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ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
A DISCOURSE by
The (late) Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera [1920-2007]
A Jinavamsa Collection
Acknowledgement Grateful Acknowledgement is extended to All those who have special make helped in their special way to make this Dhamma Gift available to Truth. those who are seeking the Truth. A Very Special thanks must be rendered to Ms. Carol Law for proofchanging painstakingly proof-read and improving the oft changing draft presented to her on as many occasions. From the myriad times she on proofhas proof-read this manuscript she would have realised the inconsistency and impermanence of existence. Grateful appreciation and thanks to Bros. Oh Teik Bin and KK Teh of Persetuan Buddhist Hilir Perak for the reprint of the copper tooling works of art around the inner walls of the works Building, that Dhammacakka Building, that depict very beautifully the steps leading to the Enlightenment of the Buddha, for the illustration in Gift. this Dhamma Gift. This is not to forget the effort of all members of the meditation group who so faithfully practised the Buddha’s teaching with great so urgency and which is a great inspiration to the author in his own practise. practise. To those of you who made the request to remain anonymous, grateful thanks are also rendered and to those whom I have missed mentioning, no less are your merits.
Thanks are very much due to you who have made donations to the printing of this Dhamma literature; without which it will definitely not see the light of day. Special thanks for financial support to: Chu Mooi Seng and Chu, Doris, Sister Quah and family, Sister Tan Teck Beng and Family, The Dhamma Family KL, Fong Weng Meng and Family and Brothers and Sisters of The Gunaratana Library, Memorial Library, 2 Kampar Road, Penang (see list at back page). compiled This Dhamma literature is compiled so ALL can share the joy in knowing the greatest Teacher Ever; THE BUDDHA. May all beings shared in these merits thus acquired. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! The publisher is much encouraged by the support and generosity that enabled this Dhamma literature to be printed for Free Distribution. Balance of funds will be channelled to future publications.
FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION This Dhamma book is for free distribution and have been donated by those who have appreciated and realised the Buddha’s teachings through the talks by Bhante Suvanno in his lifetime of monkhood. A series of his talks will be printed in book form and your financial contribution will help to contribute to the successful publication of these series, financial donations will be helpful. Please make payment to Law Mi-Lan Carol and can be send to: Law Mi-Lan Carol CG-8 Villa Indah Bukit Tinggi 28750 BENTONG PAHANG OR directly credit your donations to Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia for the account of: Law Mi-Lan Carol: a/c no. 388194997462
Giving me your name:……………………………………………. Your address: ……………………………………………………… Person to dedicate to/In Memory of: …………………………
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ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CONTENTS Acknowledgement Contents Dedication Who is the Venerable Bhante Suvanno? Glossary Commentator Scriptural Text Brahma Sahampati Jinavamsa A Bhikkhu Bodhisatta Ambapali Dana Migara’s Mother Four Stages of Emancipation Mi Tor See Buddhist Hermitage Lunas Asankheyya Buddhist Councils Deva Evam me Suttam The Five Precepts Kamma Khandha Kuti Mangala Sutta 2 5 9 10 14 14 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 19 20 21 21 21 21 22 22 22 22 23 23
Mara Samsara Nikaya Commentaries Jataka Tales Pali Canon The Tipitaka Vasettha Vassa CHAPTER ONE - The Background Our Story Opens Evam Me Sutam Brahma Sahampati Intervenes The Dhamma Tuccha-Potthila Cases of Not Living by the Dhamma Living by the Dhamma CHAPTER TWO - World Systems Explained Re-discovering The Dhamma Future Dangers (an 79, an 80) Evolution of the World System Simile of a World Cycle First Mental Aspiration The First Definite Prophecy Firm Determination and Bold Proclamation Necessary Conditions Kanakacchapa Sutta The Ten Perfections CHAPTER THREE - Who is the Buddha General Characteristics Common Facts
24 24 25 25 25 26 26 26 26 27 32 33 34 37 38 43 43 45 46 51 56 65 66 67 68 70 71 74 76 78 79
The Daily Routine Noble Glory The Supreme Buddha Gotama CHAPTER FOUR - Pre-Sasana Era The Request Meeting the Five Requirements The Conception The Birth The Lion’s Roar Great Rejoicing About Yasodhara The Prince Reflects CHAPTER FIVE- The Bodhisatta’s Renunciation Signs of Awakening A Prince’s Life of Extreme Pleasure The Four Signs The Unwholesome Quest The Noble Quest: Renunciation Moral Implications CHAPTER SIX- Practising Extreme Austerities Six Years of Intense Suffering Extreme Austerities in the Forest Crushing Mind with Mind Restraining the Breath Extreme Austerity of Fasting Mara’s Persuasion Right Reasoning Absorbed Concentration Resumption of Meals
80 81 84 86 90 90 92 95 96 97 98 99 101 102 103 104 104 107 109 114 115 116 116 117 118 120 120 121 123
CHAPTER SEVEN - The Enlightenment Eve of Enlightenment Enlightenment Reflections After Who will Benefit? Meeting with Upaka CHAPTER EIGHT - The First Discourse The Five Ascetics The Wheel of Dhamma The Noble Eight-fold Path The Four Noble Truths The Very First Arahant CHAPTER NINE - Returning Home Dispelling Conceit Consoling Yasodhara CHAPTER TEN –The Final Days The Announcement The Last Meal Clearing of the Waters Pukkusa the Malla At the Kakuttha River Relieving Cunda’s Remorse Final Resting Place Grief of Celestial Beings Four Places of Pilgrimage Ananda’s Grief The Last Convert The Lion’s Roar Parinibbana - Final Exhortation The Buddha’s Assurance of Attainment A Final Word
124 125 128 131 136 138 142 143 145 146 148 150 152 154 155 161 163 166 168 169 170 171 172 174 175 176 179 180 181 184 184
This book is dedicated to the memory of
A Teacher of Great Compassion
Who is wise and virtuous, gentle and keen-witted, Humble and amenable; such a one to honour may attain. Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken, Flawless nature, intelligent; such a one to honour may attain. Who is hospitable, and friendly, liberal and unselfish, Guide, instructor, leader; such a one to honour may attain. Generosity, sweet speech, helpfulness to others, Impartiality to all; as the case demands. These four winning ways make the world go round, As the lynchpin in a moving car. If these in the world exist not, Neither mother nor father will receive, Respect and honour from their children. Since these four winning ways the wise appraise in every way; To eminence they attain, and praise they rightly gain.
Sigalovada Sutta (Dialogues III, no. 311)
Who is the Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera?
THE VENERABLE BHANTE ACARA SUVANNO MAHATHERA 1920-2007
Striving to be a Nobody
somebody, Everybody wants to be a somebody, nobody. Nobody knows how to be a nobody. ‘somebody’ If there is a ‘somebody’ Who knows how to be a nobody Then that nobody is a real somebody! If you ever want to be a nobody somebody Then follow that somebody Who really is a ‘nobody’ (Later) let go of everybody, Even that somebody who really is a nobody. Eventually, Eventually, you will be a real nobody.
Venerable Suvanno, 1981 (somebody who wants to be a nobody for the benefit of everybody)
“Everybody wants to be a somebody, nobody knows how to be a nobody”, the aged Theravadan monk said. Theravadan monks practise the Buddha’s Original Teachings: the Teachings of the Elders, Thera Vada; as it was since His First Discourse on attaining Enlightenment more than two thousand five hundred years ago. The aged monk continued: “It is difficult to comprehend the Teachings in the beginning, for the truth of the Teachings is not only to be understood and comprehended intellectually but essentially to be experienced and realised and seen with clear insight by oneself. It is difficult, because human beings have eyes
that are ‘blurred by dust’. The ever growing haze of defilement clouding their minds’ eyes has become many layered and cataracted as the greed for the acquisition of material possessions to enhance the supposedly ‘quality’ of their lives becomes more intense and destructive. The competition to achieve greater and greater material gains and the need for selfglorification is the key to their very existence and ever accelerating in perceived importance. This heady quest for elusive material possessions has so consumed all of humanities’ mental and physical energies that they are deluded to believe that such pursuits are of paramount importance and are all that are necessary in their lives; such believes do not allow them to realise the necessity to expand further efforts to delve into the recesses of their minds. Thus, many have lost their pristine ability to understand the Truth of existence in this present life. Rare are the human beings contented with their basic needs and possessions. Whatever joys these possessions bring is momentary, short-lived and unsatisfactory, so the craving to possess goes on even through many lives ad infinitum. They are beset with greed, anger and delusion as the true goal of existence eludes these seekers of the sensuous material possessions”. The monk spoke not to impress. He believed and lived in the essence of those words and that very essence disciplines his life. Every morning, in simple robes, barefooted, broom in hand, bending low, slowly and mindfully he will be sweeping the fallen leaves around the compound of the Hermitage. Slowly and mindfully he sweeps so as not to injure any minute living beings under the weight of the sweeping broom. Sweep…sweep…sweep. “Sweeping is a meditative deed; you must do it intentionally and mindfully”; softly and gently
murmuring the words as he continues sweeping. The years of sweeping have given his posture a definite stoop. Past eighty years of age and as clear of mind and bright of eyes as a much younger man; just as strong bodily and mentally. Utter simplicity of life is depicted in the motions of the monk! “A simple monk am I”, the picture seems to say. In the midst of these sombre mind pictures, the solitary, fraillooking monk stands out as an icon to the way of release from … the morass of human defilement! Such is the Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera, respectfully known as Bhante Suvanno by his devotees. The Monk of Beautiful Disciplne who practises the Noble Path of the Elders and who has found the true meaning of existence in the purity of the Buddha’s Dhamma.
This Dhamma Literature is prepared with Gratitude and in Loving Memory of a Beloved Teacher and Friend, Bhante Suvanno.
yk leong (jinavamsa) Reproduced at Villa Indah Bukit Tinggi, Bentong, Pahang April of 2009 firstname.lastname@example.org
Many have written propounding, in various forms, the Buddha’s Dhamma. This book is prepared from many dialogues between two people, both firm adherents to the the Buddha’s Teachings as institutionalised within the Theravada texts; one, chiefly, the Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera and the other, his lay pupil YK Leong, also known as Jinavamsa. This Glossary is intended to help readers grasp the story without too much reference. COMMENTATOR serves to introduce the subject and render explanatory notes. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: These are texts from the Nikayas in its original Pali form translated to the English language. These represent the authentic Dhamma of the Buddha in the Theravada tradition. BRAHMA SAHAMPATI: Scriptural texts inform us that he was born into one of the Pure Heavenly Abodes (Sudassa Heaven), there to await his final Nibbana as he was already well progressed into the stream of Nibbana and was in fact an anagami, a non-returner to the human plane (a final state before attaining arahantship). Beings in this realm have lifespans that could be as long as 16,000 mahakappas or as low as 500 mahakappas; Brahma Sahampati had, in fact, a lifespan of 4,000 mahakappas. Thus, he would have seen quite a few Buddhas in his lifetime and with the great mental powers that he was imbued with, he would definitely have been aware of the Buddha’s inclination not to teach the Dhamma.
JINAVAMSA: A disciple of Bhante Suvanno, who showed up at The Buddhist Hermitage in late 1998 at age 60 and continued his Dhamma studies and meditation practice with Bhante Suvanno till 2002; he was the attendant person to Bhante Suvanno on his Dhamma visits to various places in Malaysia and Singapore. He studied and was ordained at the Yangon Theravada University. After a short course of study, he disrobed, returned to Malaysia and later embarked on a pilgrimage to India. On the way he made various stops, one of which was Kathmandu in Nepal, where he taught the English language to a group of young monks and nuns at a Theravada Monastery. After returning from his pilgrimage to the holy sites, he continued his practice with Bhante Suvanno in the Buddhist Hermitage at Lunas and also at the Mi Tor See temple in Ayer Hitam in Penang. Later, he ordained a second time at the newly founded meditation centre in Kuala Kuba Bharu, Selangor. He was three years a bhikkhu and subsequently returned to lay life. He has authored a few books of the late Bhante Suvanno’s discourses and also on Vipassana Meditation. He now guides meditation practices when the occasion presents itself. BHIKKHU: An ordained renunciate in the Theravada tradition; a monk, one who has given up the house-holder’s life to live a life of heightened virtue in accordance with the Buddha’s Rules. He has to undergo training according to 227 rules for members of the monkhood.
BODHISATTA (Pali Tradition): A Bodhisatta is one who aspires to be a Buddha and makes an aspiration about it before a living Buddha whom he meets in his rebirths. In the case of Gotama Buddha, his proclamation was made before Dipankara Buddha when he was the ascetic Sumedha. Further, the then existing Buddha, i.e., Dipankara in the above case approved of his aspiration by declaring that “the Bodhisatta shall become a Buddha” [owing to his suitability]. AMBAPALI: She was one of the Buddha’s great devotees. She owned a mango grove and was a courtesan in the time of the Buddha. Here is her story…..
At one time, the Buddha with a great number of bhikkhus stayed at the mango grove of Ambapali. When she knew that, she was very happy and went in her carriage to her mango grove to meet the Buddha. Arriving, she sat respectfully at His feet on one side. The Buddha gave her a discourse. She was much delighted. Then she invited the Buddha: "Will the Blessed One, together with the assembly of bhikkhus, do me the honour of taking the morning meal at my house tomorrow"? The Buddha gave His consent. The next day, the Buddha went with the assembly of bhikkhus to Ambapali’s house. There they were offered sweet rice and cakes by Ambapali, who waited upon them till they had finished their meal. When the Buddha had finished His meal, Ambapali said to Him: "Lord, I present this mansion to the order of bhikkhus". The Buddha accepted the gift, and after instructing, arousing, and gladdening her with a discourse, He rose from His seat and departed.
DANA: Offering of requisites to monks. There are only four major allowable requisites; accommodation, food, robes and medicine. MIGARA’S MOTHER (Visakha): The rich merchant, Migara of Savatthi was looking for a wife for his son, Punnavaddhana. The messengers sent by Migara were impressed by Visakha’s beauty and personality. This resulted in the marriage between Visakha and Punnavaddhana. Migara, her father-in-law was a follower of naked ascetics. One day, Visakha was instructed to worship these ‘sanctified ones’. On seeing the naked ascetics, she reviled them as being without any sense of shame. Migara was displeased with her behaviour but unable to send her out of his household as she had powerful family background. One day, while Migara was having his meal from his golden bowl, a monk came for alms. Migara ignored the monk and continued eating. Visakha, who was fanning her father-in-law told the monk, “Pass on Venerable Sir, my father-in-law is eating stale food”. At this, Migara was furious and threatened to expel Visakha. She then requested for an interview before the elders to state her case. During the interview, she explained, among other things, that by not giving alms to the monk, Migara was just consuming merits of past good deeds; and thus, eating stale food. Migara on realising his mistaken concept, asked for Visakha’s forgiveness. She agreed on condition that she could invite the Buddha and his monks to the house. Migara consented. Migara heard the Buddha’s discourse and attained the first stage of arahanthood. He was so grateful to Visakha that he adopted her
as his mother. From that time onwards, Visakha was referred to as Migaramata (Mother of Migara). On another occasion, her mother-in-law also attained the first stage of arahanthood after listening to a discourse from the Buddha, organised by Visakha. Thus, Visakha, by her tact, wisdom and patience, gradually succeeded in bringing her husband’s household to take refuge in the Buddha. THE FOUR STAGES TO EMANCIPATION (Arahant): Through Vipassana meditation, the state of an arahant is attained. The first stage of realisation, a Sotapanna, has uprooted three forms of wrong view but still has other defilement. These three forms of wrong views are; • • • once having doubts and uncertainties about the Buddha, he has now eradicated this view; secondly, once involved and having faith in rites and rituals, he has now eradicated this view; thirdly, once believing in the concept of a permanent all power self or soul, he has now eradicated this view.
Once the first stage of an arahant has been attained, the person is assured of being reborn as an intelligent human. Furthermore, he or she will find rebirth for a maximum of seven more lives in the human realm before achieving nibbana. This is the promise of the Buddha. The Sakadagami has attained the second stage of an arahant and is also known as a once-returner; that is returning once to the human world, and will attain Nibbana in that very life. An Anagami, a non-returner to human existence, or any lower world after death, is at the third stage of an arahant. Instead, he will be reborn into the Suddhavasa worlds, or "Pure Abodes",
where he will attain Nibbana. He has eradicated the five lower fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth, and is thus partially enlightened, and on the way to perfect and complete Enlightenment. The Arahant (the fourth stage of realisation) is a fully Enlightened being, having extinguished all defilement. All four are called Ariyas, that is, Noble Ones. MI TOR SEE, AYER HITAM, PENANG: In his biography, Striving to be a Nobody, Bhante Suvanno had recalled his early years as a newly ordained bhikkhu. His first place of practice after returning from the forest where he continued meditation after his ordination, was in front of a traditional Chinese temple. He had asked to be housed there for a time until he could find a place of refuge. The temple authorities wanted to ascertain his diet as they were strict vegetarians. Bhante Suvanno informed them that he was not a vegetarian as Theravada bhikkhus take offerings from devotees without seeking to pick their food. They had to refuse Bhante Suvanno a place of refuge as they were not prepared to accommodate his way of practise. Coincidentally, there was a rambutan tree in front of the temple and having no where else to go, Bhante Suvanno had to take refuge under the tree, with just an old umbrella over his head when it rained. This continued for a few weeks. In the mornings, he would go to the market place in nearby Ayer Hitam village to seek alms of the villagers. This was a rare sight
as very few people in that village had seen a bhikkhu awaiting alms. Later, Bhante Suvanno often recalled his experiences where he was chased away, sometimes with brooms and broomsticks as the householders did not want to see him there. He was unable to get even a decent breakfast for about a week. Soon, news of an old bhikkhu collecting alms spread and those of his Dhamma students during his lay life who were seeking him came to offer alms and others too came to offer allowed requisites. On such occasions, he took the opportunity to conduct Dhamma talks, discussions and answering questions under the tree to teach the householders the merits of alms giving. Very soon the generous householders offered regular meals to him and even began looking for a decent place for him to stay. Very quickly, they found an old temple nearby, renovated it and invited Bhante Suvanno to stay in his first abode, now known as Mi Tor See. His stay in Mi Tor See covered a span of 20 odd years. With the demise of Bhante Suvanno, Mi Tor See has been neglected and fallen into disrepair. BUDDHIST HERMITAGE LUNAS: A Theravada Monastery founded in 1990 and offered to Bhante Suvanno, who shared his time between Mi Tor See and the Hermitage. It is here that his ashes were brought back after cremation after he passed away in a hospital and where his memorabilia is now housed. The Hermitage sits on the banks of a small, meandering river at the edge of the village of Lunas. The river tends to flood the surrounding area during the rainy seasons.
LUNAS is a small village just 25 minutes away from the city of Penang. It consists of a central street with old brick shop houses lining either side. It is a sleepy rural town where life is slow and easy, where nothing much happens. It is an unknown little town of not much importance. ASANKHEYYA: An asankheyya is a mind-boggling span of time so immense that it is called an incalculable number of world periods. The Buddha gave a simile. There is a rock, one yojana high, one yojana wide and one yojana deep (a yojana is between 713 miles in length); once in a hundred years, a deity comes down from heaven and with a piece of fine cloth, wipes the rock. He wipes it until the rock disappears; this is the period of one asankheyya. BUDDHIST COUNCILS: Throughout the 2600 years of the Buddha’s Dispensation, there were six congregations of venerable monks from the pristine Theravada stream who initiated, collated and authenticated the words of the Buddha into a whole system of teachings, recognised as uniquely the Buddha’s original Discourses. In the Theravada tradition these teachings, authenticated at each of the Six Buddhist Councils were then enshrined into a set text known as the Tipitaka, originally spoken and then very much later, written in the Pali language. DEVA: Includes devata, and devaputta referred to in the Suttas, as all three terms are almost synonymous. Although deva is often used in the Pali texts to refer to all super-human beings, deva and brahma can generally be distinguished. Deva in its more limited sense refers to beings in the six planes immediately above the human realm.
EVAM ME SUTAM: Literally meaning “thus have I heard”. This phrase is credited to Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant disciple who looked after His needs for many years until the Buddha passed away. Ananda was the arahant bhikkhu who recited ALL the Buddha’s Discourses at the First Buddhist Council held 100 days after the Buddha’s Parinibbana. THE FIVE PRECEPTS: (In Pali) 1 Panatipata veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami. 2 Adinnadana veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami. 3 Kamesumicchacara veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami. 4 Musavada veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami. 5 Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramanisikkhapadam samadiyami. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Abstaining from killing living beings. Abstaining from taking what is not given. Abstaining from committing sexual misconduct. Abstaining from telling lies. Abstaining from taking intoxicants or harmful drugs.
KAMMA: Each and every time a person thinks, speaks and acts with volition, there are differing moral qualities of intention and it is those qualities rather than the outward appearance of the actions that determine the effects. The Buddha spoke of wholesome actions (kusala-kamma) that result in happiness, and unwholesome actions (akusala-kamma) that result in suffering. KHANDHA: The Pali word khandha could be said to mean a pile, a bundle, a heap, a mass. It could also be the trunk of a tree. Being aggregates or groups, they are not entities in themselves, they are merely individual units grouped together. None of them are “self”, “of self”, “in self”, or “my self”; they have nothing to do with “selfhood”. Khandha, thus is a grouping of
five into one, namely; material quality, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. When a “khandha” is viewed, there is a tendency of the viewer to have certain feelings regarding the viewed khandha. This could give rise to attachment or aversion of the khandha. When such attachments arise, they are known as the aggregates of attachment (upadana-khandha). KUTI: Meditation huts. Meditators or yogis in the Theravada tradition practising Vipassana meditation, does so and sleeps usually in a simple wooden hut. The hut is small, plain and bare of householders’ comforts. Inside the hut is usually placed a thin straw mat and a thin cover cloth to be used as a blanket at night. Usually kutis are built far away from the household noises to maintain an atmosphere of quietness and solitude. MANGALA SUTTA: The commentary explains that at that time in India, people held many superstitious beliefs regarding portents and omens that foretold success or failure. Controversial points regarding what were meritorious wholeome things and what were not, were raised and expounded and yet still no decision could be agreed upon as to what were the things that merit great blessings. News of this controversy spread far and wide, however, no satisfactory answer could be obtained. This debate was even carried to the Brahma realms. After debating for about twelve years, the devas at the Tavatimsa Heaven assembled one day and laid the matter before King Sakka. King Sakka advised that in order to obtain the correct answer to this controversy, they should consult with the Buddha. “For”, he said, “if you wish to have a light, you must approach a fire to get it, you cannot get light from a firefly”.
