|4. Shame and Fear of Doing Evil (Hiri and Ottappa)
|4.1 THE WORLD - PROTECTOR
The term HIRI means to i.e. of evil whereas OTTAPPA means to be afraid of evil. These two
qualities according to the Buddha, are world protectors. This is quoted from the Dukanipta of the Aguttaranikya (56/255). The story and event referring to them
are as follows:
"Two white Dhammas; O Bhikkhus, there are that protect the world. What are they? they
are HIRI and OTTAPPA. Without these two, O Bhikkhus, there would not be those being
regarded as mothers, aunts, teachers' wives. The world would then be steeped in
promiscuity, with the behaviour of peoples like those of the goats, sheep, hens, pigs,
dogs and foxes."
From the quoted Stta, it
will be seen that emphasis of the meaning of the terms Hiri and Ottappa was laid
here on preventing the sexual behaviour of promiscuity i.e. preventing men (and, of
course, women) from such unbridled, animal-like behaviour. That people cannot do like that
because they are moved to be ashamed of being condemned or treated with contempt and
derision. With these two qualities in mind, worldlings are prevented from condescending to
the level of animals as far as their sexual urge is concerned. This despite a better
opportunity for them to do so due to the close relationship as members of the same family
living within the same house. It was their Hiri and Ottappa that had protected
them, preventing them from gratifying their bestial impulse.
The lessons to be learnt from the above instance are twofold. First of all, should there
exist in the society of mankind the animal-like promiscuity there would be no respect
whatever for the seniority of older generations such as father, mother, uncle or aunt; nor
would there be any restraint towards the younger generations such as daughters, nieces so
forth. As such, the world would surely be plagued with miseries of various kinds such as
starvation, diseases and other sufferings as a result thereof. Secondly, men are obviously
far more intelligent than animals, but if they stoop to abusing their intelligence power,
how much more sufferings would they be in a position to produce, to the detriment of both
themselves and others? Of course, competition, taking an unfair advantage of others,
corruption, extortion and murder would be intensified to the nth degree.
Reference to this used to be made in the story concerning a Bhikkhu by name of Malai or in
one about a future Buddha named Sri rayametreya. The description was made to the effect that at the
approach of the world's desturction, when there will be a holocaust in the form of global
conflagration, worldlings will plunge deep into the mire of sexual satisfaction,
gratifying their erotic urge to the fullest degree and without compunction. People's
life-span will be much shortened, with the marriageable age of only ten. These are,
according to the legend, the signal for the approach of the world's destruction.
Frankly speaking, the trend of such a disaster is manifest to a certain degree nowadays.
In case it cannot be reversed, people will become more immersed in sexual gratification,
with more miseries and disasters of increasing intensity occurring as a result. Thus the
protective power of Hiri and Ottappa should be understood to cover other aspects of
human social behaviour, which should include preventing men from doing anything against
the law of morality as well as that of the country. Should they be deeply ingrained in the
peoples' minds, so many of miseries and disasters, both man-made such as pollution
problems and infectious diseases, and natural ones such as floods and fires, would be more
effectively prevented or at least considerably reduced. It can therefore be said that,
should most people, including the most influential ones, be firmly established in the
virtues of Hiri and Ottappa, even such a problem as traffic holdup would not be so
difficult to tackle with as it is at present. Such is how the twin virtue of Hiri,
shame of evil, and Ottappa, fear of its result, can contribute essentially to solving
several human problems other than sexual misbehaviour and indulgence; how, in other words,
they act as world-protectors.
| 4.2 BIRTH OF HIRI, TO BE ASHAMED OF EVIL
IT is important, however, that before a person can be ashamed of evil he must be ashamed
of others in doing evil. For instance, generally we dare not undress ourselves in public
for fear of being seen doing so. But in a private bath-room we can freely do that. Of
course, to undress ourselves while taking a bath is not yet an obvious moral evil. But it
is still considered inappropriate and therefore to be ashamed for a sane person under
normal circumstances (i.e. not within a nude society). But for infants or babies or in the
case of an insane person, there would be no feeling of shame to do so. Moreover, they
would also be able to pass urine or empty their bowels in public without compunction. This
means that for a person to have the virtue of Hiri or to be ashamed of doing evil
he, or she, must be sane and sufficiently grown up, not being still an innocent child.
