, no impurities, no
grievances, and no more birth and death.
The word Nirvana is now widely used with a
reference to the state or the land of ultimate
happiness. But in Buddhism, this word is regarded
very highly. It can never be used without respect.
“The soul is a form of energy
and energy never disappears.
It merely changes form.”
CYCLE OF REBIRTH
Death does not mean the end in Buddhism. It
simply means the end of physical existence. However,
the soul or spirit is still in the loop of the cycle of
rebirth to face the cycle of suffering (birth, old age,
sickness, death) because it is a form of energy and
energy never disappears. It merely changes form.
Therefore, how a human’s soul will change its form
after death depends on the merit and bad karma
(actions) each person has done over the past lives.
The soul has accumulated with it several energy
currents categorized by good and bad (loosely
translated as positive and negative energy). If we do
a good deed, it will be fine energy. If the deed was
bad, the energy will be coarse. These energies classify
themselves naturally, creating the cycle of rebirth
because the soul energy cannot get away from the
loop of gravity and the magnetic field. I have already
explained the whole mechanism in scientific terms
in the book, “Awaken from Madness”, including how
heaven and hell are formed in the different
When we die, the mind will go to different states
of existence such as heaven, hell, human, or animal.
The transition is part of the Three Characteristics of
Existence stated by the Buddha. It includes
Impermanence (Anicca), Suffering (Dukkha), and
Non-self (Anatta). It means that all beings, with no
exception, have a beginning and an end. Where they
go next and which existence depend on the type and
amount of merit, sin, or neutrality that they have
Before the Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha
who strived through his practice until he reached
enlightenment, he had been born in various states
of existence for uncountable lifetimes. In some lives,
he was born with high status as king. In some other
lives, he was an ascetic or an animal. These were
caused by karma he had done in former lives. It was
the reason why he was born in different status,
sometimes high and sometimes low. Eventually, he
attained enlightenment by uprooting all karmic
codes and letting go of attachment through Vipassana
The karmic code is the energy current or wave
which is formed as a result of our words, thoughts,
and actions to ourselves, others, and to the world.
The codes can be both positive (good) and negative
(bad) depending on our intentions.
As a Buddhist, I have a proof that reincarnation
is real through rigorous Vipassana meditation
practice. I have uprooted the major cause of my illtempered nature and finally have it eliminated from
my mind. Before the practice, I was quick-tempered
and got angry easily and violently. I even threw things
to vent my anger. Each time after the anger was
released, I felt sorry and wondered why I was this
kind of person. Why did other people look so calm
and I was always restless? Any treatment to help solve
this problem did not work for me as it could not
correct from the root cause in my mind. It was just
like trimming a tree to make it beautiful for a short
while without digging down to the roots of the
problem. After practicing Vipassana meditation, I
have found the truth that was hidden in my
In the previous life, I was born in the ancient
Thonburi Kingdom and related to the king at that
time. Under the transition to a new dynasty, those
who were potential threats to the new monarchy must
be terminated. I was one of them. Although I tried
to escape, I was caught and brought to be executed.
While waiting for death at the execution ground, my
mind was full of anger and overwhelmed with fear.
The two emotions kept alternating in my mind all
the time. During that previous life recollection, my
mind expressed the deep anguish by lamenting and
crying for help. It had explained the cause of this
personality, deep down to the subconscious level. As
tears of desperation was streaming down my face
during the meditation, the mental complex had been
burned down into energy current, leaving my mind
in peace and calmness just like the heaviest thing was
removed from my chest.
This is the sample of the countless rebirths that
I have found out by myself. For each birth, I was
inevitably stuck in the wheel of birth, old age,
sickness, and death. Only after following the Buddha’s
teaching and practice, I have finally found the way
to end this suffering and be truly happy.
“Equanimity is the highest
achievement for practitioners
of the Noble Path.”
OF THE MIND
Equanimity is the core teaching of Buddha.
Lord Buddha discovered the way to end the cycle
of rebirth. His ultimate discovery is equanimity or
the attainment of the neutral state by the mind,
making the soul free from positive and negative
energy. His guidance to end the cycle of rebirth can
be separated into 3 levels: initial, intermediate, and
superlative. The initial stage is to omit bad deeds
while the intermediate stage is to do good deeds.
Finally, the superlative stage is about the mind
purification until it can detach itself from craving
and aversion which cause Greed, Anger, Hatred, and
Illusion. The soul can maintain the perfect neutral
state of mind (equanimity) not shaken or attached to
happiness or unhappiness. This is the highest
achievement for practitioners of the Noble Path.
Compassion is the basic morality of human,
the purer a person’s mind is (from Anger, Hatred,
Greed, and Illusion), the more compassionate they
will be. Regardless of their religious belief, people
wish for generosity and patronage in general. In
Buddhism, compassion is the wish to see others in
happiness; one of the Four Sublime States of Mind
stated in the Pali Canon. The word “others” is not
subjective; it does not prefer any individual but all.
This makes compassion greater than love. Love is
still tainted with emotional bonds: favor and disfavor,
pleased and displeased while true compassion can
sacrifice and extend indiscriminately even to
This world is an entity of problems. If we lack
compassion, when catastrophes strike, who would
offer a helping hand to the affected people? The
earthquake in Haiti and even the 2004 Asia tsunami
have brought people across the world to unite and
help. Everyone worked together regardless of their
nationalities, beliefs, and origins. Compassion
became a vital trait in supporting the affected people
to get back on their feet.
One would reach true power of compassion
only when he has trained and purified his mind to
clear the hatred within. Buddha has the purest and
the most divine mind. His kindness extends across
all beings. He certainly is the ultimate model of
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 99
“In Buddhism, inner peace
is the state of firm mind,
which is free from craving
and aversion of objects
and people. This is not the
kind of calmness commonly
In Buddhism, inner peace is the state of firm
mind, which is free from craving and aversion of
objects and people. This is not the kind of calmness
commonly known because a calm mind does not
always mean serenity. When you have inner peace,
you are contented and fulfilled without the need for
Disappointments and uncertainties are neither
good nor bad to you because they are part of the law
of the universe on impermanence. This insight also
leads to the cultivation of mercy in your heart. Those
with inner peace do not blame others and the
surroundings for unexpected circumstances and will
understand the law of nature and law of Cause and
“Experiencing changes in
life is the blessing because
it awakens us from being
obsessed with only happiness.”
“Truly impermanent are all formations, by nature
arising and passing away”— It is the truth of nature that
things are made from a combination of other things.
Likewise, human body is temporarily formed by
elements of earth, water, fire, and air. Therefore it is
instable, subject to change, and dissolves at last.
The state of change is called “Impermanence” in
Buddhism, the true nature of all things. Impermanence
in life appears all around us through aging, illness, and
death. However, the Ultimate Truth brings frustrations
and is difficult to accept because of illusion that binds
us with beloved ones and belongings.
It is easiest to see the impermanence in the era of
One World as we have seen the rise and fall of world
leaders, such as the former U.S. president Barack
Obama. There were times we often saw stories about
him, looking very powerful. Now he no longer holds
that power and has become a person in the past.
