Sunday, November 11, 2007

"What is wrong with my daughter's computer?"

I recently bought a new computer for my daughter. I had all the virus protection soft wear added to it as she uses different sites to download songs. It was working fine for a few months. Then suddenly a lot of "pop ups" were appearing on the screen and she could hardly work. I tried to help her; by running some antivirus software, but it did not help. Finally, I had to call my computer repair guy. He said the computer was heavily infected with some sort of viruses. He warned my daughter never to download songs using those sites again. Well, it did not happen. Two weeks later I saw her downloading songs... again!

This got me thinking again. I thought the human minds are somewhat similar to a computer. When you are a small child you are like a new computer. You don't have too many "viruses" like anger, hatred, jealousy, envy and greed. You may get angry, but you don't hold on to anger like adults do. Try to observe two kids playing together. They may start fighting after some time, for example for the same toy, and cry. The next moment they will forget all about it and play like best friends. As we get older our mind gets infected with many "viruses" such as anger, jealousy, envy, greed and so on. How do these viruses get to our mind? The only "download" sites are our six senses. These viruses are called defilements of the mind. In Buddhist literature they are called "taints" (fermentations). Now the question is what if your "hard drive" (mind) is already corrupted by "viruses" (defilemnts). How can you clean it? For this purpose Buddha has given a very detail disclosure called Sabbasava Sutta. In this sutta he gives a description of number of methods of preventing taints arising in the mind and completely eradicating them once they are already arisen. One of the many methods described here; is the practise of mindfulness meditation (Samatha and Vipassana meditation).

Once you clean your hard dive how do you protect it form further viral damage? For this Buddha gave complete an "antivirus software package" in one of his disclosure called, Nagara Sutta. Here he describes how to guard your mind against these defilements using a simile of a well guarded fortress. This is one of my favorite suttas. Here he describes seven methods of guarding a fortress (mind) form the enemy (defilements).

For example:
"Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity."

In this sutta Buddha also describes how to be self sufficient within the city with four types of foods and medicines, and to be happy. This is the achievement of a higher state of consciousness through the practice of meditation, called the Jhanas.

In this post I tried to compare how a computer and a human mind can get "corrupted", although the mind is far more complex and sophisticated than a computer. The mind in its "pure state" is free from all defilements but with time and the concept of "self" in the center of things, it gets corrupted (see previous post below). This is what is called the "conditioned mind." The routes of these corruptions come via our six senses. It is not possible to shut down our six senses and to get rid of these defilements but it is to restrain them with mindful reflection (see previous post below). The most important thing you can do to recover the "pure state of mind" is to reactivate the built in antivirus program, called mindfulness. If mindfulness meditation is practiced diligently (see previous post below), this will not only eventually remove all existing defilements of the mind but also prevent further propagation and infection of the mind with new defilements.

Related Suttas:

Related previous posts:

Why is this dog asking for more ? (Post on sensory restrains)


Dhamma81 said...

Dr. Walpola-

This is another nice analogy. I enjoyed reading through it.

Piyal Walpola, MD, PhD said...

Hi Justin
Thank you for your kind comments.

I want to encourage people to read these suttas. It may be a bit difficult to understand these when you first read them. However, this is the best way of understanding what Buddha really taught us. He has very clear messages for us in every one of them.

Piyal Walpola, MD, PhD said...

From: Ven. Walasmulle Jinarathana To:
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2007 1:35:03 AM
Subject: Re:We have read( Not all yet) your Blog site

To Dear Dr.Walpola

It is with unlimited happiness we say that your
dhamma website is a great, great work.
We were discussing with Rev. Jinarathana Hamuduruwo,
how your Blog can be teacher to anybody who really,
earnestly, wants to take the inner journey of Dhamma.
One only has to refer the great "Karmasthana" given
by you in the website and apply them, as an when, you
are taken over by hatred, resentment, anger and other
negative emotions and/or at many unhappy situations
that one can encounter in daily life. By practising
the "kamatahan" daily, would uplift one, to an
entirely different realm that their minds cannot even
imagine of.
Also the similies you have taken by your daughter's
computer, and how you could maintain a virus free
senses are truly gives lot of insights. How we
download viruses everyminute through our senses
without our knowledge, and makes us becomes victims
of our own ignorance is truly could awake many. You
have very nicely esxplained that we have a choice of
not to suffer due to untrained senses with the story
of Lance. Its Amazing the way you have turned every
thing that happens in the day today life to open
eyes of the people.
How nicely you have put that, unless someone speaks
to improve silence, then they better not to speak.
What a treasure that they carry in their body that
they are oblivious of. And how this inner silence
could lead them to this most pecious realm. This
is simply amazing, Doctor.
May you be protected by all the Devas.
May you gain a lot of wisdom to give more dhamma to
the world !
may people see subtle in the gross through your blog.
may people see similarity in the diversity through U.
may people see light in the darkness through you.
may people see truth in the untruth through you.
may people see life in death through you.
May many,many and more people get the benefit of your
dhamma and be fruitful in attaing the ultimate bliss.

Rev.Jinarathana, Saman, Sreema and Ratnapala