Such a person can be moved to being ashamed, considering his or her status or condition,
of doing so. In other words, the person must be mature enough to be ashamed of doing evil
unseen and unknown.
|4.3 WHY MOST PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE HIRI
IT is worth noting that for those who are used to doing evil, being thereby deaf, or
rather immune, to the protesting call of their own conscience, there is sure to have no
feeling of shame left. Thus a person who has been drinking liquor or killing animals for a
long time, until it has become his second nature, will not be troubled by a feeling of
shame, be it a shame of being known by others or one of a moral nature out of his own
compunction. This is like those being to living in a filthy environment for so long that
they have developed an immunity to it and as a result are not troubled by such a smell or
situation any more. For those who used to live in an unpolluted place and thus care much
for hygiene, it would certainly be unbearable even for brief moments. In case they happen
to touch something in such a place, they would hurry to wash their hands time and again.
In like manner those who are securely blessed with Hiri must have abstained from
doing evil for a long time until such virtue has been deeply ingrained in their minds.
They may have been taught, and trained, by their parents or teachers or anybody else and
this has become their background or foundation of their behaviour. Some there are who ever
since they were born have never used abusive or insulting language or have never told any
falsehood or cheated anybody. Such an abstention has become their second nature. On the
other hand, there are also others were born in the midst of a society habituated to using
rude words and insults and to telling lies, cheating or other vices. They have thus
absorbed the influences of such circumstances, thereby feeling no shame in such a
|4.4 HOW TO INCULCATE THE VIRTUE OF HIRI
IT is necessary, before the attempt to inculcate Hiri into anybody's mind, to know
first of all what type of persons will be most likely to take to this virtue. This is like
a gardener who has to know what type of soil, how much moisture and what level of
temperature should be most appropriate for a seedling he is going to brow in his garden.
The task of 'growing' and 'developing' the virtue of Hiri into the mind of a person
is not as easy as the one of teaching an academic subject to a student. For those with a
sense of morality under-developed it is far more difficult than teaching an art or a kind
of knowledge. It is only those who are spiritually mature that will readily accept the
teaching. One instance of this was the case of a man who was fishing by the side of a
river. The Buddha went to see him there and tactfully asked what his name was. When he
answered that this name was Ariya (meaning Noble), the Buddha retorted, saying that an
Ariya person should not have been fishing like that, since it is obviously an evil to do
so, which means killing i.e. to deprive others of life. With this short but direct,
right-to-the-point instruction, the man was struck by a feeling of shame. He was suddenly
moved to understand how fishing was really an evil for an Ariya person and was convinced
that he should at all cost live up to his name. He vowed to give up the act of
killing for the rest of his life. This story comes from the Dhammapada.
The mentioned instance gives us a valuable lesson. Such a method of teaching is sure to be
fruitless in case it was applied to other persons and by teachers other than the Buddha
Himself. Different people have different backgrounds and also different degrees of
maturity. For this man the Buddha had clairvoyantly known how, being not yet habituated to
the act of killing, he had not yet sunk spiritually low and was thereby in a position to
be receptive to His diplomatic warning. To apply the same method to other persons less
mature would certainly be fruitless. It was the special case to be applied only to him and
by the Buddha Himself.
|4.5 HIRI (SHAME) MUST BE PRECEDED BY OTTAPPA (FEAR)
As earlier mentioned, a person with an established Hiri or shame of evil in his or
her mind must be one who has long been habituated to doing good and at the same time is
proud of the dignity of a human being. Such persons are like those who prefer cleanliness
and hygienic circumstances, loathing the filthy, unhygienic places, which others
accustomed to it will find it commonplace and acceptable. That the former kind of people
are loathful of the filth is because they know well how the squalid and filthy conditions
are detrimental to their health, being thereby the cause of many virulent diseases. In
like manner those with the virtue of Hiri or shame of evil are first of all afraid of its
shameful results in a variety of ways. They may be afraid of others who will make a
laughing stock of them, looking down upon them with contempt and derision, which they find
unbearable. This can be their first brake based upon the fear of results of doing evil.
