Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Research and Practice University and related NEWS through 
Paṭisambhidā Jāla-Abaddha Paripanti Tipiṭaka Anvesanā ca Paricaya Nikhilavijjālaya ca ñātibhūta Pavatti Nissāya anto 105 Seṭṭhaganthāyatta Bhāsā

November 2007
« Oct   Dec »
Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The Many-THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: A-Rod, NLCS, T.O. and more abbreviations-Kanpur Green Park stadium painted BSP blue-UP Election - A Postmortem-States told to manage rural power distribution through franchisees -Unknown encephalitis has killed 350 children this year in northern India, officials say-Mentha oil futures likely to recover -vCustomers to expand in UP, Uttarakhand-In Himachal, political temperature rises as winter sets in-Rahul admits to Congress shortcomings in Uttar pradesh (Lead)-Advantages of two time-zones
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:37 am

Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The

Harry Houdini

November 12, 2007


THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: A-Rod, NLCS, T.O. and more abbreviations

Filed under: Uncategorized — harryhoudini @ 3:04 am

We would also recommend this Detroit Free Press - He won Game 2 at Fenway with an after-midnight walkoff that may not yet have landed, then crushed a ball into the Magic Kingdom in Game 3. He punctuated both blasts with home plate preening worthy of Mick Jagger.” 3. The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla looks … Please consider the following tips search suspended for father of Magic guard Jameer Nelson (WFMJ Youngstown) CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - The search for the missing father of Orlando Magic player Jameer Nelson has been suspended. Divers, the Coast Guard and trained dogs were searching for 57-year-old Floyd Nelson in and around the fast-moving Delare River in Chester. They stopped their search this afternoon.Did you know that Father means the first person of the Christian Trinity. However maya to re-use magic formula in Gujarat Rediff - Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is wooing rebel leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to put to test once again her winning formula — a reworked caste tie-up — in …Did you know that Magic means the charms, spells, and rituals so used. This is also worth to check out

India eNews Logo

Kanpur Green Park stadium painted BSP blue

Kanpur’s Green Park stadium, the venue for the third India-Pakistan One-Day International, has been virtually given a blue hue - clearly resembling the official colour of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

No wonder everyone seems to attribute it to the proposed visit of Chief Minister Mayawati, who is to give away the prizes at the end of the match Sunday.

The painting began shortly after Mayawati consented to being chief guest at the event.

What followed was incredible. Officials from the chief minister’s secretariat personally monitored the large-scale renovation by the state government to give the place a face-lift.

It started with refurbishing of the VVIP pavilion and the special enclosure for the chief minister but later large parts of the giant stadium were also painted entirely in blue.

The manner in which the colour has been used shows that care has been taken to ensure that right from her entry into the venue, Mayawati gets a total ‘blue view’.

All entry gates are draped or painted in blue and all chairs in different enclosures visible from the VVIP pavilion have also been painted the same colour.

Even road-dividers in the city have been painted blue.

No one is however willing to divulge as to how much money has been pumped into re-doing the stadium, which otherwise has often suffered gross neglect.

Unofficial reports estimated the expenditure to be around several million rupees.

The chief minister is scheduled to spend just about 30 minutes at the felicitation function.

Top aides of Mayawati have made at least 17 trips from Lucknow to Kanpur to personally supervise the face-lift of the VVIP pavilion.

Unprecedented security arrangements have been made in and around the venue, particularly between the police lines where Mayawati’s helicopter would land, and the Green Park stadium.


Monday, November 12, 2007

UP Election - A Postmortem

UP Election - A Postmortem
By Syed Ali Mujtaba

While doing the postmortem of the Bahujan Samaj party’s victory in Uttar Pradesh, many writings have analyzed the electoral verdict in terms of the subaltern movement in the state. There is no denying of the fact that a great deal of Dalit resurgence taking place at the grass root level in India’s heartland, but there is little evidence to suggest that the victory of this pro low caste party owes to any revolutionary trend in the making.

The victory of Bhaujan Samaj party was more due to default rather than any calculated design. In the triangular contest, the other two high profile parties; the Samajwadi Party and the BJP both had lost the husttings even before the electioneering had begun. Congress on the fourth place had never been in the political fray in any big way.

So there was nothing startling about the UP electoral results. Every thing has been on expected lines as the script that written well before the elections. Those trying to read too much into this result are basically those who are fond of blowing the trumpet when the procession has hit the road.

