Part 9: THE WORLD BEYOND YOU

 

9.1 The World of Space and Time

The World Cycle is Divided into four Periods

1/ Sanvatta: Enveloping period

Gradual deterioration of the existing world systems

2/ Sanvattathayi: Enveloped period

Complete disappearance of or disintegration of the world system. (Total silence i.e. enveloped)

3/ Vivatta: Developing period

Gradual development or reappearance of the world system.

4/ Vivattatthayi: Developed period

Existing period of the world system.

~A. II: 142

 

9.2 The Planes of Existence

The Thirty-One Planes of Existence

After death a being comes into existence in one of these thirty-one planes according to its own good or bad kamma. All of them are subject to the Universal Law of Impermanence.

a/ The four States of Unhappy Realms - Duggati

i. Niraya - woeful states where beings experience temporary suffering (hell).

ii. Tiracchana Yoni - the Animal kingdom

iii. Peta Yoni - the planes of Petas or ghostly beings

iv. Asura Yoni - the plane of Asura demons

b/ The Seven Happy States - Sugati

i. Manussa - the realm of human beings

ii. Six kinds of Devaloka - heavenly realms

c/ Sixteen kinds of Rupaloka

i. Brahmaloka - realms of fine material form

d/ Four kinds of Arupaloka

i. Formless realms

~Dhs.

 

The Buddha’s Attitude towards Devas

We can see the attitude of the Buddha in His replies to the Brahmin youth Sangarava who questions Him on this subject:

Sangarava: Tell me, Gotama, are there gods (deva)?

Buddha: I know on good grounds (thanso) that there are gods.

Sangarava: Why do you say when asked ‘whether there are gods’ that you know on good grounds that there are gods? Does this not imply that your statement is utterly false?

Buddha: When one is questioned as to whether there are gods, whether one replies that ‘there are gods’ or ‘one knows on good grounds that there are gods’, then surely the deduction to be made by an intelligent person is indubitable, namely, that there are gods.

Sangarav: Then, why did not Venerable Gotama, plainly say so from the very start?

Buddha: Because it is commonly taken for granted in the world that there are gods.

~S: 43-316

The Buddha clarified many of the doubts of the devas in several discourses. The significance of this reply is that the Buddha holds that there are devas not because of a popular or traditional belief, but because He knows of their existence.

Heavenly Realms - Devaloka

According to Buddhism, there are six heavenly realms where devas experience worldly pleasure for a long period of time. For a Buddhist, final salvation is not an existence in a heaven but the attainment of Nibbana. Heaven exists for a Buddhist, but that too is as unsatisfactory as human existence.

1/ Catummaharajika:

The inhabitants of the lowest heavenly realms of the four quarters reside with their retinue.

2/ Tavatimsa:

The celestial reams of the thirty-three devas - where Sakka is the king. It was in this heaven that the Buddha taught the Abhihamma for three months to His mother.

3/ Yama:

The Realms of Yama Devas - which destroys pains.

4/ Tusita:

The Realm of Delight - The final birth of the Bodhisatta was in this realm before He appeared in human form as Prince Siddharta.

5/ Nimmanarati:

The Realm of the Devas - who delight in created mansions.

6/ Paranimmita Vasavatti:

The Realm of the Devas - who make others’ creations serve their own ends.

~Dhs.

 

Life Span of Six Deva Worlds

In practicing Eight Precepts, one can aspire to be reborn in and enjoy happiness in the deva worlds.

a/ Catummaharajika deva:

Fifty years of mankind is a single day and night there. There are thirty such days in a month and twelve such months make a year. The life span of these devas is five hundred celestial years. (i.e. about nine million earth years.)

b/ Tavatimasa deva:

A celestial day is as long as a hundred years of mankind. The life span is a thousand celestial years which is thirty-six million earth years.

c/ Yama deva:

The life span is two thousand celestial years of which a day is as long as two hundred years of mankind. (one hundred forty-four million human years.)

d/ Tusita deva:

A celestial day is four hundred earth years. The life span is four thousand celestial years or five hundred seventy-six million earth years.

e/ Nimmanarati:

A celestial day is eight hundred terrestrial years. These devas enjoy a life span of eight thousand celestial years or two thousand three hundred and four million terrestrial years.

f/ Paranimmita Vasavatti deva:

A celestial day is one thousand six hundred terrestrial years. These devas enjoy a life span of sixteen thousand celestial years or nine thousand two hundred and sixteen million terrestrial years.