|4.6 THE REAL CAUSE IS THE BELIEF IN KARMIC RESULTS OF EVIL
However, the real cause of Hiri is to be the shame of doing evil as a result of
what is exactly the meaning of evil and its results acting upon one's own life and mind,
both within this life-time and in the hereafter. This despite the fact that the evil-doer
may be unseen and unknown at the time. Nevertheless, results of evil are sure to affect
the doer's mind every time such an evil is done. Whatever kind of evil is accumulated will
automatically and infallibly produce the fruits of that kind on its doer. A person who
tells lies or cheats others inevitable sows the seeds of lying and cheating on the field
of his or her mind, making the 'field' more abundant with such pestilential weeds and more
worthless thereby. A sincere belief in this subtle fact, coupled with the fear of such
dangerous results, is the sure foundation for the birth and growth of Hiri or shame
of evil. It is this fear, as a result of this belief, that can spur a person to doing good
and avoiding evil. It is the real, intrinsic and permanent foundation for this virtue.
Such is how the shame of doing evil comes first all from outside factors viz. Fear of
contempt and derision, on the part of others. Secondly-and this is the real,
intrinsic and permanent one, is the knowledge of the consequent belief in the infallible
working on a refined level of the karmic effects acting upon the 'field' of one's own
mind, making it more dirty, ugly and cloudy each time an evil is done. That is why Hiri
and Ottappa are referred to as a twin, with the shame and the fear coming together
to form a complete whole.
|4.7 WHY HONESTY IS MERIT AND CHEATING IS EVIL
It is indeed difficult to know, and then to believe, why and how all kinds of cheating and
violation of Precepts are evil and to do good is meritorious. Of course, it will not be so
difficult to just know what kinds of action are evil and what other kinds are meritorious.
It is the next step to be convinced of the undesirable, unpleasant results of evil and the
opposite results of merit - that is the crux of the problem. By the term to be convinced
here is meant to feel certain and as a result to have a firm faith or an immovable
confidence in the above mentioned fact. Only through such a faith or confidence can
a person be courageous enough to avoid doing evil and then to steadily accumulate
merit. It is therefore of little use or value merely to know but to have little or shaken
faith in the workings of results of both good and evil deeds.
There is an attitude of mind pre-requisite to such a level of faith or confidence. This is
the knowledge of and of course the consequent belief in, the truth of the 'hereafter',
including as its corollary the 'herebefore' Those equipped with this pre-requisite
condition are convinced of the survival of Karmic results, being thereby confident, first
of all, that there is no 'bad debt' as far as Karmic results are concerned, since the
balance, whether on the credit or the debit side, is sure to be worked out in the
hereafter, which could mean both in the 'invisible' realms and, after that, in this realm
of human beings once again. Secondly, that people are born different in an endless variety
here because of the, workings of their own karmic effects in the 'herebefore' Such
manifestations can be seen in our everyday life, where some are born, for instance, rich,
beautiful and wholesome, but others are forced to arrive in a miserable, squalid and
After birth some are blessed with success and progress, where others are often plagued
with miseries and deadline. Even the same person cannot always hope to experience only one
aspect throughout his or life-span. At one time or another a turning point is sure to
occur, be it a change for the better or for the worse. All these are nothing but various
kinds of Karma alternately working out their results whenever there is an opening
favourable to their insertions.
Without this belief, -call it faith or confidence if you will, it would be next to
impossible for a person to be genuinely shameful, and afraid of results of doing evil. As
such, whatever evil he takes delight in doing, he will go on doing without any
compunction. After some time he is sure to be totally deaf to the whisper, or the warning,
of conscience. Even admitting the truth of the law of change, it is certain that, unless
there comes a person or an event to give him a jolt or a shock, he is sure to plunge
deeper and deeper into the abyss of evil for nobody knows how long.
|4.8 THE THREEFOLD INSIGHTS
Now, what had enlightened the Buddha into realizing, how honesty and sincerity is
meritorious, whereas cheating or hypocrisy is evil was His achievement of the two NA or Insight viz.
Recollection of Former Lives, both of Himself and other sentient beings (Pubbenivsnusatina), and the Ability to See, both for Himself and other being as
well, where beings are born during their odyssey of endless Rebirths and Redeaths, and
also why. This was called Cutpaptana. The following Saying of the Buddha Himself quoted (summarily)
are worth a careful study.
"Whenever, O Vaccha, a person argues that the recluse Gotama is blessed with the
Three Insights, he is said to follow what I have said, not to accuse Me falsely."
