There are seven factors that help
putting people on the right path towards enlightenment. The Lord Buddha
collectively called them as the principle of Bojjhanga more than 2,550 years
ago. He said that if anyone sets his mind to become enlightened, he has to
consistently exercise his mind to form seven important habits. The Lord Buddha
made a complete discourse of Bhojjanga principles which became one of important
suttas Buddhist monks have to learn about.
It has been said that Bojjhanga Sutta was believed to have a mysterious power to cure terminally ill persons and return them to good health. During the ancient days when the Lord Buddha was still alive, one of his principal disciples, known as Venerable Maha Kassapa, who lived in the Pipphali Cave near city of Rajgir (presently in state of Bihar, Northeastern India) was seriously ill with a disease no one knew how to cure him. When the Lord Buddha heard about the illness Maha Kassapa had suffered, he went to visit his close disciple at the cave and recited him the Bojjhanga Sutta and later gave the full discourse of the Seven habits of Bojjhanga. After the discourse of Bojjhanga’s 7 Habits, Venerable Maha Kassapa became better and quickly recovered from the illness. It was also said that in one occasion, one of the two closest disciples of the Lord, Venerable Moggalana, who lived at a cave on the Vulture Peak, a small hill outside Rajgir, had become gravely ill. After getting the news of Moggalana's illness, the Lord went to the Vulture Peak and gave Moggalana a full discourse on Bojjhanga. Moggalana returned quickly to normal as his illness disappeared.
At one time, the Lord Buddha himself got seriously ill with a disease that caused him a lot of pain inside his body. He decided to ask one of his close disciples by the name of Maha Cunda, who acted as the Lord’s personal assistant, to cite him the Bojjhanga Sutta. It worked wonder as the Lord Buddha quickly recovered from the illness.
In the old Buddhist scripts, Bojjhanga was always referred to as 7 factors of enlightenment. But calling them factors is not accurate in my own thinking. I think the Lord Buddha wanted his disciples to practice and practice all the seven principles until they form into habits of his disciples who aimed to achieve enlightenment. So I think calling the 7 factors habits is more appropriate and meaningful.
In my opinion, the seven important Habits enlightenment seekers have to develop are also good for all tasks we have to carry on in our highly competitive lives in this present world. So I take them as 7 sacred guidelines for everyone who aims to make his or her life a success. These seven-point sacred Bojjhanga Sutta are as follows:
1. Sati, which means mindfulness
2. Dhammavicaya, literally means analyzing dhamma or finding out what is the truth
3. Viriya, which means persistence or strong sense of determination
4. Piti is a feeling of complete contentment in what you are practising
5. Passaddhi, a state of mind that
is filled with tranquillity
6. Samadhi, a state when your mind completely unperturbed by anything and stays focusing on thing you are doing. It likes having your mind fully concentrated on the task at hand.
7. Upekkha, which means the simplicity of mind, in which you satisfy with what you are or have, not compare yourself with other people in terms of social status, possession of wealth, fame or whatever other people think fashionable. Upekkha makes you free of envy, jealousy or emotional instability. It also makes you calm about what you are in every sense.
According to the teaching of Lord Buddha, the Habit No. 1, Sati, is a very important factor for mind control that you need to have in doing everything to the best of your ability. Sati helps keep your mind on the right track when you are doing something. For example, when you are driving a car, you need to be mindful of driving on the right side of the street at a speed proper to the traffic condition as well as steering your car properly to avoid accident including stopping and going according to the traffic lights. Driving with your Sati intact would guarantee that you would reach whatever destination you have set to reach. Sati is an important factor in everything you do. Without it your plan or mission would fail from the beginning because your mind can wander away from what you need to do according to your plan or mission you are responsible for.
You may compare Sati as things we use to things together in a bundle such as rubber bands, duct tapes or cellophane tapes or a string of sewing threads which is made of spun cotton fibre or many strings of natural fibre twisted together into a rope of different sizes used for on all kinds of ship for towing and rigging of sails or a steel cable that is made of several twisted steel wires same as in making a rope. The technique of spinning strains of fibre to make ropes or twisting steel wires tightly together to make steel cable can be compared as Sati. Without Sati our mind will have nothing to keep it in control. Excessive taking of any alcoholic drink will result in your inability to control yourself in any situation. Lack of Sati would cause you a lot of trouble and unpleasant conduct as well as putting yourself in danger or violating laws and regulations where serious injury or death may result to you and other people. Sati also means you are fully awake and conscious of what are you are doing at the time as each second passes by. While performing any kind of task at home or office, you are not slipping into memory lane and day-dreaming or fantasizing. Sati makes accountants capable of adding numbers correctly. It also makes all professionals doing their jobs accurately at all time. Very importantly, rage, loss of your temper, madness and other psychotic disorders would not become you.
In fact, Sati works in your mind as multi-purpose control mental mechanism. Without it you would become mentally unstable at any time. The major function of Sati is self-restraint. Without Sati, self restraint will never occur in your mind. You will buy things you should not buy. You will be extravagant in everything you do. You will over do everything just to show off to impress other people. Self-restraint is a quality everyone should possess, no matter how high or rich you are. It helps preventing you from all kinds of madness in managing your life and your business. Without Sati, you may take unreasonable risk in everything you do. And that will lead you to destruction of your self and family.
The Habit No. 2, Dhammavicaya, is scientific in its own meaning. In practising anything or doing any exercise, knowing completely the truth of the matter you are in pursuit is very important. The point is you need to understand the nature of the task you are carrying out. This is not applicable to only the practice to become enlightened as preached by the Lord Buddha but it is applicable to all kinds of task people need to carry out in order to keep their lives going as desired for. Vicaya in Pali means analysis, research or truth-finding. Modern scientists, economists, naturalists, biologists and researchers of all disciplines know well that advanced knowledge in natural phenomena and all kinds of thing in our world both seen and unseen would have not been understood if intensive study and research of things had not been done. Dhammavichya in Buddhism aims at knowing thoroughly what is the real meaning of what you are learning about and mental exercise you are doing. Without complete understanding of all the principles laid down by the Lord Buddha, any monk will never be able to reach the ultimate aim of enlightenment. Dhammavicaya is hard work in its nature, same as in the world of modern science. But the Lord Buddha understood this truth more than 2,500 years ago.
(To be continued in Part 2)
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