Join with the Evening Chanting
Every evening the monks get together, usually around 7 pm, to have a chanting service. Often local people will join in and you are welcome as well. This is a great way to get an experience of authentic Buddhist culture. It will usually begin by placing some items on the shrine. You may be invited to place some or just touch them as they are being carried.
There may be a chanting book in English for you to follow along with. You are also welcome to just listen. Below is a recording as well as the text of the first part of the service.
After the service, you are welcome to stay and speak with monks
Listen using the player above or download to listen later
When kids grow up attending quality Dhamma education, the teachings become a natural part of their life. Listen to this interview where two kids share their thoughts and experiences offering dana to the Mahasangha.
Better it is to live one day virtuous and meditative than to live a hundred years devoid of virtue and stillness of mind.
“Manopubbaṅgamā dhammā – manoseṭṭhā manomayā
Manasā ce paduṭṭhena – bhāsati vā karoti vā
Tato naṃ dukkhamanveti – cakkaṃva vahato padaṃ”
Este é o primeiro verso da coleção chamada Dhammapada, um dos livros que fazem parte do cânone Pāli, onde encontramos preservados os discursos do Buda na língua conhecida como “Pāli”.
Não é atoa que este verso inicie a coleção. Nestas poucas palavras, encontramos ensinamentos sutis, intimamente ligados às descobertas que o Buda realizou enquanto meditava sob a árvore Bodhi. Ao contemplar estas palavras, no entanto, é fácil deixar que a mente – o “personagem principal” do verso acima – preencha lacunas oferecendo interpretações imaginativas e levando-nos à becos sem saída (mesmo que sejam becos atraentes!).
A primeira linha do verso, por exemplo, é bastante popular e tem sido frequentemente traduzida como algo similar à “as coisas são criadas pela mente“, enquanto o restante é muitas vezes omitido. Ao leitor, parece que o Buda está afirmando que o oceano, as árvores, pássaros e planetas são frutos da nossa imaginação! O restante do verso, porém, trai esta proposta. E é nas palavras seguintes onde encontramos a chave para entendermos o que o Buda tem a nos dizer sobre a circunstância em que nos encontramos. Abaixo, ofereço uma tradução para o verso completo:
“A mente está à frente de tudo o que se sente
A mente está por trás de tudo o que se faz
Sobre tudo a mente é sempre evidente
Da mente, tais coisas são originais
Agir ou dizer palavra com a mente contaminada
Leva a dor a te seguir como a roda, o pé da vaca “
O tema do verso é, portanto, as ações que fazemos em nossas vidas e o efeito que elas produzem. Isso é, sua capacidade de criar sofrimento no futuro. E, por trás do nosso sofrimento e das ações, encontramos a nossa mente. Ao contemplar nosso comportamento no mundo, fica aparente o motivo que levou o Buda à apontar o holofote à nossa mente tão enfaticamente. Seja hoje ou há dois mil e quinhentos anos atrás, nós aparecemos nesse mundo ignorantes sobre seu funcionamento e, imersos nessa ignorância e em sofrimento, somos levados à crer que os outros, o universo ou divindades são os responsáveis pela nossa dor (e, ás vezes, que eles são responsáveis por nossas próprias ações, também!)
No entanto, basta um olhar sóbrio para concluir que os outros (ou divindades) não tem o poder de remover nossa dor. A dor, o Buda aponta, se faz presente enquanto suas condições estão presentes. E estas condições se alteram com nossas ações. O Buda, em seus discursos, declara que há ações saudáveis que possuem a natureza de produzir prazer e felicidade, e ações nocivas que possuem a natureza de produzir dor e sofrimento. E que “uma mente contaminada” nos leva a fazer escolhas e ações nocivas cujo resultado nos segue para onde quer que vamos – tal qual a metafora colorida oferecida pelo Buda.
Assim, no vasto número de ensinamentos do Buda ainda preservados, encontramos o mais profundo e sofisticado sistema ético ao nosso dispor, nos oferecendo em detalhes como conduzir, investigar e entender nossas vidas de forma a satisfazer nossa busca mais profunda e universal: a busca pela felicidade. Ou, pelo menos, aprender à diminuir nosso sofrimento. Hoje, nós, ocidentais, temos a oportunidade singular de acessar estes discursos em traduções modernas para o inglês e amplamente aceitas em meios monásticos e acadêmicos. Sugerimos as traduções dos quatro volumes de discursos do Buda realizadas pelo monge americano Bhikkhu Bodhi e sua antologia, In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon.
The Buddha taught us that ethics is the foundation for all of the good qualities we can develop in the mind. By following five basic training rules we can eliminate worry and regret that disturbs our meditation. As well, we avoid all the unpleasant results of unwholesome actions. Because this also has a positive benefit to those around us, the Buddha called these precept five great gifts.
At the beginning of many of our activities, the monks will give people the chance to take the precepts, although it is perfectly suitable to take them on your own at any time.
These are the five basic ethical rules the Buddha asked his lay disciples to follow:
- I observe the precept of abstaining from killing living beings. This means not intentionally causing the death of any living beings.
- I observe the precept of abstaining from stealing. This means not taking things that do not belong to us.
- I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct. This means not having sex with people we are not married to and with people against their will.
- I observe the precept of abstaining from telling lies. This means saying what is true at the proper time.
- I observe the precept of abstaining from using intoxicating drinks and drugs. By following this precept we are committed to having a clear mind at all times.
Buddhists will usually remind themselves of their commitment to keep these precepts by reciting them once a day. The also take the precepts when they come to a monastery.
When we realize we have broken a precept, we can immediately make the determination to follow it in the future. The Buddha taught us that even this intention is extremely powerful for our mental development.
