Alavaka Sutta – Part 4

Beginning with this post, I will match Buddha’s answer to the questions of Alavaka. The questions by Alavaka is in green box and Buddha’s reply is in yellow box

1. Kiṁsū’dha vittaṁ purisassaseṭṭhaṁ? – KKathaṁsu taratī oghaṁ? – Kathaṁsu taratī aṇṇavaṁ?
Kathaṁsu dukkhaṁ acceti? – Kathaṁsu parisujjhati?

Saddhāya taratī oghaṁ – Appamādena aṇṇavaṁ
Viriyena dukkhaṁ acceti – Paññāya parisujjhati

How does one cross over the flood?

By faith one crosses over the flood

The word flood here refers to the current or wave of mental defilements, namely sense pleasures, becoming, wrong views, and ignorance. It is like a flood or strong current in the water because we find ourselves helplessly swept away by them.

Senes pleasures – The distraction caused by our senses, including our thoughts. For example, when we are trying to practice mindfulness of our breath and we get distracted by something we see, hear, smell, taste, feel (tactile sensation), and think. When that happened, it is like being swept off our feet by a strong current. We find ourselves drifting along with those distractions and completely non-mindful of our practices.

Becoming – refers to the grasping of self (identity). We create various different personas for ourselves and are swept away by those roles that we define for ourselves. For example, I am blogging about Buddhism and can be caught by this current role as a Buddhist blogger. More content, more sharing. etc. In our daily life, we decide on different roles for ourselves to find “meaning” in life. Then we are so immersed in these self made roles, that we lose sight of our inner self. Some may even feel trapped in their roles.

Wrong Views – For example thinking that we just need to pray for enlightenment? Believing that mankind is superior and all other sentient beings are meant to be for our use. Meditation is for retirees. Buddha is an incarnation of God, and many other examples. When we hold an incorrect view, it influences our sense of being, In other words, we become what we believe. In that manner, it is as if we cannot help ourselves. For example, some people celebrate loyalty to a fault. So they choose to remain loyal to friends who have since gone astray. Although they suffer from such a friendship, they remain blindly loyal.

Ignorance – This means being ignorant of the Truth. For example, most of us are ignorant about impermanence. We may think that we know, but in reality, we don’t. This is because we are oblivious to it most of the time.

In addition to that, we are ignorant of the suffering that is afflicting our minds. To understand this we have to imagine that we are born and raised in a polluted world where the air is thick with smog. Since we have never, experienced clean air in our entire life, we cannot even imagine what clean air is. We remain ignorant that polluted air is a problem. Similarly, if we have never experienced the blissful tranquility of Jhana, then we will never understand how polluted our mind is.

We are also ignorant of emptiness and non-“I”

There are other ignorance, such as ignorance of the four noble truths.

When we have ignorance, we cannot help but behave ignorantly. Thus, our entire life is swept away in that manner,

So how do we overcome the flood? FAITH.

We need faith in ourselves. That we have the potential to be freed from the floods. That means we need to have faith that enlightenment is possible in this life. Only then, will we take our Buddhist practices seriously. And as discussed in my other posts, we need to have faith in the Triple Gems.

When we have faith, we will have that conviction to succeed.

However, IT IS NOT EASY.

This is because some of the above factors already define who we are as a person. Sometimes, embracing the Truth can be terrifying. We are forced to leave our comfort zone and embrace a new way of living our life.

For example. we are used to living our life being oblivious to death or impermanence. We find it unpleasant and we don’t want to think about it. In Chinese culture, thinking about death is inauspicious.

In Buddhism, we try to abstain from drinking or intoxicants. This can become very challenging for someone who indulges in social drinking. Thus we say, he/she is swept away by the sensual pleasure of drinking.

In summary, we need to have faith in enlightenment. Using the same analogy of a polluted world. We need to believe that there is something called unpolluted mind (enlightenment). Although we cannot imagine how it is, but with faith, we will embark on that journey to discover it. To be continued…..

May all be well and happy.

In the next post we will continue with the rest of the Q&A between Alavaka and Buddha.

How does one cross over the ocean? 

 by diligence is the ocean crossed

How does one overcome suffering?

 by effort one overcomes suffering

How is one’s life purified?

by wisdom one’s life is purified.

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu

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