~Expositor

Life spans are so long that the gods in these realms think that they are eternal. This of course is not the case. Not being ‘Perfected Ones’ - Arahantas, they eventually succumb to decay like all other beings.

~A.IV: 250f

 

9.3 Brahma Realms

Nature of Brahma Realms

Superior to sensuous planes of Devaloka are the Brahma Realms or Rupaloka (Realms of Form) where beings delight in Jhanic Bliss, achieved by renouncing sense-desires.

Rupaloka consists of 16 realms according to the Jhanas or Ecstasies cultivated. They are as follows:

1/ The plane of the First Jhana:

i. Brahma Parisajja: The Realm of the Brahma’s Retinue.

ii. Brahma Purohita: The Realm of the Brahma’s Ministers.

iii. Maha Brahma: The Realms of the Great Brahmas.

According to Hinduism Maha Brahma is the creator God of the Universe.

The highest of the first three realms is Maha Brahma. It is so called because the dwellers in this Realm excel others in happiness, beauty, and age-limit owing to the intrinsic merit of their mental development.

2/ The Plane of the Second Jhana:

iv. Paittabha: The Realm of Minor Lustre.

v. Appamanabha: The Realm of Infinite Lustre.

vi. Abhassara: The Realm of the Radiant Brahmas.

3/ The Plane of the Third Jhana:

vii. Parittasubha: The Realm of the Brahmas of Minor Aura.

viii. Appamanasubha: The Realm of the Brahmas of Infinite Aura.

ix. Subhakinha: The Realm of the Brahmas of Steady Aura.

4/ The plane of the Fourth Jhana:

x. Vehapphala: The Realm of the Brahmas of Great Reward.

xi. Asannasatta: The Realm of Mindless Beings.

(Without Consciousness)

xii. Suddhavasa:

The Pure Abodes

which are further subdivided into five:

The five Pure Abodes are:

Aviha: The Durable Realm

Atappa: The Serene Realm

Sudassa: The Beautiful Realm

Sudassi: The Clear-Sighted Realm

Akanittha: The Highest Realm

~M. L: 294

Those who have attained the third stage of sainthood - Anagami before attaining Arahantahood on passing away, will be born in one of these Suddhavasa - pure abodes and develop their saintly lives until they attain Arahantabhood and thereafter Nibbana. In the eleventh plane, called the Asannasatta, beings are born without a consciousness.

 

9.4 Various Beings

Three Kinds of Devas

Devas are said to be of three kinds:

1/ Conventional Devas, that is, kings and princes, who are addressed as ‘Deva’. (hence the Indian idea of the ‘god-king’ a title adopted by the kings of Cambodia, etc.)

2/ Purified Devas, that is, Buddhas and Arahants,

3/ Spontaneously born devas, uppattideva - devas who exist in heavenly realms.

~D. I: 1174

 

Hungry Ghosts

There are four groups of unfortunate ghosts - Petas:

1/ Those who suffer from severe burning sensations.

2/ Those who suffer from unquenchable thirst and unsatisfiable hunger.

3/ Those who struggle for survival in dirty and filthy places.

4/ Those who wait and depend on others’ meritorious deeds to get rid of their sufferings.

~Pv.

 

Mara to Ascetic Gotama

‘O you are thin and you are pale,

And you are in death’s presence too;

A thousand parts are pledged to death,

But life still bolds one part of you.

Live, Sir! Life is the better way;

You can gain merit if you live,

Come, live the Holy Life and pour

Libations on the holy fires,

And thus a world of merit gain.

What can you do by struggling now?

The path of struggling too is rough

And difficult and hard to bear!’

~Ven. Nanamoli, The Life of the Buddha

 

Where is Hell?

When the average ignorant person makes an assertion to the effect that three is a hell under the ocean - Patala that is just a concept to explain painful bodily sensations.

