To : Exco, members of sjba and all devotees
Sukhī Hotu ! May all of you be happy and safe, endowed with mental happiness always.
Offering of Kaṭhina robe is a significant observance in the Buddha Sāsana (Teachings of the Buddha).
It is the aspirations of faithful followers of Triple Gem to perform every meritorious deed as merits is the source of worldly blessings and mundane happiness — of health, wealth, long life, beauty and favourable rebirth. As such, those desire to reap mundane happiness often emphasized the accumulation of merits from the practice of various meritorious deeds. There is no doubt about this element of truth i.e. meritorious deeds yield the results of fulfilling the doer’s mundane desires, but it should not eclipsed the noble aim in the practice of the Dhamma. Seen in the right perspective, merits is a supporting condition to living a Holy Life (living a noble life guided by the Noble Eightfold Path), a means of self-development leading to the pinnacle of Holy Life — destruction of all kinds of mental defilements and attainment of Enlightenment. The Enlightenment which signifies ultimate purity of mind.
Thus, accumulation of a “store of merits”, to be sure, is not in itself sufficient to guarantee the attainment of this goal. It should be kept in balance with its counterpart to achieve the noble aim. The counterpart of merits is the practice of insight knowledge (ñāṇa) or wisdom (paññā) which has the function to uproot ignorance or delusion — the root of defilements and evils.
The aspirants of Holy Life, in the quest for Enlightenment, need to accomplish the practice of merits and wisdom. The practice of merits give rise to mundane happiness, favourable rebirth in saṃsāra (cycle of birth and death), association with wise friends to guide one’s footsteps to tread on the Noble Path, and cultivation of virtues which is the primary requisite for higher attainment. The practice of wisdom is to see all conditioned things as they really are, which is noble and penetrative, which leads to the complete destruction of mental defilements and attainment of Enlightenment. Such wisdom that is functioned together in unison with the practice of merits will lead to the achievement of noble aim. It is said that if wisdom be the flower that gives rise to the fruit of Enlightenment, and faith or confidence (saddhā) the seed out of which the flower unfolds, then merits is the soil, water, sunlight and fertilizers all in one, the indispensable nutrients for every stage of growth in the Path.
Deeds are merits if it is performed with purity of mind — a state of mind which involves volition that is not defiled by craving, conceit and wrong view. As such, this process of merit-making involved the mind and in turn, serves as a conducive condition for the mind to absorb wisdom. When one undertakes the performance of merits and the practice to develop wisdom diligently and repeatedly, there will be growth of a various wholesome qualities in the mind as well. It would then lead to the arising of supramundane wisdom of the Noble Path. It is the supramundane wisdom that has the power to eradicate totally the mental defilements, and achievement of ultimate purification of mind. In other words, ultimate purity of mind should be the noble aim in following the Buddha Sāsana.
On this auspicious occasion of Kaṭhina offering, let’s make a right aspiration to direct our effort to the practice of merits and wisdom for the sake of realizing this noble aim. May all pious devotees of Triple Gem will realize the Noble Truth soon and live in peace and happiness.