So, a certain Deva was given the task of approaching the Exalted One. Thus, the Sutta recorded: So, far into the dead of night, this Deva of wondrous beauty with the radiance of rays emanating from his body illuminating the whole of the temple premises approached the Exalted One. Having paid due respect and homage, the Deva stood to one side and so standing, laid before Him the question: “Many gods and men pondering on the question of blessings could not come to a decision. Therefore, O Lord, may you please tell us what is the greatest Blessing”? Thus, was the Mangala Sutta spoken. MARA: In the Buddha’s teachings, Mara can be best equated with Satan, who usually tries to dissuade the Buddha or anyone from the righteous path. Among other names, he is also known as ‘Namuchi’ and ‘Vasavatti’. Mara’s ten-fold army is lust, aversion, hunger, thirst, craving, sloth and torpor, cowardice, doubt, hypocrisy and stupidity, false glory and conceit. He has three daughters, Tanha (craving), Arati (discontent), and Raga (greed) representing the three out of the ten forces of Mara’s army. These daughters (they could assume numerous forms of varying age and charm), were employed by Mara to tempt the Buddha during His quest for Enlightenment. SAMSARA: It is a Pali word, which means the cycles of existence. Life, death and rebirth and the chain of causes and effects are the ingredients of samsara. The tenacity to cling to life due to unsatisfied desires, aversion and confusion, propels us into a new existence according to the quality of our minds at the time of death. This death moment determines the nature of the next existence and so we may be reborn into a pleasant or unpleasant existence. We are reborn with a pre-existing
disposition or inclination which explains why we (including indentical twins) all have individual characters right from birth. NIKAYA: In the Theravada canon, the meaning of nikaya is equivalent to the English word collection, and is used to describe groupings of discourses according to theme, length, or numerical categories. It is broken up into Five Nikayas: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. the Digha Nikaya, the collection of long (Pali: digha) discourses consisting of 34 discourses. the Majjhima Nikaya, the collection of middle-length (majjhima) discourses consisting of 152 discourses. the Samyutta Nikaya, the collection of thematically linked (samyutta) discourses consisting of 7762 discourses. the Anguttara Nikaya, the "gradual collection" (discourses grouped by content enumerations consisting of 9,557 Suttas. the Khuddaka Nikaya, or "Collection of Little Texts" (Pali khudda or "smaller; lesser"), is a wide-ranging collection of eighteen books that contain complete suttas, verses, and smaller fragments of Dhamma teachings.
THE COMMENTARIES: These are voluminous amount of literary works by later day bhikkhus and scholars to further expand and elucidate the discourses of the Buddha. These Commentaries are not the Tipitaka and they stand on their own authority. They go as far back as 300 years after the Buddha’s Parinibbana. There are also commentaries on the commentaries. THE JATAKA TALES: Refer to a voluminous body of stories concerning the previous births of the Buddha retold by himself in the course of discourses to illustrate some important facets of the Dhamma. This canonical book itself comprises 547 stories.
THE PALI CANON: It is a vast body of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali language; in English translation the texts add up to many thousands of printed pages. Over the years, most (but not all) of the Canon has already been published in English. THE TIPITAKA: (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"), or Pali Canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and some specific Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts that are believed to be the Buddha’s original teachings. VASETTHA: A brahmin in the Buddha’s time learning the Dhamma from the Buddha. VASSA (Rains Retreat): The Vassa, a three-month rains retreat, was instituted by the Buddha and made obligatory for all fully ordained bhikkhus. The retreat extends over a period corresponding to the North Indian rainy season, from the day following the full moon of July until the full-moon day of October; those who cannot observe the regular Vassa are permitted to do so for three months beginning with the day following the August full moon. If unavoidable circumstances necessitate travelling, they are allowed to leave their residences on the obligation that they will return within a week. On the first day of the retreat, the monks have to formally declare that they will dwell in that manner in the selected monastery or dwelling. The rains residence was instituted to prevent bhikkhus travelling during the rainy season in India, and so damaging crops, and unintentionally killing living creatures which are abundant then. No doubt the Buddha considered their health as well when He laid down that bhikkhus must spend the rains with four walls around them and a roof over their heads.
Re-Discover The Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER ONE The Background
Bhante Suvanno, as he is known by his devotees, friends and students, started life as an unwanted waif, motherless and practically homeless, with stray cats and dogs as his playmates. Striving diligently against such odds, he became a legend in his own time.
THE SCENE: Buddhist Hermitage Lunas Bhante Suvanno is spending vassa here.
JINAVAMSA: In a life largely devoted to the practice of the Buddha’s Teachings, Khoo Eng Kim had done well scholarly; married and raised a family, saw his daughters grow up and start their own families and have grandchildren, only then did he finally renounce at the age of 60 to take up the holy life, which was his first love. His faith and trust in the Buddha and His Teachings, culminating in the practice of Satipatthana Vipassana meditation was what he lived for. He had great desires to renounce at the tender age of twelve, but try as he might, no monastery was about to take in a novice younger than twenty years of age without parental consent. He would never have been able to get that consent. [For the story, read Striving To Be A Nobody].
When he grew up, passed his Cambridge examinations, got a job in the local hospital and was able to look after himself, he fell in love, got married and raised a family. That set his plans back half a century. But he was able to stay in focus with the Dhamma in the interim period and continued with his study and propagation of the Buddha’s Teachings. In his eagerness to dispense the Dhamma, even during his lay life, he gave Dhamma lessons regularly. He was well respected and loved for his skillful ways in explaining the Buddha’s Dhamma. The Venerable Acara Suvanno Mahathera was 87 years of age in 2007 when he passed away. From the age of 12 to the day he passed away, he had been practising the Buddha’s Teachings, progressing gradually and surely to where he finds himself totally immersed in the nitty-gritty of teaching the Dhamma to one and sundry as and when the demand falls upon him.
[Eng Kim “lo-kun” dishing out the Dhamma medicine in a cave]
These constant and sometimes urgent demands on his time (sometimes as early as 2am, as when there is a knock on his door and he is called to the bedside of a dying devotee to console the dying and the family) means that his time is not his own.
Such has been the case with Bhante Suvanno for the better part of his life as a practising bhikkhu. It has always been “devotees come first” no matter that he has no time to practise as he would wish. It is rare indeed that a call from a devotee is ignored; even the whimpering of a stray dog has his ears or the mewing of a hungry cat has his immediate attention. A dying fish in an artificial lotus pond brings immediate action on his part to immediately return all the fishes to the river and do away with the pond; all by himself! (Picture shows Bhante visiting the old and infirm). The plight of a fellow bhikkhu in Yangon struck down with a stroke takes him immediately to that city to arrange for hospitalisation, up-to-date medical care and nursing; on arriving home, organising medical funds for repatriation to the sick bhikkhu. Many too, are the Theravada meditation centres in Malaysia and Myanmar that has benefited from his advice and financial assistance in raising funds when such centres were in the beginning stages of development. These circles of grateful devotees have grown through the years. In the period of his monkhood of 27 years, the Venerable Bhante had given his time for the welfare of those seeking help and advice in the many facets of human suffering, from depression to sadness, ill health and the dying, simple problems to problems of more serious natures. Needless to say this list of beneficiaries is long.
Amongst his many memorabilia throughout the years of his monkhood that he will leave to posterity are cassette tapes of his Dhamma discourses in the Hokkien dialect. Into these tapes are recorded many and varied topics of Dhamma as expounded by the Buddha in his 45 years of ministry. This very book is collated founded on those discourses delivered from the tapes. Since 1990, when he was 70 years of age, Bhante Suvanno had desired to retire into seclusion. The conditions had never been appropriate enough for the event to happen; however, as the time passes by, he fully realises the urgency to concentrate on the true reason for his renunciation. For his whole life has been guided by the Buddha’s words, especially: “Mere acts of reverence cannot be deemed to honour, esteem, venerate and worship the Tathagatha rightly. Only the bhikkhus and lay disciples who practise diligently and earnestly according to the Teachings, who are endowed with correctness in the practice of the Teachings and who live with righteousness and truth, can be deemed to honour, esteem, venerate, revere and worship the Tathagatha in the highest degree”. In the eyes of Bhante Suvanno, the highest degree of veneration of the Buddha is to do away with all forms of rites and rituals and live mindfully in the practice of Vipassana meditation.
Our Story Opens…
SCENE: Buddhist Hermitage, Lunas, Kedah. Date: Early 1999
“This Dhamma is not easily realised by those overcome with aversion and passion; they delighting in passion, cloaked in the mass of darkness, truth ruth” will not be able to see the truth”.
COMMENTATOR: It was a bright moonlight night and two figures sitting under the hanging eaves of a dimly lighted kuti were silhouetted against the contrasting full moon brightness as they sat in conversation. Against the backdrop of the full moon, you could see that both were completely clean shaven and both were in earnest discussion. One who appeared the elder of the two was earnestly speaking and very quite often gesturing with both hands. Among the trees and shrubs of the Hermitage in this full moon night, the Abbot and the lay disciple were deep in Dhamma discussion as was often the case; these Dhamma lessons went into the early hours of the next day.
Here in front of a small kuti is the background for the Dhamma of the Buddha that will unfold in these pages as retold by the Venerable Suvanno to the lay disciple, Jinavamsa in the course of so many discussions and years of training and passing on the Dhamma by teacher to pupil. The teacher was the late Ven. Acara Suvanno Mahathera and the lay disciple is the compiler of these Discourses, Jinavamsa.
Evam Me Sutam…
BHANTE SUVANNO (gentle of mien and smiling as was his usual manner): In your search for the Truth, Jinavamsa you have strayed into our midst and been struggling along with us for the past 18 months, and I am pleased that you are earnestly investigating and living a Dhamma life. It is timely that you should delve deeper into the Teachings so that you can progress independently. No one can be with you for a very long time and there will come a time when you will have to go out alone and practise. I shall do my very best to arm you with the necessary tools; but remember, all the Dhamma you know intellectually will only serve you as a tool to further your own practice. Your only recourse to the Lord’s Teachings is to practise what He has taught us. Let us begin; for a start, we should always be grateful to the Brahma Sahampati that we are able to practise the Dhamma today; for while the Lord was alone and in seclusion [after His Enlightenment], this line of thinking arose in His awareness:
THE BUDDHA: This Dhamma that I have attained is deep,
hard to see, hard to realise, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to be experienced only by the wise. wise. But this generation delights in, is excited by and enjoys attachment. For such a generation, conditionalities and origination depended origination of things are difficult for them to see. The resolution of all mentality, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation and Nibbana; the attainment of Nibbana; these states, too, are difficult to realise. realise.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha said that the Dhamma He had discovered was abstruse, subtle, deep, difficult to see and is not to be reasoned with logic. He further added that the Dhamma will not be easily realised as people tend to delight in aversion and passion and are cloaked amidst masses of darkness. They will not willingly see the truth. And it would be difficult for Him to teach the Dhamma as they would not understand. This would be tiresome and troublesome for Him. Reflecting thus; the Lord’s mind was inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.
Intervenes Brahma Sahampati Intervenes
BRAHMA SAHAMPATI: (Aware of the line of thinking of the Blessed One, thought): The world is lost! The world is destroyed! The mind of the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Supremely SelfEnlightened One inclines to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma"!
COMMENTATOR: Instantly, Brahma Sahampati disappeared from the Brahma-world and reappeared in front of the Blessed One. BHANTE SUVANNO (explains): It was quite early in the morning, at the third watch of the night (2am to 6am). This is the time when devas and brahmas usually visited the Blessed One; this being the period of the day which is the most quiet and peaceful and when humans are not around. Devas and brahmas have great abhorrence for human odour as they can smell the rot of decaying human bodies, just as we humans can smell the dirt of the bodies of animals and other non humans. BRAHMA SAHAMPATI: [Arranging his upper robe over one shoulder,
he knelt down with his right knee on the ground, respectfully greeted the Blessed One with his hands before his heart, and said]: Lord, let the
Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One-Well-Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma. Lord, in the past there appeared among the Magadhans an impure Dhamma devised by the stained. Throw open the door to the Deathless! Let them hear the Dhamma realised by the Stainless One! Just as one standing on a rocky crag might see people all around below, so, O Wise One, with all-around vision, ascend the palace fashioned of the Dhamma. Free from sorrow; behold the people submerged in sorrow, oppressed by birth and ageing. Rise up, Hero, Victor in battle! O Teacher, wander without debt in the world. Teach the Dhamma, O Blessed One. There will be those who will understand.
BHANTE SUVANNO: After Brahma Sahampati entreated the third time, the Buddha surveyed the world with His Buddha Vision. He perceived beings with little as well as much dust in their eyes, with keen and dull intellect, with good and bad characteristics, who are easy and difficult to be taught, and a few others who live perceiving the dangers of evil and of a future life. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses born and growing in the water might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water. Realising all these, the Buddha accepted the invitation. THE BUDDHA: Opened to them are the Doors to the
Deathless. Let those who have ears repose confidence. Being aware of the weariness of it, O Brahma, I did not wish this to teach this glorious and excellent Dhamma.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The delighted Brahma, thinking; "I made myself the occasion for the Blessed One to expound the Dhamma", respectfully venerated Him and immediately departed. Some explanation is needed here, Jinavamsa, for it may appear that the Blessed One was actually reluctant to teach the Dhamma He had practised for so many aeons in time and that a Brahma was responsible for His changing His mind. Because of this view, there are those who will assume that the Brahma had greater wisdom. JINAVAMSA: Yes Bhante, it was going through my mind about that; why would the Buddha have to be entreated to teach the Dhamma? He had trained for such a long time to do so.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Ah Jinavamsa, so discerning… Here is a truth that we should always remember; all Buddhas teach exactly the same Dhamma with no deviation; thus when formulating certain actions he would ascertain that these actions were consistent with what other Buddhas did before Him. So in this particular instance, He was following a course set by other Buddhas in being invited to teach the Dhamma. It is not possible that the Buddha teach the Dhamma uninvited. Thus, the episode by the Brahma Sahampati was essentially a recourse to ensure consistency with a path trodden by previous Buddhas.
The Dhamma …
BHANTE SUVANNO: Jinavamsa, let us discuss a bit more of the Dhamma. You see, in the Mangala Sutta, it is said that listening to the Buddha’s Dhamma is one of the highest blessings, so to be able to share the Buddha’s Dhamma with you has made me extremely happy. It is good that you are keen to listen to the Dhamma; better still if you were to practise the Dhamma as a way of life. From my experience, most people prefer to listen to Dhamma discourses rather than to practise it. But, to live and practise the Dhamma especially Vipassana meditation is much more beneficial and is the only way to the purification of the mind, eradicating suffering and setting us onto the correct path to emancipation and Nibbana. The Buddha has already said that there is only one way to the purification of beings and that is through the practice of mindfulness, therefore listening to the Dhamma is valuable only as a guide to the practice of the Dhamma. Here is what the Buddha said:
Ekayano ayam bhikkhave, maggo sattanam visuddhiya. SokadukkhaSoka-pariddavanam samatikkamaya dukkha-domanassanam atthangamaya nayassa adhigamaya Nibbanassa sacchikiriyaya, Satipatthana hana. sacchikiriyaya, yadidam cattaro Satipatthana. Way, This is the Only Way, bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for reaching the Noble Path, Nibbana, for the realisation of Nibbana, namely: The Four Mindfulness ulness. Foundations of Mindfulness.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The essence of the Dhamma is the practice based on knowledge obtained through investigation and not by hearsay or superstitious practices. Knowledge is the bridge to the practice. Hearing it and questioning it are the beginning of the training to the practice; you should not spend valuable time in memorising it and knowing it by rote as this is like taking the bridge along with you after you have crossed it. Let the Dhamma serve as the bridge and after you have crossed it, you need not take it along with you. Leave it behind. The knowledge is not for keeping, it is to be utilised for our entry to the way of practice. The Buddha has constantly exhorted his bhikkhus to practise. A good case in point is this story of TucchaPotthila.
BHANTE SUVANNO: There was a bhikkhu known as TucchaPotthila [tuccha meaning vain, empty]. He was very astute, thoroughly learned in the scriptures and texts. He taught a large number of bhikkhus. When people hear "Tuccha-Potthila" they
were awe-struck, so much were they in respect of his command of the Teachings, and nobody would dare question anything he taught. One day he visited the Buddha. "Ah, so you've come, Venerable Empty Scripture"! They spoke for a while and when the Venerable was preparing to go to; "Ah, returning to your monastery, Venerable Empty Scripture”? Buddha asked. As he walked to his monastery, he reflected: "Now…, why did the Lord say that? What did he mean"? He contemplated over everything he had learnt, until wisdom dawned on him: "Oh, what the Lord said is true; 'Venerable Empty Scripture'; I am a bhikkhu who only studies but has never practised". He then looked into his own mind and saw that he was no different from lay people. There was no real "samana" [a renunciate - literally, "peaceful one"] within him. There was no true profound quality within his mind which could firmly establish him in the Way and provide true peace. So he decided to practise then and there. Having settled all his affairs, he went seeking a teacher... but there was no one who would accept him as a student. All those he went to see were his former students; but they, in deference to him declined to teach him. He travelled to a forest hermitage where a large number of bhikkhus lived. He paid respect to the chief bhikkhu and asked for his help; the chief referred him to a certain young novice [who was already an arahant], and told to practise with him. The novice seeing that he was of an advanced age and in order to test him said, "Yes Venerable, you can practise with me, if you are serious in wanting to practise. But if you are not, then I will not waste my time with you". Tuccha-Potthila pledged his life as a student of the novice.
The novice told him to walk towards a muddy pond with his robes and to stop only when told to do so. Thus, Tuccha-Potthila neatly robed began to walk towards the pond. As he neared the pond the young novice still kept quiet. He kept on walking till he entered the muddy pond and was immersed to the waist in the mud. Finally the novice, satisfied with his sincerity said; “stop"; and he was told to come out of the pond. This clearly showed that he had given up personal pride. He was ready to be taught. The young novice, seeing this, knew that Tuccha-Potthila was determined to practise. [Dhammapadatthakatha iii.417-21;
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Lord often uses similes to put across a point. Here, He used the simile of the raft: THE BUDDHA: Bhikkhus, I will teach you the Dhamma Bhikkhus,
compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak.
BHIKKHUS: As you say, Lord. THE BUDDHA: Suppose a man was travelling along a path.
shore He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, 'Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious and risky, from the further shore secure and free from risk, but with neither a boat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, and leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to
on safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making feet' an effort with my hands and feet'? Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, and leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross dependence over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands and feet. Having crossed over to the further shore, he might think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making over an effort with my hands and feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having hoisted it on my head like' or carrying on my back, go wherever I like'? What do you think, bhikkhus: what bhikkhus: Would the man, in doing that, be doing what should be done with the raft?
BHIKKHUS: No, Lord. THE BUDDHA: And what should the man do in order to be
doing what should be done with the raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, 'How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands and feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like’? In doing this, he would be doing what should be done with the bhikkhus hus, raft. In the same way, bhikkhus, I have taught the Dhamma
compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dhamma as you taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, nonDhammas, to say nothing of non-dhammas.
BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): Thus, the Buddha has said very clearly that the Dhamma is for us to gain knowledge and wisdom in order to be free from defilement and suffering…not to keep it with us through eternity; thus Jinavamsa, having learnt and practised, we should then leave it behind and concentrate on living the Dhamma. JINAVAMSA: Bhante, is it not a fact that many have kept on investigating and questioning the Dhamma in vain attempts to understand the Dhamma by intellectual means, not realising that the Dhamma needs practise to grasp the truth within? Many have wrongly conceived the Dhamma and thus have applied the Dhamma as a crutch. They have great desire and love listening and talking about the Dhamma, but have made no attempt to glean from the Dhamma what is reality and to live the Dhamma. Would my assumption be correct, Bhante? BHANTE SUVANNO: Quite so, Jinavamsa. Having heard the Dhamma, they should investigate sufficiently to practise the Dhamma. Having practised the Dhamma, wisdom and correct insight will arise and this is the Correct View in relation to the Dhamma. We should live by the Dhamma. How do we live by the Dhamma? Let us first see some…
the Cases of not Living By the Dhamma…
BHANTE SUVANNO: There are those who study all about the Dhamma, they spend the day in Dhamma-study. There are those who take the Dhamma as they have heard it, studied it and teach it in full detail to others. They spend the day in Dhamma teaching. There are those who take the Dhamma as they have heard it, study it and recite it in full detail. They spend the day in Dhamma recitation Then there are those, who take the Dhamma as they have heard it, study it, think about it, evaluate it, and examine it with their intellect. They spend the day in Dhamma thinking. However, they neglect seclusion [in meditation]. They do not commit themselves to internal tranquillity of awareness [Vipassana]. These are those who do not live by the Dhamma.
the A Case of Living By the Dhamma..[AN V.73]
BHANTE SUVANNO: Then the Buddha added that those who spend moderate time in performing the above but have more time in seclusion and commit to Vipassana meditation. These are those who live by the Dhamma. He further added that whatever a teacher should do in looking after the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them, that He had done. Thus He advised: THE BUDDHA: Over there are the roots of trees and empty
practise dwellings; practise meditation, bhikkhus. Do not be heedless. Do not later fall into regret. This is our message to you.
BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): Thus, Jinavamsa, please be guided that the person who practises the Dhamma is the one who lives by the Dhamma, and the one who lives by the Dhamma is the one who reside in solitude and practises Vipassana diligently. This is the Only Way. No others will do. JINAVAMSA: Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu, Bhante.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER TWO The World System Explained
The Buddha knows and teaches that the universe is without any discoverable beginning in time: there is no first point, no initial moment of creation. Through beginning-less time, world systems arise, evolve, and then disintegrate, followed by new world systems subject to the same laws of growth and decline.
ReRe-Discovering The Dhamma
THE SCENE: Mi Tor See JINAVAMSA: Bhante Suvanno shares his duties between Mi Tor See and Buddhist Hermitage Lunas. At this time devotees had been requesting that he returns to Mi Tor See and render them Dhamma discourses. It is late in the evening, the day had been very hot and humid and Bhante has just gotten up from his rest after the usual crowd of devotees had offered lunch dana, after which Bhante had given a lengthy discourse on the planes of existence. This discourse had always been very well received by the devotees because Bhante has the knack of describing results in those who are reborn in hell after doing evil deeds in their lives. The elderly population would usually ask many questions and Bhante always takes pains to explain kamma and rebirth to them. They would usually leave at about three o’clock in the afternoon and Bhante would then take his bath and have a rest in his simple room. He would wake at late afternoon and proceed to sweeping and cleaning up of the compound as a form of exercise. He would sweep and collect the fallen leaves and heap it aside to be collected later. Jinavamsa is just behind him, sweeping too. JINAVAMSA: Bhante, you mentioned just now while giving the discourse that there are many world systems out there; how did the Buddha know this? BHANTE SUVANNO: Ah, Jinavamsa, you must know that the Buddha was an Enlightened Being and being Enlightened, His powers are unimaginably expansively encompassing and far, far reaching. His powers cover anything He wishes to know. Those are awesome powers. Firstly, let’s see what history has to say.
The Moment, the Man and the Tree
COMMENTATOR: At some ancient point far, far back into the labyrinth of time, just under 2600 years ago, a man sat under a huge tree. It was not an ordinary tree and the man was no ordinary man. The Moment, the Tree and the Man had been conditionally staged to be at this exact pivotal point through a humongous web upon web of events that were conditioned at another point in yet a more ancient time in unimaginable aeons into the past. The vast expanse of time where these points evolved is like boiling an ocean and watching the bubbles of steam arise; each bubble equating to one split moment in time; these moments are but bubbles in that ocean. Imagine each bubble is the beginning of an aeon in time and you will still be far off from imagining the time and the events that propelled the Moment, the Tree and the
Man coming together at this exact point in the inexorable march of time. It was the Moment that the Man, taking refuge under the Tree, looked within himself and discovered that all life forms are but what the life forms ignorantly conditioned themselves to be; nothing more, nothing less; not realising that the more desires they have the less will be their merits for a better rebecoming. BHANTE SUVANNO (takes over): You must realise that there is no “man” per se, Jinavamsa, there is only a conglomeration of different parts coming together and being labelled as “man”; just as all the different parts make up a car. “Man”; “Car”, are but the label put on them to identify the different objects for purpose of identification and labelling. Just as a car is made up of the chassis, the engine, the seats, etc. so man is a causal object of mind and body. To distinguish a specific ‘mind and body’ from other types of ‘minds and bodies’, the unifying word “man” is used; just so all other ‘mind and body’ objects like dogs, cats, elephants etc., in the world are so named. So a dictionary is but a book; and this book we label as a dictionary tells us we “see” or “perceive” things by what names they have been identified and labelled. Otherwise, Jinavamsa, there will be chaos. So names are hinged to objects; this “hinged togetherness” have been for such a long time that we have forgotten what were the intrinsic nature of the things we have “hinged together” and so named “group-wise” as in a group or an assemblage. Thus, in the unmindful, constant use of the word man, we have forgotten that “man” is but a conglomeration of different parts “hinged together”, starting with mind and body; but we do realise that a “car” is an assemblage of myriad parts, because we can “see” the parts involved! Whereas we cannot “see” mind hinged to the body!
