TEACHING THE BUDDHA-DHAMMA by Sayagyi U Chit Tin The Buddha hesitated after he attained fu

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*TEACHING THE BUDDHA-DHAMMA* by Sayagyi U Chit Tin The Buddha hesitated after he attained full Awakening.[1] He saw that it would be difficult to those in the world who delighted in sensual pleasures to attain the knowledge which meant the calming of all the habitual tendencies, renouncing all attachment, the destruction of craving, attaining dispassion, cessation, Nibbana. It would be wearying and troublesome to teach what he had attained if others did not understand him. Brahma Sahampati was aware of what the Buddha was thinking. According to the commentaries,[2] this Brahma had become a Non-Returner under the Buddha Kassapa and was reborn in the Pure Abodes (Suddhavasa) of the Brahma planes. Brahma Sahampati realized that the world could be lost if the Buddha did not teach others the way to Nibbana. So he went to the Buddha and requested that he teach. "There are those who have few defilements," he said, "who are going to ruin through not hearing the Doctrine (Dhamma). They will be the ones who fully understand the Doctrine." After being requested to teach three times, the Buddha, out of compassion for the world, surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. He saw that there were all sorts of beings and that many of them would not understand what he had to teach. There were a few, however, who would be able to understand. Seeing this, the Buddha accepted the invitation to teach. Waiting to be requested before teaching is a tradition which is still followed today. Trying to force the Buddha's Teachings on unwilling people would produce the very result of wearisomeness which made the Buddha hesitate to teach. This does not mean that we remain completely passive, however. Whenever we know that there is some potential for understanding in another person, we can encourage that person to request to be taught. We will not have the ability of a Buddha to see for certain a person's potential, but the more we experience the truth, the better we will be able to judge others and find the right occasion and the right approach. The Buddha was able to survey the world and see who were the best people to teach first. So he went first to the five ascetics who had helped him during the beginnings of his struggle to attain Awakening. Next, he taught the young man Yassa and fifty-four of his friends. All sixty of these men attained Arahatship and became bhikkhus. Now that they had understood, the Buddha sent them out to teach the Doctrine. //Atha kho Bhagava bhikkhu amantesi: "Muttaham bhikkhave sabbapasehi ye dibba ye ca manusa. Caratha bhikkhave carikam bahujanahitaya bahujanasukhaya lokanukampaya atthaya hitaya sukhaya devamanussanam. Ma ekena dve agamittha. Desetha bhikkhave dhammam adikalyanam majjhe kalyanam pariyosanakalyanam sattham savyanjanam kevalaparipunnam parisuddham brahmacariyam pakasetha. Santi satta apparajakkhajatika assavanata dhammassa parihayanti, bhavissanti dhammassa annataro. Aham pi bhikkhave yena Uruvela yena Senanigamo ten' upasamkamissami dhammadesanaya" ti//.[3] Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: "Bhikkhus, I am released from all snares, both divine and human. Bhikkhus, you are also released from all snares, both divine and human. Go, bhikkhus, and wander for the benefit and happiness of many people, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, benefit, and happiness of Devas and men. Two (of you) are not to go by the same (path).[4] Bhikkhus, teach the meaning and detail of the Doctrine that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end, fulfilled in its entirety, wholly pure. Make known the holy life.[5] There are those who have few defilements, who are going to ruin through not hearing the Doctrine. They will be the ones who fully understand the Doctrine. And I, bhikkhus, will go to Uruvela, to Senanigama, to teach the Doctrine. The spread of the Buddha's Teachings has continued down to today. It has spread all over the world. Those of us who teach in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin are acutely aware of the importance of our mission. It must be carried on through compassion for others. It is for the benefit and happiness of all those who are able to give it a sincere trial. The Buddha's instructions are to teach the meaning and detail of the Doctrine which is good in the beginning, the middle, and the end. Ashin Buddhaghosa discusses the terms in some detail in //The Path of Purification//.