Thread: Heavenly Messages

  1. #1

    Heavenly Messages

    Heavenly Messages

    - A Dhamma Reflection from Ajahn Amaro in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.(Comments about the article are welcome)

  2. #2
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Concord, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
    ‘Why, being myself subject to birth, aging, ailment, death, sorrow and defilement, do I seek after what is also subject to these things? Suppose, being myself subject to these things, seeing danger in them, I sought after the unborn, unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless, undefiled supreme release from bondage, Nibbāna?’..Buddha while Prince of The Sakyamuni Royalty.
    Having read a version of this passage many years ago regarding The early life of The Buddha, it brings to mind a title later given to him as he progressed from a bodhisatta to a bodhisatvah to Arahant to The Buddha and then finally to The Tathagatta.

    Tathagatta: Tathāgata: the 'Perfect One', lit. the one who has 'thus gone', or 'thus come', is an epithet of the Buddha used by him when speaking of himself.

    To the often asked questions, whether the Tathāgata still exists after death, or not, it is said e.g. S. XXII, 85, 86 that, in the highest sense paramattha the Tathāgata cannot, even at lifetime, be discovered, how much less after death, and that neither the 5 groups of existence khandha are to be regarded as the Tathāgata, nor can the Tathāgata be found outside these material and mental phenomena. The meaning intended here is that there exist only these ever-changing material and mental phenomena, arising and vanishing from moment to moment, but no separate entity, no personality.

    When the commentaries in this connection explain Tathāgata by 'living being' satta they mean to say that here the questioners are using the merely conventional expression, Tathāgata, in the sense of a really existing entity.

    Cf. anattā, paramattha, puggala, jīva, satta.

    Another definition of Tathagatta, which has stuck with me over the last fifty-seven years is: "Well gone one!" described as "One who is no longer attached to anything (material) in this world." I used this description to complement my current wife's mother when her mother stated that she no longer had any interest in current life issues, while she was in the process of waning in her life, dying from various terminal medical issues caused in combination with old age. She shared her feelings with us while housed in an assisted care facility in Maine, U.S.A., while we were visiting with her while planning our marriage ceremony, which was to be held in the nursing home, where she was living out the end of her life.

    So you should engender desire
    for acts of Dhamma,
    in the One Well-gone,
    the one who is Such.
    Standing firm in the Dhamma,
    of the foremost
    One Well-gone,
    his disciples are guided
    — enlightened —
    to the foremost
    refuge supreme.
    Resource for further study:

    This title (Tathagatta) comes to mind while observing hundreds of thousands of Covid 19 virus patients succumbing to this fast spreading viral disease as a result of comorbidities, ignorance and human arrogance along with old age advancing.
    Last edited by Olderon; 02 Apr 20 at 03:50.

  3. #3
    Hello friends,

    This topic was meant to be about Ajahn Amaro's article in the link #1 - and not about titles given to the Buddha.

    Ajahn Amaro's Dhamma Reflection is mainly about the four Brahma-vihāras (Four Sublime States/Heavenly Messages)and how they can help us with our practice during these difficult times, and I think his conclusion below is particularly important.

    During these testing and scary times, regardless of where we are – isolated in our home, in a hazmat suit in a hospital by someone’s bedside or as a patient ourselves, in a monastery or in the work-place – we can heed the Heavenly Messages, choose to attune to reality and make these four Sublime Attitudes our place of abiding. We have that power. It is a power that can be used for the good of others and ourselves. Please put it to work and see for yourself how the changes of attitude that come with cultivating these four qualities can literally transform the hellish into the heavenly.

    We can do this, moment by moment, if we choose to make the effort.

    Here's a link to the relevant sutta:

    May everyone be safe and well


  4. #4
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Yes, the message is that you need to look at life as it is, the good and the bad. The bad stuff can be used as impetus to your practice, especially if it reminds you that we have so little time in this world. I like the saying 'Don't wish for continuing health' in the sense that illness can similarly be a reminder of how fragile life is and how important it is to practice. You want to experience Buddhist insight? Better get on with it.

  5. #5
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK
    Initially I was intrigued with the title Heavenly Messages. I know the Buddhist view of Heaven (and Hell) is quite different from the Western one. Buddhism recognises multiple heavens and multiple hells, some of which are here on this earth, some are in different realms.

    But I think the central message in Ajahn Amaro's piece is "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", and that suffering is alleviated by understanding and applying the four ‘Divine Abidings’ (Brahma-vihāras).

    Practicing Metta, accepting things as they are, being kind to other people, taking joy from the good fortune of others and remaining serene and calm in the tumult, these actions performed with sincerity will negate the suffering we would otherwise feel.

    For me, an instance of feeling muditā occurred when I heard of the wild mountain goats who had started roaming around a Welsh town since it was free of traffic and humans. They enjoyed seeing new places and eating the tasty hedges all around. I felt happy for them.

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