At the moment of sitting under the tree, he was known as Siddhattha Gotama; after a great mind transformation, a great “enlightenment” of the mind; he became a being possessed of unfathomable wisdom and far encompassing insights; he became a Unique Being; a Buddha. He also became a Teacher to Gods (Devas and Brahmas) and men (manussanam). JINAVAMSA: Bhante, what length of time did all these events take place and what does a being have to do to become a Buddha? BHANTE SUVANNO: To appreciate the immense universality in the name “Buddha”, we need to study the world system as seen directly and known by the Buddha. We first need to appreciate the length of time that the Buddha Gotama went through to attain His Self-enlightenment. Hopefully with this clear perspective you will appreciate the true nature of Enlightenment of a Buddha. Most times when we talk about the Buddha and we say: “The Buddha did this and that…if we try hard enough we can also do it, too”; not realising what a difficult and formidable task it is to become a Buddha. No man or God can be compared to a Supreme Buddha in any mode of application. He is a unique human, an incomparable teacher of gods and men. It is extremely difficult and it takes a truly long and incalculable period of time to become a Supreme Buddha. An aspiring human being must have superb confidence and great determination to make the aspiration voluntarily and willingly to be a Buddha.
Rare is birth as a human being Hard is the life of mortals
Hard is the hearing of the sublime Truth the the Buddha. Rare is the appearance of the Buddha.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Siddhattha Gotama, having met living Buddhas in many previous existences, and realising the tremendous glory and responsibility in one, profoundly knows the monumental task ahead of him from the moment he aspires to be a Buddha. He must be imbued with unusual qualities and supreme confidence. Truly rare is such a being to be found in any period of time, anywhere. If we realise that, we should then be gratified to know how fortunate we are, to be born when the Teachings of the Buddha are still with us; for there is no guarantee that the Buddha’s Dhamma will always be with us. Remember that at the beginning of His Sasana, just under 2600 years ago, there was no Buddha’s Dhamma in any universe at all. We are in an era where the Teaching of the Buddha (Dhamma) is still reasonably well and alive. You note, Jinavamsa, I say reasonably well…because at this juncture in the Buddha’s Dispensation…we are facing much dangers in the continued performance of the Dhamma; but here we have been warned by the Buddha that these dangers will surely come about. We are at a very precarious juncture of the Dhamma Path; the point of no return as it were. In this respect let us digress a little and hear what the Buddha has to say regarding these dangers.
Future Dangers… (An. v 79)
unarisen at present, will arise the in the future. Be alert to them and being alert, work to get rid of them. What are the five? There will be, in the course of the future, monks undeveloped discernment. in bodily conduct, virtue, mind and discernment. 1. Being undeveloped, they will give full ordination to others not heightened and will not be able to discipline them in heightened virtue, mind and discernment. undeveloped, 2. Being undeveloped, they will take on others as students and will not be able to discipline them in heightened virtue, mind and discernment. 3. Being undeveloped, when giving a talk on higher Dhamma or a talk composed of questions and answers, they will fall into dark mental states without being aware of it. 4. Being undeveloped, they will not listen when discourses that that are words of the Tathagata; deep, profound, transcendent, recited. transcendent, are being recited. They will not lend ear, will not set their hearts on knowing them, they will not regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they
discourses will listen when discourses that are literary works; the rhetoric, works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the outsiders, work of outsiders, words of disciples are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping and mastering. 5. Being undeveloped, they will become elders living in lethargic, luxury, lethargic, foremost in falling back, shirking the of efforts duties of solitude. They will not make efforts for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the asas-yetasyetrealisation as-yet-unrealised realised. yet-unreached; the realisation of the as-yet-unrealised. generations, They will become an example for later generations, who will become luxurious in their living, lethargic, foremost in falling back, shirking the duties of solitude and who will not as-yetmake an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, as-yetthe reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realisation of the as-yet-unrealised realised. the as-yet-unrealised. Thus from corrupt Dhamma comes corrupt discipline; from corrupt discipline, corrupt Dhamma. dangers, These, monks, are the five future dangers, unarisen at the present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them and being alert, work to get rid of them.
More Future Dangers… (An v80)
THE BUDDHA: Monks, there are five more future dangers, there
the unarisen at present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them these and being alert, work to get rid of them. What are these other fives fives? robes, 1. Monks desirous of fine robes, will neglect the practice of castwearing cast-off cloth; will neglect isolated forest and dwellings; wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities and royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of a robe inappropriate they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things. 2. Monks desirous of fine food, will neglect the practice of going for alms; will neglect isolated forest and wilderness dwellings; dwellings; will move to towns, cities and royal capitals, tiptaking up residence there and searching out the tip-top with tastes with the tip of the tongue. For the sake of food they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things. 3. Monks desirous of fine lodgings, will neglect the practice of living in the wilds; will neglect isolated forest and to towns, wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities and royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of lodgings they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things. 4. Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be female monks who will live in close association with nuns, female probationers and female novices. As they interact with nuns, female probationers and female novices, they can be
expected either to lead the holy life dissatisfied or to fall into one of the grosser offences, leaving the training, lower returning to a lower way of life. 5. Furthermore, in the course of the future there will be monks who will live in close association with monastery attendants and novices. As they interact with monastery attendants and novices, they can be expected to live intent on storing up all kinds of possessions and to stake out crops and fields. dangers, These, monks, are the five other future dangers, unarisen at the present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them and being alert, work to get rid of them.
BHANTE SUVANNO: I digressed, Jinavamsa, let us continue. Many of us who have read the life story of the Buddha may think that it took the Ascetic Gotama six years to become the Buddha. In fact it took the Buddha Gotama a period of three hundred thousand world cycles interspersed with twenty asankheyyas to reach enlightenment and become a Buddha! JINAVAMSA: Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu Bhante, how is an asankheyya measured and who or what then is a Buddha? BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha knows and teaches that the universe is without any discoverable beginning: there is no first point, no initial moment of creation. Through beginning-less time, world systems arise, evolve and then disintegrate, followed by new world systems subject to the same laws of growth and decline. Let us read what Scriptural Texts recorded regarding the Buddha’s words on this universal event …
SCRIPTURAL TEXTS: Each world system consists of numerous planes of existence inhabited by sentient beings similar in most respects to those found in this present universe. Besides human and animal realms, it contains heavenly planes, realms of celestial bliss and infernal planes, realms of pain and misery. The beings dwelling in these realms pass from lives to lives in unbroken processes of rebirth in the shoreless ocean of Samsara. This aimless wandering from birth to birth is driven by ignorance and craving, and the particular form any rebirth takes is determined by kamma; the results of wholesome and unwholesome deeds conditioned by thought, speech and volitional actions of the body. An impersonal moral law governs this process, ensuring that good deeds bring a pleasant rebirth, and evil deeds a painful one. In all planes of existence, life is impermanent, subject to birth, ageing, decay and death. Even life in the heavens, where celestial beings, devas and brahmas are reborn, though long and blissful, does not last forever. Every existence eventually comes to an end, to be followed by a rebirth elsewhere among any of the 31 Planes in the vast inter-woven borders of myriad universes. Therefore, when closely examined, all modes of existence within Samsara reveal themselves as illusionary, stamped with the mark of imperfection. They are unable to offer a stable, secure happiness and peace, and thus cannot deliver a final solution to the problem of suffering. However, beyond the conditioned spheres of rebirths, there is also a realm or state of perfect bliss and peace, of complete unconditioned freedom, Nibbana! JINAVAMSA: Bhante, did the Lord give any indication of how the world system begins.
of Systems… Evolution of World Systems…
BHANTE SUVANNO: Yes, Jinavamsa, He did; in fact He was very detailed and graphic in that Discourse. He explained a world cycle as follows; let us refer to some scriptural texts through Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and attendant. ANANDA: Evam me sutam, thus have I heard: At one season the Blessed One was staying at Vesali, in Ambapali's grove. And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: THE BUDDHA: Bhikkhus! BHIKKHUS: Lord! THE BUDDHA: Impermanent,
constituents of existence, unstable, non-eternal: so much so, nonthat this alone is enough to weary and disgust one with all thereconstituent things, and emancipate there-from. bhikkhus, Now there comes, O bhikkhus, a season when, after many thousands years, many hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of years, it does not rain; and while it rains not, all vegetation, seedlings and vegetation, all plants, grasses and trees dry up, wither away and cease to be. bhikkhus, And, bhikkhus, there comes a season, at vast intervals in the time, lapse of time, when a second sun appears. After the bhikkhus, appearance of the second sun, bhikkhus, the brooks and ponds dry up, vanish away and cease to be. So impermanent are constituent things!
bhikkhus, And then, bhikkhus, there comes a season, at vast intervals in time, the lapse of time, when a third sun appears; and thereupon the great rivers, vanish away and cease to be. At length, after another vast period, a fourth sun appears, and thereupon the great lakes, vanish away, and cease to be. bhikkhus, long Again, bhikkhus, when, after another long lapse, a fifth sun appears, the waters in the great ocean go down for a hundred leagues; then for two hundred, three hundred, and even unto ankleseven hundred leagues, until the water stands only ankle-deep. bhikkhus, rains Even, O bhikkhus, as in the fall season, when it rains in large drops, the waters in some places are standing around the feet (cattle); bhikkhus, of the kine (cattle); even so, bhikkhus, the waters in the great kineocean in some places are standing to the depth of kine-feet. bhikkhus, After the appearance of the fifth sun, bhikkhus, the water in fingerthe great ocean is not the measure of a finger-joint. Then at last, after another lapse of time, a sixth sun appears; eeks fumes whereupon this great earth reeks and fumes and send forth clouds of smoke. appears, After a last vast interval, a seventh sun appears, and then, bhikkhus, this great earth, flare and blaze, and become one mass of flame.
And now, from earth and mountains burning and consuming, a spark is carried by the wind and goes as far as the worlds of God; and the peaks of Mount Sineru, burning, consuming, perishing, go down in one vast mass of fire and crumble for a hundred, even, five hundred leagues. bhikkhus, And of this great earth, bhikkhus, and Sineru, the monarch of mountains, when consumed and burnt, neither ashes nor soot remains. Just as when ghee or oil is consumed and burnt, bhikkhus, bhikkhus, neither ashes nor soot remains, so it is with the great earth and Mount Sineru. bhikkhus, Therefore, bhikkhus, do those who deliberate and believe say this: 'This earth and Sineru, the monarch of mountains, will be burnt burnt and perish and exist no more,' excepting those who have path th. seen the path.
[Anguttara Nikaya; vii. 62].
[Excerpt from: Aganna Sutta: Digha Nikaya 27] THE BUDDHA (in Savatthi Migara’s mansion): There comes a
later, time, Vasettha, when, sooner or later, after the lapse of a long period, this world passes away. And when this happens, beings have mostly been reborn in the World of Radiance; and there they dwell, made of selfmind, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, traversing the air, and continuing in glory; and thus they remain for a long period of time. There also come a time, Vasettha, when sooner or later this reworld began to re-evolve. When this happens, beings who had Radiance iance, deceased from the World of Radiance, come to life as humans. selfAnd they become made of mind, feeding on rapture, selfglory luminous, traversing the air, continuing in glory and remain thus for a long period of time. Now at that time, all had become one world of water, dark and of darkness that maketh blind. Neither moon nor sun appeared, no stars were seen, neither was the constellations, constellations, nor was night and day; neither years nor seasons, neither female nor male. Beings were reckoned just as beings only.
sooner And to those beings, Vasettha, sooner or later after a long was time, earth with its savour was spread out in the waters; like scum forms on the surface of boiled milky rice that is cooling. It cooling. wellbecame endowed with colour, odour and taste. Even as wellcolour; made ghee or pure butter, so was its colour; even as the flawless honey of the bee, so sweet was it. greedy Then, Vasettha, some being of greedy disposition, said: What will this be? They tasted the savoury earth with their them. beings fingers. After tasting, they craved for them. Other beings examples following their examples and craving entered into them. Then those beings began to feast on the savoury earth, breaking off lumps of it with their hands. selfAnd from the doing thereof the self-luminance faded away, starthe moon and the sun became manifest. Thereupon starshapes and constellations became manifest. Thereupon night manifest fest, and day became manifest, seasons and the years. Thus far then, Vasettha, did the world evolve again. the Now those beings, Vasettha, feasting on the savoury earth, continued long nourished by it, continued thus for a very long while. And as they thus fed, their bodies become solid and variety in their comeliness become manifest. favoured, ill-favoured. Some beings were well favoured, some were ill-favoured. And the well favoured despised the ill favoured, thinking: We are
are. more comely than they are. And while they through pride in their beauty thus became vain and conceited, the savoury disappearance earth disappeared. At the disappearance of the savoury bewailed savour! earth, they bewailed: Alas for the savour! earth vanished, Then, Vasettha, when the savoury earth had vanished, appe ppeared outgrowths appeared in the soil, like the springing up of mushrooms wellmushrooms, it had colour, odour and taste; even as well-formed ghee or fine butter so was the colour thereof, and even as flawless honeycomb so was the sweetness thereof. Then, feasted outgrowths soil. Then, those beings feasted on these outgrowths of the soil. nourishment And they, finding food and nourishment in them, continued for a long while. And as they fed and were nourished, their bodies grow ever more solid and the difference in their comeliness more manifest. despised thos ose became more manifest. Thus the well favoured despised those that were ill favoured. And as they took pride in their beauty, they became vain and conceited, these outgrowths of the soil disappeared. Thereupon creeping plants and bamboo appeared which had honeycomb omb. colour, odour and were as sweet as honeycomb. Then, creepers. Then, Vasettha, those beings began to feast on the creepers. And they feasting and nourished by them, continued so for a long while; and as they thus fed and were nourished, their bodies bacame more solid, and the divergence in their
that, comeliness increase, so that, as before, the better favoured despised the worst favoured. And while those, through pride in their beauty, became vain and conceited, the creepers disappeared. At the disappearance thereof they bewailed and lamented. creepers Then, Vasettha, when the creepers had vanished, rice appeared ripening in open spaces. No powder had it and no husk; pure, fragrant and clean grained. husk; While in the evening they gathered and carried away for morning supper, the next morning the rice grew again. Where in the morning they gathered and carried away for breakfast, in the evening the rice grew again. Then, feasting Then, those beings feasting on this rice, feeding on it, nourished by it, so continued for a long while. And thus feeding, they went on existing and their bodies become even and more solid and the divergence in their comeliness more pronounced. In the female appeared the distinctive features of the female, in the male those of the male. Then truly did woman contemplate man too closely, and man, woman. In them contemplating much ch, contemplating over each other much, passion arose and their desires entered their bodies. They thereof followed their lusts. And beings seeing them so doing, some threw sand,
cowPerish, some ashes, some cow-dung, crying: Perish, foul one! How can a being treat another being so? That which was reckoned immoral at that time, Vasettha, is now reckoned to be moral. Those beings who at that time followed their lusts, were not allowed to enter village or town for a whole month or even two months. And inasmuch as those blame beings at that time quickly incurred blame for immorality, they set to work to make huts, to conceal just that immorality. being Then Vasettha, this occurred to some being of a lazy Now! disposition: Now! Why do I wear myself out fetching rice for What supper in the evening, and in the morning for breakfast? What if I were to fetch enough rice for supper and breakfast together? So he gathered at one journey enough rice for the two meals together. Then some other being came to this one and said: Come, said: mind, good being, let us go rice gathering. And he said: Never mind, good being, I have fetched rice enough for two days. [And so, for in like manner, they stored up rice enough for four, and then days] for eight days]. Now from the time, Vasettha, that those beings began to feed grain, on hoarded rice, powder enveloped the clean grain, and husk enveloped the grain, and the reaped or cut stems did not grow
again; a break became manifest [where the reaper had cut]; the rice stubble stood in clumps. Then those beings, Vasettha, gathered themselves and bewailed this, saying: Evil customs, sirs, have appeared among men. Come now, let us divide off the rice fields and set boundaries thereto! And so they divided off the rice and set boundaries round it. Now some being of greedy disposition, stole another plot and made use of it. They caught him and, said: Truly, thou hast thou plot. wrought evil in that, thou hast stolen another plot. See that replied. thou do not do such a thing again! Aye, sirs he replied. And a and second time he did so.; and yet a third. And again they caught and admonished him. He was punished. With such a beginning, Vasettha, Vasettha, did stealing, censure, lying and punishment became known. things: Now those beings bewailed these things: From our evil deeds, sirs, punishment have become known, what if we were to select a certain being, who should censure that which should rightly be censured, and who should banish him who deserves to be banished? But we will give him in return a proportion of the rice. Then, Vasettha, those beings went to the being among them now, who was the most capable and said to him: Come now, good
being, censure that which should rightly be censured, banish him who deserves to be banished. And we will contribute thee a proportion of our rice. And he consented, and did so, and rice……. they gave him a proportion of their rice…….
BHANTE SUVANNO: That, in a nutshell, Jinavamsa was how the world evolved naturally to a social system we find it today. And it will always happen as it is without fail! JINAVAMSA: Bhante; sadhu, sadhu sadhu, but how can one fathom or visualise the time span of one world cycle?
Cycle… Simile of a World Cycle…
BHANTE SUVANNO: Ah yes; a world cycle is a very, very long period and we with our limited wisdom and knowledge cannot begin to envisage the vastness or length of time constituting that world cycle. Let us hear what the Lord, using a simile says on this: THE BUDDHA: Suppose, O bhikkhus, that there was a huge bhikkhus,
solid mass of rock with no cracks or crevices, that was one yojana (7-14 miles) long, one yojana wide and one yojana high, (7years, deva and suppose that every once in a hundred years, a deva from the heavens were to come and polish this rock with a silken cloth until that huge rock wears off. The period that it took to wear the rock away is the time span of one world cycle. Of such world cycles many have passed away; many hundreds, thousa ousands, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha was using this simile so as to give us an idea the length of a world cycle or Mahakappa. If we consider only the period after the Definite Proclamation by the Dipankara Buddha, the period in which the Bodhisatta completed the ten perfections, it was only a mere 100,000 world cycles. In fact, it took the Bodhisatta a period of 300,000 world cycles interspersed with 20 incalculable periods to attain Buddhahood. When you can visualise this time span you will marvel not only at the magnitude of the task but also at the fortitude and courage a Bodhisatta has to have to attain Supreme Buddhahood. Thus is a Buddha a Supreme Being. JINAVAMSA: When was it then, Bhante, that the present Buddha made his first aspiration?
First Mental Aspiration …
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Bodhisatta had been reborn into countless lives in his training to be a Buddha, even before the time when he was Sumedha. The Jataka Stories tell of two incidents both set in a time over 300,000 world cycles and 20 asankheyya when he was inspired to make mental aspirations to be a Buddha. The first story tells of the time when the Bodhisatta was the son of the King of Benares. On his father's death, He was crowned king. The new king had a beautiful, trained elephant. While out one day, his elephant caught the scent of a female elephant. It broke loose and, leaving the mahout, ran into the jungle after the female elephant. The mahout explained to the king that his normally obedient elephant left because of the lust it felt for the female elephant. The king reflected on this information and, feeling disgust at the effect of lust on his calm, mild, trained
elephant, decided to give up sensual pleasures and become an ascetic. He gave up his worldly possessions and kingdom and took the life of a holy man. In another story our present Bodhisatta then was King Atideva, who met the Buddha Brahma-Deva and presented a monastery to the Buddha, providing him and his bhikkhus with all that they required. At this time he made the mental aspiration to Buddhahood. From the time of the Buddha Brahma-Deva, our Bodhisatta had found rebirth and met 125,000 Buddhas, and made the mental aspiration to Buddhahood in the presence of each Buddha after performing various meritorious acts, however, he had not achieved the requirements necessary to receive the Definite Proclamation.
The First Definite Prophecy
BHANTE SUVANNO: Time in relation to present - 100,000 world cycles and four incalculable periods ago. Bodhisatta Gotama then was Sumedha the ascetic and the Buddha at that time; the Buddha Dipankara. At that time our Bodhisatta was born into the family of a priest and was named Sumedha. After his father’s death, he had distributed all of his wealth among the poor and taken the life of an ascetic. We will now cover the period that is well known in most books regarding Sumedha; this is Four Asankheyya and 100,000 world cycles ago; Jinavamsa we will continue with:
and Firm Determination and Bold Proclamation
It was the occasion of welcoming the Buddha Dipankara to the great city of Rammavati. The citizens were repairing the road, eagerly preparing a grand welcome for the Dipankara Buddha. While travelling in the air, the ascetic Sumedha saw the citizens being engaged cheerfully in road reconstruction and city decoration. Wondering what was going on, he came down and questioned them. They answered that they were repairing the road as the Buddha and his disciples were coming to visit and they would pass that stretch of bad road. The ascetic Sumedha felt greatly delighted and thought: SUMEDHA (musing to himself): Oh! it's very hard to hear the word 'Buddha', and it is, indeed, harder to become a Buddha. BHANTE SUVANNO: Thus thinking, he asked to help in the road repairs and the citizens being aware of his super normal powers allowed him a difficult section of the road to repair. Although he could finish the road repair by his super normal power, he decided to apply his own labour as he would gain more merit this way; but before he could finish repairing his portion of the road, the Buddha and his disciples arrived.
[To prevent the feet of the Buddha and his disciples from getting soiled, he prostrated himself on the mud to form a bridge].
Among the crowd, there was a young woman named Sumitta who was very impressed with the way the ascetic venerated the Buddha. So, from the eight stalks of lotus flowers in her hand, she kept three and gave five to him. He immediately offered the flowers to the Buddha while lying on the muddy road. BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): On seeing the Buddha's noble glory, the young Sumedha thought: SUMEDHA: If I wish, I can now become an arahant. However, I will forsake that goal and aspire to be a Buddha like the Buddha Dipankara. So, he immediately made the firm resolution to become a Buddha. The Buddha Dipankara, standing in front of Sumedha proclaimed as follows: BUDDHA DIPANKARA: This young ascetic, lying down as a
bridge at the risk of his life, will become a Buddha like me in the future.
BHANTE SUVANNO: On hearing this, the audience cheered and honoured Sumedha. The Buddha did not tread on him, but passed by him. The disciples of the Buddha followed suit. The future Buddha, having gained the proclamation by the Dipankara Buddha, got up with great joy. From this point on, the Bodhisatta started in earnest to fulfill the ten virtues.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Eight conditions must be met in order to receive the definite prophecy (proclamation). 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. If one so wished one could at this point attain Arahantship and obtain one's liberation from Samsara. One must be a human being. One must be a male. One must come face to face with a living Buddha. One must be an ascetic. One must possess psychic powers. One must be prepared to lay down one's life for the Buddha. One must have the strong determination to be a Buddha even though one knows that one might have to suffer as an animal, demon, etc., in an unhappy world.