Similarly, we often see news of celebrities and stars
who were in the news everyday. Eventually, time
revealed the truth. They have disappeared from the
media. When we see them again, their young and
beautiful looks have startlingly changed so much you
just could not help wondering, “Why is time so cruel
to our body?”
What happened to other people, no matter how
much it reflected the law of impermanence, still cannot
awaken an individual to accept the truth. This is because
the changes occurring to the individual is taking place
gradually, making the person cling to his identity
stubbornly. To realize the truth about impermanence
to the point that spiritual wisdom takes place requires
a firsthand experience. The person’s mind would then
awaken to truly realize the meaning of impermanence.
The Buddha teaches us at the Ultimate Truth level, that
all beings in this world are truly formless. They are
impermanent, miserable, and non-self.
Any obsession or passion to things and people only
brings about huge grievances as they will eventually
wither, decay, and turn into ashes some day. But if that
person understands the principle and braces for
uncertainty and separation which inevitably happens,
his mind will not sink into those negative emotions.
This is the essence of impermanence.
I have seen a woman whose son was a soldier and
died prematurely. She could not accept the loss because
she did not realize the nature’s law. She vowed to wear
black for the rest of her life to tie her heart with her
son. This is an extreme way of grieving and plunges
her into the abyss of agony. She did not know how to
let go. No one can escape death and separation. What
we can do is remember their virtues. It is not clinginess
but the character of the refined mind who always
appreciates someone’s contributions and goodness.
Likewise, Buddhists remember the Buddha by
paying respect to him. The Chinese also have gratitude
towards their ancestors. These actions are not attachment.
An attachment is to tie oneself with emotional sufferings
or indulgences so deeply one could not detach from
those emotions. Part of the reasons is that people do not
realize the law of nature in which the Buddha taught
that, “Things arise naturally, things fall naturally.”
When life is going up high and filled with happiness
from gains, fame, or praise, we should be prepared for
change any time. And when faced with hardships, we
should be careful with our actions and lives. Happiness
and unhappiness both fall under the law of
impermanence, not everlasting. Experiencing changes
is instead the blessing because it awakens us from being
obsessed with only happiness and pleasures.
106 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
This essential fact can only be understood with
Vipassana meditation practice, neither from reading
nor imagination. We have to investigate the real nature
of the everchanging state that occur within our body
and mind to fully understand that everything is rising
and falling. This way, we will be able to accept the truth
and let go of things we attach to, grieve over, and keep
training our mind until we are liberated.
“Better it is to live one day, seeing the rise and fall
of things, than to live a hundred years, without ever
seeing the rise and fall of things,” said Buddha.
“The right faith should
consist of wisdom,
otherwise it would be
a blind faith leading to
“Faith” is a belief and the most important Dhamma
that encourages our mind to stay focused, strongly
determined and persevere in order to achieve a goal.
This is what Buddha replied when asked what faith was.
“The characteristics of one, a layperson or a monk
with faith, strictly observes the precepts, is widely
learned, has a good companion, is suave and patiently
accepts advice, is deft and diligent in work that needs
to be done by his fellow bhikkhus (monks), is fond of
the teachings, dwells exerting effort in meritorious
things, attains the four higher states of the mind at will,
recollects the manifold previous births, is one with
divine eyes seeing all beings passing away and rearising in accordance with their karma, and has
destroyed the mental influxes through his great
wisdom.” – Buddha
Faith must consist of wisdom to take things into
consideration which brings forth the right view
according to the Noble Eightfold Path, leading to
liberation from suffering. At first, one needs to have
faith in the path or in a master. Then, the person will
cultivate such teachings to his mind to consider and
practice mind purification. This does not rely solely on
faith as the Buddha taught us to think thoroughly
before believing in something.
At present, there are many beliefs that do not
conform to Buddha’s teachings such as keeping lucky
dolls and seeking lucky telephone numbers believed
to give positive energy that brings wealth and success.
While the Buddha taught us that it is our executed
actions and our intention that lead to good or bad
results in our life, such beliefs do not fix problems at
the root cause.
The right faith should consist of wisdom, otherwise
it would be blind faith leading to the wrong view.
Visakha was one of the important followers of
Gautama Buddha. Her faith and practice in Buddha’s
teaching was so strong she gained the first stage of
enlightenment. However, she was married to a man
whose family had no faith in Buddhism but in naked
ascetics whom her father-in-law believed were
Aranhants (a term referred to those already attained
the final stage of enlightenment).
One day, he invited 500 naked ascetics to eat at his
place as he believed this would bring his family good luck.
He also called Visakha to pay respect to “the Arahants”.
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 111
But the wise Visakha said, “These shameless people (not
wearing clothes). How can they be Arahants?” and left.
Her father-in-law and the ascetics became very angry
at her comments.
Later, a Buddhist monk stopped in front of her
house on his alms round. Visakha was taking care
of her father-in-law who pretended to not see the
monk and continued having his meal. Seeing her
father-in-law like that, she told the monk, “Please move
ahead. My father-in-law is eating rotten food.”
Hearing that, he was very angry and demanded
her explanation. Visakha said what she meant was
that he was born rich, living a wealthy life with
sumptuous meals because he was now reaping the
benefits of his old merit. Therefore, the food he was
eating could be considered as rotten food because
it was the result of his good karma from the past.
When the man fully understood the Dhamma in her
words, his faith in Buddhism grew. Eventually he
converted to Buddhism.
“Buddha once said that of all
gifts, the gift of Dhamma is
the highest as it can put an
end to all sufferings in the
cycle of rebirth.”
Image: Suphakrit Pakdeepathapee
IS THE BEST WAY TO LOSE
“Alms” means giving. It is the first step to train
your mind to reduce greed and attachment through
generosity. Luangpu Mun Bhuridatta, one of
Thailand’s most respected Buddhist monks and
Vipassana masters, taught about the importance of
almsgiving that it represents the kindness of human
being and the compassion toward all beings. Alms
are not limited to objects but also include the gift of
the Dhamma and forgiveness. Buddha once said that
of all gifts, the gift of Dhamma is the highest as it can
put an end to all sufferings in the cycle of rebirth.
Therefore, it is the greatest gift.
There is a misunderstanding that poor people
cannot afford to give. However, everyone can be a
giver. Buddha described the Five Precepts as the great
gifts because abandoning the taking of life is equal
to giving life, abandoning the taking of what is not
given is equal to giving protection to other people’s
wealth, abandoning sexual misconduct is equal to
helping others stay faithful, abandoning false speech
is equal to giving truth, and abandoning intoxicating
substances which causes recklessness is equal to
preventing all of the above from happening through
Therefore, the benefits of giving do not depend
on the value of the thing but the intention to cast off
an attachment. This will eventually strengthen the
mind to be strong enough to lose ego or Self.
“Nowadays many Buddhists
misunderstand that merit
making is all about almsgiving…
Some even make merit by
“buying merit” to ensure their
wish is fulfilled, not for the
sake of giving.”
