By Nhat Quan
One day, the Buddha was preparing a doctrinal consultation for all the officials of the City of Savatthi at Jetavana Vihara, and King Prasenajit and his entourage, after paying homage to the Blessed One, sat to one side and asked:
- Dear World Honored One! Did the Brahmins after death be reborn as Brahmins? Was it the same with the royal class, the merchant class, and the slave class?
To understand the problem, you first need to find out why King Prasenajit asked the Buddha such a question.
According to ancient Indian history, the ancient Persians now known as Iran belonged to a race of white invaders who defeated black Indians. In order to seize power and discriminate between classes, some powerful people created Manu law, claiming that Brahma heaven gave birth to all things. According to the ancient feudal class, whoever is born into any class is the same before and after, it cannot be changed.
So what is feudalism?
Feudalism is the ordination of titles and the division of land. This is a word of Chinese-Vietnamese origin that comes from the political ideology of the Western Zhou Dynasty, in China. At this time, King Chu gave land to his relatives to establish vassal states called feudal relatives. Because this regime is similar to the system of giving land to military officers in Europe, the word feudalism was used to translate féodalité from French. However, these two words only reflect the form of land division, not the nature of that regime. In European languages, féodalité comes from the Latin feod, which means hereditary territory.
In each country and each region, feudalism has its own characteristics of different types.
In the West, the basic features of feudalism were the colonial economy, lords and serfs, and a caste system based on the lord and vassal relationships.
In the East, the Landlord economy is the relationship between landlords and farmers. This is a centralized landownership regime, which was born early and lasted for a long time. Although there are differences between the West and the East, there is a common tendency that these classes to be arranged and formed according to a certain legal system. According to ancient tradition, there is a supreme being who blesses and brings disaster to this world. And whoever is rich is forever rich, and he who is a slave is forever a slave...
In addition, you can also understand the other way. The word Phong means bee. The word Kien is an ant. Therefore, the word feudalism also has a hidden meaning that an organization is arranged like the organization of bees and ants. In the hive of bees, which level works according to that level:
- Worker bees only build a nest,
- Water bees specialize in collecting water,
- Honey bees specialize in collecting honey,
- Doctor bees specialize in making honey suitable for each species,
- Guard bees are responsible for monitoring and guarding carefully,
- Male bees take care of breeding,
- Female bees lay eggs.
Because there is only one female bee but there are hundreds of male bees, the female bee is honored as the queen bee. The queen bee is given a special food called queen honey. When the queen bee comes to the honey bee to eat, all the bees kneel down to show respect, shyness, and fear. One queen bee is capable of producing hundreds of thousands of baby bees. If there is a shortage of what kind of bees are in the hive, the physician bees make food for the queen bee to eat and produce that kind of bee. Like a hive without honey-sucking bees, the queen bee lays many honey-sucking bees. Especially when it comes to laying baby queen bees, once in a while, only three eggs at a time, but it's barbaric. The mother bee knew when the baby was hatching, so she went to lie down and waited, the first egg had just hatched, and the mother bee immediately bit the baby queen to death. Next, the second queen bee continued to be born and remained unharmed. This is a strange thing about bees, but this second queen bee is lying in wait, waiting for the third queen bee to be born, and then bites to death. It's barbaric, the bee family is like that.
It's about bee society. However, in human society, people are wiser and should take advantage of the power of arrangement like bees, in the name of a supreme being who has the power to bless and bring disaster to impose and rule. Humans in the past, with their diverse natural forms, were small compared to this vast universe, so they were not wise enough to know the truth before phenomena such as thunder, tsunami, earthquake, fire, and floods, special the epidemic claimed many human lives. No one could find the cause, so they had to accept to surrender to the fate arranged by God.
