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THE BUDDHA
AND
HIS TEACHINGS

Venerable Nārada Mahāthera

 


CHAPTERS

CONTENTS

[01]

THE BUDDHA - FROM BIRTH TO RENUNCIATION

[02]

HIS STRUGGLE FOR ENLIGHTENMENT

[03]

THE BUDDHAHOOD

[04]

AFTER THE ENLIGHTENMENT

[05]

THE INVITATION TO EXPOUND THE DHAMMA

[06]

DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTTA - THE FIRST DISCOURSE

[07]

THE TEACHING OF THE DHAMMA

[08]

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES

[09]

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES (Continued)

[10]

THE BUDDHA'S CHIEF OPPONENTS AND SUPPORTERS

[11]

THE BUDDHA'S ROYAL PATRONS

[12]

THE BUDDHA'S MINISTRY

[13]

THE BUDDHA'S DAILY ROUTINE

[14]

THE BUDDHA'S PARINIBBĀNA (DEATH)

[15]

THE TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA

[16]

SOME SALIENT CHARACTERISTICS OF BUDDHISM

[17]

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

[18]

KAMMA

[19]

WHAT IS KAMMA?

[20]

THE WORKING OF KAMMA

[21]

NATURE OF KAMMA

[22]

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ?

[23]

THE BUDDHA ON THE SO-CALLED CREATOR-GOD

[24]

REASONS TO BELIEVE IN REBIRTH

[25]

THE WHEEL OF LIFE - PATICCA-SAMUPPĀDA

[26]

MODES OF BIRTH AND DEATH

[27]

PLANES OF EXISTENCE

[28]

HOW REBIRTH TAKES PLACE

[29]

WHAT IS IT THAT IS REBORN? (No-Soul)

[30]

MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

[31]

KAMMIC DESCENT AND KAMMIC ASCENT

[32]

A NOTE ON THE DOCTRINE OF KAMMA AND REBIRTH IN THE WEST

[33]

NIBBĀNA

[34]

CHARACTERISTICS OF NIBBĀNA

[35]

THE WAY TO NIBBĀNA (I)

[36]

THE WAY TO NIBBĀNA (II) - MEDITATION

[37]

NĪVARANA OR HINDRANCES

[38]

THE WAY TO NIBBĀNA (III)

[39]

THE STATE OF AN ARAHANT

[40]

THE BODHISATTA IDEAL

[41]

PĀRAMĪ - PERFECTIONS

[42]

BRAHMAVIHĀRA - THE SUBLIME STATES

[43]

EIGHT WORLDLY CONDITIONS

[44]

THE PROBLEMS OF LIFE

-ooOoo-

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā-Sambuddhassa
Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened One

-ooOoo-

 

INTRODUCTION

Many valuable books have been written by Eastern and Western scholars, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, to present the life and teachings of the Buddha to those who are interested in Buddhism.

Amongst them one of the most popular works is still The Light of Asia by Sir Edwin Arnold. Many Western truth-seekers were attracted to Buddhism by this world-famous poem.

Congratulations of Eastern and Western Buddhists are due to the learned writers on their laudable efforts to enlighten the readers on the Buddha-Dhamma.

This new treatise is another humble attempt made by a member of the Order of the Sangha, based on the Pāli Texts, commentaries, and traditions prevailing in Buddhist countries, especially in Ceylon.

The first part of the book deals with the Life of the Buddha, thc second with the Dhamma, the Pāli term for His Doctrine.

*

The Buddha-Dhamma is a moral and philosophical system which expounds a unique path of Enlightenment, and is not a subject to be studied from a mere academic standpoint.

The Doctrine is certainly to be studied, more to be practised, and above all to be realized by oneself.

Mere learning is of no avail without actual practice. The learned man who does not practise the Dhamma, the Buddha says, is like a colourful flower without scent.

He who does not study the Dhamma is like a blind man. But, he who does not practise the Dhamma is comparable to a library.

*

There are some hasty critics who denounce Buddhism as a passive and inactive religion. This unwarranted criticism is far from the truth.

The Buddha was the first most active missionary in the world. He wandered from place to place for forty-five years preaching His doctrine to the masses and the intelligentsia. Till His last moment, He served humanity both by example and by precept. His distinguished disciples followed suit, penniless, they even travelled to distant lands to propagate the Dhamma, expecting nothing in return.

"Strive on with diligence" were the last words of the Buddha. No emancipation or purification can be gained without personal striving. As such petitional or intercessory prayers are denounced in Buddhism and in their stead is meditation which leads to self-control, purification, and enlightenment. Both meditation and service form salient characteristics of Buddhism. In fact, all Buddhist nations grew up in the cradle of Buddhism.

"Do no evil", that is, be not a curse to oneself and others, was the Buddha's first advice. This was followed by His second admonition ? "Do good", that is, be a blessing to oneself and others. His final exhortation was ? "Purify one's mind" -- which was the most important and the most essential.

Can such a religion be termed inactive and passive?

It may be mentioned that, amongst the thirty-seven factors that lead to enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiya-Dhamma), viriya or energy occurs nine times.

Clarifying His relationship with His followers, the Buddha states:

"You yourselves should make the exertion.
The Tathāgatas are mere teachers."

The Buddhas indicate the path and it is left for us to follow that path to obtain our purification. Self-exertion plays an important part in Buddhism.

"By oneself is one purified; by oneself is one defiled."

*

Bound by rules and regulations, Bhikkhus can be active in their own fields without trespassing their limits, while lay followers can serve their religion, country and the world in their own way, guided by their Buddhist principles.

Buddhism offers one way of life to Bhikkhus and another to lay followers.

In one sense all Buddhists are courageous warriors. They do fight, but not with weapons and bombs. They do kill, but not innocent men, women and children.

With whom and with what do they fight? Whom do they mercilessly kill?

They fight with themselves, for man is the worst enemy of man. Mind is his worst foe and best friend. Ruthlessly they kill the passions of lust, hatred and ignorance that reside in this mind by morality, concentration and wisdom.

Those who prefer to battle with passions alone in solitude are perfectly free to do so. Bhikkhus who live in seclusion are noteworthy examples. To those contended ones, solitude is happiness. Those who seek delight in battling with life's problems living in the world and thus make a happy world where men can live as ideal citizens in perfect peace and harmony, can adopt that responsibility and that arduous course.

Man is not meant for Buddhism. But Buddhism is meant for man.

*

According to Buddhism, it should be stated that neither wealth nor poverty, if rightly viewed, can be an obstacle towards being an ideal Buddhist. Anāthapindika, the Buddha's best supporter, was a millionaire. Ghatikāra, who was regarded even better than a king, was a penniless potter.

As Buddhism appeals to both the rich and the poor it appeals equally to the masses and the intelligentsia.

The common folk are attracted by the devotional side of Buddhism and its simpler ethics while the intellectuals are fascinated by the deeper teachings and mental culture.

A casual visitor to a Buddhist country, who enters a Buddhist temple for the first time, might get the wrong impression that Buddhism is confined to rites and ceremonies and is a superstitious religion which countenances worship of images and trees.

Buddhism, being tolerant, does not totally denounce such external forms of reverence as they are necessary for the masses. One can see with what devotion they perform such religious ceremonies. Their faith is increased thereby. Buddhists kneel before the image and pay their respects to what that image represents. Understanding Buddhists reflect on the virtues of the Buddha. They seek not worldly or spiritual favours from the image. The Bodhi-tree, on the other hand, is the symbol of enlightenment.

What the Buddha expects from His adherents are not these forms of obeisance but the actual observance of His Teachings. "He who practises my teaching best, reveres me most", is the advice of the Buddha.

An understanding Buddhist can practise the Dhamma without external forms of homage. To follow the Noble Eightfold Path neither temples nor images are absolutely necessary.

*

Is it correct to say that Buddhism is absolutely otherworldly although Buddhism posits a series of past and future lives and an indefinite number of habitable planes?

The object of the Buddha's mission was to deliver beings from suffering by eradicating its cause and to teach a way to put an end to both birth and death if one wishes to do so. Incidentally, however, the Buddha has expounded discourses which tend to worldly progress. Both material and spiritual progress are essential for the development of a nation. One should not be separated from the other, nor should material progress be achieved by sacrificing spiritual progress as is to be witnessed today amongst materialistic-minded nations in the world. It is the duty of respective Governments and philanthropic bodies to cater for the material development of the people and provide congenial conditions, while religions like Buddhism, in particular, cater for the moral advancement to make people ideal citizens.

Buddhism goes counter to most religions in striking the Middle Way and in making its Teaching homo-centric in contradistinction to theo-centric creeds. As such Buddhism is introvert and is concerned with individual emancipation. The Dhamma has to be realized by oneself (sanditthiko).

*

As a rule, the expected ultimate goal of the majority of mankind is either nihilism or eternalism. Materialists believe in complete annihilation after death. According to some religions the goal is to be achieved in an after-life, in eternal union either with an Almighty Being or an inexplicable force which, in other words, is one form of eternalism.

*

Buddhism advocates the middle path. Its goal is neither nihilism, for there is nothing permanent to annihilate nor eternalism, for there is no permanent soul to eternalize. The Buddhist goal can be achieved in this life itself.

*

What happens to the Arahant after death? This is a subtle and difficult question to be answered as Nibbāna is a supramundane state that cannot be expressed by words and is beyond space and time. Strictly speaking, there exists a Nibbāna but no person to attain Nibbāna. The Buddha says it is not right to state that an Arahant exists nor does not exist after death. If, for instance, a fire burns and is extinguished, one cannot say that it went to any of the four directions. When no more fuel is added, it ceases to burn. The Buddha cites this illustration of fire and adds that the question is wrongly put. One may-be confused. But, it is not surprising.

Here is an appropriate illustration by a modern scientist. Robert Oppenheimer writes:

"If we ask, for instance, whether the position of the electron remains the same, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron's position changes with time, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether the electron is at rest, we must say 'no'; if we ask whether it is in action, we must say 'no'.

"The Buddha had given such answers when interrogated as to the condition of man's self after death, but they are not familiar answers from the tradition of the 17th and 18th century science."

Evidently the learned writer is referring to the state of an Arahant after death.

What is the use of attaining such a state? Why should we negate existence? Should we not affirm existence for life is full of joy?

These are not unexpected questions. They are the typical questions of persons who either desire to enjoy life or to work for humanity, facing responsibilities and undergoing suffering.

To the former, a Buddhist would say:-- you may if you like, but be not slaves to worldly pleasures which are fleeting and illusory; whether you like it or not, you will have to reap what you sow. To the latter a Buddhist might say:-- by all means work for the weal of humanity and seek pleasure in altruistic service.

Buddhism offers the goal of Nibbāna to those who need it, and is not forced on any. "Come and see", advises the Buddha.

*

Till the ultimate goal is achieved a Buddhist is expected to lead a noble and useful life.

Buddhism possesses an excellent code of morals suitable to both advanced and unadvanced types of individuals. They are:

(a) The five Precepts -- not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie, and not to take intoxicating liquor.

(b) The four Sublime States (Brahma-Vihāra): Loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

(c) The ten Transcendental virtues (Pāramitā):--generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, resolution, loving-kindness, and equanimity.

(d) The Noble Eightfold Path: Right understanding, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Those who aspire to attain Arahantship at the earliest possible opportunity may contemplate on the exhortation given to Venerable Rāhula by the Buddha ? namely,

"This body is not mine; this am I not; this is not my soul"
(N'etam mama, n'eso' hamasmi, na me so attā).

*

It should be humbly stated that this book is not intended for scholars but students who wish to understand the life of the Buddha and His fundamental teachings.

The original edition of this book first appeared in 1942. The second one, a revised and enlarged edition with many additions and modifications, was published in Saigon in 1964 with voluntary contributions from my devout Vietnamese supporters. In the present one, I have added two more chapters and an appendix with some important Suttas.

It gives me pleasure to state that a Vietnamese translation of this book by Mr. Pham Kim Khanh (Sunanda) was also published in Saigon.

In preparing this volume I have made use of the translations of the Pāli Text Society and several works written by Buddhists and non-Buddhists. At times I may have merely echoed their authentic views and even used their appropriate wording. Wherever possible I have acknowledged the source.

I am extremely grateful to the late Mr. V. F. Gunaratna who, amidst his multifarious duties as Public Trustee of Ceylon, very carefully revised and edited the whole manuscript with utmost precision and great faith. Though an onerous task, it was a labour of love to him since he was an ideal practising Buddhist, well versed in the Buddha-Dhamma.

My thanks are due to generous devotees for their voluntary contributions, to Mrs. Coralie La Brooy and Miss Ranjani Goonetilleke for correcting the proofs and also to the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. for printing the book with great care.

NĀRADA.
14th July, 2522 - 1980.
Vajirārāma, Colombo 5.
Sri Lanka.

-ooOoo-

 

THE BUDDHA


 CHAPTER I

FROM BIRTH TO RENUNCIATION

 "A unique Being, an extraordinary Man arises in this world for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. Who is this Unique Being? It is the Tathāgata, the Exalted, Fully Enlightened One."
-- Anguttara Nikāya.
Pt. I, XIII P. 22.

 Birth

On the full moon day of May,[1] in the year 623 B.C.[2] there was born in the Lumbini Park [3] at Kapilavatthu,[4] on the Indian borders of present Nepal, a noble prince who was destined to be the greatest religious teacher of the world.

His father[5] was King Suddhodana of the aristocratic Sākya [6] clan and his mother was Queen Mahā Māyā. As the beloved mother died seven days after his birth, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami, her younger sister, who was also married to the King, adopted the child, entrusting her own son, Nanda, to the care of the nurses.

Great were the rejoicings of the people over the birth of this illustrious prince. An ascetic of high spiritual attainments, named Asita, also known as Kāladevala, was particularly pleased to hear this happy news, and being a tutor of the King, visited the palace to see the Royal babe. The King, who felt honoured by his unexpected visit, carried the child up to him in order to make the child pay him due reverence, but, to the surprise of all, the child's legs turned and rested on the matted locks of the ascetic. Instantly, the ascetic rose from his seat and, foreseeing with his supernormal vision the child's future greatness, saluted him with clasped hands.[7] The Royal father did likewise.

The great ascetic smiled at first and then was sad. Questioned regarding his mingled feelings, he answered 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 (Arūpaloka).[8]

 Naming Ceremony

On the fifth day after the prince's birth he was named Siddhattha which means "wish fulfilled". His family name was Gotama.[9]

In accordance with the ancient Indian custom many learned brahmins were invited to the palace for the naming ceremony. Amongst them there were eight distinguished men. Examining the characteristic marks of the child, seven of them raised two fingers each, indicative of two alternative possibilities, and said that he would either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. But the youngest, Konda񱡬[10] who excelled others in wisdom, noticing the hair on the forehead turned to the right, raised only one finger and convincingly declared that the prince would definitely retire from the world and become a Buddha.

 Ploughing Festival

A very remarkable incident took place in his childhood. It was an unprecedented spiritual experience which, later, during his search after truth, served as a key to his Enlightenment.[11]

To promote agriculture, the King arranged for a ploughing festival. It was indeed a festive occasion for all, as both nobles and commoners decked in their best attire, participated in the ceremony. On the appointed day, the King, accompanied by his courtiers, went to the field, taking with him the young prince together with the nurses. Placing the child on a screened and canopied couch under the cool shade of a solitary rose-apple tree to be watched by the nurses, the King participated in the ploughing festival. When the festival was at its height of gaiety the nurses too stole away from the prince's presence to catch a glimpse of the wonderful spectacle.

In striking contrast to the mirth and merriment of the festival it was all calm and quiet under the rose-apple tree. All the conditions conducive to quiet meditation being there, the pensive child, young in years but old in wisdom, sat cross-legged and seized the opportunity to commence that all-important practice of intent concentration on the breath -- on exhalations and inhalations -- which gained for him then and there that one pointedness of mind known as Samādhi and he thus developed the First Jhāna [12] (Ecstasy). The child's nurses, who had abandoned their precious charge to enjoy themselves at the festival, suddenly realizing their duty, hastened to the child and were amazed to see him sitting cross-legged plunged in deep meditation. The King hearing of it, hurried to the spot and, seeing the child in meditative posture, saluted him, saying -- "This, dear child, is my second obeisance".

 Education

As a Royal child, Prince Siddhattha must have received an education that became a prince although no details are given about it. As a scion of the warrior race he received special training in the art of warfare.

Married Life

At the early age of sixteen, he married his beautiful cousin Princess Yasodharā [13] who was of equal age. For nearly thirteen years, after his happy marriage, he led a luxurious life, blissfully ignorant of the vicissitudes of life outside the palace gates. Of his luxurious life as prince, he states:

"I was delicate, excessively delicate. In my father's dwelling three lotus-ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed in one, red in another, and white in another. I used no sandal-wood that was not of Kāsi.[14] My turban, tunic, dress and cloak, were all from Kāsi.

"Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not be touched by heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew.

"There were three palaces built for me -- one for the cold season, one for the hot season, and one for the rainy season. During the four rainy months, I lived in the palace for the rainy season without ever coming down from it, entertained all the while by female musicians. Just as, in the houses of others, food from the husks of rice together with sour gruel is given to the slaves and workmen, even so, in my father's dwelling, food with rice and meat was given to the slaves and workmen.[15]"

With the march of time, truth gradually dawned upon him. His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not permit him to spend his time in the mere enjoyment of the fleeting pleasures of the Royal palace. He knew no personal grief but he felt a deep pity for suffering humanity. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he realized the universality of sorrow.

Renunciation

Prince Siddhattha reflected thus:

"Why do I, being subject to birth, decay, disease, death, sorrow and impurities, thus search after things of like nature. How, if I, who am subject to things of such nature, realize their disadvantages and seek after the unattained, unsurpassed, perfect security which is Nibbāna![16]" "Cramped and confined is household life, a den of dust, but the life of the homeless one is as the open air of heaven! Hard is it for him who bides at home to live out as it should be lived the Holy Life in all its perfection, in all its purity.[17]"

One glorious day as he went out of the palace to the pleasure park to see the world outside, he came in direct contact with the stark realities of life. Within the narrow confines of the palace he saw only the rosy side of life, but the dark side, the common lot of mankind, was purposely veiled from him. What was mentally conceived, he, for the first time, vividly saw in reality. On his way to the park his observant eyes met the strange sights of a decrepit old man, a diseased person, a corpse and a dignified hermit.[18] The first three sights convincingly proved to him, the inexorable nature of life, and the universal ailment of humanity. The fourth signified the means to overcome the ills of life and to attain calm and peace. These four unexpected sights served to increase the urge in him to loathe and renounce the world.

Realizing the worthlessness of sensual pleasures, so highly prized by the worldling, and appreciating the value of renunciation in which the wise seek delight, he decided to leave the world in search of Truth and Eternal Peace.

When this final decision was taken after much deliberation, the news of the birth of a son was conveyed to him while he was about to leave the park. Contrary to expectations, he was not overjoyed, but regarded his first and only offspring as an impediment. An ordinary father would have welcomed the joyful tidings, but Prince Siddhattha, the extraordinary father as he was, exclaimed --"An impediment (rāhu) has been born; a fetter has arisen". The infant son was accordingly named Rāhula [19] by his grandfather.

The palace was no longer a congenial place to the contemplative Prince Siddhattha. Neither his charming young wife nor his lovable infant son could deter him from altering the decision he had taken to renounce the world. He was destined to play an infinitely more important and beneficial role than a dutiful husband and father or even as a king of kings. The allurements of the palace were no more cherished objects of delight to him. Time was ripe to depart.

He ordered his favourite charioteer Channa to saddle the horse Kanthaka, and went to the suite of apartments occupied by the princess. Opening the door of the chamber, he stood on the threshold and cast his dispassionate glance on the wife and child who were fast asleep.

Great was his compassion for the two dear ones at this parting moment. Greater was his compassion for suffering humanity. He was not worried about the future worldly happiness and comfort of the mother and child as they had everything in abundance and were well protected. It was not that he loved them the less, but he loved humanity more.

Leaving all behind, he stole away with a light heart from the palace at midnight, and rode into the dark, attended only by his loyal charioteer. Alone and penniless he set out in search of Truth and Peace. Thus did he renounce the world. It was not the renunciation of an old man who has had his fill of worldly life. It was not the renunciation of a poor man who had nothing to leave behind. It was the renunciation of a prince in the full bloom of youth and in the plenitude of wealth and prosperity -- a renunciation unparalleled in history. It was in his twenty-ninth year that Prince Siddhattha made this historic journey.

He journeyed far and, crossing the river Anomā, rested on its banks. Here he shaved his hair and beard and handing over his garments and ornaments to Channa with instructions to return to the palace, assumed the simple yellow garb of an ascetic and led a life of voluntary poverty.

The ascetic Siddhattha, who once lived in the lap of luxury, now became a penniless wanderer, living on what little the charitably-minded gave of their own accord.

He had no permanent abode. A shady tree or a lonely cave sheltered him by day or night. Bare-footed and bare-headed, he walked in the scorching sun and in the piercing cold. With no possessions to call his own, but a bowl to collect his food and robes just sufficient to cover the body, he concentrated all his energies on the quest of Truth.

Search

Thus as a wanderer, a seeker after what is good, searching for the unsurpassed Peace, he approached Ālāra Kālāma, a distinguished ascetic, and said: "I desire, friend Kālāma to lead the Holy Life in this Dispensation of yours."

Thereupon Ālāra Kālāma told him: "You may stay with me, 0 Venerable One. Of such sort is this teaching that an intelligent man before long may realize by his own intuitive wisdom his master's doctrine, and abide in the attainment thereof."

Before long, he learnt his doctrine, but it brought him no realization of the highest Truth.

Then there came to him the thought: When Ālāra Kalāma declared:

"Having myself realized by intuitive knowledge the doctrine, I -- 'abide in the attainment thereof --' it could not have been a mere profession of faith; surely Ālāra Kālāma lives having understood and perceived this doctrine."

So he went to him and said "How far, friend Kālāma, does this doctrine extend which you yourself have with intuitive wisdom realized and attained?"

Upon this Ālāra Kālāma made known to him the Realm of Nothingness (Āki񣡱񦣲57;yatana),[20] an advanced stage of Concentration.

Then it occurred to him: "Not only in Ālāra Kālāma are to be found faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. I too possess these virtues. How now if I strive to realize that doctrine whereof Ālāra Kālāma says that he himself has realized and abides in the attainment thereof!"

So, before long, he realized by his own intuitive wisdom that doctrine and attained to that state, but it brought him no realization of the highest Truth.

Then he approached Ālāra Kālāma and said: "Is this the full extent, friend Kālāma, of this doctrine of which you say that you yourself have realized by your wisdom and abide in the attainment thereof?"

"But I also, friend, have realized thus far in this doctrine, and abide in the attainment thereof."

The unenvious teacher was delighted to hear of the success of his distinguished pupil. He honoured him by placing him on a perfect level with himself and admiringly said:

"Happy, friend, are we, extremely happy; in that we look upon such a venerable fellow-ascetic like you! That same doctrine which I myself have realized by my wisdom and proclaim, having attained thereunto, have you yourself realized by your wisdom and abide in the attainment thereof; and that doctrine you yourself have realized by your wisdom and abide in the attainment thereof, that have I myself realized by my wisdom and proclaim, having attained thereunto. Thus the doctrine which I know, and also do you know; and, the doctrine which you know, that I know also. As I am, so are you; as you are, so am I. Come, friend, let both of us lead the company of ascetics."

The ascetic Gotama was not satisfied with a discipline and a doctrine which only led to a high degree of mental concentration, but did not lead to "disgust, detachment, cessation (of suffering), tranquillity; intuition, enlighten-ment, and Nibbāna." Nor was he anxious to lead a company of ascetics even with the co-operation of another generous teacher of equal spiritual attainment, without first perfecting himself. It was, he felt, a case of the blind leading the blind. Dissatisfied with his teaching, he politely took his leave from him.

In those happy days when there were no political disturbances the intellectuals of India were preoccupied with the study and exposition of some religious system or other. All facilities were provided for those more spiritually inclined to lead holy lives in solitude in accordance with their temperaments and most of these teachers had large followings of disciples. So it was not difficult for the ascetic Gotama to find another religious teacher who was more competent than the former.

On this occasion he approached one Uddaka Rāmaputta and expressed his desire to lead the Holy Life in his Dispensation. He was readily admitted as a pupil.

Before long the intelligent ascetic Gotama mastered his doctrine and attained the final stage of mental concentration, the Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception ("N'eva sa񱦣257; N'asa񱦣257;yatana),[21] revealed by his teacher. This was the highest stage in worldly concentration when consciousness becomes so subtle and refined that it cannot be said that a consciousness either exists or not. Ancient Indian sages could not proceed further in spiritual development.

The noble teacher was delighted to hear of the success of his illustrious royal pupil. Unlike his former teacher the present one honoured him by inviting him to take full charge of all the disciples as their teacher. He said: "Happy friend, are we; yea, extremely happy, in that we see such a venerable fellow-ascetic as you! The doctrine which Rāma knew, you know; the doctrine which you know, Rāma knew. As was Rāma so are you; as you are, so was Rāma. Come, friend, henceforth you shall lead this company of ascetics."

Still he felt that his quest of the highest Truth was not achieved. He had gained complete mastery of his mind, but his ultimate goal was far ahead. He was seeking for the Highest, the Nibbāna, the complete cessation of suffering, the total eradication of all forms of craving. "Dissatisfied with this doctrine too, he departed thence, content therewith no longer."

He realized that his spiritual aspirations were far higher than those under whom he chose to learn. He realized that there was none capable enough to teach him what he yearned for -- the highest Truth. He also realized that the highest Truth is to be found within oneself and ceased to seek external aid.


CHAPTER 2

HIS STRUGGLE FOR ENLIGHTENMENT

 "Easy to do are things that are bad and not beneficial to self,
But very, very hard to do indeed is that which is
beneficial and good".
-- DHAMMAPADA

 Struggle

Meeting with disappointment, but not discouraged, the ascetic Gotama seeking for the incomparable Peace, the highest Truth, wandered through the district of Magadha, and arrived in due course at Uruvelā, the market town of Senāni. There he spied a lovely spot of ground, a charming forest grove, a flowing river with pleasant sandy fords, and hard by was a village where he could obtain his food. Then he thought thus:

"Lovely, indeed, O Venerable One, is this spot of ground, charming is the forest grove, pleasant is the flowing river with sandy fords, and hard by is the village where I could obtain food. Suitable indeed is this place for spiritual exertion for those noble scions who desire to strive." (Majjhima Nikāya, Ariya-Pariyesana Sutta No. 26, Vol. 1, p. 16)

The place was congenial for his meditation. The atmosphere was peaceful. The surroundings were pleasant. The scenery was charming. Alone, he resolved to settle down there to achieve his desired object.

Hearing of his renunciation, Konda񱡬 the youngest brahmin who predicted his future, and four sons of the other sages -- Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assaji -- also renounced the world and joined his company.

In the ancient days in India, great importance was attached to rites, ceremonies, penances and sacrifices. It was then a popular belief that no Deliverance could be gained unless one leads a life of strict asceticism. Accordingly, for six long years the ascetic Gotama made a superhuman struggle practising all forms of severest austerity. His delicate body was reduced to almost a skeleton. The more he tormented his body the farther his goal receded from him.

How strenuously he struggled, the various methods he employed, and how he eventually succeeded are graphically described in his own words in various Suttas.

Mahā Saccaka Sutta [1] describes his preliminary efforts thus:

"Then the following thought occurred to me:

"How if I were to clench my teeth, press my tongue against the palate, and with (moral) thoughts hold down, subdue and destroy my (immoral) thoughts!

"So I clenched my teeth, pressed my tongue against the palate and strove to hold down, subdue, destroy my (immoral) thoughts with (moral) thoughts. As I struggled thus, perspiration streamed forth from my armpits.

"Like unto a strong man who might seize a weaker man by head or shoulders and hold him down, force him down, and bring into subjection, even so did I struggle.

"Strenuous and indomitable was my energy. My mindfulness was established and unperturbed. My body was, however, fatigued and was not calmed as a result of that painful endeavour -- being overpowered by exertion. Even though such painful sensations arose in me, they did not at all affect my mind.

"Then I thought thus: How if I were to cultivate the non-breathing ecstasy!

"Accordingly, I checked inhalation and exhalation from my mouth and nostrils. As I checked inhalation and exhalation from mouth and nostrils, the air issuing from my ears created an exceedingly great noise. Just as a blacksmith's bellows being blown make an exceedingly great noise, even so was the noise created by the air issuing from my ears when I stopped breathing.

"Nevertheless, my energy was strenuous and indomitable. Established and unperturbed was my mindfulness. Yet my body was fatigued and was not calmed as a result of that painful endeavour -- being over-powered by exertion.

Even though such painful sensations arose in me, they did not at all affect my mind.

"Then I thought to myself: 'How if I were to cultivate that non-breathing exercise!

"Accordingly, I checked inhalation and exhalation from mouth, nostrils, and ears. And as I stopped breathing from mouth, nostrils and ears, the (imprisoned) airs beat upon my skull with great violence. Just as if a strong man were to bore one's skull with a sharp drill, even so did the airs beat my skull with great violence as I stopped breathing. Even though such painful sensations arose in me, they did not at all affect my mind.

"Then I thought to myself: How if I were to cultivate that non-breathing ecstasy again!

"Accordingly, I checked inhalation and exhalation from mouth, nostrils, and ears. And as I stopped breathing thus, terrible pains arose in my head. As would be the pains if a strong man were to bind one's head tightly with a hard leathern thong, even so were the terrible pains that arose in my head. "Nevertheless, my energy was strenuous. Such painful sensations did not affect my mind.

"Then I thought to myself: How if I were to cultivate that non-breathing ecstasy again!

"Accordingly, I stopped breathing from mouth, nostrils, and ears. As I checked breathing thus, plentiful airs pierced my belly. Just as if a skilful butcher or a butcher's apprentice were to rip up the belly with a sharp butcher's knife, even so plentiful airs pierced my belly.

"Nevertheless, my energy was strenuous. Such painful sensations did not affect my mind.

"Again I thought to myself: How if I were to cultivate that non-breathing ecstasy again!

"Accordingly, I checked inhalation and exhalation from mouth, nostrils, and ears. As I suppressed my breathing thus, a tremendous burning pervaded my body. Just as if two strong men were each to seize a weaker man by his arms and scorch and thoroughly burn him in a pit of glowing charcoal, even so did a severe burning pervade my body.

"Nevertheless, my energy was strenuous. Such painful sensations did not affect my mind.

"Thereupon the deities who saw me thus said: 'The ascetic Gotama is dead.' Some remarked: 'The ascetic Gotama is not dead yet, but is dying'. While some others said: 'The ascetic Gotama is neither dead nor is dying but an Arahant is the ascetic Gotama. Such is the way in which an Arahant abides."

Change of Method: Abstinence from Food

"Then I thought to myself: How if I were to practise complete abstinence from food!

"Then deities approached me and said: 'Do not, good sir, practise total abstinence from food. If you do practise it, we will pour celestial essence through your body's pores; with that you will be sustained."

"And I thought: 'If I claim to be practising starvation, and if these deities pour celestial essence through my body's pores and I am sustained thereby, it would be a fraud on my part.' So I refused them, saying 'There is no need'.

"Then the following thought occurred to me: How if I take food little by little, a small quantity of the juice of green gram, or vetch, or lentils, or peas!

"As I took such small quantity of solid and liquid food, my body became extremely emaciated. Just as are the joints of knot-grasses or bulrushes, even so were the major and minor parts of my body owing to lack of food. Just as is the camel's hoof, even so were my hips for want of food. Just as is a string of beads, even so did my backbone stand out and bend in, for lack of food. Just as the rafters of a dilapidated hall fall this way and that, even so appeared my ribs through lack of sustenance. Just as in a deep well may be seen stars sunk deep in the water, even so did my eye-balls appear deep sunk in their sockets, being devoid of food. Just as a bitter pumpkin, when cut while raw, will by wind and sun get shrivelled and withered, even so did the skin of my head get shrivelled and withered, due to lack of sustenance.

"And I, intending to touch my belly's skin, would instead seize my backbone. When I intended to touch my backbone, I would seize my belly's skin. So was I that, owing to lack of sufficient food, my belly's skin clung to the backbone, and I, on going to pass excreta or urine, would in that very spot stumble and fall down, for want of food. And I stroked my limbs in order to revive my body. Lo, as I did so, the rotten roots of my body's hairs fell from my body owing to lack of sustenance. The people who saw me said: 'The ascetic Gotama is black.' Some said, 'The ascetic Gotama is not black but blue.' Some others said: 'The ascetic Gotama is neither black nor blue but tawny.' To such an extent was the pure colour of my skin impaired owing to lack of food.

"Then the following thought occurred to me: Whatsoever ascetics or brahmins of the past have experienced acute, painful, sharp and piercing sensations, they must have experienced them to such a high degree as this and not beyond. Whatsoever ascetics and brahmins of the future will experience acute, painful, sharp and piercing sensations they too will experience them to such a high degree and not beyond. Yet by all these bitter and difficult austerities I shall not attain to excellence, worthy of supreme knowledge and insight, transcending those of human states. Might there be another path for Enlightenment!"

Temptation of Māra the Evil One

His prolonged painful austerities proved utterly futile. They only resulted in the exhaustion of his valuable energy. Though physically a superman his delicately nurtured body could not possibly stand the great strain. His graceful form completely faded almost beyond recognition. His golden coloured skin turned pale, his blood dried up, his sinews and muscles shrivelled up, his eyes were sunk and blurred. To all appearance he was a living skeleton. He was almost on the verge of death.

At this critical stage, while he was still intent on the Highest (Padhāna), abiding on the banks of the Nera񪡲ā river, striving and contemplating in order to attain to that state of Perfect Security, came Namuci,[2] uttering kind words thus:[3]

"'You are lean and deformed. Near to you is death.

"A thousand parts (of you belong) to death; to life (there remains) but one. Live, 0 good sir! Life is better. Living, you could perform merit.

"By leading a life of celibacy and making fire sacrifices, much merit could be acquired. What will you do with this striving? Hard is the path of striving, difficult and not easily accomplished."

Māra reciting these words stood in the presence of the Exalted One.

To Māra who spoke thus, the Exalted One replied:

 "O Evil One, kinsman of the heedless! You have come here for your own sake.

"Even an iota of merit is of no avail. To them who are in need of merit it behoves you, Māra, to speak thus.

"Confidence (Saddhā), self-control (Tapo),[4] perseverance (Viriya), and wisdom (Pa񱦣257;) are mine. Me who am thus intent, why do you question about life?

"Even the streams of rivers will this wind dry up. Why should not the blood of me who am thus striving dry up?

"When blood dries up, the bile and phlegm also dry up. When my flesh wastes away, more and more does my mind get clarified. Still more do my mindfulness, wisdom, and concentration become firm.

"While I live thus, experiencing the utmost pain, my mind does not long for lust! Behold the purity of a being!

"Sense-desires (Kāmā), are your first army. The second is called Aversion for the Holy Life (Arati). The third is Hunger and Thirst[5] (Khuppīpāsā). The fourth is called Craving (Tanhā). The fifth is Sloth and Torpor (Thina-Middha). The sixth is called Fear (Bhiru). The seventh is Doubt[6] (Vicikicchā), and the eighth is Detraction and Obstinacy (Makkha-Thambha). The ninth is Gain (Lobha), Praise (Siloka) and Honour (Sakkāra), and that ill-gotten Fame (Yasa). The tenth is the extolling of oneself and contempt for others (Attukkamsanaparavambhana).

"This, Namuci, is your army, the opposing host of the Evil One. That army the coward does not overcome, but he who overcomes obtains happiness.

"This Mu񪡍 [7] do I display! What boots life in this world! Better for me is death in the battle than that one should live on, vanquished! [8]

"Some ascetics and brahmins are not seen plunged in this battle. They know not nor do they tread the path of the virtuous.

"Seeing the army on all sides with Māra arrayed on elephant, I go forward to battle. Māra shall not drive me from my position. That army of yours, which the world together with gods conquers not, by my wisdom I go to destroy as I would an unbaked bowl with a stone.

"Controlling my thoughts, and with mindfulness well-established, I shall wander from country to country, training many a disciple.

"Diligent, intent, and practising my teaching, they, disregarding you, will go where having gone they grieve not."

The Middle Path

The ascetic Gotama was now fully convinced from personal experience of the utter futility of self-mortification which, though considered indispensable for Deliverance by the ascetic philosophers of the day, actually weakened one's intellect, and resulted in lassitude of spirit. He abandoned for ever this painful extreme as did he the other extreme of self-indulgence which tends to retard moral progress. He conceived the idea of adopting the Golden Mean which later became one of the salient features of his teaching.

He recalled how when his father was engaged in ploughing, he sat in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree, absorbed in the contemplation of his own breath, which resulted in the attainment of the First Jhāna (Ecstasy)[9]. Thereupon he thought: "Well, this is the path to Enlightenment."

He realized that Enlightenment could not be gained with such an utterly exhausted body: Physical fitness was essential for spiritual progress. So he decided to nourish the body sparingly and took some coarse food both hard and soft.

The five favourite disciples who were attending on him with great hopes thinking that whatever truth the ascetic Gotama would comprehend, that would he impart to them, felt disappointed at this unexpected change of method. and leaving him and the place too, went to Isipatana, saying that "the ascetic Gotama had become luxurious, had ceased from striving, and had returned to a life of comfort."

At a crucial time when help was most welcome his companions deserted him leaving him alone. He was not discouraged, but their voluntary separation was advantageous to him though their presence during his great struggle was helpful to him. Alone, in sylvan solitudes, great men often realize deep truths and solve intricate problems.

Dawn of Truth

Regaining his lost strength with some coarse food, he easily developed the First Jhāna which he gained in his youth. By degrees he developed the second, third and fourth Jhānas as well.

By developing the Jhānas he gained perfect one-pointedness of the mind. His mind was now like a polished mirror where everything is reflected in its true perspective.

Thus with thoughts tranquillized, purified, cleansed, free from lust and impurity, pliable, alert, steady, and unshakable, he directed his mind to the knowledge as regards "The Reminiscence of Past Births" (Pubbe-nivāsānussati māna).

He recalled his varied lots in former existences as follows: first one life, then two lives, then three, four, five, ten, twenty, up to fifty lives; then a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand; then the dissolution of many world cycles, then the evolution of many world cycles, then both the dissolution and evolution of many world cycles. In that place he was of such a name, such a family, such a caste, such a dietary, such the pleasure and pain he experienced, such his life's end. Departing from there, he came into existence elsewhere. Then such was his name, such his family, such his caste, such his dietary, such the pleasure and pain he did experience, such life's end. Thence departing, he came into existence here.

Thus he recalled the mode and details of his varied lots in his former births.

This, indeed, as the First Knowledge that he realized in the first watch of the night.

Dispelling thus the ignorance with regard to the past, he directed his purified mind to "The Perception of the Disappearing and Reappearing of Beings" (Cutūpapāta māna). With clairvoyant vision, purified and supernormal, he perceived beings disappearing from one state of existence and reappearing in another; he beheld the base and the noble, the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the miserable, all passing according to their deeds. He knew that these good individuals, by evil deeds, words, and thoughts, by reviling the Noble Ones, by being misbelievers, and by conforming themselves to the actions of the misbelievers, after the dissolution of their bodies and after death, had been born in sorrowful states. He knew that these good individuals, by good deeds, words, and thoughts, by not reviling the Noble Ones, by being right believers, and by conforming themselves to the actions of the right believers, after the dissolution of their bodies and after death, had been born in happy celestial worlds.

Thus with clairvoyant supernormal vision he beheld the disappearing and the reappearing of beings.

This, indeed, was the Second Knowledge that he realized in the middle watch of the night.

Dispelling thus the ignorance with regard to the future, he directed his purified mind to "The Comprehension of the Cessation of Corruptions" [10] (Āsavakkhaya māna).

He realized in accordance with fact: "This is Sorrow", "This, the Arising of Sorrow", "This, the Cessation of Sorrow", "This, the Path leading to the Cessation of Sorrow". Likewise in accordance with fact he realized: "These are the Corruptions", "This, the Arising of Corruptions", "This, the Cessation of Corruptions", "This, the Path leading to the Cessation of Corruptions". Thus cognizing, thus perceiving, his mind was delivered from the Corruption of Sensual Craving; from the Corruption of Craving for Existence; from the Corruption of Ignorance.

Being delivered, He knew, "Delivered am I [11] and He realized, "Rebirth is ended; fulfilled the Holy Life; done what was to be done; there is no more of this state again.[12]"

This was the Third Knowledge that He Realized in the last watch of the night.

Ignorance was dispelled, and wisdom arose; darkness vanished, and light arose.


CHAPTER 3

THE BUDDHAHOOD

 "The Tathāgatas are only teachers".
 -- DHAMMAPADA

Characteristics of the Buddha

After a stupendous struggle of six strenuous years, in His 35th year the ascetic Gotama, unaided and unguided by any supernatural agency, and solely relying on His own efforts and wisdom, eradicated all defilements, ended the process of grasping, and, realizing things as they truly are by His own intuitive knowledge, became a Buddha -- an Enlightened or Awakened One.

Thereafter he was known as Buddha Gotama,[1] one of a long series of Buddhas that appeared in the past and will appear in the future.

He was not born a Buddha, but became a Buddha by His own efforts.

The Pāli term Buddha is derived from "budh", to understand, or to be awakened. As He fully comprehended the four Noble Truths and as He arose from the slumbers of ignorance He is called a Buddha. Since He not only comprehends but also expounds the doctrine and enlightens others, He is called a Sammā Sambuddha -- a Fully Enlightened One -- to distinguish Him from Pacceka (Individual) Buddhas who only comprehend the doctrine but are incapable of enlightening others.

Before His Enlightenment He was called Bodhisatta[2] which means one who is aspiring to attain Buddhahood.

Every aspirant to Buddhahood passes through the Bodhisatta Period -- a period of intensive exercise and development of the qualities of generosity, discipline, renunciation, wisdom, energy, endurance, truthfulness, determination, benevolence and perfect equanimity.

In a particular era there arises only one Sammā Sambuddha. Just as certain plants and trees can bear only one flower even so one world-system (lokadhātu) can bear only one Sammā Sambuddha.

The Buddha was a unique being. Such a being arises but rarely in this world, and is born out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. The Buddha is called "acchariya manussa" as He was a wonderful man. He is called "amatassa dātā" as He is the giver of Deathlessness. He is called "varado" as He is the Giver of the purest love, the profoundest wisdom, and the Highest Truth. He is also called Dhammassāmi as He is the Lord of the Dhamma (Doctrine).

As the Buddha Himself says, "He is the Accomplished One (Tathāgata), the Worthy One (Araham), the Fully Enlightened One (Sammā Sambuddha), the creator of the unarisen way, the producer of the unproduced way, the proclaimer of the unproclaimed way, the knower of the way, the beholder of the way, the cognizer of the way."[3]

The Buddha had no teacher for His Enlightenment. "Na me ācariyo atthi" [4] -- A teacher have I not -- are His own words. He did receive His mundane knowledge from His lay teachers,[5] but teachers He had none for His supramundane knowledge which He himself realized by His own intuitive wisdom.

If He had received His knowledge from another teacher or from another religious system such as Hinduism in which He was nurtured, He could not have said of Himself as being the incomparable teacher (aham satthā anuttaro).[6] In His first discourse He declared that light arose in things not heard before.

During the early period of His renunciation He sought the advice of the distinguished religious teachers of the day, but He could not find what He sought in their teachings. Circumstances compelled Him to think for Himself and seek the Truth. He sought the Truth within Himself. He plunged into the deepest profundities of thought, and He realized the ultimate Truth which He had not heard or known before. Illumination came from within and shed light on things which He had never seen before.

As He knew everything that ought to be known and as He obtained the key to all knowledge, He is called Sabbannū --the Omniscient One. This supernormal knowledge He acquired by His own efforts continued through a countless series of births.

 Who is the Buddha?

Once a certain brahmin named Dona, noticing the characteristic marks of the footprint of the Buddha, approached Him and questioned Him.

"Your Reverence will be a Deva?[7]"

"No, indeed, brahmin, a Deva am I not," replied the Buddha.

"Then Your Reverence will be a Gandhabba? [8]"'

"No, indeed, brahmin, a Gandhabba am I not."

"A Yakkha then?[9]"

"No, indeed, brahmin, not a Yakkha."

"Then Your Reverence will be a human being?"

"No, indeed, brahmin, a human being am I not."

"Who, then, pray, will Your Reverence be?"

The Buddha replied that He had destroyed Defilements which condition rebirth as a Deva, Gandhabba, Yakkha, or a human being and added:

"As a lotus, fair and lovely,
By the water is not soiled,
By the world am I not soiled;
Therefore, brahmin, am I Buddha.[10]"'

The Buddha does not claim to be an incarnation (Avatāra) of Hindu God Vishnu, who, as the Bhagavadgitā[11] charmingly sings, is born again and again in different periods to protect the righteous, to destroy the wicked, and to establish the Dharma (right).

According to the Buddha countless are the gods (Devas) who are also a class of beings subject to birth and death; but there is no one Supreme God, who controls the destinies of human beings and who possesses a divine power to appear on earth at different intervals, employing a human form as a vehicle[12].

Nor does the Buddha call Himself a "Saviour" who freely saves others by his personal salvation. The Buddha exhorts His followers to depend on themselves for their deliverance, since both defilement and purity depend on oneself. One cannot directly purify or defile another.[13] Clarifying His relationship with His followers and emphasizing the importance of self-reliance and individual striving, the Buddha plainly states:

"You yourselves should make an exertion. The Tathāgatas are only teachers.[14]"'

The Buddha only indicates the path and method whereby He delivered Himself from suffering and death and achieved His ultimate goal. It is left for His faithful adherents who wish their release from the ills of life to follow the path.

"To depend on others for salvation is negative, but to depend on oneself is positive." Dependence on others means a surrender of one's effort.

"Be ye isles unto yourselves; be ye a refuge unto yourselves; seek no refuge in others.[15]"

These significant words uttered by the Buddha in His last days are very striking and inspiring. They reveal how vital is self-exertion to accomplish one's ends, and how superficial and futile it is to seek redemption through benignant saviours, and crave for illusory happiness in an afterlife through the propitiation of imaginary gods by fruitless prayers and meaningless sacrifices.

The Buddha was a human being. As a man He was born, as a Buddha He lived, and as a Buddha His life came to an end. Though human, He became an extraordinary man owing to His unique characteristics. The Buddha laid stress on this important point, and left no room for any one to fall into the error of thinking that He was an immortal being. It has been said of Him that there was no religious teacher who was "ever so godless as the Buddha, yet none was so god-like.[16]" In His own time the Buddha was no doubt highly venerated by His followers, but He never arrogated to Himself any divinity.

 The Buddha's Greatness

Born a man, living as a mortal, by His own exertion He attained that supreme state of perfection called Buddhahood, and without keeping His Enlightenment to Himself, He proclaimed to the world the latent possibilities and the invincible power of the human mind. Instead of placing an unseen Almighty God over man, and giving man a subservient position in relation to such a conception of divine power, He demonstrated how man could attain the highest knowledge and Supreme Enlightenment by his own efforts. He thus raised the worth of man. He taught that man can gain his deliverance from the ills of life and realize the eternal bliss of Nibbāna without depending on an external God or mediating priests. He taught the egocentric, power-seeking world the noble ideal of selfless service. He protested against the evils of caste-system that hampered the progress of mankind and advocated equal opportunities for all. He declared that the gates of deliverance were open to all, in every condition of life, high or low, saint or sinner, who would care to turn a new leaf and aspire to perfection. He raised the status of down-trodden women, and not only brought them to a realization of their importance to society but also founded the first religious order for women. For the first time in the history of the world He attempted to abolish slavery. He banned the sacrifice of unfortunate animals and brought them within His compass of loving kindness. He did not force His followers to be slaves either to His teachings or to Himself, but granted complete freedom of thought and admonished His followers to accept His words not merely out of regard for Him but after subjecting them to a thorough examination "even as the wise would test gold by burning, cutting, and rubbing it on a piece of touchstone." He comforted the bereaved mothers like Patācārā and Kisāgotami by His consoling words. He ministered to the deserted sick like Putigatta Tissa Thera with His own hands. He helped the poor and the neglected like Rajjumālā and Sopāka and saved them from an untimely and tragic death. He ennobled the lives of criminals like Angulimala and courtesans like Ambapāli. He encouraged the feeble, united the divided, enlightened the ignorant, clarified the mystic, guided the deluded, elevated the base, and dignified the noble. The rich and the poor, the saint and the criminal, loved Him alike. His noble example was a source of inspiration to all. He was the most compassionate and tolerant of teachers.

His will, wisdom, compassion, service, renunciation, perfect purity, exemplary personal life, the blameless methods that were employed to propagate the Dhamma and His final success -- all these factors have compelled about one fifth of the population of the world to hail the Buddha as the greatest religious teacher that ever lived on earth.

Paying a glowing tribute to the Buddha, Sri Radhakrishnan writes:

"In Gautama the Buddha we have a master mind from the East second to none so far as the influence on the thought and life of the human race is concerned, and sacred to all as the founder of a religious tradition whose hold is hardly less wide and deep than any other. He belongs to the history of the world's thought, to the general inheritance of all cultivated men, for, judged by intellectual integrity, moral earnestness, and spiritual insight, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in history.[17]"

 In the Three Greatest Men in History H. G. Wells states:

"In the Buddha you see clearly a man, simple, devout, lonely, battling for light, a vivid human personality, not a myth. He too gave a message to mankind universal in character. Many of our best modern ideas are in closest harmony with it. All the miseries and discontents of life are due, he taught, to selfishness. Before a man can become serene he must cease to live for his senses or himself. Then he merges into a greater being. Buddhism in different language called men to self-forgetfulness 500 years before Christ. In some ways he was nearer to us and our needs. He was more lucid upon our individual importance in service than Christ and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality."

The Poet Tagore calls Him the Greatest Man ever born.

In admiration of the Buddha, Fausboll, a Danish scholar says -- "The more I know Him, the more I love Him."

A humble follower of the Buddha would modestly say: The more I know Him, the more I love Him; the more I love Him, the more I know Him.


CHAPTER 4

AFTER THE ENLIGHTENMENT

"Happy in this world is non-attachment".
-- UDĀNA

In the memorable forenoon, immediately preceding the morn of His Enlightenment, as the Bodhisatta was seated under the Ajapāla banyan tree in close proximity to the Bodhi tree,[1] a generous lady, named Sujātā, unexpectedly offered Him some rich milkrice, specially prepared by her with great care.

This substantial meal He ate, and after His Enlightenment the Buddha fasted for seven weeks, and spent a quiet time, in deep contemplation, under the Bodhi tree and in its neighbourhood.

The Seven Weeks

First Week

Throughout the first week the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree in one posture, experiencing the Bliss of Emancipation (Vimutti Sukha, i.e The Fruit of Arahantship).

After those seven days had elapsed, the Buddha emerged from the state of concentration, and in the first watch of the night, thoroughly reflected on "The Dependent Arising" (Paticca Samuppāda) in direct order thus: "When this (cause) exists, this (effect) is; with the arising of this (cause), this effect arises.[2]"

Dependent on Ignorance (avijjā) arise moral and immoral Conditioning Activities (samkhārā).
Dependent on Conditioning Activities arises (Relinking) Consciousness (vi񱦣257;na).
Dependent on (Relinking) Consciousness arise Mind and Matter (nāma-rūpa).
Dependent on Mind and Matter arise the Six Spheres of Sense (salāyatana).
Dependent on the Six Spheres of Sense arises Contact (phassa).
Dependent on Contact arises Feeling (vedanā).
Dependent on Feeling arises Craving (tanhā)
Dependent on Craving arises Grasping (upādāna).
Dependent on Grasping arises Becoming (bhava)
Dependent on Becoming arises Birth (jāti)
Dependent on Birth arise Decay (jarā), Death (marana), Sorrow (soka), Lamentation (parideva), Pain (dukkha), Grief (domanassa), and Despair (upāyāsa).

Thus does this whole mass of suffering originate.

Thereupon the Exalted One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

"When, indeed, the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous, meditative Brahmana[3], then do all his doubts vanish away, since he knows the truth together with its cause."

In the middle watch of the night the Exalted One thoroughly reflected on "The Dependent Arising" in reverse order thus: "When this cause does not exist, this effect is not; with the cessation of this cause, this effect ceases.

With the cessation of Ignorance, Conditioning Activities cease.
With the cessation of Conditioning Activities (Relinking) Consciousness ceases.
With the cessation of (Relinking) Consciousness, Mind and Matter cease.
With the cessation of Mind and Matter, the six Spheres of Sense cease.
With the cessation of the Six Spheres of Sense, Contact ceases.
With the cessation of Contact, Feeling ceases.
With the cessation of Feeling, Craving ceases.
With the cessation of Craving, Grasping ceases.
With the cessation of Grasping, Becoming ceases.
With the cessation of Becoming, Birth ceases.
With the cessation of Birth, Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair cease.

Thus does this whole mass of suffering cease.

Thereupon the Exalted One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

"When, indeed, the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous and meditative Brahmana, then all his doubts vanish away since he has understood the destruction of the causes."

In the third watch of the night, the Exalted One reflected on "The Dependent Arising" in direct and reverse order thus. "When this cause exists, this effect is; with the arising of this cause, this effect arises. When this cause does not exist, this effect is not; with the cessation of this cause, this effect ceases."

Dependent on Ignorance arise Conditioning Activities .... and so forth.

Thus does this whole mass of suffering arises.

With the cessation of Ignorance, Conditioning Activities cease .... and so forth.

Thus does this whole mass of suffering ceases.

Thereupon the Blessed One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

"When indeed the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous and meditative Brahmana, then he stands routing the hosts of the Evil One even as the sun illumines the sky."

Second Week

The second week was uneventful, but He silently taught a great moral lesson to the world. As a mark of profound gratitude to the inanimate Bodhi tree that sheltered him during His struggle for Enlightenment, He stood at a certain distance gazing at the tree with motionless eyes for one whole week.[4]

Following His noble example, His followers, in memory of His Enlightenment, still venerate not only the original Bodbi tree but also its descendants.[5]

Third week

As the Buddha had not given up His temporary residence at the Bodhi tree the Devas doubted His attainment to Buddhahood. The Buddha read their thoughts, and in order to clear their doubts He created by His psychic powers a jewelled ambulatory (ratana camkamana) and paced up and down for another week.

Fourth Week

The fourth week He spent in a jewelled chamber (ratanaghara)[6] contemplating the intricacies of the Abhidhamma (Higher Teaching). Books state that His mind and body were so purified when He pondered on the Book of Relations (Patthāna), the seventh treatise of the Abhidbamma, that six coloured rays emitted from His body.[7]

Fifth week

During the fifth week too the Buddha enjoyed the Bliss of Emancipation (Vimuttisukha), seated in one posture 'under the famous Ajapāla banyan tree in the vicinity of the Bodhi tree. When He arose from that transcendental state a conceited (huhunkajātika) brahmin approached Him and after the customary salutations and friendly greetings, questioned Him thus: "In what respect, 0 Venerable Gotama, does one become a Brahmana and what are the conditions that make a Brahmana?"