BHANTE SUVANNO (takes over): At the time of the Buddha Dipankara, He saw that the Bodhisatta met the eight requirements as at that moment in time and thus made the definite proclamation. During this period the Bodhisatta perfected himself and retained the determination and aspiration to Buddhahood. The ten perfections: Generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, effort, patience, truth, determination, universal love and equanimity, the prerequisites to Buddhahood, were to be fulfilled in this stage. JINAVAMSA: Bhante, if a Buddha rarely appears, then what are the conditions existing when there is no Buddha Sasana in the world? BHANTE SUVANNO: It is normal to desire and prefer unwholesome practices when born at a time when the Dhamma is not around to give guidance and value to life and humans will have no conception of what is immoral or moral. Whatever it is,
the law of kamma operates despite man’s ignorance. Destroying the life of a living being, human or animal, is an unwholesome act and when accompanied by intention, will set in motion the law of kamma. Those among us who have heavenly birth as their long-term goal should understand that even the extremely long and happy life spans in the heavens are impermanent. As I have mentioned before, brahmas, devas and all heavenly beings are also traversing Samsara with humans, animals, ghosts. All are subjected to the same impermanence of existence. All beings will die and find rebirth according to the thoughts, speech and deeds in this present existence and those they have inherited from their passed existences. Rebirth could occur in any of the 31 planes of existence, perhaps in a human world devoid of the Dhamma. Then the chances of wrongdoing and subsequent birth in an unhappy plane are very high because we may not have the Dhamma of a Supreme Buddha to guide us. The Buddha explained how difficult it is to obtain birth as a human once you are born in an unhappy plane. He applied the following simile to illustrate this great chasm to cross to find rebirth in a human existence.
THE BUDDHA: There is, O bhikkhus, in the ocean a turtle, bhikkhus,
both of whose eyes are blind. He plunges into the water of the unfathomable ocean and swims about incessantly in any direction wherever his head may lead.
There is also in the ocean the yoke of a cart, which is ceaselessly floating about on the surface of the water, and is carried away in all directions by tide, current and wind. These two go on throughout an incalculable space of time: perchance it happens that in the course of time the yoke arrives at the precise place and time where and when the turtle bhikkhus, puts up his head, and yokes on to it. Now, O bhikkhus, is it possible that such a time might come as is said? come
BHIKKHUS: Ordinarily, O Lord, it is impossible; but time being so spacious, and an aeon lasting so long, it may be admitted that perhaps at some time or other it might be possible for the two to yoke together, as said; if the blind tortoise lives long enough, and the yoke does not tend to rot and break up. THE BUDDHA:
strange occurrence of such a strange thing is not to be considered a difficult one; for there is still a greater, a harder, a hundred times, a thousand times more difficult than this lying hidden from your knowledge. this? bhikkhus, And what is this? It is, O bhikkhus, the obtaining of the human human opportunity of becoming a human again by a human who has expired and is reborn once in any of the four realms of misery.
The occurrence of the yoking of the blind tortoise is not worth thinking of as a difficult occurrence in comparison therewith. Only those who perform good deeds and abstain from doing evil alone can obtain the existence of men and Devas. The beings in the four miserable worlds cannot discern what is what virtuous and what vicious, what good and what bad, what moral deand what immoral, what meritorious and what de-meritorious, and consequently they live a life of immorality and demerit. Those creatures of the Niraya and Peta abode in particular, live a very miserable life on account of unwholesome kammic kammic results, which they experience with sorrow, pain and distress. bhikkhus, Therefore, O bhikkhus, the opportunity of being reborn in the abode of men is a hundred times, a thousand times harder to obtain than the encountering of the blind turtle with the yoke. yoke.
BHANTE SUVANNO (takes over): According to this Sutta, those beings who are born in the miserable planes will find great difficulty in being reborn into human existence because they are ignorant of the true Dhamma. Their ignorance becomes more entrenched from existence to existence; and as the water of a river always flows down to the lower plains, so also they are always tending towards the lower existences; for the ways towards the higher existences are closed to them, while those towards the lower existences are freely open.
Hence, from this story of the blind turtle, the wise apprehend how great, how fearful, how terribly perilous are the evils of being reborn; "the dispersion of life” after death is a fear that the wise will surely take note of, for the four realms of misery down to the most horrifying hell, stand wide open without any obstruction to one who departs from the human realm. As soon as the term of life expires, he may fall into any of the realms of misery. Whether far or near, there is no intervening period of time. He may be reborn as an animal; as a hungry ghost or a wretched shade in the blink of an eyelid. The fear of death is not as great as the fear of the dispersion of life at death. Except those who have already gained the path of entering the stream of Nibbana, none can ever say where they will find rebirth!
The Ten Perfections
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: During the period of 100,000 world cycles interspersed with four asankheyya, the Bodhisatta Gotama worked at completing the ten perfections (paramita), namely [a consecutive order is not necessary]: 1. Dana (Generosity) 2. Sila (Morality) 3. Nekhamma (Renunciation) 4. Panna (Wisdom) 5. Viriya (Effort) 6. Khanti (Patience) 7. Sacca (Truth) 8. Adhitthana (Determination) 9. Metta (Universal Love) 10. Upekkha (Equanimity)
The Buddha’s past life stories [The Jataka Tales] demonstrate how the Bodhisatta Gotama attained perfection in each of the ten virtues. The Bodhisatta practised each of these in countless births to a degree that is incomprehensible to most mortals. Generosity was not just the giving away of his wealth and kingdom for the good of the world. It was the giving of his limbs, his life, and,
ultimately, his beloved children and wife to reach perfection in generosity. Over myriad aeons of time the Bodhisatta worked tirelessly, with determination and perseverance, to attain perfection in each of these ten areas. JINAVAMSA: Who or What then is a Buddha?
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
Who Is Buddha? The Buddha ?
CHAPTER THREE Who Is The Buddha?
A Buddha is a unique Being who became fully Enlightened in a time when the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Buddha’s Dhamma do not exist anymore in the world.
Who Is The Buddha?
THE SCENE: Mi Tor See BHANTE SUVANNO: Jinavamsa, the word ‘Buddha’ is not a proper name but an honorific title meaning ‘the Enlightened One’. “Buddha, Tathagata, Blessed One”, etc., are appellations in appreciation and admiration of His various qualities. The word denotes, not just a single religious teacher who lived in a particular epoch, but a type of person; an exemplar; of which there have been many in the course of countless world cycles; just as the title ‘President’ refers not just to an individual person, but to everyone who has ever held the office of presidency, so the title ‘Buddha’ is in a sense a ‘spiritual office’, applying to all who have attained the state of Buddhahood. A Buddha is a unique Being who attain Self-Enlightenment in a time when the teachings of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path do not exist anymore in the world. After His Enlightenment, the Buddha taught for 45 years till the end of His life. The Buddha Gotama, then, is simply the latest in the lineage of Buddhas, which stretches back into the dim recesses of the past and forward into the distant horizons of the future. In the most ancient and authentic Pali Canon, there is description of what He looks like. Generally speaking, He has golden hair, blue eyes, His hands reached to His knees without bending, etc. There are 32 distinct marks that distinguish Him. Historically, there is proof of His existence that He is in fact a real existing person. A Buddha is not merely an Enlightened One, but is also an Enlightener, a World Teacher of gods and man. His function is to rediscover the path to Nibbana, to total freedom, and teach this path to the world at large; thereby others can follow in His foot-
steps and arrive at the same emancipation that He Himself achieved. A Buddha is not unique in attaining Nibbana. All those who follow the path to its end realise the same goal. Such people are called arahants; they have destroyed all ignorance and defilement and are totally free in all aspects.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The Buddha had a lengthy body and long arms with a span equal to body length, long fingers, long hands, elongated face, protruding and well-formed nose. His hair was fine, dark and with soft, long curls. His eyes were wide, and strongly blue or bluish. His body was light-coloured and golden, with a pinkish colour under the nails. Overall there are 32 main characteristic signs and additional 80 secondary characteristics that define the wholesomeness of one with such unique attainments. There are two categories of Buddhas. The first, being the Sammasambuddha or Sabbannu Buddha (Omniscient Buddha). A Sabbannu Buddha develops His paramis (moral perfection) through four, eight or sixteen asankheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles and, due to this, is endowed with special powers (bala). He has the unique ability to proclaim and teach the Dhamma. He is superior to all other beings; human or divine; due to having this unique role of a discoverer, keeper and dispenser of the Dhamma that had been lost for aeons of time. The second category of the Buddha is that of the PaccekaBuddha, who are enlightened but is not able to teach or proclaim the Dhamma. Pacceka-Buddhas develop their paramis through two asankheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Thirty facts are common to all the Buddhas. Some of which are: • • • • • • A Buddha is conscious of His conception in His last birth as a Bodhisatta; He is seated cross-legged in the womb of His mother; His mother delivers Him in a standing position; the birth takes place in a forest; when born, He immediately takes seven steps and proclaims His own unique excellence; His body bears the thirty-two marks in addition to other features common to all the Buddhas.
There are, however, eight particular characteristics, which differentiate one Buddha from the other. These are the height of His body, His social rank, the area of His aura, the conveyance used to renounce the worldly life, the tree under which He attains Enlightenment, the size of His seat under the Bodhi tree (pallanka), the length of His austerities and His longevity. A Buddha is born only in our cosmic system (Cakkavala) out of the ten thousand similar systems and also only in Jambudipa (the Indian subcontinent). Furthermore, one Buddha appears at one period of time only. Sometimes, more than one Buddha may be born in one aeon (kappa). Further, no new Buddha is born until the order or the teaching of the previous Buddha completely disappears from the world. COMMENTATOR: At this time, both teacher and student walks to the rest area and Jinavamsa pours a glass of water for Bhante and they both prepare to rest; teacher seated on a bench and student on the floor, a sign of deference to the teacher.
The Daily Routine
JINAVAMSA (continuing the talk): Bhante, does the Buddha have any definite tasks to perform? What would His duties be? BHANTE SUVANNO (mindfully sipping water): Jinavamsa, you must know that the Buddha had a very disciplined and mindful nature. You should also note that He teaches by repetition and habitual ways. Even when He decides to perform some action or deeds, it was His habit to find out what other Buddhas had done before Him so that He stays consistent with the teachings of the Dhamma by all Buddhas. Jinavamsa, habits are of two kinds, the profitable, and the unprofitable. The unprofitable habits of The Buddha had been eradicated by His attainment of Enlightenment. Profitable habits, however, remained in Him. These habits were five-fold: His before-breakfast habits; His after-breakfast habits; His habits of the first watch of the night; His habits of the middle watch of the night; and His habits of the last watch of the night. BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): The Indian tradition divides the night into three equal parts; first watch of the night; that is between 6pm to 10pm; then we have the second watch; that is 10pm to 2am and then the third watch which is 2am to 6am. The Buddha's day was well organised and carefully structured. Let us start with the evening (6pm-10pm). Remember too, that the Buddha ate once a day only and that was just breakfast. After bathing in the evening, the Buddha would go and sit down on a seat prepared by His attendant, and for a while remain in meditation. Bhikkhus would show up punctually at the first watch. The Buddha begins His first session of the night, attending to those bhikkhus who came to seek advice for their practice and giving them discourses and meditation instructions;
and in granting their desires, the Buddha would have completed the first watch of the night. These were His habits of the first watch of the night. The middle watch was an opportunity for brahmas, devas of the heavenly planes and other beings from all over the ten thousand world systems to seek His audience and advice. They would silently appear and stand quietly in solemn respect, till the Buddha acknowledged those who ask questions. Others would just stand by and listen intently with heads bowed in respectful humility. Often, kings, princes, or ministers, who had no time during the day, would avail themselves of this opportunity. These were His habits of the middle watch of the night. He would divide the third watch of the night into three parts; the first part of the third watch He spent in walking meditation, the second in sleep. In the third part, He would sit in another session of meditation, during which time He would survey the world with His divine eye in order to see if there were beings who would benefit from a visit that day. These were His habits of the third watch of the night. The Blessed One would rise early in the morning and after caring for His own person, He would sit retired until it was time to go on His alms round. At which time, He would put on His robe and taking His bowl, He would enter the village or the town for alms. Sometimes He went alone, sometimes ahead of a group of bhikkhus.
The Noble Glory
BHANTE SUVANNO: While the Lord of the World is entering for alms, gentle breeze clear the ground before Him; the clouds let fall drops of water to settle the dust in His pathway, and then
become a canopy over Him; other winds bring flowers and scatter them in His path; elevations of ground depress themselves, and depressions elevate themselves; wherever He places His foot, the ground is even and pleasant to walk upon, or lotus-flowers receive His tread. No sooner has He set His right foot within the city-gate then the rays of six different colours which issue from His body race hither and thither over palaces and pagodas, and deck them, as it were, with the yellow sheen of gold, or with the colours of a painting. The elephants, the horses, the birds and other animals give forth melodious sounds; likewise the tom-toms, lutes, and other musical instruments, and the ornaments worn by the people. By these tokens the people would know: "The Blessed One has now entered for alms"; and in their best robes, with perfumes, flowers and other offerings, they issue forth from their houses into the streets. Then, having zealously paid homage to The Blessed One with the perfumes, flowers and other offerings, and done Him obeisance, some would implore Him: CITIZENS: Venerable Sir, give us ten bhikkhus to feed; give us twenty to feed. OTHER CITIZENS: Give us a hundred bhikkhus to feed. BHANTE SUVANNO: And they would take the bowl of The Blessed One, and prepare a seat for Him, and zealously show their reverence for Him by placing food in the bowl. When He had finished His meal, The Blessed One, with due consideration for the different dispositions of the peoples’ minds, would so teach them the Doctrine so that some would become established in the refuges, some in the five precepts,
some would become converted, some would attain to the fruit of either once returning (sakadagami), or of never returning (anagami), while some would become established in the highest fruit, that of arahant, and would retire from the world. Having shown this kindness to the multitude, He would rise from His seat, and return to the monastery. On His arrival there, He would take His seat in a pavilion where He would wait for the bhikkhus to finish their meal. When they had finished their meal, the bhikkhu attendant would announce the fact to The Blessed One, who would then enter the perfumed chamber. The next function was giving advice to bhikkhus. Those who wished to receive instruction in meditation could do so at this time. The Buddha also answered questions brought up by His bhikkhus and delivered discourses appropriate to the occasion. BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): Having done that, He retired to His cell and, if He wished, spent some time in restful solitude. Then He would again survey the world with His clairvoyance to see if anyone needed His presence and instruction. Those who were spiritually mature enough to benefit from His instruction would appear before His divine vision and He would take appropriate steps to fulfill their spiritual needs. A little later the people who had given Him breakfast would again assemble at the monastery. Thereupon the Blessed One, when His audience had assembled, would approach in such miraculous manner as was fitting; and taking His seat in the
lecture-hall, on the excellent Buddha-mat which had been spread for Him, would teach the Doctrine, as suited the time and occasion until when He perceived it was time, He would dismiss the audience, and the people would do obeisance to The Blessed One, and depart. These were His after-breakfast habits. Except during Vassa (Rains Retreat), the Blessed One was always on the move, delivering discourses and giving advice to the masses. Even when traveling, He would keep up this usual routine, working hard to fulfill His duties as 'the teacher of gods and man’.
The Supreme Buddha Gotama
Setaketu [also known as Santusita] Deva BHANTE SUVANNO: What motivates the Bodhisatta to cultivate the paramis to such extraordinary heights is the compassionate wish to bestow upon the world the teaching that leads to the Deathless; Nibbana. This aspiration, nurtured by boundless love and compassion for all living beings caught in the net of suffering, is the force that sustains the Bodhisatta in His many lives of striving to perfect the paramis. And it is only when all the paramis have reached the peak of perfection that He is qualified to attain Supreme Enlightenment as a Buddha. Thus the personality of the Buddha is the culmination of the ten qualities represented by the ten paramis. Like a well-cut gem, His personality exhibits all excellent qualities in perfect balance. In Him, these ten qualities have reached their consummation, blended into a harmonious whole. In completing the virtue of generosity (in the Vessantara Jataka), the Bodhisatta completed the ten perfections. At death, He was reborn in the Tusita Heaven as a Deva by the name of Setaketu. And there He remained until the opportune time for His last birth as the Buddha Gotama.
BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): From the above description of the Buddha, Jinavamsa, you would have gathered that the Buddha is a mortal and not an immortal person. The present Buddha has died and passed into Nibbana. He is therefore not able to come back and give us further help and advice. What can help us is the Dhamma that He had left behind and that He says will be our teacher when He is gone. Further, He teaches that all things are impermanent and must pass away, which means that He too will pass away. But all hopes are not dashed, for in the very far, far distant future, another Buddha will again appear to re-discover and teach the Dhamma. The question is, will we be around to be benefitted by this re-discovered Dhamma? If perchance we are so endowed with merits that maybe we are here again, the next question is: what form will we be? Will we be humans to be able to understand His teachings when the time comes? No one can really say. Remember what the Lord said; if we do not practise the Dhamma diligently, it is extremely unlikely that we will gain human form again as life after life, more and more defilement accumulate in kammic energy we label as ours; but He promises and all Buddhas then and in the future will give the same promise: There is only One Way to the Purification of beings and that is through the practise of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness in other words; Vipassana… and I must add…in the correct manner. BHANTE SUVANNO: Ah, Jinavamsa, it is now getting onto quite early in the morning and I will let you go and rest. We shall continue at the next most opportune time. JINAVAMSA: Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu, Bhante. May Bhante rest well, too.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER FOUR Pre-Sasana Era PreThe world was blessed with the birth of the greatest human ever. One who became the Buddha and who re-discovered the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the only way to Liberation from Samsara and the end of all sufferings!
Pre Sasana Era
SCENE: Buddhist Hermitage Lunas, evening time. JINAVAMSA (reports): Many weeks have passed since the last discourse. Bhante Suvanno had been on various house visits for quite a few weeks. At these house visits, food and other requisites are offered. After the dana and offerings had been made, Bhante would deliver a discourse (fluently in the Chinese Hokkien dialect, for which he is well known) and answer questions from the devotees. His down to earth way of giving a discourse and answering their questions have through the years endeared him to the devotees. ((Bhante’s kuti pic. above) After a house visit, Bhante would be quite tired and when he returns to the Hermitage he would take his rest earlier in the evening, at which time he prefers to be left alone to meditate in his kuti. Jinavamsa had also been cloistered in solitary meditation for nearly thirty days. This evening, Bhante has asked that Jinavamsa meet him for another session of Dhamma discussion. Message had been left in a tray in front of Jinavamsa’s kuti, which is a walking distance away. Back in the kuti, Jinavamsa had just risen from meditation. It is quite late and dark in the evening and the sun had already set. Not having a time piece he does not know what time of the day it is. He sees the note on the tray and gets ready to visit Bhante Suvanno. He walks the distance to Bhante Suvanno’s kuti, knocks on the door and waits for acknowledgement.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Come in! Jinavamsa, the door is open. JINAVAMSA: [Opens door and walks in, prostrates in front of Bhante Suvanno in respectful homage]. May Bhante be well and happy. COMMENTATOR: Teacher and pupil exchanged courteous greetings and then their often Dhamma sessions would begin. It has become a regular meeting between teacher and pupil at such quiet and unusual hours. A strong bond of togetherness had sprung up between the two. BHANTE SUVANNO: Ah Jinavamsa, you are looking calm and well, tell me about your experiences in your full month of meditation in solitary retreat. COMMENTATOR: Here, Jinavamsa reports to Bhante his experiences during his full month in meditative retreat. BHANTE SUVANNO [continues after the interview]: Jinavamsa, for you to truly appreciate the Dhamma, we need to start you from the beginning, so let me recall the scenes before the Buddha’s birth and we shall discuss about this matter in great detail. JINAVAMSA: It would be a great blessing for me to hear from you the details of the Buddha’s birth. BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha was born in the year 623BC. There are some controversies as to the exact date of His birth, but that is not our worry, except to say that He was actually a true human person and there are many findings by many great people that prove so. After his final birth in the human plane as King Vessantara where he perfected in full all his Moral and Spiritual Perfections (in
Pali; paramis), the Bodhisatta was born in the deva world known as Tusita, where he received the name of Setaketu and lived in the possession of every enjoyment for the space of 57 kotis and 60 lacs of years (one lac is the equivalent of 100 thousand and one koti is the equivalent of 100 lacs). At the end of this period, as it had been announced that a supreme Buddha was about to appear, the devas and brahmas of the various worlds enquired who it was to be; and when they discovered that it was Setaketu, they went in a vast multitude to that deva and requested him to assume that high office. Deva Setaketu, also known as Santusita, the Future Buddha, enjoyed the supreme divine bliss in the abode of Tusita for four thousand years according to deva reckoning, which is equivalent to five hundred and seventy-six million years in the human world. Then one thousand years by human calculations before the end of the Bodhisatta’s life-span in Tusita, Suddhavasa Brahmas proclaimed: "Friends, In a thousand years from today, There will appear in the human abode, An Omniscient Buddha"!
"An Omniscient Buddha will be appearing”!
“An Omniscient Buddha will be appearing”!
The Heavenly Announcement caused Joyous Cries that Reverberated across the Entire Human World One Thousand Years ahead of the Event.
BHANTE SUVANNO: On hearing the joyous cries announcing the advent of a Buddha, all Deva kings and Maha-Brahmas of the ten thousand world-systems, congregated in a certain universe to hold a discussion with the Future Buddha whose approaching birth in the human realm had become manifest through Five Signs. Then they requested him: DEVA KINGS: Oh! Bodhisatta Deva, you had completely fulfilled The Ten Perfections, aspiring to be an Omniscient Buddha in order to acquire freedom from sufferings as well as to liberate the multitudes of humans, Devas and Brahmas. O Bodhisatta Deva, this is truly the right moment to become an Omniscient Buddha!
the Meeting the Five Requirements
BHANTE SUVANNO: The wise Deva Setaketu however, did not hastily consent to the supplication of the Devas and Brahmas; he had to ascertain that the five predicted conditions were in position in accordance with traditions of the Bodhisattas. These were: • The character of the period in which Buddhas are born. • The continent. • The country. • The family. • The day.
• • •
As to the first condition, he saw the age of man being about a hundred years, being neither too long nor too short was an auspicious period for the Buddha to be born. As to the second, he saw that Buddhas are born in Jambudipa (India). As to the third, he saw that they are born in Magadha. As to the fourth, he ascertained whether the royal caste or the Brahmin was then the superior, and when he saw that it was the royal caste, he looked to see which of the 63,000 kings of Jambudipa possessed the requisite merit to become the father of a Buddha; he perceived that Suddhodana, King of Kapilavatthu, of the Sakyan race was alone worthy of the honour. As to the fifth perception, when he looked to see on what the days the Buddhas are born, as he saw that the Queen of Suddhodana would be timely to be his mother and that as the mother of a Buddha dies on the seventh day after her confinement, he saw that he must be conceived in the womb of Mahamaya, 307 days previous to the time at which it was foreknown that her death would take place.
