A Manual of the Excellent Man (bodhisatta path)

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by Nicholas Weeks »

I certainly am happy, and hope others are too, that Bhante Dhammanando is taking the time to respond to questions - particularly this great work. I am still pondering Chapter One and will continue to do so.

This verse is quoted by the Sayadaw:
“Virtue observed out of craving for glorious existences and material well-being is inferior; virtue observed for one’s own release is moderate; virtue observed to liberate all beings, which is the perfection of virtue, is superior.” (Visuddhimagga)
Now without the context this passage is an exact match for (and precursor by 500 years) the three stages of the path that Atisha & Je Tsongkhapa made famous. But my query is about "all" beings in the quote - is that word in Buddhagosha's original? Because, later in this chapter, when the Sayadaw is explaining the Noblest Aspiration, "all beings" are not mentioned.

Here is what Ledi Sayadaw writes:
What is meant by “the Noblest Aspiration”? It is the verbal and mental undertaking that the bodhisatta had made at some point of time aeons before taking up the perfections.

It was made in these terms:

“As a man who knows his own strength, what use is there to get to ‘the yonder shore’ (nibbāna) alone? I will attain to Supreme Knowledge and then convey men and devas to the yonder shore.”

That was the pledge that sent the ten thousand universes reeling and echoing in applause. That was the bodhisatta’s earnest wish. For he intensely aspired to Supreme Self-Enlightenment thus:

“Knowing the Truth, I will let others know it. Freeing myself from the world, I will free others. Having crossed over, I will enable others to cross.”

This fervent and most daring aspiration is called “the Noblest Aspiration.”
That sure sounds like a Mahayana motivation.

Later on in chapter one is this:
The detailed process of laying the foundation for the aspiration to, and the fulfilment of, Perfect Enlightenment is dealt with in the scriptures in fifteen catechisms.


What are the 15 catechisms?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Further on in ch. 1:
The Perfect Enlightenment of a Buddha is also of these three types, which are also called: (i) ugghātitaññūbodhi, (ii) vipañcitaññūbodhi, and (iii) ñeyyabodhi respectively.

A Buddha who depends on wisdom for his enlightenment, after receiving the assurance, has to fulfil the ten perfections, the ten higher perfections, and the ten supreme perfections for four aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.

A Buddha who depends on diligence must fulfil the perfections for eight aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.

A Buddha who depends on confidence must fulfil the perfections for sixteen aeons and a hundred thousand world cycles.
What does "depends on" mean?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Dhammanando
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by Dhammanando »

Hi Will,
Will wrote:What does "depends on" mean?
It means that the quality in question (wisdom, energy or faith) is the chief supporting condition in that Bodhisatta's progress.

So in the case of Gotama, for example, it was wisdom (paññā, prajñā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Dhammanando wrote:Hi Will,
Will wrote:What does "depends on" mean?
It means that the quality in question (wisdom, energy or faith) is the chief supporting condition in that Bodhisatta's progress.

So in the case of Gotama, for example, it was wisdom (paññā, prajñā).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Wisdom as the principal supporting condition makes sense in a Buddha, but energy directed toward what or faith in what - dependent arising?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Dhammanando
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by Dhammanando »

Hi Will,
Will wrote:Wisdom as the principal supporting condition makes sense in a Buddha, but energy directed toward what or faith in what - dependent arising?
Energy consisting in the usual four right efforts (to put away arisen akusala, prevent unarisen akusala, generate unarisen kusala, and develop arisen kusala), but with especial reference to the fulfillment of the perfections.