The Buddha uttered this paean of joy in reply:

"That brahmin who has discarded evil, without conceit (huhumka), free from Defilements, self-controlled, versed in knowledge and who has led the Holy Life rightly, would call himself a Brahmana. For him there is no elation anywhere in this world.[8]"

According to the Jātaka commentary it was during this week that the daughters of Māra -- Tanhā, Arati and Ragā[9]-- made a vain attempt to tempt the Buddha by their charms.

Sixth week

From the Ajapāla banyan tree the Buddha proceeded to the Mucalinda tree, where he spent the sixth week, again enjoying the Bliss of Emancipation. At that time there arose an unexpected great shower. Rain clouds and gloomy weather with cold winds prevailed for several days.

Thereupon Mucalinda, the serpent-king,[10] came out of his abode, and coiling round the body of the Buddha seven times, remained keeping his large hood over the head of the Buddha so that He may not be affected by the elements.

At the close of seven days Mucalinda, seeing the clear, cloudless sky, uncoiled himself from around the body of the Buddha, and, leaving his own form, took the guise of a young man, and stood in front of the Exalted One with clasped hands.

Thereupon the Buddha uttered this paean of joy:

"Happy is seclusion to him who is contented, to him who has heard the truth, and to him who sees. Happy is goodwill in this world, and so is restraint towards all beings. Happy in this world is non-attachment, the passing beyond of sense desires. The suppression of the 'I am' conceit is indeed the highest happiness.[11]

Seventh week

The seventh week the Buddha peacefully passed at the Rājāyatana tree, experiencing the Bliss of Emancipation.

One of the First Utterances of the Buddha

Thro' many a birth in existence wandered I,
Seeking, but not finding, the builder of this
house.
Sorrowful is repeated birth.
O housebuilder,
[12] thou art seen. Thou shall build
no house [13] again.
All thy rafters
[14] are broken. Thy ridgepole [15] is
shattered.
Mind attains the Unconditioned.
[16]
Achieved is the End of Craving.

 At dawn on the very day of His Enlightenment the Buddha uttered this paean of joy (Udāna) which vividly describes His transcendental moral victory and His inner spiritual experience.

The Buddha admits His past wanderings in existence which entailed suffering, a fact that evidently proves the belief in rebirth. He was compelled to wander and consequently to suffer, as He could not discover the architect that built this house, the body. In His final birth, while engaged in solitary meditation which He had highly developed in the course of His wanderings, after a relentless search He discovered by His own intuitive wisdom the elusive architect, residing not outside but within the recesses of His own heart. It was craving or attachment, a self-creation, a mental element latent in all. How and when this craving originated is incomprehensible. What is created by oneself can be destroyed by oneself. The discovery of the architect is the eradication of craving by attaining Arhantship, which in these verses is alluded to as "end of craving."

The rafters of this self-created house are the passions (kilesa) such as attachment (lobha) aversion (dosa), illusion (moha), conceit (māna), false views (ditthi), doubt (vicikicchā), sloth (thīna), restlessness (uddhacca), moral shamelessness (ahirika), moral fearlessness (anottappa). The ridgepole that supports the rafters represents ignorance, the root cause of all passions. The shattering of the ridge-pole of ignorance by wisdom results in the complete demolition of the house. The ridge-pole and rafters are the material with which the architect builds this undesired house. With their destruction the architect is deprived of the material to rebuild the house which is not wanted.

With the demolition of the house the mind, for which there is no place in the analogy, attains the unconditioned state, which is Nibbāna. Whatever that is mundane is left behind, and only the Supramundane State, Nibbāna, remains.


CHAPTER 5

THE INVITATION TO EXPOUND THE DHAMMA

 "He who imbibes the Dhamma abides in happiness with mind pacified. The wise man ever delights in the Dhamma revealed by the Ariyas".
-- DHAMMAPADA

 The Dhamma as the Teacher

On one occasion soon after the Enlightenment, the Buddha was dwelling at the foot of the Ajapāla banyan tree by the bank of the Nera񪡲ā river. As He was engaged in solitary meditation the following thought arose in His mind:

"Painful indeed is it to live without someone to pay reverence and show deference. How if I should live near an ascetic or brahmin respecting and reverencing him?" [1]

Then it occurred to Him:

"Should I live near another ascetic or brahmin, respecting and reverencing him, in order to bring morality (Sīlakkhandha) to perfection? But I do not see in this world including gods, Māras, and Brahmas, and amongst beings including ascetics, brahmins, gods and men, another ascetic or brahmin who is superior to me in morality and with whom I could associate, respecting and reverencing him.

"Should I live near another ascetic or brahmin, respecting and reverencing him, in order to bring concentration (samādhikkhandha) to perfection? But I do not see in this world any ascetic or brahmin who is superior to me in concentration and with whom I should associate, respecting and reverencing him.

"Should I live near another ascetic or brahmin, respecting and reverencing him, in order to bring wisdom (pa񱦣257;kkhandha) to perfection? But I do not see in this world any ascetic or brahmin who is superior to me in wisdom and with whom I should associate, respecting and reverencing him.

"Should I live near another ascetic or brahmin, respecting and reverencing him, in order to bring emancipation (vimuttikkhandha) to perfection? But I do not see in this world any ascetic or brahmin who is superior to me in emancipation and with whom I should associate, respecting and reverencing him."

Then it occurred to Him: "How if I should live respecting and reverencing this very Dhamma which I myself have realized?"

Thereupon Brahmā Sahampati, understanding with his own mind the Buddha's thought, just as a strong man would stretch his bent arm or bend his stretched arm even so did he vanish from the Brahma realm and appeared before the Buddha. And, covering one shoulder with his upper robe and placing his right knee on the ground, he saluted the Buddha with clasped hands and said thus:

"It is so, O Exalted One! It is so, O Accomplished One! O Lord, the worthy, supremely Enlightened Ones, who were in the past, did live respecting and reverencing this very Dhamma.

"The worthy, supremely Enlightened Ones, who will be in the future, will also live respecting and reverencing this very Dhamma.

"O Lord, may the Exalted One, the worthy, supremely Enlightened One of the present age also live respecting and reverencing this very Dhamma!"

 This the Brahmā Sahampati said, and uttering which, furthermore he spoke as follows:

"Those Enlightened Ones of the past, those of the future, and those of the present age, who dispel the grief of many -- all of them lived, will live, and are living respecting the noble Dhamma. This is the characteristic of the Buddhas.

"Therefore he who desires his welfare and expects his greatness should certainly respect the noble Dhamma, remembering the message of the Buddhas."

This the Brahmā Sahampati said, and after which, he respectfully saluted the Buddha and passing round Him to the right, disappeared immediately.

As the Sangha is also endowed with greatness there is also His reverence towards the Sangha.[2]

The Invitation to Expound the Dhamma

From the foot of the Rājāyatana tree the Buddha proceeded to the Ajapāla banyan tree and as He was absorbed in solitary meditation the following thought occurred to Him.

"This Dhamma which I have realized is indeed profound, difficult to perceive, difficult to comprehend, tranquil, exalted, not within the sphere of logic, subtle, and is to be understood by the wise. These beings are attached to material pleasures. This causally connected 'Dependent Arising' is a subject which is difficult to comprehend. And this Nibbāna -- the cessation of the conditioned, the abandoning of all passions, the destruction of craving, the non-attachment, and the cessation -- is also a matter not easily comprehensible. If I too were to teach this Dhamma, the others would not understand me. That will be wearisome to me, that will be tiresome to me."

Then these wonderful verses unheard of before occurred to the Buddha:

"With difficulty have I comprehended the Dhamma. There is no need to proclaim it now. This Dhamma is not easily understood by those who are dominated by lust and hatred. The lust-ridden, shrouded in darkness, do not see this Dhamma, which goes against the stream, which is abstruse, profound, difficult to perceive and subtle."

As the Buddha reflected thus, he was not disposed to expound the Dhamma.

Thereupon Brahma Sahampati read the thoughts of the Buddha, and, fearing that the world might perish through not hearing the Dhamma, approached Him and invited Him to teach the Dhamma thus:

"O Lord, may the Exalted One expound the Dhamma! May the Accomplished One expound the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Dhamma, will fall away. There will be those who understand the Dhamma."

Furthermore he remarked:

"In ancient times there arose in Magadha a Dhamma, impure, thought out by the corrupted. Open this door to the Deathless State. May they hear the Dhamma understood by the Stainless One! Just as one standing on the summit of a rocky mountain would behold the people around, even so may the All-Seeing, Wise One ascend this palace of Dhamma! May the Sorrowless One look upon the people who are plunged in grief and are overcome by birth and decay!

"Rise, O Hero, victor in battle, caravan leader, debt-free One, and wander in the World! May the Exalted One teach the Dhamma! There will be those who will understand the Dhamma."

When he said so the Exalted One spoke to him thus:

"The following thought, O Brahma, occurred to me ?'This Dhamma which I have comprehended is not easily understood by those who are dominated by lust and hatred. The lust-ridden, shrouded in darkness, do not see this Dhamma, which goes against the stream, which is abstruse, profound, difficult to perceive, and subtle'. As I reflected thus, my mind turned into inaction and not to the teaching of the Dbamma."

Brahmā Sahampati appealed to the Buddha for the second time and He made the same reply.

When he appealed to the Buddha for the third time, the Exalted One, out of pity for beings, surveyed the world with His Buddha-Vision.

As He surveyed thus He saw beings with little and much dust in their eyes, with keen and dull intellect, with good and bad characteristics, beings who are easy and beings who are difficult to be taught, and few others who, with fear, view evil and a life beyond.[3]

"As in the case of a blue, red or white lotus pond, some lotuses are born in the water, grow in the water, remain immersed in the water, and thrive plunged in the water; some are born in the water, grow in the water and remain on the surface of the water; some others are born in the water, grow in the water and remain emerging out of the water, unstained by the water. Even so, as the Exalted One surveyed the world with His Buddha-Vision, He saw beings with little and much dust in their eyes, with keen and dull intellect, with good and bad characteristics, beings who are easy and difficult to be taught, and few others who, with fear, view evil and a life beyond. And He addressed the Brahmā Sahampati in a verse thus:

"Opened to them are the Doors to the Deathless State. Let those who have ears repose confidence.[4] Being aware of the weariness, O Brahma, I did not teach amongst men this glorious and excellent Dhamma."

 The delighted Brahma, thinking that he made himself the occasion for the Exalted One to expound the Dhamma respectfully saluted Him and, passing round Him to the right, disappeared immediately.[5]

 The First Two Converts

After His memorable fast for forty-nine days, as the Buddha sat under the Rājāyatana tree, two merchants, Tapassu and Bhallika, from Ukkala (Orissa) happened to pass that way. Then a certain deity,[6] who was a blood relative of theirs in a past birth, spoke to them as follows:

"The Exalted One, good sirs, is dwelling at the foot of the Rājāyatana tree, soon after His Enlightenment. Go and serve the Exalted One with flour and honey-comb.[7] It will conduce to your well-being and happiness for a long time."

Availing themselves of this golden opportunity, the two delighted merchants went to the Exalted One, and, respectfully saluting Him, implored Him to accept their humble alms so that it may resound to their happiness and well-being.

Then it occurred to the Exalted One: "The Tathāgatas do not accept food with their hands. How shall I accept this flour and honeycomb?"

Forthwith the four Great Kings[8] understood the thoughts of the Exalted One with their minds and from the four directions offered Him four granite bowls,[9] saying ? "O Lord, may the Exalted One accept herewith this flour and honey-comb!"

The Buddha graciously accepted the timely gift with which He received the humble offering of the merchants, and ate His food after His long fast.

After the meal was over the merchants prostrated themselves before the feet of the Buddha and said:

"We, O Lord, seek refuge in the Exalted One and the Dhamma. May the Exalted One treat us as lay disciples who have sought refuge from today till death.[10]"

These were the first lay disciples[11] of the Buddha who embraced Buddhism by seeking refuge in the Buddha and the Dhamma, reciting the twofold formula.

 On the Way to Benares to Teach the Dhamma

On accepting the invitation to teach the Dhamma, the first thought that occurred to the Buddha before He embarked on His great mission was -- "To whom shall I teach the Dhamma first? Who will understand the Dhamma quickly? Well, there is Alāra Kālāma[12] who is learned, clever, wise and has for long been with little dust in his eyes. How if I were to teach the Dhamma to him first? He will understand the Dhamma quickly."

Then a deity appeared before the Buddha and said: "Lord! Ālāra Kālāma died a week ago."

With His supernormal vision He perceived that it was so.

Then He thought of Uddaka Rāmaputta.[13] Instantly a deity informed Him that he died the evening before.

With His supernormal vision He perceived this to be so.

Ultimately the Buddha thought of the five energetic ascetics who attended on Him during His struggle for Enlightenment. With His supernormal vision He perceived that they were residing in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Benares. So the Buddha stayed at Uruvela till such time as He was pleased to set out for Benares.

The Buddha was travelling on the highway, when between Gayā and the Bodhi tree, beneath whose shade He attained Enlightenment, a wandering ascetic named Upaka saw Him and addressed Him thus: "Extremely clear are your senses, friend! Pure and clean is your complexion. On account of whom has your renunciation been made, friend? Who is your teacher? Whose doctrine do you profess?"

The Buddha replied:

"All have I overcome, all do I know.
From all am I detached, all have I renounced.
Wholly absorbed am I in the destruction of craving (Arahantship).
Having comprehended all by myself whom shall I call my teacher?
No teacher have I.[14] An equal to me there is not.
In the world including gods there is no rival to me.
Indeed an Arahant am I in this world.
An unsurpassed teacher am I;
Alone am I the All-Enlightened.
Cool and appeased am I.
To establish the wheel of Dhamma to the city of Kāsi I go.
In this blind world I shall beat the drum of Deathlessness.
[15]

"Then, friend, do you admit that you are an Arahant, a limitless Conqueror?" queried Upaka.

"Like me are conquerors who have attained to the destruction of defilements. All the evil conditions have I conquered. Hence, Upaka, I am called a conqueror," replied the Buddha.

"It may be so, friend!" Upaka curtly remarked, and, nodding his head, turned into a by-road and departed.

Unperturbed by the first rebuff, the Buddha journeyed from place to place, and arrived in due course at the Deer Park in Benares.

 Meeting the Five Monks

The five ascetics who saw Him coming from afar decided not to pay Him due respect as they misconstrued His discontinuance of rigid ascetic practices which proved absolutely futile during His struggle for Enlightenment.

They remarked:

"Friends, this ascetic Gotama is coming. He is luxurious. He has given up striving and has turned into a life of abundance. He should not be greeted and waited upon. His bowl and robe should not be taken. Nevertheless, a seat should be prepared. If he wishes, let him sit down."

However, as the Buddha continued to draw near, His august personality was such that they were compelled to receive Him with due honour. One came forward and took His bowl and robe, another prepared a seat, and yet another kept water for His feet. Nevertheless, they addressed Him by name and called Him friend (āvuso), a form of address applied generally to juniors and equals.

At this the Buddha addressed them thus:

"Do not, O Bhikkhus, address the Tathāgata by name or by the title 'āvuso'. An Exalted One, O Bhikkhus, is the Tathāgata. A Fully Enlightened One is He. Give ear, O Bhikkhus! Deathlessness (Amata) has been attained. I shall instruct and teach the Dhamma. If you act according to my instructions, you will before long realize, by your own intuitive wisdom, and live, attaining in this life itself, that supreme consummation of the Holy Life, for the sake of which sons of noble families rightly leave the household for homelessness."

Thereupon the five ascetics replied:

"By that demeanour of yours, āvuso Gotama, by that discipline, by those painful austerities, you did not attain to any superhuman specific knowledge and insight worthy of an Ariya. How will you, when you have become luxurious, have given up striving, and have turned into a life of abundance, gain any such superhuman specific knowledge and insight worthy of an Ariya?"

In explanation the Buddha said: "The Tathāgata, O Bhikkhus, is not luxurious, has not given up striving, and has not turned into a life of abundance. An Exalted One is the Tathāgata. A Fully Enlightened One is He. Give ear, O Bhikkhus! Deathlessness has been attained. I shall instruct and teach the Dhamma. If you act according to my instructions, you will before long realize, by your own intuitive wisdom, and live, attaining in this life itself, that supreme consummation of the Holy Life, for the sake of which sons of noble families rightly leave the household for homelessness."

For the second time the prejudiced ascetics expressed their disappointment in the same manner.

For the second time the Buddha reassured them of His attainment to Enlightenment.

When the adamant ascetics refusing to believe Him, expressed their view for the third time, the Buddha questioned them thus: "Do you know, O Bhikkhus, of an occasion when I ever spoke to you thus before?"

"Nay, indeed, Lord!"

The Buddha repeated for the third time that He had gained Enlightenment and that they also could realize the Truth if they would act according to His instructions.

It was indeed a frank utterance, issuing from the sacred lips of the Buddha. The cultured ascetics, though adamant in their views, were then fully convinced of the great achievement of the Buddha and of His competence to act as their moral guide and teacher.

They believed His word and sat in silence to listen to His Noble Teaching.

Two of the ascetics the Buddha instructed, while three went out for alms. With what the three ascetics brought from their alms-round the six maintained themselves. Three of the ascetics He instructed, while two ascetics went out for alms. With what the two brought six sustained themselves.

And those five ascetics thus admonished and instructed by the Buddha, being themselves subject to birth, decay, death, sorrow, and passions, realized the real nature of life and, seeking out the birthless, decayless, diseaseless, deathless, sorrowless, passionless, incomparable Supreme Peace, Nibbāna, attained the incomparable Security, Nibbāna, which is free from birth, decay, disease, death, sorrow, and passions, The knowledge arose in them that their Deliverance was unshakable, that it was their last birth and that there would be no more of this state again.

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta,[16] which deals, with the four Noble Truths, was the first discourse delivered by the Buddha to them. Hearing it, Konda񱡬 the eldest, attained the first stage of Sainthood. After receiving further instructions, the other four attained Sotapatti [17] later. On hearing the Anattalakkhana Sutta,[18] which deals with soul-lessness, all the five attained Arahantship, the final stage of Sainthood.

 The First Five Disciples

The five learned monks who thus attained Arahantship and became the Buddha's first disciples were Konda񱡬 Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assaji of the brahmin clan.

Konda񱡠was the youngest and the cleverest of the eight brahmins who were summoned by King Suddhodana to name the infant prince. The other four were the sons of those older brahmins. All these five retired to the forest as ascetics in anticipation of the Bodhisatta while he was endeavouring to attain Buddhahood. When he gave up his useless penances and severe austerities and began to nourish the body sparingly to regain his lost strength, these favourite followers, disappointed at his change of method, deserted him and went to Isipatana. Soon after their departure the Bodhisatta attained Buddhahood.

The venerable Konda񱡠became the first Arahant and the most senior member of the Sangha. It was Assaji, one of the five, who converted the great Sāriputta, the chief disciple of the Buddha.


 

CHAPTER 6

DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTTA
THE FIRST DISCOURSE

"The best of Paths is the Eightfold Path. The best of Truths are the four Sayings. Non-attachment is the best of states. The best of bipeds is the Seeing One."
-- DHAMMAPADA

Introduction

Ancient India was noted for distinguished philosophers and religious teachers who held diverse views with regard to life and its goal. Brahmajāla Sutta of the Dīgha Nikāya mentions sixty two varieties of philosophical theories that prevailed in the time of the Buddha.

One extreme view that was diametrically opposed to all current religious beliefs was the nihilistic teaching of the materialists who were also termed Cārvākas after the name of the founder.

According to ancient materialism which, in Pāli and Samskrit, was known as Lokāyata, man is annihilated after death, leaving behind him whatever force generated by him. In their opinion death is the end of all. This present world alone is real. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for death comes to all," appears to be the ideal of their system. "Virtue", they say, "is a delusion and enjoyment is the only reality. Religion is a foolish aberration, a mental disease. There was a distrust of everything good, high, pure and compassionate. Their theory stands for sensualism and selfishness and the gross affirmation of the loud will. There is no need to control passion and instinct, since they are the nature's legacy to men.[1]

Another extreme view was that emancipation was possible only by leading a life of strict asceticism. This was purely a religious doctrine firmly held by the ascetics of the highest order. The five monks that attended on the Bodhisatta, during His struggle for Enlightenment, tenaciously adhered to this belief.

In accordance with this view the Buddha, too, before His Enlightenment subjected Himself to all forms of austerity. After an extraordinary struggle for six years He realized the utter futility of self-mortification. Consequently, He changed His unsuccessful hard course and adopted a middle way. His favourite disciples thus lost confidence in Him and deserted Him, saying -- "The ascetic Gotama had become luxurious, had ceased from striving, and had returned to a life of comfort."

Their unexpected desertion was definitely a material loss to Him as they ministered to all His needs. Nevertheless, He was not discouraged. The iron-willed Bodhisatta must have probably felt happy for being left alone. With unabated enthusiasm and with restored energy He persistently strove until He attained Enlightenment, the object of His life.

Precisely two months after His Enlightenment on the Asālha (July) full moon day the Buddha delivered His first discourse to the five monks that attended on Him.

The first Discourse of the Buddha

Dhammacakka is the name given to this first discourse of the Buddha. It is frequently represented as meaning "The Kingdom of Truth." "The Kingdom of Righteous-ness." "The Wheel of Truth." According to the commentators Dhamma here means wisdom or knowledge, and Cakka means founding or establishment. Dhammacakka therefore means the founding or establishment of wisdom. Dhammacakkappavattana means The Expositon of the Establishment of Wisdom. Dhamma may also be interpreted as Truth, and cakka as wheel. Dhammacakkappavattana would therefore mean -- The Turning or The Establishment of the Wheel of Truth.

In this most important discourse the Buddha expounds the Middle Path which He Himself discovered and which forms the essence of His new teaching. He opened the discourse by exhorting the five monks who believed in strict asceticism to avoid the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification as both do not lead to perfect Peace and Enlightenment. The former retards one's spiritual progress, the latter weakens one's intellect. He criticized both views as He realized by personal experience their futility and enunciated the most practicable, rational and beneficial path, which alone leads to perfect purity and absolute Deliverance.

This discourse was expounded by the Buddha while He was residing at the Deer Park in Isipatana near Benares.

The intellectual five monks who were closely associated with the Buddha for six years were the only human beings that were present to hear the sermon. Books state that many invisible beings such as Devas and Brahmas also took advantage of the golden opportunity of listening to the sermon. As Buddhists believe in the existence of realms other than this world, inhabited by beings with subtle bodies imperceptible to the physical eye, possibly many Devas and Brahmas were also present on this great occasion. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Buddha was directly addressing the five monks and the discourse was intended mainly for them.

At the outset the Buddha cautioned them to avoid the two extremes. His actual words were: "There are two extremes (antā) which should not be resorted to by a recluse (pabbajitena)." Special emphasis was laid on the two terms "antā" which means end or extreme and "pabbajita" which means one who has renounced the world.

One extreme, in the Buddha's own words, was the constant attachment to sensual pleasures (kāmasukhal-likānuyoga). The Buddha described this extreme as base, vulgar, worldly, ignoble, and profitless. This should not be misunderstood to mean that the Buddha expects all His followers to give up material pleasures and retire to a forest without enjoying this life. The Buddha was not so narrow- minded.

Whatever the deluded sensualist may feel about it, to the dispassionate thinker the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is distinctly short-lived, never completely satisfying, and results in unpleasant reactions. Speaking of worldly happiness, the Buddha says that the acquisition of wealth and the enjoyment of possessions are two sources of pleasure for a layman. An understanding recluse would not however seek delight in the pursuit of these fleeting pleasures. To the surprise of the average man he might shun them. What constitutes pleasure to the former is a source of alarm to the latter to whom renunciation alone is pleasure.

The other extreme is the constant addiction to self-mortification (attakilamathānuyoga). Commenting on this extreme, which is not practised by the ordinary man, the Buddha remarks that it is painful, ignoble, and profitless. Unlike the first extreme this is not described as base, worldly, and vulgar. The selection of these three terms is very striking. As a rule it is the sincere recluse who has renounced his attachment to sensual pleasures that resorts to this painful method, mainly with the object of gaining his deliverance from the ills of life. The Buddha, who has had painful experience of this profitless course, describes it as useless. It only multiplies suffering instead of diminishing it.

The Buddhas and Arahants are described as Ariyas meaning Nobles. Anariya (ignoble) may therefore be construed as not characteristic of the Buddha and Arahants who are free from passions. Attha means the ultimate Good, which for a Buddhist is Nibbāna, the complete emancipation from suffering. Therefore anatthasamhitā may be construed as not conducive to ultimate Good.

The Buddha at first cleared the issues and removed the false notions of His hearers.

When their troubled minds became pliable and receptive the Buddha related His personal experience with regard to these two extremes.

The Buddha says that He (the Tathāgata), realizing the error of both these two extremes, followed a middle path. This new path or way was discovered by Himself. The Buddha termed His new system Majjhimā Patipadā -- the Middle Way. To persuade His disciples to give heed to His new path He spoke of its various blessings. Unlike the two diametrically opposite extremes this middle path produces spiritual insight and intellectual wisdom to see things as they truly are. When the insight is clarified and the intellect is sharpened everything is seen in its true perspective.

Furthermore, unlike the first extreme which stimulates passions, this Middle Way leads to the subjugation of passions which results in Peace. Above all it leads to the attainment of the four supramundane Paths of Sainthood, to the understanding of the four Noble Truths, and finally to the realization of the ultimate Goal, Nibbāna.

Now, what is the Middle Way? The Buddha replies: It is the Noble Eightfold Path. The eight factors are then enumerated in the discourse.

The first factor is Right Understanding, the keynote of Buddhism. The Buddha started with Right Understanding in order to clear the doubts of the monks and guide them on the right way.

Right Understanding deals with the knowledge of oneself as one really is; it leads to Right Thoughts of non-attachment or renunciation (nekkhamma samkappa), loving-kindness (avyāpāda samkappa), and harmlessness (avihimsā samkappa), which are opposed to selfishness, illwill, and cruelty respectively. Right Thoughts result in Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood, which three factors perfect one's morality. The sixth factor is Right Effort which deals with the elimination of evil states and the development of good states in oneself. This self-purification is best done by a careful introspection, for which Right Mindfulness, the seventh factor, is essential. Effort, combined with Mindfulness, produces Right Concentration or one-pointedness of the mind, the eighth factor. A one-pointed mind resembles a polished mirror where everything is clearly reflected with no distortion.

Prefacing the discourse with the two extremes and His newly discovered Middle Way, the Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths in detail.

Sacca is the Pāli term for Truth which means that which is. Its Samskrit equivalent is satya which denotes an incontrovertible fact. The Buddha enunciates four such Truths, the foundations of His teaching, which are associated with the so-called being. Hence His doctrine is homocentric, opposed to theo-centric religions. It is introvert and not extrovert. Whether the Buddha arises or not these Truths exist, and it is a Buddha that reveals them to the deluded world. They do not and cannot change with time, because they are eternal truths. The Buddha was not indebted to anyone for His realization of them, as He Himself remarked in this discourse thus: "With regard to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight and the light." These words are very significant because they testify to the originality of His new Teaching. Hence there is no justification in the statement that Buddhism is a natural outgrowth of Hinduism, although it is true that there are some fundamental doctrines common to both systems.

These Truths are in Pāli termed Ariya Saccāni. They are so called because they were discovered by the Greatest Ariya, that is, one who is far removed from passions.

The First Noble Truth deals with dukkha which, for need of a better English equivalent, is inappropriately rendered by suffering or sorrow. As a feeling dukkha means that which is difficult to be endured. As an abstract truth dukkha is used in the sense of contemptible (du) emptiness (kha). The world rests on suffering -- hence it is contemptible. It is devoid of any reality -- hence it is empty or void. Dukkha therefore means contemptible void.

Average men are only surface-seers. An Ariya sees things as they truly are.

To an Ariya all life is suffering and he finds no real happiness in this world which deceives mankind with illusory pleasures. Material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire.

All are subject to birth (jāti) and consequently to decay (jarā), disease (vyādhi) and finally to death (marana). No one is exempt from these four causes of suffering.

Wish unfulfilled is also suffering. As a rule one does not wish to be associated with things or persons one detests nor does one wish to be separated from things or persons one likes. One's cherished desires are not however always gratified. At times what one least expects or what one least desires is thrust on oneself. Such unexpected unpleasant circumstances become so intolerable and painful that weak ignorant people are compelled to commit suicide as if such an act would solve the problem.

Real happiness is found within, and is not to be defined in terms of wealth, power, honours or conquests. If such worldly possessions are forcibly or unjustly obtained, or are misdirected or even viewed with attachment, they become a source of pain and sorrow for the possessors.

Normally the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is the highest and only happiness of the average person. There is no doubt some momentary happiness in the anticipation, gratification, and retrospection of such fleeting material pleasures, but they are illusory and temporary. According to the Buddha non-attachment (virāgattā) or the transcending of material pleasures is a greater bliss.

In brief this composite body (pa񣵰ādanakkhandha) itself is a cause of suffering.

There are three kinds of craving. The first is the grossest form of craving, which is simple attachment to all sensual pleasures (kāmatanhā). The second is attachment to existence (bhavatanhā). The third is attachment to non-existence (vibhavatanhā). According to the commentaries the last two kinds of craving are attachment to sensual pleasures connected with the belief of Eternalism (sassataditthi) and that which is connected with the belief of Nihilism (ucchedaditthi). Bhavatanhā may also be interpreted as attachment to Realms of Form and vibhavatanhā, as attachment to Formless Realms since Rūparāga and Arūparāga are treated as two Fetters (samyojanas).

This craving is a powerful mental force latent in all, and is the chief cause of most of the ills of life. It is this craving, gross or subtle, that leads to repeated births in Samsāra and that which makes one cling to all forms of life.

The grossest forms of craving are attenuated on attaining Sakadāgāmi, the second stage of Sainthood, and are eradicated on attaining Anāgāmi, the third stage of Sainthood. The subtle forms of craving are eradicated on attaining Arahantship.

Right Understanding of the First Noble Truth leads to the eradication (pahātabba) of craving. The Second Noble Truth thus deals with the mental attitude of the ordinary man towards the external objects of sense.

The Third Noble Truth is that there is a complete cessation of suffering which is Nibbāna, the ultimate goal of Buddhists. It can be achieved in this life itself by the total eradication of all forms of craving.

This Nibbāna is to be comprehended (sacchikātabba) by the mental eye by renouncing all attachment to the external world.

This First Truth of suffering which depends on this so-called being and various aspects of life, is to be carefully perceived, analysed and examined (pari񱥹ya). This examination leads to a proper understanding of oneself as one really is.

The cause of this suffering is craving or attachment (tanhā). This is the Second Noble Truth.

The Dhammapada states:

"From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear;
For him who is wholly free from craving, there is no grief, much less fear." (V 216).

Craving, the Buddha says, leads to repeated births (ponobhavikā). This Pāli term is very noteworthy as there are some scholars who state that the Buddha did not teach the doctrine of rebirth. This Second Truth indirectly deals with the past, present and future births.

This Third Noble Truth has to be realized by developing (bhāvetabba) the Noble Eightfold Path (ariyatthangika magga). This unique path is the only straight way to Nibbāna. This is the Fourth Noble Truth.

Expounding the Four Truths in various ways, the Buddha concluded the discourse with the forcible words:

"As long, O Bhikkhus, as the absolute true intuitive knowledge regarding these Four Noble Truths under their three aspects and twelve modes was not perfectly clear to me, so long I did not acknowledge that I had gained the incomparable Supreme Enlightenment.

"When the absolute true intuitive knowledge regarding these Truths became perfectly clear to me, then only did I acknowledge that I had gained the incomparable Supreme Enlightenment (anuttara sammāsambodhi).

"And there arose in me the knowledge and insight: Unshakable is the deliverance of my mind, this is my last birth, and now there is no existence again."

At the end of the discourse Konda񱡬 the senior of the five disciples, understood the Dhamma and, attaining the first stage of Sainthood, realized that whatever is subject to origination all that is subject to cessation -- Yam ki񣩠samudayadhammam sabbam tam nirodhadhammam.

When the Buddha expounded the discourse of the Dhammacakka, the earth-bound deities exclaimed: "This excellent Dhammacakka, which could not be expounded by any ascetic, priest, god, Māra or Brahma in this world, has been expounded by the Exalted One at the Deer Park, in Isipatana, near Benares."

Hearing this, Devas and Brahmas of all the other planes also raised the same joyous cry.

A radiant light, surpassing the effulgence of the gods, appeared in the world.

The light of the Dhamma illumined the whole world, and brought peace and happiness to all beings.

*

THE FIRST DISCOURSE OF THE BUDDHA
DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTTA

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Exalted One was residing at the Deer Park,[2] in Isipatana,[3] near Benares. Thereupon the Exalted One addressed the group of five Bhikkhus as follows:

"There are these two extremes (antā), O Bhikkhus, which should be avoided by one who has renounced (pabbajitena) --

(i) Indulgence in sensual pleasures [4]-- this is base, vulgar, worldly, ignoble and profitless; and,

(ii) Addiction to self-mortification [5] -- this is painful, ignoble and profitless.

Abandoning both these extremes the Tathāgata [6] has comprehended the Middle Path (Majjhima Patipadā) which promotes sight (cakkhu) and knowledge (񦣲57;na), and which tends to peace (vupasamāya), [7] higher wisdom (abhi񱦣257;ya), [8] enlightenment (sambodhāya), [9] and Nibbāna.

What, O Bhikkhus, is that Middle Path the Tathāgata has comprehended which promotes sight and knowledge, and which tends to peace, higher wisdom, enlightenment, and Nibbāna?

The very Noble Eightfold Path -- namely, Right Understanding (sammā ditthi), Right Thoughts (sammā samkappa), Right Speech (sammā vācā), Right Action (sammā kammanta), Right Livelihood (sammā ājiva), Right Effort (sammā vāyāma), Right Mindfulness (sammā sati), and Right Concentration (sammā samādhi), -- This, O Bhikkhus is the Middle Path which the Tathāgata has comprehended." (The Buddha continued):

Now, this, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha-ariya-sacca)!

Birth is suffering, decay is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, to be united with the unpleasant is suffering, to be separated from the pleasant is suffering, not to get what one desires is suffering. In brief the five aggregates [10] of attachment are suffering.

Now, this, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering (dukkha-samudaya-ariyasacca):

It is this craving which produces rebirth (ponobhavikā), accompanied by passionate clinging, welcoming this and that (life). It is the craving for sensual pleasures (kāmatanhā), craving for existence (bhavatanhā) and craving for non-existence (vibhavatanhā).

Now, this, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (dukkha - nirodha- ariyasacca:)

It is the complete separation from, and destruction of, this very craving, its forsaking, renunciation, the liberation therefrom, and non-attachment thereto.

Now, this, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering (dukkha-nirodha-gāmini-patipadā-ariya-sacca).

It is this Noble Eightfold Path, namely:?

Right Understanding, Right Thoughts, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

1.

(i) "This is the Noble Truth of Suffering."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(ii) "This Noble Truth of Suffering should be perceived (pari񱥹ya)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(iii) "This Noble Truth of Suffering has been perceived (pari񱦣257;ta)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

2.

(i) "This is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(ii) "This Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering should be eradicated (pahātabba)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(iii) "This Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering has been eradicated (pahīnam)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

3.

(i) "This is the Noble Truth of Cessation of Suffering."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(ii) "This Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering should be realized (sacchikātabba)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(iii) "This Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering has been realized (sacchikatam)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

4.

(i) "This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(ii) "This Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering should be developed (bhāvetabbam)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(iii) "This Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering has been developed (bhāvitam)."

Thus, O Bhikkhus, with respect to things unheard before, there arose in me the eye, the knowledge, the wisdom, the insight, and the light.

(Concluding His Discourse, the Buddha said):

As long, O bhikkhus, as the absolute true intuitive knowledge regarding these Four Noble Truths under their three aspects [11] and twelve modes [12] was not perfectly clear to me, so long I did not acknowledge in this world inclusive of gods, Māras and Brahmas and amongst the hosts of ascetics and priests, gods and men, that I had gained the Incomparable Supreme Enlightenment (anuttaram-sammā-sambodhim).

When, O Bhikkhus, the absolute true intuitive knowledge regarding these Four Noble Truths under their three aspects and twelve modes, became perfectly clear to me, then only did I acknowledge in this world inclusive of gods, Māras, Brahmas, amongst the hosts of ascetics and priests, gods and men, that I had gained the Incomparable Supreme Enlightenment.

And there arose in me the knowledge and insight (񦣲57;nadassana) -- "Unshakable is the deliverance of my mind [13]. This is my last birth, and now there is no existence again."

Thus the Exalted One discoursed, and the delighted Bhikkhus applauded the words of the Exalted One.

When this doctrine was being expounded there arose in the Venerable Konda񱡠the dustless, stainless, Truth-seeing Eye (Dhammacakkhu) [14] and he saw that "whatever is subject to origination all that is subject to cessation." [15]

When the Buddha expounded the discourse of the Dhammacakka, the earth-bound deities exclaimed:-- "This excellent Dhammacakka which could not be expounded by any ascetic, priest, god, Māra or Brahma in this world has been expounded by the Exalted One at the Deer Park, in Isipatana, near Benares."

Hearing this, the Devas [16] Cātummahārājika, Tāvatimsa, Yāma, Tusita, Nimmānarati, Paranimmitavasavatti, and the Brahmas of Brahma Pārisajja, Brahma Purohita, Mahā Brahma, Parittābhā, Appamānābhā, Ābhassara, Parittasubha, Appamānasubha, Subhakinna, Vehapphala, Aviha, Atappa, Sudassa, Sudassi, and Akanittha, also raised the same joyous cry.

Thus at that very moment, at that very instant, this cry extended as far as the Brahma realm. These ten thousand world systems quaked, tottered and trembled violently.

A radiant light, surpassing the effulgence of the gods, appeared in the world. Then the Exalted One said, "Friends, Konda񱡠has indeed understood. Friends, Konda񱡠has indeed understood."

Therefore the Venerable Konda񱡠was named A񱦣257;ta Konda񱡮

SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE DHAMMACAKKA SUTTA

1. Buddhism is based on personal experience. As such it is rational and not speculative.

2. The Buddha discarded all authority and evolved a Golden Mean which was purely His own.

3. Buddhism is a way or a Path -- Magga.

4. Rational understanding is the keynote of Buddhism.

5. Blind beliefs are dethroned.

6. Instead of beliefs and dogmas the importance of practice is emphasized. Mere beliefs and dogmas cannot emancipate a person.

7. Rites and ceremonies so greatly emphasized in the Vedas play no part in Buddhism.

8. There are no gods to be propitiated.

9. There is no priestly class to mediate.

10. Morality (sīla), Concentration (samādhi), and Wisdom (pa񱦣257;), are essential to achieve the goal -- Nibbāna.

11. The foundations of Buddhism are the Four Truths that can be verified by experience.

12. The Four Truths are associated with one's person -- Hence Buddhism is homo-centric and introvert.

13. They were discovered by the Buddha and He is not indebted to anyone for them. In His own words -- "They were unheard of before."

14. Being truths, they cannot change with time.

15. The first Truth of suffering, which deals with the constituents of self or so-called individuality and the different phases of life, is to be analysed, scrutinised and examined. This examination leads to a proper understanding of oneself.

16. Rational understanding of the first Truth leads to the eradication of the cause of suffering -- the second Truth which deals with the psychological attitude of the ordinary man towards the external objects of sense.

17. The second Truth of suffering is concerned with a powerful force latent in us all.

18. It is this powerful invisible mental force -- craving --the cause of the ills of life.

19. The second Truth indirectly deals with the past, present and future births.

20. The existence of a series of births is therefore advocated by the Buddha.

21. The doctrine of Kamma, its corollary, is thereby implied.

22. The third Truth of the destruction of suffering, though dependent on oneself, is beyond logical reasoning and supramundane (lokuttara) unlike the first two which are mundane (lokiya).

23. The third Truth is purely a self-realization-- a Dhamma to be comprehended by the mental eye (sacchikātabba).

24. This Truth is to be realized by complete renunciation. It is not a case of renouncing external objects but internal attachment to the external world.

25. With the complete eradication of this attachment is the third Truth realized. It should be noted that mere complete destruction of this force is not the third Truth -- Nibbāna. Then it would be tantamount to annihilation. Nibbāna has to be realized by eradicating this force which binds oneself to the mundane.

26. It should also be understood that Nibbāna is not produced (uppādetabba) but is attained (pattabba). It could be attained in this life itself. It therefore follows that though rebirth is one of the chief doctrines of Buddhism the goal of Buddhism does not depend on a future birth.

27. The third Truth has to be realized by developing the fourth Truth.

28. To eradicate one mighty force eight powerful factors have to be developed.

29. All these eight factors are purely mental.

30. Eight powerful good mental forces are summoned to attack one latent evil force.

31. Absolute purity, a complete deliverance from all repeated births, a mind released from all passions, immortality (amata) are the attendant blessings of this great victory.

32. Is this deliverance a perfection or absolute purity? The latter is preferable.

33. In each case one might raise the question -- What is being perfected? What is being purified?

There is no being or permanent entity in Buddhism, but there is a stream of consciousness.

It is more correct to say that this stream of consciousness is purified by overthrowing all defilements.


THE SECOND DISCOURSE
ANATTALAKKHANA SUTTA
[17]

On one occasion the Exalted One was dwelling at the Deer Park, in Isipatana, near Benares. Then the Exalted One addressed the Band of five Bhikkhus, saying, "O Bhikkhus!"

"Lord," they replied.

Thereupon the Exalted One spoke as follows:

"The body (rūpa), O Bhikkhus, is soulless (anattā). If, O Bhikkbus, there were in this a soul [18] then this body would not be subject to suffering. "Let this body be thus, let this body be not thus," such possibilities would also exist. But inasmuch as this body is soulless, it is subject to suffering, and no possibility exists for (ordering): 'Let this be so, let this be not so'."

In like manner feelings (vedanā), perceptions (sa񱦣257;), mental states (samkhārā), and consciousness (vi񱦣257;na),[19] are soulless.[20]

"What think ye, O Bhikkhus, is this body permanent or impermanent?"

"Impermanent (anicca), Lord."

"Is that which is impermanent happy or painful?"

"It is painful (dukkha), Lord."

"Is it justifiable, then, to think of that which is impermanent, painful and transitory: "This is mine; this am I; this is my soul?"

"Certainly not, Lord."

Similarly, O Bhikkhus, feelings, perceptions, mental states and consciousness are impermanent and painful.

"Is it justifiable to think of these which are impermanent, painful and transitory: 'This is mine; this am I; this is my soul'?"[21]

"Certainly not, Lord."

"Then, O Bhikkhus, all body, whether past, present or future, personal or external, coarse or subtle, low or high, far or near, should be understood by right knowledge in its real nature 'This is not mine (n'etam mama); this am I not (n'eso h'amasmi); this is not my soul (na me so attā)."

"All feelings, perceptions, mental states and consciousness whether past, present or future, personal or external, coarse or subtle, low or high, far or near, should be understood by right knowledge in their real nature as: "These are not mine; these am I not; these are not my soul."

"The learned Ariyan disciple who sees thus gets a disgust for body, for feelings, for perceptions, for mental states, for consciousness; is detached from the abhorrent thing and is emancipated through detachment. Then dawns on him the knowledge 'Emancipated am I'. He understands that rebirth is ended, lived is the Holy Life, done what should be done, there is no more of this state again."

"This the Exalted One said, and the delighted Bhikkhus applauded the words of the Exalted One."

When the Buddha expounded this teaching the minds of the Group of five Bhikkhus were freed of defilements without any attachment.[22]


CHAPTER 7 

THE TEACHING OF THE DHAMMA

"Happy is the birth of Buddhas. Happy is the teaching of the sublime Dhamma.
Happy is the
unity of the Sangha. Happy is the discipline of the united ones."
-- DHAMMAPADA

The Conversion of Yasa and His Friends

In Benares there was a millionaire's son, named Yasa, who led a luxurious life. One morning he rose early and, to his utter disgust, saw his female attendants and musicians asleep in repulsive attitudes. The whole spectacle was so disgusting that the palace presented the gloomy appearance of a charnel house. Realizing the vanities of worldly life, he stole away from home, saying "Distressed am I, oppressed am I," and went in the direction of Isipatana where the Buddha was temporarily residing after having made the five Bhikkhus attain Arahantship.[1]

At that particular time the Buddha, as usual, was pacing up and down in an open space. Seeing him coming from afar, the Buddha came out of His ambulatory and sat on a prepared seat. Not far from Him stood Yasa, crying -- "O distressed am  I! Oppressed am I!"

Thereupon the Buddha said ? "Here there is no distress, O Yasa! Here there is no oppression, O Yasa! Come hither, Yasa! Take a seat. I shall expound the Dhamma to you."

The distressed Yasa was pleased to hear the encouraging words of the Buddha. Removing his golden sandals, he approached the Buddha, respectfully saluted Him and sat on one side.

The Buddha expounded the doctrine to him, and he attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotāpatti).

At first the Buddha spoke to him on generosity (dāna), morality (sīla), celestial states (sagga), the evils of sensual pleasures (kāmādinava), the blessings of renunciation (nekkhammānisamsa). When He found that his mind was pliable and was ready to appreciate the deeper teaching He taught the Four Noble Truths.

Yasa's mother was the first to notice the absence of her son and she reported the matter to her husband. The millionaire immediately dispatched horsemen in four directions and he himself went towards Isipatana, following the imprint of the golden slippers. The Buddha saw him coming from afar and, by His psychic powers, willed that he should not be able to see his son.

The millionaire approached the Buddha and respectfully inquired whether He had seen his son Yasa.

"Well, then, sit down here please. You would be able to see your son," said the Buddha. Pleased with the happy news, he sat down. The Buddha delivered a discourse to him, and he was so delighted that he exclaimed:

"Excellent, O Lord, excellent! It is as if, Lord, a man were to set upright that which was overturned, or were to reveal that which was hidden, or were to point out the way to one who had gone astray, or were to hold a lamp amidst the darkness, so that those who have eyes may see! Even so has the doctrine been expounded in various ways by the Exalted One.

"I, Lord, take refuge in the Buddha, the Doctrine and the Order. May the Lord receive me as a follower, who has taken refuge from this very day to life's end!"

He was the first lay follower to seek refuge with the threefold formula.

On hearing the discourse delivered to his father, Yasa attained Arahantship. Thereupon the Buddha withdrew His will-power so that Yasa's father may be able to see his son. The millionaire beheld his son and invited the Buddha and His disciples for alms on the following day. The Buddha expressed His acceptance of the invitation by His silence.

After the departure of the millionaire Yasa begged the Buddha to grant him the Lesser [2] and the Higher Ordination.

  1. "Come, O Bhikkhus! Well taught is the Doctrine. Lead the Holy Life to make a complete end of suffering." With these words the Buddha conferred on him the Higher Ordination.[3]

With the Venerable Yasa the number of Arahants increased to six.

As invited, the Buddha visited the millionaire's house with His six disciples.

Venerable Yasa's mother and his former wife heard the doctrine expounded by the Buddha and, having attained the first stage of Sainthood, became His first two lay female followers. [4]

Venerable Yasa had four distinguished friends named Vimala, Subāhu, Punnaji and Gavampati. When they heard that their noble friend shaved his hair and beard, and, donning the yellow robe, entered the homeless life, they approached Venerable Yasa and expressed their desire to follow his example. Venerable Yasa introduced them to the Buddha, and, on hearing the Dhamma, they also attained Arahantship.

Fifty more worthy friends of Venerable Yasa, who belonged to leading families of various districts, also receiving instructions from the Buddha, attained Arahantship and entered the Holy Order.

Hardly two months had elapsed since His Enlightenment when the number of Arahants gradually rose to sixty. All of them came from distinguished families and were worthy sons of worthy fathers.

The First Messengers of Truth (Dhammadūta)

The Buddha who, before long, succeeded in enlightening sixty disciples, decided to send them as messengers of Truth to teach His new Dhamma to all without any distinction. Before dispatching them in various directions He exhorted them as follows: [5]

"Freed am I, O Bhikkhus, from all bonds, whether divine or human.

"You, too, O Bhikkhus, are freed from all bonds, whether divine or human.

"Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods [6] and men. Let not two go by one way: Preach, O Bhikkhus, the Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end, both in the spirit and in the letter. Proclaim the Holy Life, [7] altogether perfect and pure.

"There are beings with little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Dhamma, will fall away. There will be those who understand the Dhamma."

"I too, O Bhikkhus, will go to Uruvelā in Senānigāma, in order to preach the Dhamma."

"Hoist the Flag of the Sage. Preach the Sublime Dhamma. Work for the good of others, you who have done your duties." [8]

The Buddha was thus the first religious teacher to send His enlightened ordained disciples to propagate the doctrine out of compassion for others. With no permanent abode, alone and penniless, these first missioners were expected to wander from place to place to teach the sublime Dhamma. They had no other material possessions but their robes to cover themselves and an alms-bowl to collect food. As the field was extensive and the workers were comparatively few they were advised to undertake their missionary journeys alone. As they were Arahants who were freed from all sensual bonds their chief and only object was to teach the Dhamma and proclaim the Holy Life (Brahmacariya). The original role of Arahants, who achieved their life's goal, was to work for the moral upliftment of the people both by example and by precept. Material development, though essential, was not their concern.

Founding of the Order of the Sangha

At that time there were sixty Arahant disciples in the world. With these Pure Ones as the nucleus the Buddha founded a celibate Order which "was democratic in constitution and communistic in distribution." The original members were drawn from the highest status of society and were all educated and rich men, but the Order was open to all worthy ones, irrespective of caste, class or rank. Both young and old belonging to all the castes, were freely admitted into the Order and lived like brothers of the same family without any distinction. This Noble Order of Bhikkhus, which stands to this day, is the oldest historic body of celibates in the world.

All were not expected to leave the household and enter the homeless life. As lay followers, too, they were able to lead a good life in accordance with the Dhamma and attain Sainthood. Venerable Yasa's parents and his former wife, for instance, were the foremost lay followers of the Buddha.

All the three were sufficiently spiritually advanced to attain the first stage of Sainthood.

With the sixty Arahants, as ideal messengers of Truth, the Buddha decided to propagate His sublime Dhamma, purely by expounding the doctrine to those who wish to hear.

Conversion of Thirty Young Men

The Buddha resided at Isipatana in Benares as long as He liked and went towards Uruvelā. On the way He sat at the foot of a tree in a grove.

At that time thirty happy young men went with their wives to this particular grove to amuse themselves. As one of them had no wife he took with him a courtesan. While they were enjoying themselves this woman absconded with their valuables. The young men searched for her in the forest, and, seeing the Buddha, inquired of Him whether He saw a woman passing that way.

"Which do you think, young men, is better; seeking a woman or seeking oneself?" [9] questioned the Buddha.

"Seeking oneself is better, O Lord! replied the young men.

"Well, then, sit down. I shall preach the doctrine to you," said the Buddha.

"Very well, Lord," they replied, and respectfully saluting the Exalted One, sat expectantly by.

They attentively listened to Him and obtained "The Eye of Truth." [10]

After this they entered the Order and received the Higher Ordination.

Conversion of the Three Kassapa Brothers

Wandering from place to place, in due course, the Buddha arrived at Uruvelā. Here lived three (Jatila) ascetics with matted hair known as Uruvela Kassapa, Nadī Kassapa, and Gayā Kassapa. They were all brothers living separately with 500, 300 and 200 disciples respectively. The eldest was infatuated by his own spiritual attainments and was labouring under a misconception that he was an Arahant. The Buddha approached him first and sought his permission to spend the night in his fire-chamber where dwelt a fierce serpent-king. By His psychic powers the Buddha subdued the serpent. This pleased Uruvela Kassapa and he invited the Buddha to stay there as his guest. The Buddha was compelled to exhibit His psychic powers on several other occasions to impress the ascetic, but still he adhered to the belief, that the Buddha was not an Arahant as he was. Finally the Buddha was able to convince him that he was an Arahant. Thereupon he and his followers entered the Order and obtained the Higher Ordination.

His brothers and their followers also followed his example. Accompanied by the three Kassapa brothers and their thousand followers, the Buddha repaired to Gayā Sīsa, not far from Uruvelā. Here He preached the Āditta-Pariyāya Sutta, hearing which all attained Arahantship.

*

Āditta-Pariyāya Sutta -- Discourse on "All in Flames"

"All in flames, O Bhikkhus! What, O Bhikkhus, is all in flames?

Eye is in flames. Forms are in flames. Eye-consciousness is in flames. Eye-contact is in flames. Feeling which is pleasurable or painful, or neither pleasurable nor painful, arising from eye-contact is in flames. By what is it kindled? By the flames of lust, hatred, ignorance, birth, decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair is it kindled, I declare.

Reflecting thus, O Bhikkhus, the learned Ariya disciple gets disgusted with the eye, the forms, the eye-consciousness, the eye-contact, whatever feeling -- pleasurable, painful, or neither pleasurable nor painful -- that arises from contact with the eye. He gets disgusted with the ear, sounds, nose, odours, tongue, tastes, body, contact, mind, mental objects, mind-consciousness, mind contacts, whatever feeling -- pleasurable, painful or neither pleasurable nor painful -- that arises from contact with the mind. With disgust he gets detached; with detachment he is delivered. He understands that birth is ended, lived the Holy Life, done what should be done, and that there is no more of this state again."

When the Buddha concluded this discourse all the Bhikkhus attained Arahantship, eradicating all Defilements.

*

Conversion of Sāriputta and Moggallāna, the two Chief Disciples

Not far from Rājagaha in the village Upatissa, also known as Nālaka, there lived a very intelligent youth named Sāriputta (-- son of Sāri).

Since he belonged to the leading family of the village, he was also called Upatissa.

Though nurtured in Brahmanism, his broad outlook on life and matured wisdom compelled him to renounce his ancestral religion for the more tolerant and scientific teachings of the Buddha Gotama. His brothers and sisters followed his noble example. His father, Vanganta, apparently adhered to the Brahmin faith. His mother, who was displeased with the son for having become a Buddhist, was converted to Buddhism by himself at the moment of his death.

Upatissa was brought up in the lap of luxury. He found a very intimate friend in Kolita, also known as Moggallāna, with whom he was closely associated from a remote past. One day as both of them were enjoying a hill-top festival they realized how vain, how transient, were all sensual pleasures. Instantly they decided to leave the world and seek the Path of Release. They wandered from place to place in quest of Peace.