Many Buddhists misunderstand that merit
making is all about almsgiving and even expect
results in return. Some make merit by “buying merit”
to ensure their wish is fulfilled, not for the sake of
The Buddha taught ten meritorious deeds for us
to perform in order to gain a happy and peaceful life.
The deeds include almsgiving, observing the
precepts, practicing meditation, paying reverence to
elders, helping others, devoting merits to others,
rejoicing in other’s merits, listening to Dhamma
discourses, teaching Dhamma, and correcting one’s
Among those actions, paying respect to elders or
benefactors is very important, especially paying
respect toward parents, relatives, venerable teachers,
and those deserving it.
The Buddha shared the story of a bird, a monkey,
and an elephant which lived by a large tree. They
decided to give a priority to the elder ones, by
measuring their age with the tree. The elephant
remembered it to be as big as a bush when he was a
baby. The monkey remembered that he ate its leaves
on the top when he was little. The bird said there was
a great tree nearby, whose seeds he ate and pooped
where the tree now was. They decided that he was
the eldest, followed by the monkey and the elephant.
Apart from almsgiving, nine out of the 10
meritorious actions do not require money to see
great benefits. Therefore, Buddhists should follow
all of the deeds, instead of focusing on almsgiving
only, to cultivate merits that lead to the freedom
from selfishness and ego.
“Those, who have wisdom in Dhamma, will
respect their seniors. Such people will be respected
in this life, and be happy in the next life”, said the
“He was asked how one should go
through insults from a worse
person since there was nothing
special about enduring putdowns
from those with superior or equal
In the age of multitasking, we suddenly find
ourselves unable to focus on something long enough
to even complete a simple work. We are less patient,
get angry easier, and more ready to pick a fight.
And what can incite hurt and anger more than
harsh words? It cuts like a knife because it hits directly
at ourselves or our ego.
In one of Buddha’s lifetimes, he was a hermit
named Soraphaka, renowned for his exemplary
tolerance. Once he was asked how one should go
through insults from a worse person since there was
nothing special about enduring putdowns from those
with superior or equal status.
His answer was that anyone who could endure a
worse person has the highest tolerance of all. That
was because the patience in the other two could be
from fear and a wish to avoid an unnecessary
Buddha is the best example of this virtue. When
He went for almsgiving in Sāvatthī city, he was called
a bad and vile man by a Brahmin. Instead of being
upset, Buddha asked the ascetic what was qualified
as vile. Seeing him without an answer, Buddha
explained the true meaning of the word bad and vile
person in summary is a person who does not live in
virtue, speaks rudely, talks bad or harms other
Buddha said, “ A person will not be judged to be
bad and vile because of the caste, not being brahmin
(or noble) by caste but because he does bad things. A
person is a noble one because he does good things.”
The Brahmin, astonished at the Enlightened
One’s wisdom, converted to Buddhism and vowed
to follow the Five Precepts for the rest of his life.
The outcome of this encounter would have been
different had it been someone else. It would have
gone disastrous as our patience is so low these days.
But when you look at the incident objectively, there
is no reason to be mad or violent at all because the
accusation was untrue.
We get mad because we fail to look past the
Brahmin’s words. Our reactions were based on the
holier-than-thou attitude and so the other person
had no right to criticize us.
The Buddha, on the other hand, managed it
beautifully because he used compassion as a moral
compass. The compassion granted him endless
tolerance for he understood different backgrounds,
upbringings, and experiences result in different
viewpoints and beliefs.
For this reason, a tolerance for a worse person is
the highest tolerance of all because It takes a great
mind with genuine compassion.
“Gratitude is a true indicator of
goodness, the great virtue as
well as the most important step
to Nirvana. A grateful mind will
always find a way to return
favors whenever possible.”
Image: Ponkrid Boonsnong
THE MAGIC ONLY
THE GRATEFUL DESERVES
The Buddha said there are two rare types of
people. First is a giver, who does favors for others,
such as parents and teachers. Second is the one with
Among the disciples the Buddha ordained was
Devadatta, who was Buddha’s foe from several
lifetimes. Yet he lied that Buddha was not his
Devadatta also used to lie in the previous life
about the same thing. When he was a Brahmin, he
learnt a magic spell to create mangoes in an instant
from an outcaste master, on the condition that the
spell would only work if the student spoke the truth.
Because of this magic, the Brahmin accumulated
a lot of wealth. One day the King of Varanasi had tried
the mango and was very pleased with its taste, so he
asked the Brahmin who his teacher was. Feeling
ashamed, he replied that he studied it from a highcasted master in Taxila. The magic immediately
When the king asked him to cast the spell again
and in front of the crowd this time, nothing happened
because of his lie and ungratefulness to his teacher.
Confused, the king asked, “Why isn’t there any mango
like before?” The man then made a confession about
The king was very upset and took away the rewards
and everything he had given to the man earlier. “You’re
ungrateful. Whatever caste your teacher is, your teacher
is still your teacher. You must go apologize to him and
ask to study the magic. Otherwise, don’t show your face
to me ever again.”
His master was very angry when he learned about
it. “I taught you the magic with mercy but you look
down on your own teacher. I don’t want to see your
face anymore,” said the master.
Hearing his master’s rejection, the man
disappointedly walked away into the forest and never
Gratitude can provide enormous merits, but
those who are ungrateful will receive an opposite
outcome. Gratitude is a true indicator of goodness,
the great virtue as well as the most important step to
Nirvana. A grateful mind will always find a way to
return favors whenever possible.
“The Buddha, however,
remained peaceful and happy,
unruffled by his insults.”
THE GIFT OF ANGER
There was a Brahmin who dismissed the
Buddha’s teachings as he had faith in different
practice. When his seven sons and daughters- in-law
converted to Buddhism and practiced meditation,
he became very mad and believed the Buddha was
the reason why they changed from the old belief.
The Brahim then stormed into the temple where
the Buddha was staying at that time and lashed out
at him, calling him with offensive names. The
Buddha, however, remained peaceful and happy,
unruffled by his insults. When he saw the Brahmin
began to get tired, the Buddha asked him a question.
“Brahmin, what’s your purpose of the visit?”
The Brahmin repeated his cursing at the Buddha
until he was tired again.
“Well, Brahmin, let me ask you a question. Have
you ever had a visitor at your house?” the Buddha
“Yes, but what’s your business?” was his reply.
The Buddha continued, “Have your guests
brought you snacks, foods, or gifts?”
“But if you don’t want those gifts, who will have
“Obviously, the person who brought them.”
The Venerable One said, “Now then, you’re my
guest and you’re bringing me the gift of anger. I won’t
take it. Therefore those rude words now belong to
The Brahmin was intrigued at the Buddha’s
words and wisdom. “Buddha, where have you learn
to not accept the gift of anger?”
With compassion, the Perfected One began
teaching him about Dhamma. The Brahmin then
accepted the Buddha as his teacher and eventually
became a Buddhist.
