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Sutra of Forty - two Sections - Padmaloka Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

by Sangharakshita

... four
others, and thus manifesting the fruit of the Way."
There's a
footnote about 'Way'. It says ?~h~rm~~ and the
translator says: "I have tried to
avoid Sanskrit terms
in the text." Probably in the Chinese the word was 'Tao'.
Probably, because very often translators into Chinese
rendered'Dharma
'as 'Tao', which could be translated into
English as ~Way~, but the original word
was, no doubt,
'Dharma', or some form of that.
So, "In the
RoyalDeer Park, he expounded the Doctrine of
the Four Noble Truths". One has
to watch this word
'doctrine'. Doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. It's
not
just a doctrine in the philosophical sense. It's
much more than that. The
B-,uddha had an Insight into the
Four Noble Truths, if, in fact, that is what he
actually
taught on that occasion. He had an Insight, an
Enlightenment.It w-as that which he was trying to
communicate. He didn't just have
a doctrine in the
intellectual sense.
And then, "converting Kaundinya
and four others". Again,
this word 'convert'. I mean, this is a word, perhaps,
that we should be careful of, because it has overtones of
missionary
activities in the East or in Africa. Converting
the heathen and all that.
Anyway, we'll let it pass
here. We're not misled by it.
"converting Kaundinya and four others,and thus manifesting
the fruit of the
Way." To put it in more modern... the
Dh,arma works. Sometimes people
are actually
surprised. Though they believe in the Dharma, they are
surprised to find that the T)harma actually does work.
That if you practise the
metta-bhavana, you do actually
become more, well, good-tempered, at least,
more amiable,
S of 42 5 Dl Tl
88 S(ctd) :
more easy to get on with. They may not be so surprised when it works in their
case, but when they actually start taking classes and see that it works with other people, well,
they seem to be quite surprised. Yes, the Dharma does work. There are such things as the
fruits of the Way. The fruits of the Way, or fruit of the Way, is manifested and one does see
that. I mean, recently, as you know, I was in India and I could really see there the fruit of the
Way beginning to manifest itself in the work that we ourselves have started. Very, very
noticeable, very striking. But the Four Noble Truths, I take it everybody's familiar with those,
yes? Suffering, the cause of suffering, cessation of suffering and the way leading to the
cessation of suffcring. Perhaps there's no need for me, really, to say very much about them.
Carla : Bhante, you question whether he did teach that first?
S
: Yes. I dealt with this somewhere. I forget where. It might have been in 'The Three
Jewels'. But usually when one speaks of the Buddha's first teaching, let us call it, not first
sermon, but first teaching, one speaks of the Buddha as proclaiming the Four Noble Truths.
But what seems to be the earliest account, I think it's the 'Vinaya Pit~ka', does not actually say
that. There is an expression' which means something like, well, not just the Buddha taught
them, but that the B,uddha discussed the Dharma with them. It was more like that. It was that
he didn't necessarily, at that time, have a set of fixed framework of ideas. You could say the
Buddha communicated with them. He communicated the Dharma, but e-xactly' how or in
what particular, what precise intellectual,'conceptual form, we're not told. So it would, I
mean, it -may b,e that the Buddha taught the Four Truths; but the earliest accounts, or what
seem to be the earliest accounts, do not actually mention that. So I think that is useful to
remember because it reminds us that the Dharma is not to be identified with a particular fixed
doctrinal form. Not that you can go ' out and say, well, if you want to know about Buddhism
it 5 the Four Noble Truths or it's the Noble Eightfold Path. It's not so easy, not so
straightforward as that. You could conceivably give a perfectly faithful account of the
Dharma without mentioning the Four Noble Truths, as such.
Then the text goes on to
say:
"There were frequently monks who voiced their doubts and asked the Buddha to
resolve them, so the World-Honoured taught and commanded them, until, one by one, they
became Enlightened and, bringing their hands together in respectful agreement, prepared to
follow the sacred command5~~~ "There were frequently monks" - bhikkhus presumably, the
