Noble days

Three Noble Days

By Lakshika Panditaratne

We were fortunate to be given three noble days to lead a simple life, conquer our minds, and concentrate on Buddhism. We had to be mindful of every action we made-walking, sitting, and even eating. We were isolated from our normal lives and introduced to a much more humble lifestyle. Since this was my second time attending the retreat I had more experience and had an idea of what to expect. I planned to take full advantage of this opportunity this time and avoid the minor mistakes I made last time.

Day 1
Nangi and I arrived at the temple ready to begin the 2013 youth retreat. We started out the first day by observing the eight precepts. We then transitioned into Vipasana meditation (insight meditation), in which we concentrate on the breath. During the meditation I was mentally and physically restless. I kept shifting my posture and was unable to concentrate on my breathing. The work period came around, and Iedisha and I got together and cleaned the bathroom.

The work period was followed by the sutta discussion. During the discussion I learned that Lord Buddha told suttas to Venerable Ananda and the suttas were then passed down orally until they were finally written down. The sutta we discussed was called Cūlakammavibhanga Sutta, it focused on the concept of good and bad kamma. Kamma is basically a good or bad action that results in a reaction (in the same life or in a future life) based on that original good or bad action. The sutta explained the outcomes of good and bad kamma. For example, when one harms or injures a living being they will be born in state of deprivation. If they are born again into the human state then they will become sickly. In contrast, not harming or injuring a living being results in being healthy.

Later on, we visited the Cambodian temple. It turns out that the temple observed Theravada Buddhism, just as we do. However, I noticed a Laughing Buddha statue and the colorful luxurious aspects of the temple did not resemble our own temple.  We concluded the day with the Atavisi puja, which consisted of worshipping the twenty-eight Buddhas. The day went by smoothly, but the night was what was difficult to get through.

Day 2
It was 5:00 when we awoke. We got ready and went to the shrine room and meditated. I was still unable to focus on the Vipassana meditation, but I enjoyed the Metta meditation (loving-friendliness meditation). The Metta meditation brought wholesome thoughts into my mind, and it created a sense of happiness.

During our sutta discussion we discussed a sutta called Sabbāsava Sutta. We didn't get a chance to finish the sutta, but I did learn that to abandon a taint (a bad thought) you have to mentally see/notice the taint. Then you must use that realization to abandon the taint. There are three types of taints to be abandoned by seeing -sensual desires, ignorance, and the taint of being (not wanting to reach nibbana).

After the sutta discussion we did an Abhidhamma session with Uncle Deeptha. Abhidhamma is one-third of the tripitaka (three main categories of texts that make up Buddhism). The other two categories that make up the tripitaka are sutta and vinaya. Abhidhamma is the psychological analysis of the deepest phenomena (the absolute science). Abhidhamma was taught by Lord Buddha and to this day no one can prove it to be wrong. During this lesson Uncle Deeptha discussed the five aggregates. Lord Buddha summarized the mental and physical phenomena into five aggregates. These aggregates are form, feeling, perception, mental factors, and the mind. These aggregates are then divided again into three parts: rupa (form), cetasika (feeling, perception, mental factors), and citta (mind). He also taught us about the mind. He said that in every mind a thought is generated, organized, and then the mind is distracted. Uncle Deeptha also explained that the good merits you earn can eliminate/cancel out the sins you have done. Once you have eliminated all of your sins then you may attain nibbana. We also acquired that there are nine different stages to attain nibbana; the last stage is the stage in which you become an arahath.

We later went to the Vietnamese temple. Based on the laughing Buddha statue outside and the drums and bells found in the back of the shrine one can tell that this temple observed Malayana Buddhism. While at this temple I learned that not all monks ordain for life, some ordain for months or even weeks. Once we returned to our own temple we did the Atavisi puja and went to sleep around 9:30-10:00.

Day 3
This time we woke up around 4:30 and headed to the shrine room to meditate. Logically, this being the third day of meditation it was also the best day of meditation. Lord Buddha once said, "Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." It was very difficult to accomplish at the beginning of the retreat, but as we reached the end of it I was able to concentrate much better. On that morning I held the same posture for about 10 minutes, and I was concentrating so well on breathing that I could also hear/feel my heart pounding. It was an extraordinary experience, and I was proud of myself for making progress.

On this day Jeewaka and I were responsible for preparing the pujas. So, it was a different experience than the other two days. After the puja, lunch, and work period, we started the sutta discussion. We continued with the Sabbāsava Sutta. We learned that taints can be abandoned by restraining, using, enduring, avoiding, removing, and developing. An example of abandoning a taint by developing is when a taint is abandoned through the development of the mind.

Just as the day before, Uncle Deeptha came to teach us Abhidhamma. He taught us about the six roots of Buddhism.  There are three wholesome roots and three unwholesome ones as well. The wholesome ones include wisdom (amoha), compassion (adosa), and generosity (alobha). In contrast, the unwholesome roots are ignorance (moha), hatred (dosa), and greediness (lobha). These six roots of Buddhism are found in the 121 cittas. He also taught us about the five careers that Lord Buddha has forbidden-selling alcohol and drugs, poison, meat, weapons, and people. Additionally, he told us some of the qualifications of becoming a Lord Buddha: you must be blessed by a Lord Buddha, be of the male gender, be in priesthood, have the ability to attain nibbana in the current life, and have the eight paranormal abilities. He also said that you do not have to be in priesthood to attain nibbana. After the Abhidhamma lesson the retreat was basically over. So we observed the five precepts and headed home.

I was actually disappointed that the retreat had ended so soon. I liked how being at the temple made me more peaceful and calm. While at the temple I felt as if not even one minute was wasted.  By the third day I had gotten so used to the routine that I didn't want it to change. I knew that by going home I would be surrounded by so many temptations that will keep my mind racing. I hope that next year's retreat will be longer and allow us a longer time to focus and get closer to nibbana. I felt refreshed after the retreat, and I owe thanks to a lot of people for making it possible. I would like to thank Venerable Wajirabuddhi Thero, Venerable Wajirabodhi Thero, Mr. Steven, and Uncle Deeptha for assisting and guiding us through the three days. I would also like to thank the parents who provided dana and made an effort to make the retreat a success. Last but not least, I would like to thank my parents for allowing me and encouraging me to get closer Dhamma through this retreat. Thank you all for making these three days as successful as possible!

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