And with this factor, powerful people take advantage of ignorant people, so they set up a powerful person and claimed to be the son of heaven, sent by the Supreme One to earth to rule the world. Today, thanks to the progress of science, people are more and more civilized, so they have discovered that all phenomena in the world are caused by many causes combined, nothing is formed by one cause. It is a science that has clarified the Buddhist doctrine of cause and effect. If this is, then that is, if this is not, then that is not, nothing is fixed. No one has the right to bless or harm anyone.
That is why King Prasenajit asked Buddha:
- Are all Brahmins after death reborn as Brahmins? The same is true of the royal class, the merchant class, and the slave class.
Then Buddha replied:
- That's not right
And the Buddha showed the king as well as the entire audience clearly and practically. Everything can be changed depending on the ability of each person to practice, so there are four types of people you need to know:
- Someone from dark to dark,
- Someone went from dark to bright,
- Some people go from bright to dark,
- Someone went from bright to bright.
1- From dark to dark,
There are some people here who were born into poor, lowly families, hired workers, slaves, butchers, fishers, trappers, dumpers, and other lowly occupations. Not enough rice, not enough clothes to wear, lack of food, poverty, illness, premature death, ugly body, always doing these lowly things called dark.
In that dark place, that poor, miserable person who did not believe in cause and effect added anger, evil thoughts, wrong views, ignorance, and disrespect to the monks, those who hold the precepts and always obstruct the wise. The body often does evil deeds, the mouth speaks evil, and the mind thinks evil thoughts. Because of that, after death, that person is reborn in evil hells, hungry ghosts, and animals, and suffers many retributions. Such a person always lives in darkness, ignorance, and confusion, in this life doing evil, in the next life doing evil, and does not know the way. People from dark to dark are also like that.
The first category of people are those who have low merit and virtue because they do not know how to do good deeds, and do not meet good teachers and friends, so they spend their whole lives in suffering and confusion. Because you did bad things in your previous life, harming people and animals, this life was born in a bad place, but you did not learn, cultivate knowledge, do not know right and wrong, so you have to accept life as a duckweed drifter, drifting clouds. Living in sorrow, suffering, eventually falling into a dark, obscure place, and continuing to create bad karma, you have to endure forever in the dark place.
These people are more pitiable than blameworthy because they do not have enough blessings to be close to good teachers and good friends. So you need to care, create all the most favorable conditions to have a good relationship with them, how to be close to them, and have the opportunity to share from material to spiritual means. Instruct them to know deeply about cause and effect to reduce harmful actions to people and animals.
2- From dark to bright
There are some people here who were born into poor, lowly families, hired workers, slaves, butchers, fishers, trappers, garbage collectors, and other lowly occupations. The food is not enough, the clothes are not enough to wear, the poverty is poor, the disease dies prematurely, the body is ugly, always doing lowly things and also being ordered by people to do lowly things. It's called dark.
Although you are in a dark place, you have faith, and less anger, and often give birth to a heart of compassion, giving away from greed. When you see monks, precepts, and multiculturalists, you often demean yourself and visit, help, and advise others to give alms and praise the givers and recipients. The mind always thinks good things, speaks good words with the mouth and does good deeds with the body. You always respect true practitioners and know how to help and share when meeting people in need. Because of that, after death, you are reborn in the heavens or return to be rich and powerful. It is like someone stepping on a palanquin from the earth, from a palanquin onto a horse, from a horse to an elephant, or from an elephant to upstairs. People from dark to bright are also like that
The second type of person is a progressive person, although, in a bad situation, you are fortunate to have good friends and knowledge to guide and teach you to recognize the past mistakes made you. You try to be diligent, patient, determined to overcome, renew yourself by repenting, promising to leave bad karma, and depending on your ability and life circumstances to do good deeds, so turn bad results into good causes. Hence you get from dark to bright.
3- From bright to dark
Here you are born into a noble family, with status and fame in society. Wealthy Brahmin families, rich kings, and mandarins, lots of money, many servants, nice bodies, and dignified, intelligent, and wise are called bright.
