Winning the world through: Extreme compassion
Agga Maha Panditha Most Venerable Kotugoda Dhammavasa Thera Pic
: Iresha Waduge
All of life’s most difficult problems could be better understood if
we genuinely put the Buddha’s teachings into practice as his noble
doctrine lay great stress on the development of the moral and spiritual
character for a happy peaceful and contented society.
As Buddhists around the world celebrate Vesak Full Moon poya day
commemorating the birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana of the Buddha
tomorrow, the Sunday Observer had a Dhamma discussion with the President
of the Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha , Agga Maha Panditha Most Venerable
Kotugoda Dhammavasa Thera to enlighten our readers on the teachings of
Q1: The modern society gives an undue importance to outward
appearance. The youth of today resort to various intricate methods in
enhancing their appearance. Though they could perceive outward beauty,
inwardly the mentality of some of them is very unbecoming. How would you
comment on the recent trend. What factors according to the Buddha are
needed to enhance the physical appearance?
A: Since the society is exposed to diverse media, people are
well informed of the happenings all over the world quite promptly. Quite
naturally young people get attracted to what they witness via media.
Unfortunately it is unfavourable for them most of the time.
As they tend to engage in various activities without proper
management, they could face severe problems. It is the same even when
regarding the various methods that are being used to enhance their
physical appearance. The constant use of various low quality products in
that context could bring about alarming results. It could even cause
The Buddha had preached that frankness (openness)of mind will induce
physical beauty. If a person bears no malice and hatred towards anyone
and genuinely wishes for everyone’s happiness and also if he practises
loving kindness to all, such a person would naturally look beautiful.
When the mind is devoid of defilements,the blood gets purified and in
its wake the face assumes serene beauty.As the Buddha said “ Mukha vanno
So if a person practises loving kindness to all, he/she would become
pleasant and beautiful automatically. This was what was practised in the
past. However much we try to develop our looks if the inner mind is
boiling with hatred and anger, others can see it.
Next, it is better to consume more vegetables and fruits. Though the
Buddha never prohibited (he did not prohibit anything) meat consumption(
but he emphasized that animal slaughter is a great sin), it is better if
people can stick to a vegetarian diet. Also for a healthy life, engaging
in exercises is also necessary.
Q: How would you distinguish between the present and past
changes in society and do you think that it has made a great effect on
A: Certainly. Today most of the vegetables and fruits we
consume are not fresh due to the excessive use of fertilizer. The real
essence of the fruit is no longer there. Though we do not consider it as
an issue, the deterioration of health and good looks of the present day
children (Compared to the children of the yesteryear) could also be
attributed to the consumption of unhealthy food.
Almost all the tele dramas that are being telecast are not suitable
for small children.
Everyone watches them irrespective of age. The theme of most of the
tele dramas is love and they are displayed in a way that provoke lust
anger and hatred in young minds. Then their minds get disrupted
Earlier they were not much exposed to most of the negative factors.
They actively engaged in household chores. The houses were spacious and
airy. Today one of the main problems is environmental pollution.
Q: What meritorious acts should people indulge in according to
the Buddha to be born blessed with great beauty in their next birth?
A: 1)There should be a high degree of compassion. Not only
should one wish other people’s happiness, but also they should always
act in a way that would be helpful to society. They should practise
extreme compassion on all living beings.
2) Should offer food, houses to the needy
3) Should attend to the sick, particularly to the old
4) Whatever work one does, it should be well managed. (Whether at
home or in office, you have to work methodically and you have to be well
aware of your responsibilities and should try to fulfil them.)
When one continuously engages in such meritorious deeds he/she will
be blessed with great beauty in the future births. In society we come
across such people whose presence is pleasing to the eye. They can
always attract the attention of others. In fact the sight of such people
make others happy and they automatically get attracted to them.
Q: What are the consequences of animal slaughter and other
A: Rebirth takes place according to the quality of deeds done
in the previous births. A person who has done many good deeds may be
born in favourable conditions where he enjoys wealth, success, beauty,
strength and good health. People who engage in animal slaughter in this
birth would face premature death in their future births.
In fact people who are born with deformities in this birth must have
possibly committed that offence in their previous births. Such people
could even be born as animals in their next births.