The two young seekers went at first to Sa񪡹a, who had a large following, and sought ordination under him. Before long they acquired the meager knowledge which their master imparted to them, but dissatisfied with his teachings -- as they could not find a remedy for that universal ailment with which humanity is assailed -- they left him and wandered hither and thither in search of Peace. They approached many a famous brahmin and ascetic, but disappointment met them everywhere. Ultimately they returned to their own village and agreed amongst themselves that whoever would first discover the Path should inform the other.

It was at that time that the Buddha dispatched His first sixty disciples to proclaim the sublime Dhamma to the world. The Buddha Himself proceeded towards Uruvelā, and the Venerable Assaji, one of the first five disciples, went in the direction of Rājagaha.

The good Kamma of the seekers now intervened, as if watching with sympathetic eyes their spiritual progress. For Upatissa, while wandering in the city of Rājagaha, casually met an ascetic whose venerable appearance and saintly deportment at once arrested his attention. This ascetic's eyes were lowly fixed a yoke's distance from him, and his calm face betokened deep peace within him. With body well composed, robes neatly arranged, this venerable figure passed with measured steps from door to door, accepting the morsels of food which the charitable placed in his bowl. Never before have I seen, he thought to himself, an ascetic like this. Surely he must be one of those who have attained Arahantship or one who is practising the path leading to Arahantship. How if I were to approach him and question, "For whose sake, Sire, have you retired from the world? Who is your teacher? Whose doctrine do you profess?"

Upatissa, however, refrained from questioning him as he thought he would thereby interfere with his silent begging tour.

The Arahant Assaji, having obtained what little he needed, was seeking a suitable place to eat his meal. Upatissa seeing this, gladly availed himself of the opportunity to offer him his own stool and water from his own pot. Fulfilling thus the preliminary duties of a pupil, he exchanged pleasant greetings with him and reverently inquired:--

"Venerable Sir, calm and serene are your organs of sense, clean and clear is the hue of your skin. For whose sake have you retired from the world? Who is your teacher? Whose doctrine do you profess?"

The unassuming Arahant Assaji modestly replied, as is the characteristic of all great men -- "I am still young in the Order, brother, and I am not able to expound the Dhamma to you at length."

"I am Upatissa, Venerable Sir. Say much or little according to your ability, and it is left to me to understand it in a hundred or thousand ways".

"Say little or much," Upatissa continued, "tell me just the substance. The substance only do I require. A mere jumble of words is of no avail."

The Venerable Assaji uttered a four line stanza, thus skilfully summing up the profound philosophy of the Master, on the truth of the law of cause and effect.

Ye dhammā, hetuppabhavā --
tesam hetum tathāgato
Āha tesa񠣡 yo nirodho --
evam vādī mahā samano.

Of things that proceed from a cause,
Their cause the Tathāgata has told,
And also their cessation:
Thus teaches the Great Ascetic.

Upatissa was sufficiently enlightened to comprehend such a lofty teaching though succinctly expressed. He was only in need of a slight indication to discover the truth. So well did the Venerable Assaji guide him on his upward path that immediately on hearing the first two lines, he attained the first stage of Sainthood, Sotāpatti.

The new convert Upatissa must have been, no doubt, destitute of words to thank to his heart's content his venerable teacher for introducing him to the sublime teachings of the Buddha. He expressed his deep indebted-ness for his brilliant exposition of the truth, and obtaining from him the necessary particulars with regard to the Master, took his leave.

Later, the devotion he showed towards his teacher was such that since he heard the Dhamma from the Venerable Assaji, in whatever quarter he heard that his teacher was residing, in that direction he would extend his clasped hands in an attitude of reverent obeisance and in that direction he would turn his head when he lay down to sleep.

Now, in accordance with the agreement, he returned to his companion Kolita to convey the joyful tidings. Kolita, who was as enlightened as his friend, also attained the first stage of Sainthood on hearing the whole stanza. Overwhelmed with joy at their successful search after Peace, as in duty bound, they went to meet their teacher Sa񪡹a with the object of converting him to the new doctrine. Frustrated in their attempt Upatissa and Kolita, accompanied by many followers of Sa񪡹a, who readily joined them, repaired to the Veluvana monastery to visit their illustrious Teacher, the Buddha.

In compliance with their request, the Buddha admitted both of them into the Order by the mere utterance of the words -- Etha Bhikkhave! (Come, O Bhikkhus!).

A fortnight later, the Venerable Sāriputta, attained Arahantship on hearing the Buddha expound the Vedanā Pariggaha Sutta to the wandering ascetic Dīghanakha. On the very same day in the evening the Buddha gathered round Him His disciples and the exalted positions of the first and second disciples in the Sangha were respectively conferred upon the Theras Upatissa (Sāriputta) and Kolita (Moggallāna), who also had attained Arahantship a week earlier.


CHAPTER 8 

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES

"Service to relatives is a blessing."
-- MANGALA SUTTĀ

King Suddhodana desires to see the Buddha

News that the Buddha was residing at Rajagaha and was preaching His Dhamma reached the ears of the aged King Suddhodana and his anxiety to see his enlightened son grew stronger and stronger. On nine successive occasions he sent nine courtiers, each with a large following, to invite the Buddha to Kapilavatthu. Contrary to his expectations, they all heard the Dhamma and, attaining Arahantship, entered the Order. Since Arahants were indifferent to worldly things they did not convey the message to the Buddha.

The disappointed King finally dispatched another faithful courtier, Kāludāyī, who was a playmate of the Buddha. He agreed to go as he was granted permission to enter the Order.

Like the rest he also had the fortune to attain Arahantship and join the Order. But, unlike the others, he conveyed the message to the Buddha, and persuaded Him to visit His aged royal father. As the season was most suitable for travelling, the Buddha, attended by a large retinue of His disciples, journeyed the whole distance by slow stages preaching the Dhamma on the way, and in due course arrived at Kapilavatthu in two months.

Arrangements were made for Him to reside at the Park of Nigrodha, a Sākya. The conceited elderly Sākyas, thinking within themselves, "He is our younger brother, our nephew, our grandson," said to the young princes -- "You do him obeisance; we will sit behind you." As they sat without paying Him due reverence He subdued their pride by rising into the air and exhibiting the "Twin Wonder".[1] The King, seeing this wonderful phenomenon, saluted Him immediately, saying that it was his third salutation. [2] All Sākyas were then compelled to pay Him due reverence. Thereupon the Buddha came down from the sky and sat on the seat prepared for Him. The humbled relatives took their seats eager to listen to His Teaching.

At this moment an unexpected shower of rain fell upon the Sākya kinsfolk. The occurrence of this strange phenomenon resulted in a discussion amongst themselves. Then the Buddha preached the Vessantara Jātaka [3] to show that a similar incident took place in the presence of His relatives in a previous birth.

The Sākyas were delighted with the discourse, and they departed, not knowing that it was their duty to invite the Buddha and His disciples for the noon meal. It did not occur to the King too to invite the Buddha, although he thought to himself -- "If my son does not come to my house, where will he go?" Reaching home, he, however, made ready several kinds of food expecting their arrival in the palace.

The Buddha goes round for Alms

King Suddhodana's Conversion

As there was no special invitation for the noon meal on the following day, the Buddha and His disciples got ready to seek alms from the houses of the citizens of Kapilavatthu. Before proceeding He considered within Himself -- "Did the Buddhas of the past, upon entering the city of their kinsfolk, straightway enter the houses of the relatives, or did they go from house to house in regular order receiving alms?" Perceiving that they did so from house to house, the Buddha went in the streets of Kapilavatthu seeking alms.

On hearing of this seemingly disgraceful conduct of the Buddha from his daughter-in-law, Yasodharā, the King, greatly perturbed in mind, hurried to the scene, and saluting Him, said -- "Son, why do you ruin me? I am overwhelmed with shame to see you begging alms. Is it proper for you, who used to travel in a golden palanquin, to seek alms in this very city? Why do you put me to shame?" [4]

"I am not putting you to shame, 0 great King! I am following the custom of my lineage," replied the Buddha, to the King's astonishment.

"But, dear son, is it the custom of my lineage to gain a livelihood by seeking alms? Surely, Lord. ours is the warrior lineage of Mahāsammata, and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms."

"O great King, that is not the custom of your royal lineage. But it is the custom of my Buddha lineage. Several thousands of Buddhas have lived by seeking alms."

Standing on the street, the Buddha then advised the King thus:

"Be not heedless in standing (at doors for alms). Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next. [5]"

Hearing it, the King realized the Truth and attained the first stage of Sainthood. Immediately after, he took the Buddha's bowl and, conducting Him and His disciples to the palace, served them with choice food. At the close of the meal the Buddha again exhorted him thus:

"Lead a righteous life, and not one that is corrupt. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next. [6]"

Thereupon the King attained the second stage of Sainthood (Sakadāgāmi) and Pajāpati Gotami attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotāpatti).

On a later occasion when it was related to the Buddha that the King refused to believe that his son had died owing to his severe austerities without achieving his goal, the Buddha preached the Dhammapāla Jātaka [7] to show that in a previous birth too he refused to believe that his son had died although he was shown a heap of bones. This time he attained the third stage of Sainthood (Anāgāmi).

On his death-bed, the King heard the Dhamma from the Buddha for the last time and attained Arahantship. After experiencing the bliss of Emancipation for seven days, he passed away as a lay Arahant when the Buddha was about forty years old.

The Buddha and Yasodharā

Princess Yasodharā, also known as Rāhulamātā, Bimbā and Bhaddakaccānā, was the daughter of King Suppabuddha, who reigned over the Koliya race, and Pamitā, sister of King Suddhodana. She was of the same age as Prince Siddhattha, whom she married at the age of sixteen. It was by exhibiting his military prowess that he won her hand. She led an extremely happy and luxurious life. In her 29th year, on the very day she gave birth to her only son, Rāhula, her wise and contemplative husband, whom she loved with all her heart, resolved to renounce the world to seek deliverance from the ills of life. Without even bidding farewell to his faithful and charming wife, he left the palace at night, leaving young Yasodharā to look after the child by herself. She awoke as usual to greet her beloved husband, but, to her surprise, she found him missing.

When she realized that her ideal Prince had left her and the new-born babe, she was overcome with indescribable grief. Her dearest possession was lost for ever. The palace with all its allurements was now a dungeon to her. The whole world appeared to be blank. Her only consolation was her infant son.

Though several Kshatriya princes sought her hand, she rejected all those proposals, and lived ever faithful to her beloved husband. Hearing that her husband was leading a hermit's life, she removed all her jewellery and wore a plain yellow garb. Throughout the six years during which the ascetic Gotama struggled for Enlightenment Princess Yasodharā watched his actions closely and did likewise.

When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after His Enlightenment and was being entertained by the King in the palace on the following day all but the Princess Yasodharā came to pay their reverence to Him. She thought :

"Certainly if there is any virtue in me, the noble Lord Himself will come to my presence. Then will I reverence Him."

After the meal was over the Buddha handed over the bowl to the King, and accompanied by His two chief disciples, entered the chamber of Yasodharā and sat on a seat prepared for Him, saying: "Let the King's daughter reverence me as she likes. Say nothing."

Hearing of the Buddha's visit, she bade the ladies in the court wear yellow garments. When the Buddha took His seat, Yasodharā came swiftly to Him and clasping His ankles, placed her head on His feet and reverenced Him as she liked.

Demonstrating her affection and respect thus, she sat down with due reverence.

Then the King praised her virtues and, commenting on her love and loyalty, said:

"Lord, when my daughter heard that you were wearing yellow robes, she also robed herself in yellow; when she heard that you were taking one meal a day, she also did the same; when she heard that you had given up lofty couches, she lay on a low couch; when she heard that you had given up garlands and scents, she also gave them up; when her relatives sent messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not even look at a single one. So virtuous was my daughter."

"Not only in this last birth, 0 King, but in a previous birth, too, she protected me and was devoted and faithful to me," remarked the Buddha and cited the Candakinnara Jātaka.[8]'

Recalling this past association with her, He consoled her and left the palace.

After the death of King Suddhodana, when Pajāpati Gotami became a nun (Bhikkhuni) Yasodharā also entered the Order and attained Arahantship.

Amongst women disciples she was the chief of those who attained great supernormal powers (Mahā Abhi񱦣257;). [9] At the age of 78 she passed away.

Her name does not appear in the Therigatha but her interesting verses are found in the Apadana.[10]

The Buddha and Rāhula

Rāhula was the only son of Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodharā. He was born on the day when Prince Siddhattha decided to renounce the world. The happy news of the birth of his infant son was conveyed to him when he was in the park in a contemplative mood. Contrary to ordinary expectations, instead of rejoicing over the news, he exclaimed 'Rāhu jāto, bandhanam jātam -- A Rahu is born, a fetter has arisen!' Accordingly the child was named Rāhula [11] by King Suddhodana, his grandfather.

Rāhula was brought up as a fatherless child by his mother and grandfather. When he was seven years old, the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu for the first time after His Enlightenment. On the seventh day after His arrival Princess Yasodharā gaily dressed up young Rāhula and pointing to the Buddha, said -- "Behold, son, that golden coloured ascetic, looking like Brahmā, surrounded by twenty thousand ascetics! He is your father, and He had great treasures. Since His renunciation we do not see them. Go up to him and ask for your inheritance, and say --"Father, I am the prince. After my consecration I will be a universal monarch. I am in need of wealth. Please give me wealth, for the son is the owner of what belongs to the father."

Innocent Rāhula came to the Buddha's presence, and asking for his inheritance, as advised by his mother, very affectionately said: "O ascetic, even your shadow is pleasing to me. " [12]

After the meal the Buddha left the palace and Rāhula followed Him, saying -- "Give me my inheritance" and uttering much else that was becoming. Nobody attempted to stop him. Nor did the Buddha prevent him from following Him. Reaching the park the Buddha thought: "He desires his father's wealth, but it goes with the world and is full of trouble. I shall give him the sevenfold noble wealth which I received at the foot of the Bodhi tree, and make him an owner of a transcendental inheritance. He called Venerable Sāriputta and asked him to ordain little Rāhula.

Rāhula, who was then only seven years of age, was admitted into the Noble Order.

King Suddhodana was deeply grieved to hear of the unexpected ordination of his beloved grandson. He approached the Buddha and, in humbly requesting Him not to ordain any one without the prior consent of the parents, said "When the Lord renounced the world it was a cause of great pain to me. It was so when Nanda renounced and especially so in the case of Rāhula. The love of a father towards a son cuts through the skin, (the hide), the flesh, the sinew, the bone and the marrow. Grant, Lord, the request that the Noble Ones may not confer ordination on a son without the permission of his parents.[13]"

The Buddha readily granted the request, and made it a Vinaya rule.

How a young boy of seven years could lead the Holy Life is almost inconceivable. But Sāmanera (Novice) Rāhula, cultured, exceptionally obedient and well-disciplined as he was, was very eager to accept instruction from his superiors. It is stated that he would rise early in the morning and taking a handful of sand throw it up, saying ? "Today may I receive from my instructors as much counsel as these grains of sand."

One of the earliest discourses preached to him, immediately after his ordination, was the Ambalatthika-rāhulovāda Sutta in which He emphasized the importance of Truthfulness. [14]

One day the Buddha visited the Venerable Rāhula who, seeing Him coming from afar, arranged a seat and supplied water for washing the feet.

The Buddha washed His feet and leaving a small quantity of water in the vessel, said:

"Do you see, Rāhula, this small quantity of water left in the vessel?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Similarly, Rāhula, insignificant, indeed, is the Samana-ship (monkhood) of those who are not ashamed of uttering deliberate lies."

Then the Buddha threw away that small quantity of water, and said:

"Discarded, indeed, is the Samanaship of those who are not ashamed of deliberate lying."

The Buddha turned the vessel upside down, and said -- "Overturned, indeed, is the Samanaship of those who are not ashamed of uttering deliberate lies."

Finally the Buddha set the vessel upright and said --"Empty and void, indeed, is the Samanaship of those who are not ashamed of deliberate lying."

"I say of anyone who is not ashamed of uttering deliberate lies, that there is no evil that could not be done by him. Accordingly, Rāhula, thus should you train yourself -- "Not even in play will I tell a lie."

Emphasizing the importance of truthfulness with such homely illustrations, the Buddha explained to him the value of reflection and the criterion of morality in such a way as a child could understand.

"Rāhula, for what purpose is a mirror?" questioned the Buddha.

"For the purpose of reflecting, Lord."

"Similarly, Rāhula, after reflecting and reflecting should bodily action be done; after reflecting should verbal action be done; after reflecting should mental action be done.

"Whatever action you desire to do with the body, of that particular bodily action you should reflect: 'Now, this action that I desire to perform with the body -- would this, my bodily action be conducive to my own harm, or to the harm of others, or to that of both myself and others?' Then, unskilful is this bodily action, entailing suffering and producing pain.

"If, when reflecting, you should realize: 'Now, this bodily action of mine that I am desirous of performing, would be conducive to my own harm or to the harm of others, or to that of both myself and others.' Then unskilful is this bodily action, entailing suffering and producing pain. Such an action with the body, you must on no account perform.

"If, on the other hand, when reflecting you realize: 'Now, this bodily action that I am desirous of performing, would conduce neither to the harm of myself, nor to that of others, nor to that of both myself and others.' Then skilful is this bodily action, entailing pleasure and producing happiness. Such bodily action you should perform."

Exhorting the Sāmanera Rāhula to use reflection during and after one's actions, the Buddha said:

"While you are doing an action with the body, of that particular action should you reflect: 'Now, is this action that I am doing with my body conducive to my own harm, or to the harm of others or to that of both myself and others?' Then unskilful is this bodily action, entailing suffering and producing pain."

"If, when reflecting, you realize: 'Now, this action that I am doing with my body is conducive to my own harm, to the harm of others, and to that of both myself and others.' Then unskilful is this bodily action, entailing suffering and producing pain. From such a bodily action you must desist".

"If when reflecting, you should realize: 'Now, this action of mine that I am doing with the body is conducive neither to my own harm, nor to the harm of others, nor to that of both myself and others.' Then skilful is this bodily action, entailing pleasure and happiness. Such a bodily action you should do again and again."

The Buddha adds "If, when reflecting, you should realize: 'Now, this action that I have done is unskilful.' Such an action should be confessed, revealed, and made manifest to the Teacher, or to the learned, or to your brethren of the Holy Life. Having confessed, you should acquire restraint in the future."

The admonition with regard to skilful and unskilful verbal and mental actions was treated in the same way.

Stating that constant reflection was essential for purification, the Buddha ended the discourse as follows:

"Thus must you train yourself -- By constantly reflecting shall we purify our bodily actions, by constantly reflecting shall we purify our verbal actions, by constantly reflecting, shall we purify our mental actions."

In the Samyutta Nikāya there is a special chapter where the Buddha explains to Sāmanera Rāhula, the transitoriness of nature.[15]

As Venerable Rāhula entered the Order in his boyhood the Buddha availed Himself of every opportunity to advise and guide him on the right path. The Sutta Nipāta [16] states that the Buddha repeatedly admonished him with the following stanzas:

"Give up five-fold sensual pleasures -- so sweet, so charming. Going forth from home, with faith, be one who has put an end to suffering.

Seek a remote lodging, secluded and noiseless. Be moderate in food.

Have no attachment to robes, alms, requisites and lodging.

Come not to this world again,.

Practise restraint with regard to the Fundamental Code and the five senses.

Cultivate mindfulness as regards the body and be full of dispassionateness.

Avoid alluring, lust-provoking objects (of sense). Develop your one-pointed, composed mind towards loathsomeness. Think not of the outward appearance of sense. Give up latent pride. Thus eradicating pride, you shall fare on in perfect peace."

In his eighteenth year the Buddha preached a profound discourse on mind-culture, the occasion for it being a sense-desire that arose in Venerable Rāhula's mind on account of his beautiful appearance.

One day the Venerable Rāhula was following the Buddha in quest of alms. As the Buddha went along, followed by Rāhula, it seems that the pair was like an auspicious royal elephant and his noble offspring, a royal swan with its beauteous cygnet, a regal lion with its stately cub. Both were golden in complexion, almost equal in beauty; both were of the warrior caste; both had renounced a throne. Rāhula, admiring the Teacher, thought: "I too am handsome like my parent the Exalted One. Beautiful is the Buddha's form, and mine is similar. [17]"

The Buddha instantly read his evil thought, and looking back addressed him thus:

"Whatsoever form there be should be regarded thus:

"This is not mine (N'etam mama); this am I not (N'eso' ham ' asmi); this is not my soul (Na me so attā). [18]'

Rāhula submissively inquired of Him whether he should regard only form as such.

The Buddha replied that he should regard all the five aggregates (Khandhas) [19] as such.

The Venerable Rāhula, having been thus edified by the Buddha Himself, preferred not to enter the village for alms. He turned back and sat at the foot of a tree, with legs crossed, the body held erect, intent on mindfulness.

Venerable Sāriputta noting the suggestive posture of Rāhula Sāmanera, advised him to concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, not knowing that he was practising another object of meditation on the instruction of the Buddha.

Venerable Rāhula was perplexed because he was given two different objects of meditation -- one by the Buddha and the other by his own teacher. In obedience to his teacher be concentrated on "breathing" and went to the Buddha to get His own instruction on the subject. As a wise physician would     give the needed medicine, ignoring the desires, the Buddha first expanded His brief instruction on meditation on form and other aggregates and then briefly enumerated certain subjects of meditation with the specific evil conditions temporarily eliminated by each and then explained the meditation on "respiration" (Ānāpanā Sati).

Acting according to the Buddha's instructions, he succeeded in his meditations, and, before long, hearing the Cūla Rāhulovāda Sutta, [20] he attained Arahantship.

In the fourteenth year after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Sāmanera Rāhula received his Higher Ordination. He predeceased the Buddha and Venerable Sāriputta.

Venerable Rāhula was distinguished for his high standard of discipline. The following four verses are attributed to him in the Theragāthā:

"Being fortunate from both sides, they call me "Lucky Rāhula". I was the son of the Buddha and that of the Seer of Truths.

Destroyed are all my Corruptions. There is no more rebirth to me.

An Arahant am I, worthy of offering.

Possessed of threefold knowledge and a seer of Deathless am I, [21]

"Blinded by sense-desires, spread over by a net, covered by a cloak of craving, bound by the 'kinsman of heedlessness' was I like a fish caught in the mouth of a funnel-net.

That sense-desire have I burnt. The bond of Māra have I cut.

Eradicating craving, from its root, cool am I, peaceful am I now. 


 

CHAPTER 9 

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES
(Continued)

"Trustful are the best of relatives".
-- DHAMMAPADA

The Buddha and His step-brother Nanda

On the third day after the arrival of the Buddha at Kapilavatthu, Prince Nanda, the son of Queen Mahā Pajāpati Gotami, was celebrating his consecration ceremony, marriage ceremony, and the house-warming ceremony. It was on the occasion of these three festivals when congratulations were being offered to the prince that the Buddha visited the palace. After the meal the Buddha handed the bowl to the prince, and uttering a Blessing, rose to go without taking the bowl.

The prince followed Him thinking that the Buddha would take the bowl from him at any moment. But the Buddha would not take it, and the prince out of reverence for Him continued to follow the Teacher.

Janapada Kalyāni, to whom he was betrothed, hearing that the prince was following the Buddha with bowl in hand, with tears streaming down her cheeks and hair half-combed, ran after Prince Nanda as fast as she could and said to him: "Return quickly, O noble Lord"! These affectionate words penetrated his heart and he was deeply moved, but with deference to the Buddha he could not possibly return the bowl to Him. So he accompanied the Buddha to the park, His temporary residence. On arrival there the Buddha questioned Nanda whether he would become a monk. So great was his reverence for Him as the Buddha and as an elder brother of his that, with reluctance, he agreed to be admitted into the Order.

But Nanda Bhikkhu enjoyed no spiritual happiness resulting from renunciation. He was greatly depressed, and was constantly thinking of his bride. He related his mental troubles to the Bhikkhus, saying: "Brethren, I am dissatisfied. I am now living the Religious Life, but I cannot endure to lead the Holy Life any longer. I intend to abandon the higher precepts and return to the lower life, the life of a layman".

Hearing this, the Buddha questioned Venerable Nanda whether such report was true. He admitted his weakness, and stated that he was worried about his bride.

The Buddha devised a means to set him on the right path. With the object of showing him celestial nymphs the Buddha, using His Psychic powers, took him to the Tavatimsa Heaven. On the way the Venerable Nanda was shown a singed she-monkey who had lost her ears, nose, and tail in a fire, clinging to a burnt-up stump in a scorched field. Reaching heaven, the Buddha pointed to him celestial nymphs and asked him: "Nanda, which do you regard as being the more beautiful and fair to look upon and handsome -- your noble wife Janapada Kalyāni or the celestial nymphs?"

"Venerable Sir, Janapada Kalyāni is like the singed monkey when compared to those celestial nymphs, who are infinitely more beautiful and fair."

"Cheer up, Nanda. I guarantee that you will possess them if you persevere as I bid you."

"In that case I shall take the greatest pleasure in living the Holy Life," said Venerable Nanda, childishly.

Hearing that Venerable Nanda was living the Holy Life with the object of winning celestial nymphs, the Bhikkhus ridiculed him calling him "hireling." Eventually he became ashamed of his base motive, and striving diligently, attained Arahantship.

He thereupon, approached the Buddha and said: "Venerable Sir, I release the Exalted One from the promise that He made when He guaranteed that I should win celestial nymphs."

The Buddha replied: "When, Nanda, you ceased to cling to the things of the world, and your heart was released from the Corruptions, at that moment I was released from that promise."

He then uttered the following paean of joy:

"He that has crossed over the mud and crushed the thorn of lust;
"He that has destroyed delusion, such a man is unmoved whether in pleasure or in pain."

When some monks doubted his attainment of Arahantship the Buddha in explanation uttered the following stanzas:

"Even as rain penetrates an ill-thatched house, so does lust penetrate an undeveloped mind."
"Even as rain does not penetrate a well-thatched house, so does lust not penetrate a well-developed mind.[1]"

Enjoying the bliss of Emancipation, he praised the Teacher, saying: "O excellent is the method of the Master, whereby I was drawn out of the mire of rebirth and set on Nibbāna's strand!"

Theragāthā attributes the following verses to him:

"Through not reflecting rightly I was attached to outward show. Overcome by passionate love, I was restless and fickle.

Because of the skilful means devised by the Buddha, the "kinsman of the sun", rightly I acted and drew out my mind from existence. [2]"

Venerable Nanda Thera was placed chief amongst disciples in respect of self-control.

The Buddha and Ānanda

Ānanda, a cousin of Prince Siddhattha, was the son of Amitodana, a younger brother of King Suddhodana. As he was born bringing happiness to all his kinsfolk, be was named Ānanda.

In the second year of the Buddha's ministry Ānanda entered the Order together with the Sākya Nobles ?Anuruddha, Bhaddiya, Bhagu, Kimbila, and Devadatta. Not long after, hearing a sermon from Venerable Punna Mantāniputta, he attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotāpatti).

When the Buddha was fifty-five years old Venerable Ānanda became His chief attendant.

During the first twenty years after His Enlightenment the Buddha had no permanent attendant. The few temporary attendants were not very dutiful and their behaviour was not highly commendable. One day while residing at Jetavana the Buddha addressed the bhikkhus and said: "Now I am old, O Bhikkhus. When I say: Let us go this way some go by another way; some drop my bowl and robe on the ground. Choose out one disciple to attend always upon me.[3]"

Forthwith all the Bhikkhus, from Venerable Sāriputta downwards, volunteered their services. But the Buddha declined their kind offer. As the Venerable Ānanda was silent, he was advised by the Bhikkhus to offer his services. He consented on condition the Buddha would grant the following eight boons:--

(i) The Buddha should not give him robes which He Himself had received.

(ii) The Buddha should not give him food which He had received.

(iii) The Buddha should not allow him to dwell in the same Fragrant Chamber.

(iv) The Buddha should not take him with Him wherever the Buddha is invited.

(v) The Buddha should kindly go with him wherever He is invited.

(vi) The Buddha should kindly give him permission to introduce visitors that come from afar to see the Buddha.

(vii) The Buddha should kindly grant him permission to approach Him whenever any doubt should arise.

(viii) The Buddha should kindly repeat to him the discourses that were declared in his absence.

The Buddha granted these four negative and positive boons. Thenceforth the Venerable Ānanda acted as His favourite attendant for twenty-five years till the Buddha's last moment. Like a shadow he followed Him everywhere, attending to all His needs with great love and care. Both during day and night his services were always at the disposal of his Master. At night it is stated that he used to go round the Fragrant Chamber nine times with staff and torch in hand to keep him awake and to prevent the Buddha's sleep from being disturbed.

Ānanda Bodhi Tree

It was Venerable Ānanda who was responsible for the planting of the Ānanda Bodhi Tree. In the absence of the Buddha, devout followers who used to bring flowers and garlands, lay them at the entrance to the Fragrant Chamber and depart with much rejoicing. Anāthapindika came to hear of it and requested Venerable Ānanda to inquire of the Buddha whether there was a possibility of finding a place where his devotees might pay obeisance to the Buddha when He was away on His preaching tours. Venerable Ānanda approached the Buddha and asked:

"Lord, how many objects of reverence (Cetiyani) are there, may it please you?"

"There are three, Ānanda. They are objects of reverence appertaining to the body (Sāririka),[4] objects of reverence appertaining to personal use (Pāribhogika) and objects of reverence reminiscent of the Buddha (Uddesika)."

"Is it proper, Lord, to construct a Cetiya while you are alive?"

"No, not an object of reverence appertaining to the body which it is proper to erect after the passing away of the Buddha. An object of reverence reminiscent of the Buddha has no physical basis; it is purely mental. But the great Bodhi tree, used by the Buddha, whether He is alive or dead, is an object of reverence (Cetiya)."

"Lord when you go on your preaching tours, the great monastery of Jetavana is without refuge, and people find no place of reverence. Lord, may I bring a seed from the great Bodhi tree and plant it at the entrance to Jetavana?"

"Very well, Ānanda, plant it. It will then be as if I constantly abide in Jetavana."

Venerable Ānanda mentioned this matter to Buddha's principal lay attendants -- Anāthapindika, Visākhā, and King Kosala -- and requested the Venerable Moggallāna to secure a fruit from the great Bodhi tree. Readily he consented and obtained a fruit that was falling from the tree and delivered it to Venerable Ānanda.

This he presented to the King who in turn handed it to Anāthapindika. Then he stirred up the fragrant soil and dropped it in the hole that was dug. The tree that sprang up in that place was known as the Ānanda-Bodhi.[5]

Ānanda and Women

It was also Venerable Ānanda who persuaded the Buddha to admit women into the Order. Had it not been for his intervention Mahā Pajāpati Gotami would not have succeeded in becoming a Bhikkhuni (Nun). Bhikkhunis held him in high esteem, and his sermons were greatly appreciated by them.

On one occasion he approached the Buddha and asked Him:

"How are we to conduct ourselves, Lord, with regard to womankind?"

"As not seeing them, Ānanda."

"But if we should see them, Lord, what are we to do?"

"Do not talk to them Ānanda."

"But if they should speak to us, Lord, what are we to do?"

"Be watchful, Ānanda."

This general exhortation was given to Bhikkhus so that they may constantly be watchful in their dealings with women.

As he possessed a powerfully retentive memory, and as he had the rare privilege of listening to all the discourses of the Buddha owing to his close association with Him, he was later appointed the Custodian of the Dhamma (Dhamma-bhandā-gārika).

Referring to his own knowledge of the Dhamma, in reply to a question, put by a brahmin Venerable Ānanda said:

"Eighty-two thousand from the Buddha and two thousand from the Bhikkhus I received.
There exist eighty-four thousand texts in all.
[6]"

The Buddha ranked him foremost amongst His disciples in five respects: erudition (bahussutānam), retentive memory (satimantānam), good behaviour (gatimantānam), steadfastness (dhitimantānam), and ministering care (upatthakānam). [7]

Though a distinguished disciple, well-versed in the Dhamma, he lived as a "learner" (sekha), till the death of the Buddha. The Buddha's final exhortation to him was -- "You have done merit in the past, Ānanda. Quickly be free from Corruptions. [8]"

It was only after the passing away of the Buddha that he attained Arahantship. As he was expected to take a leading part in the First Council, which was composed only of Arahants, he made a strenuous effort and attained Arahantship on the night preceding the Convocation while he was about to lie down on his couch. It is stated that he was the only disciple who attained Arahantship free from the postures of sitting, standing, walking or sleeping. [9]

Venerable Ānanda passed away at the age of one hundred and twenty. The Dhammapada commentary states that as people of both the sides of the river Rohini were equally serviceable to him and as both sides vied with each other to possess his relics, he sat cross-legged in the air over the middle of the river, preached the Dhamma to the multitude and wished that his body would split in two and that one portion would fall on the near side and the other on the farther side. He then entered into the ecstatic meditation on the element of fire (Tejokasina samāpatti). Instantly flames of fire issued from his body, and, as willed, one portion of the body fell on the near side and the other on the farther side.

The Theragāthā gives several stanzas uttered by him on various occasions. The following verses which deal with the frailty of this so-called beautiful body are particularly interesting:

"Behold this adorned body, a mass of sores, a lump infirm, much thought of, whereof nothing lasts, nothing persists. [10]"

The Buddha and Mahā Pajāpati Gotami

Mahā Pajāpati Gotami, was the youngest sister of King Suppabuddha. Her elder sister was Queen Mahā Maya. Both were married to King Suddhodana. She had a daughter named Nandā and a son named Nanda. Later, both of them entered the Order. When Mahā Maya died she adopted her sister's son, Prince Siddhattha, entrusting her own son Nanda to the charge of nurses.

Her family name was Gotami, and she was named Mahā Pajāpati because soothsayers predicted that she would be the head of a large following.

When the Buddha visited the palace and preached the Dhammapāla Jātaka to His father she attained the first stage of Sainthood.

After the death of King Suddhodana, as both Princes Siddhattha and Nanda had renounced the world, she also decided to enter the Noble Order and lead the Holy Life. When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu to settle a dispute between the Sākyas and Koliyas with regard to the irrigation of channels from the river Rohini and was residing at the Nigrodha park, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami approached the Buddha and begging Him to grant permission for women to enter the Order, pleaded thus: [11]

"It would be well, Lord, if women should be allowed to renounce their homes and enter the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata."

Without stating His reasons, the Buddha straightway refused, saying:

"Enough, O Gotami, let it not please you that women should be allowed to do so."

For the second and third time Mahā Pajāpati Gotami repeated her request, and the Buddha gave the same reply.

Later, the Buddha having stayed at Kapilavatthu as long as He liked journeyed to Vesali, and arriving there in due course, resided at the Mahāvana in the Kūtāgāra Hall.

Resolute Pajāpati Gotami, without being discouraged by her disappointment, got her hair cut off, donned yellow garments, and surrounded by a great number of Sākya ladies, walked from Kapilavatthu to Vesali, a distance of about 150 miles, experiencing many a hardship. With swollen feet, her body covered with dust, she arrived at Vesali and stood outside the porch of the Pinnacled Hall. Venerable Ānanda found her weeping and learning the cause of her grief, approached the Buddha and said:

"Behold, Lord, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami is standing outside the porch, with swollen feet, body covered with dust, and sad. Please permit women to renounce home and enter the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Exalted One. It were well, Lord, if women should be allowed to renounce their homes and enter the homeless state."

"Enough, Ānanda, let it not please you that women should be allowed to do so!" was the Buddha's reply.

For the second and third time he interceded on their behalf, but the Buddha would not yield.

So Venerable Ānanda made a different approach and respectfully questioned the Buddha: "Are women, Lord, capable of realizing the state of a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna), Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi.) Never-Returner (Anāgāmi) and an Arahant, when they have gone forth from home to the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Exalted one?"

The Buddha replied that they were capable of realizing Saintship.

Encouraged by this favourable reply, Venerable Ānanda appealed again, saying: "If then Lord, they are capable of attaining Saintship, since Mahā Pajāpati Gotami had been of great service to the Exalted One, when as aunt and nurse she nourished Him and gave Him milk, and on the death of His mother suckled the Exalted One at her own breast, it were well, Lord, that women should be given permission to renounce the world and enter the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata."

"If, Ānanda, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami accepts the Eight Chief Rules, let that be reckoned to her as the form of her ordination," said the Buddha, finally yielding to the entreaties of Venerable Ānanda. The Eight Chief Rules [12] are as follows:

1- A Bhikkhuni, even of a hundred years' standing by Upasampadā, [13] should salute a Bhikkhu, rise up before him, reverence him, and perform all proper duties towards him though he had received the Higher Ordination that very day.

2- A Bhikkhuni should not spend a Retreat (Vassa) in a place where there is no Bhikkhu.

3- Every fortnight a Bhikkhuni should ask from the Order of Bhikkhus the time of Uposatha [14] meeting and when a Bhikkhu would come to admonish them.

4- The Pavārana [15] ceremony after the Retreat should be held by a Bhikkhuni in the presence of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis (to inquire whether through any of the three ways of seeing, hearing, or suspicion a wrong has been done.)

5- A Bhikkhuni who has committed a major offence should undergo Mānatta [16] discipline in the presence of the Order of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

6- A female novice (Sikkamānā), who is trained in the Six Rules for two years, should receive the Higher Ordination from the Order of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

7- A Bhikkhuni should on no account rebuke or abuse a bhikkhu.

8- Henceforth Bhikkhunis should not give admonition to Bhikkhus, but Bhikkhus should admonish Bhikkhunis.

These rules are to be revered, reverenced, honoured and respected as long as life lasts and should not be transgressed.

When Venerable Ānanda mentioned them to Mahā Pajāpati Gotami she gladly agreed to abide by those eight Chief Rules. By their acceptance she automatically received the Higher Ordination.

In founding this Order of Bhikkhunis the Buddha, foreseeing the future repercussions, remarked: "If, Ānanda, women had not received permission to renounce the world and enter the homeless state under the doctrine and discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, the Holy Life would have lasted long and the Sublime Dhamma would have survived for thousand years. But since women have entered this homeless state, the Holy Life would not last long and the Sublime Dhamrna would now remain only for five hundred years. [17]"

The Buddha added -- "Just as, Ānanda, houses in which there are man, women and but few men are easily violated by burglars, even so, under whatsoever doctrine and discipline women are permitted to renounce the world and enter the homeless state, that Holy Life will not last long.

"And just as a man would in anticipation build an embankment to a great reservoir beyond which the water should not overpass, even so have I in anticipation laid down these eight Chief Rules for the Bhikkhunis, not to be transgressed throughout their lives. [18]"

In making these comments, which may not generally be very palatable to womankind, the Buddha was not in any way making a wholesale condemnation of women but was only reckoning with the weaknesses of their sex.

Although for several valid reasons the Buddha reluctantly permitted women to enter the Order, it should be stated that it was the Buddha who, for the first time in the history of the world, founded an Order for women with rules and regulations. Just as He appointed two chief disciples, Venerable Sāriputta and Mogallāna for the Order of monks, two chief female disciples -- Venerable Khemā and Uppalavannā -- were appointed for the Order of nuns as well.

One day Bhikkhuni Mahā Pajāpati Gotami approached the Buddha and invited him to deliver a discourse so that she may strive alone and achieve her goal.

The Buddha declared -- "Of whatsoever doctrine thou shall be conscious, Gotami, that these things conduce to passion and not to peace, to pride and not to veneration, to wishing for much and not to wishing for little, to love of society and not to seclusion, to sloth and not to the exercise of zeal, to being hard to satisfy and not to contentment, verily mayest thou then, Gotami, bear in mind: that is not Dhamma, that is not Vinaya, that is not the teaching of the Master.

But of whatsoever doctrine thou shall be conscious, Gotami, that these things conduce to peace and not to passion, to veneration and not to pride, to wishing for little and not to wishing for much, to seclusion and not to love of society, to the exercise of zeal and not to sloth, to contentment and not to querulousness, verily mayest thou then bear in mind: that is Dhamma, and that is Vinaya, and that is the teaching of the Master.[19]

Before long she attained Arahantship, accompanied by intuitive and analytical knowledge (Patisambhidā). [20]

The other Sākya ladies, who received their ordination with her, also attained Arahantship.

Amongst the female disciples Mahā Pajāpati Gotami was assigned the foremost place in seniority and experience (Ratta񱵩.

In the Therigāthā appear several verses uttered by her after attaining Arahantship.


 

CHAPTER 10 

THE BUDDHA'S CHIEF OPPONENTS AND SUPPORTERS

"As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind
Even so the wise are not ruffled by praise or blame."
-- DHAMMAPADA

The Buddha worked disinterestedly for the weal of mankind, making no distinction between the rich and the poor, the high and the low. His followers and supporters were drawn both from the highest and lowest rungs of the social ladder. So spontaneous was the love and so profound was the veneration of the people, that kings and nobles, millionaires and paupers, pious folk and courtesans, men and women of all ranks, vied with one another to be of service to Him and make His noble mission a success. The wealthy spent lavishly to erect suitable monasteries for Him, while the poor, full of faith, demonstrated their piety in their humble way. With perfect equanimity He accepted the gifts of the rich and the poor, but showed no partiality to any. Nevertheless, He showed more compassion to the poor and the lowly. Like a bee that extracts honey from a flower without hurting it, He lived amongst His followers and supporters without causing the slightest inconvenience to any. Offerings of diverse kinds were showered on Him, and He accepted them all with perfect non-attachment.

Though absolutely pure in motive and perfectly selfless in His service to humanity, yet, in preaching and spreading His teaching, the Buddha had to contend against strong opposition. He was severely criticised, roundly abused, insulted and ruthlessly attacked, as no other religious teacher had been. His chief opponents were ordinary teachers of rival sects and followers of heretical schools whose traditional teachings and superstitious rites and ceremonies He justly criticised. His greatest personal enemy, who made a vain attempt to kill Him, was His own brotber-in-law and an erstwhile disciple -- Devadatta.

The Buddha and Devadatta

Devadatta was the son of King Suppabuddha and Pamitā an aunt of the Buddha. Yasodharā was his sister. He was thus a cousin and brother-in-law of the Buddha. He entered the Order in the early part of the Buddha's ministry together with Ānanda and other Sākya princes. He could not attain any of the stages of Sainthood, but was distinguished for worldly psychic powers (pothujjanika-iddhi). One of his chief supporters was King Ajātasattu who built a monastery for him.

During the early part of his career he led such an exemplary life that even Venerable Sāriputta went about Rājagaha extolling him. Later, overcome by worldly gain and honour, and growing jealous of the Buddha, Devadatta became so radically changed in his character that he proved to be the greatest personal enemy of the Buddha. Simultaneous with the arising of ill-will in his heart towards the Buddha his psychic powers automatically ceased.

Despite his evil ways and corrupt life, he had a large following and many admirers, and some even preferred him to Venerable Sāriputta.

On one occasion he approached the Buddha and requested Him to hand over the leadership of the Sangha to him as the Buddha was advanced in age. The Buddha straightway refused, saying: "Not even to Sāriputta or Moggallāna would I hand over the Sangha. Would I then hand it over to thee?" He was enraged at this refusal and vowed vengeance. To safeguard and maintain the dignity of the Sangha the Buddha caused a proclamation to be made that Devadatta alone was responsible for anything done by him in the name of the Buddha, the Dhamma, or the Sangha.

He, therefore, conspired with King Ajātasattu to kill the Buddha. Ajātasattu was advised to kill his father and usurp the throne, while he himself decided to kill the Buddha and lead the Sangha.

Ungrateful Ajātasattu succeeded in killing his devout father, and Devadatta hired bowmen to murder the Buddha but, contrary to his expectations, all the hirelings became the Buddha's followers. Foiled in his attempt, he himself resolved to kill the Buddha. When the Buddha was walking on the slopes of Gijjhakūta he climbed the Peak and mercilessly hurled a rock at the Buddha. Fortunately it struck another piece of rock and a splinter slightly wounded His foot, causing the blood to flow. Jīvaka the physician attended on Him and cured Him.

Devadatta made another unsuccessful attempt to kill the Buddha by dispatching the elephant Nālāgiri, after infuriating him with liquor, against the Teacher. When the ferocious elephant approached the Buddha the Venerable Ānanda stepped forward to sacrifice his life for the sake of his Master, but the Buddha subdued the beast by His loving-kindness (Mettā).

By this last wicked act Devadatta became extremely unpopular, and public opinion was so much against him that the King was compelled to withdraw his patronage. Devadatta fell into disrepute and all his favours decreased.

He now decided to live by deceit. His fertile brain devised another seemingly peaceful plan.

With the help of equally evil-minded Bhikkhus like Kokālika, he thought of causing a schism in the Order. He requested the Buddha to enforce the following five rules among the Bhikkhus:

i) That monks should dwell all their lives in the forest.

ii) That they should live on alms begged.

iii) That they should wear Pamsakūla robes (i.e., robes made from rags collected from the dust-heap and cemeteries.)

iv) That they should live at the foot of a tree.

v) That they should not eat fish or flesh throughout life.

This he did, knowing fully well that the Buddha would not assent thereto. He desired to make Buddha's refusal a pretext for disparaging the Buddha, and thereby winning the support of the ignorant masses.

When this request was made the compassionate and tolerant Buddha declared that His disciples were free to adopt these rules or not, but would not make them compulsory for all.

Devadatta made this refusal a cause for a schism in the Order. He appealed to the Bhikkhus, saying: "Brethren, whose words are the nobler, the words of the Tathāgata or the words which I myself have uttered? Whoever desires release from suffering, let him come with me."

Newly ordained monks, who were not conversant with the Dhamma, apparently approved of his demands and went over to him. Accompanied by them, he went to Gayāsisa. But Venerable Sāriputta and Mogallāna, on the advice of the Buddha, went there and succeeded in winning them back after explaining the Dhamma to them.

Thereafter evil days fell upon Devadatta. He fell grievously ill, and before his death he sincerely repented and desired to see the Buddha. But his bad Kamma interfered and he had to die a miserable death without seeing the Buddha. However, he sought refuge in the Buddha at the last moment.

Although he suffers in a woeful state for his heinous crimes, yet as a result of the Holy Life he led during the early part of his career, it is stated that he would become a Pacceka Buddha named Atthissara in the distant future.

ANĀTHAPINDIKA

The chief supporter of the Buddha was Anāthapindika the millionaire. Amongst His lay-followers he was regarded as the foremost alms-giver (dāyaka).

The original name of Anāthapindika, which means the "Feeder of the Helpless", was Sudatta. Owing to his unparalleled generosity he was latterly known by his new name. His birthplace was Sāvatthi.

One day he visited his brother-in-law in Rājagaha to transact some business. He did not come forward as usual to welcome him but Sudatta found him in the backyard making preparations for a feast. On inquiry, to his indescribable joy, he understood that those arrangements were being made to entertain the Buddha on the following day. The utterance of the mere word "Buddha" roused his interest and he longed to see Him. As he was told that the Buddha was living in the Sītavana forest in the neighbourhood and that he could see Him on the following morning, he went to sleep. His desire to visit the Buddha was so intense that he had a sleepless night and he arose at an unusual hour in the morning to start for the Sītavana. It appears that, owing to his great faith in the Buddha, a light emanated from his body. He proceeded to the spot passing through a cemetery. It was pitch dark and a fear arose in him. He thought of turning back. Then Sīvaka, a Yakkha, himself invisible, encouraged him, saying:

"A hundred elephants and horses too,
Ay, and a hundred chariots drawn by mules,
A hundred thousand maidens, in their ears
Bejewelled rings:-- all are not worth
The sixteenth fraction of a single stride.
Advance, O citizen, go forward thou!
Advance for thee is better than retreat.
[1]"

His fear vanished and faith in the Buddha arose in its place. Light appeared again, and he courageously sped forward. Nevertheless, all this happened a second time and yet a third time.

Ultimately He reached Sītavana where the Buddha was pacing up and down in the open air anticipating his visit. The Buddha addressed him by his family name, Sudatta, and called him to His presence.

Anāthapindika was pleased to hear the Buddha address him thus and respectfully inquired whether the Buddha rested happily.

The Buddha replied:

"Surely at all times happily doth rest
The Arahant in whom all fire's extinct.
Who cleaveth not to sensuous desires,
Cool all his being, rid of all the germs
That bring new life, all cumbrances cut out,
Subdued the pain and pining of the heart,
Calm and serene he resteth happily
For in his mind he hath attained to Peace.
[2]"

Hearing the Dhamma, he became a Sotāpanna (Stream-Winner), and invited the Buddha to spend the rainy season at Sāvatthi. The Buddha accepted the invitation suggesting that Buddhas take pleasure in solitude. Anāthapindika returning to Sāvatthi, bought the park belonging to Prince Jeta at a price determined by covering, so the story goes, the whole site with gold coins, and erected the famous Jetavana Monastery at a great cost. Here the Buddha spent nineteen rainy seasons. This monastery where the Buddha spent the major part of His life was the place where He delivered many of His sermons.

Several discourses which were of particular interest to laymen were delivered to Anāthapindika, although he refrained from asking any question from the Buddha, lest he should weary Him.

Once the Buddha discoursing on generosity reminded Anāthapindika that alms given to the Order of monks together with the Buddha is very meritorious; but more meritorious than such alms is the building of a monastery for the use of the Order; more meritorious than such monasteries is seeking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha; more meritorious than seeking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha is the observance of the five precepts; more meritorious than such observance is meditation on loving-kindness (Mettā) for a moment; and most meritorious of all is the development of Insight as to the fleeting nature of things (Vipassanā). [3]

It is evident from this discourse that generosity is the first stage on the way of Buddhist life. More important than generosity is the observance of at least the five rules of regulated behaviour which tend to the disciplining of words and deeds. Still more important and more beneficial is the cultivation of such ennobling virtues like loving-kindness which lead to self-development. Most important and most beneficial of all self-discipline is the sincere effort to understand things as they truly are.

Commenting on the four kinds of bliss a layman may enjoy, the Buddha declared:

"There are these four kinds of bliss to be won by the householder who enjoys the pleasures of sense from time to time and when occasion offers -- the bliss of ownership (atthisukha), the bliss of wealth (bhogasukha), the bliss of debtlessness (ananasukha), and the bliss of blamelessness (anavajjasukha).[4]

"What is the bliss of ownership?"

Herein a clansman has wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by strength of arm, won by sweat, lawful, and lawfully gotten. At the thought, wealth is mine, acquired by energetic striving, lawfully gotten, bliss comes to him, satisfaction comes to him. This is called the bliss of ownership.

"What is the bliss of wealth?"

Herein a clansman by means of wealth acquired by energetic striving, both enjoys his wealth and does meritorious deeds therewith. At the thought, by means of wealth acquired, I both enjoy my wealth and do meritorious deeds, bliss comes to him, satisfaction comes to him. This is called the bliss of wealth.

"What is the bliss of debtlessness?"

Herein a clansman owes no debt, great or small, to anyone. At the thought, I owe no debt, great or small, to anyone, bliss comes to him, satisfaction comes to him. This is called the bliss of debtlessness.

"What is the bliss of blamelessness?"

Herein the Aryan disciple is blessed with blameless action of body, blameless action of speech, blameless action of mind. At the thought, I am blessed with blameless action of body, speech and mind, bliss comes to him, satisfaction comes to him. This is called the bliss of blamelessness."

"Winning the bliss of debtlessness a man
May then recall the bliss of really having.
When he enjoys the bliss of wealth, he sees
'Tis such by wisdom. When he sees he knows.
Thus is he wise indeed in both respects.
But these have not one-sixteenth of the bliss
(That cometh to a man) of blamelessness."

On another occasion when the Buddha visited the house of Anāthapindika, he heard an unusual uproar inside the house and inquired what it was.

"Lord, it is Sujātā, my daughter-in-law, who lives with us. She is rich and has been brought here from a wealthy family. She pays no heed to her mother-in-law, nor to her father-in-law, nor to her husband; neither does she venerate, honour, reverence nor respect the Exalted One," replied Anāthapindika.

The Buddha called her to His presence and preached an illuminative discourse on seven kinds of wives that exist even in modern society as it was in the days of old.

"Whoso is wicked in mind, ill-disposed, pitiless, fond of other (men) neglecting husband, a prostitute, bent on harassing -- such a one is called "a troublesome wife."

(Vadhakabhariyā)

Whoso wishes to squander whatever profits, though little, that the husband gains whether by crafts, trade, or plough -- such a one is called "a thievish wife."

(Corabhariyā)

Whoso is not inclined to do anything, lazy, gluttonous, harsh, cruel, fond of bad speech, lives domineering the industrious -- such a one is called "a lordly wife."

(Ayyabhariyā)

Whoso is ever kind and compassionate, protects her husband like a mother, her son, guards the accumulated wealth of her husband -- such a one is called "a motherly wife."

(Mātubhariyā)

Whoso is respectful towards her husband just as a younger sister towards her elder brother, modest, lives in accordance with her husband's wishes -- such a one is called "a sisterly wife."

(Bhaginibhariyā)

Whoso rejoices at the sight of her husband even as a friend on seeing a companion who has come after a long time, is of noble birth, virtuous and chaste -- such a one is called "a friendly wife."

(Sakhībhariyā)

Whoso, when threatened with harm and punishment, is not angry but calm, endures all things of her husband with no wicked heart, free from hatred, lives in accordance with her husband's wishes -- such a one is called "a handmaid wife. [5]"

(Dāsībhariyā)

The Buddha describing the characteristics of the seven kinds of wives remarked that of them the troublesome wife (vadhakabhariyā), the thievish wife (corabhariyā), and the lordly wife (ayyabhariyā), are bad and undesirable ones, while the motherly wife (mātubhariya), sisterly wife (bha-ginibhariyā, friendly wife (sakhībhariyā), and handmaid wife (dāsibhariyā), are good and praiseworthy ones.

"These, Sujātā, are the seven kinds of wives a man may have: and which of them are you?"

"Lord, let the Exalted One think of me as a handmaid wife (dāsibhariyā) from this day forth."

Anāthapindika used to visit the Buddha daily and, finding that people go disappointed in the absence of the Buddha, wished to know from the Venerable Ānanda whether there was a possibility for the devout followers to pay their respects when the Buddha goes out on His preaching tours. This matter was reported to the Buddha with the result that the Ānanda-Bodhi Tree, [6] which stands to this day, was planted at the entrance to the monastery.

Punnalakkhanā, a very virtuous lady, was his wife. Mahā Subhaddā, Cuta Subhaddā, and Sumanā were his three devout daughters. The elder two had attained Sotāpatti, while the youngest was a Sakadāgāmi. His only son Kāla, who was at first irreligious, later became a Sotāpanna by the skilfullness of the father.

Anāthapindika breathed his last after hearing a profound discourse from Venerable Sāriputta. [7]

As he was about to die he sent a messenger to inform the Buddha that he was seriously ill and that he paid His homage to Him and then to request the Venerable Sāriputta to have compassion on him and visit him in his house. As invited, the Venerable Sāriputta, accompanied by Venerable Ānanda, proceeded to his house and inquired about his health. He replied that he was suffering from an acute pain and that he saw no signs of progress.