“The ultimate benevolence
consists of wisdom without
prejudice. The Buddha’s
kindness for his own son
Rahula, and for his enemy
Devadatta, was all the same.”
“Generosity during life is a very different thing
from generosity in the hour of death; one proceeds
from genuine liberality and benevolence, the other
from pride or fear.”
The statement above was made by 18th century
American educational reformer Horace Mann, who
promoted education to be universal, free, and nonsectarian. While he believed that education was the
best solution to tame unruly American kids, he
strongly advocated the cultivation of morality as the
true sign of human growth.
In Buddhism, benevolence is the ninth of Ten
Perfections and one of the four Sublime States of
Mind (Brahmaviharas) necessary for every Buddhist
practitioner in order to attain enlightenment. Unlike
compassion, the second virtue in the Brahmavihara,
benevolence is the act and thought of kindness
towards all others without discrimination.
It is loving kindness without expecting anything in
return. It aims at supporting and not harming others
on the belief that others have feelings like us. Therefore,
we should love others the same way we love ourselves.
We should cultivate the seed of benevolence in our
mind before sharing it to the world.
Parents are the first example of benevolence for
everything they do for their child is motivated by pure
love. No matter how bad their child is, the love remains.
A good, dedicated teacher is also another good model.
Nothing makes a teacher happier than seeing their
student go on to have a happy, fulfilling life.
The ultimate benevolence consists of wisdom
without prejudice. The one who has possessed all the
perfections is Buddha. His kindness for his own son
Rahula, and for his self-proclaimed enemy Devadatta,
was all the same. Though we are nowhere near him,
we still should cultivate benevolence. When the
society is full of benevolent people, the world will
become a Utopia we human have strived for centuries.
“Nowadays the number of
people born in the darkness
and leaving in the darkness
is much larger and the most
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Being born as a human counts as a great fortune.
The Buddha made it clear that a soul needs to
possess good characteristics enough to have a human
existence. By following the five moral precepts or
practicing good virtue, the soul can progress in its
spiritual development and maintain enough virtues to
be born as human.
According to the Buddha, humans have to confront
the endless cycle of rebirth to redeem themselves from
mistakes before reaching enlightenment. There are
four types of humans that Buddha has categorized by
birth and death;
- Those coming from darkness and going to
- Those coming from darkness and going to
- Those coming from brightness and going to
- Those coming from brightness and going to
140 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
The categorization covers both material and
spiritual wealth. Where we come from is not as
important as where we are going. A human existence
or otherwise is the result of our deeds in previous lives;
we cannot go back to change them. What matters is
now. The obvious difference of characteristic between
human and other creatures is that humans have virtues
and live their lives based on morality while animals
rely on their instincts to survive. When humans
ignore the basic morality within themselves, their
humanness then decreases.
In Buddha’s time before he reached enlightenment,
there were various creeds in India. Each creed fervently
seek believers and followers. Once the Buddha attained
enlightenment and started to teach people, many
scholars had faith in his teaching. They recognized
Buddhism as a religion of wisdom by not teaching
people to blindly believe in things such as killing
another person’s life as a sacrifice to save one’s own life.
When the leaders of those creeds began to lose their
followers, they tried to discredit the Buddha. Thus, he
faced strong resistance from those people.
There was this cult called Paripachok which believed
in debate. Whoever lost his argument must join the cult.
Seeing the Buddha gained more and more followers,
with jealousy, they hired a heretical priestess named
Jinjamalavika who has a seductive appearance to act as
if she went to listen to the teaching of Buddha at
Jettavana Temple in the evening. When people came to
offer foods to the Buddha in the early morning, she
pretended to drowsily walk out from the temple. She
had continued to do so for two months before spreading
the rumor that she was the Buddha’s concubine.
In the temple, the situation was normal yet the
monks were very worried that the Buddha was slandered.
Later, Jinjamalavika hit herself to make her body swell
as if she was pregnant and concealed clothes and
bamboo weaving piece around her belly. One day she
walked with her fake pregnant belly into the temple.
While the Buddha was preaching, she pointed a finger
at him scolding that he was a father of her baby. The
Buddha calmly replied, “Only two of us know whether
it is true or not.”
With the power of Buddha’s virtue in uttering the
truth, she trembled in fear yet trying to continue
accusing him. Suddenly, a rope that was tied to her
clothes to fake the pregnancy loosened. The truth
revealed itself. People were stunned and started
condemning her. With such a grave sin, the earth split
apart and swallowed her up immediately the moment
she was outside the temple.
People with intelligence and good appearances are
born with a good starting point. But if they spend their
lives exploiting and hurting others, they are people that
come from brightness and goes to darkness.
What type of human do you want to be? Ask
yourself honestly where you are going because the
ending is completely different.
“Young man, you know
so much about the law
of nature. Why don’t you
understand that the
nature of all beings are
Image: Suphakrit Pakdeepathapee
TWO EARTHEN POTS
AND THE KEY TO HEAVEN
Beliefs and faiths in the vast and ancient kingdom
of India at that time was diverse and full of
extremities, many being blind faith and ignorance.
One of them was this belief that after a parent
died, the eldest son must crack open the deceased’s
skull when the cremation was half way in order to
open the gateway of heaven for the dead.
One day a young man came to the Buddha crying
for help. With grievances, he asked the Blessed One
to perform a ritual to bring his dead father to heaven
because he could not make it as the funeral was
finished the day before.
Knowing he was too grief-stricken and emotional
to listen, the Buddha told the man to find two earthen
pots, then asked him to fill one pot with ghee, the
other with pebbles; and told him to place the pots in
a nearby pond. The man obliged with delight,
thinking he could finally save his father’s soul.
When everything was ready, the Buddha asked
him to strike the pots. At once the butter in the
cracked pot came up and started floating on the
surface of water. The pebbles in the other pot spilled
out and settled at the bottom.
The Buddha then asked the man to find any sage
to perform the ritual so that the pebbles would float,
and the butter would sink into the water. Astonished,
the man replied.
“Is that a joke, Your Holiness? How can that be
possible? It’s against the law of nature. The pebbles
are heavier than water; they will sink to the bottom.
The butter is lighter than water; it is bound to remain
on the surface.”
“Young man, you know so much about the law
of nature. Why don’t you understand that the nature
of all beings are the same? If all his life your father
did bad deeds which were heavy like pebbles, he is
bound to go down; who can pull him up? And if his
actions were good, he is bound to go up; just like the
butter, who can push him down?”
We often expect an invisible power will always
help us without ever trying to change our own
behavior and actions. Only when we understand the
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 147
law of nature that we reap what we sow, we will be
more careful in creating our future.
The Enlightened One turned and
replied calmly, “I have stopped.
It is you who has not stopped.”
Image: Pisit Yanen
I HAVE STOPPED…
One of the most famous stories in Buddhist
Scriptures was the story of Angulimala, an ex-murderer who later became one of Buddha’s most
important disciples. This was the man whose goal was
to kill 1,000 people and collect their fingers in order
to complete his studies at Taxila, the ancient and most
prestigious university of India in the ancient time.