''Just when I want to, O Vaccha, (i.e. whenever He wanted to recollect former lives, be
they of His own or other sentient beings), I am able to recollect innumerable former lives
viz one life, two divas, three, four, five, ten, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one
thousand, one hundred thousand, throughout (various kinds of) aeons, knowing thereby what
used to be My names, families, complexion, food, together with the experiences of such
happiness and suffering and the length of life-spans in those planes. Having moved from
such planes, I again took birth in another plane, with a new family, complexion and food,
along with other more experiences of happiness and suffering during the length of that
life-span. This before I moved once again to be born in other plane."
"Just when I want to, O Vaccha, (immediately) I am able to see sentient beings that
are moving (i.e. dying) as well as that are being born. Some are crude, others refined;
some with good complexion. others poor one; some progressive, others miserable; all these
through My Eye which is purified beyond the vision of ordinary human beings. By virtue of
this Insight I came to realize how sentient beings are destined to experience their Karmic
results. Thus these beings, having committed evil Karmas physically, verbally and
mentally, having spoken ill of the Noble Ones, holding on to wrong views and to act as a
result thereof, will after the dissolution of the body enter various planes of the relams
of woe. Other sentient beings, however, that accumulated meritorious acts physically,
verbally and mentally, not having spoken ill of the Noble Ones, holding on to right views
and to act as a result thereof, will after the dissolution of the body enter various
planes of realms of bliss."
"I have realized, O Vaccha, Deliverance through the Mental Power (Cetavimutti) and
through the Wisdom Power (Pavimutti), both aspects being absolutely free from Defilements.
This through the extinction of Defilements by means of Wisdom. This, again, accomplished
by Myself within this life time." (savakkhayana), the third Insight.
"Whenever, O Vaccha, a person argues that the recluse Gotama is blessed with the
Three Insights, he is said to follow what I have said, not to accuse Me falsely."
The above sayings by the Buddha Himself showed why, and how, He was able to know that all
honesty and sincerity is meritorious and all honesty and sincerity is meritorious and all
cheating and hypocrisy is evil. However that the Buddha was able to do so fluently and
infallibly was not the product only of the Three mentioned insights, but also of His
achievement of other Abhi or psychic pawers. His description to Venerable Srputta serves to clarify this fact.
"Due to his being an 'empty' (i.e. foolish) person, O Srputta, the mendicant Sunakkhatta does not know that the Tathgata is able to perform
various kinds of Psychic Feats such as:
- To create many persons out
of one, and vice versa.
- To make a light room or
place out of a dark one, to uncover what is hidden, to open what is hidden, to open what
is closed or kept secret.
- To darken a light room or
place, making it a screen hiding what is to be hidden.
- To walk through the walls
or mountains like walking through an open space.
- To dive under the earth
and emerge from it like diving into the water and emerge there from.
- To walk on the water like
walking on the ground.
- To fly in the air like
- To touch with the hands
both the powerful moon and sun.
- To travel to the realm of
Brahma, whether by the physical or the astral body.
"Due to his being a Mogha (foolish) person, O Srputta, the mendicant Sunakkhatta cannot know how the Tathgata is able to listen to the
voices, both that is divine (astral) and that is human, that is far and that is near. This
by means of the Power of Clairaudience that is purified, being beyond the capacity of
ordinary human ears."
"Due to his being a Mogha (foolish) person, O Sariputta, the mendicant
Sunakkhatta can not know how the Tathgata, having determined the minds of another animal and person
with My own mind, is able to know whether or not this amimal's or this person's mind is
overwhelmed by lust, hatred or illusion, is listless, distracted, powerful, supreme or
delivered from Defilements."
The above is quoted summarily from the Mlapannsaka of the Middle Length Sayings (12/137) and points to the fact
that, besides the Three Insights, the Buddha also had three more Supra-mundane Abilities
viz. Psychic Feats, Clairaudience and Mind-reading, All these six respond immediately and
infallibly to the Buddha's Will to make use of them.
|4.9 HOW ORDINARY PEOPLE WITHOUT PSYCHIC POWERS REALIZE KARMIC RESULTS OF
MERIT AND EVIL
What have been described so far point to the fact that the Buddha and His Arahant
disciples who achieved the six kinds of Abhi or Supra-mundane, Psychic Powers, realized in all respects the
truth how merit and evil really produce beneficial and disastrous results respectively.