The Venerable Sāriputta then preached a profound discourse. Tears came to his eyes at the close of the sermon. Venerable Ānanda seeing him in tears asked him whether he was sinking, Anāthapindika answered: "Not at all, Venerable Sir. Though I have long attended on the Master and His disciples, never did I hear such a discourse."

'Such profound discourses are not taught to the white-robed laymen as they cannot comprehend their meaning but are reserved for advanced disciples," replied Venerable Sāriputta.

But Anāthapindika begged Venerable Sāriputta to expound such intricate Dhamma to the laity as well for there would be some who could understand.

Not long before the departure of these two great disciples Anāthapindika passed away and was immediately reborn in Tusita heaven.

At night Deva Anāthapindika, illuminating the whole Jeta Grove, came up to the Buddha, saluted Him, and extolling the virtues of Venerable Sāriputta, expressed his pleasure on seeing the Buddha and His disciples residing in his monastery, and said:

"Goodwill and wisdom, mind by method trained,
The highest conduct on good morals based,
This maketh mortals pure, not rank nor wealth.
[8]"

VISĀKHĀ

Visākhā was the devout and generous daughter of millionaire Dhana񪡹a. Her mother was Sumanā Devi, and her beloved grand-father was millionaire Mendaka.

When she was only seven years old, the Buddha happened to visit her birth place, Bhaddiya, in the kingdom of Anga. Her grand-father, hearing of Buddha's visit, said to her: "Dear girl, this is a happy day for you and a happy day for me. Summon the five hundred maidens who are your attendants, mount five hundred chariots, and accompanied by your five hundred slave-maidens, go forth to welcome the Buddha."

Readily she agreed and, as advised, went up to the Buddha, saluted Him and sat respectfully at a side. The Buddha was pleased with her refined manners and He preached the Dhamma to her and others. Though young in age, she was comparatively far advanced from a moral standpoint. As such, immediately after hearing the Dhamma, she attained the first stage of sainthood (Sotāpatti) in her early age.

Books state that even in the prime of her youth she possessed masculine strength and was gifted with all womanly charms. [9] Her hair was like a peacock's tail and when loosened it reached the hem of her skirt and then the ends of the hair curled and turned upwards. Her lips were of a bright red colour and were smooth and soft to the touch. Her teeth were white and were evenly set without interstices and shone like a row of diamonds. Her skin, without the use of any cosmetic, was as smooth as a blue lotus-wreath and was of a golden colour. She retained her youthful appearance although she bore several children.

Endowed with these five kinds of feminine beauty -- hair, flesh, bone, skin and youth -- young Visākha excelled both in worldly wisdom and spiritual insight.

When she was about fifteen or sixteen years old, on a certain Festival Day, she went on foot with her retinue in a holiday spirit to the river to bathe. Suddenly there arose an unexpected shower, and all but young Visākhā ungraciously ran as fast as they could and entered a hall where there were some brahmins who had come in search of a suitable maiden possessed of the five kinds of beauty for their young master. Cultured Visākhā, without any particular haste, gracefully proceeded at her usual gait and entered the hall with garments and ornaments all wet. The inquisitive brahmins criticised her for not quickening up her pace as others had done and thus escaping being drenched in the rain.

Talented Visākhā rose to the occasion and gave an extempore discourse on deportment according to her view. She said that she could have run even faster but she refrained from doing so purposely. Then she explained that it was not becoming for a King, adorned with all jewels, to gird up his loins and run in the palace-court. Likewise it is not becoming for a fully caparisoned state elephant to run; it should move about with the natural grace of an elephant. Monks also incur criticism when they run about like ordinary laymen. Likewise it is not a dignified spectacle to see a woman running about like a man.

Brahmins were pleased with her instructive talk and thought that she was an ideal wife for their master. Accordingly, arrangements were made to give her in marriage to their master, Punnavaddhana, himself the son of a millionaire named Migāra, who was not a follower of the Buddha.

The marriage festival was conducted on an elaborate scale. On the wedding day, in addition to a large dowry and an exquisitely rich ornament (mahālatāpilandhana), her wise father gave her the following admonitions:

1.- Do not carry outside the indoor fire. [10]

2.- Do not take inside the outdoor fire.

3.- Give only to those that give.

4.- Do not give to those that do not give.

5.- Give both to those that give and do not give.

6.- Sit happily.

7.- Eat happily.

8.- Sleep happily.

9.- Tend the fire.

10.- Honour the household divinities.

Their implied meaning is as follows:

1. The wife should not speak ill of her husband and parents-in-law to others. Neither should their shortcomings nor household quarrels be reported elsewhere.

2. A wife should not listen to the reports and stories of other households.

3. Things should be lent to those who do return them.

4. No article should be lent to those who do not return them.

5. Poor kinsfolk and friends should be helped even if they do not repay.

6. A wife should sit in a becoming way. On seeing her parents-in-law or her husband, she should keep standing and not sit.

7. Before partaking of her meals, a wife should first see that her parents-in-law and husband are served. She should also see that her servants are well cared for.

8. Before sleep a wife should see that all doors are closed, furniture is safe, servants have performed their duties, and that parents-in-law have retired. As a rule a wife should rise early in the morning and, unless unwell, she should not sleep during the day.

9. Parents-in-law and husband should be regarded as fire. One should deal carefully with them as one would deal with fire.

10. Parents-in-law and husband should be regarded as divinities. It is noteworthy that the Buddha Himself refers to parents-in-law as divinities (sassudevā).

On the day she arrived in Sāvatthi, the city of her husband, she was showered with various presents sent from people of all ranks according to their status and ability. But so kind and generous was she that she distributed them amongst the donors themselves with a kind message, and treated all the residents of the city as her own kinsfolk. By this noble gesture on the very first day she came to her husband's home, she became endeared to all the people of the city.

There is an incident in her life which reveals her dutiful kindness even towards animals. Hearing that her well-bred mare gave birth to a foal in the middle of the night, immediately she repaired to the stable with her female attendants bearing torches in their hands, and attended to all the mare's needs with the greatest care and attention.

As her father-in-law was a staunch follower of Nigantha Nātaputta, he invited a large number of naked ascetics to his house for alms. On their arrival Visākhā was requested to come and render homage to these so-called Arahants. She was delighted to hear the word Arahant and hurried to the hall only to see naked ascetics devoid of all modesty. The sight was too unbearable for a refined lady like Visākhā. She reproached her father-in-law and retired to her quarters without entertaining them. The naked ascetics took offence and found fault with the millionaire for having brought a female follower of the Ascetic Gotama to his house. They asked him to expel her from the house immediately. The millionaire pacified them.

One day he sat on a costly seat and began to eat some sweet rice porridge from a golden bowl. At that moment a Bhikkhu entered the house for alms. Visākhā was fanning her father-in-law and without informing him of his presence she moved aside so that he might see him. Although he saw him he continued eating as if he had not seen him.

Visākhā politely told the Bhikkhu: "Pass on, Venerable Sir, my father-in-law is eating stale fare (purānam)."

The ignorant millionaire, misconstruing her words, was so provoked that he ordered the bowl to be removed and Visākhā to be expelled from the house.

Visākhā was the favourite of all the inmates of the house, and so nobody dared to touch her.

But Visākhā, disciplined as she was, would not accept without protest such treatment even from her father-in-law. She politely said: "Father, this is no sufficient reason why I should leave your house. I was not brought here by you like a slave girl from some ford. Daughters, whose parents are alive, do not leave like this. It is for this very reason that my father, when I set out to come here, summoned eight clansmen and entrusted me to them, saying: 'If there be any fault in my daughter, investigate it.' Send word to them and let them investigate my guilt or innocence."

The millionaire agreed to her reasonable proposal and summoning them said: "At a time of festivity, while I was sitting and eating sweet milk rice-porridge from a golden bowl, this girl said that I was eating what was unclean. Convict her of this fault and expel her from the house."

Visākhā proved her innocence stating -- "That is not precisely what I said. When a certain Bhikkhu was standing at the door for alms, my father-in-law was eating sweet milk rice-porridge, ignoring him. Thinking to myself that my father without performing any good deed in this life, is only consuming the merits of past deeds, I told the Bhikkhu: 'Pass on, Venerable Sir, my father-in-law is eating stale fare.' What fault of mine is there in this ?"

She was acquitted of the charge, and the father-in-law himself agreed she was not guilty.

But the spiteful millionaire charged her again for having gone behind the house with male and female attendants in the middle watch of the night.

When she explained that she actually did so in order to attend on a mare in travail, the clansmen remarked that their noble daughter had done an exemplary act which even a slave-girl would not do. She was thus acquitted of the second charge too.

But the revengeful millionaire would not rest until she was found guilty. Next time he found fault with her for no wrong of hers. He said that before her departure from home her father gave her ten admonitions. For instance, he said to her: "The indoor fire is not to be taken out of doors. Is it really possible to live without giving fire even to our neighbours on both sides of us?" questioned the millionaire.

She availed herself of the opportunity to explain all the ten admonitions in detail to his entire satisfaction.

The millionaire was silenced and he had no other charges to make.

Having proved her innocence, self-respecting Visākhā now desired to leave the house as she was ordered to do so at first.

The millionaire's attitude towards Visākhā was completely changed, and he was compelled to seek pardon from his daughter-in-law for what he had uttered through ignorance.

Forbearing Visākhā, in accordance with her true Buddhist spirit, granted him pardon on condition that he would give complete freedom to her to carry on her religious activities as she desired. Her father-in-law readily agreed to this and granted her full freedom to perform her religious activities.

Now Visākhā, lost no time in inviting the Buddha to the house for alms. The Buddha came and had His meal. After the meal was over the Buddha expounded a sermon. The millionaire sat behind a curtain and listened to the sermon. At the end of the discourse he became Sotāpanna and acknowledged his boundless gratitude to his daughter-in-law for having initiated him into the True Path of Deliverance and emotionally remarked that he would hereafter regard Visākhā as his mother.

Later on when she bore a son she called him Migāra.

On the following day the Buddha visited her house, and on that occasion her mother-in-law heard the Dhamma and became a Sotāpanna (Stream-winner).

By her tact, wisdom, and patience she gradually succeeded in converting her husband's household to a happy Buddhist home.

Daily Visākhā used to give alms to the Sangha at her own house. Both in the forenoon and afternoon she used to visit the monastery to minister to the needs of the Sangha and hear sermons from the Buddha. Suppiyā, another devout Buddhist lady, usually accompanied her during her visits.

Visākhā was so generous and so serviceable to the Sangha that once she approached the Buddha and asked for the following eight boons:

1. To give robes to the Sangha during the rainy season as long as she lived.

2. To provide alms for the Bhikkhus coming to Sāvatthi.

3. To provide alms for those going out of Sāvatthi.

4. To give food for sick Bhikkhus.

5. To give food for those who attend on the sick.

6. To give medicine for the sick Bhikkhus.

7. To give rice-gruel for Bhikkhus.

8. To give bathing garments for nuns.

The Buddha granted these boons to her.

One day Visākhā happened to visit the monastery, decked in her best garment, presented to her by her father as a dowry. But as she thought it was unseemly to see the Buddha, so gaily decked, she made a bundle of it gave it to the slave-girl and went to the Buddha, dressed in another garment given to her by her father-in-law. After the sermon she left the monastery accompanied by the slave-girl who forgot to take the bundle which was placed in her custody. Venerable Ānanda saw it and, as instructed by the Buddha, kept it in a safe place to be returned to the owner. Visākā, on hearing that the bundle was inadvertently left by the maid, asked her to bring it back unless Venerable Ānanda had touched it. When what had happened was reported to Visākhā, she went to the Buddha and expressed her desire to do something beneficial with the money, realized by selling the garment. The Buddha advised her to erect a monastery at the East gate for the use of the Sangha As no one had the means to buy the costly garment, she herself, bought it back and erected a monastery at a great cost and named it Pubbārāma. As invited by Visākhā, the Buddha and His disciples spent the Vassāna period in this new spacious monastery. Great was Visākhā's joy when the Buddha spent six rainy seasons there.

Books state that the kind Visākhā, instead of chastising the slave-girl for her apparent negligence, transferred to her a share of the merit acquired by erecting the monastery, because the slave-girl had given the occasion for this good deed.

On various occasions several discourses were delivered to Visākhā by the Buddha. In one discourse the Buddha spoke on the observance of the Eight Precepts by laymen on Uposatha Days, [11] which observance prevails in almost all Buddhist countries in Asia up to this day.

Dealing with the eight qualities that make a woman seek birth in happy states, the Buddha said:

"Active, alert to cherish him always,
Not to that man who brings her every joy
She offers slight, nor will a good wife move
To wrath her husband by some spiteful word;
And she reveres all whom her lord doth honour
For she is wise. Deft, nimble, up betimes,
She minds his wealth amid his folk at work
And sweetly orders all. A wife like this,
Who with her husband's wish and will complies
Is born again where lovely devas dwell.
[12]

In another discourse the Buddha referring to the eight qualities in a woman that tend to weal and happiness in this world and in the next spoke as follows:

"Herein, Visākhā, a woman is capable at her work, she manages the servants, in her ways she is lovely to her lord, she guards his wealth.

"Herein, Visākhā, a woman is accomplished in trustful confidence (Saddhā), virtue (Sīla), charity (Cāga) and wisdom (Pa񱦣257;). [13]"

Being a lady of many parts, she played an important role in various activities connected with the Sāsana. At times she was deputed by the Buddha to settle disputes that arose amongst Bhikhunis. Some Vinaya rules were also laid down for Bhikkhus owing to her intervention.

Owing to her magnanimity she was regarded as the chief benefactress of the Sāsana and the greatest female supporter of the Buddha.

By her dignified conduct, graceful deportment, refined manners, courteous speech, obedience and reverence to elders, compassion to those who are less fortunate, kind hospitality, and religious zeal, she won the hearts of all who knew her.

Books state that she had the good fortune to be the happy mother of ten fortunate sons and ten fortunate daughters. She died at the ripe age of one hundred and twenty.

JĪVAKA THE FOSTERLING

Jīvaka was the celebrated physician of the Buddha.

Immediately after his birth he was placed in a casket and was cast away by his mother, a courtesan, on a dust heap by the road side.

Prince Abhaya, a son of King Bimbisāra, who happened to pass that way, saw the helpless infant surrounded by crows, and discovering that he was alive (Jivati), caused him to be given to the care of the nurses.

As he was found alive he was named Jīvaka. Being adopted by a prince, he was called Komārabhacca.

Growing up, he became a skilful physician and surgeon. Books state that he made two successful operations on a millionaire who was suffering from a severe headache.

He used to attend on the Buddha three times a day.

When the Buddha's foot was wounded by a splinter caused by the hurling of a rock by Devadatta, it was Jīvaka who attended on Him and healed Him. [14]

Realizing the manifold advantages of having a monastery close to his residence, he erected one in his mango park. After the consecration ceremony of this monastery, he became a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna).

Jīvaka Sutta, [15] which deals with the question of eating flesh, was delivered by the Buddha to Jīvaka.

It was Jīvaka who induced King Ajātasattu to visit the Buddha after his parricide.

At his request the Buddha enjoined upon His disciples to take physical exercise such as sweeping etc.   


 

CHAPTER 11 

THE BUDDHA'S ROYAL PATRONS

 

"A treacherous bog it is, this patronage
Of bows and gifts and treats from wealthy folk.
'Tis like a fine dart, bedded in the flesh.
For erring human hard to extricate. "
-- MAHĀKASSAPA THERA GĀTHĀ (1053)

King Bimbisāra

King Bimbisāra, who ruled in Magadha with its capital at Rājagaha, was the Buddha's first royal patron. Ascending the throne at the age of fifteen, he reigned for fifty-two years.

When Prince Siddhattha renounced the world and was seeking alms in the streets of Rājagaha as a humble ascetic, the King saw him from his palace and was highly impressed by his majestic appearance and dignified deportment. Immediately he sent messengers to ascertain who he was. On learning that he was resting after his meal under the Pandavapabbata, the King, accompanied by his retinue, went up to the royal ascetic and inquired about his birthplace and ancestry.

The ascetic Gotama replied:

"Just straight, O King, upon the Himalaya, there is, in the district of Kosala of ancient families, a country endowed with wealth and energy. I am sprung from that family which by clan belongs to the Solar dynasty, by birth to the Sākyas. I crave not for pleasures of the senses. Realizing the evil of sensual pleasures and seeing renunciation as safe, I proceeded to seek the Highest, for in that my mind rejoices.[1]

Thereupon the King invited him to visit his kingdom after his Enlightenment.

The Buddha meets King Bimbisāra

In accordance with the promise the Buddha made to King Bimbisāra before His Enlightenment, He, with His large retinue of Arahant disciples, went from Gayā to Rājagaha, the capital of the district of Magadha. Here He stayed at the Suppatittha Shrine in a Palm Grove.

This happy news of the Buddha's arrival in the kingdom and His high reputation as an unparalleled religious teacher soon spread in the city. The King, hearing of His arrival, came with a large number of his subjects to welcome the Buddha. He approached the Buddha, respectfully saluted Him and sat at a side. Of his subjects some respectfully saluted Him, some looked towards him with expression of friendly greetings, some saluted Him with clasped hands, some introduced themselves, while others in perfect silence took their seats. As both the Buddha Gotama and Venerable Kassapa were held in high esteem by the multitude they were not certain whether the Buddha was leading the Holy Life under Venerable Kassapa or the latter under the former. The Buddha read their thoughts and questioned Venerable Kassapa as to why he had given up his fire-sacrifice. Understanding the motive of the Buddha's question, he explained that he abandoned fire-sacrifice because he preferred the passionless and peaceful state of Nibbāna to worthless sensual pleasures. After this he fell at the feet of the Buddha and acknowledging his superiority said: "My teacher, Lord, is the Exalted One: I am the disciple. My teacher, Lord, is the Exalted One: I am the disciple."

The devout people were delighted to hear of the conversion.[2] The Buddha thereupon preached the Mahā Nārada Kassapa Jātaka [3] to show how in a previous birth when He was born as Nārada, still subject to passion, He converted Kassapa in a similar way.

Hearing the Dhamma expounded by the Buddha, the "Eye of Truth" [4] arose in them all. King Bimbisāra attained Sotāpatti, and seeking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, invited the Buddha and His disciples to his palace for the meal on the following day. After the meal the King wished to know where the Buddha would reside. The Buddha replied that a secluded place, neither too far nor too close to the city, accessible to those who desire to visit Him, pleasant, not crowded during the day, not too noisy at night, with as few sounds as possible, airy and fit for the privacy of men, would be suitable.

The King thought that his Bamboo Grove would meet all such requirements. Therefore in return for the transcendental gift the Buddha had bestowed upon him, he gifted for the use of the Buddha and the Sangha the park with this ideally secluded bamboo grove, also known as 'The Sanctuary of the Squirrels.' It would appear that this park had no building for the use of Bhikkhus but was filled with many shady trees and secluded spots. However, this was the first gift of a place of residence for the Buddha and His disciples. The Buddha spent three successive rainy seasons and three other rainy seasons in this quiet Veluvanārāma. [5]

After his conversion the King led the life of an exemplary monarch observing Uposatha regularly on six days of the month.

Kosala Devi, daughter of King Mahā Kosala, and sister of King Pasenadi Kosala, was his chief loyal queen. Ajātasattu was her son. Khemā who, through the ingenuity of the King, became a follower of the Buddha and who later rose to the position of the first female disciple of the Order of Nuns, was another queen.

Though he was a pious monarch, yet, due to his past evil Kamma, he had a very sad and pathetic end.

Prince Ajātasattu, successor to the throne, instigated by wicked Devadatta Thera, attempted to kill him and usurp the throne. The unfortunate prince was caught red-handed, and the compassionate father, instead of punishing him for his brutal act, rewarded him with the coveted Crown.

The ungrateful son showed his gratitude to his father by casting him into prison in order to starve him to death. His mother alone had free access to the King daily. The loyal queen carried food concealed in her waist-pouch. To this the prince objected. Then she carried food concealed in her hair-knot. The prince resented this too. Later she bathed herself in scented water and besmeared her body with a mixture of honey, butter, ghee, and molasses. The King licked her body and sustained himself. The over-vigilant prince detected this and ordered his mother not to visit his father.

King Bimbisāra was without any means of sustenance, but he paced up and down enjoying spiritual happiness as he was a Sotāpanna. Ultimately the wicked son decided to put an end to the life of his noble father. Ruthlessly he ordered his barber to cut open his soles and put salt and oil thereon and make him walk on burning charcoal.

The King, who saw the barber approaching, thought that the son, realizing his folly, was sending the barber to shave his grown beard and hair and release him from prison. Contrary to his expectations, he had to meet an untimely sad end. The barber mercilessly executed the inhuman orders of the barbarous prince. The good King died in great agony. On that very day a son was born unto Ajātasattu. Letters conveying the news of birth and death reached the palace at the same time.

The letter conveying the happy news was first read. Lo, the love he cherished towards his first-born son was indescribable! His body was thrilled with joy and the paternal love penetrated up to the very marrow of his bones.

Immediately he rushed to his beloved mother and questioned: "Mother dear, did my father love me when I was a child?"

"What say you, son! When you were conceived in my womb, I developed a craving to sip some blood from the right hand of your father. This I dare not say. Consequently I grew pale and thin. I was finally persuaded to disclose my inhuman desire. Joyfully your father fulfilled my wish, and I drank that abhorrent potion. The soothsayers predicted that you would be an enemy of your father. Accordingly you were named Ajātasattu (unborn enemy).

I attempted to effect a miscarriage, but your father prevented it. After you were born, again I wanted to kill you. Again your father interfered. On one occasion you were suffering from a boil in your finger, and nobody was able to lull you into sleep. But your father, who was administering justice in his royal court, took you into his lap and caressing you sucked the boil. Lo, inside the mouth it burst open. 0, my dear son, that pus and blood! Yes, your affectionate father swallowed it out of love for you."

Instantly he cried, "Run and release, release my beloved father quickly!"

His father had closed his eyes for ever.

The other letter was then placed in his hand.

Ajātasattu shed hot tears. He realized what paternal love was only after he became a father himself.

King Bimbisāra died and was immediately after born as a Deva named Janavasabha in the Cātummahārājika Heaven.

Later, Ajātasattu, met the Buddha and became one of His distinguished lay followers and took a leading part in the holding of the first Convocation.

King Pasenadi Kosala

King Pasenadi Kosala, the son of King Mahā Kosala, who reigned in the kingdom of Kosala with its capital at Sāvatthi, was another royal patron of the Buddha. He was a contemporary of the Buddha, and owing to his proficiency in various arts, he had the good fortune to be made King by his father while he was alive.

His conversion must probably have taken place during the very early part of the Buddha's ministry. In the Samyutta Nikāya it is stated that once he approached the Buddha and questioning Him about His perfect Enlightenment referred to Him as being young in years and young in ordination. (Samyutta Nikāya. 1.64: Kindred Sayings, 1, p. 94.)

The Buddha replied -- "There are four objects, O Mahārāja, that should not be disregarded or despised. They are a Khattiya (a warrior prince), a snake, fire, and a Bhikkhu (mendicant monk). [6]

Then He delivered an interesting sermon on this subject to the King. At the close of the sermon the King expressed his great pleasure and instantly became a follower of the Buddha. Since then till his death he was deeply attached to the Buddha. It is said that on one occasion the King prostrated himself before the Buddha and stroked His feet covering them with kisses. [7]

His chief queen, Mallikā a very devout and wise lady, well versed in the dhamma, was greatly responsible for his religious enthusiasm. Like a true friend, she had to act as his religious guide on several occasions.

One day the King dreamt sixteen unusual dreams and was greatly perturbed in mind, not knowing their true significance. His brahmin advisers interpreted them to be dreams portending evil and instructed him to make an elaborate animal sacrifice to ward off the dangers resulting therefrom. As advised he made all necessary arrangements for this inhuman sacrifice which would have resulted in the loss of thousands of helpless creatures. Queen Mallikā, hearing of this barbarous act about to be perpetrated, persuaded the King to get the dreams interpreted by the Buddha whose understanding infinitely surpassed that of those worldly brahmins. The King approached the Buddha and mentioned the object of his visit. Relating the sixteen dreams [8] he wished to know their significance, and the Buddha explained their significance fully to him.

Unlike King Bimbisāra King Kosala had the good fortune to hear several edifying and instructive discourses from the Buddha. In the Samyutta Nikāya there appears a special section called the Kosala Samyutta [9] in which are recorded most of the discourses and talks given by the Buddha to the King.

Once while the King was seated in the company of the Buddha, he saw some ascetics with hairy bodies and long nails passing by, and rising from his seat respectfully saluted them calling out his name to them: "I am the King, your reverences, the Kosala, Pasenadi." When they had gone he came back to the Buddha and wished to know whether they were Arahants or those who were striving for Arahantship. The Buddha explained that it was difficult for ordinary laymen enjoying material pleasures to judge whether others are Arahants or not and made the following interesting observations:

"It is by association (samvāsena) that one's conduct (sīla) is to be understood, and that, too, after a long time and not in a short time, by one who is watchful and not by a heedless person, by an intelligent person and not by an unintelligent one. It is by converse (samvohārena) that one's purity (soceyyam) is to be understood. It is in time of trouble that one's fortitude is to be understood. It is by discussion that one's wisdom is to be understood, and that, too, after a long time and not in a short time, by one who is watchful and not by a heedless person, by an intelligent person and not by an unintelligent one."

Summing up the above, the Buddha uttered the following verses:

"Not by his outward guise is man well known.
In fleeting glance let none place confidence.
In garb of decent well-conducted folk
The unrestrained live in the world at large.
As a clay earring made to counterfeit.
Or bronze half penny coated over with gold,
Some fare at large hidden beneath disguise,
Without, comely and fair; within, impure.
[10]"

King Kosala, as ruler of a great kingdom, could not possibly have avoided warfare, especially with Kings of neighbouring countries. Once he was compelled to fight with his own nephew, King Ajātasattu, and was defeated. Hearing it, the Buddha remarked:

"Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live, giving up victory and defeat. [11]"

On another occasion King Kosala was victorious and he confiscated the whole army of King Ajātasattu, saving only him. When the Buddha heard about this new victory, He uttered the following verse, the truth of which applies with equal force to this modern war-weary world as well:

"A man may spoil another, just so far
As
it may serve his ends, but when he's spoiled
By others he, despoiled, spoils yet again.
So
long as evil's fruit is not matured,
The fool doth fancy 'now's the hour, the chance!'
But when the deed bears fruit, he fareth ill.
The slayer gets a slayer in his turn;
The conqueror gets one who conquers him;
Th'abuser wins abuse, th'annoyer, fret.
Thus by the evolution of the deed,
A man who spoils is spoiled in his turn.
[12]"

What the Buddha has said to King Kosala about women is equally interesting and extremely encouraging to womankind. Once while the King was engaged in a pious conversation with the Buddha, a messenger came and whispered into his ear that Queen Mallikā had given birth to a daughter. The King was not pleased at this unwelcome news. In ancient India, as it is to a great extent today, a daughter is not considered a happy addition to a family for several selfish reasons as, for instance, the problem of providing a dowry: The Buddha, unlike any other religious teacher, paid a glowing tribute to women and mentioned four chief characteristics that adorn a woman in the following words:

"Some women are indeed better (than men).
Bring her up, O Lord of men.
There are women who are wise, virtuous, who
regard mother-in-law as a goddess, and who are chaste.
To such a noble wife may be born a valiant son,

a lord of realms, who would rule a kingdom". [13]

Some women are even better than men. "Itthi hi pi ekacciyā seyyā" were the actual words used by the Buddha. No religious teacher has made such a bold and noble utterance especially in India, where women were not held in high esteem.

Deeply grieved over the death of his old grandmother, aged one hundred and twenty years, King Kosala approached the Buddha and said that he would have given everything within his means to save his grandmother who had been as a mother to him. The Buddha consoled him, saying:

"All beings are mortal; they end with death, they have death in prospect. All the vessels wrought by the potter, whether they are baked or unbaked, are breakable; they finish broken, they have breakage in prospect." [14]

The King was so desirous of hearing the Dhamma that even if affairs of state demanded his presence in other parts of the kingdom, he would avail himself of every possible opportunity to visit the Buddha and engage in a pious conversation. The Dhammacetiya [15] and Kannakatthala [16] Suttas were preached on such occasions.

King Kosala's chief consort, the daughter of a garland-maker, predeceased him. A sister of King Bimbisāra was one of his wives. One of his sisters was married to King Bimbisāra and Ajātasattu was her son.

King Kosala had a son named Vidūdabha who revolted against him in his old age. This son's mother was the daughter of Mahānāma the Sākya, who was related to the Buddha, and his grandmother was a slave-girl. This fact the King did not know when he took her as one of his consorts. Hearing a derogatory remark made by Sākyas about his ignoble lineage, Vidūdabha took vengeance by attempting to destroy the Sākya race. Unfortunately it was due to Vidūdabha that the King had to die a pathetic death in a hall outside the city with only a servant as his companion. King Kosala predeceased the Buddha.


 

CHAPTER 12 

THE BUDDHA'S MINISTRY

 "Freed am I from all bonds, whether divine or human.
You, too, O Bhikkhus, are freed from all bonds."
-- MAHĀVAGGA

The Buddha's beneficent and successful ministry lasted forty-five years. From His 35th year, the year of His Enlightenment, till His death in His 80th year, He served humanity both by example and by precept. Throughout the year He wandered from place to place, at times alone, sometimes accompanied by His disciples, expounding the Dhamma to the people and liberating them from the bonds of Samsāra. During the rainy season (vassāna) from July to November, owing to incessant rains, He lived in retirement as was customary with all ascetics in India in His time.

In ancient times, as today, three regular seasons prevailed in India, namely, vassāna, (rainy) hemanta (winter) and gimhāna (hot). The vassāna or rainy season starts in Āsālha and extends up to Assayuga, that is approximately from the middle of July to the middle of November.

During the vassāna period, due to torrential rains, rivers and streams usually get flooded, roads get inundated, communications get interrupted and people as a rule are confined to their homes and villages and live on what provisions they have collected during the previous seasons. During this time the ascetics find it difficult to engage in their preaching tours, wandering from place to place. An infinite variety of vegetable and animal life also appears to such an extent that people could not move about without unconsciously destroying them. Accordingly all ascetics including the disciples of the Buddha, used to suspend their itinerant activities and live in retirement in solitary places. As a rule the Buddha and His disciples were invited to spend their rainy seasons either in a monastery or in a secluded park. Sometimes, however, they used to retire to forests. During these rainy seasons people flocked to the Buddha to hear the Dhamma and thus availed themselves of His presence in their vicinity to their best advantage.

The First Twenty Years

1st Year at Benares.

After expounding the Dhammacakka Sutta to His first five disciples on the Āsālha full moon day, He spent the first rainy season in the Deer Park at Isipatana, near Benares. Here there was no special building where he could reside. Yasa's conversion took place during this Retreat.

2nd, 3rd, 4th Years at Rājagaha.

Rājagaha was the capital of the Kingdom of Magadha where ruled King Bimbisāra. When the Buddha visited the King, in accordance with a promise made by Him before His Enlightenment, he offered his Bamboo Grove (Veluvana) to the Buddha and His disciples. This was an ideal solitary place for monks as it was neither too far nor too near to the city. Three rainy seasons were spent by the Buddha in this quiet grove.

5th Year at Vesāli.

During this year while He was residing in the Pinnacle Hall at Mahāvana near Vesāli, He heard of the impending death of King Suddhodana and, repairing to his death chamber, preached the Dhamma to him. Immediately the King attained Arahantship. For seven days thereafter he experienced the bliss of Emancipation and passed away.

It was in this year that the Bhikkhuni Order was founded at the request of Mahā Pajāpati Gotami.

After the cremation of the King, when the Buddha was temporarily residing at Nigrodhārāma, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami approached the Buddha and begged permission for women to enter the Order. But the Buddha refused and returned to the Pinnacle Hall at Rājagaha. Mahā Pajāpati Gotami was so intent on renouncing the world that she, accompanied by many Sākya and Koliya ladies, walked all the way from Kapilavatthu to Rājagaha and, through the intervention of Venerable Ānanda, succeeded in entering the Order. [1]

6th Year at Mankula Hill in Kosambi, near Allahabad.

Just as He performed the "Twin Wonder" (Yamaka Pātihāriya) [2] to overcome the pride of His relatives at Kapilavatthu, even so did He perform it for the second time at Mankula Hill to convert His alien followers.

7th Year at Tāvatimsa Heaven.

A few days after the birth of Prince Siddhattha Queen Mahā Māyā died and was born as a Deva (god) in the Tusita Heaven. In this seventh year, during the three rainy months, the Buddha preached the Abhidhamma [3] to the Devas of the Tāvatimsa Heaven where the mother-Deva repaired to hear him. Daily He came to earth and gave a summary of His sermon to the Venerable Sāriputta who in turn expounded the same doctrine in detail to his disciples. What is embodied in the present Abhidhamma Pitaka is supposed to be this detailed exposition of the Dhamma by him.

It is stated that, on hearing these discourses, the Deva who was His mother attained the first stage of Sainthood.

8th Year at Bhesakalā Forest, near Sumsumāra Rock, in the Bhagga District.

9th Year at Kosambi.

It was in this year that Māgandiyā harboured a grudge against the Buddha and sought an opportunity to dishonour him.

Māgandiyā was a beautiful maiden. Her parents would not give her in marriage as the prospective suitors, in their opinion, were not worthy of their daughter. One day as the Buddha was surveying the world, He perceived the spiritual development of the parents. Out of compassion for them He visited the place where the father of the girl was tending the sacred fire. The brahmin, fascinated by His physical beauty, thought that He was the best person to whom he could give his daughter in marriage and requesting Him to stay there until his arrival, hurried home to bring his daughter. The Buddha in the meantime stamped His footprint on that spot and moved to a different place. The brahmin and his wife, accompanied by their daughter who was dressed in her best garments, came to that spot and observed the footprint. The wife who was conversant with signs said that it was not the footprint of an ordinary man but of a pure person who had eradicated all passions. The Brahmin ridiculed the idea, and, noticing the Buddha at a distance offered his daughter unto Him. The Buddha describing how He overcame His passions said:

"Having seen Tanhā, Arati and Ragā, [4]
I had no pleasure for the pleasures of love.
What is this body, filled with urine and dung?
I should not be willing to touch it, even with
my foot. [5]"

Hearing His Dhamma, the brahmin and his wife attained Anāgāmi, the third stage of Sainthood. But proud Magandiyā felt insulted and she thought to herself -- "If this man has no need of me, it is perfectly proper for him to say so, but he declares me to be full of urine and dung. Very well, by virtue of birth, lineage, social position, wealth, and the charm of youth that I possess I shall obtain a husband who is my equal, and then I shall know what ought to be done to the monk Gotama."

Enraged by the words of the Buddha, she conceived a hatred towards Him. Later she was given as a consort to the King of Udena. Taking advantage of her position as one of the Royal consorts, she bribed people and instigated them to revile and drive the Buddha out of the city. When the Buddha entered the city, they shouted at him, saying: "You are a thief, a simpleton, a fool, a camel, an ox, an ass, a denizen of hell, a beast. You have no hope of salvation. A state of punishment is all that you can look forward to."

Venerable Ānanda, unable to hear this filthy abuse, approached the Buddha and said -- "Lord, these citizens are reviling and abusing us. Let us go elsewhere."

"Where shall we go, Ānanda?" asked the Buddha.

"To some other city, Lord," said Ānanda.

"If men revile us there, where shall we go then?" inquired the Buddha.

"To still another city, Lord," said Ānanda.

"Ānanda, one should not speak thus. Where a difficulty arises, right there should it be settled. Only under those circumstances is it permissible to go elsewhere. But who are reviling you, Ānanda?" questioned the Buddha.

"Lord, everyone is reviling us, slaves and all," replied Ānanda. Admonishing Venerable Ānanda to practise patience, the Buddha said:

i) "As an elephant in the battle-field withstands the arrows shot from a bow, even so will I endure abuse. Verily, most people are undisciplined."

ii) "They lead the trained horses or elephants to an assembly. The King mounts the trained animal. The best among men are the disciplined who endure abuse."

iii) "Excellent are trained mules, so are thorough-bred horses of Sindh and noble tusked elephants; but the man who is disciplined surpasses them all. [6]"

Again He addressed Venerable Ānanda and said -- "Be not disturbed. These men will revile you only for seven days, and, on the eighth day they will become silent. A difficulty encountered by the Buddhas lasts no longer than seven days. [7]"

10th Year at Pārileyyaka Forest.

While the Buddha was residing at Kosambi, a dispute arose between two parties of Bhikkhus -- one versed in the Dhamma, the other in the Vinaya -- with respect to the transgression of a minor rule of etiquette in the lavatory. Their respective supporters also were divided into two sections.

Even the Buddha could not settle the differences of these quarrelsome monks. They were adamant and would not listen to His advice. The Buddha thought:-- "Under present conditions the jostling crowd in which I live makes my life one of discomfort. Moreover these monks pay no attention to what I say. Suppose I were to retire from the haunts of men and live a life of solitude. In pursuance of this thought, without even informing the Sangha, alone He retired to the Pārileyyaka Forest and spent the rainy season at the foot of a beautiful Sal-tree.

It was on this occasion, according to the story, that an elephant and a monkey ministered to His needs. [8]

11th Year at Ekanālā, brahmin village.

The following Kasibhāradvāja Sutta [9] was delivered here:

On one occasion the Buddha was residing at Ekanālā in Dakkhinagiri, the brahmin village in Magadha. At that time about five-hundred ploughs belonging to Kasibhāradvāja brahmin were harnessed for the sowing. Thereupon the Exalted One, in the forenoon, dressed Himself and taking bowl and robe went to the working place of the brahmin. At that time the distribution of food by the brahmin was taking place. The Buddha went to the place where food was being distributed and stood aside. The brahmin Kasibhāradvāja saw the Buddha waiting for alms. Seeing Him, he spoke thus -- "I, O ascetic, plough and sow; and having ploughed and sown, I eat. You also, O ascetic, should plough and sow; and having ploughed and sown, you should eat."

"I, too, O brahmin, plough and sow; having ploughed and sown, I eat." said the Buddha.

"But we see not the Venerable Gotama's yoke, or plough, or ploughshare, or goad, or oxen, albeit the Venerable Gotama says -- "I too plough and sow; and having ploughed and sown, I eat," remarked the brahmin.

Then the brahmin Bhāradvāja addressed the Exalted One thus:

"A farmer you claim to be, but we see none of your tillage. Being questioned about ploughing, please answer us so that we may know your ploughing."

The Buddha answered:

"Confidence (saddhā) is the seed, discipline (tapo) is the rain, wisdom (pa񱦣257;) my yoke and plough, modesty (hiri) the pole of my plough, mind (mano) the rein, and mindfulness (sati) my ploughshare and goad.

"I am controlled in body, controlled in speech, temperate in food. With truthfulness I cut away weeds. Absorption in the Highest (Arahantship) is the release of the oxen.

"Perseverance (viriya) is my beast of burden that carries me towards the bond-free state (Nibbāna). Without turning it goes, and having gone it does not grieve.

"Thus is the tilling done: it bears the fruit of Deathlessness. Having done this tilling, one is freed from all sorrow."

Thereupon the brahmin Kasibhāradvāja, filling a large bronze bowl with milk-rice, offered it to the Exalted One, saying "May the Venerable Gotama eat the milk-rice! The Venerable Gotama is a farmer, since the Venerable Gotama tills a crop that bears the fruit of Deathlessness."

The Exalted One, however, refused to accept this saying:

"What is obtained by reciting verses is not fit to be eaten by me. This, O brahmin, is not the rule of seers. The Enlightened reject such food. While this principle lasts, this is the livelihood.

"Serve the unique, cankerless, great sage of holy calm with other kind of food and drink, for He is like a field to him that desires to sow good deeds."

12th Year at Vera񪦣257;.

A brahmin of Vera񪦣257;, hearing that the Buddha was residing at Vera񪦣257; near Naleru's Nimba tree with a large company of His disciples, approached Him and raised several questions with regard to His conduct. The brahmin was so pleased with His answers that he became a follower of the Buddha and invited Him and His disciples to spend the rainy season at Vera񪦣257;. The Buddha signified His assent as usual by His silence.

Unfortunately at this particular time there was a famine at Vera񪦣257; and the Buddha and His disciples were compelled to live on food intended for horses. A horse-dealer very kindly provided them with coarse food available, and the Buddha partook of such food with perfect equanimity.

One day, during this period, Venerable Sāriputta, arising from his solitary meditation, approached the Buddha and respectfully questioned Him thus: "Which Buddha's Dispensation endured long and which did not?"

The Buddha replied that the Dispensations of the Buddhas Vipassi, Sikhī and Vessabhū did not endure long. while the Dispensations of the Buddhas Kakusandha, Konāgamana and Kassapa endured long. [10]

The Buddha attributed this to the fact that some Buddhas did make no great effort in preaching the Dhamma in detail and promulgated no rules and regulations for the discipline of the disciples, while other Buddhas did so.

Thereupon Venerable Sāriputta respectfully implored the Buddha to promulgate the Fundamental Precepts (Pātimokkha) for the future discipline of the Sangha so that the Holy Life may endure long.

"Be patient, Sāriputta, be patient," said the Buddha and added:

"The Tathāgata alone is aware of the time for it. Until certain defiling conditions arise in the Sangha the Tathāgata does not promulgate Means of Discipline for the disciples and does not lay down the Fundamental Precepts (Pātimokkha). When such defiling conditions arise in the Sangha, then only the Tathāgata promulgates Means of Discipline and lays down the Fundamental Precepts for the disciples in order to eradicate such defilements.

"When, Sāriputta, the Sangha attains long standing (ratta񱵭ahattam), full development (vepullamahattam), great increase in gains (lābhaggamahattam) and greatness in erudition (bahussutamahattam), defiling conditions arise in the Sangha. Then does the Tathāgata promulgate Means of Discipline and the Fundamental Precepts to prevent such defilements.

"Sāriputta, the Order of disciples is free from troubles, devoid of evil tendencies, free from stain, pure, and well established in virtue. The last of my five-hundred disciples is a Sotāpanna (Stream-Winner) not liable to fall, steadfast and destined for enlightenment. [11]"

(The rainy season at Vera񪦣257; forms the subject of the Introduction to the Pārājikā Book of the Vinaya Pitaka).

At the end of this rainy season the Buddha went on a preaching tour to Soreyya, Samkassa, Kannakujja, Payāga, and then, crossing the river, stayed some time in Benares and returned thence to Vesāli to reside at the Pinnacle Hall in Mahāvana.

13th Year was spent at Cāliya Rock.

14th Year at Jetavana Monastery, Sāvatthi.

The Venerable Rāhula received his Higher Ordination at this time on the completion of his twentieth year.

15th Year at Kapilavatthu.

The pathetic death of King Suppabuddha who was angry with the Buddha for leaving his daughter, Princess Yasodharā, occurred in this year. It may be mentioned that the Buddha spent only one rainy season in his birthplace.

16th Year at the city of Ālavi.

The conversion of Ālavaka the demon, [12] who feasted on human flesh, took place in this year.

Ā1avaka, a ferocious demon, was enraged to see the Buddha in his mansion. He came up to Him and asked Him to depart. "Very well, friend," said the Buddha and went out. "Come in," said he. The Buddha came in. For the second and third time he made the same request and the Buddha obeyed. But when he commanded Him for the fourth time, the Buddha refused and asked him to do what he could.

"Well, I will ask you a question," said Ālavaka, "If you will not answer, I will scatter your thoughts, or rive your heart, or take you by your feet and fling you across the Ganges."

"Nay, friend," replied the Buddha, "I see not in this world inclusive of gods, brahmas, ascetics, and brahmins, amongst the multitude of gods and men, any who could scatter my thoughts, or rive my heart, or take me by my feet and fling me across the Ganges. However, friend, ask what you wish."

Ā1avaka then asked the following questions:

"Herein, which is man's best possession?
Which well practised yields happiness?
Which indeed is the sweetest of tastes?
How lived, do they call the best life?"

To these questions the Buddha answered thus:

"Herein confidence is man's best possession.
Dhamma well practised yields happiness.
Truth indeed is the sweetest of tastes.
Life lived with understanding is best, they say."

Ālavaka next asked the Buddha:

"How does one cross the flood?
How does one cross the sea?
How does one overcome sorrow?
How is one purified?"

The Exalted One replied:

"By confidence one crosses the flood, by heedfulness the sea.
By effort one overcomes sorrow, by wisdom is
one purified."

Ā1avaka then inquired:

"How is wisdom gained? How are riches found?
How is renown gained? How are friends bound?
Passing from this world to the next how does one not grieve?"
 [13]

In answer the Buddha said:

"The heedful, intelligent person of confidence gains wisdom by hearing the dhamma of the Pure Ones that leads to Nibbāna. He who does what is proper, persevering and strenuous, gains wealth. By truth one attains to fame. Generosity binds friends.

"That faithful householder who possesses these four virtues -- truthfulness, good morals, courage and liberality -- grieves not after passing away."

"Well, ask many other ascetics and brahmins whether there is found anything greater than truthfulness, self-control, generosity, and patience."

Understanding well the meaning of the Buddha's words, Ā1avaka said:

"How could I now ask diverse ascetics and brahmins? Today I know what is the secret of my future welfare.

"For my own good did the Buddha come to Ālavi. To-day I know where gifts bestowed yield fruit in abundance. From village to village, from town to town will I wander honouring the Fully Enlightened One and the perfection of the sublime Dhamma."

17th Year was spent at Rājagaha.

18th Year was spent at Cāliya Rock.

19th and 20th years were spent at Rajāgaha.

 *

Buddha and Angulimāla

It was in the 20th year that the Buddha converted the notorious murderer Angulimāla. [14] Ahimsaka (Innocent) was his original name. His father was chaplain to the King of Kosala. He received his education at Taxila, the famous educational centre in the olden days, and became the most illustrious and favourite pupil of his renowned teacher. Unfortunately his colleagues grew jealous of him, concocted a false story, and succeeded in poisoning the teacher's mind against him. The enraged teacher, without any investigation, contrived to put an end to his life by ordering him to fetch a thousand human right-hand fingers as teacher's honorarium. In obedience to the teacher, though with great reluctance, he repaired to the Jalini forest, in Kosala, and started killing people to collect fingers for the necessary offering. The fingers thus collected were hung on a tree, but as they were destroyed by crows and vultures he later wore a garland of those fingers to ascertain the exact number. Hence he was known by the name Angulimāla (Finger-wreathed). When he had collected 999 fingers, so the books state, the Buddha appeared on the scene. Overjoyed at the sight, because he thought that he could complete the required number by killing the great ascetic, he stalked the Buddha drawing his sword. The Buddha by His psychic powers created obstacles on the way so that Angulimāla would not be able to get near Him although He walked at His usual pace. Angulirnāla ran as fast as he could but he could not overtake the Buddha. Panting and sweating, he stopped and cried: "Stop, ascetic." The Buddha calmly said: "Though I walk, yet have I stopped. You too, Angulimāla stop." The bandit thought --"These ascetics speak the truth, yet He says He has stopped, whereas it is I who have stopped. What does He mean?"

Standing, he questioned Him:

"Thou who art walking, friar, dost say: 'Lo I have stopped!'
And me thou tellest, who have stopped, I have not stopped!
I ask thee, friar, what is the meaning of thy words?
How sayest thou that thou hast stopped but I have not?"

The Buddha sweetly replied:

"Yea, I have stopped, Angulimāla, evermore.
Towards all living things renouncing violence;
Thou holdest not thy hand against thy fellowmen,
Therefore 'tis I have stopped, but thou still goest on.
[15]"

Angulimāla's good Kamma rushed up to the surface. He thought that the great ascetic was none other but the Buddha Gotama who out of compassion had come to help him.

Straightway he threw away his armour and sword and became a convert. Later, as requested by him he was admitted into the Noble Order by the Buddha with the mere utterance -- 'Come, O Bhikkhu!' (Ehi Bhikkhu).

News spread that Angulimāla had become a Bhikkhu. The King of Kosala, in particular, was greatly relieved to hear of his conversion because he was a veritable source of danger to his subjects.

But Venerable Angulimāla had no peace of mind, because even in his solitary meditation he used to recall memories of his past and the pathetic cries of his unfortunate victims. As a result of his evil Kamma, while seeking alms in the streets he would become a target for stray stones and sticks and he would return to the monastery 'with broken head and flowing blood, cut and crushed' to be reminded by the Buddha that he was merely reaping the effects of his own Kamma.

One day as he went on his round for alms he saw a woman in travail. Moved by compassion, he reported this pathetic woman's suffering to the Buddha. He then advised him to pronounce the following words of truth, which later came to be known as the Angulimāla Paritta.

"Sister, since my birth in the Arya clan (i.e. since his ordination) I know not that I consciously destroyed the life of any living being. By this truth may you be whole, and may your child be whole." [16]

He studied this Paritta [17] and, going to the presence of the suffering sister, sat on a seat separated from her by a screen, and uttered these words. Instantly she was delivered of the child with ease. The efficacy of this Paritta persists to this day.

In due course Venerable Angulimāla attained Arahantship.

Referring to his memorable conversion by the Buddha, he says:

"Some creatures are subdued by force,
Some by the hook, and some by whips,
But I by such a One was tamed,
Who needed neither staff nor sword.
[18]

The Buddha spent the remaining twenty-five years of His life mostly in Sāvatthi at the Jetavana Monastery built by Anāthapindika, the millionaire, and partly at Pubbārāma, built by Visākhā, the chief benefactress.


CHAPTER 13 

THE BUDDHA'S DAILY ROUTINE

"The Lord is awakened. He teaches the Dhamma for awakening."
-- MAJJHIMA NIKĀYA

The Buddha can be considered the most energetic and the most active of all religious teachers that ever lived on earth. The whole day He was occupied with His religious activities except when He was attending to His physical needs. He was methodical and systematic in the performance of His daily duties. His inner life was one of meditation and was concerned with the experiencing of Nibbānic Bliss, while His outer life was one of selfless service for the moral upliftment of the world. Himself enlightened, He endeavoured His best to enlighten others and liberate them from the ills of life.

His day was divided into five parts, namely, (i) The Forenoon Session, (ii) The Afternoon Session, (iii) The First Watch, (iv) The Middle Watch and (v) The Last Watch.

The Forenoon Session

Usually early in the morning He surveys the world with His Divine Eye to see whom he could help. If any person needs His spiritual assistance, uninvited He goes, often on foot, some times by air using His psychic powers, and converts that person to the right path.

As a rule He goes in search of the vicious and the impure, but the pure and the virtuous come in search of Him.

For instance, the Buddha went of His own accord to convert the robber and murderer Angulimāla and the wicked demon Ā1avaka, but pious young Visākhā, generous millionaire Anāthapindika, and intellectual Sāriputta and Moggallāna came up to Him for spiritual guidance.

While rendering such spiritual service to whomsoever it is necessary, if He is not invited to partake of alms by a lay supporter at some particular place, He, before whom Kings prostrated themselves, would go in quest of alms through alleys and streets, with bowl in hand, either alone or with His disciples.

Standing silently at the door of each house, without uttering a word, He collects whatever food is offered and placed in the bowl and returns to the monastery.

Even in His eightieth year when He was old and in indifferent health, He went on His rounds for alms in Vesāli.

Before midday He finishes His meals. Immediately after lunch He daily delivers a short discourse to the people, establishes them in the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts and if any person is spiritually advanced, he is shown the Path to Sainthood.

At times He grants Ordination to them if they seek admission to the Order and then retires to His chamber.

The Afternoon Session

After the noon meal He takes a seat in the monastery and the Bhikkhus assemble to listen to His exposition of the Dhamma. Some approach Him to receive suitable objects of meditation according to their temperaments; others pay their due respects to Him and retire to their cells to spend the afternoon.

After His discourse or exhortation to His disciples, He Himself retires to His private Perfumed Chamber to rest. If He so desires, He lies on His right side and sleeps for a while with mindfulness. On rising, He attains to the Ecstasy of Great Compassion (Mahā Karunā Samāpatti) and surveys, with His Divine Eye, the world, especially the Bhikkhus who retired to solitude for meditation and other disciples in order to give them any spiritual advice that is needed. If the erring ones who need advice happen to be at a distance, there He goes by psychic powers, admonishes them and retires to His chamber.

Towards evening the lay followers flock to Him to hear the Dhamma. Perceiving their innate tendencies and their temperaments with the Buddha-Eye, [1] He preaches to them for about one hour. Each member of the audience, though differently constituted, thinks that the Buddha's sermon is directed in particular to him. Such was the Buddha's method of expounding the Dhamma. As a rule the Buddha converts others by explaining His teachings with homely illustrations and parables, for He appeals more to the intellect than to emotion.

To the average man the Buddha at first speaks of generosity, discipline, and heavenly bliss. To the more advanced He speaks on the evils of material pleasures and on the blessings of renunciation. To the highly advanced He expounds the Four Noble Truths.

On rare occasions as in the case of Angulimāla and Khemā did the Buddha resort to His psychic powers to effect a change of heart in His listeners.

The sublime teachings of the Buddha appealed to both the masses and the intelligentsia alike. A Buddhist poet sings:

"Giving joy to the wise, promoting the intelligence of the middling, and dispelling the darkness of the dull-witted, this speech is for all people. [2]"

Both the rich and the poor, the high and the low, renounced their former faiths and embraced the new Message of Peace. The infant Sāsana, [3] which was inaugurated with a nucleus of five ascetics, soon developed into millions and peacefully spread throughout Central India.

The First Watch

This period of the night extends from 6 to 10 p.m. and was exclusively reserved for instruction to Bhikkhus. During this time the Bhikkhus were free to approach the Buddha and get their doubts cleared, question Him on the intricacies of the Dhamma, obtain suitable objects of meditation, and hear the doctrine.

The Middle Watch

During this period which extends from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Celestial Beings such as Devas and Brahmas, who are invisible to the physical eye, approach the Buddha to question Him on the Dhamma. An oft-recurring passage in the Suttas is: "Now when the night was far spent a certain Deva of surpassing splendour came to the Buddha, respectfully saluted Him and stood at a side." Several discourses and answers given to their queries appear in the Samyutta Nikāya.

The Last Watch

The small hours of the morning, extending from 2 to 6 a.m. which comprise the last watch, are divided into four parts.

The first part is spent in pacing up and down (cankamana). This serves as a mild physical exercise to Him. During the second part, that is from 3 to 4 a.m. He mindfully sleeps on His right side. During the third part, that is from 4 to 5 a.m., He attains the state of Arahantship and experiences Nibbānic bliss. For one full hour from 5 to 6 a.m. He attains the Ecstasy of Great Compassion (Mahā Karunāsamāpatti) and radiates thoughts of loving-kindness towards all beings and softens their hearts. At this early hour He surveys the whole world with His Buddha-Eye to see whether He could be of service to any. The virtuous and those that need His help appear vividly before Him though they may live at a remote distance. Out of compassion for them He goes of His own accord and renders necessary spiritual assistance.