Born as Ahimsaka to a Grand Chaplain in the court
of King Pasenadi of Kosala. the boy’s astrological
readings showed his great tendency to become a big
criminal. Hence, the name Ahimsaka which means
‘harmless’. At school he was his teacher’s favorite
because of his intelligence and humbleness. This
made other students very jealous of him and
accused Ahimsaka of plotting against his teacher.
After several attempts, they succeeded.
The teacher’s suspicion grew to the point he
wanted to get rid of Ahimsaka. So he made up a story
that Ahimsaka must find 1,000 human fingers for his
exit lesson and as an homage to his teacher. Although
Ahimsaka refused at first, he finally gave in as he was
very obedient by nature.
As his reputation spread, people started calling
him Angulimala or ‘finger necklace/garland’ as he
would thread each victim’s finger and made a garland
out of them to keep track of the number.
On the day he was trying to find any last person
to kill, his mother was also looking for him. The
Buddha, knowing that he would have killed his own
mother had he not intervene, appeared before him.
Angulimala immediately set out after the Blessed
One. But he could not overtake him although he ran
with all the strength and speed he had and the
Buddha was only walking leisurely. The Buddha was
performing a miracle to teach him.
Eventually he yelled at the Buddha to stop.
The Enlightened One turned and replied calmly,
“I have stopped. It is you who has not stopped”, and
further said, “Angulimala, I have stopped forever. I have
given up killing all living beings, for I am merciful to
all living beings as I abstain from causing harm to them.
But you have not given up killing or ill-treating others,
and therefore, have not stopped.”
Angulimala was struck by those words he stopped
there and then, repented, and followed the Buddha
back to the monastery where he was ordained.
However, the holy saffron robes failed to quell people’s
fears from his criminal past. Wherever he set foot on,
people would run away and lock themselves in their
Concerned about Angulimala’s health, the Buddha
instructed him to make an “asseveration of truth” to a
woman who was having a difficult childbirth. And so
he did, uttering the following words with compassion,
“Sister, since I was born (as an ascetic), I do not recall
that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being.
By this truth may you be well and may your infant be
The baby came out immediately. Both the
mother and the baby were safe. Since then the monk
was always welcome when he was on alms round.
Still, the consequence of his karma haunted him
through frequent accidents whenever he was outside
and his inability to focus his mind as pictures of the
slain victims kept appearing before him while in
But The Great Master knew the solution. He
guided his disciple by reminding him about his
monkhood and told him to abandon his past as it
was no use clinging to it. Angulimala’s changed view
finally renewed his resoluteness and later brought
him success in attainment of Arahanthood, the fourth
and final stage of spiritual liberation.
“It was this realization that
nothing is permanent and
therefore not worth holding
onto that freed his mind
enough to gain the first
stage of enlightenment.”
Image: Apanee Wongsakon (photograph of painting in V&A museum)
HE WHO KNOWS
Anna Kondanna, the first Buddhist monk, was
the first one of the five ascetics who reached the first
stage (Sotapanna) of insight toward absolute wisdom
(Arahanthood) upon hearing Buddha’s first teaching
called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
Kondanna was a young Brahmin who mastered
the three Vedas and excelled in the science of
physiognomy. He was among eight scholars invited
to predict the destiny of Prince Siddhartha and the
only one who predicted that the prince would
become a Buddha while the other scholars offered a
twofold prediction that Siddhartha would either
become a great king or a supreme religious leader.
After Prince Siddhartha had begun his ascetic
life, Kondanna along with Bhaddiya, Vappa,
Mahanama and Assaji, who were sons of those
scholars followed him. “The Group of Five” had
attended to the prince throughout his six years of
self-mortification. But when the prince realized it
was not the path, he immediately stopped. This upset
Kondanna and his peers and they left him to reside
in Deer Park.
After the prince had become enlightened, he
sought to find his former teachers. Realizing that they
had died, the Buddha decided to find Kondanna and
the others and gave them the first sermon.
It was at the end of the sermon that Kondanna
reached the insight… “All that is subject to arising is
subject to ceasing… Don’t look for your refuges, in
which you want to abide and trust, in anything that
arises – because those things will cease.”
The Buddha acknowledged this by uttering
“annasivatabho Kondanno”, meaning “you have
realized, Kondanna”. Due to this, “Anna Kondanna”
(Kondanna-who-knows) has become his name since.
At that time, Anna Kondanna was the only one
with perfect understanding of what the Buddha was
saying. Through this insight, he immediately grasped
what the whole world is all about. It was this
realization that nothing is permanent and therefore
not worth holding onto that freed his mind enough
to gain the first stage of enlightenment.
“Astonished and impressed with
the rich man’s unwavering faith
and determination, Prince Jeta
decided to join him and donated
the remaining patch.”
THE GREAT BENEFACTOR
Anathapindika, whose real name was known as
Sudatta, was a very wealthy merchant from Savatthi
city, known for his generosity toward poor people.
Therefore he was called Anathapindika (one who
gives alms to the poor). By today’s definition, he
would be called a billionaire.
One day he was on a business trip to Rajagaha
and saw his brother-in-law busy preparing a meal for
the Buddha and his disciples. Hearing that, he was
so eager to visit the Buddha. On the next morning,
he went out before dawn to the monastery where the
The Buddha called out to him, “Come forth
Sudatta” and talked to him on various aspects of his
teachings. There, he immediately gained the insight,
thereby attaining the first stage of enlightenment. So
he invited the Buddha to spend the rainy retreat in
Once he returned, he searched for a suitable
place for the retreat and found an ideal park which
was owned by Prince Jeta. However, Prince Jeta did
not want to sell his property so he told Anathapindika
to completely cover the grounds of the park with
gold coins. Anathapindika agreed, ordered his
servants to bring the money, and started to spread
them out with no intention to stop.
Astonished and impressed with the rich man’s
unwavering faith and determination, Prince Jeta
decided to join him and donated the remaining
patch. The construction of monastery then began
and was completed beautifully in time. It was named
Jetavana in honor of the prince.
In recognition of the services he rendered to
Buddhism, and the construction of Jetavana, the
Buddha later said that Anathapindika was a great
benefactor, one whose generosity was notable and
worth the high praise.
“The desperate woman ran
from house to house, but
there was not a single
household where death
had not happened.”
THAT ESCAPES DEATH
Here’s the story about a woman whose grief had
awakened her soul. It was one of the most touching
stories in Buddha’s time.
There was a young woman who was so lean that
people called her Gotami the Lean (Kisa). Kisa
Gotami married a rich man and they had a son
together. But he died when he was a toddler. His
death was too much for Kisa Gotami to accept.
Carrying his dead body, she went everywhere asking
for medicine to bring him back to life. People thought
she lost her mind. But a wise man, seeing her pathetic
condition, advised her to see the Buddha.
After hearing her story, the Buddha told Kisa
Gotami to get some mustard seeds from a home
where there had been no death. The desperate
woman ran from house to house, begging for
mustard seeds. Everyone was willing to help but there
was not a single household where death had not
As the day dragged on, she realized she was not
the only one. Her attitude changed; she was no longer
attached to her son. Kisa Gotami finally buried him
and came back to Buddha.