[6] He gives a number of explanations for the fact that the Doctrine contained in the texts is good in the beginning, the middle, and the end. First of all, each verse and each discourse, whether it contains one subject or several subjects, is good. The Teachings will attract those who are ready to be taught, as they are unequivocal in meaning and stand to reason in terms of cause and effect and in the examples given. The conclusion of a discourse will inspire faith in those who hear. We can see the truth of this through our own experience. The Buddha was very clear in his discourses. When he used a simile to illustrate what he was teaching, he carefully explained each element in it. He did not encourage blind faith based on emotional attachment to a teacher or emotional reactions to attractive ideas that remained vague and open to interpretation. The Buddha said what he had to say in clear language, and invited those he taught to find out the truth through their own experience. Ashin Buddhaghosa then explains the beginning, middle, and end of the doctrine in terms of the Dispensation (sasana). In an earlier passage,[7] he explained these in terms of morality, concentration, and wisdom (sila, samadhi, panna). In the passage we are discussing, he presents these three steps in two ways. The first way is the three steps most appropriate for those who have renounced lay life and gone forth. For them, the beginning will be morality. The middle will be the calm (samatha) attained through high levels of concentration and insight (Vipassana) which leads to the Path and Fruition State. The end or goal is Nibbana. The second way is more appropriate for laypeople. Its beginning is morality and concentration, its middle is insight and the Path, and its end is the Fruition state and Nibbana. This second way sums up the approach we use in meditation courses in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin. The beginning is the firm foundation on which we can build. Through developing morality and concentration we prepare ourselves for developing insight. The degrees of morality and concentration will not be as high as is usual in the case of bhikkhus or bhikkhunis, due to the limitations of lay life. Fortunately for us, it is possible to develop insight even though the highest levels of morality and concentration have not been attained. So we can aspire to the goal of Nibbana which is to be experienced through the Paths and Fruition States. In his commentary on the Digha-nikaya,[8] Ashin Buddhaghosa mentions the three steps of morality, concentration, and insight; and in passages quoted from the canon, some other aspects of the Doctrine are included. The beginning can be understood in terms of the beginning of skilful mental states and this includes morality of great purity and right view.[9] Right view is very important because if we have no confidence in the good results that come from moral living and from working for liberation, we will not make any effort. A tenacious wrong view can be the most dangerous enemy, especially if cause and effect are denied. The middle can be understood to mean the Middle Path,[10] and this Path is the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the ultimate goal. The end can be understood to mean the fruit of leading the holy life[11] and this fruit is the attaining of Nibbana.[12] Ashin Buddhaghosa shows in //The Path of Purification// that the beginning, middle, and end of the Doctrine can be demonstrated through the Triple Gem: the Buddha discovered the truth, the Dhamma, which is the well-regulated Doctrine. The Sangha -- that is to say, the community of those who realize the Buddha's Teachings -- has entered the Noble Path leading to experiencing the truth. This is the aspect of the Doctrine we depend on so that we will be able to work ourselves. These three aspects are our refuge and protection. Without the Buddha to discover the truth of the Dhamma, it would remain hidden. Without knowledge of the Dhamma, we would never be able to attain release from suffering. Without the Sangha to practise and maintain the Teachings, we would not be able to learn of the truth or find those who can guide us. Another way of understanding the three aspects of the Dhamma is through the types of persons who achieve the goal: there are Teaching Buddhas, who discover what can be attained and teach others to do the same;[13] there are Pacceka Buddhas, who reach the goal but do not have the ability to put others fully on the path; and there are disciples of a Teaching Buddha who, through practising his Teachings, are able to attain Awakening. This explanation reminds us that the Teachings of a Buddha are not always available. For some Buddhas, all the disciples ready to reach the goal encounter those Teaching Buddhas during their lifetime and the Dispensation does not continue afterwards. If this had been the case with Buddha Gotama, we today would not be able to enter the Noble Eightfold Path. We must make sure that we do not miss this opportunity and that we make it available to as many others as possible. Finally, Ashin Buddhaghosa speaks of the Dhamma as entailing listening in the beginning, practising in the middle part, and attaining the goal in the end. Through listening to the Doctrine, we are able to suppress the hindrances. Through practising we attain the bliss to be gained through the serenity of concentration and of insight. Once the final goal is achieved, we will attain the state of perfection.