The suffering as fourth messenger

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The suffering as fourth messenger

Postby phil » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:06 am

Hi all

As we know, the three messengers the Buddha saw and we are encouraged to see are the elderly, the infirm and the dead. Recently I was reading the songs of the Elders (Theragata?) in Japanese, and one of the verses mentionned a fourth messenger, seeing those who are "suffering." I thought this was interesting and wondered if anyone could point to other occurences in the canon. (The implications are interesting, because aside from the usual three messengers, who could be said to be "suffering?" The hungry, the cold, the abused, etc...or perhaps those who are reveling in the senses and are only known by the wise to be "suffering?")

Anyways, if anyone knows any other references to this fourth messenger, I would be grateful....
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The suffering as fourth messenger

Postby Fede » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:56 am

Didn't the Buddha also witness a monk, a seeker, who was trying to find the way to end suffering?

Wouldn't he have been the Fourth messenger?
This was the final impetus required to convince the Buddha to alter the course of his life.....

As far as I am aware....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: The suffering as fourth messenger

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:30 am

Yes, there is another sutta that describes five divine messengers: The Devaduta Sutta

1. A new-born infant
2. An old person
3. A sick person
4. A criminal being punished
5. A dead person.
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Re: The suffering as fourth messenger

Postby phil » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:02 am

Dear Bhante and Fede, thank you for your feedback.

Fede, yes, thanks, I'd forgotten about that key 4th messenger. Without having seen the monk, the young Prince would have been left without a clue, and the chariot ride would have just been a bummer.

Bhante, thank you for telling us about the other messengers that appear in the Canon. The MN sutta you kindly posted a link to seems like an expanded version of the AN sutta I always am inspired by, glad to know of it! There are too many MN suttas in that anthology that are being left unstudied by me. A result of too many books purchased and left half-read out of greed and restlessness.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: The suffering as fourth messenger

Postby phil » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:20 am

Hi again all

Yesterday I saw a very elderly couple struggling together to take a table at Starbucks and I saw them both as messengers of old age, and messengers of virtue. (We know that the Buddha taught that couples that live together in perfect virtue can hope to be reunited in future lives.) It made me wonder if there is anything in the Canon or the commentary about messengers of virtue. Ah, of course the monk that the Buddha saw that day was a messenger of virtue and wisdom. Is he the only example in the canon? In any case, I'm going to take the liberty of looking for messengers of virtue as well as the messengers of birth, old age, illness, death, suffering vipaka of ill deeds that we find in the Canon.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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