The Bodhisatta observed that the five requirements necessary for His final birth - the right time, the right continent, the right country, the right family and the right mother, had been met. Thus he agreed to their request. It was also timely as signs of his coming demise were already apparent. When a deva is about to leave the celestial regions, there are evidences of the fact: • His garments lose their appearance of purity. • The garlands and ornaments on his person begin to fade. • The body emits a kind of perspiration. • The mansion in which he has resided loses its beauty.
The devas having perceived these signs relative to Setaketu, gathered around him and offered him their congratulations. On the arrival of the proper period, he passed away from Tusita and was conceived in the womb of Mahamaya. The womb that bears a Buddha is like a casket in which a relic is placed; no other being can be conceived in the same receptacle; the usual secretions are not formed; and from the time of conception, Mahamaya was free from passion and lived in the strictest continence.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Now Jinavamsa, around this time of the year in Kapilavatthu, the people were accustomed to holding a festival from the 7th day of the Moon to the 14th, during which period they spent their time in dancing and all other kinds of pleasure. On the last day of the festival, Mahamaya bathed in fragrant water and arrayed herself with flowers and ornaments; after which she gave generous amounts of alms and took the five precepts. She then retired to her royal couch and whilst reposing upon it, had a dream. In her dream she saw the guardian devas of the four quarters take up the couch upon which she lay, and convey it to the great forest of Himalaya. There they placed it upon a rock, under the shade of a sal tree and afterwards remained respectfully at a distance. After that, four deva Queens brought water with which they washed her body and afterwards arrayed her in the most exquisite garments and anointed her with divine scents. The four devas then took her to a palace of gold placed on top of a rock of silver, and having made a divine couch within the palace, they placed her upon it, with her head towards the east.
Whilst there reposing, the Bodhisatta appeared in the form of a small white elephant in the moonlight, his tiny trunk holding a lotus. Approaching near, he thrice circled the Queen's couch. BHANTE SUVANNO: At this point Setaketu, who saw the process of the dream, passed away from the devaloka (deva world) and was conceived in the world of man; and Mahamaya discovered the Bodhisatta within her body, as an infant lies in the womb of its mother. In the morning, when the Queen awoke, she told the King about her dream. Anxious about the meaning of the dream King Suddhodana called together sixty-four Brahmans, learned in the four Vedas to seek their advice. He feasted them in golden dishes, which he presented to them as gifts at the close of the session. From these Brahmans, Suddhodana learned that the Queen had become pregnant of a son. They further declared that the child would be vested with the dignity of a Universal Ruler; but if he renounced the world, they foretold that he would become a supreme Buddha. They then recommended the king to appoint a festival in honour of the event. During the whole period of the pregnancy, the devas of the four quarters remained with Mahamaya; and 40,000 devas from the 10,000 other world systems with weapons in their hands also remained on guard; some round the palace, whilst others guarded the city, Jambudipa and the cakkavala (world system).
The mother and the child were completely comfortable and at ease. The Queen was calm and not excited by these circumstances; and for the better preservation of her infant she moved about with care, like one who carries a vessel full of oil that one is afraid to spill; she did not eat any hot, bitter or highly seasoned food, neither did she over-eat; she did not lie upon her face, nor upon her left side; she neither exercised, nor did she use violent exertion, but maintain her calmness. At the conclusion of the ten months, Mahamaya informed the King that she wished to go to her home town of Koli to pay a visit to her parents. He commanded that the whole of the road between Kapilavatthu and Koli should be made level, strewed with clean sand and have trees planted on each side, with water vessels at regular intervals. A golden litter comfortably laid out with soft cushions and warm beddings was brought in carried by a thousand nobles in their richest costumes. The Queen putting on her best robes began her journey home accompanied by thousands of elephants drawing myriad chariots like a cloud formation; all her attending retinue were waving banners and musicians were playing music continuously and loudly. Between the two cities was the garden of Lumbini, to which the inhabitants of both cities were accustomed to resort to for recreation. At this time the sal trees were in full bloom and flowers were everywhere; swarms of bees sported among the blossoms and culled the sweet nectar from the flowers; and there were coveys of peacocks, birds of paradise and flocks of other birds with beautiful plumages, welcoming the Queen with pleasant songs, happy tweetings and chirpings. Graciously fragrant heavenly scents gently wafted about the garden at the approach of the Queen, softly touching and caressing the Queen and her bevy of attendants.
BHANTE SUVANNO (continues on): She decided to spend a bit more time in the garden to enjoy the beautiful sights. She stepped out of her golden litter and attended by thousands of her royal maidens entered the garden, admiring all things around her, until she came to a sal tree. She put forth her hand to catch hold of one of its branches; but it bent towards her of its own accord, and as she held it, the birth of the Bodhisatta commenced. The nobles placed a curtain around her and retired to a little distance. Hosts of heavenly devas and brahmas of the 10,000 cakkavalas came in attendance and as guards. Entirely clean and pure at birth, the Bodhisatta was born, and the child was received by the Maha Brahma in a golden net, who on presenting him to Mahamaya said: MAHA BRAHMA: Rejoice, O Queen, for the son you have brought forth will be the support of the world! BHANTE SUVANNO (continues on): Though the infant was free from impurity, yet to render him and Mahamaya perfectly clean, two streams of crystal clear water; one of warm and one of cold was sent by the devas, to bathe the Bodhisatta. After cleansing, the two streams of water immediately dried up and were no more. The guardian devas of the four quarters then took the child from the hands of the Queen, wrapped him in warm clothing and handed him to the nobles, who, in turn wrapped him in folds of the finest and softest cloth; but at once the Bodhisatta descended
from their hands to the ground, and on the spot first touched by his feet, there arose lotuses. The infant Bodhisatta then looked towards the east and in an instant, he beheld the whole of the limitless cakkavalas in that direction; and all the devas and men in the same direction presenting flowers and other offerings, exclaiming: “You are the greatest of beings; there is no one like you; no one greater then you; you are supreme”! In their joy, Maha Brahmas of the 10,000 cakkavalas brought umbrellas to be held over his head as a canopy; celestial devas brought and played musical instruments; and the rest of the devas presented many other gifts.
Lion’ Roar ion’s The Lion’s Roar
BHANTE SUVANNO: Surrounded by hosts of brahmas, Deva Kings, devas and other celestial beings, the infant Bodhisatta stood firmly on the ground and took seven strides to the north. Having walked seven steps, he stopped to look around and gave out a proclamation known as the 'lion's roar' (sihanada):
"Supreme am I in the world; "Greatest am I in the world; "Noblest am I in the world. birth, "This is my last birth, "Never shall I be reborn" reborn".
It was at these words, which were spoken as with the voice of a fearless lion, and rolled like thunder to the highest of the brahma worlds, that the Maha-brahmas, brahmas, Deva Kings, devas and all other celestial beings assembled to do homage to the new-born Prince. The Queen did not proceed to Koli, but returned to Kapilavatthu. The world was blessed with the birth of the greatest human ever; One who became the Buddha and who re-discovered the Four Noble Truths and the Middle Path, the only way to end all sufferings. No words can describe or ever hope to fathom the power of such a Being!
Rejoicings Great Rejoicings
BHANTE SUVANNO: Great were the rejoicings over the birth of the Prince. An ascetic, Asita Kaladevala, tutor of the king, was particularly pleased to hear this happy news, and visited the palace to see the Royal Baby. The King brought the child to pay him due respect, but, to the surprise of all, the child raised his legs and rested them on the matted locks of the ascetic. The ascetic rose from his seat and, foreseeing the child's future greatness, venerated the Prince with clasped hands. The Royal father did likewise. The ascetic smiled at first, but then his face turned sad. Questioned regarding his mixed reactions, he replied that he smiled because the Prince would eventually become a Buddha, an Enlightened One, and he was sad because he would not be able to benefit by the superior wisdom of the Enlightened One owing to his prior death and rebirth in a Formless Plane.
On the fifth day after the Prince's birth he was named Siddhattha meaning ‘wish fulfilled’. His family name was Gotama. Learned brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony.
Amongst them were eight distinguished wise men. Seven of them predicted that the Prince would either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. But the youngest, Kondanna, declared that the Prince would definitely retire from the world and become a Buddha.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Yasodhara was born on the same day as the Bodhisatta. When the Bodhisatta was sixteen years old, Suddhodana sent messengers to the Sakyans asking that his son be allowed to seek a wife from among their daughters; but the Sakyans were reluctant to send them, for, they say, though the young man is handsome, he knows no art; how then, can he support a wife? The Prince summoned an assembly of the Sakyans and performed various feats, chief of these being feats with a bow which needed the strength of one thousand men. The Sakyans were so impressed that each sent him a daughter, the total number so sent being forty thousand. The Bodhisatta appointed as his chief wife, Yasodhara, the daughter of Suppabuddha, who, later came to be called Rahulamata. She is also known under various names: Bhaddakacca (or Kaccana), Bimba, Bimbasundara and Gopa. She was married to the Prince at sixteen years of age.
The Prince Reflects
BHANTE SUVANNO: In the meantime, the Bodhisatta was living in the lap of luxury and never was he in want for anything. His father King Suddhodana saw to it that he was in no lack for the slightest thing and that Siddhattha was given all the luxuries that was in the King’s power to give. He was not allowed to go outside to the world to see the miseries around him. Yet as Siddhattha grew to manhood he was unhappy. There must be more to this life than to be enjoying all the sensual pleasures around me, he thought. Thus one fine day he ventured outside the palace walls and there he encountered four sights that made him reflect on his way of life in general and his own in particular. Thus:
…..Our …..Our Lord Buddha, knowing not of woe, age, Nor want, nor pain, nor plague, nor age, nor death, Lulled on the dark breasts of Yasôdhara, He would start up and cry, My world! Oh, world! I hear! I know! I come ! And she would ask, "What ails my Lord?" with large eyes terror-struck terrorFor at such times the pity in his look Was awful, and his visage like a god's. But Prince Siddhattha heard the Devas play, And to his ears they sang such words as these: -We are the voices of the wandering wind, Which moan for rest and rest can never find;
O Maya's son! because we roam the earth upon Moan we upon these strings; we make no mirth, So many woes we see in many lands, they This life they cling to is but empty show; Rise, Maya's child! wake! slumber not again! We are the voices of the wandering wind: Wander thou, too, O Prince, thy rest to find; Even in thine arms and on thy breasts, bright wife, Sore have I panted, at the sun's decline, To ride and ride and see the spread of the earth Himalay, How would I stretch for topmost Himalay, And strain my gaze with searching what is round! never Why have I never seen and never sought? Tell me what lies beyond our brazen gates."
The Light of Asia (part)
BHANTE SUVANNO: He began to contemplate on the nature of his existence. He wanted to be serene and contented. After much thought and contemplation, he made up his mind to leave the luxurious living in the palaces and seek the true way to happiness. Thus in the year 594BC, at the age of 29 years and just as a son was born to him, he renounced all worldly pleasures and possessions and wandered off in search of the Truth.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER FIVE The Bodhisatta’s Renunciation
Day after day, seated amidst all of life’s luxuries the Prince remains unmoved. Ever in thoughtful mood, he muses on the fleeting nature of life's so called pleasures and its doubtful delights.
of Signs of Awakening
SCENE: Mi Tor See LIGHT OF ASIA: When from the roadside moaned a mournful voice: Sick Man: Help, masters! Lift me to my feet; oh, help, or I shall die before I reach my house! THE BODHISATTA (puzzled): Why is it,
Channa, that he pants and moans, and gasps pitiful? to speak and sighs so pitiful?
Channa: This is a sick man with the fit upon him. THE BODHISATTA (wondering): And are there others, are there
there many thus? Or might it be to me as now with him? might him?
Channa: Great Lord! This comes in many forms to all men. THE BODHISATTA (surprised): Then all men live in fear? Channa: So live they, Prince! THE BODHISATTA (contemplating): And growing old, grow
end? older, then what end?
Channa: They die, Prince. THE BODHISATTA (Greatly surprised): Die! Die! Channa: Yea, at the last comes death, In whatsoever way, whatever hour. Some few grow old, most suffer and fall sick, But all must die -- behold, where comes the Dead! end THE BODHISATTA (bewildered disbelieve): Is this the end which
to live? comes to all who live?
Channa: This is the end that comes to all.
THE BODHISATTA (sadly lamenting): Oh! suffering world, world,
Since pleasures end in pain, and youth in age, And love in loss, and life in hateful death, unknown And death in unknown lives, which will but yoke Men to their wheel again to whirl the round rent… The veil is rent… Which blinded me! I am as all these men ……….How ……….How can it be that Brahm Would make a world and keep it miserable, allSince, if all-powerful, he leaves it so, He is not good, and if not powerful, He is not God? – Channa! lead home again! It is enough! mine eyes have seen enough”!
Pleasures A Prince’s Life of Extreme Pleasures
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Bodhisatta was born in the pleasuregrove of Sal trees called the Lumbini Garden and was named Siddhattha. At the age of sixteen, he was married to Yasodhara Devi, the daughter of the Royal Master of Devadaha, Suppabuddha. Thereafter, surrounded by forty thousand attendant princesses, he lived in enjoyment of kingly pleasures in great magnificence. Manifold was the variety of sensuous delights within the palace, the music and song that
filled the palace halls by night and day; the beauty and grace of its dancing girls; the fragrance of subtle perfumes; the finest silks and priceless gems for jewellery and adornment; and rare delicacies and foods for the royal table. And yet, day after day, seated amidst all this luxury the Prince remains unmoved. Ever in thoughtful mood, he muses on the fleeting nature of life's so called pleasures and its doubtful delights.
The Four Signs
BHANTE SUVANNO: While thus wholly given over to sensuous pleasures amidst pomp and splendour, he came out one day accompanied by attendants to the royal pleasure grove for a garden feast and merry-making. On the way to the grove, the sight of a decrepit, aged person gave him a shock and he turned back to his palace. As he went out on a second occasion, he saw a diseased person and greatly disturbed, returned to his palace. When he went out for the third time, he was further alarmed and agitated on seeing a dead man and again hurried home.
The Unwholesome Quest
THE BODHISATTA: When oneself is subjected to old age, to
seek and crave for what is subjected to old age is not befitting. And what are subjected to old age? Wife and children, slaves, goats and sheep, fowls and pigs, elephants, horses, cattle, gold and silver, all objects of pleasures and luxuries, animate and inanimate, are subject to old age. Being oneself subject
to old age, to crave for these objects of pleasures, to be enveloped and immersed in them is not proper. Similarly, it does not befit one, when oneself is subject to disease and to death, to crave for sensual objects which are subject to disease and death. To go after what is subject to old age, disease and death (what is not befitting and proper) constitutes an Unwholesome Quest .
THE BODHISATTA (describing his Unwholesome Quests): Now
unbhikkhus, before my Enlightenment while I was only an unhikkhus kkhu Enlightened Bodhisatta, being myself subjected to birth and what old age I sought after what was also subjected to birth and old age. age.
BHANTE SUVANNO: This was a censure of the life of pleasures he had lived with Yasodhara amidst the pomp and pleasures of attendant princesses. Then, having perceived the wretchedness of such life, he made up his mind to go in search of the peace of Nibbana which is free from birth, old age, disease and death. He recalled: THE BUDDHA: Monks, I lived in the utmost, total refinement. utmost,
palaces My father even had lotus ponds made in our palaces: one redone where red-lotuses bloomed, one where white lotuses bloomed, and one where blue lotuses bloomed, all for my sake. I used no sandalwood that was not from Varanasi. My turban was from Varanasi, as were my tunic, my lower garments, and my outer cloak. A white sunshade was held over me day and night to protect me from cold, heat, dust, dirt and dew.
I had three palaces: one for the cold season, one for the hot season and one for the rainy season. During the four months rainyof the rainy season I was entertained in the rainy-season In palace by minstrels without a single man among them. In my father's father's home the servants, workers and retainers were fed rice wheat, rice and meat. Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-therun-of-the-mill person, himself subject to ageing, not beyond aged, ageing, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated and disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to ageing, not beyond ageing. If I, who am subject to ageing, not were beyond ageing, were to be horrified, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be for me.' typical fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the typical young person's intoxication with youth entirely dropped away. Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-therun-of-the-mill person, himself subject to illness, not beyond illness, sees another who is ill, he is horrified, humiliated, and disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to illness, not beyond illness. And if I, who am subject to illness, not beyond illness, were to were humiliated be horrified, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another
person who is ill, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the healthy person's intoxication with health entirely dropped away. Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total the refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-therun-of-the-mill person, himself subject to death, not beyond dead, death, sees another who is dead, he is horrified, humiliated and disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to death, not beyond death. were And if I, who am subject to death, not beyond death, were to be horrified, humiliated and disgusted on seeing another person who is dead, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the living person's intoxication with life entirely away. dropped away. [An. III.38]
Quest: The Noble Quest: Renunciation
BHANTE SUVANNO: On his fourth excursion to the pleasure-grove, the Bodhisatta met a holy man. On learning that he had gone forth from a worldly life, it occurred to the Bodhisatta to renounce worldly life, become a recluse and go in search of what is not subjected to old age, disease and death. In the Buddha’s own words: (The young Prince grows disenchanted with his life of luxury).
THE BODHISATTA: Being one-self subjected to old age, one-
disease and death, to go in search of that which is not subjected to old age, disease and death constitutes a Noble Quest.
BHANTE SUVANNO: On that same day, his son was born. When the news was brought to him: THE BODHISATTA (murmured): An impediment (rahula) has
been been born, a fetter has been born.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Later, on learning of this remark of the Bodhisatta, King Suddhodana named his newborn grandson Prince Rahula, hoping that the child would indeed prove to be a fetter to the Bodhisatta and become a hindrance to his plan for renunciation. But the Bodhisatta had become averse to the pleasures of the world. That night he remained unmoved, unsolaced by the amusements provided by the royal entertainers and retired to bed early. The discouraged musicians lay down their instruments and went to sleep there and then. On awakening in the middle of the night, the sight of recumbent, sleeping dancers repulsed the Bodhisatta and made his palace seem like a cemetery filled with corpses.
Thus, at midnight the Bodhisatta, taking a last look at his sleeping wife and child, went forth on the Great Renunciation riding the royal horse, Khandaka, accompanied by his charioteer, Channa. When they came to the river Anoma, he cut off his hair and beard while standing on the sandy beach. Then after discarding the royal garments, he put on the yellow robes offered by the Brahma God, Ghantikara, and became a recluse. Note that the Brahmas and devas in the heavenly planes were aware of the Bodhisatta’s impending sojourn on the human plane in preparation to fulfill his aspiration of being the Buddha.
The Bodhisatta was then only twenty-nine years of age, an age most favourable for the pursuit of pleasures. That he renounced with indifference the pomp and splendour of a sovereign and abandoned the solace and comfort of his home, wife and son and retinues, at such a favourable age while still blessed with youth is a most difficult but noble act.
JINAVAMSA: There are men who walk out on their families for selfish reasons; such actions are irresponsible and cannot be condoned. Bhante, how would you describe Prince Siddhattha’s renunciation? Was this not a selfish and irresponsible act. BHANTE SUVANNO: [Sighing with great compassion] …Poor, poor ignorant human beings. Jinavamsa, know that human beings are
so judgemental and ignorant. Prince Siddhattha was known for his compassion and kindness. Certainly, he did not leave his family and everything behind for selfish reasons. He renounced the life of abundance and pleasure for a life of poverty and austerity. He gave up a prospective throne with all the attending ministers and state dignitaries to live in forests among wild birds and beasts. He sacrificed wealth and power to lead the life of an ascetic, penniless and alone. No one could accuse Siddhattha Gotama of having left his family and country for the sake of pleasure and sensual gratification. His decision was based on compassionate altruism; it was an act of sacrifice and farsightedness. The Prince’s life in the palaces was one of abundant luxury and constant pleasure. His father, apprehensive that the young Prince would one day leave home to become an ascetic, had made preparations that he was well provided for and would thereby be attached to the worldly life. But the Prince saw through the delusion of worldly pleasures. Transitory and unsatisfactory as they were; he knew no sorrow, but he felt profoundly touched by the pain living beings, especially humans had to endure. Still in the prime of his youth, enjoying physical strength and good health, he perceived the uncertain nature of life and the delusion of human happiness. Amidst luxury and comfort, he contemplated the universality of suffering to which all beings are subjected. His innate compassion would not allow him to selfishly enjoy the pleasures and privileges of royalty. The world was full of conflict and confusion, plagued by violence and oppression, and the Prince had to find a way to do away with these sufferings.
In the process he had to undergo great hardship and personal discomfort. But the Dhamma he discovered and taught to the world has brought peace and happiness to countless people over the centuries, and is still of great benefit to humanity today. Had he chosen to lead a household life and ascend the throne following his father, his services to mankind would have been much more limited. Siddhattha's decision to leave home could not have been an easy one. He had a young son, a loving wife, a concerned father and foster mother, and a promising future of power and glory. He also knew all too well that the austere life of an ascetic was one of great hardship, loneliness and discomfort so completely different from the life he was enjoying. It must have taken great courage, determination and selfless sacrifice to arrive at this crucial decision and not to waver in his resolve. BHANTE SUVANNO [continues]: Thus, Jinavamsa, the Lord’s Renunciation was anything but irresponsible; it was a deed as courageous as a lion’s, compassionate, filled with wisdom and discernment, totally responsible and only after much deliberation, and to point out a significant factor, He asked of His bhikkhus which was greater, the tears that were shed from existence to existence by them while wandering this Samsara, crying and weeping from being together with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing, or the waters in the four great oceans? The Buddha knew and saw that the tears shed were truly greater, further: THE BUDDHA: Long have you repeatedly experienced the have
the death of a mother; the tears you have shed over the death of a mother while wandering this long, long Samsara, crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being
greater separated from what is pleasing are greater than the water in the four great oceans. Long have you repeatedly experienced the death of a father; brother; the death of a brother; the death of a sister; the death of a son; the death of a daughter; loss with regard to relatives; loss with regard to wealth; loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while wandering this long, long time, crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing, are oceans. greater than the water in the four great oceans. Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes birth. A beginning point is not evident, though, beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are being reborn repeatedly. experienced Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries, enough to become disenchanted with all dependently conditioned things, enough released. to become dispassionate, enough to be released.
nikaya, part ii, xv.3). (samyutta
BHANTE SUVANNO: Yet we still continue to cling to, not knowing and not realising the depth of pain we have had before. Not knowing and not realising that we have had many families, many parents, children, relatives, friends and enemies in as many previous lives; thus the defilement accumulates heap on heap on heap, again and again.
We still crave to be reborn….continuing on with greater greed, stronger emotions of anger and hatred, and still drowned in delusions of the self; unable to rise from the depths of our experienced suffering…dragged ever deeper into the swirling whirlpool of defilement...unable to rise…even given the opportunity. So sad!