~S. IV: 306

 

Mara’s Teasing and Torment

Mara had on one occasion approached the Boddhisatta the Buddha-to-be and suggested that He return to His palace to enjoy His life and at the same time accrue merits. The Bodhisatta then replied to Mara:

‘Even an iota of merit is of no use to me.’ (Merits are no longer an important goal for one aspiring to gain Enlightenment)

S. V: 425

 

Five Types of Mara

Maras are personifications of various states. According to Buddhist literature there are five kinds of Maras, namely:

1/ Devaputta Mara - Deity

2/ Kilesa Mara - Passion

3/ Abhisamkhara Mara - Kammic Activities

4/ Khanda Mara - Five Aggregates

5/ Maccu Mara - Death

~VISM: 211

 

Army of Mara

‘Your first squadron is Sense-Desires,

Your second is called Boredom,

Then Hunger and Thirst compose the third,

And Craving is the forth in rank,

The fifth is Sloth and Torpor

While Cowardice lines up as sixth,

Uncertainty is seventh, the eighth’

Is Malice paired with Obstinacy:

‘Gain, Honor and Renown besided,

And ill-won Notoriety,

Self-praise and Denigrating Others

These are your squadrons, Namuci’

~Ven. Nanmili, the Life of the Buddha

 

Seven Principles of Conduct

Formerly, bhikkhus, when Sakka, lord of the devas, was a human being, he undertook to practice unremittingly seven rules of conduct, by reason of which he attained his position of honor. What seven?

1/ As long as I live may I support my mother and father;

2/ As long as I live may I respect the elders of my family;

3/ As long as I live may I speak kindly and gently;

4/ As long as I live may I not speak maliciously;

5/ As long as I live may I dwell in my house with my mind free from the taint of selfishness, generous, open-handed, pleased to relinquish (possessions), accessible to entreaties, enjoying giving and sharing with others;

6/ As long as I live may I speak truthfully;

7/ As long as I live may I control my anger and if anger arises in me may I quickly dispel it.

~IV: 95

 

9.5 Origin and Originator

The Creator - Brahma

In the Bhuridatta Jataka the Boddhisatta questioned the supposedly Divine justice of the Creator as follows:

‘He who has eyes can see the sickening sight.

Why does not Brahma (creator) set his creatures right?

If his wide power no limits can restrain

Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?

Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?

Why does he not to all give happiness?

Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?

Why triumphs falsehood -truth and justice fail?

I count you Brahma one the unjust among

Who made a world in which to shelter wrong.’

~The Jataka translation, Editor E. B. Cowell, Vol. VI: 110

 

Living Beings Who are Incapable of Making Merits

The following eight places where beings cannot accumulate merits (spiritual development) are regarded as unfavorable states to cultivate holy lives:

1/ Hell, the animal kingdom and ghost realm: the woeful states where there is continuous suffering.

2/ The formless Brahma world: where beings exist without physical bodies.

3/ Asannasatta Brahma realm: where Brahmas have no mental activities.

4/ Beings in some other planets or world systems in the universe.

5/ Beings whose five senses have atrophied and are denied their use.

6/ Beings who hold heinous or dangerous views - micchaditthi.

7/ When the appearance of the Buddha or His Dispensation does not exist - when society has become amoral or unconcerned with noble life.

8/ Where beings have no opportunity to listen and understand truth (Dhamma)

~A. IV: 224f

 

9.6 World of Five Aggregates

Three Types of Becoming - Bhava

1/ Kama bhava: Becoming in the worlds of sense-desire.

2/ Rupa bhava: Becoming in the worlds of form (Brahma worlds enjoying physical form).

3/ Arupa bhava: Becoming in the worlds of no-form (Brahma worlds where the mind functions without physical bodies).

While ‘loka’ or ‘dhatu’ (e.g. kama loka; kama dhatu) emphasizes the places (worlds) where beings are reborn according to their kamma, ‘bhava’ emphasizes ‘kamma’. If craving for sense pleasure results from unskillful actions, beings are reborn in four types of woeful states - duggati. Beings who control their craving for sense pleasure through religious practice and meditation and experience various forms of Jhana, are reborn among human beings or in any of the Brahma worlds.

Those who still have craving for physical form develop kamma for rupa bhava and those who reduce craving for forms produce kamma for arupa bhava. Not matter where beings are reborn, samsara, all types of existence are exhaustively categorized into these three groups.

‘If there were no worlds of sense-desire and no kamma to ripen therein Ananda, would any sensuous becoming be manifested?’

‘Surly not, Lord.’

‘In this way, Ananda, kamma is the field, consciousness is the seed, craving the moisture. For beings that are hindered by nescience, fettered by craving, consciousness is established in lower worlds. Thus in the future there is repeated rebirth. In this way there is becoming, Ananda.’

~A. I: 223; GS. I: 203

 

The Endless Samsara

'Again and again they sow the seed;

Again and again the sky-king rains.