The whole day He is fully occupied with His religious duties. Unlike any other living being He sleeps only for one hour at night. For two full hours in the morning and at dawn He pervades the whole world with thoughts of boundless love and brings happiness to millions. Leading a life of voluntary poverty, seeking His alms without inconveniencing any, wandering from place to place for eight months throughout the year preaching His sublime Dhamma, He tirelessly worked for the good and happiness of all till His eightieth year.

According to the Dharmapradipikā the last watch is divided into these four parts.

According to the commentaries the last watch consists of three parts. During the third part the Buddha attains the Ecstasy of Great Compassion.


 

CHAPTER 14 

THE BUDDHA'S PARINIBBĀNA (DEATH)

"The sun shines by day. The moon is radiant by night. Armoured shines the warrior King.
Meditating the brāhmana shines.
But all day and night
the Buddha shines in glory."
--
DHAMMAPADA

The Buddha was an extraordinary being. Nevertheless He was mortal, subject to disease and decay as are all beings. He was conscious that He would pass away in His eightieth year. Modest as He was He decided to breathe His last not in renowned cities like Sāvatthi or Rājagaha, where His activities were centred, but in a distant and insignificant hamlet like Kusinārā.

In His own words the Buddha was in His eightieth year like "a worn-out cart." Though old in age, yet, being strong in will. He preferred to traverse the long and tardy way on foot accompanied by His favourite disciple, Venerable Ānanda. It may be mentioned that Venerable Sāriputta and Moggallāna, His two chief disciples, predeceased Him. So did Venerable Rāhula and Yasodhārā.

Rājagaha, the capital of Magadha, was the starting point of His last journey.

Before his impending departure from Rājagaha King Ajātasattu, the parricide, contemplating an unwarranted attack on the prosperous Vajjian Republic, sent his Prime Minister to the Buddha to know the Buddha's view about his wicked project.

Conditions of welfare

The Buddha declared that (i) as long as the Vajjians meet frequently and hold many meetings; (2) as long as they meet together in unity, rise in unity and perform their duties in unity; (3) as long as they enact nothing not enacted, abrogate nothing that has already been enacted, act in accordance with the already established ancient Vajjian principles; (4) as long as they support, respect, venerate and honour the Vajjian elders, and pay regard to their worthy speech; (5) as long as no women or girls of their families are detained by force or abduction; (6) as long as they support, respect, venerate, honour those objects of worship -- internal and external -- and do not neglect those righteous ceremonies held before; (7) as long as the rightful protection, defence and support for the Arahants shall be provided by the Vajjians so that Arahants who have not come may enter the realm and those who have entered the realm may live in peace -- so long may the Vajjians be expected not to decline, but to prosper.

Hearing these seven conditions of welfare which the Buddha Himself taught the Vajjians, the Prime Minister, Vassakāra, took leave of the Buddha, fully convinced that the Vajjians could not be overcome by the King of Magadha in battle, without diplomacy or breaking up their alliance.

The Buddha thereupon availed Himself of this opportunity to teach seven similar conditions of welfare mainly for the benefit of His disciples. He summoned all the Bhikkhus in Rājagaha and said:

(1) "As long, O disciples, as the Bhikkhus assemble frequently and hold frequent meetings; (2) as long as the Bhikkhus meet together in unity, rise in unity, and perform the duties of the Sangha in unity; (3) as long as the Bhikkhus shall promulgate nothing that has not been promulgated, abrogate not what has been promulgated, and act in accordance with the already prescribed rules; (4) as long as the Bhikkhus support, respect, venerate and honour those long-ordained Theras of experience, the fathers and leaders of the Order, and respect their worthy speech; (5) as long as the Bhikkhus fall not under the influence of uprisen attachment that leads to repeated births; (6) as long as the Bhikkhus shall delight in forest retreats; (7) as long as the Bhikkhus develop mindfulness within themselves so that disciplined co-celibates who have not come yet may do so and those who are already present may live in peace -- so long may the Bhikkhus be expected not to decline, but to prosper.

As long as these seven conditions of welfare shall continue to exist amongst the Bhikkhus, as long as the Bhikkhus are well-instructed in these conditions -- so long may they be expected not to decline, but to prosper.

With boundless compassion the Buddha enlightened the Bhikkhus on seven other conditions of welfare as follows:

"As long as the Bhikkhus shall not be fond of, or delight in, or engage in, business; as long as the Bhikkhus shall not be fond of, or delight in, or engage in, gossiping; as long as the Bhikkhus shall not be fond of, or delight in sleeping; as long as the Bhikkhus shall not be fond of, or delight in, or indulge in, society; as long as the Bhikkhus shall neither have, nor fall under, the influence of base desires; as long as the Bhikkhus shall not have evil friends or associates and shall not be prone to evil -- so long the Bhikkhus shall not stop at mere lesser, special acquisition without attaining Arahantship."

Furthermore, the Buddha added that as long as the Bhikkhus shall be devout, modest, conscientious, full of learning, persistently energetic, constantly mindful and full of wisdom -- so long may the Bhikkhus be expected not to decline, but to prosper.

Sāriputta's Praise

Enlightening the Bhikkhus with several other discourses, the Buddha, accompanied by Venerable Ānanda, left Rājagaha and went to Ambalatthika and thence to Nālandā, where He stayed at the Pāvārika mango grove. On this occasion the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Buddha and extolled the wisdom of the Buddha, saying: "Lord, so pleased am I with the Exalted One that methinks there never was, nor will there be, nor is there now, any other ascetic or brahman who is greater and wiser than the Buddha as regards self enlightenment."

The Buddha, who did not approve of such an encomium from a disciple of His, reminded Venerable Sāriputta that he had burst into such a song of ecstasy without fully appreciating the merits of the Buddhas of the past and of the future.

Venerable Sāriputta acknowledged that he had no intimate knowledge of all the supremely Enlightened Ones, but maintained that he was acquainted with the Dhamma lineage, the process through which all attain supreme Buddhahood, that is by overcoming the five Hindrances namely, (i) sense-desires, (ii) ill-will, (iii) sloth and torpor, (iv) restlessness and brooding, (v) indecision; by weakening the strong passions of the heart through wisdom; by thoroughly establishing the mind in the four kinds of Mindfulness; and by rightly developing the seven factors of Enlightenment.

Pātaliputta

From Nālandā the Buddha proceeded to Pātaligāma where Sunīdha and Vassakāra, the chief ministers of Magadha, were building a fortress to repel the powerful Vajjians.

Here the Buddha resided in an empty house and, perceiving with His supernormal vision thousands of deities haunting the different sites, predicted that Pātaliputta would

become the chief city inasmuch as it is a residence for Ariyas, a trading centre and a place for the interchange of all kinds of wares, but would be subject to three dangers arising from fire, water and dissension.

Hearing of the Buddha's arrival at Pātaligāma, the ministers invited the Buddha and His disciples for a meal at their house. After the meal was over the Buddha exhorted them in these verses:

"Wheresoe'er the prudent man shall take up his abode.
Let him support the brethren there, good men of
self- control,
And give the merit of his gifts to the deities
who haunt the spot.
Revered, they will revere him: honoured, they
honour him again,
Are gracious to him as a mother to her own,
her only son.
And the man who has the grace of the gods,

good fortune he beholds. [1]"

In honour of His visit to the city they named the gate by which He left "Gotama-Gate", and they desired to name the ferry by which He would cross "Gotama-Ferry", but the Buddha crossed the overflowing Ganges by His psychic powers while the people were busy making preparations to cross.

Future states

From the banks of the Ganges He went to Kotigama and thence to the village of Nadika and stayed at the Brick Hall. Thereupon the Venerable Ānanda approached the Buddha and respectfully questioned Him about the future states of several persons who died in that village. The Buddha patiently revealed the destinies of the persons concerned and taught how to acquire the Mirror of Truth so that an Arya disciple endowed therewith may predict of himself thus: "Destroyed for me is birth in a woeful state, animal realm, Peta realm, sorrowful, evil, and low states. A Stream-Winner am I, not subject to fall, assured of final Enlightenment."

The Mirror of the Dhamma (Dhammādāsa)

'What, O Ānanda, is the Mirror of the Dhamma?

"Herein a noble disciple reposes perfect confidence in the Buddha reflecting on His virtues thus:

"Thus, indeed, is the Exalted One, a Worthy One, a fully Enlightened One, Endowed with wisdom and conduct, an Accomplished One, Knower of the worlds, an Incomparable Charioteer for the training of individuals, the Teacher of gods and men, Omniscient, and Holy. [2]"

He reposes perfect confidence in the Dhamma reflecting on the characteristics of the Dhamma thus:

"Well expounded is the Dhamma by the Exalted One, to be self-realized, immediately effective, inviting investiga-tion, leading onwards (to Nibbāna), to be understood by the wise, each one for himself. [3]"

He reposes perfect confidence in the Sangha reflecting on the virtues of the Sangha thus:

"Of good conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One; of upright conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One; of wise conduct is the Order of the disciples of the Exalted One. These four pairs of persons constitute eight individuals. This Order of the disciples of the Exalted One is worthy of gifts, of hospitality, of offerings, of reverence, is an incomparable field of merit to the world. [4]"

He becomes endowed with virtuous conduct pleasing to the Aryas, unbroken, intact, unspotted, unblemished, free, praised by the wise, untarnished by desires, conducive to concentration.

From Nadika the Buddha went to the flourishing city of Vesāli and stayed at the grove of Ambapāli, the beautiful courtesan.

Anticipating her visit, the Buddha in order to safeguard His disciples, advised them to be mindful and reflective and taught them the way of mindfulness.

Ambapāli

Ambapāli, hearing of the Buddha's arrival at her mango grove, approached the Buddha and respectfully invited Him and His disciples for a meal on the following day. The Buddha accepted her invitation in preference to the invitation of the Licchavi nobles which He received later. Although the Licchavi Nobles offered a large sum of money to obtain from her the opportunity of providing this meal to the Buddha, she politely declined this offer. As invited, the Buddha had His meal at Ambapāli's residence. After the meal Ambapāli, the courtesan, who was a potential Arahant, very generously offered her spacious mango grove to the Buddha and His disciples. [5]

As it was the rainy season the Buddha advised His disciples to spend their Retreat in or around Vesāli, and He Himself decided to spend the Retreat, which was His last and forty-fifth one, at Beluva, a village near Vesāli.

The Buddha's Illness

In this year He had to suffer from a severe sickness, and "sharp pains came upon Him even unto death". With His iron will, mindful and reflective, the Buddha bore them without any complaint.

The Buddha was now conscious that He would soon pass away. But He thought that it would not be proper to pass away without addressing His attendant disciples and giving instructions to the Order. So He decided to subdue His sickness by His will and live by constantly experiencing the bliss of Arahantship. [6]

Immediately after recovery, the Venerable Ānanda approached the Buddha, and expressing his pleasure on His recovery, remarked that he took some little comfort from the thought that the Buddha would not pass away without any instruction about the Order.

The Buddha made a memorable and significant reply which clearly reveals the unique attitude of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha.

The Buddha's Exhortation

"What, O Ānanda, does the Order of disciples expect of me? I have taught the Dhamma making no distinction between esoteric and exoteric doctrine. [7] In respect of the truths the Tathāgata has no closed fist of a teacher. It may occur to anyone: "It is I who will lead the Order of Bhikkhus," or "The Order of Bhikkhus is dependent upon me," or "It is he who should instruct any matter concerning the Order."

"The Tathāgata, Ānanda, thinks not that it is he who should lead the Order of Bhikkhus, or that the Order is dependent upon him. Why then should He leave instructions in any matter concerning the Order?"

"I, too, Ānanda, am now decrepit, aged, old, advanced in years, and have reached my end. I am in my eightieth year. Just as a worn-out cart is made to move with the aid of thongs, even so methinks the body of the Tathāgata is moved with the aid of thongs. [8] Whenever, Ānanda, the Tathāgata lives plunged in signless mental one-pointedness, by the cessation of certain feelings and unmindful of all objects, then only is the body of the Tathāgata at ease. [9] "

"Therefore, Ānanda, be ye islands [10] unto yourselves. Be ye a refuge to yourselves. Seek no external refuge. Live with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge. Betake to no external refuge.[11]

"How, Ānanda, does a Bhikkhu live as an island unto himself, as a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, seeking no external refuge?"

"Herein, Ānanda, a Bhikkhu lives strenuous, reflective, watchful, abandoning covetousness in this world, constantly developing mindfulness with respect to body, feelings, consciousness, and Dhamma. [12] "

"Whosoever shall live either now or after my death as an island unto oneself, as a refuge unto oneself, seeking no external refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, with the Dhamma as a refuge, seeking no external refuge, those Bhikkhus shall be foremost amongst those who are intent on discipline."

Here the Buddha lays special emphasis on the importance of individual striving for purification and deliverance from the ills of life. There is no efficacy in praying to others or in depending on others. One might question why Buddhists should seek refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha when the Buddha had explicitly advised His followers not to seek refuge in others. In seeking refuge in the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha) Buddhists only regard the Buddha as an instructor who merely shows the Path of Deliverance, the Dhamma as the only way or means, the Sangha as the living examples of the way of life to be lived. By merely seeking refuge in them Buddhists do not consider that they would gain their deliverance.

Though old and feeble the Buddha not only availed Himself of every opportunity to instruct the Bhikkhus in various ways but also regularly went on His rounds for alms with bowl in hand when there were no private invitations. One day as usual He went in quest of alms in Vesāli and after His meal went with Venerable Ānanda to the Capala Cetiya, and, speaking of the delightfulness of Vesāli and other shrines in the city, addressed the Venerable Ānanda thus:

"Whosoever has cultivated, developed, mastered, made a basis of, experienced, practised, thoroughly acquired the four Means of Accomplishment (Iddhipāda) [13] could, if he so desires, live for an aeon (kappa) [14] or even a little more (kappāvasesam). The Tathāgata, O Ānanda, has cultivated, developed, mastered, made a basis of, experienced, practised, thoroughly acquired the four Means of Accomplishment. If He so desires, the Tathāgata could remain for an aeon or even a little more."

The text adds that "even though a suggestion so evident and so clear was thus given by the Exalted One, the Venerable Ānanda was incapable of comprehending it so as to invite the Buddha to remain for an aeon for the good, benefit, and the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men".

The Sutta attributes the reason to the fact that the mind of Venerable Ānanda was, at the moment, dominated by Māra the Evil One.

The Buddha Announces His Death

The Buddha appeared on earth to teach the seekers of Truth things as they truly are and a unique path for the deliverance of all ills of life. During His long and successful ministry He fulfilled His noble mission to the satisfaction of both Himself and His followers. In His eightieth year He felt that His work was over. He had given all necessary instructions to His earnest followers -- both the householders and the homeless ones -- and they were not only firmly established in His Teachings but were also capable of expounding them to others. He therefore decided not to control the remainder of His life-span by His will-power and by experiencing the bliss of Arahantship. While residing at the Capala Cetiya the Buddha announced to Venerable Ānanda that He would pass away in three months' time.

Venerable Ānanda instantly recalled the saying of the Buddha and begged of Him to live for a kappa for the good and happiness of all.

"Enough Ānanda, beseech not the Tathāgata. The time for making such a request is now past," was the Buddha's reply.

He then spoke on the fleeting nature of life and went with Venerable Ānanda to the Pinnacled Hall at Mahāvana and requested him to assemble all the Bhikkhus in the neighbourhood of Vesāli.

To the assembled Bhikkhus the Buddha spoke as follows:

"Whatever truths have been expounded to you by me, study them well, practise, cultivate and develop them so that this Holy life may last long and be perpetuated out of compassion for the world, for the good and happiness of the many, for the good and happiness of gods and men".

"What are those truths? They are:

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness,
The Four
Kinds of Right Endeavour,
The
Four Means of Accomplishment,
The Five Faculties,
The Five Powers,
The Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and
The
Noble Eightfold Path. [15]"

He then gave the following final exhortation and publicly announced the time of His death to the Sangha.

The Buddha's Last Words

"Behold, O Bhikkhus, now I speak to you. Transient are all conditioned things. Strive on with diligence. [16] The passing away of the Tathāgata will take place before long. At the end of three months from now the Tathāgata will pass away."

"Ripe is my age. Short is my life. Leaving you I shall depart. I have made myself my refuge. O Bhikkhus, be diligent, mindful and virtuous. With well-directed thoughts guard your mind. He who lives heedfully in this Dispensation will escape life's wandering and put an end to suffering. [17]"

Casting His last glance at Vesāli, the Buddha went with Venerable Ānanda to Bhandagama and addressing the Bhikkhus said:

Morality, concentration, wisdom and Deliverance supreme.
These things were realized by the renowned
Gotama.
Comprehending them, the Buddha taught the
doctrine to the disciples.
The Teacher with sight has put an end to sorrow
and has extinguished all passions.

The Four Great References

Passing thence from village to village, the Buddha arrived at Bhoganagara and there taught the Four Great Citations or References (Mahāpadesa) by means of which the Word of the Buddha could be tested and clarified in the following discourse:

(1) A Bhikkhu may say thus:-- From the mouth of the Buddha Himself have I heard, have I received thus: 'This is the Doctrine, this is the Discipline, this is the teaching of the Master?' His words should neither be accepted nor rejected. Without either accepting or rejecting such words, study thoroughly every word and syllable and then put them beside the Discourses (Sutta) and compare them with the Disciplinary Rules (Vinaya). If, when so compared, they do not harmonise with the Discourses and do not agree with the Disciplinary Rules, then you may come to the conclusion. "Certainly this is not the word of the Exalted One, this has been wrongly grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Therefore you should reject it.

If, when compared and contrasted, they harmonise with the Discourses and agree with the Disciplinary Rules, you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is the word of the Exalted One, this has correctly been grasped by the Bhikkhu".

Let this be regarded as the First Great Reference.

(2) Again a Bhikkhu may say thus:? 'In such a monastery lives the Sangha together with leading Theras. From the mouth of that Sangha have I heard, have I received thus: 'This is the Doctrine, this is the Discipline, this is the Master's Teaching.' His words should neither be accepted nor rejected. Without either accepting or rejecting such words, study thoroughly every word and syllable and then put them beside the Discourses (Sutta) and compare them with the Disciplinary Rules (Vinaya). If, when so compared, they do not harmonise with the Discourses and do not agree with the Disciplinary Rules, then you may come to the conclusion: 'Certainly this is not the word of the Exalted One, this has been wrongly grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Therefore you should reject it.

If, when compared and contrasted, they harmonise with the Discourses and agree with the Disciplinary Rules, you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is the word of the Exalted One, this has correctly been grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Let this be regarded as the second Great Reference.

(3) Again a Bhikkhu may say thus:-- 'In such a monastery dwell many Theras and Bhikkhus of great learning, versed in the teachings, proficient in the Doctrine, Vinaya, Discipline, and Matrices (Mātikā). From the mouth of those Theras have I heard, have I received thus: 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teaching of the Master. His words should neither be accepted nor rejected. Without either accepting or rejecting such words, study thoroughly every word and syllable and then put them beside the Discourses (Sutta) and compare them with the Disciplinary Rules (Vinaya). If, when so compared, they do not harmonise with the Discourses and do not agree with the Disciplinary Rules, then you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is not the word of the Exalted One, this has been wrongly grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Therefore you should reject it.

If, when compared and contrasted, they harmonise with the Suttas and agree with the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is the word of the Exalted One, this has been correctly grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Let this be regarded as the Third Great Reference.

(4) Again a Bhikkhu may say thus:? 'In such a monastery lives an elderly Bhikkhu of great learning, versed in the teachings, proficient in the Dhamma, Vinaya, and Matrices. From the mouth of that Thera have I heard, have I received thus: 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Master's Teaching.' His words should neither be accepted nor rejected. Without either accepting or rejecting such words, study thoroughly every word and syllable and then put them beside the Discourses (Sutta) and compare them with the Disciplinary Rules (Vinaya). If, when so compared, they do not harmonise with the Discourses and do not agree with the Disciplinary Rules, then you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is not the word of the Exalted One, this has been wrongly grasped by the Bhikkhu."

Therefore you should reject it.

If, when compared and contrasted, they harmonise with the Suttas and agree with the Vinaya, then you may come to the conclusion: "Certainly this is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Master's Teachings."

Let this be regarded as the Fourth Great Reference.

These, Bhikkhus, are the Four Great References.

The Buddha's Last Meal

Enlightening the disciples with such edifying discourses, the Buddha proceeded to Pava where the Buddha and His disciples were entertained by Cunda the smith. With great fervour Cunda prepared a special delicious dish called 'Sūkaramaddava'. [18] As advised by the Buddha, Cunda served only the Buddha with the Sūkaramaddava and buried the remainder in the ground.

After the meal the Buddha suffered from an attack of dysentery and sharp pains came upon Him. Calmly He bore them without any complaint.

Though extremely weak and severely ill, the Buddha decided to walk to Kusinārā [19] His last resting place, a distance of about three gāvutas [20] from Pava. In the course of this last journey it is stated that the Buddha had to sit down in about twenty-five places owing to His weakness and illness.

On the way He sat at the foot of a tree and asked Venerable Ānanda to fetch some water as He was feeling thirsty. With difficulty Venerable Ānanda secured some pure water from a streamlet which, a few moments earlier, was flowing fouled and turbid, stirred up by the wheels of five hundred carts.

At that time a man named Pukkusa, approached the Buddha, and expressed his admiration at the serenity of the Buddha, and, hearing a sermon about His imperturbability, offered Him a pair of robes of gold.

As directed by the Buddha, he robed the Buddha with one and Venerable Ānanda with the other.

When Venerable Ānanda placed the pair of robes on the Buddha, to his astonishment, he found the skin of the Buddha exceeding bright, and said ? "How wonderful a thing is it, Lord and how marvellous, that the colour of the skin of the Exalted One should be so clear, so exceeding bright. For when I placed even this pair of robes of burnished gold and ready for wear on the body of the Exalted One, it seemed as if it had lost its splendour."

Thereupon the Buddha explained that on two occasions the colour of the skin of the Tathāgata becomes clear and exceeding bright -- namely on the night on which the Tathāgata attains Buddhahood and on the night the Tathāgata passes away.

He then pronounced that at the third watch of the night on that day He would pass away in the Sāla Grove of the Mallas between the twin Sāla trees, in the vicinity of Kusinārā.

Cunda's Meritorious Meal

He took His last bath in the river Kukuttha and resting a while spoke thus -- "Now it may happen, Ānanda, that some one should stir up remorse in Cunda the smith, saying: "This is evil to thee, Cunda, and loss to thee in that when the Tathāgata had eaten His last meal from thy provisions, then He died." Any such remorse in Cunda the smith should be checked by saying: "This is good to thee, Cunda, and gain to thee, in that when the Tathāgata had eaten His last meal from thy provision, then He died." From the very mouth of the Exalted One, Cunda, have I heard, from His very mouth have I received this saying: "These two offerings of food are of equal fruit, and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit and of much greater profit than any other, and which are the two?

The offering of food which when a Tathāgata has eaten He attains to supreme and perfect insight, and the offering of food which when a Tathāgata has eaten He passes away by that utter cessation in which nothing whatever remains behind -- these two offerings of food are of equal fruit and of equal profit, and of much greater fruit, and of much greater profit than any other.

There has been laid up by Cunda the smith a Kamma redounding to length of life, redounding to good birth, redounding to good fortune, redounding to good fame, redounding to the inheritance of heaven and of sovereign power."

In this way, Ānanda, should be checked any remorse in Cunda the smith."

Uttering these words of consolation out of compassion to the generous donor of His last meal, He went to the Sāla Grove of the Mallas and asked Venerable Ānanda to prepare a couch with the head to the north between the twin Sāla trees. The Buddha laid Himself down on His right side with one leg resting on the other, mindful and self-possessed.

How the Buddha is Honoured

Seeing the Sāla trees blooming with flowers out of season, and other outward demonstrations of piety, the Buddha exhorted His disciples thus:

"It is not thus, Ānanda, that the Tathāgata is respected, reverenced, venerated, honoured, and revered. Whatever Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni, Upāsaka or Upāsika lives in accordance with the Teaching, conducts himself dutifully, and acts righteously, it is he who respects, reverences, venerates, honours, and reveres the Tathāgata with the highest homage. Therefore, Ānanda, should you train yourselves thus -- "Let us live in accordance with the Teaching, dutifully conducting ourselves, and acting righteously."

At this moment the Venerable Upavāna, who was once attendant of the Buddha, was standing in front of the Buddha fanning Him. The Buddha asked Him to stand aside.

Venerable Ānanda wished to know why he was asked to stand aside as he was very serviceable to the Buddha.

The Buddha replied that Devas had assembled in large numbers to see the Tathāgata and they were displeased because he was standing in their way concealing Him.

The Four Sacred Places

The Buddha then spoke of four places, made sacred by His association, which faithful followers should visit with reverence and awe. They are:

1. The birthplace of the Buddha [21],

2. The place where the Buddha attained Enlightenment, [22]

3. The place where the Buddha established the Incomparable Wheel of Truth [23] (Dhammacakka), and

4. The place where the Buddha attained Parinibbāna. [24]

"And they", added the Buddha, "who shall die with a believing heart, in the course of their pilgrimage, will be reborn, on the dissolution of their body, after death, in a heavenly state."

Conversion of Subhadda

At that time a wandering ascetic, named Subhadda, [25] was living at Kusinārā. He heard the news that the Ascetic Gotama would attain Parinibbāna in the last watch of the night. And he thought -- I have heard grown-up and elderly teachers, and their teachers, the wandering ascetics, say that seldom and very seldom, indeed, do Exalted, Fully Enlightened Arahants arise in this world. Tonight in the last watch the Ascetic Gotama will attain Parinibbāna. A doubt has arisen in me, and I have confidence in the Ascetic Gotama. Capable, indeed, is the Ascetic Gotama to teach the doctrine so that I may dispel my doubt.

Thereupon Subhadda, the wandering ascetic, went to Upavattana Sāla grove of the Mallas where the Venerable Ānanda was, and approaching him spoke as follows: "I have heard grown-up and elderly teachers and their teachers, the wandering ascetics, say that seldom, and very seldom, indeed, do Exalted, Fully Enlightened Arahants arise in this world. Tonight in the last watch the Ascetic Gotama will attain Parinibbāna. A doubt has arisen in me, and I have confidence in the Ascetic Gotama. Capable, indeed, is the Ascetic Gotama to teach the doctrine so that I may dispel my doubts. Shall I, O Ānanda, obtain a glimpse of the Ascetic Gotama?"

"Enough, friend Subhadda, do not worry the Accomplished One. The Exalted One is wearied," said the Venerable Ānanda.

For the second and third time Subhadda repeated his request, and for the second and third time Venerable Ānanda replied in the same manner.

The Buddha heard the conversation between the Venerable Ānanda and Subhadda, and addressing Ānanda, said:

"Nay, Ānanda, do not prevent Subhadda. Let Subhadda, O Ānanda, behold the Accomplished One. Whatsoever Subhadda will ask of me, all that will be with the desire for knowledge, and not to annoy me. And whatever I shall say in answer he will readily understand."

Thereupon the Venerable Ānanda introduced Subhadda to the Buddha.

Subhadda exchanged friendly greetings with the Buddha and sitting aside said: "There are these ascetics and priests, O Gotama, who are leaders of companies and congregations, who are heads of sects and are well-known, renowned religious teachers, esteemed as good men by the multitude, as, for instance, Pūrana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambali, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sa񪡹a Belatthiputta, Nigantha Nātaputta [26]-- have they all, as they themselves claim, thoroughly understood the Truth or not, or have some of them understood. and some not?"

"Let it be, O Subhadda! Trouble not yourself as to whether all or some have realized it or not. I shall teach the doctrine to you. Listen and bear it well in mind. I shall speak."

"So be it, Lord!" replied Subhadda.

The Buddha spoke as follows:

"In whatever Dispensation there exists not the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is the First Samana, nor the Second, nor the Third, nor the Fourth to be found therein. In whatever Dispensation, O Subhadda, there exists the Noble Eightfold Path, there also are to be found the First Samana, the Second Samana, the Third Samana, the Fourth Samana. In this Dispensation, O Subhadda, there exists the Noble Eightfold Path.

"Here, indeed, are found the First Samana,[27] the Second Samana, [28] the Third Samana, [29] and the Fourth Samana. [30] The other foreign schools are empty of Samanas. If, O Subhadda, the disciples live rightly, the world would not be void of Arahants. [31]

"My age was twenty-nine when I went forth as a seeker after what is good. Now one and fifty years are gone since I was ordained. Outside this fold there is not a single ascetic who acts even partly in accordance with this realizable doctrine."

Thereupon Subhadda spoke to the Buddha as follows:

"Excellent, Lord, excellent! It is as if, O Lord, a man were to set upright that which was overturned, or were to reveal that which was hidden, or were to point the way to one who has gone astray, or were to hold a lamp amidst the darkness, so that whoever has eyes may see, even so has the doctrine been expounded in various ways by the Exalted One.

"And I, Lord, seek refuge in the Buddha, the Doctrine, and the Order. May I receive the Lesser and the Higher Ordination in the presence of the Exalted One!"

"Whoever, Subhadda," said the Buddha, "being already committed to the other doctrines desires the Lesser [32] and the Higher 0rdination, [33] remains on probation for four months. [34] At the end of four months, the disciples approving, he is ordained and raised to the status of a Bhikkhu. Nevertheless, on understanding, I make individual exception."

Then said Subhadda:

"If, Lord, those already committed to other doctrines, who desire the Lesser and the Higher Ordination in this Dispensation, remain on probation for four months, I too will remain on probation; and after the lapse of that period, the disciples approving, let me be received into the Order and raised to the status of a Bhikkhu."

Thereupon the Buddha addressed Ānanda and said:

"Then, Ānanda, you may ordain Subhadda."

"So, be it, Lord!" replied Ānanda.

And Subhadda, the wandering ascetic, spoke to the Venerable Ānanda as follows:

"It is a gain to you, O Venerable Ānanda! It is indeed a great gain to you, for you have been anointed by the anointment of discipleship in the presence of the Exalted One by Himself."

Subhadda received in the presence of the Buddha the Lesser and the Higher Ordination.

And in no long time after his Higher Ordination, the Venerable Subhadda, living alone, remote from men, strenuous, energetic, and resolute, realized, in this life itself, by his own intuitive knowledge, the consummation of that incomparable Life of Holiness, and lived abiding in that state for the sake of which sons of noble families rightly leave the householder's life for the homeless life. He perceived that rebirth was ended, completed was the Holy Life, that after this life there was none other.

And the Venerable Subhadda became one of the Arahants. He was the last personal convert of the Buddha.

The Last Words to Ānanda

The Venerable Ānanda desired to know what they should do with the body of the Tathāgata.

The Buddha answered. Do not engage yourselves in honouring the remains of the Tathāgata. Be concerned about your own welfare (i.e. Arahantship). Devote yourselves to your own welfare. Be heedful, be strenuous, and be intent on your own good. There are wise warriors, wise brahmins, wise householders who are firm believers in the Tathāgata. They will do honour to the remains of the Tathāgata.

At the conclusion of these interesting religious talks Venerable Ānanda went aside and stood weeping at the thought: "Alas! I am still a learner with work yet to do. But my Master will finally pass away -- He who is my sympathiser".

The Buddha, noticing his absence, summoned him to His presence and exhorted him thus -- "Enough, O Ānanda! Do not grieve, do not weep. Have I not already told you that we have to separate and divide and sever ourselves from everything that is dear and pleasant to us?

"O Ānanda, you have done much merit. Soon be freed from Defilements."

The Buddha then paid a tribute to Venerable Ānanda, commenting on his salient virtues.

After admonishing Venerable Ānanda in various ways, the Buddha ordered him to enter Kusinārā and inform the Mallas of the impending death of the Tathāgata. Mallas were duly informed, and came weeping with their wives, young men, and maidens, to pay their last respects to the Tathāgata.

The Last Scene

Then the Blessed One addressed Ānanda and said:

"It may be, Ānanda, that you will say thus: 'Without the Teacher is the Sublime Teaching! There is no Teacher for us.' Nay, Ānanda, you should not think thus. Whatever Doctrine and Discipline have been taught and promulgated by me, Ānanda, they will be your Teacher when I am gone."[35]

"Let the Sangha, O Ānanda, if willing, abrogate the lesser and minor rules after my death, [36]" remarked the Buddha.

Instead of using the imperative form the Buddha has used the subjunctive in this connection. Had it been His wish that the lesser rules should be abolished, He could have used the imperative. The Buddha foresaw that Venerable Kassapa, presiding over the First Council, would, with the consent of the Sangha, not abrogate any rule hence His use of the subjunctive, states the commentator.

As the Buddha has not clearly stated what these minor rules were and as the Arahants could not come to any decision about them, they preferred not to alter any rule but to retain all intact.

Again the Buddha addressed the disciples and said: "If, O disciples, there be any doubt as to the Buddha, or the Doctrine, or the Order, or the Path, or the Method, question me, and repent not afterwards thinking, -- we were face to face with the Teacher, yet we were not able to question the Exalted One in His presence." When He spoke thus the disciples were silent.

For the second and third time the Buddha addressed the disciples in the same way. And for the second and third time the disciples were silent.

Then the Buddha addressed the disciples and said: "Perhaps it may be out of respect for the Teacher that you do not question me. Let a friend, O disciples, intimate it to another."

Still the disciples were silent.

Thereupon the Venerable Ānanda spoke to the Buddha as follows:

"Wonderful, Lord! Marvellous, Lord! Thus am I pleased with the company of disciples. There is not a single disciple who entertains a doubt or perplexity with regard to the Buddha, the Doctrine, the Order, the Path and the Method."

"You speak out of faith, Ānanda, with regard to this matter. There is knowledge in the Tathāgata, that in this company of disciples there is not a single disciple who entertains a doubt or perplexity with regard to the Doctrine, the Order, the Path and the Method. Of these five hundred disciples, Ānanda, he who is the last is a Stream Winner, not subject to fall but certain and destined for Enlightenment. [37]

Lastly the Buddha addressed the disciples and gave His final exhortation.

"Behold, O disciples, I exhort you. Subject to change are all component things. Strive on with diligence (Vayadhammā samkhārā, Appāmadena sampādetha).

These were the last words of the Blessed One.

The Passing Away

The Buddha attained to the first Ecstasy (Jhāna). Emerging from it, He attained in order to the second, third, and fourth Ecstasies. Emerging from the fourth Ecstasy, He attained to "The Realm of the Infinity of Space" (Akāsāna񣦣257;yatana). Emerging from it He attained to "The Realm of the Infinity of Consciousness" (Vi񱦣257;na񼦣257;yatana). Emerging from it, He attained to "The Realm of Nothingness" (Āki񣡱񦣲57;yatana). Emerging from it, He attained to "The Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-perception" (N'eva sa񱦣257; nāsa񦣲57;yatana). Emerging from it, He attained to "The cessation of Perceptions and Sensations". (Sa񱦣257;vedayita-Nirodha).

Venerable Ānanda, who had then not developed the Divine Eye, addressed Venerable Anuruddha and said: "O Venerable Anuruddha, the Exalted One has passed away."

"Nay, brother Ānanda, the Exalted One has not passed away but has attained to "The Cessation of Perceptions and Sensations".

Then the Buddha, emerging from "The Cessation of Perceptions and Sensations", attained to "The Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-perception." Emerging from it, He attained to "The Realm of Nothingness." Emerging from it, He attained to "The Realm of the Infinity of Consciousness." Emerging from it, He attained to "The Realm of the Infinity of Space." Emerging from it. He attained to the fourth Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the third Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the second Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the first Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the second Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the third Ecstasy. Emerging from it, He attained to the fourth Ecstasy. Emerging from it, and immediately after, the Buddha finally passed away. [38]


THE DHAMMA


 CHAPTER 15 

THE TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA

What is Buddhism ?

"This doctrine is profound, hard to see, difficult to understand, calm, sublime, not within the sphere of logic, subtle, to be understood by the wise".
--
MAJJHIMA NIKĀYA

 Tipitaka

The Buddha has passed away, but the sublime Teaching, which He expounded during His long and successful ministry and which He unreservedly bequeathed to humanity, still exists in its pristine purity.

Although the Master has left no written records of His Teachings, His disciples preserved them, by committing to memory and transmitting them orally from generation to generation.

Three months after the Death of the Buddha, in the eighth year of King Ajātasattu's reign, 500 pre-eminent Arahants concerned with preserving the purity of the Doctrine held a Convocation at Rājagaha to rehearse it. The Venerable Ānanda Thera, the Buddha's beloved attendant who had the special privilege and honour of hearing the discourses from the Buddha Himself, and the Venerable Upāli Thera were chosen to answer questions about the Dhamma (Doctrine) and the Vinaya (Discipline) respectively.

This First Council compiled and arranged in its present form the Pāli Tipitaka, which represents the entire body of the Buddha's Teaching.

Two other Councils [1] of Arahants were held 100 and 236 years later respectively, again to rehearse the Word of the Buddha because attempts were being made to pollute the pure Teaching.

About 83 B.C., during the reign of the pious Simhala King Vatta Gāmani Abhaya, [2] a Council of Arahants was held, and the Tipitaka was, for the first time in the history of Buddhism, committed to writing at Aluvihāra [3] in Ceylon.

Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of those noble and foresighted Arahants, there is no room either now or in the future for higher critics or progressive scholars to adulterate the pure Teaching.

The voluminous Tipitaka, which contains the essence of the Buddha's Teaching, is estimated to be about eleven times the size of the Bible.

The word Tipitaka [4] means three Baskets. They are the Basket of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka), the Basket of Discourses (Sutta Pitaka) and the Basket of Ultimate Doctrine (Abhidhamma Pitaka).

Vinaya Pitaka

The Vinaya pitaka, which is regarded as the sheet anchor of the Holy Order, deals mainly with the rules and regulations of the Order of Bhikkhus (monks) and Bhikkhunis (nuns). For nearly twenty years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, no definite rules were laid down for control and discipline of the Sangha (Order). Subsequently as occasion arose, the Buddha promulgated rules for the future discipline of the Sangha. Reasons for the promulgation of rules, their various implications, and specific Vinaya ceremonies of the Sangha are fully described in the Vinaya pitaka. The history of the gradual development of Sāsana [5] from its very inception, a brief account of the life and ministry of the Buddha, and details of the three Councils are some other additional relevant contents of the Vinaya Pitaka. Indirectly it reveals useful information about ancient history, Indian customs, ancient arts and sciences. One who reads the Vinaya Pitaka cannot but be impressed by the democratic constitution of the Sangha, their holding of possessions in common, the exceptionally high moral standard of the Bhikkhus, and the unsurpassed administrative abilities of the Buddha, who anticipated even the present Parliamentary system. Lord Zetland writes; "And it may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the Assemblies of the Buddhists in India two thousand years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of our own Parliamentary practice of the present day. [6]"

The Vinaya Pitaka consists of the following five books:

1. Pārājika Pāli Vibhanga (Major Offences)
2. Pācittiya Pāli (Minor Offences)
3. Mahāvagga Pāli Khandaka (Greater Section)
4. Cullavagga Pāli (Lesser Section)
5. Parivāra Pāli   (Epitome of the Vinaya)

Sutta Pitaka

The Sutta Pitaka consists chiefly of instructive discourses delivered by the Buddha to both the Sangha and the laity on various occasions. A few discourses, expounded by disciples such as the Venerables Sāriputta, Moggallāna, and Ānanda,, are incorporated and are accorded as much veneration as the Word of the Buddha Himself, since they were approved by Him. Most of the sermons were intended mainly for the benefit of Bhikkhus, and they deal with the Holy Life and with the exposition of the Doctrine. There are several other discourses which deal with both the material and the moral progress of His lay-followers. The Sigālovāda Sutta, [7] for instance, deals mainly with the duties of a layman. There are also a few interesting talks given to children.

This Pitaka may be compared to a book of prescriptions, since the discourses were expounded on diverse occasions to suit the temperaments of various persons. There may be seemingly contradictory statements, but they should not be misconstrued as they were uttered by the Buddha to suit a particular purpose; for instance, to the self same question He would maintain silence, when the inquirer was merely foolishly inquisitive, or give a detailed reply when He knew the inquirer to be an earnest seeker after the Truth.

The Sutta Pitaka consists of the following five Nikāyas (Collections):

1. Dīgha Nikāya (Collection of Long Discourses)
2. Majjhima Nikāya (Collection of Middle-length Discourses)
3. Samyutta Nikāya (Collection of Kindred Sayings)
4. Anguttara Nikāya (Collection of Gradual Sayings)
5. Khuddaka Nikāya (Smaller Collection)

This fifth is subdivided into fifteen books:

1. Khuddaka Pātha (Shorter Texts)
 2. Dhammapada (The Way of Truth)
 3. Udāna (Paeans of Joy)
 4. Itivuttaka ("Thus said" Discourses)
 5. Sutta Nipāta (Collected Discourses)
 6. Vimāna Vatthu (Stories of Celestial Mansions)
 7. Peta Vatthu (Stories of Petas)
 8. Theragāthā (Psalms of the Brethren)
 9. Therigāthā (Psalms of the Sisters)
 10. Jātaka (Birth Stories of the Bodhisatta)
 11. Niddesa (Expositions)
 12. Patisambhidā (Book on Analytical Knowledge)
 13. Apadāna (Lives of Arahants)
 14. Buddhavamsa (History of the Buddha)
 15. Cariyā Pitaka (Modes of Conduct)

Abhidhamma Pitaka

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the most important and most interesting of the three containing as it does the profound philosophy of the Buddha's teaching in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka.

Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine of the Buddha, expounds the quintessence of His profound teachings. [8]

According to some scholars Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but is a later elaboration of scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to the Buddha Himself. The Mātikā or Matrices of the Abhidhamma, such as Kusalā Dhammā (Wholesome States), Akusalā Dhammā (Unwholesome States), and Abyākata Dhammā (Indeterminate States), etc., which have been elaborated in the six books (Kathāvatthu [9] being excluded), were expounded by the Buddha. To the Venerable Sāriputta is assigned the honour of having explained all these topics in detail.

Whoever the great author or authors may have been, it has to be admitted that the Abhidhamma must be the product of an intellectual genius comparable only to the Buddha. This is evident, from the intricate and subtle Patthāna Pakarana which describes in detail the various causal relations.

To the wise truth-seekers, Abhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an intellectual treat. Here is found food for thought to original thinkers and to earnest students who wish to develop wisdom and lead an ideal Buddhist life. Abhidhamma is not a subject of fleeting interest designed for the superficial reader.

Modern Psychology, limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma inasmuch as it deals with mind, thoughts, thought-processes, and mental properties; but it does not admit of a psyche or a soul. It teaches a psychology without a psyche.

If one were to read the Abhidhamma as a modern text-book on psychology, one would be disappointed. No attempt has here been made to solve all the problems that confront a modern psychologist.

Consciousness (Citta) is defined. Thoughts are analysed and classified chiefly from an ethical standpoint. All mental properties (Cetasika) are enumerated. The composition of each type of consciousness is set forth in detail. How thoughts arise is minutely described. Bhavanga and Javana thought-moments, which are explained only in the Abhidhamma, and which have no parallel in modern psychology, are of special interest to research students in psychology. Irrelevant problems that interest students and scholars, but have no relation to one's Deliverance, are deliberately set aside.

Matter is summarily discussed, but it has not been described for physicists. Fundamental units of matter, material properties, source of matter, relationship of mind and matter are explained. Abhidhamma does not attempt to give a systematised knowledge of mind and matter. It investigates these two composite factors of the so-called being, to help the understanding of things as they truly are. A philosophy has been developed on those lines. Based on that philosophy, an ethical system has been evolved to realize the ultimate Goal, Nibbāna.

As Mrs. Rhys Davids rightly says:

"Abhidhamma deals with
(i) what we find within us, around us; and of
(ii) what we aspire to find."

While the Sutta Pitaka contains the conventional teaching (vohāra desanā), the Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the ultimate teaching (paramattha desanā).

It is generally admitted by most exponents of the Dhamma that a knowledge of the Abhidhamma is essential to comprehend fully the Teachings of the Buddha, as it presents the key that opens the door of reality.

The Abhidhamma Pitaka is composed of the following seven works:

1. Dhammasangani (Classification of Dhamma)
2. Vibhanga (Divisions)
3. Dhātukathā (Discourse on Elements)
4. Puggala Pa񱡴ti (The Book on Individuals)
5. Kathāvatthu (Points of Controversy)
6. Yamaka (The Book of Pairs)
7. Patthāna (The Book of Causal Relations)

 Is Buddhism a Philosophy?

The sublime Dhamma, enshrined in these sacred texts, deals with truths and facts that can be tested and verified by personal experience and is not concerned with theories and speculations, which may be accepted as profound truths today and thrown overboard tomorrow. The Buddha did not expound revolutionary philosophical theories, nor did He attempt to create a new material science. In plain terms He explained both what is within and what is without, so far as it concerns emancipation from the ills of life, and revealed the unique Path of Deliverance.

Furthermore, the Buddha did not teach all that He knew. On one occasion while the Buddha was staying in a forest, He took a handful of leaves and said: "O Bhikkhus, what I have taught you is comparable to the leaves in my hand, and what I have not taught you, to the leaves in the forest.[10]"

He taught what He deemed was absolutely essential for one's purification, and was characteristically silent on questions irrelevant to His noble mission. Incidentally, He forestalled many a modern scientist and philosopher.

Heraclitus (500 B.C.) believed that everything flows (pante rhei) and that the universe is a constant becoming. He taught that nothing ever is; everything is becoming. It was he who made the famous statement that a person cannot step into the same stream twice. Pythagoras (532 B.C.) taught, among other things, the theory of transmigration of souls. Descartes (1596-1650) declared the necessity of examining all phenomena at the bar of reasonable doubt. Spinoza (I632-1677). while admitting the existence of a permanent reality, asserted that all existence is transitory. In his opinion sorrow was to be conquered by finding an object of knowledge which is not transient, not ephemeral, but is immutable, permanent, everlasting. Berkely (1685-1776) thought that the so-called atom was a metaphysical fiction. Hume (1711-1776) analysed the mind and concluded that consciousness consists of fleeting mental states. In the view of Hegel (1770-1831) "the entire phenomenon is a becoming." Schopenhauer (1788-1860) in his "World as Will and Idea" has presented the truth of suffering and its cause in Western garb. Henri Bergson (1859-1941) advocated the doctrine of change, and emphasized the value of intuition. William James (1842-1910) referred to a stream of consciousness and denied the existence of a soul.

The Buddha expounded these truths of transiency (anicca), sorrow (dukkha), and soul-lessness (anattā) more than 2500 years ago.

The moral and philosophical teachings of the Buddha are to be studied, to be practised, and above all to be realized by one's own intuitive wisdom. As such the Dhamma is compared to a raft which enables one to cross the ocean of life.[11]

Buddhism, therefore, cannot strictly be called a philosophy because it is not merely "the love of, inducing the search after, wisdom. [12]" Nor is Buddhism "a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy).[13]"

If by philosophy is meant "an inquiry not so much after certain particular facts as after the fundamental character of this world in which we find ourselves, and of the kind of life which such a world it behoves us to live, [14] Buddhism may approximate to a philosophy, but it is very much more comprehensive. [15]

Philosophy deals mainly with knowledge and is not concerned with practice; whereas Buddhism lays special emphasis on practice and realization.

Is Buddhism a Religion?

Prof. Rhys Davids writes:

"What is meant by religion? The word, as is well-known is not found in languages not related to our own, and its derivation is uncertain. Cicero, in one passage, derived it from re and lego, and held that its real meaning was the repetition of prayers and incantations. Another interpreta-tion derives the word from re and logo, and makes its original sense that of attachment, of a continual binding (that is, no doubt to the gods). A third derivation connects the word with lex, and explains it as a law-abiding, scrupulously conscientious frame of mind. [16]"

Buddhism is not strictly a religion in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not "a system of faith and worship," owing any allegiance to a supernatural God.

Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Hence mere belief is dethroned and for it is substituted "confidence based on knowledge." It is possible for a Buddhist to entertain occasional doubts until he attains the first stage of Sainthood (Sotāpatti) when all doubts about the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha are completely resolved. One becomes a genuine follower of the Buddha only after attaining this stage. [17]

The confidence of a follower of the Buddha is like that of a patient in respect of a noted physician, or of a student regarding his teacher. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide and teacher who indicates the Path of Purity, he makes no servile surrender.

A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power even of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. Strictly speaking, one can neither purify nor defile another. The Buddha, as Teacher, may be instrumental, but we ourselves are responsible for our purification.

In the Dhammapada the Buddha says:

"By, oneself alone is evil done: by oneself is one defiled.
By oneself alone is evil avoided: by oneself alone is one purified.
Purity and impurity depend
on oneself: No one can purify another." (v. 145).

A Buddhist is not a slave to a book or to any individual. Nor does he sacrifice his freedom of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He is at full liberty to exercise his own freewill and develop his knowledge even to the extent of attaining Buddhahood himself, for all are potential Buddhas. Naturally Buddhists quote the Buddha as their authority, but the Buddha Himself discarded all authority.

Immediate realization is the sole criterion of truth in Buddhism. Its keynote is rational understanding (Sammā ditthi). The Buddha advises seekers of truth not to accept anything merely on the authority of another but to exercise their own reasoning and judge for themselves whether a thing is right or wrong.

On one occasion the citizens of Kesaputta, known as Kālāmas, approached the Buddha and said that many ascetics and brahmins who came to preach to them used to exalt their own doctrines and denounce those of others, and that they were at a loss to understand which of those worthies were right.

"Yes, O Kā1āmas, it is right for you to doubt, it is right for you to waver. In a doubtful matter, wavering has arisen, [18]" remarked the Buddha and gave them the following advice which applies with equal force to modern rationalists as it did to those sceptic brahmins of yore.

"Come, O Kālāmas, Do not accept anything on mere hearsay (i.e., thinking that thus have we heard it from a long time). Do not accept anything by mere tradition (i.e., thinking that it has thus been handed down through many generations). Do not accept anything on account of rumours (i.e., by believing what others say without any investigation). Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything by mere supposition. Do not accept anything by mere inference. Do not accept anything by merely considering the appearances. Do not accept anything merely because it agrees with your preconceived notions. Do not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable (i.e., should be accepted). Do not accept anything thinking that the ascetic is respected by us (and therefore it is right to accept his word.)

"But when you know for yourselves -- these things are immoral, these things are blameworthy, these things are censured by the wise, these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to ruin and sorrow -- then indeed do you reject them.

"When you know for yourselves -- these things are moral, these things are blameless, these things are praised by the wise, these things, when performed and undertaken, conduce to well-being and happiness -- then do you live and act accordingly. [19]"

These wise sayings of the Buddha, uttered some 2500 years ago, still retain their original force and freshness even in this enlightened twentieth century.

With a homely illustration Jnānasāra-samuccaya repeats the same counsel in different words.

"Tāpāc chedāc ca nikasat svarnam iva panditaih
Parikshya blikshavo grāhyam madvaco na tu gauravāt".

"As the wise test gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it (on a piece of touchstone),
so are you to accept my words after examining them and not merely out of regard for me."

The Buddha exhorted His disciples to seek the truth, and not to heed mere persuasion even by superior authority.

Now, though it be admitted that there is no blind faith in Buddhism, one might question whether there is no worshipping of Buddha images and such like idolatry amongst Buddhists.

Buddhists do not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favours, but pay their homage to what it represents. A Buddhist goes before an image and offers flowers and incense not to the image but to the Buddha. He does so as a mark of gratitude, reflecting on the virtues of the Buddha and pondering on the transiency of flowers. An understanding Buddhist designedly makes himself feel that he is in the noble presence of the Buddha, and thereby gains inspiration to emulate Him.

Referring to images, the great philosopher Count Kaiserling writes:

"I know nothing more grand in this world than the figure of the Buddha. It is the perfect embodiment of spirituality in the visible domain. [20]"

Then again Buddhists do not worship the Bodhi-tree, but consider it a symbol of Enlightenment, and so, worthy of reverence.

Though such external forms of homage are prevalent amongst Buddhists, the Buddha is not worshipped as a God.

These external objects of homage are not absolutely necessary, but they are useful and they help one to concentrate one?s attention. An intellectual could dispense with them as he could easily focus his attention on the Buddha, and thus visualize Him.

For our own good, and out of gratitude, we pay such homage, but what the Buddha expects from His disciples is not obeisance but the actual observance of His teaching.

Just before the Buddha passed away, many disciples came to pay their respects to Him. One Bhikkhu, however, remained in his cell absorbed in meditation. This matter was reported to the Buddha who summoned him and, on enquiring the reason for his absence, was told: "Lord, I knew that Your Reverence would pass away three months hence, and I thought the best way of honouring the Teacher was by attaining Arahantship even before the decease of Your Reverence."

The Buddha extolled the praiseworthy conduct of that loyal and dutiful Bhikkhu, saying: "Excellent, excellent! He who loves me should emulate this Bhikkhu. He honours me best who practises my teaching best. [21]"

On another occasion the Buddha remarked: "He who sees the Dhamma sees me. [22]"

Furthermore, it must be mentioned that there are no petitionary or intercessory prayers in Buddhism. However much one may pray to the Buddha one cannot be saved. The Buddha does not and cannot grant worldly favours to those who pray to Him. A Buddhist should not pray to be saved, but should rely on himself and strive with diligence to win his freedom and gain purity. Advising His disciples not to depend on others but to depend on oneself and to be self-reliant, the Buddha says:

Tumhehi kiccam ātappam akkhātāro tathāgatā. [23]
"Striving should be done by yourselves. The Tathāgatas are teachers."

The Buddha not only speaks of the futility of prayers [24] but also disparages a slave mentality. Instead of prayers the Buddha emphasizes the importance of meditation that promotes self-discipline, self-control, self-purification and self-enlightenment. It serves as a tonic both to the mind and heart. Meditation is the essence of Buddhism.

In Buddhism there is not, as in most other religions, an Almighty God to be obeyed and feared. Buddhism denies the existence of a supernatural power, conceived as an Almighty Being or a causeless force. There are no Divine revelations nor Divine messengers or prophets. A Buddhist is therefore not subservient to any higher supernatural power which controls his destinies and which arbitrarily rewards and punishes. Since Buddhists do not believe in revelations of a Divine Being, Buddhism does not claim the monopoly of truth and does not condemn any other religion. "Intolerance is the greatest enemy of religion". With His characteristic tolerance, the Buddha advised His disciples not to get angry, discontented, or displeased even when others spoke ill of Him, or of His Teaching, or of His Order. "If you do so," the Buddha said, "you will not only bring yourselves into danger of spiritual loss, but you will not be able to judge whether what they say is correct or not correct" -- a most enlightened sentiment. Denouncing unfair criticism of other faiths, the Buddha states: "It is as a man who looks up and spits at heaven -- the spittle does not soil the heaven, but it comes back and defiles his own person. [25]"

Buddhism expounds no dogmas that one must blindly believe, no creeds that one must accept on good faith without reasoning, no superstitious rites and ceremonies to be observed for formal entry into the fold, no meaningless sacrifices and penances for one's purification.