As far as the BJP is concerned, they had lost the election, the moment they distributed the controversial CD. Its poll managers thought that through the CD they would be able to polarizing the society to the 1990 level and win the election hands down. The Muslims did not violently reacted to it and instead kept cool and so their strategy miserably failed. In fact the CD dissuaded many people who might have initially thought of voting for the BJP.

Even the “caste arithmeticians” of the BJP could not save their boat from sinking. The party remained silent spectators to the breaking of the Brahim-Banya alliance in spite having stalwart upper caste leaders like; Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Murali Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, all from the state in its ranks. Their strategy of patching up with, Kalyan Singh the estranged Dalit leader, too did not work. The former Chief Minister could not to steal a single vote from the SP or BSP’s kitty. On the contrary he presided over the loss of both upper caste and lower votes to the BSP and the SP.

The BJP owes its ascendance in Indian politics to the Uttar Pradesh. It had a dream run from 1986 to 1992 when it generated a mass hysteria among the innocent voters promising them the Ram Raj by constructing a Ram Temple at Ayodhya where stood the Babari masjid. The gullible and religiously emotional people got enticed by their high profile campaign; Saugandh Ram ki khate hain, Mandir Wahin Banayenge (I vow in the name of Ram to construct the Mandir at the same spot where the Babari Masjid stands). The “Chalaks” (intelligent) who could sense the pulse of the time joined BJPs ranks because for them it was; “Ram Naam ki loot machi hai, loot sako to looto” (there is a loot going on in the same ram, if you can loot, can loot).

In 1989 the BJP had 89 seats, thanks to its temple campaign, its tally shot up to more than 200 seats in 1992. However, after the destruction of the Babari Masjid in 1992, its fortunes have started tumbling down. The party since then has been witnessing a free fall. Currently it holds just 50 seats in the new assembly.

The UP election results must be a day of rejoicing for the party’s rebel leader Uma Bharti, who had openly called some of the BJP leaders as “Sata ke dalal” – ‘Pimps for Power’.

The outgoing Samajwadi party had lost the confidence of the people and its rule had become synonymous with rampant corruption, nepotism and lawlessness (goonda raj). The Samajwadi party failed to address any of the pressing developmental issues and got embroiled into many things that dented its poor- pro dalit, and pro minority image.

The SP leader Amar Singh, who actually held the strings of power, had become an eyesore on the TV for his flamboyant life style. His close proximity with actress Jayaparadha, actor Amithabh Bachan, industrialist Anil Ambani and the owner of Sahara group of industries, left the people wondering whether the Samajwdi party was the championing the cause of the poor or it’s a party of the rich. The Nathiri killings were the last nail in its coffin of the Samajwadi Party. They had lost the elections even before the dates for the polling was announced.

As far as Congress is concerned, the party was no where in the political race. It still has not been able to recover its lost base that it enjoyed during pre 1980s phase. Traditionally, Congress was favored by the Upper castes and the Muslims and in combination of certain other backward categories, it was able to cobble a majority during successive elections since independence. Congress support base got totally demolished when religion verses pro poor politics (Kamandal vs Mandal) came into play in Uttar Pradesh. The upper castes vote went to the BJP, the Muslims opted for the Samajwadi party and Bahujan Samaj party and the other backward categories and schedule caste too flocked to the SP or BSP ranks. So the Congress party was left with nothing to fall back on.

Given such background, no matter how much Gandhi Privar may have toiled their sweat and blood electioneering in the heat and dust of the Indo- Gangetic plains, they could hardly make any difference on the electorates. People may have flocked to the road shows of the Gndhi family, but when it came to voting, they had their own preferences. These days voters just do not vote for the name sake, they analyze the elections in terms of their own cost-benefit.

The Congress’s tally of 22 seats and its paltry vote percentage speaks volumes about the poor organizational strength of India’s oldest political party. If this trend continues, the fear is Congress may be reduced to a mere symbol on the electronic voting machines.

If we analyze the victory of Bahujan Samaj party in this context, the picture becomes crystal clear. The people of Uttar Pradesh had to choose between SP, BJP and the BSP. The SP had been thoroughly discredited during its rule and people wanted a change of government. Now their choice was reduced to the BJP and the BSP. The BJP had shot itself in the foot by releasing the controversial CD. So the people had no other choice then to vote for the BSP. Its simple story, that’s been made complex.

