Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dilemma Regarding Dwelling

King Milinda had a series of dialogues with the venerable sage Nâgasena and one of the dilemmas that he tries to resolve deals with a man’s dwelling place.

“Venerable Nâgasena, the Blessed One said:In friendship of the world anxiety is born, In household life distraction's dust springs up, The state set free from home and friendship's ties, That, and that only, is the recluse's aim.”

But on the other hand he said:

“Let therefore the wise man, Regarding his own weal, Have pleasant dwelling-places built, And lodge there learned men.”

The question of Milinda is “Now, venerable Nâgasena, if the former of these two passages was really spoken by the Tathâgata, then the second must be wrong. But if the
Tathâgata really said: "Have pleasant dwelling-places built," then the former statement must be wrong. This too is a double-edged problem, now put to you, which you have to solve.”
Sage Nagasena’s answer in the original text deals with the fact that both statements are those of The Buddha
(Tathâgata) but the first was in the context of a subjective necessity when one undertakes an ascetic life and the second statement was in the context of the Sanga or community living wherein a pleasant dwelling place populated by wise men becomes necessary.

A deeper understanding of these two statements of the Buddha from any individual’s spiritual journey in this life becomes mandatory in today’s world. It is the mind which is the primary dwelling place and the two sayings address the necessary action of an individual with respect to conditioning one’s mind.

If one chooses the path of Raja Yoga, relationships and material possessions are the impediments if they are predicated to the self. When one starts to posses or cling to any worldly entity viritis (modifications) happen.
Swami Satchidananda says “Every thought, feeling, perception, or memory you may have causes a modification, or ripple, in the mind. It distorts and colours the mental mirror. If you can restrain the mind from forming into modifications, there will be no distortion, and you will experience your true Self.” Hence this is addressed more to the mental domain.

If one chooses the
Jñana Marga, the ambiance of learning and the need to populate one’s mind with empowering knowledge devoid any constraints becomes necessary. Here again the important meaning for the dwelling place is the inner sanctum wherein true wisdom finds a dwelling. This is what the Buddha indicates in the second passage cited by King Milinda.

In summary, the vital need for renouncing (does not mean casting away but means not clinging to) the outer dwelling which is the physical body and nurturing the inner sanctuary (which is the Spirit) through wisdom is the path to spiritual ascendancy.

Love to you all


  1. The blog on dwelling place immediately touches a chord in my mind.Of late I had been trying to define and redefine the concept of having a dwelling place of your own.Well, this blog gives me an insight to approach the matter from a detached,unclinging manner.It also inspires you to search for higher levels of definitions for every concept that is already restricted by set patterns and definitions.

  2. Any change in our attitude is never a miracle. As you say it starts with just a ripple. Let us try to create a ripple, always aiming high.

  3. Chris! Thanks for your observations. As usual full of insight. Your final thought is the need of the hour as most woes to which humanity is subject to is due to the fact that we are prisoners of predetermined patterns.

  4. SS, it is the microcosm that defines the macrocosm and every ripple in our consciousness has an impact in the final outcome. Thanks for your feedback.