Buddhism cannot, therefore, be strictly called a religion, because it is neither a system of faith and worship, nor "the outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a God or Gods having power over their own destiny to whom obedience, service, and honour are due. [26]"

Karl Marx said: "Religion is the soul of soulless conditions, the heart of a heartless world, the opium of the people." Buddhism is not such a religion, for all Buddhist nations grew up in the cradle of Buddhism and their present cultural advancement is clearly due mainly to the benign influence of the teachings of the Buddha.

However, if, by religion, is meant "a teaching which takes a view of life that is more than superficial, a teaching which looks into life and not merely at it, a teaching which furnishes men with a guide to conduct that is in accord with this in-look, a teaching which enables those who give it heed to face life with fortitude and death with serenity. [27]" or a system of deliverance from the ills of life, then certainly Buddhism is a religion of religions. [28]

Is Buddhism an Ethical System?

Buddhism contains an excellent moral code, including one for the monks and another for the laity, but it is much more than an ordinary moral teaching.

Morality (sīla) is only the preliminary stage and is a means to an end, but not an end in itself. Though absolutely essential, it alone does not lead to one's Deliverance or perfect purity. It is only the first stage on the Path of Purity. Beyond morality is wisdom (pa񱦣257;). The base of Buddhism is morality, and wisdom is its apex. As the pair of wings of a bird are these two complementary virtues. Wisdom is like unto man's eyes; morality is like unto his feet. One of the appellatives of the Buddha is Vijjācaranasampanna -- endowed with wisdom and conduct.

Of the Four Noble Truths that form the foundation of Buddhism, the first three represent the philosophy of the Buddha's teaching; the fourth the ethics of Buddhism based on that philosophy.

Morality in Buddhism is not founded on any doubtful divine revelation, nor is it the ingenious invention of an exceptional mind, but it is a rational and practical code based on verifiable facts and individual experience. In the opinion of Prof. Max Muller the Buddhist moral code is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known.

Prof. Rhys Davids says: "Buddhist or no Buddhist I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world; and in none of those have I found anything to surpass in beauty and comprehensiveness the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha. I am content to shape my life according t o that path."

It is interesting to note that according to Buddhism there are deeds which are ethically good and bad, deeds which are neither good nor bad, and deeds which tend to the ceasing of all deeds. Good deeds are essential for one's emancipation, but when once the ultimate goal of the Holy Life is attained, one transcends both good and evil.

The Buddha says: "Righteous things (dhamma) you have to give up: how much more the unrighteous things (adhamma). [29]"

The deed which is associated with attachment (lobha), illwill (dosa) and delusion (moha) is evil. That deed which is associated with non-attachment (alobha), goodwill (adosa), and wisdom (pa񱦣257;), is good.

The deeds of an Arahant, a Stainless One, possess no ethical value as he has gone beyond both good and evil. This does not mean that he is passive. He is active, but his activity is selfless and is directed to help others to tread the path he has trodden himself. His deeds, ordinarily accepted as good, lack creative power as regards himself. Unlike the actions of a worldling his actions do not react on himself as a Kammic effect.

His actions, in Pāli, are called kiriya (functional). Purest gold cannot further be purified.

The mental states of the four types of supramundane Path consciousness, namely, Sotāpatti (Stream-Winner), Sakadāgāmi (Once-Returner), Anāgāmi (Non-Returner) and Arahatta (Worthy), though wholesome (kusala), do not tend to accumulate fresh Kamma, but, on the contrary, tend to the gradual cessation of the individual flux of becoming, and therewith to the gradual cessation of good and evil deeds. In these types of supramundane consciousness the wisdom factor (pa񱦣257;), which tends to destroy the roots of Kamma, is predominant; while in the mundane types of consciousness volition (cetanā) which produces Kammic activities is predominant.

What is the criterion of morality according to Buddhism?

The answer is found in the admonition given by the Buddha to young Sāmanera Rāhula.

"If there is a deed, Rāhula, you wish to do, reflect thus: Is this deed conducive to my harm, or to others? harm, or to that of both? Then is this a bad deed entailing suffering. From such a deed you must resist.

"If there is a deed you wish to do, reflect thus: Is this deed not conducive to my harm, nor to others' harm, nor to that of both? Then is this a good deed entailing happiness. Such a deed you must do again and again. [30]"

In assessing morality a Buddhist takes into consideration the interests both of himself and others -- animals not excluded.

In the Karaniya Mettā Sutta the Buddha exhorts:

"As the mother protects her only child even at the risk of her own life; even so let one cultivate boundless thoughts of loving-kindness towards all being". [31]"

The Dhammapada states:

"All fear punishment, to all life is dear. Comparing others with oneself, let one neither hurt nor kill. [32]"

To understand the exceptionally high standard of morality the Buddha expects from His ideal followers, one must carefully read the Dhammapada, Sigālovāda Sutta, Vyāgghapajja Sutta, Mangala Sutta, Mettā Sutta, Parābhava Sutta, Vasala Sutta, Dhammika Sutta, etc.

As a moral teaching it excels all other ethical systems, but morality is only the beginning and not the end of Buddhism.

In one sense Buddhism is not a philosophy, in another sense it is the philosophy of philosophies.

In one sense Buddhism is not a religion, in another sense it is the religion of religions.

What Buddhism is

Buddhism is neither a metaphysical path nor a ritualistic path.

It is neither sceptical nor dogmatic.

It is neither eternalism nor nihilism.

It is neither self-mortification nor self-indulgence.

It is neither pessimism nor optimism but realism.

It is neither absolutely this-worldly nor other-worldly.

It is not extravert but introvert.

It is not theo-centric but homo-centric.

It is a unique Path of Enlightenment.

The original Pāli term for Buddhism is Dhamma, which, literally, means that which upholds or sustains (him who acts in conformity with its principles and thus prevents him from falling into woeful states). There is no proper English equivalent that exactly conveys the meaning of the Pāli term.

The Dhamma is that which really is. It is the Doctrine of Reality. It is a Means of Deliverance from suffering and Deliverance itself. Whether the Buddhas arise or not the Dhamma exists from all eternity. It is a Buddha that realizes this Dhamma, which ever lies hidden from the ignorant eyes of men, till He, an Enlightened One, comes and compassionately reveals it to the world.

"Whether the Tathāgatas appear or not, O Bhikkhus, it remains a fact, an established principle, a natural law that all conditioned things are transient (anicca), sorrowful (dukkha) and that everything is soulless (anattā). This fact the Tathāgata realizes, understands and when He has realized and understood it, announces, teaches, proclaims, establishes, discloses, analyses, and makes it clear, that all conditioned things are transient, sorrowful, and that everything is soulless. [33]"

In the Majjhima Nikāya the Buddha says: "One thing only does the Buddha teach, namely, suffering and the cessation of suffering. [34]"

This is the Doctrine of Reality.

Udāna states: "Just as, O Bhikkhus, the mighty ocean is of one flavour, the flavour of salt, even so, O Bhikkhus, this Dhamma is of one flavour, the flavour of Deliverance (Vimutti). [35]

This is the Means of Deliverance.

This sublime Dhamma is not something apart from oneself. It is purely dependent on oneself and is to be realized by oneself. As such the Buddha exhorts:

"Attadipā viharatha attapatisaranā. [36]"
--
Abide with oneself as an island, with oneself as a refuge.

"Dhammadīpā viharatha, dhamma patisaranā, n?ā񱡠patisaranā "
-- Abide with the Dhamma as an island, with the dhamma as a refuge. Seek not for external refuge.
[37]


 

CHAPTER 16 

SOME SALIENT CHARACTERISTICS OF BUDDHISM

"Well expounded is the Dhamma by the Exalted One to be self-realized, with immediate fruit, inviting investigation, leading on to Nibbāna, to be comprehended by the wise, each for himself."
-- MAJJHIMA NIKĀYA

Foundations of Buddhism

The four Noble Truths, which the Buddha Himself discovered and revealed to the world, are the chief characteristics and the unshakable foundations of Buddhism.

They are suffering (the raison d' Ŵre of Buddhism), its cause, i.e., craving, its end, i.e., Nibbāna (the summum bonum of Buddhism), and the Middle Way.

The first three represent the philosophy of Buddhism, while the fourth represents the ethics of Buddhism, in accordance with that philosophy.

All these four Truths which comprise the Dhamma of the Buddha are dependent on this body itself. They are incontrovertible facts wholly associated with man and other beings.

Whether the Buddhas arise or not these Truths exist in the universe. It is the Buddhas that reveal them to the world.

Buddhism rests on the pivot of suffering. Although Buddhism emphasizes the existence of suffering yet it does not follow that Buddhism is a pessimistic religion. On the contrary it is neither totally pessimistic nor totally optimistic but realistic.

One would be justified in calling the Buddha a pessimist if He had merely emphasized the truth of suffering without suggesting a means to end suffering and gain eternal happiness.

The Buddha perceived the universality of sorrow and prescribed a remedy for this universal sickness of humanity. The highest conceivable happiness, according to the Buddha, is Nibbāna, which is the total extinction of suffering.

The Author of the article on "Pessimism" in the Encyclopedia Britannica writes:

"Pessimism denotes an attitude of hopelessness towards life, a vague general opinion that pain and evil predominate in human affairs. The original doctrine of the Buddha is in fact as optimistic as any optimism of the West. To call it 'pessimism' is merely to apply to it a characteristically Western Principle according to which happiness is impossible without personality. The true Buddhist looks forward with enthusiasm to absorption into eternal Bliss."

Happiness

The Buddha does not expect His followers to be constantly brooding on the ills of life and so make their lives unhappy.

Joy (piti) has to be cultivated by every Buddhist as one of the essentials or prerequisites of Enlightenment. In the opinion of many unbiased writers, Buddhists are reputed to be the happiest people in the whole world. They have no inferiority complex that they are wretched sinners.

The members of the Noble Order, who lead the Holy Life in the fullest possible manner, are perhaps the happiest persons. "Aho sukham, aho sukham" -- Oh, happy indeed! Oh, happy indeed! "We shall be living in Joy" -- are some of the oft-repeated favourite sayings of His followers.

One day a certain deity approached the Buddha and questioned Him thus:

"Who in the forest make their wonted haunt --
The saintly
livers of the holy life -
-
Who by one daily meal do break their fast:
Tell me how look they so serene of hue?
[1]"

The Buddha replied;

"They make no lamentation o'er the past,
They yearn not after that which is not come,

By what now is do they maintain themselves;
Hence comes it that they look serene of hue."

Happily the Bhikkhus live in the eternal present with no worries about either the past or the future.

Causal Law in Terms of Happiness

In the Samyutta Nikāya is found an interesting interpretation of the Dependent Origination (Paticca Samuppāda) in terms of happiness. The Buddha says:

"Suffering leads to Confidence (Saddhā); Confidence to Rapture (Pāmojja); Rapture to Joy (Pīti); Joy to Tranquillity (Passaddhi); Tranquillity to Happiness (Sukha); Happiness to Concentration (Samādhi); Concentration to Knowledge and Vision of things as they truly are (Yathābhūta-񦣲57;nadassana); the Knowledge and Vision of things as they truly are to Repulsion (Nibbidā); Repulsion to Non-attachment (Virāga); Non-attachment to Deliverance (Vimutti); Deliverance to the Extinction of Passions (Khaye-māna); i. e., to Arabantship. [2]"

This important passage clearly indicates how suffering can lead to happiness and ultimately to Sainthood.

Tolerance of Buddhism

No blind faith is necessary to understand these four Noble Truths. The first two Truths, which are mundane (lokiya), can be experienced by worldlings themselves. The second two Truths, which are supramundane (lokuttara) can be experienced by attaining Saintship.

It is on the bed-rock of these facts, which could be verified by personal experience and tested by anybody, that the Buddha-Dhamma is built, and not on the fear of the unknown. Buddhism is therefore rational and intensely practical.

In the Dhamma there is nothing that is impractical or irrational. The Buddha practised what He taught; He taught what He practised. What He most emphasizes in His teaching is practice, for creeds alone cannot purify a person.

The Dhammapada states:

"Though much he recites the Sacred Texts but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cow-herd who counts others' kine; he has no share in the blessings of a recluse," (V. 19).

A rational and practical system cannot contain any mysterious or esoteric doctrine. In the Parinibbāna Sutta the Buddha emphatically declares:

"I have taught the truth without making any distinction between esoteric and exoteric doctrine; for in respect of the truth Tathāgata has no such thing as the closed fist of teacher who keeps something back."

Anantaram and abāhiram are the words used by the Buddha. If the Buddha had thought -- "This much of my doctrine I will not teach others," or "Only this much of my doctrine I will teach others," He would have fallen into the category of teachers who keep a closed fist. If the Buddha had thought -- "To these persons I will teach" or "To these persons I will not teach" -- the Buddha would have created an inner circle and outer circle. The Buddha makes no such distinction. [3]

With respect to secret doctrines the Buddha says in the Anguttara Nikāya: [4]

"O disciples, there are three to whom secrecy belongs and not openness. Who are they? Secrecy belongs to women, not openness; secrecy belongs to priestly wisdom, not openness; secrecy belongs to false doctrine not openness. The doctrines and rules proclaimed by the perfect Buddha shine before all the world and not in secret."

It is true that the Buddha had not expressed His view about some problems that perplex mankind. He was characteristically silent on these controversial subjects because they were irrelevant to His noble mission and unessential to one's Emancipation.

On a certain occasion a certain Bhikkhu, named Mālunkyaputta, approached the Buddha and impatiently demanded an immediate solution of some speculative problems on the threat of discarding the robe forthwith.

"Lord," he said, "these theories have not been elucidated, have been set aside, and rejected by the Exalted One -- whether the world is eternal or not eternal; whether the world is finite or infinite; whether the life-principle (jīva) is the same as the body or whether the life-principle is one and the body is another; whether the Tathāgata, after death, is or is not; whether the Tathāgata, after death both is and is not; whether the Tathāgata, after death neither is nor is not. [5]"

The Buddha advised him not to waste time and energy over such idle speculation which was detrimental to moral progress.

"It is as if a person were pierced by an arrow thickly smeared with poison and he should say to the surgeon who wants to extract it: I shall not allow the arrow to be extracted until I know the details of the person who wounded me, the nature of the arrow with which I was pierced, etc. That person would die before this would ever be known by him. In the same way that person would die before these questions had ever been elucidated."

The solving of these metaphysical questions did not lead to aversion, passionlessness, enlightenment, or Nibbāna.

On another occasion when His disciples sought information about these points He silenced them by citing the parable of the elephant and blind men. [6]

An elephant was presented to some blind men to describe what it looked like. Those who touched the different parts of the elephant's body expressed their own peculiar ideas about the elephant. They argued amongst themselves and their arguments naturally ended in a quarrel.

Useless speculations that do not tend to Emancipation and that merely gratify curiosity, the Buddha dismisses with His characteristic silence.

Buddhism does not profess to provide an explanation to all ethical and philosophical problems that interest mankind. Neither does it deal with idle speculations and theorisings that do not tend to edification. Buddhism has a practical and specific purpose -- the cessation of suffering -- and with that goal in view all irrelevant side issues are completely set aside. Nevertheless, every encouragement is given to keen investigation into the real nature of life.

No coercions, persecutions, or fanaticisms play any part in Buddhism. To the unique credit of Buddhism it must be said that throughout its peaceful march of 2500 years no drop of blood has been shed in the name of the Buddha, no mighty monarch has wielded his powerful sword to propagate the Dhamma, and no conversion has been made either by force or by repulsive methods. Yet the Buddha was the first and the greatest missionary that lived on earth. Buddhism has spread, and is still spreading rapidly throughout the world, and is making peaceful penetration to all countries mainly owing to the intrinsic merit and unsurpassing beauty of its teachings and not at all with the aid of Imperialism, militarism or any other indirect proselytising agencies.

Aldous Huxley writes:--

"Alone of all the great world religions Buddhism made its way without persecution, censorship or inquisition. In all these respects its record is enormously superior to that of Christianity, which made its way among people wedded to materialism and which was able to justify the bloodthirsty tendencies of its adherents by an appeal to savage bronze-age literature of the Old Testament."

Lord Russell remarks: "Of the great religions of history, I prefer Buddhism, especially in its earliest forms; because it has had the smallest element of persecution."

In the name of the Buddha no sacred place was reddened with the blood of innocent women, no sincere thinkers were burnt alive, and there was no merciless roasting of heretics.

Buddhism which teaches nothing mysterious does not speak of miracles. The Buddha no doubt possessed supernormal powers as a result of His mental culture, but He did not perform miracles. Yamaka Pātihāriya, [7] for instance, erroneously rendered "Twin Miracle," is a psychic phenomenon which only a Buddha can perform. In this particular case, by His psychic powers, He makes fire and water issue from the pores of the body simultaneously.

Buddhism appeals more to the intellect than to the emotion. It is concerned more with the character of the devotees than with their numerical strength.

On one occasion Upāli the millionaire, a follower of Nigantha Nātaputta, approached the Buddha and was so pleased with the Buddha's exposition of the Dhamma that he instantly expressed his desire to become a follower of the Buddha. But the Buddha advised him, saying -- "Of a verity, O householder, make a thorough investigation. It is well for a distinguished man like you to make a thorough investigation."

Upāli, who was overwhelmed with joy at this unexpected utterance of the Buddha, said:

"Lord, if I had become a follower of another teacher, his followers would have taken me round the streets in procession proclaiming that such and such a millionaire had renounced his former religion and had embraced theirs. But, Lord, you advise me to investigate further. The more pleased am I with this salutary advice of yours. And he appreciatively repeated-for the second time I seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha."

Though he became a Buddhist by conviction, the Buddha, quite in keeping with His boundless compassion and perfect tolerance, advised him to support his former religious teacher in accordance with his practice.

Exhorting all seekers of truth not to be influenced by external authorities or by mere persuasions, the Buddha even went to the extent of requesting His disciples not to bow down submissively to superior authority.

Buddhism is saturated with this spirit of free inquiry and complete tolerance. It is the teaching of the open mind and the sympathetic heart which, lighting and warming the whole universe with its twin rays of wisdom and compassion, sheds its genial glow on every being struggling in the ocean of birth and death.

So compassionate and tolerant was the Buddha that He did not exercise His power to give commandments to His lay-followers. Instead of using the Imperative -- Thou shalt or thou shalt not -- He says-- It behoves you to do this, it behoves you not to do this.

The ordinary precepts which Buddhists are expected to observe are not commandments but modes of discipline (sikkhāpada) which they take of their own accord.

This tolerance and sympathy the Buddha extended to men, women, and all living beings.

Buddhism and Caste

It was the Buddha who, for the first time in the known history of mankind, attempted to abolish slavery and "invented the higher morality and the idea of the brotherhood of the entire human race and in striking terms condemned" the degrading caste-system which was firmly rooted in Indian Society at that time.

The Buddha declared:

"By birth is not one an outcast,
By birth is not one a brahmin.
By deeds is one an outcast,
By deeds is one a brahmin.
[8]"

Vāsettha Sutta [9] relates that two young brahmins had a discussion with regard to what constitutes a brahmin. One maintained that birth made a brahmin, while the other contended that conduct made a brahmin. As neither could convince the other both of them agreed to refer the matter to the Buddha.

So they approached the Buddha and presented their case before Him.

The Buddha at first reminded the questioners that although in the case of plants, insects, quadrupeds, serpents, fishes and birds there are many species and marks by which they could be distinguished, yet in the case of men there are no such species and marks. Then He explained how men differentiated themselves according to their various occupations. In conclusion the Buddha commented:

"Birth makes no brahmin, nor non-brahmin makes;
'Tis life and doing that mould the brahmin true.
Their lives mould farmers, tradesmen, merchants serfs;
Their lives mould robbers, soldiers, chaplains, kings."

Another interesting dialogue concerning this problem of caste appears in the Madhura Sutta. [10]

The King of Madhura makes the following report to the Venerable Kaccāna.

"The brahmins say thus, Kaccāna, 'The brahmins are the most distinguished of the four divisions into which the people are classified; every other division is inferior. The brahmins alone are accounted pure, not those who are not brahmins. The brahmins are the legitimate sons of Brahma, born from his mouth, specially made by him, heirs of Brahma.' What do you, Sir, say to this? "

The Venerable Kaccāna replied that it was an empty assertion and pointed out how a wealthy person could employ as his servant a member of any class or caste and how a vicious person could be born in a woeful state and a virtuous person in a blissful state despite their particular castes, adding that a criminal, irrespective of his caste, would be punished for his crime. He emphasized the fact that all joining the Order receive equal honour and reverence without any discrimination.

According to Buddhism caste or colour does not preclude one from becoming an adherent of the Buddha or from entering the noble Order of the Sangha where all are treated as Ariyas. Fishermen, scavengers, courtesans, together with warriors and brahmins, were freely admitted into the Order and were also given positions of rank.

Upāli, the barber, was made, in preference to all others, chief disciple in matters pertaining to the Vinaya discipline. Sunīta, who was honoured by Kings and nobles as an Arahant, was a timid scavenger. The philosophic Sāti was the son of a fisherman. The courtesan Ambapāli joined the Order and attained Arahantship. Rajjumālā, who was converted by the Buddha as she was about to commit suicide, was a slave girl. So was Punnā whose invitation to spend a rainy season was accepted by the Buddha in preference to that of the millionaire Anāthapindika, her own master. Subhā was the daughter of a smith. Cāpā was the daughter of a deer-stalker. Such instances could be multiplied from the books to show that portals of Buddhism were wide open to all without any distinction.

The Buddha provided equal opportunities for all and raised, rather than lowered, the status of people.

In Buddhism one finds milk for the babe and meat for the strong, and it appeals equally to both the rich and the poor.

Buddhism and Women

It was also the Buddha who raised the status of women and brought them to a realization of their importance to society.

Before the advent of the Buddha women in India were not held in high esteem. One Indian writer, Hemacandra, looked down upon women as "the torch lighting the way to hell" -- Narakamārgadvārasya dipikā.

The Buddha did not humiliate women, but only regarded them as feeble by nature. He saw the innate good of both men and women and assigned to them their due places in His teaching.  Sex is no barrier for purification or service.

Sometimes the Pāli term used to connote women mātugāma which means 'mother-folk' or 'society of mothers.' As a mother a woman holds an honourable place in Buddhism. The mother is regarded as a convenient ladder to ascend to heaven, and a wife is regarded as the 'best friend' (paramā sakhā) of the husband.

Although at first the Buddha refused to admit women into the Order on reasonable grounds, yet later He yielded to the entreaties of Venerable Ānanda and His foster-mother, Mahā Pajāpati Gotami, and founded the Order of Bhikkhunis (Nuns). It was the Buddha who thus founded the first society for women with rules and regulations.

Just as Arahants Sāriputta and Moggallāna were made the two chief disciples in the Order of Bhikkhus, the oldest democratically constituted celibate Order, even so the Arahants Khemā and Uppalavannā were made the two chief female disciples in the Order of Bhikkhunis. Many other female disciples, too, were named by the Buddha Himself as amongst most distinguished and pious followers. Amongst the Vajjis, too, freedom to women was regarded as one of the causes that led to their prosperity. Before the advent of the Buddha women did not enjoy sufficient freedom and were deprived of an opportunity to exhibit their innate spiritual capabilities and their mental gifts. In ancient India, as is still seen today, the birth of a daughter to a family was considered an unwelcome and cumbersome addition.

On one occasion while the Buddha was conversing with King Kosala, a messenger came and informed the King that a daughter was born unto him. Hearing it, the King was naturally displeased. But the Buddha comforted and stimulated him, saying:

"A woman child, O Lord of men, may prove
Even a better offspring than a male.
[11]"

To women who were placed under various disabilities before the appearance of the Buddha, the establishment of the Order of Bhikkhunis was certainly a blessing. In this Order queens, princesses, daughters of noble families, widows, bereaved mothers, helpless women, courtesans -- all despite their caste or rank met on a common footing, enjoyed perfect consolation and peace, and breathed that free atmosphere which was denied to those cloistered in cottages and palatial mansions. Many, who otherwise would have fallen into oblivion, distinguished themselves in various ways and gained their emancipation by seeking refuge in the Order.

Khemā, the first chief female disciple, was the beautiful consort of King Bimbisāra. She was at first reluctant to see the Buddha as she heard that the Buddha used to refer to external beauty in disparaging terms. One day she paid a casual visit to the monastery merely to enjoy the scenery of the place. Gradually she was attracted to the hall where the Buddha was preaching. The Buddha, who read her thoughts, created by His psychic powers a handsome young lady, standing aside fanning Him. Khemā was admiring her beauty. The Buddha made this created image change from youth to middle age and old age, till it finally fell on the ground with broken teeth, grey hair, and wrinkled skin. Then only did she realize the vanity of external beauty and the fleeting nature of life. She thought:

"Has such a body come to be wrecked like that? Then so will my body also."

The Buddha read her mind and said:

"They who are slaves to lust drift down the stream,
Like to a spider gliding down the web
He of himself wrought. But the released,
Who all their bonds have snapt in twain,
With thoughts elsewhere intent, forsake the world,
And all delight in sense put far away.
[12]"

Khemā attained Arahantship and with the king's consent entered the Order. She was ranked foremost in Insight amongst the Bhikkhunis.

Patācārā, who lost her two children, husband, parents and brother, under very tragic circumstances, was attracted to the Buddha's presence by His will-power. Hearing the Buddha's soothing words, she attained the first stage of Sainthood and entered the Order. One day, as she was washing her feet she noticed how first the water trickled a little way and subsided, the second time it flowed a little further and subsided, and the third time it flowed still further and subsided. "Even so do mortals die," she pondered, "either in childhood, or in middle age, or when old." The Buddha read her thoughts and, projecting His image before her, taught her the Dhamma. She attained Arahantship and later became a source of consolation to many a bereaved mother.

Dhammadinnā and Bhaddā Kāpilāni were two Bhikkhunis who were honoured exponents of the Dhamma.

In answer to Māra, the Evil One, it was Bhikkhuni Somā [13] who remarked:

"What should the woman-nature count in her who, with mind well-set and knowledge advancing, has right to the Dhamma? To one who entertains doubt with the question: 'Am I a woman in these matters, or am I a man, or what then am I ?' -- the Evil One is fit to talk."

Amongst the laity too there were many women who were distinguished for their piety, generosity, devotion, learning and loving-kindness.

Visākhā, the chief benefactress of the Order, stands foremost amongst them all.  [14]

Suppiyā was a very devout lady who, being unable to procure some flesh from the market, cut a piece of flesh from her thigh to prepare a soup for a sick Bhikkhu.

Nakulamātā was a faithful wife who, by reciting her virtues, rescued her husband from the jaws of death.

Sāmāvati was a pious and lovable queen who, without any illwill, radiated loving-kindness towards her rival even when she was burnt to death through her machination.

Queen Mallikā on many occasions counselled her husband, King Pasenadi.

A maid-servant, Khujjuttarā, secured many converts by teaching the Dhamma.

Punabbasumātā was so intent on hearing the Dhamma that she hushed her crying child thus:

"O silence, little Uttarā! Be still,
Punabbasu, that I may hear the Norm
Taught by the Master, by the Wisest Man.
Dear unto us is our own child, and dear
Our husband; dearer still than these to me
Is't of this Doctrine to explore the Path.
[15]"

A contemplative mother, when questioned why she did not weep at the loss of her only child, said:

"Uncalled he hither came, unbidden soon to go;
E'en as he came, he went.
What cause is here for
woe? [16]"

Sumanā and Subhaddā were two sisters of exemplary character who had implicit faith in the Buddha.

These few instances will suffice to illustrate the great part played by women in the time of the Buddha.

Buddhism and Harmlessness

The boundless kindness of the Buddha was directed not only to all human beings but also to the dumb animals as well. It was the Buddha who banned the sacrifice of animals and admonished His followers to extend their loving-kindness (Mettā) to all living beings -- even to the tiniest creature that crawls at one's feet. No man, He taught, has the right to destroy the life of another as life is precious to all.

A Bhikkhu is expected to exercise this loving kindness to such an extent that he is forbidden by the Vinaya rules even to dig or cause to dig the ground. He cannot even drink water without it being filtered.

Asoka, the greatest Buddhist King, wrote on rock and monolith, saying: "The living must not be nourished with the living. Even chaff with insects must not be burnt."

A genuine Buddhist must practise this Mettā towards every living being and identify himself with all, making no distinctions whatever. It is this Buddhist Mettā, one of the most salient characteristics of Buddhism, that attempts to break all the barriers of caste, colour and creed which separate one man from another. If followers of different faiths cannot meet on a common platform like brothers and sisters just because they belong to different religions, then surely the religious teachers have failed in their noble missions.

In that noble Toleration Edict, which is based on the Culla Vyūha and Mahā Vyūha Suttas, King Asoka says: "Concourse alone is best, that is, all should hearken willingly to the doctrines professed by others."

In its teaching Buddhism has no features to confine it to any particular nation or any particular country. It is universal in its appeal.

To the Buddhist there is no far or near, no enemy or foreigner, no renegade or untouchable, since universal love, realized through understanding, has established the brotherhood of all living beings. A real Buddhist is a citizen of the world.

Some salient characteristics of Buddhism are, therefore, its rationality, practicability, efficacy, non-aggressiveness, harmlessness, tolerance, and universality.

Buddhism is the noblest of all unifying and uplifting influences that has operated for more than 2500 years.

Nations have come and gone. Empires built on might and force have flourished and perished. But the Dhamma Empire of the Buddha, founded on love and reason, still flourishes and will continue to flourish as long as its followers adhere to its noble principles.


 CHAPTER 17 

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

 "Light arose in me in things not heard before."
-- DHAMMACAKKA SUTTA

 Truth (Sacca) is that which is. Its Samskrit equivalent is Satya which means an incontrovertible fact.

According to Buddhism there are four such Truths [1] pertaining to this so-called being.

In the Rohitassa Sutta the Buddha states:

"In this very one-fathom long body along with its perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world. [2]"

In this particular context the term "world" (loka) implies suffering.

This interesting passage refers to the four Noble Truths which the Buddha Himself discovered by His own intuitive knowledge. Whether the Buddhas arise or not these Truths exist, and it is a Buddha that reveals them to the deluded world. They do not and cannot change with time because they are eternal Truths. The Buddha was not indebted to anyone for His realization of them. He Himself said: "They were unheard before. [3]"

These Truths are in Pāli termed ariyasaccāni. They are so called because they were discovered by the Greatest Ariya, the Buddha, who was far removed from passion.

The first Truth deals with dukkha, which for need of a better English equivalent, is rendered by suffering or sorrow. As a feeling dukkha means that which is difficult to be endured (du -- difficult, kha -- to endure). As an abstract truth dukkha is used in the sense of "contemptible" (du) and "emptiness" (kha). The world rests on suffering hence it is contemptible. The world is devoid of any reality -- hence it is empty or void. Dukkha, therefore, means contemptible void.

Average men are only surface-seers. An Ariya sees things as they truly are. To an Ariya all life is suffering and he finds no real happiness in this world which deceives mankind with illusory pleasures. Material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire. "No sooner is the desired thing gained than it begins to be scorned." Insatiate are all desires.

All are subject to birth (jāti), and consequently to decay (jarā), disease (vyādhi), and finally to death (marana). No one is exempt from these four inevitable causes of suffering.

Impeded wish is also suffering. We do not wish to be associated with things or persons we detest, nor do we wish to be separated from things or persons we love. Our cherished desires are not, however, always gratified. What we least expect or what we least desire is often thrust on us. At times such unexpected unpleasant circumstances become so intolerable and painful that weak ignorant folk are compelled to commit suicide as if such an act would solve the problem.

Real happiness is found within, and is not to be defined in terms of wealth, power, honours or conquests. If such worldly possessions are forcibly or unjustly obtained, or are misdirected, or even viewed with attachment, they will be a source of pain and sorrow for the possessors.

Ordinarily the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is the highest and only happiness to an average person. There is no doubt a momentary happiness in the anticipation, gratification, and recollection of such fleeting material pleasures, but they are illusory and temporary. According to the Buddha non-attachment (virāgatā) or the transcending of material pleasures is a greater bliss.

In brief, this composite body itself is a cause of suffering.

This First Truth of suffering which depends on this so-called being and various aspects of life, is to be carefully analysed and examined. This examination leads to a proper understanding of oneself as one really is.

The cause of this suffering is craving or attachment (tanhā) which is the Second Noble Truth.

The Dhammapada states:

"From craving springs grief, from craving springs fear, For him who is wholly free from craving, there is no grief, much less fear." (V. 216)

This craving is a powerful mental force latent in all, and is the chief cause of most of the ills of life. It is this craving, gross or subtle, that leads to repeated births in Samsāra and makes one cling to all forms of life.

The grossest forms of craving are attenuated on attaining Sakadāgāmi, the second stage of Sainthood, and are eradicated on attaining Anāgāmi, the third stage of Sainthood. The subtle forms of craving are eradicated on attaining Arahantship.

Both suffering and craving can only be eradicated by following the Middle Way, enunciated by the Buddha Himself, and attaining the supreme Bliss of Nibbāna.

The Third Noble Truth is the complete cessation of suffering which is Nibbāna, the ultimate Goal of Buddhists. It is achieved by the total eradication of all forms of craving.

This Nibbāna is to be comprehended by the mental eye by renouncing all internal attachment to the external world. [4]

This Truth has to be realized by developing the Noble Eightfold Path which is the Fourth Noble Truth. This unique path is the only straight route that leads to Nibbāna. It avoids the extreme of self-mortification that weakens one's intellect and the extreme of self-indulgence that retards one's moral progress.

It consists of the following eight factors.:

1) Right Understanding (Sammā Ditthi),
2) Right Thoughts (Sammā Samkappa),
3) Right Speech (Sammā Vācā),
4) Right Action (Sammā Kammanta),
5) Right Livelihood (Sammā Ājīva),
6) Right Effort (Sammā Vāyāma),
7) Right Mindfulness (Sammā Sati), and
8) Right Concentration (Sammā Samādhi),

1. Right Understanding is explained as the knowledge of the four Noble Truths. In other words, it is the understanding of oneself as one really is, because, as the Rohitassa Sutta states, these truths are concerned with the "one-fathom long body of man."

The key-note of Buddhism is this right understanding.

2. Clear vision or right understanding leads to clear thinking. The second factor of the noble Eightfold Path is, therefore, Sammā Samkappa. The English renderings -- "Right Resolutions", "Right Aspirations" -- do not convey the actual meaning of the Pāli term. Right Ideas or Right Mindfulness comes closer to the meaning. "Right Thoughts" may be suggested as the nearest English equivalent.

By Samkappa is meant the "Vitakka" mental state, which, for want of a better rendering, may be called "initial application." This important mental state eliminates wrong ideas or notions and helps the other moral adjuncts to be diverted to Nibbāna.

It is one's thoughts that either defile or purify a person. One's thoughts mould one's nature and controls one's destiny. Evil thoughts tend to debase one just as good thoughts tend to elevate one. Sometimes a single thought can either destroy or save a world.

Sammā Samkappa serves the double purpose of eliminating evil thoughts and developing pure thoughts.

Right Thoughts, in this particular connection, are threefold. They consist of:

i. Nekkhamma -- Renunciation of worldly pleasures or selflessness which is opposed to attachment, selfishness, and self-possessiveness.

ii. Avyāpāda -- Loving-kindness, goodwill, or benevo-lence, which is opposed to hatred, ill-will, or aversion, and

iii. Avihimsā -- Harmlessness or compassion, which is opposed to cruelty and callousness.

These evil and good forces are latent in all. As long as we are worldlings these evil forces rise to the surface at unexpected moments in disconcerting strength. When once they are totally eradicated on attaining Arahantship, one's stream of consciousness gets perfectly purified.

Attachment and hatred, coupled with ignorance, are the chief causes of all evil prevalent in this deluded world. "The enemy of the whole world is lust, through which all evils come to living beings. This lust when obstructed by some cause is transformed into wrath."

One is either attached to desirable external objects or is repulsed with aversion in the case of undesirable objects. Through attachment one clings to material pleasures and tries to gratify one's desire by some means or other. Through aversion one recoils from undesirable objects and even goes to the extent of destroying them as their very presence is a source of irritation. With the giving up of egoism by one's own intuitive insight, both attachment and hatred automatically disappear.

The Dhammapada states:

"There is no fire like lust, no grip like hate,
There is no net like delusion, no river like craving." (v.
251)

i. As one ascends the spiritual ladder one renounces by degrees both gross and subtle attachment to material pleasures like grown-up children giving up their petty toys. Being children, they cannot be expected to possess an adult's understanding, and they cannot be convinced of the worthlessness of their temporary pleasures. With maturity they begin to understand things as they truly are and they voluntarily give up their toys. As the spiritual pilgrim proceeds on the upward path by his constant meditation and reflection, he perceives the futility of pursuing base material pleasures and the resultant happiness in forsaking them. He cultivates non-attachment to the fullest degree. "Happy is non-attachment in this world, so is the transcending of all sensual pleasures," is one of the early utterances of the Buddha.

ii. The other most rebellious passion is anger, aversion, illwill, or hatred, all of which are implied by the Pāli term vyāpāda. It consumes the person in whom it springs and consumes others as well. The Pāli term avyāpāda, literally, non-enmity, corresponds to that most beautiful virtue Mettā (Samskrit Maitri) which means loving-kindness or goodwill towards all without any distinction. He whose mind is full of loving-kindness can harbour no hatred towards any. Like a mother who makes no difference between herself and her only child and protects it even at the risk of her own life, even so does the spiritual pilgrim who follows this middle path radiate his thoughts of loving-kindness identifying himself with all. Buddhist Mettā embraces all living beings, animals not excluded.

iii. Avihimsā or Karunā -- Harmlessness or compassion is the third and the last member of samkappa.

Karunā is that sweet virtue which makes the tender hearts of the noble quiver at the sufferings of others. Like Buddhist Mettā, Buddhist Karunā too is limitless. It is not restricted only to co-religionists or co-nationals or to human beings alone. Limited compassion is not true karunā.

A compassionate one is as soft as a flower. He cannot bear the sufferings of others. He might at times even go to the extent of sacrificing his own life to alleviate the sufferings of others. In every Jātaka story it is evident that the Bodhisatta endeavoured his best to help the distressed and the forlorn and to promote their happiness in every possible way.

Karunā has the characteristics of a loving mother whose thoughts, words, and deeds always tend to relieve the distress of her sick child. It has the property of not being able to tolerate the sufferings of others. Its manifestation is perfect non-violence and harmlessness -- that is, a compassionate person appears to be absolutely non-violent and harmless. The sight of the helpless states of the distressed is the proximate cause for the practice of Karunā. The consummation of karunā is the eradication of all forms of cruelty. The direct enemy of karunā is cruelty and the indirect enemy is homely grief.

Buddhist mettā appeals to both the rich and the poor, for Buddhism teaches its followers to elevate the lowly, help the poor, the needy, and the forlorn, tend the sick, comfort the bereaved, pity the wicked, and enlighten the ignorant.

Compassion forms a fundamental principle of both Buddhist laymen and Bhikkhus.

Speaking of Buddhist harmlessness, Aldous Huxley writes:

"Indian pacifism finds its complete expression in the teaching of the Buddha. Buddhism teaches ahimsā or harmlessness towards all beings. It forbids even laymen to have anything to do with the manufacture and sale of arms, with the making of poison and intoxicants, with soldiering or the slaughtering of animals."

The Buddha advises His disciples thus:

"Wherefore, O Bhikkhus, however men may speak concerning you, whether in season or out of season, whether appropriately or inappropriately, whether courteously or rudely, whether wisely or foolishly, whether kindly or maliciously, thus, O Bhikkhus, must you train yourselves -- Unsullied shall our minds remain, neither shall evil words escape our lips. Kind and compassionate ever shall we abide with hearts harbouring no ill-will. And we shall enfold those very persons with streams of loving thoughts unfailing, and forth from them proceeding we shall radiate the whole wide world with constant thoughts of loving-kindness, ample, expanding, measureless, free from enmity, free from ill-will. Thus must you train yourselves."

He whose mind is free from selfish desires, hatred and cruelty, and is saturated with the spirit of selflessness, loving-kindness and harmlessness, lives in perfect peace. He is indeed a blessing to himself and others.

3. Right Thoughts lead to Right Speech, the third factor. It deals with refraining from falsehood, slandering, harsh words, and frivolous talk.

He who tries to eradicate selfish desires cannot indulge in uttering falsehood or in slandering for any selfish end or purpose. He is truthful and trustworthy and ever seeks the good and beautiful in others instead of deceiving, defaming, denouncing or disuniting his own fellow beings. A harmless mind that generates loving-kindness cannot give vent to harsh speech which first debases the speaker and then hurts another. What he utters is not only true, sweet and pleasant but also useful, fruitful and beneficial.

4. Right Speech follows Right Action which deals with abstinence from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct.

These three evil deeds are caused by craving and anger, coupled with ignorance. With the gradual elimination of these causes from the mind of the spiritual pilgrim, blameworthy tendencies arising therefrom will find no expression. Under no pretence would he kill or steal. Being pure in mind, he would lead a pure life.

5. Purifying thoughts, words and deeds at the outset, the spiritual pilgrim tries to purify his livelihood (Right Livelihood) by refraining from the five kinds of trade which are forbidden to a lay-disciple. They are trading in arms (satthavanijjā), human beings (sattavanijjā), flesh (mamsavanijjā), i.e. breeding animals for slaughter, intoxicating drinks (majjavanijjā), and poison (visavanijjā)

Hypocritical conduct is cited as wrong livelihood for monks.

Strictly speaking, from an Abhidhamma standpoint, by right speech, right action and right livelihood are meant three abstinences (virati) but not the three opposite virtues.

6. Right Effort is fourfold-namely:

i. The endeavour to discard evil that has already arisen,
ii. The endeavour to prevent the arising of unarisen  evil,
iii. The endeavour to develop unarisen good, and
iv. The endeavour to promote the good which has already arisen.

Right Effort plays a very important part in the Noble Eightfold Path. It is by one's own effort that one's deliverance is obtained and not by merely seeking refuge in others or by offering prayers.

In man are found a rubbish-heap of evil and a store-house of virtue. By effort one removes this rubbish-heap and cultivates these latent virtues.

7. Right Effort is closely associated with Right Mindfulness. It is the constant mindfulness with regard to body (kāyānupassanā), feelings (vedanānupassanā), thoughts (cittānupassanā), and mind objects (dhammānupassanā).

Mindfulness on these four objects tend to eradicate the misconceptions with regard to desirability (subha), so-called happiness (sukha), permanence (nicca), and an immortal soul (attā) respectively.

8. Right Effort and Right Mindfulness lead to Right Concentration. It is the one-pointedness of the mind.

A concentrated mind acts as a powerful aid to see things as they truly are by means of penetrative insight.

Of these eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path the first two are grouped in wisdom (pa񱦣257;), the second three in morality (sīla) and the last three in concentration (samādhi).

Sīla Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Samādhi Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
Pa񱦣257; Right Understanding
Right Thoughts

 According to the order of development sīla, samādhi, and pa񱦣257; are the three stages of the Path.

Strictly speaking, from an ultimate standpoint, these factors that comprise the Noble Eightfold Path signify eight mental properties (cetasika) collectively found in the four classes of supramundane consciousness (lokutttara citta) whose object is Nibbāna.

They are: -- pa񱩮driya (faculty of wisdom), vitakka (initial application), virati (three abstinences,) viriya (energy), sati (mindfulness) and ekaggata (one-pointedness) respectively.

All these factors denote the mental attitude of the aspirant who is striving to gain his Deliverance.


 

CHAPTER 18 

KAMMA

"All living beings have Kamma as their own."
-- MAJJHIMA NIKĀYA

Kamma [1] is the law of moral causation. Rebirth is its corollary. Both Kamma and Rebirth are interrelated, fundamental doctrines in Buddhism.

These two doctrines were prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated them in the completeness in which we have them today.

What is the cause of the inequality that exists amongst mankind?

How do we account for the unevenness in this ill-balanced world?

Why should one be brought up in the lap of luxury, endowed with excellent mental, moral, and physical qualities, and another in absolute poverty, in abject misery? Why should one be born a millionaire and another a pauper? Why should one be a mental prodigy and another an idiot? Why should one be born with saintly characteristics and another with criminal tendencies? Why should some be linguists, artists, mathematicians, and musicians from the very cradle? Why should others be congenitally blind, deaf, and deformed? Why should some be blessed and others cursed from their birth?

Either there is a definite cause for this inequality or there is not. If there is not, the inequality is purely accidental.

No sensible person would think of attributing this inequality to blind chance or pure accident.

In this world nothing happens to any person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually the actual reason or reasons cannot be comprehended by men of ordinary intellect. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect may not necessarily be confined to the present life, but could be traced to a proximate or remote past birth. With the aid of telesthesia and retrocognitive knowledge, may it not be possible for a highly developed seer to perceive events which are ordinarily imperceptible to the physical eye? Buddhists affirm such a possibility.

The majority of mankind attribute this inequality to a single cause such as the will of a Creator. The Buddha explicitly denies the existence of a Creator as an Almighty Being or as a causeless cosmic force. [2]

Now, how do modern scientists account for the inequality of mankind?

Confining themselves purely to sense-data, they attribute this inequality to chemico-physical causes, heredity, and environment.

Julian Huxley, a distinguished biologist, writes:

"Some genes control colour, others height or weight, others fertility or length of life, others vigour and the reverse, others shape or proportions. Possibly all, certainly the vast majority, of hereditary characteristics are gene-controlled. For mental characters, especially the more complex and subtle ones, the proof is more difficult, but there is every evidence that they are inheritable, and no evidence that their inheritance is due to a different mechanism from that for bodily characters. That which is inherited in our personality and bodily peculiarities depends somehow upon the interaction of this assorted battery of genes with which we are equipped at fertilization. [3]"

One must admit that all such chemico-physical phenomena, revealed by scientists, are partly instrumental, -- but could they be solely responsible for the subtle distinctions that exist amongst individuals? Yet, why should identical twins who are physically alike, inheriting like genes, enjoying the same privileges of upbringing, be temperamentally, intellectually and morally totally different?

Heredity alone cannot account for these vast differences. Strictly speaking, it accounts more plausibly for some of the similarities than for most of the differences.

The infinitesimally minute chemico-physical germ, which is supposed to be about 30 millionth part of an inch across, inherited from parents, explains only a portion of man, his physical foundation. With regard to the more complex and subtle mental, intellectual, and moral differences we need more enlightenment. The theory of heredity cannot satisfactorily account for the birth of a criminal in a long line of honourable ancestors, for the birth of a Saint in a family of evil repute, for the arising of infant prodigies, men of genius and great spiritual teachers.

Dealing with this question of heredity, Dr. Th. Pascal writes in his interesting book on 'Reincarnation' :

"To return to the role played by the germ in the question of heredity we repeat that the physical germ, of itself alone, explains only a portion of man; it throws light on the physical side of heredity, but leaves in as great darkness as ever the problem of moral and intellectual faculty. If it represented the whole man, one would expect to find in any individual the qualities manifested in his progenitors and parents -- never any other; these qualities could not exceed the amount possessed by the parents, whereas we find criminals from birth in the most respectable families, and saints born to parents who are the very scum of society. You may come across identical twins, i.e., beings born from the same germ, under the same conditions of time and environment, one of whom is an angel and the other a demon, though their physical forms closely resemble each other. Child prodigies are sufficiently numerous to trouble frequently the thinker with the problem of heredity. In the lineage of these prodigies has there been found a single ancestor capable of explaining these faculties, as astonishing as they are premature? If, to the absence of a cause in their progenitors is added the fact that genius is not hereditary, that Mozarts, Beethovens and Dantes have left no children stamped from birth as prodigies or genius, we shall be forced to the conclusion that, within the limits it has taken up, materialism is unable to explain heredity. Nor is heredity always realized; many a physical characteristic is not reproduced, in families tainted with dangerous physiological defects, many children escape the evil, and the diseased tendencies of the tissues remain latent in them, although they often affect their descendants. On the other hand extremely divergent mental types are often met with in the same family, [4] and many a virtuous parent is torn with grief on seeing the vicious tendencies of the child. So we find that heredity and environment either fail to fulfill their promise or else give what was not theirs to give."

According to Buddhism this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, "nature and nurture", [5] but also to the operation of the law of Kamma or, in other words, to the result of our own inherited past actions and our present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own heaven. We create our own hell. We are the architects of our own fate.

The Cause of Inequality

Perplexed by the seemingly inexplicable, apparent disparity that exists amongst humanity, a young truth-seeker named Subha approached the Buddha and questioned him regarding it.

"What is the reason, what is the cause, O Lord, that we find amongst mankind the short-lived (appāyukā) and the long-lived (dīghāyuka), the diseased (bavhābādhā) and the healthy (appābādhā), the ugly (dubbannā) and the beautiful (vannavantā), the powerless (appesakkā) and the powerful (mahesakkā), the poor (appabhogā) and the rich (mahābhogā), the low-born (nīcakulinā) and the high-born (uccakulinā), the ignorant (duppa񱦣257;) and the wise (pa񱡶antā)?

The Buddha's reply was:

"All living beings have actions (Kamma) as their own, their inheritance, their congenital cause, their kinsman, their refuge. It is Kamma that differentiates beings into low and high states. [6]"

He then explained the causes of such differences in accordance with the law of cause and effect.

If a person destroys life, is a hunter, besmears his hand with blood, is engaged in killing and wounding, and is not merciful towards living beings, he, as a result of his killing, when born amongst mankind, will be short-lived.

If a person avoids killing, leaves aside cudgel and weapon, and is merciful and compassionate towards all living beings, he, as a result of his non-killing when born amongst mankind, will be long-lived.

If a person is in the habit of harming others with fist or clod, with cudgel or sword, he, as a result of his harmfulness, when born amongst mankind, will suffer from various diseases.

If a person is not in the habit of harming others, he, as a result of his harmlessness, when born amongst mankind, will enjoy good health.

If a person is wrathful and turbulent, is irritated by a trivial word, gives vent to anger, ill-will and resentment, he, as a result of his irritability, when born amongst mankind, will become ugly.

If a person is not wrathful and turbulent, is not irritated even by a torrent of abuse, does not give vent to anger, ill-will and resentment, he, as a result of his amiability, when born amongst mankind, will become beautiful.

If a person is jealous, envies the gains of others, marks of respect and honour shown to others, stores jealousy in his heart, he, as a result of his jealousy, when born amongst mankind, will be powerless.

If a person is not jealous, does not envy the gains of others, marks of respect and honour shown to others, stores not jealousy in his heart, he, as a result of his absence of jealousy, when born amongst mankind, will be powerful.

If a person does not give anything for charity, he, as a result of his greediness, when born amongst mankind, will be poor.

If a person is bent on charitable giving, he, as a result of his generosity, when born amongst mankind, will be rich.

If a person is stubborn, haughty, honours not those who are worthy of honour, he, as a result of his arrogance and irreverence, when born amongst mankind, will be of low-birth.

If a person is not stubborn, not haughty, honours those who are worthy of honour, he, as a result of his humility and deference, when born amongst mankind, will be of high-birth.

If a person does not approach the learned and the virtuous and inquire what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what should be practised and what should not be practised, what should be done and what should not be done, what conduces to one's welfare and what to one's ruin, he, as a result of his non-inquiring spirit, when born amongst mankind, will be ignorant.

If a person does approach the learned and the virtuous and makes inquiries in the foregoing manner, he, as a result of his inquiring spirit, when born amongst mankind, will be intelligent. [7]

Certainly we are born with hereditary characteristics. At the same time we possess certain innate abilities that science cannot adequately account for. To our parents we are indebted for the gross sperm and ovum that form the nucleus of this so-called being. There they remain dormant until this potential germinal compound is vitalized by the Kammic energy needed for the production of the foetus. Kamma is therefore the indispensable conceptive cause of this being.

The accumulated Kammic tendencies inherited, in the course of previous lives, at times play a far greater role than the hereditary parental cells and genes in the formation of both physical and mental characteristics.

The Buddha, for instance, inherited, like every other person, the reproductive cells and genes from his parents. But physically, morally, and intellectually there was none comparable to Him in His long line of honourable ancestors. In the Buddha's own words, He belonged not to the Royal lineage, but to that of the Ariyan Buddhas. He was certainly a superman, an extraordinary creation of His own Kamma.

According to the Lakkhana Sutta [8] the Buddha inherited exceptional physical features such as the thirty-two major marks, as the result of his past meritorious deeds. The ethical reason for acquiring each physical feature is clearly explained in the discourse.

It is obvious from this unique case that Kammic tendencies could not only influence our physical organism, but also nullify the potentiality of the parental cells and genes -- hence the significance of the Buddha's enigmatic statement: "We are the heirs of our own actions."

Dealing with this problem of variation the Atthasālini states:

"Depending on this difference in Kamma appears the difference in the birth of beings, high and low, base and exalted, happy and miserable. Depending on the difference in Kamma appears the difference in the individual features of beings as beautiful and ugly, high-born and low-born, well-built and deformed. Depending on the difference in Kamma appears the difference in worldly conditions of beings as gain and loss, fame and disgrace, blame and praise, happiness and misery".

"By Kamma the world moves, by Kamma men
Live; and by Kamma are all beings bound
As by its pin the rolling chariot wheel.
By Kamma one attains glory and praise.
By Kamma bondage, ruin, tyranny,
Knowing that Kamma bears fruit manifold,
Why say ye, 'In the world no Kamma is'.
[9]"

Thus, from a Buddhist standpoint, our present mental, moral, intellectual, and temperamental differences are preponderantly due to our own actions and tendencies, both past and present.

Everything is not due to Kamma

Although Buddhism attributes this variation to the law of Kamma, as the chief cause amongst a variety, it does not however assert that everything is due to Kamma. The law of Kamma, important as it is, is only one of the twenty-four causal conditions (paccaya), described in Buddhist Philosophy. [10]

Refuting the erroneous view that "Whatsoever weal or woe or neutral feeling is experienced, is all due to some previous action (pubbekatahetu)," the Buddha states:

"So, then, owing to previous action, men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, babblers, covetous, malicious, and perverse in view. Thus for those who fall back on the former deeds as the essential reason, there is neither the desire to do, nor effort to do, nor necessity to do this deed or abstain from that deed. [11]

This important text contradicts the belief that all physical circumstances and mental attitudes spring solely from past Kamma. If the present life is totally conditioned or wholly controlled by our past actions, then Kamma is certainly tantamount to fatalism or pre-determination or pre-destination. One will not be free to mould one's present and future. If this were true, freewill would be an absurdity. Life would be purely mechanical, not much different from a machine. Whether we are created by an Almighty God who controls our destinies and fore-ordains our future, or are produced by an irresistible past Kamma that completely determines our fate and controls our life's course, independent of any free action on our part, is essentially the same. The only difference then lies in the two words God and Kamma. One could easily be substituted for the other, because the ultimate operation of both forces would be identical.

