What I Know of the Dhamma by Jade (Age 11)

I have two very good friends in Kuala Lumpur, Colin and Jin. You may remember Colin came with me to Borobudur in 2009 and Siem Reap last year.

Recently it was Jin’s **th birthday. Her daughter Jade asked what she would like for her birthday, so she said: “Well you know, I have everything I need, but… could you write and tell me what you know about the Dhamma?”

The following is the amazing result. I just wish I could get this much over to people sometimes 🙁

photograph by

For Mum

My name is Jade and I am eleven years old. Mum has asked me to write this for her birthday present. If I do not do what she says, she predicts that I will have terrible bad kamma in my later life and be dead meat. So it is better for me to do what she says.

Mum is a Buddhist, so Dad is a Buddhist and I am probably a Buddhist too. Mum believes in the Dhamma because she thinks it makes sense. I believe in the Dhamma because there’s nothing else to believe and I think it does make sense.

The Dhamma is taught by the Buddha, who is an enlightened human being. The Dhamma is how to become enlightened. Buddhists want to be enlightened so they can attain Nibbana. Buddhists want to attain Nibbana because it is the only state which is permanent.

Otherwise they are reborn again in samsara. When you are in samsara, all you do is get born, grow old, and then die. The Dhamma teaches you how to stop being reborn.

The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and how to end suffering. So the Four Noble Truths are all about suffering because being in samsara (being alive) is suffering.

The cause of suffering is ignorance and craving. Craving causes suffering because everyone craves for food, entertainment and being alive. So they get reborn again while not knowing that samsara is suffering.

The third noble truth is that there is an end to suffering.

The Fourth Noble Truth is how to end suffering. The Dhamma teaches you how to end suffering. You end suffering by becoming enlightened and you become enlightened by getting rid of all your defilements. The defilements can be removed by practicing the Dhamma and meditating.

Everybody has lots of defilements, and I can’t remember the names of them all because I didn’t pay attention to mum’s long winded Dhamma talks. But I think that it includes sloth and torpor, restlessness, ill-will and believing that you have a permanent self.

The Five Precepts are no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no drinking liquor. If you don’t follow the five precepts you will make lots of bad kamma and be reborn in the hell, ghost or animal realm.

The Noble Eightfold Path is right view, right intention, right speech, action and livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and concentration.

The Buddha also taught that there were 31 realms. The lower realms are petas, asuras, animals and hell. The human realm is the middle realm between the deva realms and the lower realms. It is the easiest realm to become enlightened because although devas can become enlightened it’s harder because they can’t see suffering in their realm.

The deva realms can be reached by making good kamma like giving Dana to monks, meditating, and reading and teaching the Dhamma. But it is not so good to be reborn in the deva realms because once your good kamma is finished you may drop down to the lower realms.

The Buddha also taught that nothing is permanent. Being alive is not permanent, being sick is not permanent and even being dead is not permanent because you get reborn again. Even the Dhamma is not permanent. The Buddha has said that the Dhamma would last for 5000 years before it is forgotten.

Many people think that life is for having fun and enjoyment. But the more they enjoy and have fun, the more craving they have. Then they get reborn again and again without making any good kamma. Then their next lives will become worse and worse and their craving would become even stronger. To satisfy their cravings they would probably steal, lie or kill. Their kamma would become even worse and they would probably be reborn in the lower realms and be stuck there to suffer until all their bad kamma has expired.

The Dhamma teaches you how to end all of this suffering and become enlightened. Enlightenment is when you stop craving for sensual pleasures and the way to do this is by meditation. Meditation calms your mind and (as mum says) makes your skin look better.

Arahants have to be monks or nuns or else they will die on the day of their Enlightenment because you can’t be an arahant and live a worldly life. It would be weird to see an arahant going to work. Arahants also have no greed, hate or delusion. It’s really hard to become an arahant and it usually takes lifetimes of practicing the Dhamma and meditating.

It’s possible to become an arahant in one lifetime but that was easy only when the Buddha was alive. And you also needed to have really, really great kamma to have even met the Buddha.

It’s too bad that was all 2500 years ago and now we have to wait for a few eons. It’s still possible to become enlightened but it’s harder now. An eon is like when you have a huge rock in your garden and everyday you rub it with a silk cloth until it finally disappears which would take many thousands of years. And that’s still not an eon.

So, instead of just hanging around and maybe dropping in to the lower realms on the way, shouldn’t we just practice the Dhamma, make lots of good kamma and merits and meditate until we become a sotapanna? I think it would be of more use than just staying around to enjoy the sense pleasures until we have more and more craving and more work to do to get rid of it.

It would be even worse if by doing that we missed out on seeing the next Buddha and having to do it all over again. Or even wait a few more eons.

So let’s just practice while we still can and before the Dhamma disappears completely.

Hopefully this wasn’t too bad, mum or else I’ll have to write it all over again. It’ll be just like missing the Buddha by a month. Or not going to see him when he was alive. I know this isn’t really Dhamma mum and I’m only 11 years old NOW so too bad if it’s not as good as Lily de Sylva.



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4 comments to What I Know of the Dhamma by Jade (Age 11)

  • Colin

    Hello Bhante, Jade wrote this over 2 – 3 sessions and I guess her understanding comes from reading, discussions with her mum and attendance at Dhamma talks with Venerables like yourself…Metta, Colin

  • Anandajoti

    Dear Colin, well she must have learned it all over many sessions, but it really is amazing for an 11-year old. May she and all your family prosper in the Dhamma!

  • Terasi

    If only I knew as much as she does!

  • Dear Jade, What a nice article on Buddhism by an eleven year old. There is a secret behind your amazing talent.
    That is the undivided affection of your Mom and Dad shown toward you.You are indeed blessed. Please keep up with your great work and explore more. May the blessings of the Holy Triple Gem be with you always , all the time and everywhere.

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