We often see how dogs reared in wealthy houses enjoy immense
comforts. They are being very well looked after. Most of the people in
poor families are not lucky enough to have such comforts though they are
They are born as dogs in this birth because they have earned money
through wrong means in their previous births. For example they might
have earned wealth through stealing, cattle slaughter etc.
But they were generous enough to spend the collected money on good
deeds such as offering Dana, looking after old parents, religious
activities etc. So though they earned money through wrong means,since
they performed good deeds they could enjoy all the comforts though they
were reborn as dogs.
Q: Has the Buddha expressed his opinion on punishment meted
out to wrong doers by the king ( King’s punishment)?
A: All the kings had a set of rules related to governing.
(Royal Principles of Governing). Punishing the wrong doers is one such
principle. When a person commits an offence, punishment is imposed
according to the gravity of the act. Sometimes it was a mere piece of
advice, but if it was an heinous offence even the capital punishment was
The Buddha did not interfere with the laws of the government. He
preached the Dhamma so that those who listened to him could get out of
There are two categories of sins- ‘Alpa sawadya’ and ‘Maha sawadya’.
The people who commit heinous crimes belong to the second group. The sin
becomes graver when the person on whom the pain is inflicted is
Q:Has the Buddha ever condemned avarice(lobha)?
A: It is necessary to a certain degree. You have to spend your
savings with care. There should always be a balance between income and
expenditure. But if a person piles up money without spending it even for
his and his family’s needs that is bad. That is called “Abijja”. - Such
people would envy others who lead comfortable lives, but are too stingy
to spend their earnings. So such people will be reborn in poor families.
Q: What was the Buddha’s attitude towards meat consumption?
A: In fact as we all know the Buddha’s boundless love extended
not only to human beings, but also to all living beings. Every living
being has a right to live, the Buddha ensured. No one has a right to
kill other animals and consume their meat. The Buddha always emphasized
that it is a grave sin to kill any living being.
It is better if a person could abstain from consuming animal flesh
altogether. The Buddha said that if a person wants to consume meat, he
can do so only if the following conditions are fulfilled.
1) Aditta- You did not see the animal being slaughtered for your
2)Asutha- You did not hear that the animal was slaughtered for your
3) Asankitha- It is not implied in any way that the animal was killed
for you-not even a slightest impression about it.
Imagine a situation where a Thera visits a house for a dhana. He very
well knows that the inhabitants of the house do not consume meat at all.
But they had prepared a meat curry for the dana.
So, though the Thera did not see the animal being killed, or did not
even get to know that the animal was slaughtered for his consumption, he
cannot consume it since the inhabitants are vegetarians. There remains a
doubt as for whom the meat curry was prepared.
But if a Thera who goes from house to house with a begging bowl, (on
pindapatha) is offered a meat curry he can consume it if he is willing
to do so.
A set of bikkhus who observed their Vas retreat in a forest during
the time of the Buddha happened to have partaken soup made out of
remnants of bones of animals that vultures had devoured.
So they asked the Buddha whether it could be considered a sin on
their part. The Buddha told them that it was not a sin.
Anyway it is because people consume meat that animals get
slaughtered. Imagine a situation where fifty cows are being slaughtered
each day. What if people suddenly come to a decision not to consume
beef. Then the lives of the cows will be spared.
It is better if we can abstain from meat consumption.
Depending on the size of the animal, their feelings and the effort
made in killing them, the gravity of the sin would vary.
Q: Finally, what efforts should one adopt to develop
A: A compassionate mind extends far beyond mere kind words.
First you should be able to feel happy on other people’s success.
Wherever you are you should try to make your presence useful to
others. Try to be pleasant. You should never be selfish.
For example while at home, all the clothes put out in the sun should
be taken in due time whether it belongs to you or not.
As the Buddha said people who could practise loving kindness (Metta/compassion)
in its true sense could get the following benefits.
1) They can sleep peacefully
2) They wake up peacefully
3) They never have bad dreams.
4) They are loved by everyone- gods and humans alike
5) They are always protected by the gods
6) Neither could they be poisoned nor can they be harmed by weapons
7) They can concentrate easily
8) Their faces are always pleasant
9) They die peacefully
10) They are always reborn in better places.