With mercy, he told her the following words,
“Care-stricken, with his thoughts of sons and herds,
attached to life, death comes and seizes that man –
just like the torrent that sweeps away a slumbering
village.” When the verse ended, Gotami attained the
first stage of enlightenment and asked to be ordained
as a Buddhist nun.
One night, she lighted some oil lamps and
noticed that while some flames flared up, others
flickered out. With her mind concentrating on the
flames, she meditated and pondered the wisdom. “All
living beings are like the flame; flaring up and
flickering out again and again to no end. Until a
Nirvana is attained can the cycle of birth and death
This insight later led to her abandonment of all
attachments and reached the state of Nirvana or the
fourth stage of enlightenment.
Kita Gotami was one of the more famous disciples
whose life reflected humbleness and simplicity. She
also played a crucial role in the growth of Buddhism
at that time.
Some people wonder why people in several tales
attained the first stage of enlightenment immediately
after they listened to the Buddha’s sermon. That was
because of two factors; the power of the preacher
and the readiness of the listeners’ mind.
Many people used to cultivate the Noble
Treasures and perfections in their past lives but they
did not have a teacher to guide them toward the path
to spiritual liberation. Most of them only practiced
focus meditation, not insight or Vipassana meditation
which could lead them to the truth about themselves
at the Ultimate Truth level. It was not the level that
seemed real or could be visualized.
When people with perfections listened to Dhamma
teaching from the Buddha whose power has a
characteristic of highest purity, the pure vibration
was transferred through his speech and struck the
darkness in their mind, lighting it up. As a result, those
people gained the wisdom and were freed from
ignorance with their mind elevated to the first stage of
enlightenment. The Buddha categorized the teaching
of this powerful level as the miracle of Dhamma
“Why would he be attracted to
Magandiya’s body that was filled
with impurities — urine and filth?
In fact, he would not touch her
even with his foot.”
WHO SPAT INTO THE SKY
Once the Buddha entered Punjab city, he was
reviled and abused by people hired by Magandiya, a
woman who had a feud with the Buddha as he refused
the marriage with her. The venerable Ananda, a
Buddha’s disciple, asked him to go elsewhere but
Buddha denied and said the problem should be
ended where it began, not left unsolved.
Magandiya was a daughter of Brahmin parents.
Her father offered to give her in marriage to the
Buddha because of his beauty and noble demeanor
despite seeing signs that he was no longer under the
influence of worldly pleasures.
Unsurprisingly, the Buddha turned down the
offer, telling him, his wife, and their daughter that
even three Daughters of Mara (Demon); Tanha
(Craving), Raga (Lust/Passion) and Arati (Aversion/
Discontent) had failed to thwart him despite their
beautiful astral bodies because he no longer had
craving for sensual pleasures. Why would he be
attracted to Magandiya’s body that was filled with
impurities — urine and filth? In fact, he would not
touch her, even with his foot.
The husband and wife immediately understood
its underlying meaning. Unfortunately, proud
Magandiya was not spiritually developed enough.
She became angry and vowed to take revenge when
she had an opportunity.
Her beauty later led her to become one of King
Udene’s queens. Maganiya still tried to take revenge
on the Buddha but failed. So she redirected her
hatred to King Udena’s first queen Samawati, who
had been a follower of Buddha and ardent devotee
Magandiya continued trying to incite the king
with her made-up story that Queen Samawati was
not faithful to him and tried to kill him. The king
believed and ordered an execution to Queen
Samawati. Fortunately, he realized that Samawati was
innocent and punished Magandiya to agonizing
Her ill fate proved Buddha’s words about the
consequences of destroying innocent people out of
hatred. Sooner or later that person will be destroyed
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 167
instead. What Magandiya did was no difference from
spitting into the sky or throwing dust into the coming
“Although he held a higher
status than all other monks,
he always remembered the
person who changed his life.”
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 169
Gratitude is one of the virtues highly revered by
the world over, regardless of culture, race, and
religion. In Buddha’s era, there was one man whose
gratitude was so extraordinary that the Buddha gave
him high praise for it.
Assaji was a son of Brahmin in Kapilavastu city.
His father was one of eight Brahmins invited to give
an astrological reading for Prince Siddhartha, who
later became Buddha.
After Prince Siddhartha ordained, only the
Brahmin named Kondanna was alive. Therefore,
Kondanna went to meet the sons of other Brahmins
and invited them to follow Prince Siddhartha’s
footsteps. Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji
agreed. After the ordination, they were called The
The Five Ascetics were the first disciples of the
Buddha, and took care of the Bodhisattva (Buddha)
for six years during which he starved himself in
mortification. When Buddha reached enlightenment,
he searched for his Five Disciples and gave them
the first sermon, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
Kondanna was the first who reached enlightenment.
Assaji was among 60 Arahant Buddhist monks
sent to spread Buddhism. His polite and calm
demeanor while on an almsgiving walk caught the
attention of Sariputta who followed him and asked
him questions about Buddhism.
After listening to Assaji’s short sermon about the
law of Impermanence, Sariputta went to share his
encounter to Moggallāna, his best friend. Both men
later entered monk hood and became Buddha’s
As Assaji was Sariputta’s first master, he would
take great care of him when they stayed in the
same temple. Even when he was staying elsewhere,
Sariputta always paid respect to him before going to
sleep. He also slept with his head to the direction
where Assaji was.
Such was among the acts of gratitude he did for
his teacher whenever possible. Although he held a
higher status than all other monks, he always
remembered the person who changed his life and
saved his soul. The Buddha later said that Sariputta
was the role model of perfect gratitude.
“Even if you give him
the whole kingdom, an
ungrateful person will
never be satisfied as he
is an opportunist.”
THE UNGRATEFUL HUNTER
In one of the Buddha’s numerous incarnations,
he was born as a white elephant named Srilavanakara,
dwelling in the Himalayas with 80,000-member
herd. But when he became aware of conflicts in the
herd, he decided to leave and lived alone in the forest.
While foraging, the elephant heard a man crying.
It was from a hunter who was lost in the forest so
Srilavanakara brought him home and told him to
keep the encounter a secret.
But the hunter, overwhelmed with greed, had no
intention to keep his word. He aimed to come back
for the animal’s beautiful, majestic tusks so he noted
the route on the way out as he was on the Srilavanakara’s
The hunter went to the bazaar and learned that
a living elephant’s tusk was more valued than that of
a dead elephant. The following day, he went to the
Srilavanakara’s dwelling with a saw.
The man said he was so poor and asked for the
tusks to trade for money. The elephant knelt down
to let him cut one-third of the tusks with no regret.
The hunter sold the tusks. When he spent all the
money, he returned to the elephant and asked for
half of the tusks. Then he came back for the third
time for the remaining tusks. This time he stepped
on the tusks before tearing the flesh up and cut them.
