Ven. K. Gunaratana Thera
(transcriebing from the free distributed booklet printed by “The corperate body ot the buddha education Foundation http://www.budaedu.org)Preface
This book fulfils a much needed want, and it is being issued at a time when the present exigency in the world is filled with doubts of bliss, and forebodings of sorrow, and as such, it will serve to dispel such evil forces around us and guide us to a better understanding towards our moral and spiritual upliftment.
It is gratifying to lean that many people have realised the practical results in following the teaching of the Exalted One, The Buddha. To seek the Path of Deliverance from this world of births and rebirths, sufferings and sorrow, we have to take the initiative ourselves and follow the Path and the facilities offered through such studies and the purpose to which it served is questionably inspiring in the highest realization – Nibbana.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Yap Eng Seng, who has kindly defrayed all the costs towards the reproduction of this volume, and it is the more appreciable to note that his generosity has rightly gained for him more merits in the real practical sense of charity, for – “The Gift of Truth Excels all other Gifts.”
2496 II 8th Day Mahindarama Buddhist Temple,
--- Kampar Road,
1952 October 26th Penang, Malaya
„Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it;“
“Do not believe in traditions, because they have handed down for many generations;”
“Do not believe in anything, because it is spoken and rumored by many;”
“Do not believe in anything, simply because it is found written in your religious books;”
“Do not believe in anything, merely on the authority of your teachers and elders;”
“But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
----NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMA SAMBUDDHASSA
“Honour To The Exalted One, Free From All Bondages And Fully Enlightened”
In ancient Days in India, the people used to assemble in council and elucidate such lectures so as to impart wisdom and knowledge that would be of benefit to them. For their fees, those learned men who propounded such wisdom, were given of various kinds. Sometimes the length of their lecture took as long as four month to complete.
One day, a discussion was made on the subject of “Blessings”. What is Blessing; and what constitutes Blessing. Is Seeing a Blessing? Is Hearing a Blessing? Is Felling a Blessing?
One, Dittha- Mangalika formed the impression that as omens of significance, if one were to rise early in the morning, and see such auspicious things, such as parrots, pregnant woman, well-dressed boy, water-pot, horse, horse-cart, bull, cow, etc., - such things were indeed blessings. This led to an argument which some accepted as correct, whilst others disagree. The Suta-Mangalika said, “O! man, as you have said seeing is blessing in this respect because it is pleasant to the sense of sight, may I ask what about those unpleasant and impure things that are also seen with the eyes. This cannot be so, for as far as seeing is concerned, one is apt to see pleasant and unpleasant objects as well. For verily, I cannot accept your views as correct.” Some people agreed with him while others doubted. Again another one Suta-Mangalika questioned the assembly if such pleasant wishes as “Good Day,” “May you be prosperous,” be heard by a person, constitute blessing, then hearing of good and bad things are also blessings. Again such a question arose, that on getting up in the morning if they happen to smell some fragrant odour and eat tasty food, and also touch pleasant and soft things, whether these constitutes blessings.
Controversial points were raised and expounded and yet still no decision could be reached. From the neighbourhood where it was first discussed, news of this controversy spread far and wide and yet no satisfactory answer could obtained. This debate had been carried even to the spiritual realm of Brahma. After debating for about twelve years, the deities at the Tuvatimsa Heaven assembled one day and proposed to lay the matter before their King, Sakka Deva Raja, to get his corrected view. In order to obtain the correct answer to this controversy, they were advised by him to seek Lord Buddha. “For,” as he said, “if you wish to have a light, you must approach a fire to get it, you can not get light from a firefly.” So a certain Deity was requested to proceed straightway to see the Exalted One, who was at that time at Jetavana Temple, which was built by a rich pious devotee named Anatha Pindika at Savatthi, now known as Sahet Mahet in Nothern India. So far into the dead of this deva of wondrous beauty, with the glare of rays emanating from his body illuminating the whole of the temple premises, approached the Exalted One, and having paid due respects and homage stood on one side, and so standing, laid before Him the following question:-“Many gods and men pondering on the question of blessing could not come to a decision. Therefore O, Lord, may You please tell me what is the greatest Blessing.”
In His reply, The Lord Buddha expounded the “Mangala Sutta,” and thus explained to them that resulting in bliss is as follows:-
Not To Associate With The Unwise Is Most Blissful.
