December 13, 2017

The Four Cardinal Virtues & Peace

  • Dr Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa
Dr Bhaddanta Kumarabivamsa, Chairman Sayadaw, State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.

Leading pioneers who set up and developed various religions in this world themselves searched for their own doctrines with a view to bringing about virtues to humans, celestial beings and brahmas, kinds of being superior to the above two and thought to inhabit the celestial regions. All individuals following their respective religions are those who abide by their greatest leaders’ instructions without any hints of doubt.
Our most sophisticated Gotama Buddha preaches the four cardinal virtues for the peace of the world. These cardinal virtues—Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha can give well-beings to all human and celestial beings who follow it. Our world will surely become a peaceful and pleasant one for us to live in, provided that all the beings living on this planet earth will follow the four cardinal virtues.
Quite right in saying so. It wholly depends upon intelligence and cognition and natural practices born of the former two, of every individual, to build up a pleasant and peaceful world to live in. At present, countries, races and humans are closely connected to each other through the aid of cutting edge technologies. Surround the interrelationship with the four cardinal virtues and our planet earth will definitely become a peaceful abode for us. Of the four cardinal virtues, Metta (Loving-kindness) is none other than helping others willingly in accomplishing others’ benefits. In practising disseminating of Metta to others, it is physically-done kind of sending Metta for us to remove or rid any impediments found on our way so that they cannot be harmed by these or they can easily move on.
We want to live healthily and peacefully. Out of being considerate toward others, likewise, we tend to send our prayers such as, “May you be healthy and wealthy,” or giving helpful advices for their well-beings with Metta. This is verbally-done kind of sending Metta. To our great peace, energy and strength, we hear these encouraging words.
Cultivating Metta in us is mentally-done kind of sending Metta. Our Lord Buddha guides us through “Metta Sutta” how to practice Metta Meditation so that we can develop Metta in us.
Karuna, the second of the four cardinal virtues is kind of the sympathy carrying the meaning of purity. It is like the feeling that we want them to be liberated from sufferings whenever we come across someone in trouble. In “Visuddhi Megga” (“Path of Liberation”) “Dukkha Pana Yana Karappa Vutthi Lekkhana” is defined as the characteristic caused by desire to liberate someone from sufferings. It is called Karuna that a feeling of sympathy occurs to the wholesome person when we see or hear someone or many being in trouble. Being kind to one’s inferiors or giving care to them is Karuna.
It is said that Karuna must be developed by contemplating those deserving pity and sympathy and those suffering grief. In case those kinds of people are out of our sight, it is said that Karuna must be developed by likening the people who became rich by unwholesome and dubious ways and means to those who are going to be punished by death, in a condemned cell. That is how a person facing the death penalty was tied to ropes, beaten or tortured at every junction on the way to the cemetery, in olden days. On seeing the scene, some felt the feeling of kindness, giving some delicious food to him. Meanwhile, most thought that the poor man knocking on the door of death was enjoying the taste of food at this infinitesimally favourable time. However, the others were feeling pity and sympathy for him, knowing that the criminal was going to die very soon and everyone of his steps was like moving toward death. These days, we are seeing people in trouble more and more in news media. If we contemplate the prayer, “Dukkha Muccantu—May you all liberate yourself from suffering,” as many times as possible, you can be said that you are developing Karuna, one of the four cardinal virtues in you.
The third of the four cardinal virtues is Mudita which is meant for rejoicing at somebody’s success or prosperty, without any hints of jealousy. We must contemplate In Pali, “Yatha Laddha Sampattito Ma Gacchantu—May you keep your property in hand, without yielding to others’ destruction,” whereas in Visuddhi Magga (Path of Liberation), it is defined as “May any property or possessions acquired according to their fate be always with you, without being destroyed by others’ action.” It means that we do not want any others else’s deeds to destroy the second party’s property. We can develop the Mudita Virtues in our minds by contemplating not only very rich people but also bourgeois groups.
The fourth and last one of the four cardinal virtues is Upekkha (detachment). That is to say, Upekkha means solemn and pure mind free from affection or hatred. In its real essence, it means letting someone decide something as liked by them, or freedom from forcing someone to do one’s commitments. Of the four cardinal values, Upekkha is tantamount to negligence and freedom from worries by getting rid of inclinations or tendencies of wanting someone to be rich based on loving-kindness, inclinations of wanting someone to be free from suffering based on sympathy, inclinations of wanting someone to keep one’s success or property exist as normal, without being destroyed by other ones based on Mudita (rejoicing at someone’s property or success without any jealousy). According to the Buddha’s noteworthy word “Sabbe Satta Kamma Saka” we must neglect the effects, assuming that all beings are destined to success or failure, wealth or poverty as a boomerang effect. This is Upekkha.
Today, our planet sees natural and man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks, riots, violence, wars and battles, epidemics, endemics, and pandemics floods, wild fires, land slide, nuclear explosion and collapsed mines. Man-made happenings are caused by humans, on the pretext of differences in politics, racism, religion and economy, based on greed, anger and ignorance. Therefore, every individual is experiencing anxiety, fear, worry, sorrow and disappointment every day and every time.
The only way to liberate ourselves from these scourges and sufferings is for all beings living in this world to develop the four cardinal virtues—Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha. In doing so, as for the superiors Karuna and Upekkha should be developed in them whereas inferior ones should Mudita. Metta (Loving kindness) should be developed by each and every one of us—superiors and inferiors.
If it is so, we shall have a peaceful and pleasant place to live in, for sure. Accordingly, all the religious leaders are required to bring about the four cardinal virtues toward all beings in the world and for all of them to strictly abide by these principles. Only if the four cardinal virtues should be exercised after being well convinced of it, will physical and verbal wrongdoings cease to exist from this world. For these reasons, you all are urged to develop the four cardinal virtues in you so that the whole world will be peaceful and pleasant.

Dr Bhaddanta Kumarabivamsa, Chairman Sayadaw, State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee.

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