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Unformatted text preview: The Buddha and His Teachings Venerable Narada Mahathera BO S B e DHANET ' UD O K LIB R A R Y E-mail: [email protected] Web site: Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc. The Buddha and His Teachings Venerable Nārada Mahāthera Reprinted for free distribution by The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation Taipei, Taiwan. July 1998 Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā-Sambuddhassa Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened One Contents Introduction ................................................................................... vii The Buddha Chapter 1 From Birth to Renunciation ........................................................... 1 Chapter 2 His Struggle for Enlightenment .................................................. 13 Chapter 3 The Buddhahood ............................................................................ 25 Chapter 4 After the Enlightenment ............................................................... 33 Chapter 5 The Invitation to Expound the Dhamma . ................................. 41 Chapter 6 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ................................................. 54 Chapter 7 The Teaching of the Dhamma ..................................................... 75 Chapter 8 The Buddha and His Relatives .................................................... 88 Chapter 9 The Buddha and His Relatives .................................................. 103 iii Chapter 10 The Buddha’s Chief Opponents and Supporters ................... 118 Chapter 11 The Buddha’s Royal Patrons ...................................................... 141 Chapter 12 The Buddha’s Ministry ............................................................... 152 Chapter 13 The Buddha’s Daily Routine ...................................................... 168 Chapter 14 The Buddha’s Parinibbāna (Death) . ......................................... 173 The Dhamma Chapter 15 The Teachings of The Buddha ................................................... 201 Chapter 16 Some Salient Characteristics of Buddhism ............................. 223 Chapter 17 The Four Noble Truths ................................................................ 241 Chapter 18 Kamma ........................................................................................... 252 Chapter 19 What is Kamma? .......................................................................... 265 Chapter 20 The Working of Kamma ............................................................. 275 iv Chapter 21 Nature of Kamma . ....................................................................... 293 Chapter 22 What is the Origin of Life? . ....................................................... 302 Chapter 23 The Buddha on the so-called Creator-God . ............................ 312 Chapter 24 Reasons to Believe in Rebirth . .................................................. 317 Chapter 25 The Wheel of Life – Paticca-Samuppāda ................................. 326 Chapter 26 Modes of Birth and Death .......................................................... 338 Chapter 27 Planes of Existence . ..................................................................... 341 Chapter 28 How Rebirth takes place . ........................................................... 349 Chapter 29 What is it that is Reborn? (No-soul) ......................................... 356 Chapter 30 Moral Responsibility . ................................................................. 368 Chapter 31 Kammic Descent and Kammic Ascent ..................................... 371 Chapter 32 A Note on the Doctrine of Kamma & Rebirth in the West .. 377  Chapter 33 Nibbāna . ........................................................................................ 385 Chapter 34 Characteristics of Nibbāna ......................................................... 393 Chapter 35 The Way to Nibbāna (I) ............................................................... 404 Chapter 36 The Way to Nibbāna (II) Meditation ........................................ 410 Chapter 37 Nīvarana or Hindrances . ............................................................ 427 Chapter 38 The Way to Nibbāna (III) ............................................................ 431 Chapter 39 The State of an Arahant .............................................................. 442 Chapter 40 The Bodhisatta Ideal . .................................................................. 450 Chapter 41 Pāramī – Perfections .................................................................... 459 Chapter 42 Brahmavihāra – The Sublime States ........................................ 489 Chapter 43 Eight Worldly Conditions ........................................................... 513 Chapter 44 The Problems of Life ................................................................... 530 vi 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 vii 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. viii “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 ix 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 cere­ monies. 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 homocentric in contra­ distinction to theocentric 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. * xi 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 ilxii lusory; 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): Lovingkindness, 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). * xiii 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 Goone­ tilleke 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. xiv Venerable Nārada Mahāthera The Buddha Chapter 1 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, in the year 623 b.c. there was born in the Lumbini Park  at Kapilavatthu,  on the Indian borders of present Nepal, a noble prince who was destined to be the greatest religious teacher of the world. His father was King Suddhodana of the aristocratic Sākya . Corresponding to Pāli Vesākha, Samskrit – Vaisākha, and Simhala Vesak. . Unlike the Christian Era the Buddha Era is reckoned from the death of the Buddha, which occurred in 543 b.c. (in His 80th year), and not from His birth. . A pillar, erected at this sacred spot by King Asoka, still stands to this day to commemorate the event. . The site of Kapilavatthu has been identified with Bhuila (Bhulya) in the Basti district, three miles from the Bengal and N. W. Railway station of Babuan. . See the genealogical table. . Gotama is the family name, and Sākya is the name of the race to which the Buddha belonged. Tradition holds that the sons of King Okkāka of the Mahāsammata line, were exiled through the plotting of their step-mother. These princes, in the course of their wanderings, arrived at the foothills of the Himalayas. Here they met the sage Kapila, on whose advice, and after whom, they founded the city of Kapilavatthu, the site of Kapila.  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 chil...
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