The only great thing about BSP’s victory was that it gave up its strident political campaign against the upper castes. Its direct attack on them saying; BJP ke Teen Dalal; Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar (the BJP has three pimps; Brahmins (Tilak) Banya (tawazu) and sword (rajput) was a very powerful piece of sloganeering that sums up the entire Indian history in terms oppression by these three symbols of power all through its civilization.

The BSP having realized that such sloganeering could not catapult it to power in the previous elections, decided to drop this up this time and made friends with the upper castes. By giving tickets to the upper caste candidates the BSP was able to get a comfortable majority.

The people of Uttar Pradesh must be complimented for giving a decisive mandate to a political party. Their collective effort saved the state from the ordeals of post poll alliances and horse trading that has become a hallmark of the Indian polity these days. This also shows the signs of maturating of the Indian democracy.

The people of Uttar Pradesh have had four core demands; road, water, electricity and job (sarak, paani, bijli aur naukri). They tried all the three political formations before; the have lived under the Ram Raj of the BJP, the Mulyam Raj and the Mayawait Raj, but none had been able to address their basic demands. They have again brought the BSP to power. Will the new government change the ground realities? Well this is a tough call and no marks for guessing it right!

However, one great lesson to learn from the Uttar Pradesh elections is that the voters these days just do not vote for the name sake, they judge the party’s performance in power and select or reject them in the next poll. The next election is a long way from now, till then the people of Uttar Pradesh have no other go than to face the Maya Raj!

Syed Ali Mujtaba is working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

Make this my homepage

Mentha oil futures likely to recover


Suresh P. Iyengar | Last updated : Monday, 12 November , 2007, 09:38

Mumbai: Mentha oil futures is set to see a minor recovery, after a sharp fall from Rs 580 per 10 kg to Rs 456 levels in the last few days.

From 1.25 lakh hectares planted in 2005-06, the area under mentha has gone up by 35-40 per cent in 2006-07. About 80-90 per cent of the cultivable area is in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Bihar, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

The average yield is about 40-45 kg of oil an acre. Total mentha oil output this season is estimated at 33,000-35,000 tonnes, up by 30-40 per cent compared to last year’s production of 25,000 tonnes.

Unchanged Demand

Domestic and export consumption is expected to emain more or less at previous year’s level of around 8,000 and 14,000 tonnes.

India is the largest producer and exporter of mentha oil in the world, contributing 85 per cent of total production and rest comes from China, Brazil and US. India, which is one of the leading exporters, logs in about 12,000-14,000 tonnes annually.

In October, mentha oil futures tracked weak spot markets. The November delivery tumbled from Rs 520 level to Rs 470-471 levels due to lacklustre demand in spot market. During the same period last year, it was trading firmly in the range of 610-700 per kg.

Buyers keep away

Buyers are staying away from the market in anticipation of a further fall in prices because of higher supplies, which overtook demand.

The inventories at MCX-accredited warehouse are about 1,700 tonnes. It is around 133 tonnes in NCDEX warehouses.

Farmers and stockists are holding back their produce in anticipation of higher prices.

Rising rupee

Export orders have been delayed due to the rupee appreciation against dollar.

“If the trend reverses we can see emergence of export demand, which is likely to support the prices in the coming days irrespective of higher production. Otherwise, prices are likely to continue its downward trend. Now market is in indecisive stage,” said Harish Galipalli, head of research, Karvy Commodities.

“The immediate crucial support is seen at Rs 460 and then Rs 450 levels. Likewise, the resistance can be seen at Rs 490 and then Rs 500 levels,” he said.

In Himachal, political temperature rises as winter sets in
Sanjay Sinha
Shimla, Nov 11 (PTI) Bouyed by massive victory in Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a new entrant to electoral politics in Himachal Pradesh is claiming to make the battle in the hill state a triangular affair, a challenge laughed away by the Congress and the BJP.

“Let them live in fool’s paradise. The BSP will get not less than 50 seats in the 68-member Himachal Vidhan Sabha,” state BSP convenor and its chief ministerial canidate Vijay Singh Mankotia has been saying.

Mankotia cited a long queque of applicants for the party ticket and large gathering of crowd at bsp rallies to drive home his point.

Traditional rivals Congress and the BJP are not taking the bsp challenge seriously. “Himachal Pradesh is no Uttar Pradesh. The dalits and underpriviledged which formed backbone of the BSP unlike in UP, are with the Congress in HP and there is no no chance of Mayawati making inroads in it,” Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has said on several occasions.

“Mayawati should concentrate in UP instead of wasting time in HP,” he told his Uttar Pradesh counterpart as a piece of advice.

