Iti’pi so Bhagavā Araham
Sammāsambuddho vijjā carana -sampanno
Anuttaro purisadhamma- sārathi satthā
Svākkhāto Bhagavatā Dhammo
Paccattam veditabbo viññūhī ti
Supatipanno Bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Ujupaṭipanno Bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
ñāyapaṭipanno Bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
sāmīcipaṭipanno Bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Yadidam cattāri purisayugāni
esa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā ti
He is the exalted one (bhagavā), liberated from the ills of desire, ill-will and delusion.
He is the conqueror of enemies (arahaṃ), referring to all forms of mental impurity which he had cleansed himself of.
He is fully enlightened, through the virtue of his own rightful efforts. (sammā sambuddho).
He is perfect in both wisdom and conduct (vijjā-caraṇa-sampanno).
He has attained the ultimate truth (sugato) through the purity of body, speech and mind.
He is the knower of worlds (loka-vidū), having come to grips with it through vast personal experience.
He stands the unsurpassed charioteer of tameable men (anuttaro purisa-dhamma-sārathi).
He is the teacher of gods and men (satthā deva-manussānaṃ).
He stands as one who has perfected his virtues (Buddho), gifted in both supramundane and intellectual abilities (Bhagavāti).
It is well-explained (svākkhāto).
It will be experienced in this life (sandiṭṭhiko).
It gives immediate results. It is timeless, remaining true in all times. (akāliko).
It invites anyone to “witness it” for themselves (ehi-passiko).
Each successive step takes one towards the final goal of full liberation (opanayiko). This needs to undertaken and experienced by the individual, alone (paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhīti).
The Order of Buddhist monks (Bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho) emphasizes morality and good conduct (Supatipanno), uprightness (Ujupaṭipanno), wisdom(Ñāyapatipanno) and outstanding conduct in all matters (Sāmīcipatipanno).
It may thus be inferred that monks are expected to conduct themselves in an excruciatingly proper manner (owing to their strict disciplinary code of 227 precepts), never violating the precepts for the sake of their own preconceived beliefs. The path they tread, remains aspirational, even for the layman, as they walk the path towards the fruition of the 4 levels of liberation in their consciousness.
The 10 fetters that plague living beings, as described in the Buddhist scriptures, are:
- Belief in the self
In Buddhist teachings, all beings are constituted of matter and mind. On the dawn of his enlightenment, Buddha saw and understood that the belief that one has a soul, is simply not true. All beings are comprised of mind and matter.
Matter comprises the elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, representing Solidity/Extension, Fluidity/Cohesion, Motion and Heat, respectively.
The Mind concerns sensations, perception, volition and consciousness.
Life is a delicate balance between mind and matter, and any aberrations between the two, cause ageing and decay. The total separation of mind and matter results in death.
The facets of the mind that yet still remain upon death, follow the cosmic path laid out by the variables and virtues of the individual’s life, such as their karma (amongst others), recombining to form another existence. Sheer ignorance alone perpetuates the belief of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, a mindset that traps us in an endless cycle of rebirth and death.
It is with coming to terms with the reality of conditionality (7.Anatta), and the fact that all things are a composite of causes and conditions, that one’s self-centred view of their body and mind may be transcended. After all, the truth is, all things inside the mind and body, as well as outside, goes through constant, unceasing changes. A simple thought “I have a soul” is also impermanent. And this belief (as well as the ‘self’) is just a combination of transient memory, knowledge, conditioning expressed over a period of time, which is also transient. Thus giving the dilemma, did a thought create the thinker (i.e. the self, the soul), or did the thinker, create the thought (‘I have a soul’).
- Doubt or uncertainty, particularly about the Buddha’s teachings and enlightenment
When a disciple undertakes the path of morality, mental training and focus, he will one day be able to see beyond the trappings of mind and matter. Once he/ she becomes aware of the truth, they will never again have cause to doubt the Buddha’s teachings, and the path to enlightenment. This clarity may only be achieved through meditation.