Again and again the farmers plough the fields;

Again and again the land produces grain.

Again and again the beggars come and beg;

Again and again the generous donors give.

Again and again when many gifts are given,

Again and again the donors reach the heavens.

Again and again the dairymen milk the herds;

Again and again the lamb goes to its mother.

Again and again we weary and we toil;

Again and again the heedless come to birth.

Again and again comes birth, and dying follows;

Again and again are we carried to the grave.

Only by gaining the Path for not-returning,

Is a person of wisdom not again and again reborn.'

~S. VII

 

Three World Realms

1/ Kama Loka: Sensual world, where living beings experience sensual pleasures. (animal, human and deva loka)

2/ Rupa Loka: Fine Material World, where Brahmas gain pleasure through the refined forms of their bodies in the Brahma realm where form exists

3/ Arupa Loka: Immaterial World (Formless Brahma realm) where Brahmas are free from physical burdens

Five Aggregates Pancakkhandha

Life consists of Four Mental Faculties - Nama and the four elements - Rupa

1/ Rupa: Matter (consisting of four elements - solidity, fluidity, heat, motion)

2/ Vedana: Sensations or feeling

3/ Sanna: Perceptions or identification

4/ Sankhara: Mental Formation or mental tendencies

5/ Vinnana: Consciousness - mental energy, combined with the preceding three mental faculties and six sense objects.

~S. III: 26

In order to understand the world beyond one has to discern the four elements which are its constituents.

Win the Ultimate Freedom from the World

'Behold this manifold world, by ignorance afflicted, come into being and thus with what has become delighted.'

'Yet from becoming not released. Yea, all becomings wherever and in whatsoever state they be.'

'All are impermanent and dukkha and doomed to change.'

'In one who sees as it really is by perfect wisdom the craving to become is left; nor craves he for non-becoming.'

'But craving's utter ending, utter stopping, is nibbana. Thus become cool, that monk, no more reborn, no more becomes.'

'Beaten is Mara. He's won the fight, escaped all more becomings.'

~Ud: 33; Verses of Uplift: 40

 

The Wheel of Existence

'Just as a stick thrown up into the air sometimes falls on its butt, sometimes on its side and sometimes on its tip, similarly, bhikkhus, do beings obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving migrate and go to the round of births. At 1 time going from this world to another world and at another time coming from another world to this world. What is the reason?

Unimaginable, bhikkhus, is a beginning to the round of births (and deaths). For beings obstructed by ignorance and fettered by craving migrating and going the round of births a starting point is not evident. Thus for long an destruction and the cemeteries have grown. Long enough for you to have become dispassionate towards all conditioned things, long enough for you to have become detached and released from them.'

~S. XV: 9

 

Part 10: KEY CONCEPTS OF THE DOCTRINE

 

10.1 The Buddhist Way

The Framework of the Buddhist Way

Many concepts are expounded systematically in suttas as well as in commentaries and they help one to comprehend Buddhism better. These concepts also help to summarize the Buddha's teaching into a well-structured framework on the 'Buddhist Way'.

Three Stages of the Dhamma

Dhamma (teaching) is nothing more than the means to win liberation. It is a system of practice for achieving the objective of the teaching. As the truth, Dhamma means the realization of Nibbana. The study and comprehension of the Dhamma is useful to support Dhamma practice; hence the three stages of the Dhamma.

1/ Pariyatti: the Doctrine (for study)

2/ Patipatti: Practice

3/ Pativedha: Realization

~VISM: 25

 

Three Kinds of Sufferings - Dukkha

1/ Dukkha-Dukkha: All kinds of suffering in life like birth, old age, sickness, death and the like.

2/ Viparinama Dukkha: The unpleasant feeling that people experience when the pleasant feeling disappears or when changes take place.

3/ Sankhara Dukkha: When the impermanent nature of the five aggregates appears in life, the attachment that people have towards them creates unsatisfactoriness.

~Vism: 499

 

Three Kinds of Craving - Tanha

These three kinds of craving - tanha generate rebirth.

1/ Kama Tanha: craving for sensual pleasure

2/ Bhava Tanha: craving for existence, especially for eternal life

3/ Vibhava Tanha: craving for non-existence.

~S. V: 421

 

Four Things That Nurture Beings

The factors that support the cycle of birth, life and becoming after death are called sustenance or nutriments - ahara of beings.