But right now you don't have faith in the Three Jewels, a lot of anger, greed, evil thinking, wrong delusion, and no respect for monks and nuns, spiritual practitioners. Criticism does not praise, or hinder the giver, nor does almsgiving. The body often does evil deeds, speaks evil words, thinks evil thoughts, harms people, and harms animals. Because of that predestined condition, after you die, you will fall into the three evil paths and suffer many retributions. It's like someone stepping down from a high floor to an elephant, from an elephant to a horse, from a horse to a palanquin, from a palanquin to the ground, from the ground to a cellar, and into a deep pit. It's the same when you go from bright to dark.
The third class of people, although blessed in the present, because of the wrong perception according to the fixed point of view, this life intentionally causes sins, until the blessings come to an end, you have to accept the results of suffering. Like people from bright to dark.
4- From bright to bright
You were born into a rich, noble family with high status and reputation in society. Have a lot of money, a lot of knowledge, a royal life, a lot of servants, and get whatever you want.
The present you are rich in faith, not angry, often ashamed, and far away from hatred, delusion, and envy. Seeing the monks and nuns, the cultivators who kept the precepts, were well-versed, respectfully greeted, visited, and helped as they needed. Advise those who make offerings, praise others to give, and the recipients of alms. The mind always thinks well, speaks good words with the mouth, does good deeds with the body, and often advises everyone to do the same. You are like that, after you die due to that good cause, you should be reborn in the heavens to enjoy superior blessings. It's like you go straight to the upper floors from the land and walk comfortably on it. People from bright to bright are also like that.
The fourth type of person is you who always shine everywhere because you deeply believe in the Three Jewels. Deeply believing in cause and effect, and understanding the value of life, you always benefit sentient beings, always sharing blessings and peace with everyone in the spirit of selflessness and altruism.
Reading through the Sutra of Cause and Effect, you see that the cause and effect of Buddhism are very broad and liberal. Because a large number of people in the world are mistaken: You are human when you die, they are reborn in the human realm. You are in heaven when you die, they are reborn in heaven's realm, and you are an animal when you die, you give birth to animals. You don't know your life is a constant stream of changes moment by moment. From the moment you were born, you have suffered the karmic retribution of the past. Gradually becoming a grow up is it has created new karma. If you meet good conditions in good circumstances, are close to good knowledge, and teach good things, you will advance to good realms. On the contrary, if you are close to evil people, in bad circumstances, polluted by evil karma, you will fall into the evil realms. Thus continuing ups and downs from life to life, never-ending because of doing karma to pay off, payback and then cause karma, etc. So here the Buddha mentioned four types of people:
 - People from dark to dark.
- People from dark to bright.
- People from bright to dark.
- People from bright to bright.
 The first category of people is those with poor virtue. In your previous life, you have sown unwholesome causes, so now you encounter evil retribution. But you also do not know how to do good to convert the karma of suffering, you have to suffer the consequences forever (like from dark to dark).
The second type of person is also in a bad situation due to past karma, but you know how to turn bad karma into good karma, that is, you stop suffering from dark to bright.
The third class of people is a person of merit and virtue, who created good causes in previous lives, and enjoys good results in this life. But they don't know how to cultivate, just enjoy the pleasures, create bad karma, and then have to reap the results of suffering like from bright to dark.
The fourth type of person, you have both merit and virtue and knows how to cultivate good karma and stay away from bad karma. Thus, you go forward every day, your mind is bright, and your future will be liberated from bright to bright.
Therefore, when talking about Buddhism, it is talking about the spirit of cause and effect, referring to the enlightenment of a person. You are born with enough blessings or unhappiness because of accumulating karma from many lives that now produce different results. Everything can be changed and improved for the better if you have a strong will and determination. All phenomena and things in this world are a constant stream of change every moment, nothing is fixed. So if you want to be how you are, you have to decide and make your own efforts, not depending on any force at all. To be active in the experiment, I suggest you two cases for you to consider.