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER SIX Practising Practising Extreme Austerities
With unrelenting energy he undergoes rigorous ascetic discipline, both bodily and mentally, seeking a way to the cessation of suffering through further suffering, till he becomes lean and emaciated and a mere skeleton.
of Six Years of Intense Suffering
THE SCENE: Continuing in Mi Tor See BHANTE SUVANNO: For six long years the Bodhisatta wanders along the highways and byways of India. In the beginning, the Bodhisatta was not yet in possession of practical knowledge of leading a holy life so he made his way to the then famous ascetic Alara who was no ordinary person. Such teachers who had achieved jhanic attainments served as trustworthy masters giving practical instructions on methods of attainments. Alara was as famous as a Buddha in those times. He lived in the state of Vesali and he had three hundred pupils learning his doctrine. The Bodhisatta first went to Alara and then to Udaka, another famous contemporary teacher, who had higher jhannic experiences than Alara. After learning from both of them he discovered that he could not attain what he was seeking, which was destruction of aversion and cessation of passion, leading to higher knowledge and full Enlightenment and finally to Nibbana, the end of suffering. In both cases their teachings would lead him to Brahmic worlds, at death, where he was assured of a very long life, after which he will again return to the human realm and go through the whole life, death and suffering cycles again. These were not the goals for which he had left his family. Dissatisfied and becoming indifferent to the practice which led only to the Brahmic realms and not to nibbana, the end of suffering, he went his own way to attempt to reach the undying state of Nibbana.
the Extreme Austerities in the Forest
BHANTE SUVANNO: After he had left Udaka, the Bodhisatta wandered about in Magadha, seeking the path to the undying Nibbana. During his wanderings, he ultimately found his way to the forest of Uruvela. In the forest he saw the clear, flowing river Neranjara. Perceiving thus a delightful spot, a serene dense grove, a clear, flowing stream with a village nearby which would serve as an alms resort, it occurred to him: THE BODHISATTA (pondering): Truly, this is a suitable place suitable
for one intent on effort.
BHANTE SUVANNO: He stayed on in the forest. As yet the Bodhisatta had not worked out a precise system of right struggle. Austerity practices were, of course, widely known and in vogue throughout India then. Thus without any teacher to guide him now, the Bodhisatta pondered long, and finally he decided to go the way of austerities.
with Crushing Mind with Mind
THE BODHISATTA (contemplating): What if now with my teeth
clenched and my tongue cleaving the palate, I should press thought down, constrain and crush the naturally arising thought with my mind?
BHANTE SUVANNO: This extreme austerity proved very painful for him and sweat oozed out from under his armpits, but no superior knowledge was attained. This method led him only to extreme suffering and not to the ending of passion and the gaining of knowledge. Other austerity practices taken up successively also led merely into wrong paths. He then tried…
the Restraining the Breath
THE BODHISATTA (further contemplating): What if I controlled if
jhana? respiration and concentrate on the breathless jhana?
BHANTE SUVANNO: With that thought, the Bodhisatta restrained the in-breathing and out-breathing of the mouth and nose. With the holding of respiration through the mouth and nose, there was a roar in the ears. There was intense bodily suffering, but the Bodhisatta was relentless. He held the inbreathings and out-breathings, not only of the mouth and nose, but also of the ears. As a result, violent winds rushed up to the crown of the head, causing pains as if a strong man had split open the head with a mallet or had tightened a rough leather strap round the head. Violent winds pushed around in the belly causing great pain like being carved up by a butcher's sharp knife. And there was intense burning in the belly as if roasted over a pit of burning coals. The Bodhisatta, overcome physically by pain and suffering, fell down in exhaustion and lay still. When the Brahmas and devas saw him lying prone, some of them said: BRAHMAS AND DEVAS: The bhikkhu Gotama is dead. OTHER BRAHMAS AND DEVAS: The bhikkhu Gotama is not yet dead, he is dying. The bhikkhu Gotama is neither dead nor dying. He is just lying still, dwelling in the state of Arahantship.
of Extreme Austerity of Fasting
BHANTE SUVANNO: Alas! In spite of all these painful efforts, no higher knowledge was gained…the thought then occurred to the Bodhisatta… THE BODHISATTA: What if I strive still harder, entirely harder,
food? abstaining from food?
BRAHMAS AND DEVAS: (knowing his thoughts) Please, Lord Gotama, do not entirely abstain from food. If you do so, we shall instill heavenly nourishment through the pores of your skin. You shall remain alive on that. THE BODHISATTA (considering): If I claim to be completely completely
should fasting and these brahmas and devas should instil heavenly nourishment through my pores and I should thus be sustained, sustained, lie. that would be for me a lie.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Bodhisatta rejected the deities offer. Then he decided to take less and less nourishment, only as much bean soup as the hollow of a hand could hold. Living on about five or six spoonfuls of bean soup each day, his body reached the state of extreme emaciation.
The limbs withered, only skin, sinews and bones remained.
The vertebrae became exposed in uneven protuberances. The widely dispersed bones presenting an ungainly, ghastly appearance. The eyes, shrunk down in their sockets, looked like from water sunk deep in the well. The scalp had like a green, soft gourd withered in the sun.
lumps and jutted out, gleam of the the reflection shrivelled up
The emaciation was so extreme that if he attempted to feel the belly skin, he encountered the spinal column; if he felt for the spinal column, he touched the belly skin. When he attempted to evacuate the bowel or make water, the effort was so painful that he fell forward on the face, so weakened was he through this extremely scanty diet. Seeing this extremely run down body of the Bodhisatta, the people said: SOME PASSER-BYS: The bhikkhu Gotama is a black man. The bhikkhu Gotama has a brown complexion. The bhikkhu Gotama has the brown-blue colour of the torpedo fish. BHANTE SUVANNO: Alas! So much had the clear, bright, golden colour of his skin deteriorated.
BHANTE SUVANNO: While the Bodhisatta strove hard and practised extreme austerity in his quest for the Deathless, Mara came to hinder his progress. MARA: Friend Gotama, you have gone very thin and in the presence of death. There is little chance for you to live. Oh, Friend Gotama! Life is better than death. If you live, you can do good deeds and gain merits. BHANTE SUVANNO: Happily, the Bodhisatta was able to overcome Mara. At that time, the Bodhisatta was still working under the delusion that austerity exercises were the means of attaining higher knowledge. Thus, he thought: THE BODHISATTA: This wind that blows can dry up the
waters of the river. So while I strive strenuously, why should it not dry up my blood? And when the blood dries up, bile and phlegm will run dry. As the flesh gets wasted too, my mind will will will become clearer: mindfulness, concentration and wisdom will be more firmly established.
BHANTE SUVANNO: By now it is six years that the Bodhisatta had lived in extreme self-mortification without any beneficial results. He began to contemplate profoundly: THE BODHISATTA: Whatever ascetics or brahmins in the
past, felt, past, future and present had felt, will feel and now feel painful, selfracking, and piercing feelings through practising self-torture, it
may equal this, my suffering, not exceed it. But, by this gruelling asceticism I have not attained any distinction higher than the ordinary human achievement; I have not gained the Noble One's knowledge and vision which could uproot defilements. Might there by another way to Enlightenment path mortification? apart from this path of torture and mortification?
BHANTE SUVANNO: Then the Bodhisatta thought of the time when, as an infant, he sat alone under the shade of a rose-apple tree, entered and absorbed in the first jhanic stage of meditation while his royal father, King Suddhodana, was busily engaged in ceremonial ploughing of the fields nearby. THE BODHISATTA: I wondered whether this jhanic method
would be the right way to the Truth!
BHANTE SUVANNO: Let us go back a bit into the early part of The Bodhisatta’s infancy. A royal ploughing ceremony was held a month or two after his birth. The king brought the infant child along with him to the ploughing ceremony. At the ceremony the infant was placed onto a couch under the shade of a rose-apple tree. An enclosure was then formed by setting up curtains round the temporary nursery with royal attendants respectfully watching over the royal infant. As the royal ploughing ceremony progressed in magnificent pomp and splendour, with the king joining in the festivities, the royal attendants were drawn to the splendid scene of activities going on in the nearby fields. Thinking that the royal infant had fallen asleep, they left him lying secure in the enclosure and went away to enjoy themselves in the festivities.
The infant Bodhisatta, on waking and not seeing any attendant, sat up on the couch and remained seated with his legs crossed. By virtue of habit-forming practices through many rebirths, he instinctively started contemplating on the incoming and outgoing breath. He was soon established in the first jhanic absorption. The attendants had been gone for some time now. Lost in the festivities of the occasion, they were late in returning. When they returned, the shadows thrown by the trees had moved with the passage of time, but the shade of the rose-apple tree under which the infant was left lying was found to have remained steadfast on the same spot. The infant Bodhisatta was sitting motionless on the couch. King Suddhodana was struck by the spectacle of the unmoving shadow of the rose-apple tree and the still, sitting posture of the child. In great awe, he made obeisance to his son. BHANTE SUVANNO: Following up on that memory, there came the recognition that the respiration jhana practice was indeed the right way to Enlightenment.
of Resumption of Meals
COMMENTATOR: Then it occurred to the Bodhisatta: THE BODHISATTA: It is not possible to attain the jhanic
down. absorption with a body so run down. What if I take some solid nourished food I used to take? Thus nourished and strengthened in body, I'll be able to work for the jhanic state.
BHANTE SUVANNO: When the Five Ascetics accompanying the Bodhisatta saw him partaking solid food, they misunderstood his action and were disappointed. They were having the view: FIVE ASCETICS: If living on a handful of pea soup had not led him to higher knowledge, how could he expect to attain that by eating solid food again? BHANTE SUVANNO: Thus misjudging him and thinking that he had abandoned the struggle and reverted back to the luxurious way of life to gain riches and personal glory, they left him in disgust and went to stay in the deer sanctuary in the township of Benares.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER SEVEN The Enlightenment
When Siddhattha Gotama sat under the Bodhi Tree on that fateful evening 2600 years ago and resulting from accumulated merits acquired throughout four asankheyya and one hundred thousand aeons (world cycles), he became endowed with perfect paramis (perfection of morality). His mind was able to perform and see universes millions of light years away.
Eve of Enlightenment
THE SCENE: Bhante has returned to Hermitage at Lunas and is holding his Dhamma talks here. BHANTE SUVANNO: Very early on a full moon day 2600 years ago, the Bodhisatta sat under the Bodhi Tree on the Bank of the river Neranjara, at Gaya (now known as Buddha Gaya); near the big village of Senanigama awaiting the hour of going for alms. At the same time, Sujata was making preparations to give an offering to the tree-spirit of the same Bodhi tree. She sent her maid ahead to tidy up the area under the spread of the tree. At the sight of the Bodhisatta seated under the tree, the maid thought the deity had made himself visible to receive their offering in person. (Picture: Sujata’s Dana: First of the
Two Offerings of Greatest Merits)
She ran back in great excitement to inform Sujata, her mistress. Sujata put the milk rice that she had cooked early in the morning into a golden bowl worth a hundred thousand pieces of money, covered it with another golden bowl, then proceeded with the bowls to the foot of the tree where the Bodhisatta remained seated and offered the bowls into the hand of the Bodhisatta, saying: SUJATA: May your wishes prosper like mine have. BHANTE SUVANNO: So saying, she departed. Some time ago, she had made a wish at this tree. Her wish for a husband of equal rank and same caste and the first born to be a son, had been fulfilled and thus her offering of milk rice that day was
intended for the tree deity in fulfillment of her pledge. However, later when she learnt that the Bodhisatta had gained Enlightenment after taking the milk rice offered by her, she was overjoyed with the thought that she had done a noble deed of the greatest merit. As the hour of breakfast drew near and keeping away the offering by Sujata, the Bodhisatta went down to the river Neranjara and had a bath, after which, he made the milk rice into forty-nine pellets and had them for breakfast. The meal over, he discarded the golden bowl into the river with the aspiration: THE BODHISATTA: Let my aspiration to Buddhahood be
today. fulfilled today.
` BHANTE SUVANNO: Wonderfully enough, as though in confirmation of the fulfillment of His aspiration, the bowl drifted upstream against the swift flowing current for a considerable distance and then sank to the bottom. Then in preparition for the arduous task he knew was ahead of him, the Bodhisatta rested the rest of the day in the forest glade near the bank of the river. As evening fell, he returned to the Bodhi tree, meeting on the way a grass-cutter named Sotthiya who gave him eight handfuls of grass. The Bodhisatta carefully chose a spot under the Bodhi tree and sat down cross-legged on the grass facing the eastern direction. THE BODHISATTA (musing): A pleasant spot soothing to the
senses senses and stimulating to the mind to make a final effort to fulfill my aspiration. This is my inflexible resolution:
'Though only my skin, sinews and bones remain and wither my blood and flesh dry up and wither away, yet will I never stir from this seat until (sammaI have attained full Enlightenment (samma-sambodhi)’.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Resolute and with firm determination the Bodhisatta began meditating. So indefatigable in effort, so unflagging in his devotion was he, and so resolute to realise Truth and attain full Enlightenment. At this point Mara made his appearance and contested for the seat under the Bodhi tree with a view to opposing the Bodhisatta's resolution and preventing him from fulfilling his aspiration. To further his plan, he sent his three daughters to distract the about-to-be enlightened Bodhisatta. Mara then challenged the Bodhisatta as to His, the Bodhisatta’s right to sit on the spot under the Bodhi tree to attain the fruit of his quest.
Mara’s three daughters, Tanha, Arati, Raga (craving, discontent, lust) and his army failed to prevent the Bodhisatta from attaining Enlightenment
The Bodhisatta in affirmation of his right to do so by virtue of his perfection of the Ten Paramis through the ages, invited the earth to be his witness by touching the ground with his extended fingers. The earth in agreement, trembled and shook.
The rooted mountains shook, the wild winds howled… ….In ….In the third watch, legions The earth being still, the hellish legions fled, A soft air breathing from the sinking moon, SammaOur Lord attained Samma-sambuddh…
(Light of Asia – excerpt)
BHANTE SUVANNO: By invoking the virtues he had accumulated through the ages, fulfilling the Ten Perfections, the Bodhisatta overcame the molestations set up by Mara and his three daughters before the sun had set. Thus was Mara vanquished. Now, with a perfectly pure mind, calm contemplative and malleable, the Bodhisatta inclined his mind to knowledge of past existences, he recollected and saw with clarity many and varied existences in the past. He recollected one past existence, two, three, a hundred, a thousand or many hundreds, many thousands of existences, existences in many aeons of world destructions and in many aeons of world development. Thus, while in the midst of his ultimate attempt, the Bodhisatta, recollected and saw many and varied past experiences, together with their characteristics and related associations. Please bear in mind, Jinavamsa, that the Bodhisatta saw with his powers and not through wishful thinking. He recollected:
THE ABOUT-TO-BE BUDDHA: In this way, in that past
existence, I was known by such a name; I was born into such a family; I was of such an appearance; I was nourished thus; I enjoyed such pleasures, I suffered such pains; I died in that existence and then I was known by such a name, I was born in this existence.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Jinavamsa, Vipassana insight allows one to know the difference between contemplating and thinking. In contemplation, the reality of existence is seen as a result of contemplative meditation with mindfulness on the four foundations; bodily awareness, feelings, mental awareness and awareness of the teachings of the Buddha, such as the Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, called Dhammas. One sees the inconsistencies of things as they keep changing and are insubstantial without a stable entity. Whereas thinking, has no awareness and carries on and on. It is at most wishful and does not dwell in the present. It has no qualitive value in terms of insight knowledge. It is a hindrance to the progress of insight, whereas contemplation is a necessary factor and must be cultivated and developed wisely. Thus, in the first watch of that night, the Bodhisatta had realised the unique psychic knowledge through which he recollected many past events and existences and had put away completely all wrong views and delusion. Then in the second watch of the night, he directed his mind towards acquiring the unique divine eye knowledge (the second knowledge), through which he could see sentient beings on the verge of taking conception just after death; the causes and their results.
After seeing, through the divine eye knowedge, denizens of the woeful states (apaya) suffering misfortune, and sentient beings of the realms of humans, devas and Brahmas, enjoying happiness in a progressively higher and better manner, he reflected: THE ABOUT-TO-BE BUDDHA: What kind of deeds have
these beings of the apaya done to suffer such awful miseries? What kind of deeds have these humans, devas and brahmas bliss done to enjoy such progressively magnificent bliss in their respective realms?
BHANTE SUVANNO: Then by inclining his mind towards acquiring knowledge of rebirth of beings, he developed the knowledge of analysing and seeing the meritorious deeds and unmeritorious deeds which form the origins of various sentient beings. Thus by means of knowledge of rebirths of beings which was based upon the unique divine eye knowledge, the Bodhisatta reviewed in detail the past deeds of merit and demerit done by beings and came to know them as they really are. This divine eye knowledge (the second knowledge) was achieved by the Bodhisatta at midnight, the second watch of that night. By virtue of this second knowledge, the mind of the Bodhisatta became void of the elements of ignorance and delusion which was apt to keep hidden the passing away and arising of sentient beings. Then with knowledge of rebirths of beings, he was able to review and become Enlightened as to the true facts of the past deeds by sentient beings.
Then, finally, in the last watch of the night, the Bodhisatta directed and inclined his mind to the knowledge of the extinction of moral intoxicants (asavas), by which he came to truly understand asavas as they really are; the cause of asavas as it really is; the cessation of asavas as it really is and the way leading to cessation of asavas as it really is. He also understood dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness), the cause of dukkha, the cessation of dukkha and the way leading to the cessation of dukkha as it really is. He then let his mind dwell on the origin of things revolving and their dependency on conditions. Going over this dependency of things with their various combinations of causes and effects repeatedly, he attained the Noble Path complete with the All Empowering Knowledge of All Things possessed only by a Buddha (sabbannuta nana) and became the Supremely Self-Enlightened Buddha just before dawn of the next day.
BHANTE SUVANNO: When the Bodhisatta sat down under the Bodhi Tree on that fateful evening 2600 years ago, because of accumulated merits performed throughout four asankheyya and one hundred thousand aeons (world cycles), he was endowed with perfect paramis (perfection of morality). His mind was able to perform and see universes millions of light years away. These super powers enabled him to see his various past existences. With this power of knowledge of past lives, he saw his immediate past existence of Santusita Deva and going backwards from it, he recollected also in backward order many existences and world cycles prior to it. He observed, all the while, various world cycles which waxed and waned during periods of eighty-four thousand world cycles; he saw world
systems being destroyed by fire and water and being gradually built up again with debris of the disintegrated worlds. With the exercise of the power of divine eye, he studied human beings on the verge of death and at the moment of conception in their next existences. He saw the base and the noble, the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the miserable. He saw the base ones who committed evil by deeds, words and thoughts; by reviling Noble people, by holding wrong views; being reborn in miserable states. He saw the good individuals, by good deeds, words and thoughts; not reviling the Noble people and by holding right views, reborn in the happy realms of Devas and Brahmas. Thus, he came to know the existence of different world systems, varying ages of the worlds; various types of beings inhabiting these worlds in separate realms. With the attainment of the all empowering knowledge of all things the Bodhisatta had found out that there were only the phenomena of mind and body; (nama and rupa), and that in all abodes and at all times, the phenomena of nama-rupa, is in a state of change. Through the divine eye knowledge, he had understood also the causes and effects of deeds done by individual beings reborn in various abodes. BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): Now, at the beginning of the third watch of the night, he began to correlate his findings by dwelling on the Twelve Factors of Dependent Origination, Paticcasamuppada, and beginning with the Contemplation of Mind and Body, he realised Vipassana insights by which he
discerned the Rising and Falling of Mental and Material phenomena. By repeatedly reviewing the Doctrine of Dependent Origination in forward and backward manner, he developed higher and higher Vipassana insights one after another until he attained the magga and phala nana of the First Path sotapatti. With the attainment of sotapatti magga, the Bodhisatta was completely rid of the three defilements; Wrong View of a self, Doubts, Rites and Rituals; these defilements would never again arise in the Bodhisatta’s mind. Then with the simultaneous realisation of the all empowering knowlge of all things, the Bodhisatta had finally attained the state of a Perfectly Self-Enlightened One, Sammasambuddha.
Prince Siddhattha attained Supreme Enlightenment and became the Buddha
BHANTE SUVANNO: Beginning from the time when he prostrated himself at the feet of Dipankara Buddha, the Bodhisatta had endeavoured to develop and accumulate merits through fulfillment of moral perfection. (see the Ten Perfections) which are
difficult to accomplish by ordinary men, without making any wish for pleasure of any realm of existence whatsoever as the fruits of his meritorious deeds. When the accumulation of merits from the perfections and good deeds over the long period of four asankheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles bore the greatest and noblest fruit; the attainment of Buddhahood, at dawn on a Full Moon 2600 years ago, it is only natural that there arose repeatedly exulting joy (piti). This joy, thus arising repeatedly, the Buddha uttered forth, as was the established custom with all the omniscient Buddhas, after achieving Buddhahood, the following verse of intense joy.
THE BUDDHA: : Through many a birth in existence wandered I, builder Seeking, but not finding, The builder of the house. Sorrowful is repeated birth. O! Householder, thou art seen. Thou shall build no house again. ridgeAll thy rafters are broken. Thy ridge-pole is shattered. Mind attains the unconditioned. Achieved….is Achieved….is the end of craving. ….
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha said that he had to wander round and round samsara in search of the builder of the house, this body and mind had suffered greatly as a consequence because he had not discovered the carpenter of this house, the body, the five khandhas (aggregates). Now, after a relentless search, he announced that he had discovered, with his own intuitive wisdom, the creator of the five khandhas. It was found to be none other than the craving, residing not outside, but within the recesses of his own mind.
The rafters of this self-created house are the defilement such as greed, anger, delusion, pride, wrong views, doubts, laziness, restlessness, moral shamelessness and moral fearlessness. The ridge-pole that supports the rafters is ignorance, the root cause of all defilement. The shattering of the ridge-pole of ignorance by various successive insights, and ultimately results in the complete demolition of the house, the mind attains the unconditioned state, Nibbana, the supreme peace, the Final Emancipation. Having become a fully Enlightened One, he spent seven days under the Bodhi tree and seven days each at six other places enjoying the bliss of the fourth state of Fruition (arahantship). After that, the Buddha went back to the goat-herd's banyan tree on the fiftieth day and contemplated the Dhamma which he had rediscovered and pondered thus: THE BUDDHA:
With difficulty have I apprehended the Dhamma. There is no need to proclaim it now. This Dhamma is not easily understood who by those who are overcome by lust and hatred. lustThe lust-ridden, shrouded by the mass darkness, do not see this Dhamma, which goes against the stream, abstruse, profound, difficult to perceive and subtle. subtle.
COMMENTATOR: Eventually His mind turned into inaction and not to teach the Dhamma (as we have seen earlier). Eventually, after a request from the Maha Brahma Sahampati, He relented and the first thought was; who would be able to understand what He had to impart. Thus:
Who Should Benefit?
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha now pondered as to whom it would be easy to teach the Dhamma. THE BUDDHA (seated under the tree, considered): To whom should I
first? would teach the doctrine first? Who would quickly comprehend the Dhamma? Dhamma? There is Alara Kalama, learned, skilled, intelligent has little defilement. and has long been a person having but little dust of defilement. What if I teach the doctrine to Alara Kalama first? He would Dhamma. quickly comprehend this Dhamma.