'There are these four sustenances, monks, for the maintenance of beings that have come to birth, or for the impulsion of beings who seek to come to be. Which are the four?'

'Solid food, coarse or fine, contact the second, intention (will) of mind the third, consciousness the fourth. These are the four sustenances.'

~S. II: 100; K. S. II: 70

 

The Source of Four Sustenances

'The source of the four sustenances is craving. Feeling is the source of craving. Sense contact is the source of feeling.

Sis sense faculties are the origin of sense contact, six sense faculties have their origin in psycho-physicality - nama-rupa which originates from consciousness. Kamma-formations give rise to consciousness, while having ignorance for its origin.'

~M. I: 262

 

Six Senses

1/ Cakkhu: The eye-datum, which is the sensorium within the eyeball where consciousness of sight is generated.

2/ Sota: The ear-datum, which is the sensorium within the ear where consciousness of sound is generated.

3/ Ghana: The nose-datum, which is the sensorium within the nose where consciousness of smell is generated.

4/ Jivha: The tongue-datum, which is the sensorium on the surface of the tongue where consciousness of taste is generated.

5/ Kaya: The body-datum, which is the sensorium pervading the whole body from head to foot, where consciousness of touch is generated.

6/ Mana: The heart-basis, the very fine and subtle matter within the heart where mind consciousness is mainly generated. (The belief that the mind is based in the heart was common amongst ancient philosophers.)

~M. III: 216

 

Thirty-Seven Requisites of Enlightenment

All the virtues that a practitioner has to develop to win freedom from samsara, to realize Nibbana, are categorized under the heading 'bodhipakkhiya-dhamma'. They consist of the:

'Four Grounds of Developing Awareness,

Four Right Efforts,

Four Bases of Psychic Power,

Five Faculties, Five Powers,

Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and

the Noble Eightfold Path.'

~VISM: 678

 

Four Ground of Developing Awareness - Cattaro Satipatthana

1/ Kayanupassana - Awareness of the functions of the body

2/ Vedananupassana - Awareness of feelings as they arise

3/ Cittanupassana - Awareness of the mind

4/ Dhammanupassana - Awareness of Dhamma (various phenomena that arise in the mind.)

Being ardent, clearly conscious (of them), becoming aware so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the world.

~M. I: 56f

 

Four Right Efforts - Cattaro Sammappadhana

1/ Striving for non-arising of evil unskilled states of mind that have not arisen.

2/ Striving for getting rid of evil unskilled states of mind that have arisen.

3/ Striving for the arising of skilled states of mind that have not arisen.

4/ Striving for the preservation, development and completion of skilled states of mind that have arisen.

~M. II: 11f

 

Four Bases of Psychic Power - Cattaro Iddhipada

1/ Chanda: Concentration of intention;

2/ Viriya: Concentration of energy;

3/ Citta: Concentration of consciousness;

4/ Vimamsa: Concentration of investigation.

~M. I.: 103

 

Five Faculties - Panca Indriyani

1/ Saddhindriya: Faculty of faith leading to tranquility and awakening

2/ Viriyindriya: Faculty of energy leading to tranquility and awakening

3/ Satindriya: Faculty of awareness leading to tranquility and awakening

4/ Samadhindriya: Faculty of concentration leading to tranquility and awakening

5/ Pannindriya: Faculty of wisdom leading to tranquility and awakening

6/ Panca balani: Five Powers same as the Five Faculties.

~M. II: 11-2

 

This Body is Swept Away

'Your life is swept away,

brief is your span of years.

No safety can you find, whom old age sweeps along.

Keeping in mind the peril which is death,

Perform good deeds that lead to happiness.

Who is restrained in body, speech and thought,

When once he parts from here,

it brings him happiness,

If, while alive, he does good deeds of merit.'

~A. III: 51

 

A Developed Mind is Far Better than the Parents

'What neither mother,

nor father,

nor any other relative can do,

a well-directed mind does and

thereby elevates one.'

~Dh. 43

 

The Real Friends

The friends who should be reckoned as good-hearted (friends) are four: the helper; the friend who is constant in happiness and adversity, the friend of good counsel, the sympathetic friend.

1/ The friend who is helper is to be reckoned as good hearted on four grounds: he protects you when you are taken unawares; he protects your property when you are no there to protect it; he is a refuge to you when you are afraid;

2/ The friend who is constant in happiness and adversity is to be reckoned as good-hearted on four grounds: he tells you his secrets, he does not betray your secrets, in your troubles he does not forsake you; for your sake he will even lay down his life.