BJP, which is making a determined bid to gain power in the hill state also discounts the BSP claims.

“Our fight is with the Congress straightway and we are going to beat them,” HP BJP in-charge Satyapal Jain told PTI.

Addressing a workers meeting at Kullu last week, BJP leader prem kumar dhumal asked them to ignore BSP in their campaign and concentrate on Congress. PTI

comments (0)
Buddha-The Request-excerpts
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:53 am


Ayacana Sutta
The Request
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Plate6a.jpg (40068 bytes)

I have heard that on one occasion, when the Blessed One was newly Self-awakened, he was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the Nerañjara River, at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree. Then, while he was alone and in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in his awareness: “This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me.”

Just then these verses, unspoken in the past, unheard before, occurred to the Blessed One:

Enough now with teaching
only with difficulty
I reached.
This Dhamma is not easily realized
by those overcome
with aversion & passion.
What is abstruse, subtle,
hard to see,
going against the flow —
those delighting in passion,
cloaked in the mass of darkness,
won’t see.

As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.

Then Brahma Sahampati, having known with his own awareness the line of thinking in the Blessed One’s awareness, thought: “The world is lost! The world is destroyed! The mind of the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Rightly Self-awakened One inclines to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma!” Then, just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, Brahma Sahampati disappeared from the Brahma-world and reappeared in front of the Blessed One. Arranging his upper robe over one shoulder, he knelt down with his right knee on the ground, saluted the Blessed One with his hands before his mind, and said to him: “Lord, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the One-Well-Gone teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.”

That is what Brahma Sahampati said. Having said that, he further said this:


In the past
there appeared among the Magadhans
an impure Dhamma
devised by the stained.
Throw open the door to the Deathless!
Let them hear the Dhamma
realized by the Stainless One!
Just as one standing on a rocky crag
might see people
all around below,
So, O wise one, with all-around vision,
ascend the palace
fashioned of the Dhamma.
Free from sorrow, behold the people
submerged in sorrow,
oppressed by birth & aging.
Rise up, hero, victor in battle!
O Teacher, wander without debt in the world.
Teach the Dhamma, O Blessed One:
There will be those who will understand.

Then the Blessed One, having understood Brahma’s invitation, out of compassion for beings, surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As he did so, he saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace and danger in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses — born and growing in the water — might flourish while immersed in the water, without rising up from the water; some might stand at an even level with the water; while some might rise up from the water and stand without being smeared by the water — so too, surveying the world with the eye of an Awakened One, the Blessed One saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much, those with keen faculties and those with dull, those with good attributes and those with bad, those easy to teach and those hard, some of them seeing disgrace and danger in the other world.

Having seen this, he answered Brahma Sahampati in verse:

Open are the doors to the Deathless
to those with ears.
Let them show their conviction.
Perceiving trouble, O Brahma,
I did not tell people the refined,
sublime Dhamma.

Then Brahma Sahampati, thinking, “The Blessed One has given his consent to teach the Dhamma,” bowed down to the Blessed One and, circling him on the right, disappeared right there.

Dhammika Sutta
Translated from the Pali by
Andrew Olendzki

In1 ancient times when seafaring merchants put to sea in ships, they took with them a bird to sight land. When the ship was out of sight of land, they released the bird; and it flew eastward and westward, northward and southward, upward and all around. And if the bird saw no land, it returned to the ship; but if the bird sighted land nearby, it was truly gone.2

bird in birdbathGannet Seabird

Tree-of-Sighs.jpgTa Prohm Temple 3

Once upon a time3 there was a royal fig tree called Steadfast, belonging to king Koravya, whose five outstretched branches provided a cool and pleasing shade. Its girth extended a hundred miles, and its roots spread out for forty miles. And the fruits of that tree were indeed great: As large as harvest baskets — such were its succulent fruits — and as clear as the honey of bees.

One portion was enjoyed by the king, along with his household of women; one portion was enjoyed by the army; one portion was enjoyed by the people of the town and village; one portion was enjoyed by brahmans and ascetics; and one portion was enjoyed by the beasts and birds. Nobody guarded the fruits of that royal tree, and neither did anyone harm one another for the sake of its fruits.

But then a certain man came along who fed upon as much of Steadfast’s fruits as he wanted, broke off a branch, and wandered on his way. And the deva who dwelled in Steadfast thought to herself: “It is astonishing, it is truly amazing, that such an evil man would dare to feed upon as much of Steadfast’s fruits as he wants, break off a branch, and then wander on his way! Now, what if Steadfast were in the future to bear no more fruit?” And so the royal fig tree Steadfast bore no more fruit.