It is important when we have doubts about the precepts to ask a knowledgeable good friend so we can have confidence in our actions. Sometimes we think we have broken a precept when we really haven’t. Sometimes we even think it is impossible to keep the precepts because of some misunderstanding.
Even though it is often difficult to keep the precepts, especially at the beginning, we will quickly see the benefits. When we meditate our minds won’t be troubled by worry and regret. When we think about the many bad results we have avoided by keeping the precepts, we will have a tremendous gratitude for the compassion of our teacher, the Supreme Buddha.
The Buddha called these ethical guidelines “great gifts” because of the immeasurable peace and comfort that following them brings to those people around us.
The Buddha also encouraged his lay disciples to observe some additional precepts as often as they could. They are known as the Eight Precepts.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Five Precepts
Can I break the precepts accidentally?
No, the Five Precepts cannot be broken accidentally. So, for example, if while we are walking we accidentally step on an insect, this does not break the precept of killing. If we unknowingly say something that is not true but we think it is, that does not break the precept of lying.
What if I break a precept?
This is totally normal and should be expected. We can’t do anything about the past other than re-commit to following the precept in the future. In the moment you realize you have broken a precept, reflect on what happened and determine to follow it in the future. This is why many people recite the precepts in the morning and evening each day. This has the double purpose of reminding us to follow the precepts as well as knowing that we are starting with a clean slate.
What if I broke the precepts in the past?
It’s fair to say that most people have broken precepts at some point in the past. The Buddha taught that it is not really helpful to spend time regretting things we have done in the past. What is helpful is trying to keep the precepts now.
Does eating meat count as killing?
No. Killing is killing and eating is eating. However if we tell someone to kill an animal, for any reason, that breaks the precept against killing. If we buy meat that was not killed at our request, that does not break the precept.
Does taking prescription drugs break the 5th precept?
No, not if they are prescribed by a doctor and are taken as instructed.
This is what we recite after listening to a sermon from the monks or at the end of a puja. You can download a PDF to learn on your own.
Okāsa vandāmi Bhante. Mayākataṁ puññaṁ, sāminā anumodi tabbaṁ.
Translation: Please, Bhante, kindly allow me to share with you the merit I have collected.
(Bhantes: Sādhu, Sādhu, anumodāmi! Good, good, I rejoice!)
Saminā katam puññaṁ, mayhaṁ dātabbaṁ
Translation: Please Bhante, kindly share with me the merit you have collected.
(Bhantes: Sādhu, Sādhu, anumodetha! Good, good, I share!)
Sādhu, Sādhu anumodāmi!
Good, good, I appreciate!
Okāsa! Dvārattena kataṁ sabbaṁ accayaṁ khamatha me Bhante.
Translation: Forgive me, oh Bhante, of any offences I may have committed by body, speech, or mind.
(Bhantes: Kamāmi kamitabbaṁ. I forgive)
Okāsa khamāmi Bhante!
Dutiyam’pi okāsa khamāmi Bhante!
Tatiyam’pi okāsa khamāmi Bhante!
Translation: I ask for forgiveness, oh Bhante!
For a second time, I ask forgiveness, oh Bhante!
For a third time, I ask forgiveness, oh Bhante!
Even if you are just visiting Sri Lanka for a short time, we would love to have you learn about Buddhism and meditation with us. Our activities are a great way for you to meet and learn from people who have been practicing the Buddha’s teachings in a Buddhist culture. Find out what to expect when you come to our activities.
You don’t need to worry about accidentally offending anyone. Colombo is a growing international city and folks here are accustomed to visitors from other cultures. The fact that you have an interest in Buddhism and meditation is so wonderful, we are happy to be patient and helpful.
There is no need to wear special clothes to our events, although it would be great if you could keep shoulders and knees covered. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it will help you blend in to the culture. Traditionally people often wear white clothes to Buddhist activities, but again it is optional.
You should always feel free to ask questions about anything that doesn’t make sense, either in the teachings or just the customs and traditions you observe.
Colombo Dhamma Friends is part of the Mahamevnawa (maha MAY oo NAA wa) network of monasteries. Our organization has over 60 branches in Sri Lanka and over 25 around the world. Some of our branches in Sri Lanka are especially well suited to visitors. Many are located close to popular tourist and religious sites. You can learn more about them on the monastery visit page of our main website. Many of the monks who teach at our English activities have lived abroad so you can feel free to ask them about our monasteries in your home country.
- You are welcome to bring your luggage with you. We believe that your belongings should be safe at the back of the meeting hall, but as always you should keep passport and valuables with you at all times.
- If you have a Sri Lankan sim card, you can drop the +94 to dial. Feel free to text or call. This may get you a quicker response.
- Although we do let people register for events, registration is not required. Just show up at a scheduled event and people will be happy to see you.
- Food at our activities is prepared by volunteers and may contain animal products. Feel free to ask about ingredients, but if you have strict health/diet requirements it may be best to bring your own food.
- If you like to stay at our monasteries while you are in Sri Lanka, please go to our organization’s website and apply.
- If you would like to make a day-visit to one of our monasteries, there is a list of monasteries that are especially suitable with visitor information. The closest monasteries to Colombo, where our events are held, are Kaduwela and Malambe. They have a good selection of our English Buddhist books.
At the most basic level, meditation in the Buddha’s teaching means training the mind. Training the mind to do what? To see things as they really are. Because this training in meditation is not specific to any time or place, we can easily learn this in English.
The mind that has not been trained in meditation fails to see things that are impermanent as impermanent. Because many things are slow to change, we can easily think that they will last forever. But when the mind is trained, it can see that even the things that seem very stable are still going to change.
We have several opportunities for people living in and visiting the Colombo area to learn Buddhist meditation. For the complete list, click on the activities tab at the top of the page. If you have any questions about our activities, please contact us.