The wounds were so severe Srilavanakara almost
The man’s karma was so heavy the moment he
was out of sight from the elephant, he was sucked
immediately into the abyss and sent straight to hell.
Unbeknown to them, an angel dwelling nearby
saw everything from the beginning. After seeing the
tragic end, he exclaimed, “Even if you give him the
whole kingdom, an ungrateful person will never be
satisfied as he is an opportunist.”
And those words are still true today.
“Sirima rushed to the kitchen,
scooped boiling water and
splashed it onto Uttra’s head.”
THE POWER OF MERCY
In Rajagahar city, there was a beautiful courtesan
named Sirima. Her beauty made her very famous
and the object of desires by all men.
There was Uttra, a wife of rich merchant and
devout Buddhist, unlike her husband and his
father. Unfortunately, the marriage and family
responsibilities left little time for her other activities
including charitable activities.
After learning about his daughter’s problem,
Uttra’s father gave her some money. In order to
ensure her duties were fulfilled, she hired Sirima, a
high-class courtesan to take her place to which her
husband agreed. So Uttra invited Buddha and his
disciples to take food offerings from her at their
house for 15 days.
Seeing her exhausting face after 14 days, Uttra’s
husband asked her why she burdened herself with
this. Uttra just laughed as she knew her husband did
not understand the virtue of giving. But Sirima
mistakenly thought that Uttra laughed at her and
became angry and jealous.
Sirima rushed to the kitchen, scooped boiling
water and splashed it onto Uttra’s head. Uttra realized
Sirima’s intention immediately the moment Sirima
was charging at her. But the joy from the past two
weeks was so overwhelming she felt nothing but
compassion to Sirima. She then said loudly how
thankful she was to Sirima for helping her fulfill her
wish to make merit and listen to Buddha’s sermon.
Miraculously the water turned into cool, soothing
liquid. Sirima knew right away she had just insulted
a highly virtuous person and asked for forgiveness.
Uttra agreed to forgive her only after Sirima went to
see the Buddha and confessed her wrongdoing. They
went to see him and told the story. The Buddha then
taught them about forgiveness and mercy.
His teachings on ending hatred and anger with
compassion touched Sirima’s heart so much she
converted to Buddhism and vowed to observe the
Five Precepts for the rest of her life. Sirima also left
prostitution for good and completely changed her
life after that.
Did the Buddha Really
Abandon his Family?
Many foreigners are interested in the Buddha’s
teaching: what he had taught and why his symbols
can give them peacefulness. However, there is this
unresolved question left on their minds. It is the
disappointment from learning that he left his wife
and his newborn son in search of the way out of
suffering. It makes them doubt his teaching and can’t
help thinking that Buddhism teaches people to
abandon their family and loved ones with the word
Did Buddha really abandon his family?
Before he reached enlightenment, the Buddha
was born as a prince named Siddhartha. His father,
King Suddhodana, expected him to be a great king
in the future. During the celebration of his birth,
many Brahmin scholars predicted that the child
would either become a great king or a supreme
religious leader. But there was one Brahmin,
184 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
Kondanna, who decisively predicted that Siddhartha
would become a Buddha. This prophecy worried the
king so much that he tried to do everything to
surround the prince with only young, beautiful
people in the pleasant environment. As the young
prince grew up, he completely mastered all the 18
fields of traditional arts and sciences including
military, politics, and religious study. When he
reached the age of 16, his father arranged his
marriage to Princess Yasodhara.
The prince requested the king for a permission
to travel outside the palace, but the king was afraid
that his son would witness the truth of life and human
hardship. He tried to prevent the young prince from
seeing the real world but to no avail. Once outside,
the prince saw an old man with gloomy face, a
diseased man laying with moan, and a dead person
surrounded by his family in grief.
Feeling depressed and deep sympathy for them,
Prince Siddhartha asked his charioteer, Channa,
whether his father would also have to experience
these states. Later, when he saw an ascetic looking
peaceful, the prince therefore determined that this
would be the path to end the cycle of sufferings of
birth, aging, sickness, and death. He made a decision
to search for the path to end them forever. This
decision was not only for his own sake, but also for
his beloved ones and all beings.
Prince Siddhartha was only 29 when he was
determined to leave the palace and to lead an ascetic
life. As the prince entered the chamber to bid farewell
to his wife and newborn son, Rahula, he saw that they
were sleeping. He looked at them with love and
longing but did not wake them up, knowing that she
would ask him to stay. The prince then left the palace
with Channa that night.
Siddhartha spent six years in rigorous practices.
Before becoming enlightened, he had practiced
severe asceticism in the form of fasting until his body
was extremely skinny. After realizing that this
approach did not work, he took a Middle Path; no
more self-mortification and self-harm nor to let
himself in sensual indulgences and addicted to them.
He started to eat and practiced the four foundations
of mindfulness (Satipatthana): observing the body,
feelings or sensations (Vedana), mind (Citta), and
Dhamma (wisdom). He observed mindfulness
without seasoning his feelings, expecting, or
analyzing. At the state of equanimous mind, he
eventually attained enlightenment and became
Buddha at the age of 35.
After his awakening, the Buddha visited his father
and gave him a sermon until he attained the final
stage of enlightenment. As for his wife Princess
Yasodhara, when she first saw the Buddha, she tearfully
collapsed right in front of him and held his ankles,
lamenting over his departure. His disciples were trying
to stop her as monks were prohibited from having
physical contact with women, but he told them to not
interrupt her as doing that would throw her into a
deadly grief right there. The Buddha let Princess
Yasodhara bemoan until she calmed down, and gave
her a sermon about the sorrow of losing loved ones.
Seeing his point with her own experiences, she was
spiritually awakened and reached the first stage of
After Princess Yasodhara had lived in palace for
three years, King Suddhodana passed away. The
princess, together with 1,100 women, ordained as a
Buddhist nun at the fifth Buddhist Lent. She followed
the eight chief rules to be observed by the Buddhist
nuns throughout her life when she was 40 years old.
She had practiced Vipassana meditation with the
Buddha for 15 days and reached enlightenment.
Before she died, she asked for forgiveness from the
Buddha if she had done anything offensive to him
when they were together as a couple and then entered
Nirvana at the age of 78.
Their son, Rahula, also became a monk and
attained spiritual liberation.
Those who were the closest family members also
attained enlightenment. All of these was because of
the Buddha’s compassion. His love for his wife, son,
and father had never ceased. The day he left, he only
left physically to find the way to escape the pathetic
cycle of birth and death. He perfectly closed the door
of separation forever. When he found it, he returned
to show the way to everyone he loved to walk on this
Those who don’t thoroughly understand about
his escape from the palace that night cannot judge
that the Buddha had no heart and no love. His love
is beyond an ordinary person’s love which is defined
by being together forever then leaving the world
when the time comes. What remains is deep pain
and a scar from the loss of loved ones. Some people
even pray that they die before their spouse because
they cannot even bear the thought of living without
their significant other.