So then king Koravya went up to where Sakka, chief among the gods, was dwelling, and having approached said this: “Surely you must know, sire, that Steadfast, the royal fig tree, no longer bears fruit?” And then Sakka created a magical creation of such a form that a mighty wind and rain came down and toppled the royal fig tree Steadfast, uprooting it entirely. And then the deva who dwelled in Steadfast grieved, lamented, and stood weeping on one side with a face full of tears.

And then Sakka, chief among the gods, went up to where the deva was standing, and having approached said this: “Why is it, deva, that you grieve and lament and stand on one side with a face full of tears?” “It is because, sire, a mighty wind and rain has come and toppled my abode, uprooting it entirely.”

“And were you, deva, upholding the dhamma of trees when this happened?” “But how is it, sire, that a tree upholds the dhamma of trees?”

“Like this, deva: Root-cutters take the root of the tree; bark-strippers take the bark; leaf-pickers take the leaves; flower-pickers take the flowers; fruit-pickers take the fruits — and none of this is reason enough for a deva to think only of herself or become morose. Thus it is, deva, that a tree upholds the dhamma of trees.”

“Then indeed, sire, I was not upholding the dhamma of trees when the mighty wind and rain came and toppled my abode, uprooting it entirely.” “If it were the case, deva, that you were to uphold the dhamma of trees, it may be that your abode might be as it was before.” “I will indeed, sire, uphold the dhamma of trees! May my abode be as it was before!”

And then Sakka, chief among the gods, created a magical creation of such a form that a mighty wind and rain came down and raised up the royal fig tree Steadfast, and its roots were entirely healed.

Dhamma-Start Doing It!
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:42 am


Start Doing It!

(A lively talk, in Lao dialect, given to the Assembly of newly-ordained Monks at Wat Pah Pong on the day of entering the Rains Retreat, July 1978) 18

Breathe in… breathe out… just like that. Even if others are “standing on their heads”19 that’s their business. Don’t bother your head over it. Just concentrate on breathing in and out, just know your breath, that’s enough. Nothing else. Just know when the air comes in and goes out, or you can say to yourself; “BUD” on the in-breath, “DHO” on the out-breath.20 Take this as your subject of awareness. Just do it like that for now. When the air comes in, you know it; when it goes out, you know it. Then your mind will be peaceful, not disturbed, not restless. Just the air going in and out, continuously.

In the beginning, keep it this simple, nothing fancy. However long you may sit, if you’re “sabai”21 or peaceful, you’ll know within yourself. If you keep at it, the breath becomes refined and softer, the body becomes soft (relaxed), the mind becomes soft — that’s worth having! Go ahead, let it happen naturally. Sitting “sabai,” firm in meditation, not in a daze, not drowsy or nodding off, everything becomes effortless. Now you’re peaceful! Then as you’re getting up: “Wow, what was that?” You can’t stop thinking of that peace.

Then we follow through by keeping constant clear mindfulness,22 knowing ourselves. Whatever we say, whatever we do, going here, going there, going on alms-round, washing our bowls or eating, we know what it is we are doing. We have mindfulness, staying steady. Just keep on doing it like this! Whatever it’s time to do, do it with constant mindfulness.

And walking meditation: take a straight path between two trees, about seven or eight full armspans. Walking’s the same as sitting Samadhi. Collect yourself, resolve that now you’re going to get into this meditation and calm down your mind so that clear mindfulness will be strong enough to arise. As to methods, some will start by spreading Metta (loving-kindness) to all living creatures for protection. Go ahead, the chicken-hearted need various approaches!

Begin with your right foot first. Take a good step and walk, saying to yourself: “BUD-DHO, BUD-DHO…” with your footsteps. Keep your attention right there with your feet the whole time. If you feel restless, stop till peaceful, then step again. Knowing the beginning, middle and end of the path, and know when you’re walking back. Know where you are continuously!

So that’s the method. You can do walking meditation. Some people will say: “Walking back and forth like that is looney!” But there’s a lot of wisdom in walking meditation, you know. Walk back and forth. If you’re tired, stop. Turn your attention inwards and bring your mind to rest by calmly being aware of your breath.

Then become aware of one more thing, your alternating postures. Standing, walking, sitting, lying down, we keep changing positions. We can’t only stand, only sit, or only lie down! We live using all these postures, thus we must develop awareness in each and every position and make them useful.