DEVA (however, a deva addressed Him): Lord, Alara Kalama had passed away seven days ago. BHANTE SUVANNO: Then knowledge and vision arose to the Buddha that Alara had indeed passed away seven days ago and had, by virtue of his jhanic achievements, attained the Sphere of Nothingness; the State of Immateriality. THE BUDDHA (in great compassion): Great is the loss to Alara
of Kalama family.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha is showing great compassion, as Alara was mentally and spiritually developed to have readily understood the Teaching of the Buddha. He could have gained the Path and attained Arahantship instantly and attain Nibbana and not be reborn again in samsara; but his early demise had deprived him of this unique opportunity. He will find rebirth again after his kammic life span had ended in the sphere of Nothingness, the state of Immateriality. He will have to start his journey again as it were. In the Sphere of
Nothingness, where only mental states exist without any forms, he could not have benefitted even if the Buddha had gone there and taught him the Dhamma. The life span in the Sphere of Nothingness is very long, being sixty thousand world cycles. After passing away there he would appear again in the human world, but would miss the Teachings of the Buddhas. As a common worldling again, he would do the rounds of existence, sometimes sinking to the nether world to face great sufferings. Thus the Buddha bemoaned that the loss to Alara was very great indeed. BHANTE SUVANNO: Then the Buddha thought of teaching the Dhamma to Udaka, a previous teacher. Again a deva addressed the Buddha: DEVA: Lord, Udaka Ramaputta had passed away last night. BHANTE SUVANNO: Knowledge and vision arose to the Buddha that the hermit Udaka had indeed died the previous night in the first watch and by virtue of his jhanic achievements had attained the state of neither Perception nor Non-perception (Neva-sannana-sannayatana Brahma Plane). This sphere is also a state of immateriality, a formless state and its life span extends to eighty-four thousand world cycles, but the Dhamma cannot be heard there. On appearing again in the human world, Udaka could instantly attain Arahantship if he could but listen to the Dhamma because he was already so highly developed. Unfortunately, he would not get such an opportunity again, having missed it by dying one night too early. The Buddha was thus moved again to utter in pity: THE BUDDHA (with great compassion): Great is the loss to the
Udaka. hermit Udaka.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Thus, two great Samatha Teachers, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta missed the unique opportunity to attain Nibbana. Then, the Buddha thought of the Five Ascetics who had been His companions, and upon reflection He saw that they were then residing in the Deer Park at Isipatana in Benares, and He resolved to go to the Deer Park.
Meeting With Upaka
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha decided to walk all the way to Isipatana, as he knew that by so doing, he would meet Upaka. The Blessed One then set out for Benares. Some previous Enlightened Ones had made the same journey by means of miracles. The Buddha Gotama, however, proceeded on foot for the purpose of meeting the naked ascetic Upaka on the way, to whom he had something to impart. The Blessed One had not gone far from the Bodhi Tree on the way to Gaya (six miles) when he came upon the naked ascetic Upaka, a disciple of Nataputta, leader of the Naked Sect. On seeing the Blessed One, Upaka addressed him: UPAKA: Your countenance, friend, is clear and serene; your complexion is pure and bright. In whose name have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? Of whose teaching do you profess?
.Who all, I am One who has overcome all . . .Who knows all, I am one who has overcome all, I am detached from all things; Having abandoned everything, obtained emancipation, everything, By the destruction of desire. Having Having by myself gained knowledge, Whom should I call my master? I have no teacher, One like me is not, In the world of men and gods, None is my counterpart.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Upon this great news Upaka wondered whether the Blessed One had gained Arahantship. THE BUDDHA:
I, indeed, am the Arahant in the world The teacher with no peer, The sole Buddha, supreme, enlightened All passions extinguished, I have Nibbana. gained Peace, Nibbana.
UPAKA: Where then are you bound for and on what purpose? THE BUDDHA:
To start in motion the Wheel of Law, I go to the Kasis town. In the world of blind beings, I shall beat the drum of the Deathless.
UPAKA (with doubt): By the manner in which you profess yourself, are you worthy to be an infinite Conqueror? THE BUDDHA: Those are the Conquerors who, like me,
have reached the extinction of cankers. I have vanquished all and evil. thoughts, ideas and notions of evil. For that reason, Upaka, I Conqueror: Victorious One. am a Jina, a Conqueror: A Victorious One.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Upaka belonged to the sect of naked ascetics under the leadership of Nataputta who was addressed by his disciples as Jina, the Conqueror. The Blessed One in his reply explained that only those who have really extinguished the cankers, eradicated the defilements, like him, are entitled to be called a Jina. Truth Is Not Seen When Blinded By Misconception. After this declaration by the Blessed One that he was truly an infinite Conqueror, the naked ascetic Upaka muttered: UPAKA (not believing): It may be so, friend…it may be so… BHANTE SUVANNO (continues): Upaka shook his head and giving way to the Blessed One, went on his journey. Jinvamsa, you have to note carefully this event of Upaka's meeting with the Buddha. Here was Upaka coming face to face with a truly Enlightened One, but he did not realise it. Even when the Blessed One openly indicated that he was indeed a Buddha, Upaka remained skeptical because he was holding fast to the wrong beliefs of the naked ascetic sect; his conditioned mind-set did not allow him to see another view.
In these days too, there are people who follow wrong paths, refuse to believe and change for the better even when they hear about the proper method of practice. They show disrespect to and talk disparagingly of those practising and teaching the proper method. Such misjudgments arising out of false impressions or opinions should be recognised and mindfully discarded. Thus, if a mind is not developed and is not soft and malleable it just cannot be expected to recognise the truth. A mind stilted and non-malleable is a stubborn and unchanging mind and not a Vipassana mind. Even though he did not evince complete acceptance of what the Buddha said, Upaka appeared to have gone away with a certain amount of faith in the Buddha, as he came back to the Buddha after some time. After leaving the Buddha, he later got married to a hunter's daughter, and when a son was born of the marriage, he became weary of the household life and became a recluse under the Blessed One. Practising the Buddha's teaching, he gained the stage of Once-returner, an Anagami. On passing away, he reached the Realm of Sudassa Heaven, (Brahma World), where he soon attained Arahantship. Foreseeing this beneficial result which would accrue out of his meeting with Upaka, the Blessed One thus set out on foot on his long journey to Benares and answered all the questions asked by Upaka. JINAVAMSA: As other duties are calling, Bhante Suvanno prepares to return to the Hermitage in Lunas.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER EIGHT The First Discourse
Bhikkhus, these two extremes ought not to be practised by one who has gone forth from the household life. What two? There is addiction to indulgence of sense pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable.
Ascetics The Five Ascetics
THE SCENE: Hermitage in Lunas: (Right; Bhante’s Suvanno’s
original kuti in Lunas)
BHANTE SUVANNO: After the planned meeting with Upaka, the Blessed One continued on His way. On completing the week-long journey from Gaya to Isipatana, the Buddha found that He still had one more obstacle to overcome; the Five Ascetics were not prepared to look upon Him as a teacher. When they, whose chief was Kondanna, perceived the Buddha afar off, they consulted: KONDANNA: Friends, here comes Gotama the Bhikkhu. We owe him no reverence, since he has returned to a free use of the necessaries of life, and has recovered his strength and beauty. BHANTE SUVANNO: As he approached they refused to show Him reverence and criticised Him for reverting back to a life of luxury. The Buddha declared that He had not reverted to a life of luxury, but was now the Tathagata, fully Enlightened, who could teach the Path to the Deathless. The Five Ascetics protested and refused to hear more.
But the Buddha perceived their thoughts, and concentrating that love wherewith He was able to pervade the whole world, He directed it towards them. Thus, they could not adhere to their resolve, but rose from their seats and bowed before Him in all reverence and prepared Him a seat. Not knowing that He had attained Enlightenment, they addressed Him as 'Brother.' The Buddha, however, announced His Enlightenment, saying: THE BUDDHA: O Bhikkhus, do not address me as 'Brother’, address
for I have become a Buddha of clear vision even as those who came before.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Finally, the Buddha asked them if they had ever known Him to claim enlightenment before, and with that the Ascetics had to acknowledge His claim. Now prepared to listen, they sat around Him respectfully, intent on learning the way to the goal of the holy life.
(Samyutta Nikaya LVI.11)
Dhamma The Wheel of Dhamma
BHANTE SUVANNO: It is precisely at this auspicious moment culminating a hugely lengthy process, covering aeons in time, of a very arduous training by a Unique Being, that the First Sutta, The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is delivered. This long, long awaited moment had finally arrived: On the fullmoon evening of July, just when the sun was about to set in the west and the moon had arisen in the east… The whole universe awaited expectant knowing that…..the Blessed One would begin to set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma …Brahmas of great powers, Heavenly Deva Kings, all other classes of brahmas and devas, myriad hosts of Celestial beings are at the sides and everywhere in the air where there is an empty space, awaiting breathelessly as the Buddha approach the seat prepared for Him by the Five Ascetics…not a single noise disturbed the air, not a single whisper could be discerned…all creatures were awed by the presence of so many wondrous fragrances and auras of great beings around them and in the midst of all these radiantly colourful rays… walked another whose brightness surpassed all those great rays around them, singly and in combination… As the Buddha walked mindfully through the Heavenly flowers covering the ground, more were gently drifting down from on high. Celestial fragrances, sweet and pure were breathed in…there was peace and quiet all around…slowly…and mindfully… The Buddha took the seat that had been prepared for Him by the Five Ascetics, and began to speak… Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma!
THE BUDDHA: Bhikkhus, these two extremes ought not to
be practised by one who has gone forth from the household addiction life. What two? There is addiction to indulgence of sense way pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unprofitable; selfunworthy and unprofitable; and there is addiction to selfmortification, mortification, which is painful, unworthy and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (The Perfect One) has realised the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to Enlightenment and to Nibbana.
The Noble Eightfold Path
COMMENTATOR: Factors leading to the Middle Path: 1. Right Understanding 5. Right Livelihood 2. Right Thought 6. Right Effort 3. Right Speech 7. Right Mindfulness 4. Right Action 8. Right Concentration 1. The First factor is Right Understanding; understanding the true nature of existence, and the moral laws governing the same. It is the right understanding of the Dhamma, in particular the Four Noble Truths. The Second factor is Right Thought; a pure state of mind, free from sensual lust, anger, ill will and delusion. The Third factor is Right Speech. It consists of words which are not false, not harsh, not scandalous, not frivolous but rather words that are truthful, mild, pacifying and wise. The Fourth factor is Right Bodily Action; abstaining from intentional killing or harming of any living creature; abstaining from dishonesty, taking others’ property, abstaining from unwholesome sexual activities.
The Fifth factor is engaging in a Right Livelihood that will not bring harm and suffering to self and to other beings. The Sixth factor is Right Effort. It is the Fourfold Effort which we make in overcoming old and avoiding fresh bad actions by body, speech and mind; and the effort which we make in developing fresh actions of righteousness, inner peace and wisdom, and in cultivating them to perfection. In other words: • Effort to avoid unwholesome thought or action, which has not yet arisen. • To abandon unwholesome thought or action that has already arisen. • To develop wholesome thought or action that has not yet developed. • To maintain wholesome thought or right action that has already developed. The Seventh factor is Right Mindfulness or alertness of mind. It is the ever-ready mental clarity in whatever we are doing, speaking, or thinking and in keeping before our mind the realities of existence, i.e. the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality of all forms of existence. The Eighth factor is Right Concentration of mind. Such a kind of mental concentration is meant, as is directed towards a morally wholesome object, and always bound up with right thought, right effort and right mindfulness.
Thus, the Eightfold Path is a path of morality, mental training and wisdom, which is the Middle Path realised by the Tathagata which gives vision, knowledge and leads to calm, to insight, to Enlightenment and to Nibbana.
The Four Noble Truths
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The First Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of Suffering: • Birth is suffering, • ageing is suffering, • sickness is suffering, • death is suffering, • association with the unpleasant is suffering, • dissociation from the pleasant is suffering and • not to receive what one desires is suffering. In brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering. The Second Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Origin (cause) of Suffering: It is this craving (thirst) which produces re-becoming (rebirth) accompanied by greed, and finding fresh delight now here and now there, namely craving for sense pleasure, craving for existence and craving for non-existence (self-annihilation). The Third Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering: It is the complete cessation of that very craving, giving it up, relinquishing it, detaching and liberating oneself from it. The Fourth Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering: It is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha had discovered this Path fully and completely, so He could boldly claim to be fully Enlightened. We must develop the path until we also realise the end of suffering. There is a huge difference between
understanding theoretically and realising practically. No one needs to be told that pain, disease, old age, not getting what one wants, etc., are suffering; it is obvious. However, our understanding is neither right understanding, nor clear understanding. So that we may develop the Noble Eightfold Path, Morality has to be perfected, Concentration has to be deepened, Mindfulness has to be firmly established, Effort has to be roused and made vigorous and Thoughts have to be turned away from worldly desires. Only then can we gain the right view that can penetrate suffering properly. When the suffering of conditioned existence is clearly understood, we will definitely want to be liberated from it. No one wants to be liberated from happiness; they want to enjoy it as much as possible, but sensual enjoyment is just suffering concealed by delusion. The Buddha continued by explaining that as long as He had not fully understood, eradicated, realised, and developed these Four Truths, He did not claim to be Enlightened. THE BUDDHA: But when my knowledge of seeing things as
really they really are was quite clear concerning the Four Noble Truths, then I claimed to have realised the Matchless, its Supreme Enlightenment in this world with its gods, with its Maras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brahmanas, with its Devas and humans.
vision A vision of insight arose in me, Unshakeable is the is redeliverance. This is the last birth. Now there is no more rebecoming (rebirth).
The Very First Arahant Very
SCRIPTUAL TEXT: This is what the Blessed One said. Being pleased, the Five Ascetics delighted in the Blessed One's statement. And while this Discourse was being spoken, there arose in the Venerable Kondanna the dust-free, stainless vision of the Dhamma: KONDANNA (realising the Dhamma): Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation! SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And when the Wheel of the Dhamma had been set in motion by the Blessed One, the earth devas, devas of the realm of the Four Great Kings, the Tavatimsa devas, the Yama devas, the Tusita devas, the Nimmanarati devas, the Paranimmitavasavatti devas, the devas of Brahma's company and all other hosts of celestial devas raised a cry: At Baranasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, this unsurpassed Wheel of the Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One, which cannot be stopped by any recluse, Brahmin, deva, Mara, Brahma or anyone in the world. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Thus at that moment, at that instant, at that second, these cries of wonderment and joy, synchronised in perfect timing spread as far as the Brahma-worlds in all ten thousand-folds; and in complete unison all the world-systems shook, quaked, trembled and immeasurable glorious radiances appeared in the worlds surpassing the divine majesty of the devas. Then the Blessed One uttered this inspired utterance:
Kondanna has indeed understood!
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: In this way the Venerable Kondanna acquired the name "Anna Kondanna; Kondanna Who Has Understood." BHANTE SUVANNO: Thus, was the Wheel of the Dhamma set in motion and thus, the first arahant came into existence in a world where all living beings can benefit from the reemergence of the lost Dhamma, re-discovered; thus was the beginning of the Holy Sangha, with the Buddha at its Head. This was a moment of great joy for all living beings….for the Buddha’s triumph gave hope to all living beings, regardless of race or creed, that each and everyone too is capable of reaching the pure state of total freedom from suffering and thus able to tread the path leading to total emancipation, Nibbana; for what the Buddha taught is a way of life of morality and wholesomeness for the good of all beings, gods and man.
Dhamma ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER NINE Returning Home
While human beings, devas and brahmas were admiring the six different hues in great awe and astonishment, the Buddha continuously emanated the twin miracles: the flow of water from his right eye and the blaze of flame from the left. On seeing these miracles, the Sakyan elders were overcame with sincere humility and paid homage profoundly to the Buddha.
SCENE: Mi Tor See Bhante has taken up abode here for the time being, as he needs medical attention regarding a badly burnt patch of skin on his shank. BHANTE SUVANNO: For more than six years, from the time the Bodhisatta had gone forth, been enlightened and begun to spread the Teaching in Magadha until He had many disciples and followers, the Buddha had not gone back to visit Kapilavatthu, His birth place, even once. The Buddha subsequently visited Kapilavatthu in response to a request from King Suddhodana, His father. Initially nine parties had been sent to invite the Buddha and all had stayed and never returned to Kapilavatthu. The king then sent a tenth party consisting of court ministers. Of this tenth group, Kaludayi was the leader. He was a friend of the Buddha and was born on the same day. Later, Kaludayi reached the Buddha, listened to a Discourse and became an Arahant. Together with all his retinue, they seek acceptance as monks, after which he formally invited the Buddha to journey to Kapilavatthu. The Buddha, accepting the invitation, set off on His journey with a company of monks numbered 20,000 and in two months reached Kapilavatthu. Arriving, He stayed at the park of a Sakyan Prince by the name of Nigrodha. It was a place that the Sakyan rulers had offered to the Buddha for His stay. The royal relatives, including King Suddhodana himself, were there to receive the Buddha.
BHANTE SUVANNO: However, the Sakyan elders were reluctant to pay homage to the Buddha who was of the age of their nephews and sons. Therefore, they put the Sakyan children nearer to the Buddha and they themselves sat at the back, which move they believe would obviate the need to pay due respect to the Buddha. JINAVAMSA: Bhante, was it of great importance for the relatives to pay homage to the Buddha? BHANTE SUVANNO: The Lord Buddha did it out of compassion for His relatives, Jinavamsa, it was of great value for His relatives to do that. For the Buddha knew that should they hold wrong views and fail to acknowledge the Buddha’s Enlightenment with humility, they would be creating unwholesome kamma for themselves. Thus, in order that His older relatives realise their need to venerate and pay homage to An Enlightened One, He decided to demonstrate the powers of a Buddha. Thus, Jinavamsa, with this in mind, He then created a Great Jewelled Walk in the sky to dispel the conceit of the Sakyan relatives and walked thereon to and fro so as to display the miraculous powers of the Buddha. The devas and brahmas from the ten thousand worlds came en mass and paid homage to the Buddha. While walking, the brilliant rays of white colour were emitted from the body of the Buddha. The rays were so brilliant that the whole universe was illuminated splendidly. While the audience was beholding the Buddha with great awe and veneration, many coloured rays from His body were emitted continuously.
At the same time, the Buddha continuously emanated the twin miracles: the flow of water from His right eye and the blaze of flame from the left. On seeing these miracles, the Sakyan elders were overcame with sincere humility and paid profound homage to the Buddha. Then King Suddhodana said: KING SUDDHODANA: O, Venerable Son! When I made you pay homage to my teacher, Asita Kaladevala the recluse, on the very day when you were born, your two feet flew aloft and rested on the recluse's head. When I saw that I paid homage to you for the first time. On the day of the royal ploughing ceremony, you were sleeping shaded by the tree. Though the time passed and the sun moved westward, the shade over you did not move at all. I found you still sitting below the shade, absorbed in meditation. When I saw that I paid homage to you for the second time. Oh Venerable Son! Now, today, I come to behold your miraculous power which I have never seen before. And so I pay homage to you for the third time.
BHANTE SUVANNO: When the Buddha paid His first visit to Kapilavatthu after the Enlightenment, and on the morning of the second day of that visit, He went on alms round. He took His bowl and set out on His round. The news spread: THE NEWS: Prince Siddhattha is going from house to house to receive alms in the city where He used to ride in a chariot attended by His retinue. His robe is a red cloth, and He holds in His hand an earthen bowl.
BHANTE SUVANNO: On hearing the strange rumor, the king went out quickly and when he met his son he exclaimed: SUDDHODANA (very upset tone): Why do you disgrace me? You know that I can easily supply you and your bhikkhus with all the food they want? THE BUDDHA: To go for alms is the custom of my race. SUDDHODANA: But how can this be? You are descended from kings, and not one of them ever begged for food. THE BUDDHA: Great king, you and your race may claim king ing,
descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas in ancient alms. times. They only lived on alms.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The king became quiet. THE BUDDHA: It is customary, O king, when one has
most discovered a hidden treasure of the most precious jewel, one offers it to his father. Let me, therefore present this treasure you. of mine to you.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Blessed One then recited the following stanza: THE BUDDHA: Arise from dreams and delusions, Awaken
with open mind .Seek only Truth. Where you find it, Peace .Seek Truth. find find. also you will find.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The king then conducted the Buddha into the palace where the ministers and all the other members of the royal family greeted Him with great reverence. But Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did not make her appearance.
After the Buddha had finished His meal in the palace, which He took at the invitation of Suddhodana, all the ladies of the court, with the exception of Yasodhara, went to pay obeisance to Him. She declined to go, saying that if He believed in her virtues the Buddha would come to her. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she replied: YASODHARA: Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha will come and see me. BHANTE SUVANNO: The Blessed One, having greeted all His relatives and friends, asked:
THE BUDDHA: Where is Yasodhara? Yasodhara?
BHANTE SUVANNO: On being informed that she had declined to come, He rose straightway and went to her apartments. The Buddha cautioned His disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, whom He had asked to accompany Him to the Princess's chamber, not to be overly critical of Yasodhara. THE BUDDHA: I am free, the princess, however, is not as yet free, the
free and not having seen me for a long time, she is extremely sorrowful and unless her grief be allowed its course, her heart the will break. Should she touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, her. do not prevent her.
BHANTE SUVANNO: When news had spread that the Buddha was on His alms round, Yasodhara had looked out of her window to see if it were true. She had seen the Buddha, and was so struck by the glory of His personality that she uttered eight verses in His praise.
Yasodhara now sat in her room, dressed in plain garments with her hair cut. When the Buddha entered, she was, from the abundance of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain her love. Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord of the World, the Knower of Truth, she clung to His feet and wept copiously. Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt embarassed, and rising, seated herself reverently at a little distance. The king apologised on her behalf and said: SUDDHODANA: Her display of affection arises from her deep love, and is more than a temporary emotion. During the seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard that Siddhattha had shaved His head, she did likewise; when she heard that He had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she also refused their use. Like her husband, she too had eaten at appointed times from an earthen bowl only. Like Him, she too had renounced high beds with splendid coverings, and when other Princes asked her in marriage, she replied that she was still His. Therefore, grant her forgiveness. BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been again and again of great assistance to Him. Her purity, her gentleness, her devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisatta when He aspired to attain enlightenment, the highest aim of mankind. And so pure had
she been that she desired to become the wife of a Buddha. This, then, is her kamma, and it is the result of great merits. Her silent grief had been deep and sorrowful, but the consciousness of the glory that surrounds her spiritual inheritance increased by her noble attitude during her life, will be a balm to her that will transform all her sorrows into heavenly joy. On the seventh day of the Buddha's visit, when he left the palace at the end of his meal, Yasodhara sent Rahula to him saying: YASODHARA: That is your father, go and ask Him for your inheritance. BHANTE SUVANNO: Rahula followed the Buddha, and, at the Buddha's request, was ordained by Sariputta. The account of this event is given in Scriptural Texts (Vin.i.82.) In later years, when the Buddha allowed women to join the Order, Yasodhara became a nun under Maha Pajapati Gotami, His stepmother who looked after Him when His own mother passed away seven days after His birth. Yasodhara was one of the four disciples of the Buddha who possessed supernormal powers, the others being Sariputta, Moggallana and Bakkula. She could, with one effort, recall one asankheyya and one hundred thousand kappas (AA.i.205). Before she passed away she attained the state of arahanthood.
Just before her death, at the age of seventy eight, she took leave of the Buddha and performed various miracles. Eighteen thousand arahants nuns, companions of Yasodhara, also died on the same day. Numerous stories are found in the Jataka Commentary in which Yasodhara is identified with one or other of the characters with being with the Bodhisatta throughout His training.
ReThe Dhamma Re-Discovered
CHAPTER TEN The Final Days
Ananda, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma; it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped and honoured in the highest degree.