Such a fatalistic doctrine is not the Buddhist law of Kamma.

The Five Niyāmas

According to Buddhism there are five orders or processes (Niyāmas) [12] which operate in the physical and mental realms.

They are:-

1. Utu Niyāma, physical inorganic order; e.g., seasonal phenomena of winds and rains, the unerring order of seasons, characteristic seasonal changes and events, causes of winds and rains, nature of heat, etc. belong to this group.

2. Bīja Niyāma, order of germs and seeds (physical organic order); e.g., rice produced from rice seed, sugary taste from sugar-cane or honey, and peculiar characteristics of certain fruits. The scientific theory of cells and genes and the physical similarity of twins may be ascribed to this order.

3. Kamma Niyāma, order of act and result; e.g., desirable and undesirable acts produce corresponding good and bad results.

As surely as water seeks its own level, so does Kamma, given opportunity, produce its inevitable result, -- not in the form of a reward or punishment but as an innate sequence. This sequence of deed and effect is as natural and necessary as the way of the sun and the moon, and is the retributive principle of Kamma.

Inherent in Kamma is also the continuative principle.

Manifold experiences, personal characteristics, accumulated knowledge, and so forth are all indelibly recorded in the palimpsest-like mind. All these experiences and characters transmigrate from life to life. Through lapse of time they may be forgotten as in the case of our experiences of our childhood. infant prodigies and wonderful children, who speak in different languages without receiving any instruction, are note-worthy examples of the continuative principle of Kamma.

4. Dhamma Niyāma, order of the norm; e.g., the natural phenomena occurring at the birth of a Bodhisatta in his last birth. Gravitation and other similar laws of nature, the reason for being good, etc. may be included in this group.

5. Citta Niyāma, order of mind or psychic law; e.g., processes of consciousness, constituents of consciousness, power of mind, including telepathy, telesthesia, retro-cognition, premonition, clair-voyance, clair-audience, thought-reading, and such other psychic phenomena, which are inexplicable to modern science.

Every mental or physical phenomenon could be explained by these all-embracing five orders or processes which are laws in themselves. Kamma as such is only one of these five orders. Like all other natural laws, they demand no lawgiver.

Of these five, the physical inorganic order, the physical organic order and the order of the norm are more or less of the mechanical type though they can be controlled to some extent by human ingenuity and the power of mind. For example, fire normally burns, and extreme cold freezes, but man has walked unscathed over fire and meditated naked on Himalayan snows; horticulturists have worked marvels with flowers and fruits; and Yogis have performed levitation. Psychic law is equally mechanical, but Buddhist training aims at control of mind, which is possible by right understanding and skilful volition. Kamma law operates quite automatically and, when the Kamma is powerful, man cannot interfere with its inexorable result though he may desire to do so; but here also right understanding and skilful volition can accomplish much and mould the future. Good Kamma, persisted in, can thwart the reaping of bad.

Kamma is certainly an intricate law whose working is fully comprehended only by a Buddha. The Buddhist aims at the final destruction of all Kamma.

Kamma-Vipaka (fruit of action) is one of the four unthinkables (acinteyya), states the Buddha in the Anguttara Nikāya. [13]


CHAPTER 19 

WHAT IS KAMMA?

"Volition is Kamma."
-- ANGUTTARA NIKĀYA

Kamma

The Pāli term Kamma, literally, means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical is regarded as Kamma. It covers all that is included in the phrase: "Thought, word and deed". Generally speaking, all good and bad actions constitute Kamma. In its ultimate sense Kamma means all moral and immoral volition (kusala akusala cetanā). Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Kamma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Kamma, is absent. [1]

The Buddha says: -- "I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition (cetanā) is Kamma. Having willed one acts by body, speech and thought."

Every volitional action of persons, except those of Buddhas and Arahants, is called Kamma. An exception is made in their case because they are delivered from both good and evil. They have eradicated both ignorance and craving, the roots of Kamma. "Destroyed are their (germinal) seeds (khīna-bijā), selfish desires no longer grow," states the Ratana Sutta. This does not mean that the Buddhas and Arahants are passive. They are tirelessly active in working for the real well-being and happiness of all. Their deeds, ordinarily accepted as good or moral, lack creative power as regards themselves. Understanding things as they truly are, they have finally shattered their cosmic fetters -- the chain of cause and effect.

Some religions attribute this unevenness to Kamma, but they differ from Buddhism when they state that even unintentional actions should be regarded as Kamma.

According to them, "the unintentional murderer of his mother is a hideous criminal. The man who kills or who harasses in any way a living being without intent, is none the less guilty, just as a man who touches fire is burnt. [2]"

"This astounding theory undoubtedly leads to palpable absurdities.

"The embryo and the mother would both be guilty of making each other suffer. Further the analogy of the fire is logically fallacious. For instance, a man would not be guilty if he got another person to commit the murder, for one is not burnt if one gets another to put his hand into the fire. Moreover unintentional actions would be much worse than intentional wrong actions, for, according to the comparison, a man who touches fire without knowing that it would burn is likely to be more deeply burnt than the man who knows.

In the working of Kamma its most important feature is mind. All our words and deeds are coloured by the mind or consciousness we experience at such particular moments. "When the mind is unguarded, bodily action is unguarded; speech also is unguarded; thought also is unguarded. When the mind is guarded, bodily action is guarded; speech also is guarded; and thought also is guarded. [3]"'

"By mind the world is led, by mind is drawn:
And all men own the sovereignty of mind."

"If one speaks or acts with a wicked mind, pain follows one as the wheel, the hoof of the draught-ox. [4]"

"If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows one as the shadow that never departs. [5]"

Immaterial mind conditions all Kammic activities.

Kamma does not necessarily mean past actions. It embraces both past and present deeds. Hence, in one sense, we are the result of what we were, we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, it should be added, we are not totally the result of what we were, we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. The present is no doubt the offspring of the past and is the parent of the future, but the present is not always a true index of either the past or the future -- so complex is the working of Kamma. For instance, a criminal today may be a saint tomorrow, a good person yesterday may be a vicious one today.

It is this doctrine of Kamma that the mother teaches her child when she says: "Be good and you will be happy and we will love you. But if you are bad, you will be unhappy and we will not love you."

Like attracts like. Good begets good. Evil begets evil. This is the law of Kamma.

In short Kamma is the law of cause and effect in the ethical realm, or as some Westerners prefer to say, "action influence."

Kamma and Vipāka

Kamma is action, and Vipāka, fruit or result, is its reaction. Just as every object is accompanied by a shadow, even so every volitional activity is inevitably accompanied by its due effect. Like potential seed is Kamma. Fruit, arising from the tree, is the Vipāka, effect or result. As Kamma may be good or bad, so may Vipāka, fruit, be good or bad. As Kamma is mental, so Vipāka too is mental; it is experienced as happiness or bliss, unhappiness or misery according to the nature of the Kamma seed. Ānisamsa are the concomitant advantageous material conditions, such as prosperity, health and longevity.

When Vipāka's concomitant material conditions are disadvantageous, they are known as ādinava (evil consequences), and appear as poverty, ugliness, disease, short life span and the like.

By Kamma are meant the Moral and Immoral types of mundane consciousness (kusala akusala lokiya citta), and by Vipāka, the resultant types of mundane consciousness (lokiya vipākacitta).

According to Abhidhamma, [6] Kamma constitutes the twelve types of immoral consciousness, eight types of moral consciousness pertaining to the Sentient Realm (kāmāvacara), five types of moral consciousness pertaining to the Realms of Forms (rūpāvacara), and four types of moral consciousness pertaining to the Formless Realms (arūpāvacara).

The eight types of supramundane (lokuttara) consciousness are not regarded as Kamma, because they tend to eradicate the roots of Kamma. In them the predominant factor is wisdom (pa񱦣257;) while in the mundane it is volition (cetanā).

The nine types of moral consciousness pertaining to the Realms of Form and the Formless Realms are the five Rūpāvacara and four Arūpāvacara Jhānas (Ecstasies) which are purely mental.

Words and deeds are caused by the first twenty types of mundane consciousness. Verbal actions are done by the mind by means of speech. Bodily actions are done by the mind through the instrument of the body. Purely mental actions have no other instrument than the mind.

These twenty-nine [7] types of consciousness are called Kamma because they have the power to produce their due effects quite automatically, independent of any external agency.

Those types of consciousness which one experiences as inevitable consequences of one's moral and immoral thoughts are called resultant consciousness pertaining to the Sentient Realm. The five types of resultant consciousness pertaining to the Realms of Form and the four types of resultant consciousness pertaining to the Formless Realms are called Vipāka or fruition of Kamma.

As we sow, so we reap somewhere and sometime, in this life or in a future birth. What we reap today is what we have sown either in the present or in the past.

The Samyutta Nikāya [8] states:

"According to the seed that's sown,
So is the fruit ye reap therefrom
Doer of good (will gather) good.
Doer of evil, evil (reaps).
Sown is the seed, and planted well.
Thou shalt enjoy the fruit thereof."

Kamma is a law in itself which operates in its own field without the intervention of any external, independent ruling agency.

Inherent in Kamma is the potentiality of producing its due effect. The cause produces the effect, the effect explains the cause. The seed produces the fruit, the fruit explains the seed, such is their relationship. Even so are Kamma and its effect.

"The effect already blooms in the cause."

Happiness and misery, which are the common lot of humanity, are the inevitable effects of causes. From a Buddhist standpoint they are not rewards and punishments, assigned by a supernatural, omniscient ruling power to a soul that has done good or evil. Theists who attempt to explain everything by this one temporal life and an eternal future life, ignoring a past, may believe in a post-mortem justice, and may regard present happiness and misery as blessings and curses conferred on his creation by an omniscient and omnipotent Divine Ruler, who sits in heaven above controlling the destinies of the human race. Buddhism that emphatically denies an arbitrarily created immortal soul, believes in natural law and justice which cannot be suspended by either an Almighty God, or an All-compassionate Buddha. According to this natural law, acts bring their own rewards and punishments to the individual doer whether human justice finds him or not.

Some there are, who cavil thus: So you Buddhists too administer the opium of Kammic doctrine to the poor, saying:

"You are born poor in this life on acount of your past evil Kamma. He is born rich on account of his past good Kamma. So be satisfied with your humble lot, but do good to be rich in your next life.

"You are being oppressed now because of your past evil Kamma. That is your destiny. Be humble and bear your sufferings patiently. Do good now. You can be certain of a better and happier life after death."

The Buddhist doctrine of Kamma does not expound such fatalistic views. Nor does it vindicate a post-mortem justice. The All-merciful Buddha, who had no ulterior selfish motives, did not teach this law of Kamma to protect the rich and comfort the poor by promising illusory happiness in an after-life.

According to the Buddhist doctrine of Kamma, one is not always compelled by an iron necessity, for Kamma is neither fate nor predestination imposed upon us by some mysterious unknown power to which we must helplessly submit ourselves. It is one's own doing reacting on oneself, and so one has the power to divert the course of Kamma to some extent. How far one diverts it, depends on oneself.

The Cause of Kamma

Ignorance (avijjā) or not knowing things as they truly are, is the chief cause of Kamma. Dependent on ignorance arise Kammic activities (avijjā paccaya samkhārā), states the Buddha in the Paticca Samuppāda (Dependent Origination).

Associated with ignorance is its ally craving (tanhā), the other root of Kamma. Evil actions are conditioned by these two causes.

All good deeds of a worldling (puthujjana), though associated with the three wholesome roots of generosity (alobha), goodwill (adosa) and knowledge (amoha), are nevertheless regarded as Kamma because the two roots of ignorance and craving are dormant in him. The moral types of supramundane Path consciousness (maggacitta) are not regarded as Kamma because they tend to eradicate the two root causes.

The Doer of Kamma

Who is the doer of Kamma? Who reaps the fruit of Kamma? "Is it a sort of accretion about a soul?"

In answering these subtle questions, Venerable Buddhaghosa writes in the Visuddhi Magga:

"No Doer is there who does the deed,
Nor is there one who feels the fruit,
Constituent parts alone roll on,
This indeed is right discernment.
[9]

According to Buddhism there are two realities -- apparent and ultimate. Apparent reality is ordinary conventional truth (sammuti sacca). Ultimate reality is abstract truth (paramattha sacca).

For instance, the table we see is apparent reality. In an ultimate sense the so-called table consists of forces and qualities.

For ordinary purposes a scientist would use the term water, but in the laboratory he would say H2O.

In the same way, for conventional purposes such terms as man, woman, being, self and so forth are used. The so-called fleeting forms consist of psycho-physical phenomena which are constantly changing, not remaining for two consecutive moments the same.

Buddhists therefore do not believe in an unchanging entity, in an actor apart from action, in a perceiver apart from perception, in a conscious subject behind consciousness.

Who then is the doer of Kamma? Who experiences the effect?

Volition or will (cetanā) is itself the doer. Feeling (vedanā) is itself the reaper of the fruits of action. Apart from these pure mental states (suddhadhammā) there is none to sow and none to reap.

Just as, says the Venerable Buddhaghosa, in the case of those elements of matter that go under the name of tree, as soon as at any point the fruit springs up, it is then said the tree bears fruit or "thus the tree has fructified," so also in the case of "aggregates" (khandhas) which go under the name of Deva or man, when a fruition of happiness or misery springs up at any point, then it is said "that Deva or man is happy or miserable."

In this respect Buddhists agree with Prof. William James when, unlike Descartes, he asserts: "Thoughts themselves are the thinkers. [10]"

Where is Kamma?

"Stored within the psyche," writes a certain psychoanalyst, "but usually inaccessible and to be reached only by some, is the whole record, without exception, of every experience the individual has passed through, every influence felt, every impression received. The subconscious mind is not only an indelible record of individual experiences but also retains the impress of primeval impulses and tendencies, which so far from being outgrown as we fondly deem them in civilized man, are subconsciously active and apt to break out in disconcerting strength at unexpected moments."

A Buddhist would make the same assertion with a vital modification. Not stored within any postulatory "psyche", for there is no proof of any such receptacle or store-house in this ever-changing complex machinery of man, but dependent on the individual psycho-physical continuity or flux is every experience the so-called being has passed through, every influence felt, every impression received, every characteristic -- divine, human, or brutal-- developed. In short the entire Kammic force is dependent on the dynamic mental flux (citta santati) ever ready to manifest itself in multifarious phenomena as occasion arises.

"Where, Venerable Sir, is Kamma?" King Milinda questioned the Venerable Nāgasena.

'"O Mahārāja," replied the Venerable Nāgasena, "Kamma is not said to be stored somewhere in this fleeting consciousness or in any other part of the body. But dependent on mind and matter it rests manifesting itself at the opportune moment, just as mangoes are not said to be stored somewhere in the mango tree, but dependent on the mango tree they lie, springing up in due season. [11]"

Neither wind nor fire is stored in any particular place, nor is Kamma stored anywhere within or without the body.

Kamma is an individual force, and is transmitted from one existence to another. It plays the chief part in the moulding of character and explains the marvellous phenomena of genius, infant prodigies, and so forth. The clear understanding of this doctrine is essential for the welfare of the world.


CHAPTER 20 

THE WORKING OF KAMMA

"By Kamma is this world led."
-- ATTHASĀLINI

The working of Kamma is an intricate law which only a Buddha can fully comprehend. To obtain a clear understanding of this difficult subject it is necessary to acquaint oneself with thought-processes (cittavīthi) according to Abhidhamma.

Mind or consciousness, the essence of the so-called being, plays the most important part in the complex machinery of man. It is mind that either defiles or purifies one. Mind in fact is both the bitterest enemy and the greatest friend of oneself.

When a person is fast asleep and is in a dreamless state, he experiences a kind of consciousness which is more or less passive than active. It is similar to the consciousness one experiences at the moment of conception and at the moment of death (cuti). The Buddhist philosophical term for this type of consciousness is Bhavanga which means factor of life, or indispensable cause or condition of existence. Arising and perishing every moment, it flows on like a stream not remaining the same for two consecutive moments.

We do experience this type of consciousness not only in a dreamless state but also in our waking state. In the course of our life we experience Bhavanga thought-moments more than any other type of consciousness. Hence Bhavanga becomes an indispensable condition of life.

Some scholars identify Bhavanga with sub-conscious-ness. According to the Dictionary of Philosophy sub-consciousness is "a compartment of the mind alleged by certain psychologists and philosophers to exist below the threshold of consciousness."

In the opinion of Western philosophers sub-conscious-ness and consciousness co-exist. But, according to Buddhist philosophy, no two types of consciousness co-exist. [1]

Nor is Bhavanga a sub-plane. It does not correspond to F. W. Myer's subliminal consciousness either. There does not seem to be any place for Bhavanga in Western philosophy. Perhaps we may be using these philosophical terms with different meanings.

Bhavanga is so called because it is an essential condition for continued existence. Life-continuum has been suggested as the closest English equivalent for Bhavanga.

This Bhavanga consciousness, which one always experiences as long as it is uninterrupted by external stimuli, vibrates for a thought-moment and passes away when a physical or mental object enters the mind. Suppose, for instance, the object presented is a physical form. Now, when the Bhavanga stream of consciousness is arrested, sense door consciousness (pa񣡤vārāvajjana), whose function is to turn the consciousness towards the object, arises and passes away. Immediately after this there arises visual consciousness (cakkhuvi񱦣257;na) which sees the object, but yet knows no more about it. This sense operation is followed by a moment of the reception of the object so seen (sampaticchana). Next arises the investigating thought-moment (santīrana) which momentarily examines the object so seen. This is followed by the determining thought-moment (votthapana) when discrimination is exercised and freewill may play its part. On this depends the subsequent psychologically important stage Javana. It is at this stage that an action is judged, whether it be moral or immoral. Kamma is performed at this stage.

If viewed rightly (yonisomanasikāra), it becomes moral; if wrongly (ayonisomanasikāra), immoral. Irrespective of the desirability or the undesirability of the object presented to the mind, it is possible for one to make the Javana process moral or immoral. If, for instance, one meets an enemy, anger will arise automatically. A wise person might, on the contrary, with self-control, radiate a thought of love towards him. This is the reason why the Buddha states:

"By self is evil done,
By self is one defiled,
By self is no evil done,
By self is one purified.
Both defilement and purity depend on oneself.
No one is purified by another.
[2]"

It is an admitted fact that environment, circumstances, habitual tendencies and the like condition our thoughts. On such occasions freewill is subordinated. There exists however the possibility for us to overcome those external forces and produce moral and immoral thoughts exercising our own freewill.

An extraneous element may be a causative factor, but we ourselves are directly responsible for the actions that finally follow.

It is extremely difficult to suggest a suitable rendering for Javana.

Apperception is suggested by some. Impulse is suggested as an alternative rendering, which seems to be less satisfactory than apperception. Here the Pāli term is retained.

Javana, literally, means running. It is so called because, in the course of a thought-process, it runs consequently for seven thought-moments, or, at times of death, for five thought-moments with an identical object. The mental states occurring in all these thought-moments are similar, but the potential force differs.

This entire thought-process which takes place in an infinitesimal part of time ends with the registering consciousness (tadālambana) lasting for two thought-moments. Thus one thought-process is completed at the expiration of seventeen thought moments.

The Thought Process

1 Atīta Bhavanga (Past Bhavanga)
2 Bhavanga Calana (Vibrating Bhavanga)
3 Bhavanga Upaccheda (Arrest Bhavanga)
4 Āvajjana (Sense-door consciousness)
5 Panca Vi񱦣257;na (Sense consciousness)
6 Sampaticchana (Receiving consciousness)
7 Santīrana (Investigatin consciousness)
8 Votthapana (Determining consciousness)
9,10,11,12,13,14,15 JAVANA
16,17 Tadālambana Registering consciousness)

Books cite the simile of the mango tree to illustrate this thought-process.

A man, fast asleep, is lying at the foot of a mango tree with his head covered. A wind stirs the branches and a fruit falls beside the head of the sleeping man. He removes his head covering, and turns towards the object. He sees it and then picks it up. He examines it, and ascertains that it is a ripe mango fruit. He eats it, and swallowing the remnants with saliva, once more resigns himself to sleep.

The dreamless sleep corresponds to the unperturbed current of Bhavanga. The striking of the wind against the tree corresponds to past Bhavanga and the swaying of the branches to vibrating Bhavanga. The falling of the fruit represents the arrest Bhavanga. Turning towards the object corresponds to sense-door adverting consciousness; sight of the object, to perception; picking up, to receiving consciousness; examination, to investigating consciousness; ascertaining that it is a ripe mango fruit, to determining consciousness.

The actual eating resembles the Javana process, and the swallowing of the morsels corresponds to retention. His resigning to sleep resembles the subsidence of the mind into Bhavanga again.

Of the seven thought-moments, as stated above, the effect of the first thought-moment, the weakest in potentiality, one may reap in this life itself. This is called 'Immediately Effective' (dittha-dhammavedaniya) Kamma. If it does not operate in this life, it becomes ineffective (ahosi).

The next weakest is the seventh thought-moment. Its effect one may reap in the subsequent birth. Hence it is termed 'Subsequently Effective' (upapajjavedaniya) Kamma, which, too, automatically becomes ineffective if it does not operate in the second birth.

The effect of the intermediate thought-moments may take place at any time in the course of one's wanderings in Samsāra until the final Emancipation. This type of Kamma is termed 'Indefinitely Effective' (aparāpariyavedaniya).

There is thus a classification of Kamma with reference to its time of operation:--

1. Ditthadhammavedaniya Kamma (Immediately Effective Kamma)
2. Upapajjavedaniya Kamma (Subsequently Effective Kamma)
3. Aparāpariyavedaniya Kamma (Indefinitely Effective Kamma) and
4. Ahosi Kamma (Ineffective Kamma)

Immediately Effective Kamma:

Illustrations:

The result of a good Kamma reaped in this life:

A husband and his wife possessed only one upper garment to wear when they went out-of-doors. One day the husband heard the Dhamma from the Buddha and was so pleased with the Doctrine that he wished to offer his only upper garment, but his innate greed would not permit him to do so. He combatted with his mind and, ultimately overcoming his greed, offered the garment to the Buddha and exclaimed "I have won, I have won." The king was delighted to hear his story and in appreciation of his generosity presented him thirty-two robes. The devout husband kept one for himself and another for his wife and offered the rest to the Buddha.[3]

The result of a bad Kamma reaped in this life:

A hunter who went hunting to the forest, followed by his dogs, met by the wayside a Bhikkhu who was proceeding on his alms round. As the hunter could not procure any game he thought it was due to the unfortunate meeting of the Bhikkhu. While returning home he met the same Bhikkhu and was deeply enraged at this second encounter. In spite of the entreaties of the innocent Bhikkhu the hunter set the dogs on him. Finding no escape therefrom, the Bhikkhu climbed a tree. The wicked hunter ran up to the tree, and pierced the soles of the Bhikkhu's feet with the point of an arrow. The pain was so excruciating that the robe the Bhikkhu was wearing, fell upon the hunter completely covering him. The dogs, thinking that the Bhikkhu had fallen from the tree, devoured their own master. [4]

Subsequently Effective Kamma:

A millionaire's servant returned home in the evening after his laborious work in the field, to see that all were observing the Eight Precepts as it was the full moon day. Learning that he also could observe them even for half a day, he took the precepts and fasted at night. Unfortunately he died on the following morning and as a result of his good action was born as a Deva. [5]

Ajātasattu, son of King Bimbisāra, was born immediately after his death, in a state of misery as the result of killing his father.

Indefinitely Effective Kamma:

No person is exempt from this class of Kamma. Even the Buddhas and Arahants may reap the effects of their past Kamma.

The Arahant Moggallāna in the remote past, instigated by his wicked wife, attempted to kill his mother and father. [6] As a result of this he suffered long in a woeful state, and in his last birth was clubbed to death by bandits.

To the Buddha was imputed the murder of a female devotee of the naked ascetics.

This was the result of his having insulted a Pacceka Buddha in one of His previous births.

The Buddha's foot was slightly injured 'when Devadatta made a futile attempt to kill Him. This was due to His killing a step-brother of his in a previous birth with the object of appropriating his property.

There is another classification of Kamma according to function (kicca):

1. Janaka Kamma  (Reproductive Kamma),
2. Upatthambaka Kamma  (Supportive Kamma),
3. Upapīdaka kamma  (Counteractive Kamma),
4. Upaghātaka kamma  (Destructive Kamma).

Every subsequent birth, according to Buddhism, is conditioned by the good or bad Kamma which predominated at the moment of death. This kind of Kamma is technically known as Reproductive (janaka) Kamma.

The death of a person is merely "the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon." Though the present form perishes another form which is neither absolutely the same nor totally different takes its place according to the thought that was powerful at the death moment since the Kammic force which hitherto actuated it is not annihilated with the dissolution of the body. It is this last thought-process which is termed 'Reproductive Kamma' that determines the state of a person in his subsequent birth.

As a rule the last thought-process depends on the general conduct of a person. In some exceptional cases, perhaps due to favourable or unfavourable circumstances, at the moment of death a good person may experience a bad thought and a bad person a good one. The future birth will be determined by this last thought-process, irrespective of the general conduct. This does not mean that the effects of the past actions are obliterated. They will produce their inevitable results at the appropriate moment. Such reverse changes of birth account for the birth of vicious children to virtuous parents and of virtuous children to vicious parents.

Now, to assist and maintain or to weaken and obstruct the fruition of this Reproductive Kamma another past Kamma may intervene. Such actions are termed 'Supportive' (upatthambhaka) Kamma and 'Counteractive' (upapīdaka) Kamma respectively.

According to the law of Kamma the potential energy of the Reproductive Kamma can be totally annulled by a more powerful opposing past Kamma, which, seeking an opportunity, may quite unexpectedly operate, just as a counteractive force can obstruct the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Such an action is termed 'Destructive' (upaghātaka) Kamma which is more powerful than the above two in that it not only obstructs but also destroys the whole force.

As an instance of the operation of all the four, the case of Venerable Devadatta who attempted to kill the Buddha and who caused a schism in the Sangha may be cited.

His Reproductive good Kamma destined him to a birth in a royal family. His continued comfort and prosperity were due to the action of the Supportive Kamma. The Counteractive Kamma came into operation when he was subjected to such humiliation as a result of his being excommunicated from the Sangha. Finally the Destructive Kamma brought his life to a miserable end.

The following classification is according to the priority of effect (vipākadānavasena):

1. Garuka Kamma,
2. Āsanna Kamma,
3
. Ācinna Kamma, and
4. Katattā Kamma.

The first is Garuka Kamma which means a weighty or serious action. It is so called because it produces its effects for certain in this life or in the next.

On the moral side the weighty actions are the Jhānas or Ecstasies, while on the immoral side they are the subsequently-effective heinous crimes (Ānantariya Kamma) -- namely, matricide, parricide, the murder of an Arahant, the wounding of the Buddha, and the creation of a schism in the Sangha.

If, for instance, any person were to develop the Jhānas and later to commit one of these heinous crimes, his good Kamma would be obliterated by the powerful evil Kamma. His subsequent birth will be conditioned by the evil Kamma in spite of his having gained the Jhānas earlier. For example, Venerable Devadatta lost his psychic powers and was born in a woeful state because he wounded the Buddha and caused a schism in the Sangha.

King Ajātasattu, as the Buddha remarked, would have attained the first stage of Sainthood if he had not committed parricide. In this case the powerful evil Kamma obstructed his spiritual attainment.

When there is no Weighty Kamma to condition the future birth a Death-proximate (āsanna) Kamma might operate. This is the action one does, or recollects, immediately before the dying moment. Owing to its significance in determining the future birth, the custom of reminding the dying person of his good deeds and making him do good on his death-bed still prevails in Buddhist countries.

Sometimes a bad person may die happily and receive a good birth if fortunately he remembers or does a good act at the last moment. This does not mean that although he enjoys a good birth he will be exempt from the effects of the evil deeds he has accumulated during his life-time.

At times a good person, on the other hand, may die unhappily by suddenly remembering an evil act or by conceiving a bad thought, perchance compelled by unfavourable circumstances.

Habitual (ācinna) Kamma is the next in priority of effect. It is the Kamma that one constantly performs and recollects and towards which one has a great liking.

Habits whether good or bad become second nature. They more or less tend to mould the character of a person. At leisure moments we often engage ourselves in our habitual thoughts and deeds. In the same way at the death-moment, unless influenced by other circumstances, we, as a rule, recall to mind our habitual thoughts and deeds.

The last in this category is Cumulative (katattā) [7] Kamma which embraces all that cannot be included in the foregoing three. This is as it were the reserve fund of a particular being.

The last classification is according to the plane in which the effects take place. They are:-

1. Evil actions (akusala) which may ripen in the Sense-Sphere (kāmaloka).
2. Good actions (kusala) which may ripen in the Sense-Sphere.
3. Good actions which may ripen in the Realms of Form (rūpaloka), and
4. Good actions which may ripen in the Formless Realms (arūpaloka).

Evil actions which may ripen in the Sense-Sphere:

There are ten evil actions caused by deed, word, and mind which produce evil Kamma. Of them three are committed by deed -- namely, killing (pānātipāta), stealing (adinnādāna), and sexual misconduct (kāmesu micchācāra).

Four are committed by word -- namely, lying (musāvāda), slandering (pisunavācā), harsh speech (pharusavāca), and frivolous talk (samphappalāpa).

Three are committed by mind -- namely, covetousness (abhijjhā), ill-will (vyāpāda), and falseview (micchāditthi).

Killing means the intentional destruction of any living being. The Pāli term pāna strictly means the psycho-physical life pertaining to one's particular existence. The wanton destruction of this life force, without allowing it to run its due course, is pānātipāta. Pāna means that which breathes. Hence all animate beings, including animals, are regarded as pāna, but not plants [8] as they possess no mind. Bhikkhus, however, are forbidden to destroy even plant life. This rule, it may be mentioned, does not apply to lay-followers.

The following five conditions are necessary to complete the evil of killing: -- i. a living being, ii. knowledge that it is a living being, iii. intention of killing, iv. effort to kill, and v. consequent death.

The gravity of the evil depends on the goodness and the magnitude of the being concerned.

The killing of a virtuous person or a big animal is regarded as more heinous than the killing of a vicious person or a small animal because a greater effort is needed to commit the evil and the loss involved is considerably great.

The evil effects of killing are: -- brevity of life, ill-health, constant grief due to the separation from the loved, and constant fear.

Five conditions are necessary for the completion of the evil of stealing:--namely, i. another's property, ii. knowledge that it is so, iii. intention of stealing, iv. effort to steal, and v. actual removal.

The inevitable consequences of stealing are: -- poverty, misery, disappointment, and dependent livelihood.

Four conditions are necessary to complete the evil of sexual misconduct:-- namely, i. the thought to enjoy, ii. consequent effort, iii. means to gratify, and iv. gratification.

The inevitable consequences of sexual misconduct are:--having many enemies, union with undesirable wives and husbands, and birth as a woman or an eunuch.

Four conditions are necessary to complete the evil of lying:-- namely, i. an untruth, ii. deceiving intention, iii. utterance, and iv. actual deception.

The inevitable consequences of lying are:-- being subject to abusive speech and vilification, untrustworthiness, and stinking mouth.

Four conditions are necessary to complete the evil of slandering:-- namely, i. persons that are to be divided, ii. the intention to separate them or the desire to endear oneself to another, iii. corresponding effort, and iv. the communication.

The inevitable consequence of slandering is the dissolution of friendship without any sufficient cause.

Three conditions are necessary to complete the evil of harsh speech:-- namely, i. a person to be abused, ii. angry thought, and iii. the actual abuse.

The inevitable consequences of harsh speech are:-- being detested by others though absolutely harmless, and having a harsh voice.

Two conditions are necessary to complete the evil of frivolous talk:-- namely, i. the inclination towards frivolous talk, and ii. its narration.

The inevitable consequences of frivolous talk are:-defective bodily organs, and incredible speech.

Two conditions are necessary to complete the evil of covetousness: -- namely, i. another's possession, and ii. adverting to it, thinking ? 'would this be mine!'

The inevitable consequence of covetousness is non-fulfilment of one's wishes.

Two conditions are necessary to complete the evil of illwill:-- namely, i. another person, and ii the thought of doing harm.

The inevitable consequences of illwill are: ugliness, manifold diseases, and detestable nature.

False view is seeing things wrongly. False beliefs such as the denial of the efficacy of deeds are also included in this evil. Two conditions are necessary to complete this evil:-- namely, i. perverted manner in which the object is viewed, and ii. the understanding of it according to that misconception.

The inevitable consequences of false view are: base desires, lack of wisdom, dull wit, chronic diseases, and blameworthy ideas.

According to Buddhism there are ten kinds of false views: -- namely, [9]

1. There is no such virtue as 'generosity' (dinnam). This means that there is no good effect in giving alms.
2. There is no such virtue as 'liberal alms giving (ittham)'. or
3. 'Offering gifts to guests (hutam).' Here, too, the implied meaning is that there is no effect in such charitable actions.
4. There is neither fruit nor result of good or evil deeds.
5. There is no such belief as 'this world' or
6. 'A world beyond' i.e., those born here do not accept a past existence, and those living here do not accept a future life.
7. There is no mother or
8. Father, i.e., there is no effect in anything done to them.
9. There are no beings that die and are being reborn (opapātika).
10. There are no righteous and well disciplined recluses and brahmins who, having realized by their own super-intellect this world and world beyond, make known the same. (The reference here is to the Buddhas and Arahants).

Good Kamma which may ripen in the Sense-Sphere:

There are ten kinds of such meritorious actions (kusalakamma): -- namely,

(1) Generosity (dāna),
(2) Morality (sīla),
(3) Meditation (bhāvanā)
(4) Reverence (apacāyana),
(5) Service (veyyāvacca).
(6) Transference of merit (pattidāna),
(7) Rejoicing in others' good actions (anumodanā),
(8) Hearing the doctrine (dhamma savana),
(9) Expounding the doctrine (dhammadesanā) and
(10) Straightening one's own views (ditthijjukamma).

Sometimes these ten moral actions are regarded as twelve by introducing sub-divisions to (7) and (10).

Praising of others' Good Actions (pasamsā) is added to Rejoicing in others' merit (anumodanā). Taking the Three Refuges (sarana) and Mindfulness (anussati) are substituted for Straightening of one's views.

'Generosity' yields wealth. 'Morality' gives birth in noble families and in states of happiness. 'Meditation' gives birth in Realms of Form and Formless Realms, and helps to gain Higher Knowledge and Emancipation. 'Transference of merit' acts as a cause to give in abundance in future births. 'Rejoicing in others' merit' is productive of joy wherever one is born. Both 'expounding and hearing the Dhamma' are conducive to wisdom. 'Reverence' is the cause of noble parentage. 'Service' produces large retinue. 'Praising others good works' results in getting praise to oneself. 'Seeking the Three Refuges' results in the destruction of passions. 'Mindfulness' is conducive to diverse forms of happiness.

Kusala Kamma which may ripen in the Realms of Form:

These are the following five [10] kinds of (Rūpa-Jhānas) or Ecstasies which are purely mental:--

i. The first Jhāna moral consciousness which consists of initial application (vitakka), sustained application (vicāra), pleasurable interest (pīti), happiness (sukha), and one-pointedness (ekaggata).

ii. The second Jhāna moral consciousness which consists of sustained application, pleasurable interest, happiness, and one-pointedness.

iii. The third Jhāna moral consciousness which consists of pleasurable interest, happiness and one-pointedness.

iv. The fourth Jhāna moral consciousness which consists of happiness and one-pointedness, and

v. The fifth Jhāna moral consciousness which consists of equanimity (upekkhā) and one-pointedness.

These Jhānas have their corresponding effects in the Realms of Form.

Kusala Kamma which may ripen in the Formless Realms:

These are the four Arūpa Jhānas which have their corresponding effects in the Formless Realms -- namely:

1. Moral consciousness dwelling in the 'Infinity of Space' (Ākāsāna񣦣257;yatana),

2. Moral consciousness dwelling on the 'Infinity of Consciousness' (Vi񱦣257;na񣦣257;yatana),

3. Moral consciousness dwelling on 'Nothingness' (Āki񣡱񦣲57;yatana), and

4. Moral consciousness wherein 'Perception neither is nor is not' (N'eva sa񱦣257;n' āsa񱦣257;yatana) [11]. 


 

CHAPTER 21 

NATURE OF KAMMA

"As you sow the seed so shall you reap the fruit."
-- SAMYUTTA NIKA4YA

Is one bound to reap all that one has sown in just proportion?

Not necessarily! In the Anguttara Nikāya the Buddha states:

"If any one says that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case there is no religious life nor is an opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow. But if any one says that what a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case there is a religious life and an opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow. [1]"

In Buddhism therefore there is every possibility to mould one's Kamma.

Although it is stated in the Dhammapada [2] that "not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean nor entering a mountain cave is found that place on earth, where abiding one may escape from (the consequence of) an evil deed," yet one is not bound to pay all the arrears of past Kamma. If such were the case, emancipation would be an impossibility. Eternal suffering would be the unfortunate result.

One is neither the master nor the servant of this Kamma. Even the most vicious person can by his own effort become the most virtuous person. We are always becoming something and that something depends on our own actions. We may at any moment change for the better or for the worse. Even the most wicked person should not be discouraged or despised on account of his evil nature. He should be pitied, for those who censure him may also have been in that same position at a certain stage. As they have changed for the better he may also change, perhaps sooner than they.

Who knows what good Kamma he has in store for him? Who knows his potential goodness?

Angulimāla, a highway robber and the murderer of more than a thousand of his brethren became an Arahant and erased, so to speak, all his past misdeeds.

Ālavaka, the fierce demon who feasted on the flesh of human beings, gave up his carnivorous habits and attained the first stage of Sainthood.

Ambapāli, a courtesan, purified her character and attained Arahantship.

Asoka, who was stigmatised Canda (wicked), owing to his ruthlessness in expanding his Empire, became Dharmāsoka, or Asoka the Righteous, and changed his career to such an extent that today "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses, serenities royal highnesses and the like the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. [3]"

These are few striking examples which serve to show how a complete reformation of character can be effected by sheer determination.

It may so happen that in some cases a lesser evil may produce its due effect, while the effect of a greater evil may be minimised.

The Buddha says:

"Here, O Bhikkhus, a certain person is not disciplined in body, in morality, in mind, in wisdom, has little good and less virtue, and lives painfully in consequence of trifling misdeeds. Even a trivial act committed by such a person will lead him to a state of misery.

"Here, O Bhikkhus, a certain person is disciplined in body, in morality, in mind, in wisdom, does much good, is high-souled and lives with boundless compassion towards all.

"A similar evil committed by such a person ripens in this life itself and not even a small effect manifests itself (after death), not to say of a great one. [4]

"It is as if a man were to put a lump of salt into a small cup of water. What do you think, O Bhikkhus? Would now the small amount of water in this cup become saltish and undrinkable?

"Yes, Lord.

"And why?

"Because, Lord, there was very little water in the cup, and so it became saltish and undrinkable by this lump of salt.

"Suppose a man were to put a lump of salt into the river Ganges. What think you, O Bhikkhus? Would now the river Ganges become saltish and undrinkable by the lump of salt?

"Nay, indeed, Lord.

"And why not?

"Because, Lord, the mass of water in the river Ganges is great, and so it would not become saltish and undrinkable.

"In exactly the same way we may have the case of a person who does some slight evil deed which brings him to a state of misery, or, again, we may have the case of another person who does the same trivial misdeed, yet he expiates it in his present life. Not even a small effect manifests itself (after death), not to say of a great one.

"We may have the case of a person who is cast into prison for the theft of a half-penny, penny, or for a hundred pence or, again, we may have the case of a person who is not cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, for a hundred pence.

"Who is cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence? Whenever any one is poor, needy and indigent, he is cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, or for a hundred pence.

"Who is not cast into prison for a half-penny, or for a penny, or for a hundred pence?

"Whenever any one is rich. wealthy, and affluent, he is not cast into prison for a half-penny, for a penny, for a hundred pence.

"In exactly the same way we may have the case of a person who does some slight evil deed which brings him to a state of misery, or again we may have the case of another person who does the same trivial misdeed, and expiates it in the present life. Not even a small effect manifests itself (after death), not to say of a great one. [5]"

Cause of Adverse Results

Good begets good, but any subsequent regrets on the part of the doer in respect of the good done, deprive him of the due desirable results.

The following case may be cited in illustration:

On one occasion King Pasenadi of Kosala approached the Buddha and said:

"Lord, here in Sāvatthi a millionaire householder has died. He has left no son behind him, and now I come here, after having conveyed his property to the palace. Lord, a hundred lakhs in gold, to say nothing of the silver. But this millionaire householder used to eat broken scraps of food and sour gruel. And how did he clothe himself? For dress he wore a robe of coarse hemp, and as to his coach, he drove in a broken-down cart rigged up with a leaf-awning."

Thereupon the Buddha said:

"Even so, O King, even so. In a former life, O King, this millionaire householder gave alms of food to a Pacceka Buddha called Tagarasikhi. Later, he repented of having given the food, saying within himself: 'It would be better if my servants and workmen ate the food I gave for alms.' And besides this he deprived his brother's only son of his life for the sake of his property. And because this millionaire householder gave alms of food to the Pacceka Buddha Tagarasikhi, in requital for this deed, he was reborn seven times in heavenly blissful states. And by the residual result of that same action, he became seven times a millionaire in this very Sāvatthi.

"And because this millionaire householder repented of having given alms, saying to himself: It would be better if my servants and workmen ate the food. Therefore as a requital for this deed, he had no appreciation of good food, no appreciation of fine dresses, no appreciation of an elegant vehicle, no appreciation of the enjoyments of the five senses.

"And because this millionaire householder slew the only son of his brother for the sake of his property, as requital for this deed, he had to suffer many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, many hundreds of thousand of years of pain in states of misery. And by the residual of that same action, he is without a son for the seventh time, and in consequence of this, had to leave his property to the royal treasury. [6]"

This millionaire obtained his vast fortune as a result of the good act done in a past birth, but since he repented of his good deed, he could not fully enjoy the benefit of the riches which Kamma provided him.

Beneficent and Maleficent Forces

In the working of Kamma it should be understood that there are beneficent and maleficent forces to counteract and support this self-operating law. Birth (gati), time or conditions (kāla), personality or appearance (upadhi) and effort (payoga) are such aids and hindrances to the fruition of Kamma.

If, for instance, a person is born in a noble family or in a state of happiness, his fortunate birth will sometimes hinder the fruition of his evil Kamma.

If, on the other hand, he is born in a state of misery or in an unfortunate family, his unfavourable birth will provide an easy opportunity for his evil Kamma to operates.

This is technically known as Gati Sampatti (favourable birth) and Gati Vipatti (unfavourable birth).

An unintelligent person, who, by some good Kamma, is born in a royal family, will, on account of his noble parentage, be honoured by the people. If the same person were to have a less fortunate birth, he would not be similarly treated.

King Dutthagamani of Ceylon, for instance, acquired evil Kamma by waging war with the Tamils, and good Kamma by his various religious and social deeds. Owing to his good Reproductive Kamma he was born in a heavenly blissful state. Tradition says that he will have his last birth in the time of the future Buddha Metteyya. His evil Kamma cannot, therefore, successfully operate owing to his favourable birth.

To cite another example, King Ajātasattu, who committed parricide, became distinguished for his piety and devotion later owing to his association with the Buddha. He now suffers in a woeful state as a result of his heinous crime. His unfavourable birth would not therefore permit him to enjoy the benefits of his good deeds.

Beauty (Upadhi Sampatti), and ugliness (Upadhi Vipatti) are two other factors that hinder and favour the working of Kamma.

If, by some good Kamma, a person obtains a happy birth but unfortunately is deformed, he will not be able fully to enjoy the beneficial results of his good Kamma. Even a legitimate heir to the throne may not perhaps be raised to that exalted position if he happens to be physically deformed. Beauty, on the other hand, will be an asset to the possessor. A good-looking son of a poor parent may attract the attention of others and may be able to distinguish himself through their influence.

Favourable time or occasion and unfavourable time or occasion (Kalā Sampatti and Kalā Vipatti) are two other factors that effect the working of Kamma; the one aids, and the other impedes the working of Kamma.

In the case of a famine all without exception will be compelled to suffer the same fate. Here the unfavourable conditions open up possibilities for evil Kamma to operate. The favourable conditions, on the other hand, will prevent the operation of evil Kamma.

Of these beneficent and maleficent forces the most important is effort (Payoga). In the working of Kamma effort or lack of effort plays a great part. By present effort one can create fresh Kamma, new surroundings, new environment, and even a new world. Though placed in the most favourable circumstances and provided with all facilities, if one makes no strenuous effort, one not only misses golden opportunities but may also ruin oneself. Personal effort is essential for both worldly and spiritual progress.

If a person makes no effort to cure himself of a disease or to save himself from his difficulties, or to strive with diligence for his progress, his evil Kamma will find a suitable opportunity to produce its due effects. If, on the contrary, he endeavours on his part to surmount his difficulties, to better his circumstances, to make the best use of the rare opportunities, to strive strenuously for his real progress, his good Kamma will come to his succour.

When ship-wrecked in deep sea, the Bodhisatta Mahā Jānaka made a great effort to save himself, while the others prayed to the gods and left their fate in their hands. The result was that the Bodhisatta escaped while the others were drowned.

These two important factors are technically known as Payoga Sampatti and Payoga Vipatti.

Though we are neither absolutely the servants nor the masters of our Kamma, it is evident from these counteractive and supportive factors that the fruition of Kamma is influenced to some extent by external circumstances, surroundings, personality, individual striving, and the like.

It is this doctrine of Kamma that give consolation, hope, reliance, and moral courage to a Buddhist.

When the unexpected happens, difficulties, failures, and misfortunes confront him, the Buddhist realizes that he is reaping what he has sown, and is wiping off a past debt. Instead of resigning himself, leaving everything to Kamma, he makes a strenuous effort to pull out the weeds and sow useful seeds in their place, for the future is in his hands.

He who believes in Kamma, does not condemn even the most corrupt, for they have their chance to reform themselves at any moment. Though bound to suffer in woeful states, they have the hope of attaining eternal peace. By their deeds they create their own hells, and by their own deeds they can also create their own heavens.

A Buddhist who is fully convinced of the law of Kamma does not pray to another to be saved but confidently relies on himself for his emancipation. Instead of making any self-surrender, or propitiating any supernatural agency, he would rely on his own will-power and work incessantly for the weal and happiness of all.

This belief in Kamma, "validates his effort and kindles his enthusiasm," because it teaches individual responsibility.

To an ordinary Buddhist Kamma serves as a deterrent, while to an intellectual it serves as an incentive to do good.

This law of Kamma explains the problem of suffering, the mystery of the so-called fate and predestination of some religions, and above all the inequality of mankind.

We are the architects of our own fate. We are our own creators. We are our own destroyers. We build our own heavens. We build our own hells.

What we think, speak and do, become our own. It is these thoughts, words, and deeds that assume the name of Kamma and pass from life to life exalting and degrading us in the course of our wanderings in Samsāra.

Says the Buddha--

"Man's merits and the sins he here hath wrought:
That is the thing he owns, that takes he hence,
That dogs his steps, like shadows in pursuit.
Hence let him make good store for life elsewhere.
Sure platform in some other future world,
Rewards of Virtue on good beings wait.
[7]"


CHAPTER 22 

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ?

"Inconceivable is the beginning, O disciples, of this faring on. The earliest point is not revealed of the running on, the faring on, of beings, cloaked in ignorance, tied by craving."
-- SAMYUTTA NIKĀYA

Rebirth, which Buddhists do not regard as a mere theory but as a fact verifiable by evidence, forms a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, though its goal Nibbāna is attainable in this life itself. The Bodhisatta Ideal and the correlative doctrine of freedom to attain utter perfection are based on this doctrine of rebirth.

Documents record that this belief in rebirth, viewed as transmigration or reincarnation, was accepted by philo-sophers like Pythagoras and Plato, poets like Shelly, Tennyson and Wordsworth, and many ordinary people in the East as well as in the West.

The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth should be differentiated from the theory of transmigration and reincarnation of other systems, because Buddhism denies the existence of a transmigrating permanent soul, created by God, or emanating from a Paramātma (Divine Essence).

It is Kamma that conditions rebirth. Past Kamma conditions the present birth; and present Kamma, in combination with past Kamma, conditions the future. The present is the offspring of the past, and becomes, in turn. the parent of the future.

The actuality of the present needs no proof as it is self-evident. That of the past is based on memory and report, and that of the future on forethought and inference.

If we postulate a past, a present and a future life, then we are at once faced with the problem "What is the ultimate origin of life?"

One school, in attempting to solve the problem, postulates a first cause, whether as a cosmic force or as an Almighty Being. Another school denies a first cause for, in common experience, the cause ever becomes the effect and the effect becomes the cause. In a circle of cause and effect a first cause [1] is inconceivable. According to the former, life has had a beginning, according to the latter, it is beginningless. In the opinion of some the conception of a first cause is as ridiculous as a round triangle.

One might argue that life must have had a beginning in the infinite past and that beginning or the First Cause is the Creator.

In that case there is no reason why the same demand may not be made of this postulated Creator.

With respect to this alleged First Cause men have held widely different views. In interpreting this First Cause, Paramātma, Brahma, Isvara, Jehovah, God, the Almighty, Allah, Supreme Being, Father in Heaven, Creator, Order of Heaven, Prime Mover, Uncaused Cause, Divine Essence, Chance, Pakati, Padhāna are some significant terms employed by certain religious teachers and philosophers.

Hinduism traces the origin of life to a mystical Paramātma from which emanate all Ātmas or souls that transmigrate from existence to existence until they are finally reabsorbed in Paramātma. One might question whether there is any possibility for these reabsorbed Ātmas for a further transmigration.

Christianity, admitting the possibility of an ultimate origin, attributes everything to the fiat of an Almighty God.

"Whoever," as Sohopenhaeur says, "regards himself as having come out of nothing must also think that he will again become nothing, for that an eternity has passed before he was, and then a second eternity had begun, through which he will never cease to be, is a monstrous thought.

"Moreover, if birth is the absolute beginning, then death must be the absolute end; and the assumption that man is made out of nothing, leads necessarily to the assumption that death is his absolute end. [2]"

"According to the Theological principles," argues Spencer Lewis, "man is created arbitrarily and without his desire, and at the moment of creation is either blessed or unfortunate, noble or depraved, from the first step in the process of his physical creation to the moment of his last breath, regardless of his individual desires, hopes, ambitions, struggles or devoted prayers. Such is theological fatalism.

"The doctrine that all men are sinners and have the essential sin of Adam is a challenge to justice, mercy, love and omnipotent fairness."

Huxley says:--

"If we are to assume that anybody has designedly set this wonderful universe going, it is perfectly clear to me that he is no more entirely benevolent and just, in any intelligible sense of the words, than that he is malevolent and unjust."

According to Einstein:--

"If this being (God) is omnipolent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also his work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an Almighty Being?

"In giving out punishments and rewards, He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to him?"

According to Charles Bradlaugh:?

"The existence of evil is a terrible stumbling block to the Theist. Pain, misery, crime, poverty confront the advocate of eternal goodness, and challenge with unanswerable potency his declaration of Deity as all-good, all-wise, and all-powerful."

Commenting on human suffering and God, Prof. J. B. S. Haldane writes:--

"Either suffering is needed to perfect human character, or God is not Almighty. The former theory is disproved by the fact that some people who have suffered very little but have been fortunate in their ancestry and education have very fine characters. The objection to the second is that it is only in connection with the universe as a whole that there is any intellectual gap to be filled by the postulation of a deity. And a creator could presumably create whatever he or it wanted. [3]"

In "Despair," a poem of his old age, Lord Tennyson thus boldly attacks God, who, as recorded in Isaiah, says ?"I make peace and create evil. [4]"

"What! I should call on that infinite Love that has served us so well?
Infinite cruelty, rather, that made everlasting hell.

Made us, foreknew us, foredoomed us, and does what he will with his own.
Better our dead brute mother who never has
heard us groan."

Dogmatic writers of old authoritatively declared that God created man after his own image. Some modern thinkers state, on the contrary, that man created God after his own image. [5] With the growth of civilization man's conception of God grows more and more refined. There is at present a tendency to substitute this personal God by an impersonal God.

Voltaire states that God is the noblest creation of man.

It is however impossible to conceive of such an omnipotent, omnipresent being, an epitome of everything that is good -- either in or outside the universe.

Modern science endeavours to tackle the problem with its limited systematized knowledge. According to the scientific standpoint, we are the direct products of the sperm and ovum cells provided by our parents. But science does not give a satisfactory explanation with regard to the development of the mind, which is infinitely more important than the machinery of man's material body, Scientists, while asserting "Omne vivum ex vivo" "all life from life" maintain that mind and life evolved from the lifeless.

Now from the scientific standpoint we are absolutely parent-born. Thus our lives are necessarily preceded by those of our parents and so on. In this way life is preceded by life until one goes back to the first protoplasm or colloid. As regards the origin of this first protoplasm or colloid, however, scientists plead ignorance.

What is the attitude of Buddhism with regard to the origin of life?

At the outset it should be stated that the Buddha does not attempt to solve all the ethical and philosophical problems that perplex mankind. Nor does He deal with speculations and theories that tend neither to edification nor to enlightenment. Nor does He demand blind faith from His adherents anent a First Cause. He is chiefly concerned with one practical and specific problem -- that of suffering and its destruction, all side issues are completely ignored.

On one occasion a Bhikkhu named Mālunkyaputta, not content to lead the Holy Life, and achieve his Emancipation by degrees, approached the Buddha and impatiently demanded an immediate solution of some speculative problems with the threat of discarding the robes if no satisfactory answer was given.

"Lord," he said, "these theories have not been elucidated, have been set aside and rejected by the Blessed One -- whether the world is eternal or not eternal, whether the world is finite or infinite. If the Blessed One will elucidate these questions to me, then I will lead the Holy Life under Him. If he will not, then I will abandon the precepts and return to the lay life.

"If the Blessed One knows that the world is eternal, let the Blessed One elucidate to me that the world is eternal; if the Blessed One knows that the world is not eternal, let the Blessed One elucidate that the world is not eternal -- in that case, certainly, for one who does not know and lacks the insight, the only upright thing is to say: I do not know, I have not the insight."

Calmly the Buddha questioned the erring Bhikkhu whether his adoption of the Holy Life was in any way conditional upon the solution of such problems.

"Nay, Lord," the Bhikkhu replied.