Go ahead and do it! It’s not easy. But, to put it simply: It’s as if you take this glass and put it here for two minutes, then put it there for two minutes. Move it from here to there every two minutes. Just an example, but do it like this with concentration. In watching your breath it’s the same; you do it until you doubt and suffer and that’s when wisdom can arise. Some people will say: “What? Moving a glass back and forth like that is nutty, not useful! Are you crazy?” Never mind, just do it. And don’t forget, two minutes not five minutes. Concentrate! It’s all in the doing.

Same with watching your breath. Sit up balanced in the cross-legged posture, right leg resting on the left. Breathe in till it reaches here (abdomen), breathe out till all the air is out of your lungs. Breathe in until full then let it go. Now don’t try to regulate it! However long or short it is it’s okay, good enough. Sit and watch your breath go in and out naturally. Don’t let it slip away. If it does, stop! Where has it gone? Find it and bring it back.

Sooner or later you’ll meet up with something good. Just keep at it. Don’t think you can’t do it. Just like sowing rice in the earth, as if you’re throwing it away, but soon a sprout is born, then it becomes a sheaf, and soon you husk it and can eat “khao mow” (green sweet rice). It’s like that, you know. That’s its nature.

This is the same — just sitting. Sometimes you think, “What am I sitting here looking at my breath for anyway? It’ll go in and out by itself without me gawking at it!” That’s just our opinionated mind, always flea-picking. Ignore it! Just try to do it till peaceful, because when calm, the breath becomes fine, body becomes relaxed, mind is relaxed, all’s just right. Continuing on till perhaps you’re just sitting there without your breath going in or out, but still alive. Don’t be scared! Don’t run away thinking you’ve stopped breathing! This is already a peaceful state. You don’t have to do anything, just sit in it. Sometimes, it’s like you’re not even breathing, but you are. Many things like this can happen, but it’s okay. Just be aware of it all, without being fooled by any of it.

Just keep doing it and often! Right after you eat, hang up your robe and just start walking: “BUD-DHO, BUD-DHO…” Keep at it till your path becomes a knee-deep trench, just keep walking. When tired, go and sit. Do a lot! Do it so that you know, so that you have it, so that it’s born, so that you understand what it’s all about. Not just walking a bit: chung, chok, chung, chok… thinking of this and that, then up to lie down in your hut, soon snoring away! You’ll never see anything that way. If you’re lazy, when will it ever be finished? If you’re tired or lazy, how far will you get? Just get it together, work through and get beyond your laziness. Not saying: “Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful,” then sit and aren’t peaceful right away, then quit because it isn’t there.

It’s easy to say, but hard to do. Huh! Like saying: “Oh, it’s not hard to plant rice, to plant and eat rice is better than this.” But go out and do it and you don’t know the oxen from the buffalo from the plow! Actually, doing it is a lot different from talking about it. That’s how it is, you know.

All of you, wanting to find peacefulness — it’s there! But you still don’t know anything yet. Whoever you ask, you won’t know. Just get to know your own breath going in and out, “BUD-DHO, BUD-DHO…” That’s enough. Just do that. You don’t have to think of much. At this time, know this, learn this for now. “I do it and I don’t see anything.” Doesn’t matter, just do it. Whatever comes up, okay, just do it like this, so you’ll know what it’s about. Do it and see! If you just sit like this and know what’s happening it’s really all okay. When your mind becomes peaceful, it knows. You can sit all night till dawn and you won’t feel you’re even sitting, you enjoy it. You can’t explain it, it’s like enjoyment.

When it gets like this, you might want to give “profound” sermons, but beware of getting “verbal diarrhea,” expounding the Dhamma constantly, driving folks nutty with your non-stop teaching. Like old Novice Sang. One night just at dusk, walking meditation time, I heard someone in the bamboo grove nearby carrying on: “Yo, yo, yo, yo…” I sat and listened, thinking, “Who’s teaching who over there? Who’s carrying on?” He didn’t stop, just kept babbling on. So I took my flashlight and walked over to see. Sure enough, it was Novice Sang sitting under his bamboo clump, lantern lit, cross-legged, bellowing at full blast, expounding the Dhamma to the night! “Sang, have you flipped your lid?” “Oh, I just can’t hold it in!” he said. “When sitting, I gotta teach; when walking, I gotta teach… don’t know where it’ll end!” A real nut! Oh well, that’s how it is, it can happen, you know.

