Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero: What is an Opportune Moment?

kiribathgoda-gnananda-theroLife can be viewed as a flow of moments. And how we spend these moments could bring meaning to life. What we chose to do or not to do in a moment will belong to the past when the moment is passed and that moment can never be brought back. A moment could be an instance and could slip away in an instance.

The Lord Buddha explained the rarest moment that could arise in one’s life is the moment that one gets to hear the Four Noble Truths. This is called “kshana Sampatti” in Pali (the original language the Buddha used) which can be translated as an “opportune moment.” As with any moment, this opportune moment can also be slipped away in an instance.

Why did the Buddha call this an ‘opportune moment’ and why is it the rarest of all moments in a person’s life? The Buddha explained that we are in a cycle of rebirths called “samsara” in which a starting point can not be discerned. In this long journey of samsara, one is not always born as a human being. Being born in a world like an animal world or a ghost world is more common than being born in the human world. As rare as it is to be born as a human being, it is even rare to hear the Four Noble Truths. Because the endowment of a Buddha, who realizes the Four Noble Truths and teaches it, is even rare; for 100 eons there had only been seven Supreme Buddhas. Therefore, these two rare conditions have to happen together for the arise of ‘opportune moment’ in one’s life.

When an opportune moment arises in a person’s life, that person receives the opportunity to learn the Four Noble Truths and end the samsaric journey. That person gets to learn about the value of this moment and the value that the teachings of the Buddha can bring to his/her life. This moment is an invitation for a wise person to investigate his/her life according to the teachings of the Buddha and understand what is happening. When a wise person listens to Four Noble Truths and thinks ‘oh I too can understand what Four Noble Truths are’, and strive to realise the noble teachings of the Buddha with faith towards the noble triple gem; the Supreme Buddha, noble Dhamma and the noble Sangha, that person can achieve noble and rare ‘Kshana sampatti’. The Buddha’s teachings comprising the Four Noble Truths could only be heard during the time of a Buddha or from a disciple of the Buddha – the noble Sangha.

The Buddha also showed so many ways of losing the opportune moment and it is called a “dushtaksnana” in Pali which is an inopportune moment. For example, if a person is born in hell or such a lower world when a Buddha is preaching the Four Noble Truths that person can not realize the teachings of the Buddha. Or if a person lives far away from the Buddha he/she too misses the opportune moment.

Today, the teachings of the Gautama Buddha are present. But not many know how to make use of this opportune moment. One of the main reasons is the lack of access to actual teachings of the Buddha. Today, various people preach different ideas in the name of Dhamma, and focus their energy on little things in life, missing the opportunity to put an end to the cycle of suffering. If the noble Dhamma is explained clearly as the way the Buddha has explained, anyone can easily understand it.

The Buddha who saw the importance of realizing the Four Noble Truths and said one should strive to realize the Four Noble Truths even if one’s hair is on fire. Therefore, this sublime Dhamma which explains the Four Noble Truths should be accessible to all and should be spread around the world. Because this Dhamma will give rise to the wisdom of the wise person. The wisdom to penetrate life and see the truth. And if this Dhamma is not heard by the wise, their wisdom will end, as everything else, and with it ends the opportunity to learn the way to be free from the samsaric journey. They would miss the ‘opportune moment’ and the Buddha said, they would regret in their next life.

Therefore, you must be attentive and wise to understand the importance of learning the Four Noble Truths, the importance of the invaluable moment you have right now. You must search for the teachings of the Buddha which explain the Four Noble Truths. You must not focus on the preacher, instead you must focus on what he/she preaches. You must be wise to discern whether the preaching has the Four Noble Truths in it. If it does not teach you about the Four Noble Truths, no matter how many times you have listened to Dhamma, or for how many years you have been learning Dhamma, you have not learnt the true teachings of the Buddha.

Therefore, you must first understand what a ‘kshana sampatti’ is. If you are an intelligent person, then, you have fulfilled one requirement. If you have access to the Dhamma which explains the Four Noble Truths, then you have met the second requirement too. And if you can understand the rareness of this opportunity and have an inner need to realize the teachings of the supreme Buddha, you have gained the rarest moment in your life.

I wish with much affection that you will not lose this opportune moment which you have attained.


~Most Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero is a meditation teacher in Sri Lanka. He is the founder of Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka. The ‘dissemination of the Dhamma’ started by the Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero, with his thirty years of experience as a Buddhist monk was wide spread throughout the country in a very short period of time. As a result of describing the Buddha’s Dhamma in a comprehensible language pattern, devotees of all ages started to join Venerable Thero’s meditation programs. Because of his talent in presenting the meditations in a way so that one’s mind will get easily surrendered, these programs became accommodating for many people who were looking for meditation classes.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Buddhism

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