Answer the Monk’s Questions
The following are my answers of the questions that you have given to me.
1. How to apply the concept of niyama to the daily life of people? My answer is: we need to know that the Buddha’s teaching of niyama contains two levels. The first one is the metaphysical level, and the second one is the ethical level. In my opinion, both of them are closely related to the life of human beings, both monks and the laity. The metaphysical niyama is a thing which is generally called in modern studies (science and philosophy, for example) as natural law. As you know, there are at least five kinds of natural laws mentioned in Buddhist texts. These laws, as real things that exist in nature, could be called the metaphysical entities for the reason that we cannot directly test their existence with sense experience. In my opinion, being a metaphysical entity of these laws is not the problem. In modern natural science, it is widely accepted that a meaning of natural law as accepted in scientific theory is the thing which is beyond human perception. We can see only the phenomena which are believed to stem from those metaphysical laws of nature. The Buddha stresses what we can observe from these laws and among these there is a kind of natural law which plays the role in terms of morality, and Buddhism highly encourages Buddhist to be interested in this kind of niyama.
2. The most direct way to apply an understanding of metaphysical laws of nature is to remind ourselves that we are subject to these laws, and no one in the world has more right or freedom not to be under these laws than other. All the kings in the world must die some day. This is an example of the justice given to all human beings equally by the Buddhist niyama.
3. Exactly, every niyama, even though it is a metaphysical law, has some meaning and function as an ethical law in the sense that people can utilize them as the moral light to shine upon their life when they feel the life is being in the darkness. However, among these niyamas, the laws of kamma, citta, and dhamma seem to have more potential to be morally applied to the life of man both monks and the laity. Kamma means you must receive what you have done. Citta means good mind brings about happiness, and bad mind causes suffering. And Dhamma means there is no one in the world can live without dhamma which is the natural rightness given to everything in the universe.
4. The highest fruit to happen from the application of these laws of nature in the view of Buddhism is the cessation (or reduction) of suffering in the human life. This is the most proper function of natural laws in the view of the Buddha.
2 February, 2019