word 'ffloflk' doesn't really render 'bhik1~' - "who voiced their doubts". it seems as t})o~9~
there's another little jump,~ though we're not, we're no longer, as it were, with Kaundinya and
the four others. We are at a later stage of the Buddha's career. Maybe he's moving about,
meeting different people, teaching them. And:
"There were frequently monks who
voiced their doubts". ~hat does this suggest? Well, the Buddha has taught, there are monks
who are familiar with the teaching,
S of 42 S Dl Tl
99 ~,
S(ctd) : who are
monks; 'bhikku suggests that maybe there is a San~~aalready. But
some of the monks, some of the Buddha's follower5~h~ve got doubts. They are not quite
clear. They are not quite sure what... about the Buddha's teaching, about what the Buddha
actually means. So they voice thei£~~~i?bts. This is quite important, isn't it? That you£voice
your doubts. Why is it important?
Because it gets them out in the open.
S
: Yes. It gets them out into the open. They can be cleared up. They become clearer
to you. If you actually voice them, you may realise what your doubt actually is. Perhaps you
weren't very clear about that. So it's good that one should voice one's doubts. By doubts, of
course, it's no doubt they mean honest doubts, serious doubts, not just cavilling and carping
and all the rest of it. So, "There were frequently" - this 'frequently' is interesting. It's not so
ea'sy to understand the Dharma. It doesn't all at once become clear. There may be doubts,
honest doubts, sincere doubts; so one voices them. One asks the Buddha, the monks ask the
Buddha to resolve them. "so the World-Honoured taught and commanded them". What about
this word 'commanded'? Do you think he commanded them? Or what do you think
happened? What sort of word is behind this expression?
It's 'commanded' as in encouraged'.
S
: Encouraged. Yes. I think also there is a tendency in this translation to translate 'sila'
as 'commandment', like the ten commandments. I think it's ~o~ Lhe gave precepts', I
think that probably is the meaning here. He taught them and gave them precepts. That is to
s-ay he laid down general principles and he also indicated a path of discipline whereby one
could actually put those principles into practice. "until one by one" - you see every phrase
seems to have a meaning. "one by one". What does that mean?
Individually.
S
: Individually, not collectively. Not as a group, but "one by one, they became
Enlightened and, bringing their hands together in respectful agreement, prepared to follow the
sacred commands." Well, there's a bit of an inconsistency, apparently, here, because if you~ve
become Enlightened, well, in what sense do you need to prepare to follow the sacred
commands? You are your own light, your own guide then, surely? Wouldn't you have
thought so?
Perhaps it's as though they still show respect to the Buddha.
S
: Yes, they would still show respect, but it's as though, if 'commands' means
'precepts~, well they are now following the precepts, not as a discipli n~ but naturally,
spontaneously, as an expression of their inner nature, of their actual realisation. They don't
have to make an effort, say, not to tell lies and so on. It comes
S of 42 5 Dl Tl
1010 S(ctd) :
naturally to them. They don't have to make an effort to meditate even.
Meditation comes naturally as soon as they find themselves alone and, as it were, with
nothing to do. Their mind naturally falls into a state of meditation. What about this:
"bringing their hands together in respectful ~~r~~ifl~rt~ -"'? This is the ~~ali salutation. So
here you also get the devotional aspect coming in. If, from the Buddha, it's a question of
Compassion, well, from others in relation to the Buddha it's a question of respect or a
question of devotion.
salutation Vajragita : Which q~5 ?
S
: Anjali. It's the same as Upasika Anjali. It's the same word as that. It's the folding
of the hands, the common Indian gesture of salutation. It is also a gesture made to indicate an
offering. You can offer something in that way.
I'm not very clear on why they were prepared to follow the sacred commands, because....
S
: Well, this suggests also that they think about it and then make up their minds. But,
no, if there was any question of following the sacred commands, so to speak, after
Enlightenment, well, it can only be, as it were, spontaneously. I think it's just the language.
It's not really quite adequate here. There's no question even of a preparation, strictly
speaking, one would have thought. Unless, of course, this ...

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