The Buddha then admonished him not to waste time and energy over idle speculations detrimental to his moral progress, and said:

"Whoever, Mālunkyaputta, should say, 'I will not lead the Holy Life under the Blessed One until the Blessed One elucidates these questions to me' -- that person would die before these questions had ever been elucidated by the Accomplished One.

"It is as if a person were pierced by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and relatives were to procure a surgeon, and then he were to say. 'I will not have this arrow taken out until I know the details of the person by whom I was wounded, nature of the arrow with which I was pierced, etc.' That person would die before this would ever be known by him.

"In exactly the same way whoever should say, 'I will not lead the Holy Life under the Blessed One until He elucidated to me whether the world is eternal or not eternal, whether the world is finite or infinite. . .' That person would die before these questions had ever been elucidated by the Accomplished One.

"If it be the belief that the world is eternal, will there be the observance of the Holy Life? In such a case -- No! If it be the belief that the world is not eternal, will there be the observance of the Holy Life? In that case also -- No! But, whether the belief be that the world is eternal or that it is not eternal, there is birth, there is old age, there is death, the extinction of which in this life itself I make known.

"Mālunkyaputta, I have not revealed whether the world is eternal or not eternal, whether the world is finite or infinite. Why have I not revealed these? Because these are not profitable, do not concern the bases of holiness, are not conducive to aversion, to passionlessness, to cessation, to tranquility, to intuitive wisdom, to enlightenment or to Nibbāna. Therefore I have not revealed these. [6]

According to Buddhism, we are born from the matrix of action (Kammayoni). Parents merely provide us with a material layer. Therefore being precedes being. At the moment of conception, it is Kamma that conditions the initial consciousness that vitalizes the foetus. It is this invisible Kammic energy, generated from the past birth, that produces mental phenomena and the phenomena of life in an already extant physical phenomena, to complete the trio that constitutes man.

Dealing with the conception of beings, the Buddha states:

"Where three are found in combination, there a germ of life is planted. If mother and father come together, but it is not the mother's fertile period, and the 'being-to-be-born' (gandhabba) is not present, then no germ of life is planted. If mother and father come together, and it is the mother's fertile period, but the 'being-to-be-born' is not present then again no germ of life is planted. If mother and father come together and it is the mother's fertile period, and the 'being-to-be-born' is present, then by the conjunction of these three, a germ of life is there planted. [7]"

Here Gandhabba (= gantabba) does not mean "a class of devas said to preside over the process of conception" [8] but refers to a suitable being ready to be born in that particular womb. This term is used only in this particular connection, and must not be mistaken for a permanent soul.

For a being to be born here, somewhere a being must die. The birth of a being, which strictly means the arising of the Aggregates (khandhānam pātubhāvo), or psycho-physical phenomena in this present life, corresponds to the death of a being in a past life; just as, in conventional terms, the rising of the sun in one place means the setting of the sun in another place. This enigmatic statement may be better understood by imagining life as a wave and not as a straight line. Birth and death are only two phases of the same process. Birth precedes death, and death, on the other hand, precedes birth. This constant succession of birth and death connection with each individual life-flux constitutes what is technically known as Samsāra -- recurrent wandering.

What is the ultimate origin of life?

The Buddha positively declares:

"Without, cognizable beginning is this Samsāra. The earliest point of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving, wander and fare on, is not to be perceived. [9]"

This life-stream flows ad infinitum, as long as it is fed with the muddy waters of ignorance and craving. When these two are completely cut off, then only does the life-stream cease to flow; rebirth ends, as in the case of Buddhas and Arahants. A first beginning of this life-stream cannot be determined, as a stage cannot be perceived when this life force was not fraught with ignorance and craving.

It should be understood that the Buddha has here referred merely to the beginning of the life stream of living beings. It is left to scientists to speculate on the origin and the evolution of the universe.


CHAPTER 23 

THE BUDDHA ON THE SO-CALLED CREATOR-GOD

"I count your Brahma one th' unjust among,
Who made a world in which to shelter wrong."
-- JĀTAKA

The Pāli equivalent for the Creator-God in other religions is either Issara (Samskrit -- isvara) or Brahma. In the Tipitaka there is absolutely no reference whatever to the existence of a God. On several occasions the Buddha denied the existence of a permanent soul (Attā). As to the denial of a Creator-God, there are only a few references. Buddha never admitted the existence of a Creator whether in the form of a force or a being.

Despite the fact that the Buddha placed no supernatural God over man some scholars assert that the Buddha was characteristically silent on this important controversial question.

The following quotations will clearly indicate the viewpoint of the Buddha towards the concept of a Creator-God.

In the Anguttara Nikāya the Buddha speaks of three divergent views that prevailed in His time. One of these was: "Whatever happiness or pain or neutral feeling this person experiences all that is due to the creation of a Supreme Deity (Issaranimmānahetu) [1]"

According to this view we are what we were willed to be by a Creator. Our destinies rest entirely in his hands. Our fate is pre-ordained by him. The supposed freewill granted to his creation is obviously false.

Criticising this fatalistic view, the Buddha says: "So, then, owing to the creation of a Supreme Deity men will become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, abusive, babblers, covetous, malicious and perverse in view. Thus for those who fall back on the creation of a God as the essential reason, there is neither desire nor effort nor necessity to do this deed or abstain from that deed. [2]"

In the Devadaha Sutta [3] the Buddha, referring to the self-mortification of naked ascetics, remarks: "If, O Bhikkhus, beings experience pain and happiness as the result of God's creation (Issaranimmānahetu), then certainly these naked ascetics must have been created by a wicked God (pāpakena issarena), since they suffer such terrible pain."

Kevaddha Sutta narrates a humorous conversation that occurred between an inquisitive Bhikkhu and the supposed Creator.

A Bhikkhu, desiring to know the end of the elements, approached Mahā Brahma and questioned him thus:

"Where, my friend, do the four great elements -- earth, water, fire and air -- cease, leaving no trace behind?"

To this The Great Brahma replied:

"I, brother, am Brahma, Great Brahma, the Supreme Being, the Unsurpassed, the Chief, the Victor, the Ruler, the Father of all beings who have been or are to be."

For the second time the Bhikkhu repeated his question, and the Great Brahma gave the same dogmatic reply.

When the Bhikkhu questioned him for the third time, the Great Brahma took the Bhikkhu by the arm, led him aside, and made a frank utterance:

"O Brother, these gods of my suite believe as follows: 'Brahma sees all things, knows all things, has penetrated all things.' Therefore, was it that I did not answer you in their presence. I do not know, O brother, where these four great elements -- earth, water, fire and air -- cease, leaving no trace behind. Therefore it was an evil and a crime, O brother, that you left the Blessed One, and went elsewhere in quest of an answer to this question. Turn back, O brother, and having drawn near to the Blessed One, ask Him this question, and as the Blessed One shall explain to you so believe."

Tracing the origin of Mahā Brahma, the so-called Creator-God, the Buddha comments in the Pātika Sutta. [4]

"On this, O disciples, that being who was first born (in a new world evolution) thinks thus: 'I am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher, the All-Seer, the Disposer, the Lord, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief, the Assigner, the Master of Myself, the Father of all that are and are to be. By me are these beings created. And why is that so? A while ago I thought: Would that other beings too might come to this state of being! Such was the aspiration of my mind, and lo! these beings did come.

"And those beings themselves who arose after him, they too think thus: 'This Worthy must be Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher, the All-Seer, the Disposer, the Lord, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief, the Assigner, the Master of Myself, the Father of all that are and are to be.

"On this, O disciples, that being who arose first becomes longer lived, handsomer, and more powerful, but those who appeared after him become shorter lived, less comely, less powerful. And it might well be, O disciples, that some other being, on deceasing from that state, would come to this state (on earth) and so come, he might go forth from the household life into the homeless state. And having thus gone forth, by reason of ardour, effort, devotion, earnestness, perfect intellection, he reaches up to such rapt concentration, that with rapt mind he calls to mind his former dwelling place, but remembers not what went before. He says thus: 'That Worshipful Brahma, the Vanquisher, the All-Seer, the Disposer, the Lord, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief, the Assigner, the Master of Myself, the Father of all that are and are to be, he by whom we were created, he is permanent, constant, eternal, un-changing, and he will remain so for ever and ever. But we who were created by that Brahma, we have come hither all impermanent, transient, unstable, short-lived, destined to pass away.'

"Thus was appointed the beginning of all things, which ye, sirs, declare as your traditional doctrine, to wit, that it has been wrought by an over-lord, by Brahma."

In the Bhūridatta Jātaka [5] (No. 543) the Bodhisatta questions the supposed Divine justice of the Creator as follows:

"He who has eyes can see the sickening sight,
Why does not Brahma set his creatures right?
If his wide power no limit can restrain,
Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?
Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness?
Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?
Why triumphs falsehood -- truth and justice fail?
I count you Brahma one th'unjust among,
Who made a world in which to shelter wrong."

Refuting the theory that everything is the creation of a Supreme Being, the Bodhisatta states in the Mahābodhi Jātaka (No. 528):

"If there exists some Lord all powerful to fulfil
In every creature bliss or woe, and action good or ill;
That Lord is stained with sin.
Man does but
work his will. [6]"


CHAPTER 24 

REASONS TO BELIEVE IN REBIRTH

"I recalled my varied lot in former existences."
-- MAJJHIMA NIKĀYA

How are we to believe in rebirth?

The Buddha is our greatest authority on rebirth. On the very night of His Enlightenment, during the first watch, the Buddha developed retro-cognitive knowledge which enabled Him to read His past lives.

"I recalled," He declares, "my varied lot in former existences as follows: first one life, then two lives, then three, four, five, ten, twenty, up to fifty lives, then a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand and so forth. [1]"

During the second watch the Buddha, with clairvoyant vision, perceived beings disappearing from one state of existence and reappearing in another. He beheld the "base and the noble, the beautiful and the ugly, the happy and the miserable, passing according to their deeds."

These are the very first utterances of the Buddha regarding the question of rebirth. The textual references conclusively prove that the Buddha did not borrow this stern truth of rebirth from any pre-existing source, but spoke from personal knowledge -- a knowledge which was supernormal, developed by Himself, and which could be developed by others as well.

In His first paean of joy (udāna), the Buddha says:

"Through many a birth (anekajāti), wandered I, seeking the builder of this house. Sorrowful indeed is birth again and again (dukkhājātipunappunam). [2]"

In the Dhammacakka Sutta, [3] His very first discourse, the Buddha, commenting on the second Noble truth, states: "This very craving is that which leads to rebirth" (y'āyam tanhā ponobhavikā). The Buddha concludes this discourse with the words: "This is my last birth. Now there is no more rebirth (ayam antimā jāti natthi dāni punabbhavo)."

The Majjhima Nikāya relates that when the Buddha, out of compassion for beings, surveyed the world with His Buddha-vision before He decided to teach the Dhamma, He perceived beings who, with fear, view evil and a world beyond (paralokavajjabhayadassāvino). [4]

In several discourses the Buddha clearly states that beings, having done evil, are, after death (parammaranā), born in woeful states, and beings having done good, are born in blissful states. Besides the very interesting Jātaka stories, which deal with His previous lives and which are of ethical importance, the Majjhima Nikāya and the Anguttara Nikāya make incidental references to some of the past lives of the Buddha.

In the Ghatikāra Sutta, [5] the Buddha relates to the Venerable Ānanda that He was born as Jotipāla, in the time of the Buddha Kassapa, His immediate predecessor. The Anāthapindikavāda Sutta [6] describes a nocturnal visit of Anāthapindika to the Buddha, immediately after his rebirth as a Deva. In the Anguttara Nikāya, [7] the Buddha alludes to a past birth as Pacetana the wheelright. In the Samyuttta Nikāya, the Buddha cites the names of some Buddhas who preceded Him.

An unusual direct reference to departed ones appears in the Parinibbāna Sutta. [8] The Venerable Ānanda desired to know from the Buddha the future state of several persons who had died in a particular village. The Buddha patiently described their destinies.

Such instances could easily be multiplied from the Tipitaka to show that the Buddha did expound the doctrine of rebirth as a verifiable truth. [9]

Following the Buddha's instructions, His disciples also developed this retro-cognitive knowledge and were able to read a limited, though vast, number of their past lives. The Buddha's power in this direction was limitless.

Certain Indian Rishis, too, prior to the advent of the Buddha, were distinguished for such supernormal powers as clairaudience, clairvoyance telepathy, telesthesia, and so forth.

Although science takes no cognizance of these supernormal faculties, yet, according to Buddhism, men with highly developed mental concentration cultivate these psychic powers and read their past just as one would recall a past incident of one's present life. With their aid, independent of the five senses, direct communication of thought and direct perception of other worlds are made possible.

Some extraordinary persons, especially in their childhood, spontaneously develop, according to the laws of association, the memory of their past births and remember fragments of their previous lives.[10] (Pythagoras) is said to have distinctly remembered a shield in a Grecian temple as having been carried by him in a previous incarnation at the siege of Troy. [11] Somehow or other these wonderful children lose that memory later, as is the case with many infant prodigies.

Experiences of some dependable modern psychists, ghostly phenomena, spirit communication, strange alternate and multiple personalities [12] also shed some light upon this problem of rebirth.

In hypnotic states some can relate experiences of their past lives, while a few others, like Edgar Cayce of America, were able not only to read the past lives of others but also to heal diseases. [13]

The phenomenon of secondary personalities has to be explained either as remnants of past personal experiences or as "possession by an invisible spirit." The former explanation appears more reasonable, but the latter cannot totally be rejected.

How often do we meet persons whom we have never before met, but who, we instinctively feel, are familiar to us? How often do we visit places and instinctively feel impressed that we are perfectly acquainted with those surroundings? [14]

The Dhammapada commentary relates the story of a husband and wife who, seeing the Buddha, fell at His feet and saluted Him, saying -- "Dear son, is it not the duty of sons to care for their mother and father when they have grown old. Why is it that for so long a time you have not shown yourself to us? This is the first time we have seen you?"

The Buddha attributed this sudden outburst of parental love to the fact that they had been His parents several times during His past lives and remarked:

"Through previous association or present advantage
That old love springs up again like the lotus in the water.
[15]"

There arise in this world highly developed personalities, and Perfect Ones like the Buddhas. Could they evolve suddenly? Could they be the products of a single existence?

How are we to account for personalities like Confucius, Pānini, Buddhaghosa, Homer and Plato, men of genius like Kāli?āsa, Shakespeare, infant prodigies like Ramanujan, Pascal, Mozart, Beethoven and so forth?

Could they be abnormal if they had not led noble lives and acquired similar experiences in the past? Is it by mere chance that they are born of those particular parents and placed under those favourable circumstances?

Infant prodigies, too, seem to be a problem for scientists. Some medical men are of opinion that prodigies are the outcome of abnormal glands, especially the pituitary, the pineal and the adrenal gland. The extra-ordinary hypertrophy of glands of particular individuals may also be due to a past Kammic cause. But how, by mere hypertrophy of glands, one Christian Heineken could talk within a few hours of his birth, repeat passages from the Bible at the age of one year, answer any question on Geography at the age of two, speak French and Latin at the age of three, and be a student of philosophy at the age of four; how John Stuart Mill could read Greek at the age of three; how Macaulay could write a world history at the age of six; how William James Sidis, wonder child of the United States, could read and write at the age of two, speak French, Russian, English, German with some Latin and Greek at the age of eight; how Charles Bennet of Manchester could speak in several languages at the age of three; are wonderful events incomprehensible to non- scientists.[16] Nor does science explain why glands should hypertrophy in just a few and not in all. The real problem remains unsolved.

Heredity alone cannot account for prodigies, "else their ancestry would disclose it, their posterity, in even greater degree than themselves, would demonstrate it."

The theory of heredity should be supplemented by the doctrine of Kamma and rebirth for an adequate explanation of these puzzling problems.

Is it reasonable to believe that the present span of life is the only existence between two eternities of happiness and misery? The few years we spend here, at most but five score years, must certainly be an inadequate preparation for eternity.

If one believes in the present and a future, it is logical to believe in a past.

If there be reason to believe that we have existed in the past, then surely there are no reasons to disbelieve that we shall continue to exist after our present life has apparently ceased. [17]

It is indeed a strong argument in favour of past and future lives that "in this world virtuous persons are very often unfortunate and vicious persons prosperous. [18]"

We are born into the state created by ourselves. If, in spite of our goodness, we are compelled to lead an unfortunate life, it is due to our past evil Kamma. If, in spite of our wickedness, we are prosperous, it is also due to our past good Kamma. The present good and bad deeds will, however, produce their due effects at the earliest possible opportunity.

A Western writer says:

"Whether we believe in a past existence or not, it forms the only reasonable hypothesis which bridges certain gaps in human knowledge concerning facts of everyday life. Our reason tells us that this idea of past birth and Kamma alone can explain, for example, the degrees of differences that exist between twins; how men like Shakespeare with a very limited experience are able to portray, with marvellous exactitude, the most diverse types of human character, scenes, and so forth, of which they could have no actual knowledge, why the work of the genius invariably transcends his experience, the existence of infant precocity, and the vast diversity in mind and morals, in brain and physique, in conditions, circumstances and environments, observable throughout the world."

What do Kamma and Rebirth explain?

1. They account for the problem of suffering for which we ourselves are responsible.

2.  They explain the inequality of mankind.

3.  They account for the arising of geniuses and infant prodigies.

4.  They explain why identical twins who are physically alike, enjoying equal privileges, exhibit totally different characteristics, mentally, morally, temperamentally and intellectually.

5. They account for the dissimilarities amongst children of the same family, though heredity may account for the similarities.

6.  They account for the extraordinary innate abilities of some men.

7. They account for the moral and intellectual differences between parents and children.

8. They explain how infants spontaneously develop such passions as greed, anger and jealousy.

9. They account for instinctive likes and dislikes at first sight.

10. They explain how in us are found "a rubbish heap of evil and a treasure-house of good."

11. They account for the unexpected outburst of passion in a highly civilised person, and for the sudden transformation of a criminal into a saint.

They explain how profligates are born to saintly parents, and saintly children to profligates.

13.  They explain how, in one sense, we are the result of what we were, we will be the result of what we are; and, in another sense, we are not absolutely what we were, and we will not be absolutely what we are.

14. They explain the causes of untimely deaths and unexpected changes in fortune.

15. Above all they account for the arising of omniscient, perfect spiritual teachers, like the Buddhas, who possess incomparable physical, mental, and intellectual characteristics.


CHAPTER 25 

THE WHEEL OF LIFE - PATICCA-SAMUPPĀDA

"No God no Brahma can be found,
No matter of this wheel of life,
Just bare phenomena roll
Dependent on conditions all!"
-- VISUDDHI MAGGA

The process of rebirth has been fully explained by the Buddha in the Paticca-Samuppāda.

Paticca means "because of" or "dependent upon" samuppāda "'arising" or "origination". Although the literal meaning of the term is "arising because of" or "dependent arising or origination," it is applied to the whole causal formula which consists of twelve interdependent causes and effects, technically called paccaya and paccayuppanna.

The method of the Paticca-Samuppāda should be understood as follows:

Because of A arises B. Because of B arises C.
When there is no A, there is no B.
When there is no B, there is no C.
In other words -- "this being so, that is; this not being so, that is not."
(imasmim sati, idam hoti; imasmim asati, idam na hoti.)

Paticca-Samuppāda is a discourse on the process of birth and death, and not a philosophical theory of the evolution of the world. It deals with the cause of rebirth and suffering with a view to helping men to get rid of the ills of life. It makes no attempt to solve the riddle of an absolute origin of life.

It merely explains the "simple happening of a state, dependent on its antecedent state. [1]"

Ignorance (avijjā) of the truth of suffering, its cause, its end, and the way to its end, is the chief cause that sets the wheel of life in motion. In other words, it is the not-knowingness of things as they truly are, or of oneself as one really is. It clouds all right understanding.

"Ignorance is the deep delusion wherein we here so long are circling round, [2]" says the Buddha.

When ignorance is destroyed and turned into knowingness, all causality is shattered as in the case of the Buddhas and Arahants.

In the Itivuttaka [3] the Buddha states -- "Those who have destroyed delusion and broken through the dense darkness, will wander no more: causality exists no more for them."

Ignorance of the past, future, both past and future and "The Dependent Origination" is also regarded as Avijjā.

Dependent on ignorance, arise conditioning activities (samkhārā).

Samkharā is a multisignificant term which should be understood according to the context. Here the term signifies immoral (akusala), moral (kusala) and unshakable (āne񪡩 volitions (cetanā) which constitute Kamma that produces rebirth. The first embraces all volitions in the twelve types of immoral consciousness; the second, all volitions in the eight types of Beautiful (sobhana) moral consciousness and the five types of moral rūpajhāna consciousness; the third, all volitions in the four types of moral arūpajhāna consciousness.

Samkhārā, as one of the five aggregates, implies fifty of the fifty-two mental states, excluding feeling and perception.

There is no proper English equivalent which gives the exact connotation of this Pāli term.

The volitions of the four supramundane Path consciousness (lokuttara maggacitta) are not regarded as samkhārā because they tend to eradicate ignorance. Wisdom (pa񱦣257;) is predominant in supramundane types of consciousness while volition (cetanā) is predominant in the mundane types of consciousness.

All moral and immoral thoughts, words and deeds are included in samkhārā. Actions, whether good or bad, which are directly rooted in, or indirectly tainted with ignorance, and which must necessarily produce their due effects, tend to prolong wandering in Samsāra. Nevertheless, good deeds, freed from greed, hate and delusion, are necessary to get rid of the ills of life. Accordingly the Buddha compares His Dhamma to a raft whereby one crosses the ocean of life. The activities of Buddhas and Arahants, however, are not treated as samkhārā as they have eradicated ignorance.

Ignorance is predominant in immoral activities, while it is latent in moral activities. Hence both moral and immoral activities are regarded as caused by ignorance.

Dependent on past conditioning activities, arises relinking or rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi-vi񱦣257;na) in a subsequent birth. It is so called because it links the past with the present, and is the initial consciousness one experiences at the moment of conception.

Vi񱦣257;na strictly denotes the nineteen types of rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi-vi񱦣257;na) described in the Abhidhamma. All the thirty-two types of resultant consciousness (vipāka citta) experienced during lifetime, are also implied by the term.

The foetus in the mother's womb is formed by the combination of this relinking-consciousness with the sperm and ovum cells of the parents. In this consciousness, are latent all the past impressions, characteristics and tendencies of that particular individual life-flux.

This rebirth-consciousness is regarded as pure [4] as it is either devoid of immoral roots of lust, hatred, and delusion [5] or accompanied by moral roots. [6]

Simultaneous with the arising of the relinking-consciousness there occur mind and matter (nāma-rūpa) or, as some scholars prefer to say, "corporeal organism."

The second and third factors (samkhārā and vi񱦣257;na) pertain to the past and present lives of an individual. The third and fourth factors (vi񱦣257;na and nāma-rūpa) on the contrary, are contemporaneous.

This compound nāma-rūpa should be understood as nāma (mind) alone, rūpa (matter) alone, and nāma-rūpa (mind and matter) together. In the case of Formless Planes (arūpa) there arises only mind; in the case of Mindless (asa񱡩 Planes, only matter; in the case of Sentient Realm (kāma) and Realms of Form (rūpa), both mind and matter.

Nāma here means the three aggregates -- feeling (vedanā), perception (sa񱡩 and mental states (samkhārā) -- that arise simultaneous with the relinking-consciousness. Rūpa means the three decads -- kāya (body), bhāva (sex), and vatthu (seat of consciousness) -- that also arise simultaneous with the relinking-consciousness, conditioned by past Kamma.

The body-decad is composed of the four elements --namely, 1. the element of extension (pathavi), 2. the element of cohesion (āpo), 3. the element of heat (tejo), 4. the element of motion (vāyo); its four derivatives (upādā rūpa) -- namely, 5. colour (vanna), 6. odour (gandha), 7. taste (rasa), 8. nutritive essence (ojā), 9. vitality (jīvitindriya) and 10. body (kāya).

Sex-decad and base decad also consist of the first nine and sex (bhāva) and seat of consciousness (vatthu) respectively.

From this it is evident that sex is determined by past Kamma at the very conception of the being.

Here kāya means the sensitive part of the body (pasāda).

Sex is not developed at the moment of conception but the potentiality is latent. Neither the heart nor the brain, the supposed seat of consciousness, has been evolved at the moment of conception, but the potentiality of the seat is latent.

In this connection it should be remarked that the Buddha did not definitely assign a specific seat for consciousness as He has done with the other senses. It was the cardiac theory (the view that the heart is the seat of consciousness) that prevailed in His time, and this was evidently supported by the Upanishads.

The Buddha could have accepted the popular theory, but He did not commit Himself. In the Patthāna, the Book of Relations, the Buddha refers to the seat of consciousness, in such indirect terms as "yam rūpam nissāya -- depending on that material thing", without positively asserting whether that rūpa was either the heart (hadaya) or the brain. But, according to the view of commentators like Venerable Buddhaghosa and Anuruddha, the seat of consciousness is definitely the heart. It should be understood that the Buddha neither accepted nor rejected the popular cardiac theory.

During the embryonic period the six sense-bases (salāyatana) gradually evolve from these psycho-physical phenomena in which are latent infinite potentialities. The insignificant infinitesimally small speck now develops into a complex six senses-machine.

Human machine is very simple in its beginning but very complex in its end. Ordinary machines, on the other hand, are complex in the beginning but very simple in the end. The force of a finger is sufficient to operate even a most gigantic machine.

The six-senses-human machine now operates almost mechanically without any agent like a soul to act as the operator. All the six senses -- eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind -- have their respective objects and functions. The six sense-objects such as forms, sounds, odours, sapids, tangibles and mental objects collide with their respective sense-organs giving rise to six types of consciousness.

The conjunction of the sense-bases, sense-objects and the resultant consciousness is contact (phassa) which is purely subjective and impersonal.

The Buddha states:

"Because of eye and forms, visual consciousness arises; contact is the conjunction of the three. Because of ear and sounds, arises auditory consciousness; because of nose and odours, arises olfactory consciousness; because of tongue and sapids, arises gustatory consciousness; because of body and tangibles, arises tactile consciousness; because of mind and mental objects, arises mind-consciousness. The conjuction of these three is contact. (Samyutta Nikāya, part ii, p. 70; Kindred Sayings, part ii, p. 50.)

It should not be understood that mere collision is contact (na sangatimatto eva phasso).

Dependent on contact, feelings (vedanā) arise.

Strictly speaking, it is feeling that experiences an object when it comes in contact with the senses. It is this feeling that experiences the desirable or undesirable fruits of an action done in this or in a previous birth. Besides this mental state there is no soul or any other agent to experience the result of the action.

Feeling or, as some prefer to say, sensation, is a mental state common to all types of consciousness. Chiefly there are three kinds of feeling -- namely pleasurable (somanassa), unpleasurable (domanassa), and neutral (adukkhamasukha). With physical pain (dukkha) and physical happiness (sukha) there are altogether five kinds of feelings. The neutral feeling is also termed upekkhā which may be indifference or equanimity.

According to Abhidhamma there is only one type of consciousness accompanied by pain. Similarly there is only one accompanied by happiness. Two are connected with an unpleasurable feeling. Of the 89 types of consciousness, in the remaining 85 are found either a pleasurable or a neutral feeling

It should be understood here that Nibbānic bliss is not associated with any kind of feeling. Nibbānic bliss is certainly the highest happiness (Nibbānam paramam sukham), but it is the happiness of relief from suffering. It is not the enjoyment of any pleasurable object.

Dependent on feeling, arises craving (tanhā) which, like ignorance, is the other most important factor in the "Dependent Origination." Attachment, thirst, clinging are some renderings for this Pāli term.

Craving is threefold -- namely, craving for sensual pleasures (kāmatanhā), craving for sensual pleasures associated with the view of eternalism, (bhavatanhā) i.e., enjoying pleasures thinking that they are imperishable, and craving for sensual pleasures with the view of nihilism (vibhavatanhā) i.e., enjoying pleasures thinking that everything perishes after death. The last is the materialistic standpoint.

Bhavatanhā and vibhavatanhā are also interpreted as attachment to Realms of Form (rūpabhava) and Formless Realms (arūpabhava) respectively. Usually these two terms are rendered by craving for existence and non-existence.

There are six kinds of craving corresponding to the six sense objects such as form, sound and so on. They become twelve when they are treated as internal and external. They are reckoned as 36 when viewed as past, present and future. When multiplied by the foregoing three kinds of craving, they amount to 108.

It is natural for a worldling to develop a craving for the pleasures of sense. To overcome sense-desires is extremely difficult.

The most powerful factors in the wheel of life are ignorance and craving, the two main causes of the Dependent Origination. Ignorance is shown as the past cause that conditions the present; and craving, the present cause that conditions the future.

Dependent on craving is grasping (upādāna) which is intense craving. Tanhā is like groping in the dark to steal an object. Upādāna corresponds to the actual stealing of the object. Grasping is caused by both attachment and error. It gives rise to the false notions, of "I" and "mine."

Grasping is fourfold -- namely, Sensuality, False Views, Adherence to rites and ceremonies, and the Theory of a soul.

The last two are also regarded as false views.

Dependent on grasping arises bhava which, literally, means becoming. It is explained as both moral and immoral actions which constitute Kamma (Kammabhava) -- active process of becoming and the different planes of existence (upapattibhava) -- passive process of becoming.

The subtle difference between samkhārā and kammabhava is that the former pertains to the past and the latter to the present life. By both are meant Kammic activities. It is only the Kammabhava that conditions the future birth.

Dependent on becoming arises birth (jāti) in a subsequent life. Birth strictly speaking, is the arising of the psycho-physical phenomena (khandhānam pātubhāvo). Old age and death (jarāmarana), are the inevitable results of birth.

If, on account of a cause, an effect arises, then, if the cause ceases, the effect also must cease.

The reverse order of the Paticca-Samuppāda will make the matter clear.

Old age and death are only possible in and with a psycho-physical organism, that is to say, a six-senses-machine. Such an organism must be born, therefore it presupposes birth. But birth is the inevitable result of past Kamma or action, which is conditioned by grasping due to craving. Such craving appears when feeling arises. Feeling is the outcome of contact between senses and objects.

Therefore it presupposes organs of sense which cannot exist without mind and body. Mind originates with a rebirth-consciousness, conditioned by activities, due to ignorance of things as they truly are.

The whole formula may be summed up thus:

Dependent on Ignorance arise Conditioning Activities.
Dependent on Conditioning Activities arises Relinking-Consciousness.
Dependent on Relinking-Consciousness arise Mind and Matter.
Dependent on Mind and Matter arise the six Spheres of Sense.
Dependent on the Six Spheres of Sense arises Contact.
Dependent on Contact arises Feeling.
Dependent on Feeling arises Craving.
Dependent on Craving arises Grasping.
Dependent on Grasping arise Actions (Kamma bhava).
Dependent on Actions arises Birth.
Dependent on Birth arise Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair.
Thus does the entire aggregate of suffering arise.

The complete cessation of Ignorance leads to the cessation of Conditioning Activities.
The cessation of Conditioning Activities leads to the cessation of Relinking-Consciousness.
The cessation of Relinking-Consciousness leads to the cessation of Mind and Matter.
The cessation of Mind and Matter leads to the cessation of the six Spheres of Sense.
The cessation of the six Spheres of Sense leads to the cessation of Contact.
The cessation of Contact leads to the cessation of Feeling.
The cessation of Feeling leads to the cessation of Craving.
The cessation of Craving leads to the cessation of Grasping.
The cessation of Grasping leads to the cessation of Actions.
The cessation of Actions leads to the cessation of Birth.
The cessation of Birth leads to the cessation of Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair.
Thus does the cessation of this entire aggregate of suffering result.

The first two of these twelve factors pertain to the past, the middle eight to the present, and the last two to the future.

Of them Moral and Immoral Activities (samkharā) and Actions (bhava) are regarded as Kamma.

Ignorance (avijjā), Craving (tanhā), and Grasping (upādāna) are regarded as Passions or Defilements (kilesa);

Relinking-Consciousness (patisandhi-vi񱦣257;na), Mind and Matter (nāma-rūpa), Spheres of Sense (salāyatana), Contact (phassa), Feeling (vedanā), Birth (jāti), Decay and Death (jarāmaranā) are regarded as Effects (vipāka).

Thus Ignorance, Activities, Craving, Grasping and Kamma, the five causes of the past, condition the present five effects (phala) -- namely, Relinking-Consciousness, Mind and Matter, Spheres of Sense, Contact, and Feeling.

In the same way Craving, Grasping, Kamma, Ignorance, and Activities of the present condition the above five effects of the future.

This process of cause and effect continues ad infinitum. A beginning of this process cannot be determined as it is impossible to conceive of a time when this life-flux was not encompassed by ignorance. But when this ignorance is replaced by wisdom and the life-flux realizes the Nibbāna Dhatu, then only does the rebirth process terminate.

" [7] Tis Ignorance entails the dreary round
-- now here, now there -- of countless births and
deaths."
"But, no hereafter waits for him who knows!"

 

 


 

CHAPTER 26 

MODES OF BIRTH AND DEATH

"Again, again the slow, wits seek rebirth,
Again, again comes birth and dying comes,
Again, again men bear its to the grave."
-- SAMYUTTA NIKĀYA

The Paticca-Samuppāda describes the process of rebirth in subtle technical terms and assigns death to one of the following four causes:

1. Exhaustion of the Reproductive Kammic energy (kammakkhaya).

The Buddhist belief is that, as a rule, the thought, volition, or desire, which is extremely strong during lifetime, becomes predominant at the time of death and conditions the subsequent birth. In this last thought-process is present a special potentiality. When the potential energy of this Reproductive (janaka) Kamma is exhausted, the organic activities of the material form in which is embodied the life-force, cease even before the end of the life-span in that particular place.

This often happens in the case of beings who are born in states of misery (apāya) but it can happen in other planes too.

2. The expiration of the life-term (āyukkhaya), which varies in different planes.

Natural deaths, due to old age, may be classed under this category.

There are different planes of existence with varying age-limits. Irrespective of the Kammic force that has yet to run, one must, however, succumb to death when the maximum age-limit is reached.

If the Reproductive Kammic force is extremely powerful, the Kammic energy. rematerialises itself in the same plane or, as in the case of Devas, in some higher realm.

3. The simultaneous exhaustion of the Reproductive Kammic energy and the expiration of the life-term (ubhayakkhaya).

4. The opposing action of a stronger Kamma unexpectedly obstructing the flow of the Reproductive Kamma before the life-term expires (upacchedaka-kamma).

Sudden untimely deaths of persons and the deaths of children are due to this cause.

A more powerful opposing force can check the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. So a very powerful Kammic force of the past is capable of nullifying the potential energy of the last thought-process, and may thus destroy the psychic life of the being.

The death of Venerable Devadatta, for instance, was due to a Destructive Kamma which he committed during his lifetime.

The first three are collectively called "timely deaths" (kāla-marana), and the fourth is known as "untimely death" (akāla-marana).

An oil lamp, for instance, may get extinguished owing to any of the following four causes -- namely, the exhaustion of the wick, the exhaustion of oil, simultaneous exhaustion of both wick and oil, or some extraneous cause like a gust of wind.

So may death be due to any of the foregoing four causes.

Explaining thus the causes of death, Buddhism states that there are four modes of birth -- namely, 1. egg-born beings (andaja), 2. womb-born beings (jalābuja), 3. moisture-born beings (samsedaja), and 4. beings having spontaneous births (opapātika).

This broad classification embraces all living beings.

Birds and oviparous snakes belong to the first division.

The womb-born creatures comprise all human beings, some devas inhabiting the earth, and some animals that take conception in a mother's womb.

Embryos, using moisture as nidus for their growth, like certain lowly forms of animal life, belong to the third class.

Beings having a spontaneous birth are generally invisible to the physical eye. Conditioned by their past Kamma, they appear spontaneously, without passing through an embryonic stage. Petas and Devas normally, and Brahmas belong to this class.

 


 

CHAPTER 27 

PLANES OF EXISTENCE

"Not to be reached by going is world's end."
-- ANGUTTARA NIKĀYA

According to Buddhism the earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable world, and humans are not the only living beings. Indefinite are world systems and so are living beings. Nor is "the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth." By traversing one cannot reach the end of the world, [1] says the Buddha.

Births may take place in different spheres of existence. There are altogether thirty-one places in which beings manifest themselves according to their moral or immoral Kamma.

There are four states of unhappiness (Apāya) [2] which are viewed both as mental states and as places.

They are:

1. Niraya (ni + aya = devoid of happiness) woeful states where beings atone for their evil Kamma. They are not eternal hells where beings are subject to endless suffering. Upon the exhaustion of the evil Kamma there is a possibility for beings born in such states to be reborn in blissful states as the result of their past good actions.

2. Tiracchāna-yoni (tiro = across; acchāna = going), the animal kingdom. Buddhist belief is that beings are born as animals on account of evil Kamma. There is, however, the possibility for animals to be born as human beings as a result of the good Kamma accumulated in the past. Strictly speaking, it should be more correct to state that Kamma which manifested itself in the form of a human being, may manifest itself in the form of an animal or vice versa, just as an electric current can be manifested in the forms of light, heat and motion successively -- one not necessarily being evolved from the other.

It may be remarked that at times certain animals particularly dogs and cats, live a more comfortable life than even some human beings due to their past good Kamma.

It is one's Kamma that determines the nature or one's material form which varies according to the skilfulness or unskilfulness of one's actions.

3. Peta-yoni (pa + ita) lit., departed beings, or those absolutely devoid of happiness. They are not disembodied spirits of ghosts. They possess deformed physical forms of varying magnitude, generally invisible to the naked eye. They have no planes of their own, but live in forests, dirty surroundings, etc. There is a special book, called Petavatthu, which exclusively deals with the stories of these unfortunate beings. Samyutta Nikāya also relates some interesting accounts of these Petas.

Describing the pathetic state of a Peta, the Venerable Moggallāna says:--

"Just now as I was descending Vultures' Peak Hill, I saw a skeleton going through the air, and vultures, crows, and falcons kept flying after it, pecking at its ribs, pulling apart while it uttered cries of pain. To me, friend, came this thought :-- O but this is wonderful! O but this is marvellous that a person will come to have such a shape, that the individuality acquired will come to have such a shape."

"This being," the Buddha remarked, "was a cattle-butcher in his previous birth, and as the result of his past Kamma he was born in such a state. [3]"

According to the Questions of Milinda there are four kinds of Petas -- namely, the Vantāsikas who feed on vomit, the Khuppipāsino who hunger and thirst, the Nijjhāmatanhikā, who are consumed by thirst, and the Paradattūpajīvino who live on the gifts of others.

As stated in the Tirokudda Sutta  [4] these last mentioned Petas share the merit performed by their living relatives in their names, and could thereby pass on to better states of happiness.

4. Asura-yoni -- the place of the Asura-demons. Asura, literally, means those who do not shine or those who do not sport. They are also another class of unhappy beings similar to the Petas. They should be distinguished from the Asuras who are opposed to the Devas.

Next to these four unhappy states (Duggati) are the seven happy states (Sugati). They are:--

1. Manussa [5]-- The Realm of human beings.

The human realm is a mixture of both pain and happiness. Bodhisattas prefer the human realm as it is the best field to serve the world and perfect the requisites of Buddhahood.  Buddhas are always born as human beings.

2. Cātummahārājika -- the lowest of the heavenly realms where the Guardian Deities of the four quarters of the firmament reside with their followers.

3. Tāvatimsa -- lit., thirty-three -- the Celestial Realm of the thirty-three Devas [6] where Deva Sakka is the King. The origin of the name is attributed to a story which states that thirty-three selfless volunteers led by Magha (another name for Sakka), having performed charitable deeds, were born in this heavenly realm. It was in this heaven that the Buddha taught the Abhidhamma to the Devas for three months.

4. Yāma ? "The Realm of the Yāma Devas." That which destroys pain is Yāma.

5. Tusita -- lit., happy dwellers, is "The Realm of Delight."

The Bodhisattas who have perfected the requisites of Buddhahood reside in this Plane until the opportune moment comes for them to appear in the human realm to attain Buddhahood. The Bodhisatta Metteyya, the future Buddha, is at present residing in this realm awaiting the right opportunity to be born as a human being and become a Buddha. The Bodhisatta's mother, after death, was born in this realm as a Deva (god). From here he repaired to Tāvatimsa Heaven to listen to the Abhidhamma taught by the Buddha.

6. Nimmānarati -- "The Realm of the Devas who delight in the created mansions."

7. Paranimmitavasavatti -- "The Realm of the Devas who make others' creation serve their own ends."

The last six are the realms of the Devas whose physical forms are more subtle and refined than those of human beings and are imperceptible to the naked eye. These celestial beings too are subject to death as all mortals are. In some respects, such as their constitution, habitat, and food they excel humans, but do not as a rule transcend them in wisdom. They have spontaneous births, appearing like youths and maidens of fifteen or sixteen years of age.

These six Celestial Planes are temporary blissful abodes where beings are supposed to live enjoying fleeting pleasures of sense.

The four unhappy states (Duggati) and the seven happy states (Sugati) are collectively termed Kāmaloka -- Sentient Sphere.

Superior to these Sensuous Planes are the Brahma Realms or Rūpaloka (Realms of Form) where beings delight in jhānic bliss, achieved by renouncing sense-desires.

Rūpaloka consists of sixteen realms according to the jhānas or ecstasies cultivated. They are as follows:-

(a) T'he Plane of the First Jhāna;

1. Brahma Pārisajja -- The Realm of the Brahma's Retinue.

2. Brahma Purohita -- The Realm of the Brahma's Ministers.

3. Mahā Brahma -- The Realm of the Great Brahmas.

The highest of the first three is Mahā Brahma. It is so called because the dwellers in this Realm excel others in happiness, beauty, and age-limit owing to the intrinsic merit of their mental development.

(b) The Plane of the Second Jhāna:

4. Parittābhā -- The Realm of Minor Lustre,

5. Appamānābhā -- The Realm of Infinite Lustre,

6. Ābhassarā -- The Realm of the Radiant Brahmas.

(c) The Plane of the Third Jhāna:

7. Parittasubhā -- The Realm of the Brahmas of Minor Aura.

8. Appamānasubhā -- The Realm of the Brahmas of Infinite Aura.

9. Subhakinhā -- The Realm of the Brahmas of Steady Aura.

(d) The Plane of the Fourth Jhāna:

10. Vehapphala -- The Realm of the Brahmas of Great Reward.

11. Asa񱡳atta -- The Realm of Mindless Beings,

12. Suddhāvāsa -- The Pure Abodes which are further subdivided into five, viz:

i. Aviha -- The Durable Realm,
ii. Atappa -- The Serene Realm,
iii. Sudassa -- The Beautiful Realm,
iv. Sudassi -- The Clear-Sighted Realm.
v. Akanittha -- The Highest Realm.

Only those who have cultivated the Jhānas or Ecstasies are born on these higher planes. Those who have developed the First Jhāna are born in the first Plane; those who have developed the Second and Third Jhānas are born in the second Plane; those who have developed the Fourth and Fifth Jhānas are born in the third and fourth Planes respectively.

The first grade of each plane is assigned to those who have developed the Jhānas to an ordinary degree, the second to those who have developed the Jhānas to a greater extent, and the third to those who have gained a complete mastery over the Jhānas.

In the eleventh plane, called the Asa񱡳atta, beings are born without a consciousness.

Here only a material flux exists. Mind is temporarily suspended while the force of the Jhāna lasts. Normally both mind and matter are inseparable. By the power of meditation it is possible, at times, to separate matter from mind as in this particular case. When an Arahant attains the Nirodha Samāpatti, too, his consciousness ceases to exist temporarily. Such a state is almost inconceivable to us. But there may be inconceivable things which are actual facts.

The Suddhāvāsas or Pure Abodes are the exclusive Planes of Anāgāmis or Never-Returners. Ordinary beings are not born in these states. Those who attain Anāgāmi in other planes are reborn in these Pure Abodes. Later, they attain Arahantship and live in those planes until their life-term ends.

There are four other planes called Arūpaloka which are totally devoid of matter or bodies. Buddhists maintain that there are realms where mind alone exists without matter. "Just as it is possible for an iron bar to be suspended in the air because it has been flung there, and it remains as long as it retains any unexpended momentum, even so the Formless being appears through being flung into that state by powerful mind-force, there it remains till that momentum is expended. This is a temporary separation of mind and matter, which normally co-exist. [7]"

It should be mentioned that there is no sex distinction in the Rūpaloka and the Arūpaloka.

The Arūpaloka is divided into four planes according to the four Arūpa Jhānas.

They are:-

1. Ākāsāna񣦣257;yatana -- The Sphere of the Conception of Infinite Space.

2. Vi񱦣257;na񣦣257;yatana -- The Sphere of the Conception of Infinite Consciousness.

3. Āki񣡱񡹡tana -- The Sphere of the Conception of Nothingness.

4. N'eva Sa񱦣257; Nāsa񱡹atana -- The Sphere of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception. [8]

It should be remarked that the Buddha did not attempt to expound any cosmological theory.

The essence of the Buddha's teaching is not affected by the existence or non-existence of these planes. No one is bound to believe anything if it does not appeal to his reason. Nor is it proper to reject anything because it cannot be conceived by one's limited knowledge.


 

CHAPTER 28 

HOW REBIRTH TAKES PLACE

"The pile of bones of (all the bodies of) one man
Who has alone one aeon lived
Would make a mountain's height --
So said the mighty seer."
-- ITIVUT'TAKA

To the dying man at this critical stage, according to Abhidhamma philosophy, is presented a Kamma, Kamma Nimitta, or Gati Nimitta.

By Kamma is here meant some good or bad act done during his lifetime or immediately before his dying moment. It is a good or bad thought. If the dying person had committed one of the five heinous crimes (Garuka Kamma) such as parricide etc. or developed the Jhānas (Ecstasies), he would experience such a Kamma before his death. These are so powerful that they totally eclipse all other actions and appear very vividly before the mind's eye. If he had done no such weighty action, he may take for his object of the dying thought-process a Kamma done immediately before death (Āsanna Kamma); which may be called a "Death Proximate Kamma."

In the absence of a "Death-Proximate Kamma" a habitual good or bad act (Ācinna Kamma) is presented, such as the healing of the sick in the case of a good physician, or the teaching of the Dhamma in the case of a pious Bhikkhu, or stealing in the case of a thief. Failing all these, some casual trivial good or bad act (Katattā Kamma) becomes the object of the dying thought-process.

Kamma Nimitta or "symbol," means a mental reproduction of any sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea which was predominant at the time of some important activity, good or bad, such as a vision of knives or dying animals in the case of a butcher, of patients in the case of a physician, and of the object of worship in the case of a devotee, etc...

By Gati Nimitta, or "symbol of destiny" is meant some symbol of the place of future birth. This frequently presents itself to dying persons and stamps its gladness or gloom upon their features. When these indications of the future birth occur, if they are bad, they can at times be remedied. This is done by influencing the thoughts of the dying man. Such premonitory visions [1] of destiny may be fire, forests, mountainous regions, a mother's womb, celestial mansions, and the like.

Taking for the object a Kamma, or a Kamma symbol, or a symbol of destiny, a thought-process runs its course even if the death be an instantaneous one.

For the sake of convenience let us imagine that the dying person is to be reborn in the human kingdom and that the object is some good Kamma.

His Bhavanga consciousness is interrupted, vibrates for a thought-moment and passes away; after which the mind-door consciousness (manodvāravajjana) arises and passes away. Then comes the psychologically important stage --Javana process -- which here runs only for five thought moments by reason of its weakness, instead of the normal seven. It lacks all reproductive power, its main function being the mere regulation of the new existence (abhinavakarana).

The object here being desirable, the consciousness he experiences is a moral one. The Tadālambana-consciousness which has for its function a registering or identifying for two moments of the object so perceived, may or may not follow. After this occurs the death-consciousness (cuticitta), the last thought moment to be experienced in this present life.

There is a misconception amongst some that the subsequent birth is conditioned by this last death-consciousness (cuticitta) which in itself has no special function to perform. What actually conditions rebirth is that which is experienced during the Javana process.

With the cessation of the decease-consciousness death actually occurs. Then no material qualities born of mind and food (cittaja and āhāraja) are produced. Only a series of material qualities born of heat (utuja) goes on till the corpse is reduced to dust. [2]

Simultaneous with the arising of the rebirth consciousness there spring up the 'body-decad,' 'sex-decad,' and 'base-decad' (Kāya-bhāva-vatthu-dasaka). [3]

According to Buddhism, therefore, sex is determined at the moment of conception and is conditioned by Kamma not by any fortuitous combination of sperm and ovum-cells. [4]

The passing away of the consciousness of the past birth is the occasion for the arising of the new consciousness in the subsequent birth. However, nothing unchangeable or permanent is transmitted from the past to the present.

Just as the wheel rests on the ground only at one point, so, strictly speaking, we live only for one thought-moment. We are always in the present, and that present is ever slipping into the irrevocable past. Each momentary consciousness of this ever-changing life-process, on passing away, transmits its whole energy, all the indelibly recorded impressions on it, to its successor. Every fresh consciousness, therefore, consists of the potentialities of its predecessors together with something more. At death, the consciousness perishes, as in truth it perishes every moment, only to give birth to another in a rebirth. This renewed consciousness inherits all past experiences. As all impressions are indelibly recorded in the ever-changing palimpsest-like mind, and all potentialities are transmitted from life to life, irrespective of temporary disintegration, thus there may be reminiscence of past births or past incidents. Whereas if memory depended solely on brain cells, such reminiscence would be impossible.

"This new being which is the present manifestation of the stream of Kamma-energy is not the same as, and has no identity with, the previous one in its line -- the aggregates that make up its composition being different from, having no identity with, those that make up the being of its predecessor. And yet it is not an entirely different being since it has the same stream of Kamma-energy, though modified perchance just by having shown itself in that manifestation, which is now making its presence known in the sense-perceptible world as the new being. [5]

Death, according to Buddhism, is the cessation of the psycho-physical life of any one individual existence. It is the passing away of vitality (āyu), i.e., psychic and physical life (jīvitindriya), heat (usma) and consciousness (vi񱦣257;na).

Death is not the complete annihilation of a being, for though a particular life-span ends, the force which hitherto actuated it is not destroyed.

Just as an electric light is the outward visible manifestation of invisible electric energy, so we are the outward manifestations of invisible Kammic energy. The bulb may break, and the light may be extinguished, but the current remains and the light may be reproduced in another bulb. In the same way, the Kammic force remains undisturbed by the disintegration of the physical body, and the passing away of the present consciousness leads to the arising of a fresh one in another birth. But nothing unchangeable or permanent "passes" from the present to the future.

In the foregoing case, the thought experienced before death being a moral one, the resultant rebirth-consciousness takes for its material an appropriate sperm and ovum cell of human parents. The rebirth-consciousness (patisandhi vi񱦣257;na) then lapses into the Bhavanga state. [6]

The continuity of the flux, at death, is unbroken in point of time, and there is no breach in the stream of consciousness.

Rebirth takes place immediately, irrespective of the place of birth, just as an electromagnetic wave, projected into space, is immediately reproduced in a receiving radio set. Rebirth of the mental flux is also instantaneous and leaves no room whatever for any intermediate state [7] (antarabhava). Pure Buddhism does not support the belief that a spirit of the deceased person takes lodgement in some temporary state until it finds a suitable place for its "reincarnation."

This question of instantaneous rebirth is well expressed in the Milinda Pa񨡺

The King Milinda questions:

"Venerable Nagasena, if somebody dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, and another dies here and is reborn in Kashmir, which of them would arrive first?

"They would arrive at the same time. O King.

"In which town were you born, O King?

"In a village called Kalasi, Venerable Sir.

"How far is Kalasi from here, O King?

"About two hundred miles, Venerable Sir.

"And how far is Kashmir from here, O King?

"About twelve miles, Venerable Sir.

"Now think of the village of Kalasi, O King.

"I have done so, Venerable Sir.

"And now think of Kashmir, O King.

"It is done, Venerable Sir.

"Which of these two, O King, did you think the more slowly and which the more quickly?

"Both equally quickly, Venerable Sir.

"Just so, O King, he who dies here and is reborn in the world of Brahma, is not reborn later than he who dies here and is reborn in Kashmir."

"Give me one more simile, Venerable Sir."

"What do you think, O King? Suppose two birds were flying in the air and they should settle at the same time, one upon a high and the other upon a low tree, which bird's shade would first fall upon the earth, and which bird's later?"

"Both shadows would appear at the same time, not one of them earlier and the other later. [8]"

The question might arise: Are the sperm and ovum cells always ready, waiting to take up the rebirth-thought?

According to Buddhism, living beings are infinite in number, and so are world systems. Nor is the impregnated ovum the only route to rebirth. Earth, an almost insignificant speck in the universe, is not the only habitable plane, and humans are not the only living beings. [9] As such it is not impossible to believe that there will always be an appropriate place to receive the last thought vibrations. A point is always ready to receive the falling stone. 


 

CHAPTER 29 

WHAT IS IT THAT IS REBORN? (No-Soul)

"Neither the same nor yet another."
-- VISUDDHI MAGGA

Apart from mind and matter, which constitute this so-called being, Buddhism does not assert the existence of an immortal soul, or an eternal ego, which man has obtained in a mysterious way from an equally mysterious source.

A soul which is eternal must necessarily remain always the same without any change whatever. If the soul which is supposed to be the essence of man is eternal, there could be neither a rise nor a fall. Nor could one explain why "different souls are so variously constituted at the outset."

To justify the existence of endless felicity in an eternal heaven and unending torment in an eternal hell, it is absolutely necessary to postulate an immortal soul.

"It should be said," writes Bertrand Russell, "that the old distinction between soul and body has evaporated, quite as much because 'matter' has lost its solidity as because mind has lost its spirituality. Psychology is just beginning to be scientific. In the present state of psychology belief in immortality can at any rate claim no support from science." (Religion and Science, p. 132.)

According to the learned author of the Riddle of the Universe: [1]

"This theological proof that a personal creator has breathed an immortal soul (generally regarded as a portion of the Divine Soul) into man is a pure myth. The cosmological proof that the 'moral order of the world' demands the eternal duration of the human soul is a baseless dogma. The teleological proof that the 'higher destiny' of man involves the perfecting of his defective, earthly soul beyond the grave -- rests on a false anthropism. The moral proof -- that the defects and the unsatisfied desires of earthly existence must be fulfilled by 'compensative justice' on the other side of eternity -- is nothing more than a pious wish. The ethnological proof -- that the belief in immortality, like the belief in God, is an innate truth, common to all humanity -- is an error in fact. The ontological proof -- that the soul, being a simple, immaterial, and indivisible entity cannot be involved in the corruption of death -- is based on an entirely erroneous view of the psychic phenomena it is a spiritualistic fallacy. All these and similar 'proofs of athanatism' are in a parlous condition; they are definitely annulled by the scientific criticism of the last few decades."