But keep at it. Don’t just follow your moods. When lazy, keep at it! When energetic, keep at it! Do the sitting and walking and even when lying down, watch your breath. Before sleeping, teach your mind: “I won’t indulge in the pleasure of sleep.” When you awaken, continue meditating. And when eating, we remind ourselves: “I won’t eat this food with greed, but only as medicine to sustain my life for this day and night, in order to have strength enough to carry on meditating.” Before sleeping we teach ourselves; before eating we teach ourselves like that continually. If standing, be aware; if sitting, be aware; if lying down, be aware. Everything, do it that way! When you lie down, lie on your right side, focusing on your breath, “BUD-DHO, BUD-DHO…” until you fall asleep. And as soon as you awaken, continue “BUD-DHO, BUD-DHO…” as if you hadn’t skipped a breath! Then peacefulness will arise… be continuously mindful.

Don’t look at another’s practice, you can’t do that. Regarding sitting meditation, sit balanced and erect. Don’t have your head tilted back or hanging down. Keep it balanced. Like the Buddha statue — now he’s “sitting tight” and bright! If you want to change posture, endure the pain to the utmost limit before changing. “What?” you say, “I can’t handle that!” But wait before moving. Endure the pain to its limit, then take more. However much it hurts, go ahead and endure it. And if it’s too painful to keep “BUD-DHO” in mind, then take the pain as your object of awareness: “Pain, pain, pain, PAIN!” on and on instead of “BUD-DHO.” Stay with it till the pain reaches its end, and see what comes up. The Buddha said that pain arises by itself, and it’ll stop by itself. Let it just die, don’t give up! Maybe you’ll break out in a sweat — drops as big as corn kernels rolling down your back. But if you can get past the feeling once, then you’ll know what it’s about. But that comes gradually, don’t push yourself too far. Just slowly keep at it.

And know about eating… chew, swallow, and where does it end up? Food that’s right or wrong for your body, you’ll know it. Know where it reaches. Refine the art of eating; eat and estimate when you’ll be full after five more mouthfuls, then stop! Take enough water and that’s it. Try and see if you can do it. Most people don’t do it like that. Instead, they eat till full, then top up with five more mouthfuls! But that’s not the way, understand? The Buddha said just keep eating attentively and know you’re not yet full, but you will be in five more mouthfuls, then stop! Take enough water till full. Then, whether walking or sitting, you’ll not feel heavy and your meditation will become automatically better. But people don’t want to do it like that. If you don’t really want to train yourself, then you can’t do it. Otherwise, you eat till you’re too full, topping up with another five mouthfuls. That’s how it is, the nature of our greed and defilements and the things the Buddha taught go in different direction. We have to watch ourselves.

And sleeping, being aware, it’s up to your know-how. Sometimes you won’t get to sleep on time; sleep early, sleep late, never mind. That’s what I do. Get to sleep late or not late, doesn’t matter, when I first awaken, I get right up. don’t make a fuss over it. Cut it right there. If you awaken and are still sleepy, just get right up! Get up and go, wash your face and start walking meditation, go right ahead and walk. That’s how we must train ourselves, do it!

So these are the things to do. But you won’t know about them from just listening to what others tell you. You can only know from actually doing the practice. So go ahead and do it. These are the first steps in training the mind. When meditating, focus on only one thing. Sitting, the mind only watches the breath going in and out, continually watching, slowly becoming peaceful. If the mind is scattered, as soon as you sit you’re off missing home, mind reaching way over there, thinking you’d like to eat some noodles (those who’ve just ordained — hungry, no?). You want to eat, want to drink, hungry, wanting, missing everything! Till you’re crazy. But if you go crazy then be crazy, till you can work through it.

But do it! Have you ever done walking meditation? How is it? “Mind wanders.” Then stop till it comes back. If it really wanders, then don’t breathe until you can’t stand it — your mind will come back. If you sit and your mind goes running everywhere, hold your breath, don’t let it out, and when you can’t stand it, it’ll come back! Make the mind strong. Training the mind is not the same as training animals, you know, it’s something that’s really difficult to train! Don’t be easily discouraged. At times, holding your breath till your chest is about to burst is the only thing that’ll catch your mind — it’ll come running back! Try it and see.

During this rains retreat get to know what it’s about. In the daytime, do it; at night, do it; whenever you’re fee, go ahead and do it. Do walking meditation night and day, even if you don’t talk. Turn your attention right back to your meditation, make it continuous.