3/ The friend of good counsel is ... good-hearted on four grounds: he retrains you from doing wrong; he enhoins you to (do what is) right, from him you learn what you had not learnt before; he shows you the way to heaven.

4/ The friend who is sympathetic is to be reckoned as good-hearted on four grounds: he does not rejoice over your misfortunes; he rejoices with you in your prosperity; he restrains those who speak ill of you; he commends those who speak well of you.

~D. Sigalovada Sutta

 

Two Types of Disease

Disease of the body and disease of the mind.

'Monks, there are beings who suffer not from disease of body for one year, for two years ..... even for a hundred years. But it is hard to find in the world beings who can admit freedom from mental disease even for one moment, save only those who have destroyed cankers.'

~A. II: 143; S. III.: 2

 

The Buddha's Attitude Towards Prayers For Salvation

'Vasettha, it is just as if the River Aciravati were brimful of water and a man should come along wishing to cross over, to get to the other side, to get across, and, standing on this bank, were to call out: 'Come here, other bank, come here!' What do you think, Vasettha? Would the other bank of the River Aciravati come over to this side on account of that man's calling, begging, requesting or wheedling?'

'No, Reverend Gotama.'

Similarly, no amount of prayers will free one from Samsara.

~D.: 13

 

Four Ways of Taking Refuge in The Triple Gem

1/ Attasanniyyatana: Dedication of one's life to the Triple Gem.

2/ Tapparayanata: Taking the Triple Gem as the protection of oneself.

3/ Sissa bhavopagamana: Approaching the Triple Gem as a pupil.

4/ Panipata: Submission to the Triple Gem with devotion.

~KHU. A

 

Benefits of Paying Homage

Those who pay homage to holy men and attend to the elders gain the following merits in return:

1/ Ayu: Long life

2/ Vanna: Good Complexion

3/ Sukha: Comfortable life

4/ Bala: Strength

~Dh.: 109

 

Four Things Incomprehensible to Worldlings

1/ Buddha visaya: The nature of the Buddha's Enlightenment

2/ Iddhi visaya: The nature of supernormal or psychic powers gained through jhanic meditation

3/ Kamma visaya: The nature of kamma and its effects

4/ Loka, visaya: The nature of the world systems and living beings

~A. II: 79

 

Name Never Decays

'Although man's body decays and disappears, the name or influence he creates does not decay.'

~S. I: 42

 

10.2 Reflections on Generosity - Dana

The Buddha's Attitude towards Charity

Vacchagotta said to the Buddha:

'I have heard it said that you, good Gotama, say that dana should only be given to you, not to others, to your followers, not to the followers of other teachers. Those who say this, are they representing your opinion? Do they speak according to your teaching?'

The Buddha said:

'Vaccha, those who say this are not of my opinion, they misrepresent me by saying what is not true. Truly, whoever discourages another from giving dana hinders in three ways. What three? He hinders the giver from acquiring good, he hinders the receiver from getting the dana, and he has already ruined himself through his meanness.'

~A. I: 161

 

Six Qualities in Giving Dana

a/ Three on the Giver's Part: Before the gift he is glad at heart; in giving, the heart is satisfied; and the heart is uplifted when he has given.

b/ Three on the receiver's Part: They should be lust free or striving to cast out lust. Should be hatred-free or striving to cast out hatred. Should be delusion-free or striving to cast out delusion. If these six conditions are fulfilled, the effect of giving is immeasurable, just as one cannot measure water in the great ocean.

~A. III: 335

  

Some Purposes of Giving

Venerable Sariputta asked the Buddha:

'Could it be, Lord, that a gift of a man does not become great in fruit, great in effect and for another man, it becomes great in fruit, great in effect?'

'It could be so.'

'What is, Lord, the reason for that?' asked Venerable Sariputta.

The Buddha replied, 'A man being attached to reward, with expectation, as a means of accumulating (rewards), gives gifts (food, drink, vehicles, flowers, perfumes, ointments, beds, dwellings, lighting) to recluses or brahmins, he will be reborn in the deva world of Four Royal Gods - catummaharajika. After the glory of kamma has been exhausted, he will return to this world.

Another man without expectation, without attachment to rewards, gives a gift thinking, 'It is good to give'.