- Attachment to rites and rituals, and poor habits.
Having understood the Buddha’s teaching about Suffering, Impermanence and Substanceless nature of reality, the disciple will come to realise that no amount of prayer, rite or ritual is capable of eliminating the roots of suffering, neither will they be able to resolve lust, ill-will nor delusion.
- Sensual desire
- Ill Will
- A desire for material existence and rebirth
- A desire for immaterial existence, and rebirth in a formless realm.
(For a more in-depth examination of these concepts, please refer to our articles such as “The 4 Noble Truths”, “Tisarana”
The 4 levels of liberation an individual may achieve are:
- The Sotapanna(who has eliminated belief in a self, doubt and attachment to rites and rituals)
- The Sakadagamin(who has eliminated all of the above attachments, and lessened to a great degree, sensual desire and ill-will)
- The Anagamin(who has eliminated the 5 fetters; belief in a self, doubt, attachment to rites and rituals, sensual desire and ill-will
- The fully liberated Arahant(who has eliminated all 10 Fetters)
These 4 pairs of persons (those on the path and fruition of the above mention 4 stages of liberation), namely the 8 types of individuals, are worthy of invitation (āhuneyyo), of hospitality (pāhuṇeyyo), of offerings (dakkhiṇeyyo); worthy of reverence with palms together (añjali-karaṇīyo).
They are all considered to be incomparable fields of merit, par excellence (anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ) for the unenlightened world.
The Right of Veneration towards the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha
When we seek refuge in the Triple Gems, when we honour Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, we remember their qualities, and diligently apply ourselves to mirroring and developing these revered characteristics in our own lives.
The Buddha worked his whole life and beyond, to develop the so-named 10 Perfections; Generosity, Morality, Renunciation, Wisdom, Effort, Forbearance, Truthfulness, Determination, Loving-kindness and Equanimity.
The Dhamma taught by the Buddha consists of;
These three pursuits are designed to build awareness of our own minds, to allow us to train and tame them, and to finally set ourselves free from defilement.
The defilements that plague all mortal beings (even gods, animals, etc) may come in the following forms;
- Greed (Lobha) such as lust, leading to desire and clinging to the trappings of mortality
- Ill-Will (Dosa) such as anger, hostility, envy, hatred, aggression other violent feelings.
- Delusion (Moha), in believing that certain rituals or practices will mitigate the ill effects wrought by harming others.
The morality (Sila) of the Dhamma taught by the Buddha consists of;
- Abstinence from killing,
- Abstinence from theft
- Abstinence from sexual misconduct
- Abstinence from telling lies, backbiting, slander, as well as bitter and frivolous words
- Abstinence from the use of intoxicants, such as drugs or alcohol
The various forms of meditation taught by the Buddha to hone the mind (Samadhi) include;
- Samatha– mindfulness of breath
- Vipassana– mindfulness of the body in tandem with Samatha
- Cankama– meditating with each step
- Metta Bhavana– a meditation on the projection of loving-kindness to all beings on Earth.
- Maranasati– contemplating death
- Asubha Bhavana– contemplation of the foulness of the body, over 32 parts
With cultivated morality and careful calibration of the mind through meditative pursuits, one reaches a plane of wisdom (Panna
The student then truly begins to walks the path of the teachings, enlightened by the realisation that all things are impermanent. Realizing that all experiences, be they thoughts, emotions, senses or pleasures; all things inherent within, as well as all phenomena in existence, are transient in nature, and will ultimately lead to suffering. He no longer compartmentalises phenomena on their own; but rather views them as a rich tapestry of causes and effects, which ultimately unfold into more causes and effects. Ultimately, all phenomena are created, destroyed, and will pass.
The person who sees these then feels disenchanted towards perpetuating his sorrow. Using his mind to understand the impermanent nature of the body, as well as using the body to reflect and train the mind, the Buddhist trains to go beyond the suffering of “I,” “mine,” in the mind-matter phenomena.
