It would do well to ponder, further, on ‘Features of the Mind’ as explained by the Buddha according to ‘The Buddha’s Explanation of the Universe’ by C. P. Ranasinghe, my teacher at my alma mater Ananda College, Colombo in the 1950s, to mark this year’s Nikini Full Moon Poya Day falling today, 25 August 2018.
The functions of the six sub-currents have some semblance to the formation of the first six waves of increased strength which occur in the reflective beats of mind.
These currents spring in the same order as they are mentioned above and their respective presence in active force causes successive reflective waves of intensified and increased strength until, at the first contact wave, they release their maximum strength.
These maximum strengths continue in all the recurrent waves and in the two final waves they ebb and disappear completely with the beat of the mind.
Reflection Waves in a Beat of Mind
It is very important that we should comprehend the basic features of the 17 waves occurring in each of the beats of the mind in order to understand the process of life, feeling and thought. We must particularly note that for the purpose of the preservation of life itself in each physical frame, the formation of life waves in the beats of the mind alone is adequate, whilst the production of strong reflective waves is essential for the purpose of causing feelings and thoughts.
Defilements and Purity
The mind, in its contents, is a mixture of impressions of defilements and purity. Deposits of these impressions are present in varying proportions and they affect the mind in two different ways.
The presence of impressions of defilements, blur the lights of the mind; the impressions of purity increase the light with additional brightness and lustre.
Both kinds of impressions, defiling and pure, exist in the minds of all beings. In the normal human being, the defiling impressions present in the mind, blur all the life waves in his mind so much that the entire brightness and light of the mind lie hidden behind them.
It is usual in all units of mind for defilements to come atop purity and because of this, such impressions of purity as exists in the human mind are concealed in the core of the mind, the shades of defilement covering them.
The shades of defilement obstruct the activity of the pure mind and the operation of the waves of reflection pushes the defilements aside temporarily. The core of the mind thus springs to the surface for a while.
Effects of Defilements
The intensity of the shades of defilement varies from being to being. Whilst in the lower beings, such as the animals, these defilements are in thick formation, the defilements present in the normal man are very slight.
Man’s mind is more pure than it is defiled, so that the activity of the waves in exposing the inner mind is very much easier, quicker, and effective.
The lower beings find this process difficult, slower, and ineffective, because the shades of defilement their inner minds have to penetrate are more intensely formed and, therefore, require more effort to penetrate through.
Even among human beings, there exists a variation in the intensity of the presence of deposits of shades of defilement, but the difference between the average intensity and the two extremes of highest and lowest intensities is so slight, that it is almost negligible.
The difference between the prudent and the foolish, the learned and the illiterate, the prodigy and the dunce – if one is competent to make such pronouncements – is to be found in the degree of the presence of these shades of defilements.
The prudent, the learned and the prodigy, have less defilements in their minds and, therefore, the defilements clear from their minds easily and thus the exposure of the inner mind is more rapid.
But in the case of the foolish, the illiterate and the dunce, the inner mind is covered by thicker coats of defilements, and hence, to clear them is difficult, with the result that the inner mind springs to the surface less rapidly.
Two people may look at the same picture, yet one of them sees a fraction more in it than the other. Similarly, two people may read the same book, but one of them gathers more information from it than the other.
The variation of the intensity of the shades of defilement causes such differences. These differences between any two human beings, however, are very slight; it is merely because the variation itself between any two beings of the same species is very slight.
Pure Mind Covered by Defilements
In life waves occurring in beats of mind, the shades of defilement keep on gathering to the surface, so that the pure mind remains concealed within.
It is only the pure mind that is powerful enough to receive reflections and, when the pure mind remains thus obscured, the sense organs do not function.
And without the aid of the sense organs, the mind does not cause any thinking, or passions, or emotions.
The filaments of the common currents of the mind, however, whilst causing the formation of life waves, spring to the sense organs continuously. Being very sensitive, they kindle the flow of the six currents of supplement, and develop additional forces, whenever the presence of a discernible projective polish element is located.
Exposure of the Inner Mind
In six distinct successive stages, the currents of supplement uncover the traces of defilement from the mind, and when the stage of contact wave is reached, the inner powerful mind gets exposed.
The exposure continues through each of the seven recurrent waves, and, thus, for eight tiny moments, the inner mind reflects the projective polish element in its presence.
As the end of the beat of the mind draws nigh and the close season sets in, the forces of the six currents of supplement collapse. The waves recede and with them the shades of defilement return, covering and obscuring the inner mind completely again.
Smoking, Drinking Not in Our Culture
There is no mention in our history of the ordinary people drinking liquor. The only mention is of Kings celebrating war victory with victory drinks (jaya paen) along with the Generals.
It was when liquor was introduced into the country by the invading Westerners that the ordinary people formed the habit of drinking liquor.
The local inhabitants who saw the Portuguese on their first landing in the island eating bread and drinking wine are supposed to have said that fair skinned people were seen eating quartz and drinking blood.
It is also said that the British introduced whiskey to King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, who never betrayed the nation and the religion and kept the powerful British Army away from the Kandyan Kingdom, through Kandyan aristocrats, making the King a ‘mad’ and eccentric alcoholic and that he perpetrated acts such as killing Ehelepola’s wife and children under the influence of heavy alcohol.