This means they have come to know how powerful are the seeds of Karma both merit and evil
embedded on a person's mind. They possess a supreme creative and destructive power, as the
case may be, on a person's destiny. Their potentialities are superior to all other
influences outside. This truth can be referred to two of the Buddha's Formulas in the
Doctrine of Paticcasamuppda,
the Dependent Origination or Chain of Causation, one of which is 'There being Sakhra (Will or the Conditioners), there is Vina (Consciousness) and 'There being Consciousness, there is
Name-and-Form (i.e. Body-and-Mind). Both Formulas, not to mention the rest, point further
to the fact that Sakhra, implying the store-houses
of both merit and evil embedded on the mind, was described by the Buddha Himself in other
places as the Abhisakhra, literally the Great Saakhra or Conditioner, the agent determining the destiny
or destination. fixing the realms of existence for their doers. It follows, therefore,
that both merit and evil a person has accumulated are the greatest conditioning or
determining power, which, could be compared with the Brahma or God of other religious
One of the by-products of Psychic Powers, especially of the Manomayiddhi (Mental Feats),
is the ability to 'create' an inner or astral body all at once and project it to whenever
its creator wants to, with the speed comparable to that of light. The astral body so
reproduced is the facsimile of the physical counterpart, complete with limbs, organs,
nerves, vitality and senses functioning as well as, or in tact tar letter than, those of
the crude, physical origin, lts range of vision, for instance, is far more keen and
powerful than that of the physical eyes. An aspirant achieving astral projection can
wander through realms of bliss and those of woe and know why or by what Karma beings are
sent, by their Karma results, to take birth there.
From the savakkhayana (Insight by which to eliminate all
Defilements) the aspirant is enabled to realize what exactly are the results of merit and
evil. This is a blessing for even a Stream-winner or Sotpanna, who is securely destined to attainment of such
Insight and who has vividly realized how doing evil is actually poisoning the mind, with
its poisonous effect acting thereon without exception. This effect is accumulative each
time an evil is committed until poison spills over, to become manifest through words and
deeds affecting events in a person's daily life.
Such being the case, it is obvious how a person, overwhelmed by evil thoughts, just can
not pacify nor purify his mind, which is for most of the time burnt by the fire of
Defilements. It is impossible for such a person to practise or develop meditation since he
is always at the mercy of environment and circumstances. He is not in a position to
understand the truth of Karmic effects, thus not caring to believe in the fruits of merit
and evil. His daily life is plagued with unnecessary problems and unprofitable sufferings
since he is like an incurable patient or invalid. Instances of this can be seen in the
cases of a drug addict or a gambling addict, or one who regularly violates any Precept.
This can be clearly seen by those who are not so addicted or not a confirmed evil-doers.
|4.10 CHARACTERISTICS OF A NOBLE DISCIPLE
That a Noble Disciple has penetrated the truth of Karmic effects both here and in the
hereafter can be seen in the following Sayings of the Buddha:
- "A Sekha
(lower grades of Noble Disciples) is able to realize this earth (i.e. this Body-and-Mind),
the Realms of Yama (i.e. 4 realms of woe), this world (of human beings) and the Celestial
World (viz. 6 Celestial Realms and 20 Realms of Brahma)."
- "A habitual evil-doer
is always troubled both here and in the hereafter. Recollecting how he used to do such
evils, he is troubled. After his death, being now in a realm of he is sure to be far more
- "Dhamma and Adhamma
produce different results, the former leading to realms of bliss whereas the latter to
those of woe."
All these indicate how difficult it is for some persons to accept the Karmic truth
concerning results of merit and evil. This is particularly true for the confirmed
evil-doers, who are totally blind to this valuable but refined truth. If they should
suffer such Karmic effects at all, they would naturally put the blame on other people and
things such as environment or circumstances. They just can not see how such pains and
sufferings are the harvest of their own evil Karma some time in the past. In this respect
they are like people who are born blind, being thereby unable to distinguish colours. Just
as no amount of explanation can give him an idea of how one colour is different from
another, so whatever reason and argument there are can not convince a person whose mind is
closed to the moral, Karmic truth, who sees only the material aspect of life and other
It should be noted, therefore, that those who can bring themselves to accept the truth and
the teaching concerning Precepts and other aspects of the Buddhist Doctrines must have a
sufficient background of wholesome qualities accumulated in their previous lives. Those
having little store of merit in their minds will find it difficult to accept the same
teaching. For others whose minds are wrapped up in evil influences it will be practically
impossible to convince them of the truth of Karma, but they will respond eagerly to
whatever is appealing to their nature, taking to it like ducks taking to water.
