Sunday, 30 November 2014

"The Fires of Lust are the Fiercest of Fires"



The following is a quotation by the great Italian monk U Lawkanatha, who spent many years as a monk in Burma. After meeting Webu Sayadaw, he took a vow never again to lie down, which he upheld for the remaining decades of his life. He was also close to such 20th century luminaries as Ajahn Pannavadho, Sun Lun Sayadaw, B.R. Ambedkar, among others. His dreams of returning to Italy prior to World War II and converting Benito Mussolini to Buddhism did not pan out, and instead he found himself in a British POW camp. Undeterred, he argued that wearing the saffron robes negated any implied political involvement, and used his time at the prison to teach Dhamma to other political inmates. Following the war, he made the Buddha's teachings especially relevant in an age when there was a constant fear of nuclear annihilation. The following excerpt is from a speech given at Rangoon University:


"The only reliable Guide is the Greatest Physician in the Universe who removed his own cause of unhappiness who destroyed his Craving and attained the highest happiness through the destruction of the cause of unhappiness. Economic ways will never give happiness because economics never destroy Greed, Hatred and Ignorance. Each one must attain his own happiness within himself; each man must be a physician to himself. Only by conquering the passions, which burn within can one attain the cool state where there is no longer any burning. There is no fire like lust, our Lord Buddha said. It is the fiercest of all fires. And those who think that burning is a pleasure, well, they can go on burning. They can go on burning because our Lord Buddha said that the fires of lust are the fiercest fires. And we have been burning from the infinite past and we will go on burning to the infinite future until and unless we extinguish the flame by means of the water of Truth and by withholding the fuel. Adding water of Truth and withholding the fuel. Withhold what fuel? It is the fuel for the fires of passions. We must see without attachment. We must listen philosophically — seeing and knowing things as they really are without attachment. And once we see, we smell, we taste, we hear, we touch and we think without attachment, then, we are using the senses as our Lord Buddha used the senses — as the Master and not as a slave. He used the senses without clinging. This divine detachment withholds the fuel from the senses and by withholding the fuel the fires die."