Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part V, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(77) It is pitiable not having anything to depend upon

          ‘Atano loko anabhissaroti passantanam buddhanam
          bhagavantanam , sattesu mahakaruna. okkamati.”

Loko – All beings, atano – have no one to look after them, anabhissaro – and nothing to depend upon. Iti passantanam Having perceived as such, nay, seeing as such, buddhanam bhagavatanam – in Holy Buddhas, sattesu – towards beings, mahakaruna – Great Compassion or self-sacrificing compassion, okkamati – has occurred or sprung up.

It means that all living beings have no one to protect or look after them and no one to rely upon. Korabya King not being able to grasp the meaning of this statement had once asked Ashin Ratthapala: “0, Ashin Ratthapala! We have many armed forces to defend and protect us. They are to be relied upon. What is then the, intention conveyed I the statement, ‘Have no one to protect and rely upon?” Thereupon, Ashin Ratthapala queried, “O, Your Majesty Korabya! Don’t you ever have any affliction? If that afflicted disease ill-treats you cruelly, how would you feel?” To this query, King Korabya replied: “When this disease becomes very serious and ill-treats me, I will suffer gravely to the point of near death. There had been occasions when my relatives in close proximity of my sick-bed wept bitterly, even shedding tears thinking that I was about to die.”

Having heard this reply, for the purpose of verification, another question put was: “0, King Korabya! When this disease had caused you terrible pain and suffering, could you share it with your relative’s and friends? Will you be able to share the suffering if you ask them to give you relief. To this, King Korabya gave his reply, “Sir, it’s impossible to share it. Neither can they take a share in it. I alone have to suffer severely and endure the pain with all the ill-power at my command.” Ashin Ratthapala then explained saying, “Aye! Exactly, Your Majesty, Buddha has therefore preached that just as there is no one who can give protection and on whom reliance can be made in times of extreme distress such as this, living beings also have no one to protect them and in whom refuge can be sought.”,

Despite the presence of parents and relatives who are rendering utmost assistance and giving full protection, they cannot possibly prevent their dear ones from getting old, sick and suffering death. No one is capable of looking, after another to keep him always young and vigorous. When the time comes, one is sure to get old. This nature of old age cannot be shared. In case, it can be shared, by distributing part and parcel of it to others, one would have become always youthful and sprightly. If it can be done that way, how fine it would be.

Though preventive measures in regard to health can be taken by appropriate drugs and medicines, total prevention against diseases is impossible. If really serious or malignant disease is afflicted, no perfect cure can be done. Suffering from disease can neither be shared in piecemeal. If it is within the bounds of possibility to share, the sufferings, how nice it would be.

No one can possibly prevent death. Old age, sickness and death cannot be prevented by anyone. No one can also prevent a person from descending to the Four Nether Worlds to which he is destined after his demise. Realising this fate of all living beings, Buddha had bestowed his immense compassion on them. Let us recite a motto in the light of what has just been stated:

          “Without a protector and without anything to rely upon, how feeble and weary we are.”

In the entire Universe, no one will be found who can save a person to get liberated from the sufferings of old age, sickness and death, or to escape from descending to the Nether World, or to get emancipated from the miseries of Samsara. According to the Doctrine of the creator of mankind, God is said to be able to save mankind. Nevertheless, adherent to this Doctrine will also, in the course of time, become old, sick and meet with death like any other beings. On the other hand, the manner in which Buddha saves all mankind is by way of preaching – laying down the method of practice to get liberated from the world of sufferings and miseries. It is something like prescribing and administering medicines by a physician to a patient under treatment. Just as the sick who complies with the advice and instructions given by the doctor, has recovered from sickness, a person who obeys and complies with the instruction of the Lord Buddha and practises according to his teachings, will be liberated from the miseries of Apaya and Samsara. The meaning of this statement as preached by the Buddha is as mentioned below.