‘I-ing’ and ‘My-ing’   by Palitha Manchanayake- Published by Buddhist Cultural Centre, Nedimala, Dehiwala

Reviewed by : D B Kuruppu,  Melbourne  March 2012

A USEFUL COLLECTION OF ESSAYS ON BUDDHA DHAMMA

“Sir as a matter of fact as regards the Dhamma, I have nothing to learn from you. Your lectures were in perfect accord with the Dhamma texts, but it was quite evident that you spoke without understanding anything of what you said.”

Starting to write about Palitha Manchanayake’s new book “I-ing and My-ing”, I can not ignore the challenging words of an un-named Sil Matha quoted by Mr. Bogoda Premaratne in the enlightening foreword he has contributed to the book.

As Mr. Premaratne himself realized the importance of practice as against talking or preaching Buddhism, practicing Buddhism again can be an exercise in ritual rather than grasping the essence of what Buddhist practice ought to be. As Bandu Dissanayake points out in his brief introduction, the author of this book “goes beyond the traditional rites and rituals many Buddhists are accustomed to observe”. The author is well aware that his readership wants to know more about what is applicable in their day-to-day lives.

Although I take an interest in what Palitha Manchanayake writes for Pahana and his current publication, I am no Buddhist scholar. As such I am not qualified to discuss and debate the intricate concepts he is dealing with. Let me therefore, touch on some of the basic thoughts and observations he offers the reader in simple language in an effective manner.

Being a regular meditator, Palitha offers the novice some useful guidelines for him or her to overcome the ever present problem of getting into the proper mood. Let me quote from his essay on ‘Being at the Present Moment’:

“In order to develop a meditative mind, we also need to calm our senses. We do not have to deny our senses, that would be foolishness, but see them for what they are. We hardly pay attention to what the senses do. If we look at each of these sense contacts, they only last for a very short period of time, like few seconds, and then pass away very quickly. All these sense contacts, whether they are contacts through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind, would pass away very quickly as it is their nature. Thus what we need to do is to calm our senses to a point where these sense objects no longer tempt us to action. If we watch our senses with mindfulness more often and regularly, then this becomes a habit and is no longer difficult to practice and life will be much more peaceful.”

Palitha differs from the traditional preacher who is bound to quote examples from ancient stories. He uses down-to earth examples to illustrate the point he makes. Best example is the story of the Professor of Business Studies in his article ‘Seeing Reality as It Is’. Here the Professor who was planning to save money for a family holiday is taught a lesson in simple living by a villager who was catching fish for his family.

The twenty one essays in this collection cover a wide range of subjects which should receive serious consideration from every one who looks for the essence of Buddhism. This is a book that would not only raise the interest of readers interested in Dhamma, but also should serve as an invitation to other scholars to actively take part in the discussion of the doctrine and the practice of Buddhism.

 

 

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