In the footsteps of the Buddha, monks and nuns today continue the tradition of the Rains Retreat. This is a time they dedicate to focus on their own spiritual development. But the Rains Retreat is not just for the benefit of the monastics; for even in the time of the Buddha, lay followers would eagerly go to the monasteries where the monks or nuns were having their retreat to listen to their teachings.
In the same spirit, even as spiritual teacher, Bhante K. Rathanasara, enters the Rains Retreat from 24th July to 20th October 2021, the devotees are invited for 13 weeks of weekly dhamma practice sessions. Each session starts with paying homage to the Buddha, a dhamma talk based on the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta, followed by a spiritually uplifting chanting of the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta, and ends with sharing of merits.
The 13 weeks of dhamma talks are made available here for all who wish to learn and deepen their understanding of Dhammacakkappavattana sutta, the sutta in which the Buddha first taught the Four Noble Truths.
Two Extremes and Middle Path
True happiness, insights and liberation, just some of the fruits of the noble life, are to be attained by following the Middle Path. Middle because it avoids the two extremes of addiction to sensual pleasure and self-mortification practices of some ascetics. But what’s harmful about the two extremes? How does staying on the Middle Path take us to the noble life? How did the Buddha arrive at this conclusion?
The Truth of Unsatisfactoriness
The Buddha described the fact of suffering as the first Noble Truth. This underscores how important it is for us to realize its deep significance for the Buddhist path. What did the Buddha mean by suffering? What about the pleasures and good experiences we enjoy? Are they suffering too? How does understanding and realizing the first noble truth set us off on a path of transformation?
Why does suffering exist? The second of the Four Noble Truths tells us its root cause is our craving. We may not realize it but this craving is so powerful and intense, it literally drives us around seeking pleasures here, there and everywhere. It even drives us to take up future existence. Understanding this noble truth is in seeing how insatiable our craving is and how it will inevitably lead to suffering.
Freedom and Bliss
Nibbana – the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path. But what is Nibbana and how can we arrive at it? The suttas offer glimpses of Nibbana as a blessed state free of all suffering, of perfect peace and supreme happiness. But these descriptions can offer no more than just glimpses; for Nibbana can only be understood through direct knowledge of experience. So how can we come to realize Nibbana? The answer lies in the Noble Eight-fold Path.
The Path to Enlightenment
How can we truly understand dukkha, uproot our defilements and achieve Nibbana? The answer lies in the fourth Noble Truth where the Buddha laid out the Noble Eight-fold Path. It is a path of mental cultivation, and of the development of our ethics and wisdom. You will find no other path to Enlightenment that is as good, straight, systematic and proper as this. How so? This talk offers an overview of the Noble Eight-fold Path and how it will take us all the way to Nibbana.
The final breakthrough on the Buddhist path comes with the true wisdom that arises only with direct experience of the Dhamma. Yet, some initial wisdom is required if we are to head in the right direction and be on the path in the first place. This initial wisdom arises from having the right understanding and the right thoughts – the first two factors of the Noble Eight-fold Path. How does initial wisdom arise from these two factors? How can it be developed? How do they keep us on the path?