[14] In his commentary on the Anguttara-nikaya,[15] Ashin Buddhaghosa gives another approach. The three steps can be redefined depending on how far we have come on the path. At the lowest level of achievement, the beginning, middle, and end will be morality, concentration, and insight. At the next level, they will consist in concentration, insight, and the Path. Higher still, they include insight, the Path, and Fruition. At the highest level, we find the Path, Fruition, and Nibbana. In addition, he gives the aspects of the work which should be combined: morality and concentration in the beginning; insight, and the Path in the middle; and Fruition and Nibbana in the end. The Buddha says that the meaning and detail of the Doctrine should be taught. This means that both the spirit and the letter of the Dhamma is to be included. Each of these aspects compliments the other. If we approach the texts looking for the meaning, we will not get lost in technical analysis of the words. If we learn more and more about the language of the texts, we will understand the meaning better. The Buddha, of course, gave these instructions to disciples who had already realized the final goal. For those of us who have not fully understood, it will be necessary to remember that it is possible to misunderstand. We must keep an open mind, not hesitating to re-examine both the meaning and the letter of the teachings. Most importantly, we must put the teachings into practise if progress is to be made. Most of us study the teachings in translation. So we should keep in mind the limitations in translating from one language to another. We should continually seek the profound truth that lies behind the words themselves. As Sayagyi U Ba Khin said, "The words of the Buddha in certain teachings are so deep and subtle that I doubt whether there are proper expressions in English or even in the Myanmar language (Burmese) to convey his real meaning."[16] Ashin Buddhaghosa gives a number of explanations for the terms "meaning" and "detail."[17] The meaning of the Doctrine will inspire those who are ready to experience it and the detail will inspire faith in those who lead worldly lives. The meaning refers to understanding the most profound aspects and the detail refers to the Doctrine and the language that conveys it. Understanding the meaning leads to attaining the goal. Understanding the detail leads to mastering the texts. In saying that the Doctrine has been fulfilled in its entirety, we should understand that nothing can be added to it. It includes the five aspects of the Doctrine: morality, concentration, understanding, deliverance, and knowledge and vision of deliverance. In our own practice, and in teaching others, we must be careful not to change the Teachings in any way. It is very easy to make mistakes out of a desire to help others, or out of an inability to live up to the high standards of the Doctrine. We cannot argue with the truth. It will be helpful if we are honest with ourselves with respect to our own limitations. Studying the Teachings and having teachers on whom we can rely will be indispensible in avoiding the mistake of trying to add on to the Buddha's Doctrine. The Doctrine is wholly pure. In other words, nothing can be taken away from it. We cannot follow only part of the Teachings if we are ever to reach the end of suffering. The Teachings are to be used to cross over the dangerous flood of desire and suffering. The Doctrine is not concerned with worldly things. This reminds us that we should not be distracted by lesser goals. The Buddha's Teachings will be incomplete if they are used to gain material benefits, in this world or the next. We must work ourselves, and help others to work, for the true happiness of attaining Nibbana. Sayagyi U Chit Tin FOOTNOTES: [1] The events after the Buddha's Awakening through the sending out of the first sixty Arahats is found in BD IV 6-29. See also Bhikkhu Nanamoli, //The Life of the Buddha//, pp. 37-53. [2] See DPPN, s.v. Sahampati. [3] Vin I 20. [4] Ashin Buddhaghosa explains this in the commentary to the Vinaya- pitaka (Sp 966) as meaning "Two must not go by the same path." In the commentary to Samyutta-nikaya (Spk I 172), he says, "Two persons are not to go by one path; for indeed, having gone by the same (path), (when) they teach the doctrine, one (of them) would have to remain silent." [5] We follow Ashin Buddhaghosa's discussion of the qualities of the Dhamma (//Path//, Chap. VII paras. 