Fools or ignorant people not only injure themselves, but also those around them. If we associate with them, we are apt to follow their ways and so harm ourselves mentally as well as bodily, because all troubles or fear arise from ignorance or foolishness. Even if we do not practise their methods, the mre fact of associating with them will harm our reputation; in the same way that a banana leaf is contaminated if it is used to wrap up a piece of rotten fish or meat. The leaf is dirty and smelly even after the fish or rotten meat is thrown away.
Here is a story to illustrate this:
Once, when the Bodhisat was born as a man called Akitti Pandita, the King of Devas promised to grant him any boon he asked. Akitti Pandita begged that he might never meet, see or talk with fools. The King of Devas was surprised and asked him the reason for this strange request. Replying, he explained that fools or the unwise ones i.e. people who do not understand discipline, always lead their friends to bad ways and teach them to do wrong, because they do not know the right way them selves. If discipline or good ways are spoken in their presence, they become angry, for they cannot understand, they lose their temper and quarrels arise. If discipline or good ways are spoken in their presence, they become angry, for they do not understand them. Therefore he prayed that he might never speak, meet or come in contact with fools.To Associate With the Wise Is Most Blissful.
By wise men we mean men who are rich with virtuousness and all good deeds and thoughts, i-e- men who bodily abstain from killing, stealing and committing adultery; in their speech they refrain from these vices, are free from craving through ignorance. To associate with these wise ones, is one of the causes of bliss. By doing so we are elevating ourselves. For instance, if we take a piece of dry banana leaf and wrap up some sweet-scented flowers, the leaf is impregnated with the scent even after the flowers are taken away. In the same way, if we associate with the wise ones, i.e. well disciplined and meritorious people, our name will be enhanced.To Respect The Respectables Is Most Blissful.
By respectable ones, we mean The Lord Buddha, Pacceka Buddha, Ariya Savaka, father, mother and elders. They inevitably are deserving of respect and those who honour, respect and administer to their needs will always obtain bliss as illustrated by the following story:
One morning The Lord Buddha taking his bowl, was proceeding to Rajagaha to receive any dana offered by His devotees. A garland maker of King Bimbisara, Sumana by name, saw The Lord Buddha approaching. It came to his mind, that if he brought the garlands to King Bimbisara, he would only get some monetary remuneration whereas, if he were to offer them to The Lord Buddha, who knows what great merit he might accrue. Thereupon, he took a handful of flowers and stewed them before The Lord Buddha. The flowers at once sprang up into the air and formed a canopy over his head. He threw another handful and they formed a screen to one side of The Lord Buddha. Again and again, he threw handful after handful of flowers until the flowers became a floral screen around The Lord Buddha. Everyone was astonished at the wonderful sight and The Lord Buddha smiled. The Ven. Ananda on enquiring the reason for The Lord’s smile, was informed that Sumana the garland maker, by this meritorious deed, would, after 100.000 eons, become a Pacceka Buddha called Munissaro.
Amisa means all forms of charity. Patipati Puja, is to observe the precepts, accept the Three Refugees and meditation. By this way we can respect the respectful ones. The younger should respect the elder, the son and daughter should respect and care for their parents; the housewife should respect and administer to the wants of her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law. Those who respect the respectables, in this way, will, in the present life, obtain bliss such as “Ayu” (longevity) “Vanna” (good complexion) “Sukha” (happiness) “Bala” (good health and strength). Not only will they obtain bliss in the present life, but also in the next.
To Reside At A Favourable Place Is Bliss.
People whether they reside in a village, town or country, should always live amongst good and friendly neighbours, i.e. good and virtuous men.
If the people in a village are upright and strictly observe the precepts, then that place will be peaceful, safe and prosperous. Everybody in the village will always strive for each other’s welfare and any work will be peaceful and harmoniously conducted. Whereas, on the other hand, if the people of the village are unprincipled and corrupt, then sorrow and trouble will spring up naturally. There will always be quarrels and discontent, the strong ones will be aggressive to their weaker neighbours, and life and property will never be safe. Therefore we should always choose our surroundings before we decide to stay, because to reside among good and virtuous peoples is bliss.Merits Gained In The Past To Be Instated In Good Pre-Requisites Is Bliss.
If you have accrued merits during your previous rebirth, this is bliss, because we are the product of our own actions in our previous births, i.e. “Karma”. For instance, some people are born ugly and some are beautiful some are clever and some are stupid. Some rich men may end up in poverty, while some unknown man may rise up and became a great millionaire. All this are due to “Karma” i.e. the merits or demerits that we had acquired during our previous rebirth.
To Be Well-Read And Instructed In Arts Is Bliss.
If we are well-read and instructed in arts, we are not liable to fall into the pitfalls of ignorance.To Be Of Well Disciplined Behaviour Is Most Blissful.