* A certain family, father, and son were walking together in their garden. Suddenly the son asked his father:
- Dad, Dad, is our family rich?
When the father heard that, he smiled, patted his son's head, and said:
- Dad has money, but my son doesn't. Dad's money is made by my own hands and brain, accumulated over many years. Later, if my son wants to be rich like your dad, my son must first learn and choose a true career for my son, my son can also earn money through my son's profession.
That boy, listening to his father's answer, made some deductions as follows:
1- My father is very rich, but his money belongs to him, because of his hard work.
2- If I want to have money and be rich like my father, I must also work and try to get it.
After hearing his father's answer, the boy will try very hard to become as rich as his father. Most importantly, a kind of moral and spiritual wealth, which will help the boy enjoy the benefits of his life without fear of being robbed.
Same question, in another family? The father replied proudly:
- We have a lot of money at home, and when you grow up everything I have will belong to you, you don't have to worry.
The child after hearing that answer from his father, he will make a statement as follows:
1- My father is a rich man, and my family has a lot of money. My father's money is my own money.
2- Thus, I don't need to try to learn and work because I already have a lot of money.
Ethical people always believe in cause and effect and live without relying on, begging, or depending on any force. So you should teach your children how to live independently, work, and earn money with their own sweat and tears.
Here, let me tell you two stories for you to ponder:
- One day, there was an article that said: The young girl silently paid for two firefighters and the ending was filled with humanity.
People often say, kindness is a cycle: When you give kindness, it will come back to you. When you sow the seed of kindness, it will bear sweet flowers. And, the story below will probably give you more confidence in that.
Liz Woodward is a waitress in a 24-hour fast-food restaurant in New Jersey. She always starts her work day at 4 a.m., when it's still dark.
One day, two tired-faced firefighters walked into the store where Liz was working and said in a hoarse voice:
- Girl, give us two espressos.
These two people have just joined the fire fighting of a big fire. The fire in the warehouse was extremely fierce. They fought it for 12 hours and didn't sleep all night. At this point, they are extremely exhausted and need a cup of coffee to wake up. Perhaps few people can understand the hardships of firefighters.
 Liz listened attentively to the story of two firefighters Paul and Tom while making coffee. She was very impressed by what they did. She wanted to offer them two cups of coffee and prepare a delicious breakfast instead of thanking the silent heroes.
So, before bringing breakfast to the table, she wrote on the back of the bill, Liz wrote:
- I paid for breakfast today. Thanks for your contributions. When everyone is trying to escape, you don't care about your life to plunge into the fire. Regardless of the responsibility, you are the bravest, the strongest, and the best example for everyone. Thank you for everything you have done, rest well
When reading the note on the back of the bill, the two strong men burst into tears with warm words of encouragement from the young girl. They have been doing this work for many years, witnessing so much heartache after each fire, but perhaps few people can understand the hardships of firefighters. The care of a young girl they had never met touched their tender hearts. Liz looked at the two men with tears in their eyes, the two also looked at Liz. They gave each other warm eyes and smiles and finally waved goodbye.
After returning home, the more Tom thought about Liz, the more moved he became. Tom shared this story on social media, along with a message to his friends:
- Let's go to that warm shop. If you meet this honest girl, pay a little more money.
Unexpectedly, in just one night, Tom's message received a lot of support from netizens. Liz's kindness spread everywhere. Many people also personally went to the store to praise and support the girl.
At this time, everyone knew about Liz's situation. In fact, Liz's family is not rich, even quite needy. In early 2010, her father became paralyzed due to brain damage. The family couldn't afford a car with a wheelchair lift system, so her father was sick all year round in bed. As for Liz, she has to shoulder all the household chores. Currently, she is working 3 part-time jobs around the clock.
After learning about Liz's plight, fireman Tom could not describe his feelings. He and some of his colleagues planned to help this honest girl. Soon they created a crowdfunding page to buy a car for Liz's father. Initially, they only expected to raise 17,000 USD but did not expect that the number of participants was very large, and the amount collected was up to 86,000 USD.