72f.; cf. his commentary on the Digha- nikaya, Sv I 175-177) by taking all the adjectives with it rather than having some modify the holy life (brahmacariya). [6] //Path//, Chapter VII 69-73. [7] //Path//, Chapter I 10. [8] Sv I 176. [9] Quoted from KS V 121. [10] Ashin Buddhaghosa quotes from the First Sermon (BD IV 15). [11] Quote untraced, but see MLS I 190 and KS V 193. [12] Quote from MLS I 367. [13] This aspect is not clear in Bhikkhu Nanamoli's translation. We understand this passage to refer to the three types of goal that can be undertaken when a person hears the Doctrine and first determines to work for Awakening -- to either become a Teaching Buddha, a Pacceka Buddha, or a disciple. [14] //Tadi-bhava//, translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli by "[unshakable] equipoise." [15] Mp II 201. [16] See //The Anecdotes of Sayagyi U Ba Khin// (1982), p. 9. [17] //Path//, Chapter VII paras.72f. We do not include all the details here. Worldwide Contact Addresses in the Tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *AUSTRIA*: International Meditation Centre, A-9064 St. Michael/Gurk 6, Austria;Tel: +43 4224 2820, Fax: +43 4224 28204 Email: CIS, IMC-Austria, 100425,3423 *EASTERN AUSTRALIA*: International Meditation Centre, Lot 2 Cessnock Road, Sunshine NSW 2264, Australia; Tel: +61 49 705 433, Fax: +61 49 705 749 *UNITED KINGDOM*: International Meditation Centre, Splatts House, Heddington, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 OPE, England; Tel: +44 380 850 238, Fax: +44 380 850 833, Email: CIS, IMC-UK,100330,3304 *USA (East Coast)*: International Meditation Centre, 438 Bankard Road, Westminster MD 21158, USA; Tel: +1 410 346 7889, Fax: +1 410 346 7133; Email: CIS, IMC-USA, 74163,2452 *WESTERN AUSTRALIA*: International Meditation Centre, Lot 78 Jacoby Street, Mahogany Creek WA 6072, Australia; Tel: +61 9 295 2644, Fax: +61 9 295 3435 *CANADA*: IMC-Canada, 336 Sandowne Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2K 1V8, Canada; Tel: +1 519 747 4762, Fax: +1 519 725 2781 *GERMANY*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Gesellschaft, Christaweg 16, 79114 Freiburg, Germany, Tel: +49 761 465 42, Fax: +49 761 465 92 *JAPAN*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, Komatsuri-Cho 923, Kishiwada-Shi, Osaka-Fu, 596 Japan, Tel: +81 724 45 0057 *THE NETHERLANDS*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Stichting, Oudegracht 124, 3511 AW Utrecht, The Netherlands, Tel: +31 30 311 445, Fax: +31 30 340 612 *SINGAPORE*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Association, 9 Penang Road #07-12, Park Mall, Singapore 0923 Tel: +65 338 6911, Fax: +65 336 7211 *SWITZERLAND*: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Gesellschaft, Greyerzstrasse 35, 3013 Bern, Switzerland;Tel: +41 31 415 233, Fax: +41 61 271 4184; Email: CIS, 100256,3576 *USA (West Coast)*: Contact Address: IMC-USA c/o Joe McCormack, 77 Kensington Rd., San Anselmo, CA 94960,U.S.A. Tel: +1 415 459 3117, Fax: +1 415 459 4837 *BELGIUM*: Address as for the Netherlands, Tel: +32 2 414 1756 *DENMARK*: Contact Address: Mr. Peter Drost-Nissen, Strandboulevarden 117, 3th, 2100 Kopenhagen, Denmark. Tel: 031 425 636 *ITALY*: Contact address: Mr. Renzo Fedele, Via Euganea 94, 35033 Bresseo PD, Italy. Tel: +39 49 9900 752 -------------------------------------------------- Published by the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, United Kingdom Address as above, registered charity no. 280134 -------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------- DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TITLE OF WORK: Teaching the Buddha-Dhamma FILENAME: TEACHING.ZIP AUTHOR: Sayagyi U Chit Tin AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: n/a PUBLISHER'S ADDRESS: International Meditation Centre, Splatts House, Heddington, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 OPE, England COPYRIGHT HOLDER: The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, U.K. DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1995 RIGHTS & RESTRICTIONS: See paragraph below. DATE OF DHARMANET DISTRIBUTION: 19 February 1995 ORIGIN SITE: BODY DHARMA * Berkeley CA 510/836-4717 DharmaNet (96:101/33) The copyright holder retains all rights to this work and hereby grants electronic distribution rights to DharmaNet International. 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