Character is the very essence of man. He does not come by mere chance to acquire it and it does not come to him through his inheritance from birth either. It lies in his own hands and in the disciplinary measure that he zealously guards to refrain from committing evil deeds and to do good and meritorious deeds. It remains his essential duty a good habit so formed, to keep close watch over his action whether it be mentally, verbally or bodily. Through strict discipline alone can a man avoid the following ten evil deeds:-
1. Killing 6. Using indecent languages
2. Stealing 7. Gossiping
3. Adultery 8. Hankering after lust
4. Lying 9. Becoming hateful
5. Slandering 10. Becoming ignorant of the Dhamma
As for the bhikkhu his discipline is confined to all the aspect of strict observance of the precepts from time he renounces the world to the time of his realizing the Four Noble Truths.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that strict discipline so regulating one’s behaviour is to be adhered to, at all time. The only cure for heedlessness is the concrete act of discipline. Happy is the man who has a well controlled mind.
Prince Rahula, after renouncing the world, exercised perfect discipline, in as much, that he took a hand full of sand and wished that from the number of sand in his hand he would gladly receive advice conducive to good disciplinary behaviour from The Lord Buddha and any other teachers. It is worthy to note that among the eighty chief Arahans, Rahula Arahan was foremost in his disciplinary measure that he kept rigidly throughout, in order to attain the object of his desire i.e. a well controlled behaviour.To Be Possessed Of Pleasant Words And Speech Is Most Blissful.
Every person likes you to speak nicely and pleasantly to him. No one likes to be addressed in a harsh manner. Even a child detests the stern remark that is passed; it hurts his feelings and immediately he gains the impression that the general outlook is not at all friendly. Animals too behave in like manner. A dog or a cat will instinctively find out from the tone of your speech, whether it is pleasing or otherwise.
It is a good policy to speak pleasantly. No amount of harsh word would win you respect and adoration; instead you meet with rebuke and scorn. Why not, therefore, let us be more watchful on the care and choice of the words we use, words, that ring sweetness to warm the hearts of those whom we daily contact. Let us be alert to refrain from being rude and saucy in our speech; it does no one any good. On the other hand when we speak in so refined an expression of goodwill it goes straight home to the receiver like blam so soothing and peaceful and lo! what unspeakable joy and happiness it imparts to us. Let us exert in the conduct of ourselves daily, to be kind, courteous and helpful.
Once there was a king who was known as Gandhara by the name of the country he ruled. At that time the Bodhisatva was born as a calf. The owner gave away the calf to a brahmin. The brahmin had an intense liking for the calf and regarded it almost as a member of his family. He gave it the name of Nandivisala. When the calf grew up to be a big bull, it still cherished in its heart the love and kindness of the brahmin. Because it was grateful to the brahmin Nandivisala felt a desire to repay the brahmin for what he had done. It approached the Brahmin and said, “I want you to take wager with your rich neighbour who owns a big herd of strong bulls. It shall be the match of my strength where I can display my strength by pulling at one time one hundred carts loaded to its fullest capacity. he brahmin, though surprised, gladly accepted what he considered a miracle for his bull to perform such an immense feat of strength. He then went to his rich neighbour and beaming with confidence and joy, offered to wager any price that his bull would pull in one strength, one hundred fully loaded carts. The neighbour thought that it was a huge joke, as he reckoned that it was beyond the strength of any single bull however strong it might be to encounter the great load. However he readily accepted the challenge.
The hundred carts loaded to the fullest extent, were secured one to another in a long line in readiness for the brahmin’s bull to take up its position for the test of its phenomenal strength. The brahmin having washed and cleaned his bull and having adorned it by hanging a beautiful garland of flowers around its neck, yoked it to the foremost cart. When everything was ready for the demonstration, the brahmin said to the bull, “Now, you untrained bull of mine, put all your effort and pull.” To the surprise of everyone, more so to the brahmin, the bull made no movement at all to show its willingness to pull the long line of one hundred carts. The brahmin lost his wager and quietly led his bull away.
For sometime, the bull went grazing in the field and when it returned home after its feed, found the brahmin lying quietly on the couch brooding over his loss. The bull came near to its master and said, “During all these years that I have been living with you, is there any occasion when I have been a nuisance in your house, say like breaking any article that came my way or urinating anywhere in the place? Why then call me an untrained bull? – Such unwarranted and unpleasant remark has no place in my own good behaviour right through all these years to you.”
