The Old Year has ended. The New Year has begun. In the New Year, every one of us would wish to build a better new life with renewed bodies and spirits. Yet, as we are worldly beings or “putujana”, we would find it difficult to lessen our latent defilement of attachment. Therefore, because of this difficulty it can be said that unresolved conflicts still cannot be uprooted. They still survive.
At present in human society, feelings of hatred are still growing between individuals and between groups. Originating from small normal matters and things of a contradictory nature, differing views and different beliefs arise. Thus the obsessive thoughts of Ego and Pride begin to grow and whether we are right or wrong we move headlong towards the path of conflict without any thought of retracing our steps. In such a case it is very difficult to put down the flames of anger.
In reality, no one would want conflicts which can cause sufferings. We continue to do foolish and wrong things because we cannot totally get rid of our greed, anger and ignorance. Therefore we should try to change our attitudes and mind-sets for the better. We should try to improve ourselves making our minds pure and wholesome so that we will gain the praise of devas and men.
We should imitate and emulate the life-style and manners of King Milinda who diligently practiced how to control his mind and thereby won the praise of wise men and the admiration of the multitudes. Although he was a sovereign monarch, with absolute power, the fact that he was able to lead a virtuous life and elevate himself to a higher level of spirituality can be regarded as a really remarkable feat of fulfillment or “parami”.
The way King Milinda disciplined himself was in this manner. When he got up in the morning he would not wear his normal clothes. Although he would not wear the robes of a monk, he would wear clothes that were equally pure and clean. He would then observe a discipline of “Eight characteristics” for seven days without fail.
Thus was his discipline of “Eight characteristics”. During these seven days he would not be interrupted by his kingly duties. He practiced self-control by controlling his lustful thoughts, his thoughts of anger, and his thoughts of ignorance. He disciplined himself by acting with humility towards his servants, workers and courtiers with a mind free from pride. He disciplined himself by controlling his words and actions; he trained himself so that he would not commit any unwholesome deeds based on what he saw, heard, touched or thought. He thus controlled his eye-door, ear-door etc. (all his six sense-doors). He declared to himself that he would radiate loving kindness or “Metta” to all sentient beings.
All men and women who wish to elevate themselves to a higher level of virtuous life should try to imitate the way King Milinda trained his mind. They should train their minds, where ever they may be, on a daily basis or even if it were only for one morning. They should practice purification of their minds to be free from unwholesome thoughts, as much as possible and as frequently as
possible. If they practiced thus, in time they will become virtuous persons and higher knowledge and deep faith will develop in their minds. For many days, the unwholesome thoughts which use to develop in their minds will no longer appear.
This world is mind made. This world is influenced by mind. All beings have to follow the dictates of the mind. Thus in this way, as we follow the dictates of our minds, we become overwhelmed by greed, anger and ignorance and begin to do unwholesome deeds and conflicts which should not have happened, happen. Therefore, we should discipline and train our minds as much as possible so that these things will not happen.
We have to encounter undesirable conflicts and sufferings, although we may not wish to, because this is in the nature of things. So to be able to face these undesirable things and lessen their impact upon us, we should contemplate and meditate upon loving kindness or “Metta”.