Love that is full of emotions, no matter how
much happiness it brings, always ends with pain
again and again. It never becomes otherwise. The
love of the Wise One, the world’s Great Prophet, is
however full of sacrifices he had made so that
188 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
nobody would experience the pain again. And he
finally made it.
So you see now that Buddha’s love and sacrifice
are enormous and boundless. He had never destroyed
or hurt anyone’s heart. What he had destroyed was
the darkness inside the minds of his beloved ones
and all beings so that they would find the greatest
happiness; an escape from the cycle of birth and
death, and from making mistakes which bring pain,
anguish, and grievances again and again. They were
what everyone experience no matter who you are
and where you come from.
True love should come with compassion; a wish
for the happiness of our beloved ones to be happy.
The compassion and the benevolence will lead to
proper action and decision. It does not stop at
passionate love. The Buddha’s love thus cannot be
judged the same way as romantic love. A romantic
love does not bring a sacrifice while his love is all
about endless sacrifices for others.
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 189
If you’d like to know what his love is like, parental
love is the closest example. However, not every
parent is ready to sacrifice everything for a child. For
the Buddha, if it means an end to sufferings for good,
he is ready and willing to sacrifice everything for his
beloved ones and all beings.
“An untrained mind is
not adequate in terms
Meditation calms and
empowers our mind
to live wisely. ”
A WASTE OF TIME?
Meditation is training of the mind in order to
make it stable, peaceful and able to overcome a
distraction. One can practice meditation in any
movement: walking, standing, and sitting. One aspect
of meditation is your mind must be still otherwise the
meditative state will not happen while also being fully
aware of any emotions that occur within. A powerful
mind increases performance in everyday activities
including work, study, and all others. So meditation
is beneficial to everyone not only to Buddhist monks
An untrained mind is not adequate in terms of
effectiveness. We encounter different things, pleasant
and unpleasant, all the time and take them all in
through our senses. Meditation calms and empowers
our mind to live wisely. These days, humans spend
so much time and effort to learn and comprehend
everything except their own mind.
“Buddhism is the
religion of wisdom”
Once you enter the land of Buddhism, you will
see many temples and Buddha statues both inside
and outside the temples or even in residences.
Buddhists have the images of Buddha to pay respect
to and remind themselves of his teachings. To know
what is appropriate and to whom one should pay
respect is a common sense and basic morality.
The world has gone too far in using Buddha
images wrongly, without consideration. Please let us
provide this summary to help explain how to treat
the Buddha image appropriately. Simple respect will
bring good vibration and harmony for us all.
To pay respect to Buddha doesn’t mean you must
be a Buddhist. If you act with respect to a prophet of
other religions, you should treat the Buddha the same
way because he is worshipped as the spiritual Father
Respect can be shown through humbleness and
respectful body language. If you don’t want to pay
respect at all at least do not look down on the Buddha.
194 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
If you see a picture, an amulet, or a statue of
Buddha in inappropriate places such as on the floor,
in a toilet, or on a chair, please help to place it
somewhere up high.
If you are a Buddhist, inform those who have the
wish to know about the Buddha. If you are not a
Buddhist, and someone asks, “Who is Buddha?”, the
simple answer can be that Buddha is the enlightened
one who taught Buddhists to do good deeds the same
way other prophets do.
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 195
- Please do not treat Buddha’s symbols, statues or
If you cannot pay respect to Buddha at least do
not treat the image of Buddha badly. Buddhists
respect Buddha as the spiritual father. All leaders of
religions are regarded with respect. This should also
be applied to Buddha.
- Please do not use Buddha
images as objects or place them
at inappropriate spots.
True Buddhists who see a
Buddha image placed as objects
in inappropriate places will feel
very unhappy. This could lead to
an anger and conflict.
196 Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time
- Please do not use the name “Buddha” for
commercialization or without respect.
Naming your pet dog “Buddha” or a bar “Buddha
Bar” is wrong.
Top ideas in Buddhism & Famous Stories in Buddha’s time 197
- Please do not place images or statues of
Buddha as furniture or decorative items.
Buddha symbols and images are not furniture
nor decoration. They are to be revered. But many
people aware of their own disrespectful acts. We must
improve awareness of what is right and wrong.
You might wonder why there are merchants even
in some Buddhist countries who treat Buddha statues
or images without respect and sell them as decorative
items. That is the reflection of human nature. In
every society there are good and bad people. Bad
people don’t care about anything except their own
benefits but true Buddhists will feel ashamed of that;
seeing an amulet, a statue of Buddha on the floor, in
the toilet, or on a chair. When you see it, please help
place it in a proper place up high such as on a shelf
WHY IS BUDDHA
NOT FOR TATTOO ?
Our body is considered dirty
Buddha was a person who was clean from the
inside out. His mind was free from illusion and
impurities. He is respected by all Buddhists around
the world. Our body and mind still need to be
cleaned. If we don’t wash our body even for a day, it
stinks badly. Some people have said that they had
the Buddha tattoos on their bodies out of love and
respect and that they wanted to stay close to him.
This idea is not correct and a misunderstanding. The
best way to stay close to him is to follow his teaching.
These are the appropriate ways to show your love
and respect to Buddha.
We don’t practice sexual abstinence.
Vipassana Meditation Master
Master Acharavadee has taught Techo Vipassana meditation
since 2011. Unlike other Vipassana techniques, the technique uses
the fire element within the body to cleanse impurities in the
mind. For the past seven years, around 7,000 people have
participated in Techo Vipassana and Anapanasati courses, all of
them being free of charge.
Through this new technique, which she had learned from
a highly revered Buddhist monk, and rigorous practice for
more than 20,000 hours, Master Acharavadee has gained a
spiritual insight of all things and beings at the Ultimate Truth
level or at the energy level in terms of science. The wisdom
allows her to explain in detail how the universe works and the
truth behind the relationship between the world, the magnetic
field, and the gravity force with the souls in the way that
nobody has ever done this clearly before. Most importantly,
her discovery also reveals the true purpose of life.
Her students come from all walks of life ranging from
scientists, medical doctors, nurses, and high-ranking military
officers to actors, architects, and artists. Master Acharavadee has
also written several books on Buddhism based on experiences
of her Vipassana practice and those subjects in relation to
Buddhism in plain language. “Top Ideas and Famous Stories in
Buddha’s Time” is her first book in English language, with the
second book “Awaken from Madness” scheduled to be released
Earlier, Master Acharavadee was a hugely successful designer
and owner of jewelry firm with several awards, and had been
a serious meditator who devoted much of her life to Buddhism
before turning to Buddhism fulltime. She started “The School of
Life Foundation” in 2004, with an aim to strengthen morality in
children and young adults through Dhamma principles laid out
by the Buddha. The school is still running alongside her other
work as Vipassana teacher and president of Knowing Buddha
Organization, a nonprofit working on ending commercialization
of Buddhist artifacts and images around the world.
Through her works, Master Acharavadee is determined
to bring back the core of Buddha’s teachings with the
intention of reviving the religion’s status as the “Religion of
Awakening” as the name “Buddhism” suggests.
If you are interested in Vipassana meditation, please