However the bull did not wish to appear so resentful as to cause unnecessary distress to its master, and in this light, he asked his master to make a second wager with an increased stake amounting to two hundred gold pieces and at the same time reminding him of the incident in case he became abusive again. The wager was keenly taken up and when the final arrangements were completed, the brahmin politely said to his bull, “Now, son, will you make a good start?” To the amazement of all the spectators, the bull made one gigantic tug and the hundred loaded carts began to move. The display of the stupendous feat of a single bull earned the admiration of the spectators who gave freely their articles of gold and other gifts to enrich the coffers of the brahmin together with the settlement of the two hundred gold pieces wager from his rich neighbour.
The Lord Buddha made it an occasion as reference to this particular incident in one of his previous rebirth, that rudeness of speech had made a disadvantage to the man concerned.To honor, Respect, support And Attend On Parents Is Most Blissful.
Ministering to parents is one of the sterling qualities of man. The Lord laid particular stress on the practice of this virtue on many occasions. In the observance of ministering by the bhikkhus, to laymen is permitted, yet in the case of ministering to parents, the Lord Buddha not only encouraged it, but made it a necessity to attend to the needs of their parents. From this instance, we can gather how pressing is the attention of parents, that it becomes the immediate duty of man and woman to render all the assistance to their parents. They are not to fail in the duty bound by their birth to the parents who in their love are watchful over the safety and well being of their children, and rear them through the passage of their young and carefree days; with what care, love and sacrifice they throw their all. No poverty or wealth is any deterrent to the love and sacrifice of a mother over her tender one. She is the potent guardian seeking no gain or honour but so pure and noble in her love, that she gives her life for the sole protection of her frail little child. This display of strong maternal love is also evident among the animals.
How, then, could it be justified for any one to be in absolute neglect in the discharge of their duty towards their parents at time when they are so dependent on the care and support of their children. It is the time that they seriously reflect on the foregoing obligation that as age and care have their hold on their parents, it is primarly their part to lend the helping hand that was once given them.
May all those who look well after their parents, continue their good mission, gathering strength from day to day, and thus bring about their noblest virtue by ministering to their parents.Illustration.
Venerable Sariputta Thera, the chief disciple of The Lord Buddha, knew his time was near; his mortal life drew close to its journey’s end and the vision of the state of Pari-Nibbana become manifested to him. It was on this point of his reflection that it devolved upon him his final duty to repay the many debt of gratitude he owed to his mother.
Lady Sari was a very fortunate woman to be the mother of seven Arahats, the greatest among whom was the Ven. Sariputta. Her belief was the worship of Brahma, and to this end she spared her entrie devotion to the utter neglect, to seek the real refuge in the Triple Gem. It was also Ven. Sariputta’s desire to win her faith in the Triple Gem, that made him seek that very place, wherin his Pari-Nibbana may be gained. Ven. Sariputta made his last request to the Lord Buddha about his Pari-Nibbana at the house of his mother as the last homage to be accorded to her. It was a great hour, when the chief disciple in deep reverence, paid his last respects to the Lord Buddha and taking his leave, accompanied by his five hundred followers, he walked slowly away.
Jetevana Temple was alive with a large crowd of devotees and people who came to see the Ven. Sariputta Thera. It was a scene heavy with the free offering of flowers and food, they paid their last respect to him, and cried in grief that with the departure of their beloved teacher the Ven. Sariputta, all was ended for him.
Like bleating lambs after their mother sheep, this huge congregation of men followed their teacher for a long distance, until the Ven. Sariputta gave them his final blessing and advised them to be heedful and diligent in their conduct. He then turned to go on his journey homeward together with his five hundred followers.
On the way thousands of men and woman were fortunate enough to hear the deliverance of the Dhamma by the Ven. Sariputta. On the seventh day, he reached the city and rested under the cool shade of a bunyan tree. Here he was met by his nephew Uparevata who paid him due respect. Ven. Sariputta requested his nephew that his mother be informed of his coming, and that arrangements be made for the accommodation of his five hundred followers.
When the news came to Lady Sari, she received it with mixed feeling of joy and surprise, and with her motherly love, she thought of her son who, perhaps with age advanced, considered it necessary to disrobe himself. So hastily she sent people to extend her welcome to his homecoming. Having set food in his mother’s house, Ven. Sariputta proceeded straight to the room where he was born, and was soon laid up in bed suffering from acute diarrhea and the Ven. Cunda Thera was in attendance all the time.