For this reason, it is advisable that, before teaching the people to understand this
aspect of the Buddha's Doctrine, a teacher should convince them of the truth about
Consciousness - its potential powers, how it is related to the Law of Karma. What must be
particularly stressed is the truth that each time a merit or an evil is done, its Vipka or ingrained effect is sure
to be embedded on the deepest recess of the mind.
This is Sakhra, the potential conditioner
of the doer's own fate or destiny, call it what you will. This is in fact in accordance
with the Buddha's Formulas earlier mentioned viz. "There being the Conditioner, there
is Conscibusness", and "there being Consciousness, there is Name-and-Form or
Mind-and-Body," Without an understanding of these Formulas, it will be difficult to
make the people understand how merit and evil they have done, or are going to do, play the
most significant role in shaping their own destiny.
|4.11 GROWTH FROM INSIDE
It can be observed that as living thing naturally grows and develops from inside i.e. from
the potential power within the seed itself. The same is true of men, who take birth and
grow from the potentials of merit and evil ingrained in their own minds. What should also
be noted is the fact that many there are who are capable of understanding and accepting
this truth. This is in the same manner as there are as many children able to learn how to
read and write. If these people are still ignorant of this significant truth, it is
because they have not been informed of it through the lack of media accessible to them.
This is a word of encouragement for the teachers of morality so that they may not lose all
hope in teaching people to be endowed with the meritorious qualities of shame and fear of
evil, the mainstays by which to enable men to live in peace and in harmony with one
|4.12 EXAMPLE IS BETTER THAN PRECEPTS.
Being gregarious in nature, most people have the tendency to follow others' examples,
particularly of those who, they believe, are the cream of society, be they the
intellectuals or influential ones of any area. In case such people, who are highly looked
up, behave themselves decently and righteously they will be all the more respected and
admired, even by those who are addicted to evil ways such as gambling and drinking who are
not yet incurable. Should these people be kindly instructed and advised by those whom they
already hold in high esteem, they will readily, out of respect and admiration, abstain
from what, they are convinced, are the evil ways. But, as matters stand to day, when the
former kind of people are still absorbed in wrong, corrupt practices, there is the fact
that the latter kind, instead of looking up to them, will look down upon them in disbelief
and will retort that it is "the pot calling the kettle black," This is why, and
how, many people nowadays are unmoved by the shame of evil nor the fear of its results.
Simply put, they see no reason why they should be so ashamed and afraid. Thus, in our
attempt to inculcate in them such wholesome qualities, it is necessary to follow the
already mentioned with persistent efforts.
One more fact to note is that, in order to achieve better, more permanent results it is
advisable that people should be taught these truths and be convinced of them while they
are still young, when their minds are more suggestible and flexible. At least they should
be taught how to live a moral, religious life based partly on obedience towards their
parents and teachers and partly on the following examples set by those elders. Equipped
with these wholesome qualities they will most likely grow up to be better convinced of the
truths about shame of evil and fear of its, results, thus being permanently blessed with
those two desirable, world protecting virtues.
These two qualities HIRI and OTTAPPA, shame of doing evil and fear of its results, are
indispensable for those in high offices whose commitments are to oversee projects or plans
and to have them implemented the best they can. Such preventive measures against corrupt
practices as complicated rules of red tape and bureaucracy and the establishment of the
Counter-Corruption Commission can do little to help prevent or contain such evil. For
those who are experts in the use of casuistry are often eloquent speakers (or writers) who
can sway the crowd or the audiences through their cunning logic. Such talented people are
able to find loopholes in the rules and laws and thus to go scot-free, leaving no evidence
or witness that will bring them to justice. Moreover, when such people form themselves
into a teamwork and become an organized crime syndicate, it will become more influential
and consequently more difficult for authorities to deal with.
The essential cause of irregularities and corrupt practices is the over-abundance of
temptation in endless forms. They have been fuelling the fires of greed and lust, which
can never be satiated The more they are fed, the stronger they burn, --in the minds of
people, from the highest level of the social spectrum to the lowest one. This is the trend
facing society of man at present. Unless checked or reversed in time, the situation would
be escalating steadily to the point of irreversibility.