Faith in Dhamma and the enlightenment of the Tathāgatas.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Now up to page 23 in the book:
2. Patipatti — the practice. A bodhisatta is always out to help others and places the welfare of others before his own. He never expects any return for the efforts he makes for others’ welfare. Nor will he care to mention them, whether in his beneficiary’s presence or not. Even if the beneficiary “bites the hand that feeds,” a bodhisatta never turns back from any good deed. This holds true even when his life is in imminent danger. This is the bodhisatta’s sense of wishing well for the present. Regarding merits accruing from his noble deeds in giving or in cultivating virtue, etc., a bodhisatta sets his sights higher than the solitary attainment of nibbāna. He aims only at supreme enlightenment, by which he can show the way to nibbāna. This is a bodhisatta’s practice for the hereafter. This twofold practice also distinguishes a bodhisatta.
Not sure what this "twofold practice" is? Does the Sayadaw just mean present and future practice?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Dhammanando
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Will wrote:Not sure what this "twofold practice" is? Does the Sayadaw just mean present and future practice?
Yes.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Valuable teaching on the value of Abhidhamma or Suttanta for ordinary folk:
There are two approaches to the definition, characteristics, and significance of the five aggregates, namely, the Suttanta method and the Abhidhamma method.

The Suttanta method is the Buddha’s approach to the Dhamma for the ordinary person. The Buddha gave succinct discourses to show ordinary people practical ways to cultivate insight, and to attain the path and its fruition in this very life.

The Abhidhamma method, however, offers a profound and exhaustive analytical treatment of all aspects of the Dhamma, with no particular reference to the practice for insight development. The latter method is actually meant for the Noble Ones to sharpen their analytical knowledge (patisambhidā-ñāna). It is not suitable as insight training for the ordinary person because it is too subtle. For example, those who have small boats should only ply the river for their livelihood and should not venture out to the deep ocean. Only if they have ocean-going vessels should they make an ocean voyage.

These days, people take up the holy life not actually intent on gaining path knowledge, but merely to acquire merit, purported to gradually mature as perfections. Practice of insight meditation is not popular. Learning and teaching of scriptures to develop wisdom is the usual practice. So the Abhidhamma method is popular. In this treatise, however, I shall employ the Suttanta method only.
Last edited by Nicholas Weeks on Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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retrofuturist
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Will,

Well technically it's referring to stream-entrants and up, rather than just arahants, but thanks for sharing the reference.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Will,

Well technically it's referring to stream-entrants and up, rather than just arahants, but thanks for sharing the reference.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Somewhere I picked up the notion that all four stages from stream-entrants up were Arahants. But no - only the 5th stage is an Arahant?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Will,

1. Stream-entrant > 2. Once-returner > 3. Non-returner > 4. Arahant (incl. Buddha)

The Fourfold Noble ariyan Sangha... Eightfold if split by gender.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Will,

1. Stream-entrant > 2. Once-returner > 3. Non-returner > 4. Arahant (incl. Buddha)

The Fourfold Noble ariyan Sangha... Eightfold if split by gender.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Thanks Retro - it will sink in eventually - hopefully. :bow:
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Near the beginning of chapter two we find:
This first aspect [of materiality or form] needs to be properly perceived whereby the primary elements become clear in their ultimate sense, without confusing them with the collective concept. One cannot stress this too strongly because the remaining aspects will not be discerned unless you have the first one well and truly within your grasp. So spare no pains to perceive it.
What is the "ultimate sense" and what is the "collective concept"?
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

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Hi Will,
Will wrote: What is the "ultimate sense" and what is the "collective concept"?
The translation seems a little clumsy to me, but if you look at this paragraph it should be clear:
Due to the collective concept people usually conceive the four primary elements as a composite whole rather than in their ultimate sense, which can only be discerned through insight knowledge. When insight arises, one sees that not the tiniest atom remains that is compact or solid.
The idea is to be able to perceive things in terms of the elements ("ultimate sense"), e.g. hardness or heat in the leg, rather than in terms of a concept ("my leg", "leg", "pain in the leg", or even "pain").

The use of the work "ultimate" is perhaps unfortunate, since it can lead to all sorts of philosophical arguments...

Metta
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Dhammanando
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Re: A Manual of the Excellent Man

Post by Dhammanando »

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:1. Stream-entrant > 2. Once-returner > 3. Non-returner > 4. Arahant (incl. Buddha)

The Fourfold Noble ariyan Sangha... Eightfold if split by gender.
It's eightfold when split by path-attainers and fruition-attainers.

Gender doesn't come into it; though if it did then it would be twenty-fourfold, for one would have to include asexual ariyans in the Brahma world. :smile:

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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