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Our text archive has over 17 million words!
Sravaniya, Boston, USA
Viveka, San Francisco, USA
Mary, FBA Team
Vajratara, Sheffield, UK
Jinamitra, Welwyn, UK
Suvarnagarbha, Cambridge, UK
Padmavajri, East Sussex
Coleen, FBA Team
As distinct from the majority who are unenlightened sentient beings. And the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas are the teachers of the Dharma, the primary teachers of the Dharma. And that
Dharma which they teach is directed towards all unenlightened beings, all un-aryas without
any exception at all. So because it's directed towards all living beings, without exception;
directed by the enlightened towards the unenlightened, without exception, for that reason it is
a universal teaching.
: Also, this is sort of addressed from all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to...
S: One could look at it like that. in as much as this is a text from the Pali scriptures - and
these are centred upon Sakyamuni, Gotama the Buddha the historical Buddha). In this context
there is no reference to Bodhisattvas., You know, the idea of Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana
sense developed later on but the principle is the same, that the Buddha's teaching whether it
comes through a historical Buddha, whether it comes through an Archetypal Bodhisattva, or
whether it comes through one of the Transcendental Buddhas, a symbolical sort of form - that
teaching is directed towards all, that teaching is meant for all, without any reservation,
according to their particular capacity, and their ability to practise it. So this is the first point
which seems to be made here, indirectly; that the teaching is meant for all, is addressed to all.
You could say, in as much as it's the Ratana Sutta, it suggests the three jewels are for all; the
three jewels are of interest and value to all. The three jewels are the objects of refuge for all
sentient beings, did they but know it. At least they are available. But one can look at it
another way also. One has got a reference to the beings of the earth, and also the sky, the
heavens, the inter space. So one could also look at that in a Jungian terms. What do you think
I mean by that? one has got the earth, the depths; and one has got the sky, the heights. So one
is appealing, as it were, to the heights and the depths to listen. The beings of the heights, the
beings of the depths. So what do you think that suggests, what does that convey?
'The heights and depths of one's own consciousness.
S: Yes. The appeal that is being made is not just to the surface consciousness, it's also to the
depths, it's also to the heights. It's to everything within one. The best, and even in a sense the
worst. All parts of you have got to be involved as it were, the depths and the heights. I gave a
lecture many years ago, which is on tape probably, on "Heights and Depths in Spiritual
Experience" or something like that. Anybody remember hearing that?
S: May be "Heights and Depths of Spiritual Life"; something like That.
S: And also in the case of the gods, I mean, these also can be regarded, not as beings existing
outside of oneself, but as constellations of spiritual energies, of a very refined nature, existing
within oneself, rather like Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and other figures that one encounters within
the context of the Bardo state. So one could say that the approach, and the appeal is universal
both objectively and subjectively. Objectively the appeal is made to all living beings, all
beings in the universe, the teaching is intended for all, the three jewels are relevant to ail. And
subjectively, the appeal is to every part of you; the heights of your nature, the depths of your
nature. All of them, sooner or later should be involved. So therefore it is said "Whatever
beings are assembled here, creatures of earth, or spirits of the sky" and then, "may they be
happy minded" or "may  they rejoice." So the attitude towards them on the part of the
person proclaiming the teaching is a thoroughly positive one. That is also very important
obviously. One who represents the Dharma, one who represents the Three Jewels must have
this completely positive attitude first of all towards all living beings - that goes without
saying, that does not require any explanation - but also towards the entire content of his own
experience, both the heights and the depths. You see what I mean? Because every aspect of
one's experience has to be pulled in, integrated. Of course this does not apply to the unskilful
things as unskilful but the energy which is embodied in the unskilful actions or mental states,
that energy is not to be repudiated it's only the unskilful form that it has taken the energy itself
is to be accepted and which is to be repudiated,
What do you mean by repudiated?
S: Well, we find very often that people dislike parts of themselves and they see these sort of
parts, these aspects as split off from themselves so they disown them, they don't want to
recognize them as theirs. But not only with regard to their form so to speak but with regard to
their energy content, so even though you repudiated, disown it, it retains a sort of life of its
own split off and apart from your total psychic life. You see what I Mean? So you aren't
integrated, you are still disintegrated. So what you have to do is to see that, yes that represents
something unskilful, some unskilful action, some unskilful thought, so you dissolve the
unskilfulness but you retain the energy. What we usually do is we disown the unskilfulness
but we disown the energy too. So that means that a part of ourself is split off from the whole,
we aren't integrated. So it's important to dissolve the unskilfulness but retain the energy, not
repudiate the energy. (Pause.) There is another secondary point here which I didn't include in
the :.,.three main points and that is 'assembled' "Yanidha bhutani samaqatani", that is, to say
'Whatever beings are assembled here, come together, convened even. So the enunciator of the
sutta not only envisages all living beings as harkening to the words of the sutta, harkening to
the Buddha's teaching. He actually envisages them, he almost imagines them as all come
together. There is a sort of tradition if you like with regard to the Buddha himself that when
the Buddha started teaching, teaching the Dharma on any occasion, there would be a vast
gathering not only of human beings but even of gods of various kinds. So what does this
represent? Sometimes it is set forth in the Mahayana sutras very very fully. You've got in the
assembly bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas, kings, princes, heretical teachers, wealthy
merchants and then they enumerate all the different kinds of gods and strange non-human
creatures, they're all hovering around, they all gathered together, they're all there, they're all
listening. So what does this represent? whether one takes it literally, whether one doesn't - so
what does this represent?
: Completely focused attention.
S: Completely focused attention, yes, but more than that. It represents the integrating power
of the Dharma. The Dharma brings everything together, the Dharma attracts everything but
not just in a sort of disorganized or chaotic way. It's rather like what Subhuti was referring to
last night about the patterns made by the... - what  is it, what is the technical ... ?
: ... a magnet
S: Right, yes. It is not just a force which is attracting, at the same time that the force is
attracting all these different elements, it is also so to speak imposing a pattern upon them. So
the Dharma - the Dharma, the Buddha, the Sangha - are these sort of attractive forces which
attract all living beings and organizes them into an harmonious assembly, into a cosmos so to
speak, a spiritual cosmos, a spiritual world or a pure land. So all these sort of suggestions are
there too. So I Whatever beings are assembled here, Creatures of earth or spirits of, the sky,
May they be happy, every one, And pay good heed to what is said to them.' So that last line
oilies (?) us that third point: listen, listen attentively', I sunantu bhasitam', harken to what i.5said. This of course introduces a very important point upon which we touched often enough
before which is of course the importance of receptivity. There is no need to say very much
about that because so much has been said before. So you see, perhaps we can expand our
three points to four. First of all the teaching is addressed to everybody, All living beings are
addressed, objectively all living beings in the world, in the universe, subjectively all the living
beings of one's own mind so to speak, And the attitude of the person inculcating the teaching
is positive, he wishes them all well, he wishes that they may be happy minded and he asks
them to listen, he asks them to be receptive. And when they are gathered in that way, they
form the fourth point: an harmonious assemblage, brought together, drawn together by the
attractive force of the Dharma, or rather the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. All this one
has got by indication at least in this first verse, All these points. (Pause.) Is that clear, or any
further point arises after that?
: It occurs to me, Bhante, that wishing all beings or such beings, happiness just thinking in
terms that when you're communicating well, it's with the medium of metta, so that's what's
perhaps is being suggested here U's
S: Yes. Because it's as though whoever is transmitting this teaching, whether a Buddha's
disciple or a disciple of a disciple, he is sort of invoking all living beings, he is as it were
calling out to them, he's ...