Another one gives a gift thinking, 'My father, fore fathers have done this. I am not able to break the family custom.'

Another one gives thinking, 'I cook, these people do not cook. I have to give to those who do not cook.'

Another one gives thinking, 'I ought not give to those who do not cook. But those ancient seers had given great offerings. I will join myself to those great offerings.'

Another one gives thinking, 'This gift calms the mind, joy and gladness arise in the mind.'

Another one gives a gift thinking, 'Giving beautifies (by eliminating defilements) the mind, it strengthens the mind.'

Now, one who gives to beautify the mind, to strengthen the mind, will be reborn among Brahma devas. He will become a non-returner to this world.'

~A. IV: 56f; G. S. IV: 33f

 

How Does A Person Give Correctly?

1/ He gives clean things

2/ He gives what is choice

3/ He gives at the proper time

4/ He gives what is suitable (for recluses)

5/ He gives with care

6/ He gives frequently

7/ He calms his mind by giving

8/ After giving he becomes happy

~A. IV.: 243

 

How the Merits of Dana Increase?

1/ A gift given to an animal yields a hundredfold.

2/ A gift given to an ordinary person of poor moral habit, yields a thousandfold.

3/ A gift given to an ordinary person of good moral habit yields a hundred thousandfold.

4/ A gift given to one who is beyond and without attachment to sense-pleasures yields a thousand thousandfold.

5/ The benefit is incalculable and immeasurable when a gift is given to the following persons:

i/ One who is striving for the realization of the fruit of stream-winner _ sotapatti, the benefit is incalculable and immeasurable.

ii/ One who strives for realization of the fruit of once-returner.

iii/ One who strives for realization of the fruit of non-returner.

iv./ One who strives for realization of the fruit of an arahant.

v./ The fruits from such giving to these individuals are greater for each succeeding stage of spiritual development.

6/ A gift given to one who is Perfected by himself alone - pacceka buddha yields greater benefit than that given to an arahant.

7/ A gift given to the Fully Awakened One - Samma Sambuddha yields the greatest benefit.

~M. III: 255

 

Offerings Given to the Holy Order - Sangha

'When I, Ananda, say that an offering to the holy Order is incalculable and immeasurable, I by no means say that a gift graded as to individuals is of greater fruit than an offering to the holy Order.'

~M. III: 256; MLS. III: 304

 

Whom to Give

'Once King Pasenadi of Kosala asked the Buddha to whom alms should be given, and the Buddha replied that one should give to that person, to whom, when given one feels fulfilled and glad at heart. In the same context another question is asked, given to whom does it bear great fruit? The Buddha replied that alms given to the virtuous bears great fruit.'

~S. I: 97

 

Importance of Meritorious Deeds

'Should a person perform a meritorious actions,

he should do it again and again,

he should find pleasure, therein:

blissful is the accumulation of merits.'

~Dh: 188

 

Offerings to the Buddha After His Passing Away

It is explained in the Commentaries that devotees can have the same benefit of offerings to the Buddha even after He had attained Parinibbana, if devotees maintain an equal attitude of respect towards the Buddha regardless of whether He is living or not.

'Whether the Buddha lives or has entered Nibbana,

The fruit is same if (the attitude of)

the mind is the same.

For having delight in the Buddha,

Beings go to the heavenly bliss.'

~Expositor

 

Five Things Offered with Alms

'Monks, in giving alms, a giver gives five things to the receiver. What five? He gives longevity, beauty, comfort, strength and the power of understanding.'

~A. III: 42

 

Nature of Buddhist Goodwill

'As a mother, even at the risk of her own life, protects her child, her only child, so let (the upright man) cultivate goodwill without measure among all beings. Let him cultivate goodwill without measure towards the whole world above, below, around, unstinted, unmixed with any feeling of differing or of opposing interests. Let a man remain steadfastly in this state of mind, while he is awake, whether he be standing, walking, sitting or lying down. This state of heart is the best in the world.'

~SN. VV: 149-151

 

Three Characteristics of Faith

'He desires to see the virtuous,

He desires to hear the true Dhamma,

with heart free from the flaw of stinginess.

He dwells at home, a generous giver, clean-handed,

delighting in selflessness, one to ask a favor of,

one who delights to share gifts with others.

By these three characteristics, one who

has faith is to be recognized as such.'

~A. III. V: 42

 

 

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