The Final Days
THE SCENE: Hermitage, Lunas Continuing the Discourse. BHANTE SUVANNO: The year 623BC is memorable as it brought in a unique event that taught man to manage his mind. Mind is the fore-runner of man’s thoughts, speech and deeds; if man is able to manage his mind he will be able to wisely choose a path that brings him no ill. A well managed mind has limitless potentials. Man will be able to see the realities of his existence and be able to determine meaningful directions, where once he sees only dreams and delusions that bring him meaningless and sorrowful fruit. This unique event was the arrival of a being who we now know as the Buddha. He made the world a different place altogether. He gave man a way to reach the highest heights of achievements. He taught and showed man the way to Nibbana. He rediscovered the path of the Dhamma leading to the eradication of universal suffering. With great compassion he spent forty-five years teaching the path and this has helped millions of people realise the realities in their lives. Even today this path is helping humanity, and will continue to do so provided the Teachings and Practices are maintained in their pristine purity. BHANTE SUVANNO: Jinavamsa, we now can see the final playout of the greatest Drama the world has ever known and will ever know. This Drama is the last piece in a patchwork of events that culminates the successful Aspiration made by the Ascetic Sumedha four asankheyyas and one hundred thousand world cycles ago.
Let us see this Drama as it unfolds scene by scene in front of our very eyes. Many important and significant events that affect our lives and existence, now and in future lives are made known at this time. We must pay careful attention to this final episode in the Lord’s life, because it will be a really long time before this Drama will ever happen again in this present world system. When it does, we may not have sufficient good merits to be around.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Coming to eighty years of age and at the end of His kammic lifespan, after almost half a century of teaching, the Buddha had long since passed on all that was necessary for attaining the Path. He had said very clearly that He was not a “closed fisted” teacher and that His teachings were not of the secret kind. During this final period His primary concern was to impress on His followers the necessity of earnestly putting into practice those very same Teachings. Finally, while on one of His journeys, the Buddha was reminded by illness that the time had come for Him to leave the world and thus at a place called the Capala Shrine the Buddha made the announcement to Ananda. THE BUDDHA: Ananda, today at the Capala Shrine the
Tathagata has renounced his will to live on.
BHANTE SUVANNO: One can imagine how Ananda must be shocked and grief struck as he hears the Buddha’s pronouncement! But appeal as he did, the Blessed One’s mind had been made up for He admonished:
THE BUDDHA: Ananda, have I not taught from the very
there beginning that with all that is dear and beloved there must be change, separation and severance? Of that which is born, come into being, is compounded and subject to decay, how can one say: 'May it not come to dissolution!' There can be no such state of things. And of that, Ananda, which the Tathagata has finished with, that which he has relinquished, given up, abandoned and rejected; His will to live given His on; the Tathagata's word has been spoken once and for all: Before long the Parinibbana of the Tathagata will come about. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass That away. That the Tathagata should withdraw his words for the Ananda, sake of living on; this is an impossibility. So, then, Ananda, let us go to the hall of the Gabled House, in the Great Forest.
ANANDA (Sadly and grief struck): So be it, Lord. BHANTE SUVANNO: Then the Buddha, with Ananda, went to the hall of the Gabled House, in the Great Forest, and there he said to Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Go now, Ananda, and assemble in the hall of
audience all the bhikkhus who dwell in the neighborhood of Vesali.
ANANDA: So be it, Lord. BHANTE SUVANNO: Ananda did as he was told and then, respectfully standing at one side of the Buddha, he announced:
ANANDA: The community of bhikkhus is assembled, Lord. Now let the Blessed One do as he wishes. BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha then entered the hall of audience, and taking the seat prepared for him, he exhorted the bhikkhus, saying: THE BUDDHA: Now, O bhikkhus, I say to you that these Now,
the Teachings; the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, the Four Constituents of Psychic Power, the Five Faculties, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment and the Noble Eightfold Path. These These Teachings bhikkhus, of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop and frequently practise, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men. So, bhikkhus, I exhort you: things dissolution. All compounded things are subject to dissolution. Strive with earnestness. Parinibbana The time of the Tathagata's Parinibbana is near. Three months hence the Tathagata will utterly pass away.
BHANTE SUVANNO: The Buddha’s final advice:
My years are now full ripe, the life span left is short. Departing, I go hence from you, relying on myself alone. bhikkhus, Be earnest, then, O bhikkhus, be mindful and of virtue pure! With firm resolve, guard your own mind! Whoso untiringly pursues the Dhamma and the Discipline Shall go beyond the round of births and make an end of suffering.
BHANTE SUVANNO: After His announcement, the Buddha continued visiting towns and villages till he decided to enter Bhoganagara. Our story continues from here.
The Last Meal
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: When the Lord had stayed at Bhoganagara as long as he pleased, he spoke to the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Come, Ananda, let us go to Pava. Ananda, ANANDA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And the Blessed One took up his abode at Pava together with a great community of bhikkhus, and stayed in the Mango Grove of Cunda, a metalworker. When Cunda came to know that the Blessed One had arrived at Pava, and was staying in his Mango Grove, he went to the Blessed One, and having respectfully greeted him, sat down at one side, and the Blessed One instructed Cunda in the Dhamma, and roused, edified, and gladdened him. Then Cunda spoke to the Blessed One:
CUNDA: May the Blessed One, O Lord, together with the community of bhikkhus please accept my invitation for tomorrow's meal. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And by his silence the Blessed One consented. Sure, then, of the Blessed One's consent, Cunda rose from his seat, respectfully saluted the Blessed One, and keeping his right side towards him, took his departure. And Cunda, after the night had passed, had choice food, hard and soft, prepared in his abode, together with a quantity of sukara-maddava, and announced it to the Blessed One: CUNDA: O Lord, it is time, the meal is ready. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Thereupon the Blessed One, having got ready, took bowl and robe and went with the community of bhikkhus to the house of Cunda, and there sat down on the seat prepared for him. And he spoke to Cunda: THE BUDDHA: With the sukara-maddava you have prepared,
Cunda, you may serve me; with the other food, hard and soft, serve you may serve the community of bhikkhus.
CUNDA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And with the sukara-maddava prepared by him, he served the Blessed One; and with the other food, hard and soft, he served the community of bhikkhus. Thereafter the Blessed One spoke to Cunda: THE BUDDHA: Whatever, Cunda, is left over of the sukara-
maddava, bury that in a pit. For I do not see in all this world, , with its gods, Maras, and Brahmas, among the host of
ascetics and brahmins, gods and men, anyone who could eat it and entirely digest it except the Tathagata alone.
CUNDA: So be it, O Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And what remained over of the sukaramaddava he buried in a pit. Later after another discourse from the Blessed One, he departed. A little while later, a dire sickness fell upon the Blessed One, and he suffered sharp and deadly pains. But the Blessed One endured them mindfully, clearly comprehending and unperturbed. Then the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Come, Ananda, let us go to Kusinara. ANANDA: So be it, Lord.
the Clearing of the Waters
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: On the way the Blessed One stopped at the foot of a tree. And he said to the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Please fold my upper robe in four, Ananda,
weary and lay it down. I am weary and wish to rest awhile.
ANANDA: So be it, Lord. THE BUDDHA (sitting down): Please bring me some water,
Ananda. I am thirsty and wish to drink.
ANANDA: Lord, a great number of carts, have passed over, and the shallow water has been cut through by the wheels, so that it flows muddily. But the Kakuttha River, Lord, is close by, and its waters are clear, pleasant, and cool. There the Blessed One can quench his thirst and refresh his limbs.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: But a second time the Blessed One made His request, and the Venerable Ananda answered Him as before. Only after third time did Ananda acquiesced: ANANDA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Ananda took the bowl and went to the stream. The shallow water, which had been cut through by the wheels had settled and became clear, pure and pleasant. ANANDA: (carrying the water to the Blessed One): Marvellous and most wonderful indeed is the power and glory of the Tathagata! For this shallow water, which had been cut through by the cart wheels, became clear and settled down, pure and pleasant. Now let the Blessed One drink the water. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And the Blessed One drank the water.
the Pukkusa the Malla
COMMENTATOR: Now, it so happened that one, Pukkusa of the Malla clan, a disciple of Alara Kalama, was passing by on his way from Kusinara to Pava. He met the Buddha and render respect and after listening to a discourse, he offered two sets of robes, one of which the Venerable Ananda arranged about the body of the Blessed One. But when the set of robe was arranged upon the body of the Blessed One, it became as though faded, and its splendour dimmed. ANANDA: Marvellous it is, O Lord, most wonderful indeed it is, how clear and radiant the skin of the Tathagata appears!
THE BUDDHA: It is so, Ananda. There are two occasions,
Ananda, when the skin of the Tathagata appears exceedingly clear and radiant. Which are these two? The night, Ananda, when the Tathagata becomes fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment, and the night when the Tathagata comes to his final passing away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains. And now today, in the last watch of this very night, Ananda, in the Mallas' Sala Grove, in the vicinity of Kusinara, between two sala trees, the Tathagata will come to his Parinibbana. So River. now, Ananda, let us go to the Kakuttha River.
At the Kakuttha River the River
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Then the Blessed One went to the Kakuttha River together with a great community of bhikkhus. He went down into the water and bathed and drank. Coming forth from the water, he went to the Mango Grove, and there spoke to the Venerable Cundaka, saying: THE BUDDHA: Please fold my upper robe in four, Cundaka,
and lay it down. I am weary and would rest awhile.
CUNDAKA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The Blessed One lay down on his right side, in the lion's posture, resting one foot upon the other, and so disposed, mindfully and clearly comprehending, with the time for rising held in mind. The Venerable Cundaka sat down right in front of the Blessed One.
Relieving Cunda's Remorse
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda:
be, THE BUDDHA: It may be, Ananda, that someone will cause Cunda, remorse to Cunda, saying: 'It is no gain to you, friend Cunda, but a loss, that it was from you the Tathagata took his last alms meal, and then came to his end.' Then, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda should be dispelled after this manner: 'It is a gain to you, friend Cunda, a blessing that the Tathagata took his last alms meal from you, and then came to his end. For, friend, face to face with the Blessed One I have heard and two learned: There are two offerings of food which are of equal fruition, of equal outcome, exceeding in grandeur the fruition and result of any other offerings of food. Which two? The one partaken of by the Tathagata before becoming fully Enlightenment; enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment; and the one partaken of by the Tathagata before passing into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains. deed, By his deed, the worthy Cunda has accumulated merit which heavenly rebirth, makes for long life, beauty, well being, glory, heavenly rebirth, Ananda, and sovereignty. Thus, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda should be dispelled.
Final Resting Place
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Then the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Come, Ananda, let us cross to the farther
Grove, bank of the Hirannavati, and go to the Mallas' Sala Grove, in the vicinity of Kusinara.
ANANDA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And the Blessed One, together with a large company of bhikkhus, went to the further bank of the river Hirannavati, to the Sala Grove of the Mallas, in the vicinity of Kusinara. And there he spoke to the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Ananda, prepare a couch between the twin
weary, sala trees, with the head to the north. I am weary, Ananda, and wish to lie down.
ANANDA: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And the Venerable Ananda did as the Blessed One asked him to do. Then the Blessed One lay down on his right side, in the lion's posture, resting one foot upon the other, and so disposed himself, mindfully and clearly comprehending. At that time the twin sala trees broke out in full bloom, though it was not the season of flowering. The blossoms rained upon the body of the Tathagata and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata; celestial mandarava flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rained down upon the body of the Tathagata and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. The sound
of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments made music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata. The Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom,
not The though it is not the season of flowering. The blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and celestial are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata; celestial coral flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. The sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments makes music music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata. Yet it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped and honoured in the highest degree; but whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or but Dhamma, laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma; it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped and honoured in the highest degree. Therefore, Ananda, thus should you train yourselves: 'We shall abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly in the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma.'
the The Grief of the Celestial Beings
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: At that time the Venerable Upavana was standing before the Blessed One, fanning him. And the Blessed One rebuked him: THE BUDDHA: Move aside, bhikkhu, stand not in front of me. bhikkhu, ANANDA (thinking and wondering): This Venerable Upavana has been in attendance on the Blessed One for a long time, closely associating with him and serving him. Yet now, right at the end, the Blessed One rebukes him. What now could be the reason, what the cause for the Blessed One to rebuke the Venerable Upavana, saying: 'Move aside, bhikkhu, stand not in front of me?’ SCRIPTURAL TEXT: And the Venerable Ananda told his thought to the Blessed One. THE BUDDHA: Throughout the tenfold world-system, world-
Ananda, there are hardly any of the deities that have not gathered together to look upon the Tathagata. For a distance of twelve yojanas around the Sala Grove of the Mallas in the vicinity of Kusinara there is not a spot that could filled be pricked with the tip of a hair that is not filled with powerful deities. These deities, Ananda, are complaining: 'From afar have we come to look upon the Tathagata. For rare in the world is the Arahats, Fully arising of Tathagatas, Arahats, Fully Enlightened Ones.
Tathagata's This day, in the last watch of the night, the Tathagata's but Parinibbana will come about; but this bhikkhu of great powers has placed himself right in front of the Blessed One, concealing him, so that now, at the very end, we are prevented prevented Thus, from looking upon him.' Thus, Ananda, the deities complain.
ANANDA: Of what kind of deities, Lord, is the Blessed One aware? THE BUDDHA: There are deities, Ananda, in space and on
earthlyearth, who are earthly-minded; with dishevelled hair they weep, uplifted with uplifted arms they weep; flinging themselves on the ground, they roll from side to side, lamenting: 'Too soon has the Blessed One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon has the Happy One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon will the Eye sight!' of the World vanish from sight!' But those deities who are freed from passion, mindful and comprehending, reflect in this way: 'Impermanent are all things. compounded things. How could this be otherwise?'
of Four Places of Pilgrimage
BHANTE SUVANNO: At the end of the above dialogue Ananda remarked to the Buddha that, it was the tradition after any annual rain retreats, the bhikkhus would usually set out from wherever they were to see the Blessed One, and those bhikkhus who were with the Buddha were able to benefit from these visits by associating with those very revered bhikkhus who came to have audience with the Blessed One. But, after the Blessed One
had entered Parinibbana they will no longer have that gainful association with visiting bhikkhus. However, the Buddha advised that there are four places that a pious person could visit and look upon with feelings of reverence that would serve the same purpose of gainful association. These are where: 1. 2. 3. 4. the Buddha was born (Lumbini). the Buddha became fully Enlightened (Buddha Gaya). the Buddha set rolling the Wheel of the Dhamma (Isipatana). the Buddha passed away into Nibbana (Kusinara).
ANANDA (further asked): How should we act, Lord, respecting the body of the Tathagata? THE BUDDHA: Do not hinder yourselves, Ananda, to
honour the body of the Tathagata. Rather you should strive, behalf, own Ananda, and be zealous on your own behalf, for your own good. Unflinchingly, ardently and resolutely you should apply Ananda, yourselves to your own good. For there are, Ananda, wise householders nobles, wise brahmins and wise householders who are devoted honour to the Tathagata, and it is they who will render the honour to the body of the Tathagata.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Then the Venerable Ananda went into the vihara, leaned against the doorpost and wept:
ANANDA (weeping): I am still but a learner, and still have to strive for my own perfection. But, alas, my Master, who was so compassionate towards me, is about to pass away! THE BUDDHA: Where, bhikkhus, is Ananda? A BHIKKHU: The Venerable Ananda, Lord, has gone into the vihara weeping and lamenting. THE BUDDHA (to the bhikkhu): Go, bhikkhu, and say to
Ananda, 'Friend Ananda, the Master calls you.'
THE BHIKKHU: So be it, Lord. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: That bhikkhu went and spoke to the Venerable Ananda as the Blessed One had asked him to, and the Venerable Ananda went to the Blessed One, bowed down to him, and sat down on one side. THE BUDDHA: Enough, Ananda! Do not grieve, do not
lament! For have I not taught from the very beginning that with must all that is dear and beloved there must be change, separation, and severence? Of that which is born, come into being, compounded, and subject to decay, how can one say: 'May it not come to dissolution!'? There can be no such state of things. Tathagata Now for a long time, Ananda, you have served the Tathagata with lovingwith loving-kindness in deed, word and thought; graciously, pleasantly, with a whole heart and beyond measure. Great good have you gathered, Ananda! Now you should put forth energy, and soon you too will be free from the taints. taints.
Blessed Bhikkhus, the Blessed Ones, Arahats, Fully Enlightened Ones of times past also had excellent and devoted attendant bhikkhus, such as I have in Ananda. And so also, bhikkhus, will the Blessed Ones, Arahats, Fully Enlightened Ones of times to come. Kusinara Go now, Ananda, to Kusinara and announce to the Mallas: 'Today, Vasetthas, in the last watch of the night, the Tathagata's Parinibbana will take place. Approach, O Vasetthas, draw near! Do not be remorseful later at the thought: "In our township it was that the Tathagata's Parinibbana Parinibbana took place, but we failed to see him at the end!"
ANANDA: So be it, Lord. BHANTE SUVANNO: So then Ananda prepared himself, and taking his bowl and robe, went with another bhikkhu to Kusinara to announce to the Mallas the coming Parinibbana of the Blessed One. At this time the Mallas, being the rulers of the country, had gathered in the council hall for some public business. Ananda approached them and having done the usual courtesies made the announcement as the Blessed One had taught him. Immediately the Mallas were shocked and in despair, for they had truly followed the Buddha’s teachings closely; and this was the scenes of sadness that swept over them: SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The Mallas, some, with their hair all dishevelled and in despair, wept; flinging themselves on the ground, they rolled from side to side, lamenting: "Too soon has the Blessed One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon has the Happy One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon will the Eye of the World vanish from sight!"
The Last Convert
BHANTE SUVANNO: You may just imagine, Jinavamsa, how fast the news spread regarding the passing away of the Lord Buddha. A certain wandering ascetic Subhadda living in Kusinara, heard it and thought to himself: SUBHADDA (thinking): I have heard it said that the arising of Tathagatas, Arahats, Fully Enlightened Ones, is rare in the world. Yet this very day, in the last watch of the night, the Parinibbana of the ascetic Gotama will take place. Now there is in me a doubt; but to this extent I have faith in the ascetic Gotama, that he could so teach me the Dhamma as to remove that doubt. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Then Subhadda went to the Sala Grove, and told Ananda his thought. SUBHADDA: Friend Ananda, it would be good if I could be allowed into the presence of the ascetic Gotama. ANANDA: Enough, friend Subhadda! Do not trouble the Tathagata. The Blessed One is weary. SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Yet a second and a third time Subhadda made his request; both times Ananda refused him. The Blessed One heard the request, and He called out to Ananda: THE BUDDHA: Stop, Ananda! Do not refuse Subhadda.
Allow him into the presence of the Tathagata; for he will ask Tathagata; for offence. for the sake of knowledge, and not as an offence. And the that answer I give him; that he will readily understand.
ANANDA: Go then, friend Subhadda, the Blessed One gives you leave.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Then Subhadda approached the Blessed One and greeted him courteously. After pleasant and civil greetings, Subhadda seated himself at one side and addressed the Blessed One: SUBHADDA: There are, Venerable Gotama, ascetics and brahmins who are heads of great companies of disciples, who have large retinues, who are leaders of schools, well known and renowned, and held in high esteem by the multitude, such teachers as Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, Ajita Kesakambali, Pakudha Kaccayana, Sañjaya Belatthiputta, Nigantha Nataputta. Have all of these attained realisation, as each of them would have it believed, or has none of them, or is it that some have attained realisation and others not? THE BUDDHA: Enough, Subhadda! Let it be as it may,
realisation, whether all of them have attained realisation, as each of them would have it believed, or whether none of them has, or realisation whether some have attained realisation and others not. I will teach you the Dhamma, Subhadda; listen and heed it well, and I will speak.
SUBHADDA: So be it, Lord.
The Lion's Roar
THE BUDDHA: In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline,
Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, first, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness.
But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness. saintliness. Discipline, Now in this Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, is found the Noble Eightfold Path; and in it alone are also found true ascetics of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness. Devoid of true ascetics are the systems of other teachers. But if, Subhadda, the bhikkhus live righteously, the live world will not be destitute of arahats.
BHANTE SUVANNO: So it was that Subhadda, requested for ordination which the Buddha granted straightaway. From then on Subhadda went into seclusion; and being heedful, ardent, and resolute in his practice, he soon attaineed arahantship. Thus it was very opportune for Subhadda to be the final pupil of the Lord.
Parinibbana - Final Exhortation
THE BUDDHA (to Ananda): It may be, Ananda, that to some
among you the thought will come: 'Ended is the word of the longer.' Master; we have a Master no longer.' But it should not be so considered. For that which I have proclaimed and made known as the Dhamma and the Discipline, that shall be your Master when I am gone.
one Ananda, whereas now the bhikkhus address one another as 'friend,' let it not be so when I am gone. The senior bhikkhus may address the junior ones by their name, their family name, or as 'friend'; but the junior bhikkhus should address the senior ones as 'venerable sir' or 'your reverence.' If it is desired, Ananda, the Sangha may, when I am gone, rules. abolish the lesser and minor rules.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: The Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: THE BUDDHA: It may be, bhikkhus, that one of you is in
doubt or perplexity as to the Buddha, the Dhamma, or the Sangha, the path or the practice. Then question, bhikkhus! Do not be given to remorse later on with the thought: 'The Master was with us face to face, yet face to face we failed to ask him.'
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: But when this was said, the bhikkhus were silent. And yet a second and a third time the Blessed One asked them; for a second and a third time, the bhikkhus were silent. Then the Blessed One said to them: THE BUDDHA: It may be, bhikkhus, out of respect for the
Then, friend Master that you ask no questions. Then, bhikkhus, let friend communicate it to friend.
SCRIPTURAL TEXT: Yet still the bhikkhus were silent.
ANANDA: (addressing the Buddha): Marvellous it is, O Lord, most wonderful it is! This faith I have in the community of bhikkhus, that not even one bhikkhu is in doubt or perplexity as to the Buddha, the Dhamma, or the Sangha, the path or the practice. THE BUDDHA: Out of faith, Ananda, you speak thus. But
here, Ananda, the Tathagata knows for certain that among even this community of bhikkhus there is not even one bhikkhu who is in doubt or perplexity as to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha Sangha or the path of the practice. For, Ananda, among these five hundred bhikkhus even the streamassured lowest is a stream-enterer, secure from downfall, assured and enlightenment. bound for enlightenment. Behold, compounded Behold, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to disappearing. disappearing. Strive with earnestness! earnestness! Appamadena Sampadetha!
BHANTE SUVANNO: Dear readers those were the Last Words of the Tathagata; as the Buddha says we too re-iterate; strive with earnestness… The Blessed One further said and gave this assurance.
The Buddha’s Assurance of Attainment
THE BUDDHA: Indeed, whoever is practising these Four
years, Foundation of Mindfulness for Seven years, or for: six years, year, five years, four years, three years, two years or one year, or months, for, seven months, six months, five month, four months, three half- month, months, two months, a month, half-a-month, or for seven days; he may expect one of two result: Highest knowledge here and now, or if there still be a nonremainder of clinging, the state of non-returner.
BHANTE SUVANNO: Thus ends our short discourse and as the Buddha said: Over there are forests and trees, abandoned houses and caves, meditate lest you regret. For there is only this one way to the purification of beings leading to total freedom from suffering….By Way of Satipatthana Vipassana.
A Final Word
JINAVAMSA: In the compilation of so much material, much has been left unsaid as the vast amount of time that the Lord Buddha spent in His Discourses; but the sole purpose of this book and in essence the sole purpose of the Lord’s teachings was to rid ourselves of the defilement we have gathered for so many lifetimes…the goal of which is to practise Vipassana. If this book has achieved that goal … then we wish you…”Appamadena Sampadetha…”
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