Let’s Evolve Spiritually

The following is a summary of Bro. Tan’s teaching on 20 May 2012, the first day of Nalanda Gimhana Retreat.

“Better than a hundred years lived unwisely and indolently, is one day spent in earnest, energetic effort.”
Dhammapada Verse 112

Tranquility permeated the Shrine Hall as devotees sat in silent meditation, calming the mind, absorbing the surrounding aura of peace.  It was the start of the Gimhana Dhamma Retreat at Nalanda.  (Gimhana, in Pali, means “summer” or “hot season”, whereas Vassana is the rainy season in India.)

For seven weeks after the Buddha’s Enlightenment, He contemplated on the Dhamma with His perfectly clear faculty of comprehension.  Then, He travelled for seven days from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, where He preached the First Sermon (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) to the Five Ascetics in Deer Park on Asalha Day, two full moons after His Enlightenment.  So it is for seven weeks after Wesak Day that Nalandians are coming together to “mengenali diri” – know ourselves – and “mendalami Dharma”, deepen our understanding of the Dhamma, with the retreat culminating on Asalha full-moon day (3 July).

In our daily lives, we encounter endless challenges and endure much unsatisfactoriness.  Given the wealth of information that we are all bombarded with in this technology-driven age, it cannot begin to help us in our quest for inner peace unless we take it upon ourselves to use what we learn and apply it with right effort in our every action.  How do we do that?  We must have a vision.  Having a clear view of what is vital to us, we direct ourselves towards it just as plants veer towards sunlight.  In every action, in each word, with every breath, we stay on course, faithful and focused on the destination.  If we do not apply ourselves with energy and vigour, laziness will easily overtake us and the wise can become unwise, the ‘ease’ will become ‘dis-ease’.  Understanding this, we guard ourselves with care and close attention, with the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as our refuge.

Buddhism is about education.  It is a process of gradually training oneself, evolving spiritually towards final liberation and Enlightenment.  Being born a human allows us the rare and precious opportunity to attain true and everlasting peace.  With sincere faith, we listen to the Dhamma whole-heartedly.  As the beautiful teachings of the Buddha seep into our very pores, we slowly become an upright and virtuous person.  Naturally, we begin to do away with the unwholesome, and keep our actions, speech and thoughts pristine.  With a pure and sturdy foundation, we meditate and develop right concentration.  Unwavering, clear and finely in tune with our mind, insight arises within.  The perfect Dhamma is not merely heard, it is now internalised and eventually fully realised.  In this way, we cross to “the other shore” and attain Nibbana, eternal bliss – the ultimate goal of Buddhism.

The journey starts now.  With positive mental attitude, let us traverse terrain we did not think possible.  Instead of “I Can’t!”, listen to the voice of “I Can!”, and open to the world of enormous potential within each and every one of us.  This is Evolution through Education.  Being Well begins with Me!

To view a summary of the presentation slides from Sunday 20 May 2012, please click Gimhana Summary Presentation – 20 May 2012

The Gimhana Dhamma Retreat at Nalanda spans seven weeks from 20 May – 3 July 2012.  There is a weekly talk by Bro. Tan on Sundays 9am – 12pm, and meditation sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 8.30pm – 9.30pm.  All are welcome to join.