With time, the less desirable attachments fade away, surrendered to the void in favour of newfound understanding. When this process reaches fruition, a person is said to have achieved the path and tasted the fruit of the 4 stages of liberation (as recited in Sanghaguna, the 8 individuals).
Non Sectarian Values and Teachings – The Story of Kisagotami
Kisagotami was born to a family of meagre means, during the era of the Buddha. Although she eventually found herself marrying into a rich family, the was the target of a lifetime of slights, owing to her humble beginnings, and the resulting downtrodden social status it afforded her. As was customary at the time, she was expected to birth an heir to her family’s storied lineage, but remained childless for a long time, further contributing to the taunting and misery.
As fate would have it, she finally gave birth to a son, but his life would be tragically cut short, between the ages of 2 and 3, according to varying sources.
The loss was devastating, and the grief she suffered from losing what little surviving respect she had from her abusive family, proved too much to bear. Kisagotami lost her mind, vehemently clutching her dead child and professing life, refusing to let anyone handle his remains. She kept him close to the chest, wailing and begging for the help of a doctor.
In her madness, she found herself crossing paths with the Buddha. Sharing her story, and praying relentlessly for the resurrection of her by now extremely lifeless child, she sought his help. Gautama Buddha offered to provide medicine for the child, but he would need some mustard seed; a spice ordinarily readily available in any household, but with the stipulation that it had to come from a household free of any death.
Kisagotami went from house to house, seeking but a sampling of the magical herb. Though many were willing, none were able to meet the Buddha’s stipulation. After a while, the message sunk in: Death is universal. On abandoning the child’s body to a charnel ground, she returned to the Buddha and asked to be ordained as a nun, and upon learning the teachings of the Buddha, attained the summum bonum; becoming fully liberated as an Arahant.
According to legend, it takes aeons for one to perfect their virtues (the 10 Perfections) to be qualified as a Buddha. The question then remains, why should anyone pursue a path so unattainable? In this instance, the Dhamma holds some clues, and its principles were exemplified by the Buddha’s actions.
If Gautama Buddha has brought the child back to life, he would not be considered the Buddha. Should he had brought the child back, he would only have postponed the inevitable. The mother and child would still one day part, perhaps under even more dire circumstances. Everything was, as it should have been.
The Buddha expounds a universal, observable truth. Dhamma, the truth of the reality of existence, maybe easily perceived by anyone. It needs no faith or worship. All it needs is one’s understanding and lastly, mindfulness in its application to life (Dukkha, Anicca and Anatta as explained above).
Had the child been brought back to life, Kisagotami would have clung to the miracle as a reason for living. She would have depended upon it at all costs, swallowing all her will, making it impossible to rid herself of mortal attachments and attain a true understanding of life. The results would have led to her to a life mired in desire, ill-will and delusion.
It is human nature to seek out and strangely, worship those qualities that are lacking in ourselves. However, characteristics such as loving-kindness, compassion, equanimity and sympathetic joy (the 4 Immeasurables) are already inherent in everyone, albeit covered by ignorance, and thus need no worship, rituals or devotion, as these will not eliminate the causes of suffering; clinging, ill-will and ignorance (Lobha, Dosa, Moha as explained above).
That is why the teachings of the Dhamma may be adopted by anyone, a term known as ‘akaliko’, as they hold to be self-evident, not needing any verification or burden of proof to exist, at all times. Thus to take Refuge, to pay veneration to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, is to understand and overcome the ills of the mind.
The 10 Perfections are:
- generosity (dāna),
- morality (sīla),
- renunciation (nekhamma),
- insight (pañña),
- energy (viriya),
- patience (khanti),
- truthfulness (sacca),
- resolution (adhiṭṭhāna),
- loving-kindness (metta),
- equanimity (upekkhā).
For further reading regarding the miracles and benefits of reciting the Buddhaguna, Dhammaghuna, Sanghaguna, please visit the link below, extracted from the book, ‘Law of Karma’ by Luang Phor Jarun, Wat Amphawan, Singburi Province, Thailand