The mother greatly alarmed at her son’s sudden illness, came near to the room where her son was, to see what assistance she could render. A strange vision met her wondering eyes. She saw four figures with shining light radiating their whole personalities going in and out of the room. A short while after the first apparition, there appeared another figure brilliantly lit about his whole person, standing before The Ven. Sariputta and then moved away again. His place was taken by another figure of great bearing and with a greater array of light in glowing brilliance issued forth from his body. He also stood for some time and left.
Still wondering on the perplexity of the strange vision she had seen, she enquired of the Ven. Cunda about the visitors and their strange mission. Ven. Cunda went near to the great Thera and informed him about the presence of his mother. The Ven. Sariputta knew the time was opportune to have his mother realise the truth about the Lord’s Dhamma and calmly the Great Thera spoke to lady Sari:-
“What has brought you here at this hour of night?” Lady Sari, her mind fixed on the wellbeing of her noble son and kindled still with that affection and love of a great mother, said softly:-
Dear son, the only joy to warm my heart is to see you well and happy. Tell me. O! son what ails you, and what is your present state of health. Tell me too O! son the mission of your four noble guest, whose glowing light lit up the room you slept.”
The Ven. Sariputta replied, “It accounts for the presence of the four chief devas of the Caturmaharajika Heaven who came to pay their homage.
“O dear son great is the respect they accord thee. Art thou higher in thy virtue whereby these devas pay their humble homage?”
O Upasika, the four personalities thou glorify are the four guardians who with their drawn swords kept gracious guard over the Lord, The Buddha, from the very day of his confinement in His mother’s womb.”
Then, dear son, who is the one who appeared next after them?”
“O Upasika, he is Sakka, the king of devas.”
“O dear son, do thou in thy loftiness stand higher than this Sakka, the king of devas?”
“O Upasika, Sakka in thy esteem is like a Samanera (precept holder of lower ordination) whose glowing tribute is his attendance on a Bhikkhu. He was in attendance to our Lord, carrying his robes when He descended from the Tavatimsa Heaven.”
“Then O son, who is the great shining personality, the brilliance of whose light radiating forth, is greater than the moonbeams that cast upon this room?”
“O! Upasika, He is your blessed teacher Maha Brahma whom in thy devotion made most sincere.”
“Oh! dear son, do thou in thy excellence outshine the grandeur of my blessed teacher Maha Brahma?”
“Oh! Upasika, Maha Brahma great in thy exhaltation, is no other than the one who with outspread net received our Lord Buddha when He was born.”
There was silence. Lady Sari beamed with immense joy that she knew not how, what is her son’s supreme attainment that surpassed the greatness of her most blessed teacher, the Maha Brahma. Then Ven. Sariputta knew that her time was near to bring home the truth of the Lord’s doctrine.
“O Upasika, what is it that weighs in your mind now that this silence brings?”
“Oh dear son, I have known no greater joy than this realisation brings that, if my son strived for that great enlightenment with wondrous achievement, it places me in deep wonder, what greater exhaltation could his teacher dispose to.”
“Oh! Upasika, there is no comparison to bring forth the greatness of the most Exalted One, our Lord The Buddha, for this great earth tremored and quaked with tremendous force to herald the time of His birth; His great renunciation; His supreme Enlightenment and His first deliverance of the sermon, Turning the wheel of Law.
Throughout the expanse of the whole universe, no greater one ever lived, who can be likened unto Him, that in so far they become matchless in which He excelled in virtue, compassion and wisdom; a gateway to eternal bliss free from the bondage of lust, hate and ignorance.”
Lady Sari saw the new vision of truth on the nobility of Buddha Ratna (Gem of Buddha) and she attained the fruits of the first Path, Sotapatti. She exclaimed, “O! Dear son, Upatissa, why have I waited so long yet now only taste the bliss of truth, whereby I gain the complete freedom that is eternal.”
Another dawn of day broke the eastern sky, a day so young yet pregnant and full, waiting the passing away of the Great Aharant. All the five hundred followers assembled in the early hour, many with sorrowing hearts and the time came fast to a close. The last parting words rang out once more, the humbleness of the Great Thera, Sariputta, soliciting their forgiveness, any failing of his, that occurred to them throughout their fortyfour years of loyal service to him, and lying on his right side, the Great Arahant, the chief disciple of Lord Buddha, attained Pari-Nibbana.
---To Look After Feed And Take Care Of The Wife And Children Is Most Blissfull.
The continue of the "What is Blissfull - Mangala Suta Uannana" can be found under: http://www.mahindarama.com/e-library/mangalasutta2.html
as I just saw that it is already digital and no need to continue to write