Take, for instance, the problem of traffic. As long as the number of cars has not been
restricted to be proportionate to the availability of roads at present, so long can there
never be any satisfactory solution, not even with the most carefully planned one. The
environmental problem is another crisis that is threatening to become uncontrollable,
considering the increasing volume and intensity of pollutions in various forms produced by
the construction of factories, high-rise buildings and the increasing and unchecked
emission of carbon monoxide find chlorofluorocarbon. The afforestation plan has been
always offset, to say the least by deforestation attempts in the form of encroachment and
illegal logging. It appears we have been fighting a losing battle against these
challenging problems, without any hope of recovering our lost grounds, Scholars and
planners have also been conducting researches in order to know what exactly are their
causes and how precisely to deal with them, so far without satisfactory result.
Let us now turn to the Buddha and see what He had to say about these situations and
problems. From the scriptures, we learn how Greed (Lobha), Hatred (Dosa) and
Delusion (Moha) are roots of doing evil, the originating causes of all troubles and
ills, When these are uncontrolled, becoming thereby uncontrollable, their sinister effects
are correspondingly unimaginable. A person overcome by greedy or lustful desire has become
its slave and stops at nothing to gratify that passion. One burned by the fire of anger
and hatred will be ready to risk or lose anything to have that anger expressed to his
heart's content caring nothing of the heinous crime he will have to commit.
Finally, delusion or Moha, the last of the trio, is by no means the least significant. It
is seen to be all-inclusive, with few being exempt from its omnipotent power. Most people
now are money-worshippers, making a religion of money and caring nothing how it is
obtained, whatever crime they have condescended to committing. Having acquired money, they
spend it just for self-indulgence such as in gambling, drinking and sexual affairs. Their
motto seems to be, "Eat, drink and enjoy whatever you can when you still can."
These are the manifestations to be seen in everyday life at present, all betraying how
peoples are being helplessly overwhelmed by those roots of evil.
The ways to counteract against this deplorable situation is to follow the processes
outlined by the Buddha. For practical purposes here, I would like to offer my opinions
that it is necessary, first of all, to implant into the people's minds the twin virtues of
Shame of doing evil and Fear of its results. This, however, is sure to take sometime, Rome
was not built in one day; nor can this uphill task, going against the current of
Defilements, be accomplished overnight. Priority must be given to those who are mature
enough, particularly, to those who are at the helm of various influential aspects of
society. This is to save time and efforts, for if such people have become concrete
examples for others to took up to, it will be far easier for the rest to follow suit. This
will be far more effective in preventing corruption than issuing so many complicated rules
and regulations, which produce merely superficial and unreliable effete.
Another way supplementing the recently mentioned one is to reduce, to say the least, the
Three Roots of Evil, making them weaker in degree and intensity. Of those Three, the last
one i.e. Delusion or Moha should be tackled first of all. This can be done through
informing people, the truths of Karmic effects surviving the body's dissolution of the
reality of realms of bliss and those of woe awaiting the disembodied persons and also of
the Dependent Origination, all in the terms and manner they can, understand and thereby be
convinced with an established faith. There must be enough places for them to go to study
and practise the Dhamma whenever they want to. The three-month leave of absence for
government officials to be ordained as Bhikkhus will not be as productive of desirable
results as to instruct them to know how to live a life of renunciation even while they
remain lay disciples and have to go about in the world, with responsibilities that they
are morally and dutifully bound to shoulder. However, the places should be appropriate of
them, blessed with healthy environment and competent teachers, whereas the time spent
therein could be something like one month. This may be likened to the introduction to
Thailand of the elementary ago. It was very difficult then to convince the people of how
the system of education introduced by His Majesty King Rama V would be of great benefit to
the people themselves. Nowadays most people are willing and eager to have as much
education as possible, both for themselves and their offspring. To educate people in this
Buddhist aspect, which is to uproot the causes of irregularities and corrupt practices in
our country, should be like that. There being no time for delay and procrastination, it is
imperative to start now. It is difficult to expect the results of Dhamma teaching just
through reading and listening. It must be accompanied, and supplemented by actual
practices, the knowledge how to apply the Buddha's Teachings to tackling and solving what
is to be encountered in daily life. It is through this combined, practical method that the
tangible, desirable results of the Buddha's Teachings can be reasonably looked forward to.