When Tom visits Liz's father and gives her the money. Liz hugged him and burst into tears. This scene also brought the firemen accompanying Tom to tears. Perhaps Liz also did not expect that her small act would receive such a big response.
It is known that before Liz's father became paralyzed, he worked as a disaster worker for decades. In every disaster, big or small, he rushes to the scene to complete his job without sacrificing his own life. That kindness of his was probably passed on to his daughter, and then eventually returned to his side.
That's why people say:
- Kindness is a cycle. When you give kindness, it comes back to you. When you sow the seed of kindness, it will bear sweet flowers.
Liz did not expect that a small act of hers would receive such a big response.
The question is: Liz is a person from where to go, to which of the four classes of people?
The second story of noble images:
- Discharge of wealth to pray for poverty, discharge of body to seek the unsurpassed path.
Story: Billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan is one of the successful entrepreneurs in many different business fields such as Media, oil and gas, telecommunications, real estate, and entertainment... His fortune is estimated up to 10 billion USD in August 2015. Despite being very private and unpretentious, Ananda Krishnan was known throughout the country. He is considered the father of the famous Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia. This billionaire has only one child, Ajahn Siripanno.
In 1989, then-18-year-old Ajahn Siripanno attended a short retreat to show gratitude and respect to his mother and family when he returned to his motherland in Thailand.
After many years of living and studying in the UK, this is the first time Ajahn Siripanno has been exposed to Buddhism. With an open mind to accepting different cultures around the world, Ajahn Siripanno found joy and serenity during his brief time as a monk in Thailand.
That short period of time completely changed Ajahn's mind about Buddhism and the lives of monks. The plan was to live as a monk for only two weeks but did not expect Ajahn Siripanno to become a monk forever.
About 10 years ago, billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan suddenly lost contact with his only son. After many searches, billionaire Ananda Krishnan was surprised to see his son in a yellow shirt, bowl in hand, begging for alms at a temple in Thailand.
Billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan approached and invited his son to a meal after years of separation. However, the monk Ajahn Siripanno replied:
- I'm sorry dad, but I can't accept your invitation, I have to go begging like other fellow practitioners.
Too surprised by his son's refusal, billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan shared:
- With all the fortune in my career, I still can't get my son to have a meal.
 Now, after more than 20 years, monk Ajahn Siripanno has become the abbot of Dhao Dham Monastery at the National Forest Reserve near the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Monk Ajahn Siripanno also shared, he has never regretted the choice in his life.
Billionaire Ananda Krishnan and monk Ajahn Siripanno still regularly contact and visit the monastery to talk to each other. Monk Ajahn Siripanno became famous after attending his billionaire father's 70th birthday party. Monk Ajahn Siripanno still appears in a simple outfit, wearing sandals and carrying a small bag traveling by private plane and resting at a formal hotel in Italy.
The story of monk Ajahn Siripanno's ordination is a typical example that money and material things are not the final destinations in life. Monk Ajahn Siripanno left all his billionaire father's huge fortune to seek peace in the spiritual realm.
The Dalai Lama once said:
- Even if the population of five billion people currently living on this earth becomes millionaires, without inner peace, people still cannot have lasting peace and happiness.
And if money, wealth, and power bring happiness, then perhaps the kings or leaders of the country are already happy. Therefore, learn to let go to find true values in life and peace in each person's soul.
Question: Monk Ajahn Siripanno is a person from where to go, to which of the four classes of people?
In summary, among the four classes of people mentioned above, there are two classes of people who know how to progress, which are the second and fourth, and the two who do not know how to progress, which are the first and third. So whether the practice goes forward or backward, it's all up to you whether you're willing to change karma, not anyone's decision. And karma is not fixed for good or evil, but it's up to you to convert or not, no one blesses or causes harm to anyone.
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