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Good Will for All
 
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Good Will for All

- by S. N. Goenka

(The following is an extract from “Was the Buddha a Pessimist?” which is the translation and adaptation of the VRI Hindi publication “Kyā Buddha Dukkhavādī The?” written by Goenkaji. It has been adapted for the Vipassana Newsletter.)

For centuries in India, the Buddha and his teachings have been accused of being pessimistic. The implication is that the Buddha himself was miserable and unhappy. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a perfectly Enlightened One, the Buddha had come out of all the miseries of the world, and lived a life full of contentment and infinite happiness in every situation. To others also he gave nothing but happiness.

If someone is miserable, he can only spread misery. He cannot and does not uphold the welfare of all.

In contrast, the Buddha wished well for all with these words:
Sabbe sattā sukhī hontu.
May all beings be happy.

An incident from his life:
A Brahmin youth named Ambaṭṭha insulted the Buddha with many foul words. When Ambaṭṭha’s teacher Pokkharasāti heard about his impropriety, he begged forgiveness from the Buddha on behalf of his disciple. On that occasion, the Buddha said:
Sukhī hotu brāhmaṇa, Ambaṭṭho māṇavo.
O, Brahmin, may (your disciple) Ambaṭṭha be happy.

Another incident:
Suppavāsā of Koliya state was carrying a baby for a much longer time than normal. She was in extreme pain at the time of delivery of the baby. She sent a message to the Buddha about her condition. Great compassion arose in the Buddha and he sent his blessings:
Sukhinī hotu suppavāsā koliyadhītā.
Arogā arogaṃ puttaṃ vijāyatū.
Suppavāsā, daughter of the Koliyas, may you be happy. May you be healthy and give birth to a healthy boy.

His blessings bore fruit. Such was the compassion of the Buddha and such were his words of benediction. Yet he is called a pessimist by his critics.

Another incident:
After his retirement, King Kosala’s royal priest had gone south and settled on the banks of the Godavari. This priest, Brahmin Bāvarī, was 100 years old when he heard that a Sammā Sambuddha (A Self-enlightened One) had arisen in the state of Kosala. He sent his sixteen chief disciples to examine the claim. Upon reaching Sāvatthi, these disciples satisfied themselves that the recluse Gotama was indeed a Buddha. When one of the disciples saluted the Buddha and extended greetings on behalf of his teacher Bāvarī, the Buddha gave these words of blessing:
Sukhito Bāvarī hotu, sahasissehibrāhmaṇo;
Tvaṃ cāpi sukhito hohi, ciraṃ jīvāhi māṇavo.
May Brahmin Bāvarī be happy along with his disciples! May you also be happy! May you live long!

Would a pessimist who believes that life is nothing but misery give blessing for a long life (implying a curse for extended suffering)? Certainly not.

The Buddha’s mind was always full of loving-kindness. He taught his disciples to practice the meditation of loving kindness—that is, compassionate love, and regard for the welfare of all beings:
Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhītattā.
May all beings be happy.

Wherever people practise Vipassana in ten-day retreats around the world, they have the experience of this loving kindness. After having purified their minds as much as possible in ten days of intensive Vipassana meditation, they learn the practice of loving kindness (mettā bhāvanā). Even during the course, the meditation site is charged with the vibrations of this benevolent declaration:
Bhavatu sabba maṅgalaṃ!
May all beings be happy!

People who attend these courses and experience these benevolent feelings understand that the Buddha was a promulgator of Dhamma, of welfare, of happiness.


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