Not stopping at that, the British, after they became the undisputed rulers of this country, made the distilling of arrack, one of the main sources of their income, thereby, also promoting the habit of drinking to be widespread among the people.
Those who had no access to taverns, located mainly in the towns because Sinhala Buddhists in the villages opposed taverns being opened, began to distil illicit liquor first out of coconut toddy called ‘pot arrack’ (haeli arakku) and later ‘kasippu’, both kinds of such liquor in any case being poisonous because it is not distilled at the correct temperature, thereby, the product becoming lethal methyl and not the edible ethyl alcohol. Alcohol affects the liver irrespective of whether it is methyl or ethyl and above all it causes temporary insanity in medico-legal terms due to irreparable brain damage.
Sura Virodhi Vyaparaya or the movement against liquor launched by Anagarika Dharmapala in 1895 was followed by the Temperance Movement.
The Temperance Movement motivated by Buddhism and anti-colonialism was a frontline organization of the National Independence Movement. It was so successful that the number of taverns was reduced from 2,038 to 190.
However, one of the main purposes of gaining independence has been defeated because it was not followed up and now there is a wine shop, a liquor bar or a tavern for every few hundred yards.
Drinking affects not only physical and mental health but also family life, eating into the family income, as well as disrupting children’s education and resulting in unhappiness.
Recently, I was moved by seeing a man buying a quarter bottle of arrack from a wine shop, opening it, drinking a little, the stopper falling to the ground and the man bending but not having the strength to pick it up spilling some of the arrack on the ground. Harrowing scenes of drunken men having fallen by the roadside with their trouser and/or shirt pockets emptied by passers-by is also a common sight.
One of my earliest recollections of a drunken man was as so long ago, as 1949. One day when my father was taking me home from the teachers’ quarters of a school at Jampettah Street, Kochchikade, Colombo where I was staying to attend school a man having drunk toddy at a tavern was there in the bus with his son of about 10 years.
The child was crying aloud throughout the journey of nearly 20 miles unable to bear the trouble his father was creating in the bus inconveniencing all the other passengers.
Independence on 4 February 1948
That was barely two years after we obtained independence on 4 February 1948. It is a pity that the Temperance Movement was not continued with the same vigour and enthusiasm as it was started and carried on in the pre-independence days.
It is now, more than at any other time in our history, that we need to practise temperance. It is said that it is not only the high class women who drink to warm up their bodies, but even school girls among whom beer drinking has become a fashion, nowadays.
Drinking has become a problem not only in Sri Lanka where the Buddhist population is over 70.2% but also in Thailand that never came under Western dominance and where Buddhists comprise over 94% of the population.
This goes to show that cultural invasion and neo-colonialism are far worse than colonialist-imperialism itself. We are now being taught what to eat and what to drink, what to dress and wear, how to live, by the neo-colonialists who have come back in the garb of globalization.
Arrack and other foreign drinks have taken the place of kithul, coconut and palmyra toddy or palm-wine as it called by Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola in his 1952 novel ‘The Palm-Wine Drinkard’.
Quite astonishingly there are far more people aping the West now than during the pre-freedom era.
The Government must give serious thought to reversing this trend making Sri Lanka valued for her purity and indigenous richness and make her a dry tourist destination which our intelligent foreign guests with a refined taste who come to learn about Theravada Buddhism will for certain appreciate very much.
It is a fallacy to say that all tourists come here to smoke and drink. In point of fact, a French Professor and his Teacher wife were taken around the country for one whole month, by my tour operator son, himself performing the role of interpreter, visiting the main centres of Buddhist learning in the country, when they came here, after being told in Thailand that it’s in Sri Lanka that Theravada Buddhism is there in its purest form.
The latest finding is that in Sri Lanka, 80 young people are becoming smokers and drinkers per day at present, cigarette smoking also being a curse brought here by the British.
On a personal note I was introduced to smoking and drinking, at 21 when I was a first year university student in 1960 when we went on an excursion, in Hingurakgoda. However, I never became an addict to either of the two vices and in some years I smoked only one cigarette.
My intake of alcohol too was negligible but seeing my blood report 10 years after I stopped both habits completely at the age of 65 years, Dr. Ranil Jayasena, leading Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon, currently also a Colombo Municipal Councillor, observed some liver damage.
He prescribed a course of vitamins for one month and seeing the blood report, thereafter, he said the damage has been repaired and added that even a very small quantity of alcohol can cause permanent liver damage.
So, it is imperative that just as the Government has been spearheading the anti-smoking campaign, an anti-alcohol campaign should be commenced without delay, in all earnest.
There seems to be a misconception among even young men today that while smoking is bad drinking is not so harmful. On the contrary liquor is something that is not needed by the body at all. It contains no nutrients other than carbohydrates which get converted to sugar.
While it is cancer causing to take hard liquor neat, to take it mixed with sugary drinks is a sure way to get diabetes. Intake of alcohol has to be discouraged for that reason alone if not for any others. So, liquor is something that is totally unnecessary!