It’s the same as the water in this drinking bottle. If we tilt it a bit, it starts to “drip, drip, drip…”; we tilt it more and “drippity, drippity, drippity…” That’s like our mindfulness. And if we really pour it out, it becomes a steady stream of water, like out of a tap, not just dripping. Meaning that: whether we stand, walk, sit, lie down or whatever, if we are always aware, then our mindfulness is the same as a steady stream of water. If we really pour it out, it’s a steady stream. So, if our mind wanders, thinks of this and that, then our mindfulness is only like dripping water.

So training our mind is just like this. Whether we think of this or that, are restless, aren’t together, doesn’t matter. Just keep practicing continually, and you’ll develop awareness until it’s a constant flow. Whether standing, sitting, lying down, or whatever, that awareness will be right there with you. Do it and see!

Just sitting around, it’s not going to happen by itself, you know. But if you try too hard, you can’t do it either. don’t try at all — still can’t do it! Keep that in mind. Sometimes you don’t even intend to sit in meditation, but your work’s finished and you sit down, empty your mind, and pap! — you’re peaceful right away. Easy, because you’re right there.

Take this then — that’s enough for now!

comments (0)
Sangha-I. Introduction -Going for Refuge -MAHA BODHI SOCIETY-Questionnaire No.. 1 and Answers of First Year Diploma Course conducted by Mahabodhi Academy for Pali and Buddhist Studies
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:25 am


I. Introduction

Going for Refuge

The act of going for refuge marks the point where one commits oneself to taking the Dhamma, or the Buddha’s teaching, as the primary guide to one’s life. To understand why this commitment is called a “refuge,” it’s helpful to look at the history of the custom.

In pre-Buddhist India, going for refuge meant proclaiming one’s allegiance to a patron — a powerful person or god — submitting to the patron’s directives in hopes of receiving protection from danger in return. In the early years of the Buddha’s teaching career, his new followers adopted this custom to express their allegiance to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, but in the Buddhist context this custom took on a new meaning.

Buddhism is not a theistic religion — the Buddha is not a god — and so a person taking refuge in the Buddhist sense is not asking for the Buddha personally to intervene to provide protection. Still, one of the Buddha’s central teachings is that human life is fraught with dangers — from greed, anger, and delusion — and so the concept of refuge is central to the path of practice, in that the practice is aimed at gaining release from those dangers. Because the mind is the source both of the dangers and of release, there is a need for two levels of refuge: external refuges, which provide models and guidelines so that we can identify which qualities in the mind lead to danger and which to release; and internal refuges, i.e., the qualities leading to release that we develop in our own mind in imitation of our external models. The internal level is where true refuge is found.

Although the tradition of going to refuge is an ancient practice, it is still relevant for our own practice today, for we are faced with the same internal dangers that faced people in the Buddha’s time. We still need the same protection as they. When a Buddhist takes refuge, it is essentially an act of taking refuge in the doctrine of kamma: It’s an act of submission in that one is committed to living in line with the principle that actions based on skillful intentions lead to happiness, while actions based on unskillful intentions lead to suffering; it’s an act of claiming protection in that, by following the teaching, one hopes to avoid the misfortunes that bad karma engenders. To take refuge in this way ultimately means to take refuge in the quality of our own intentions, for that’s where the essence of karma lies.

The refuges in Buddhism — both on the internal and on the external levels — are the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, also known as the Triple Gem. They are called gems both because they are valuable and because, in ancient times, gems were believed to have protective powers. The Triple Gem outdoes other gems in this respect because its protective powers can be put to the test and can lead further than those of any physical gem, all the way to absolute freedom from the uncertainties of the realm of aging, illness, and death.

The Buddha, on the external level, refers to Siddhattha Gotama, the Indian prince who renounced his royal titles and went into the forest, meditating until he ultimately gained Awakening. To take refuge in the Buddha means, not taking refuge in him as a person, but taking refuge in the fact of his Awakening: placing trust in the belief that he did awaken to the truth, that he did so by developing qualities that we too can develop, and that the truths to which he awoke provide the best perspective for the conduct of our life.

The Dhamma, on the external level, refers to the path of practice the Buddha taught to this followers. This, in turn, is divided into three levels: the words of his teachings, the act of putting those teachings into practice, and the attainment of Awakening as the result of that practice. This three-way division of the word “Dhamma” acts as a map showing how to take the external refuges and make them internal: learning about the teachings, using them to develop the qualities that the Buddha himself used to attain Awakening, and then realizing the same release from danger that he found in the quality of Deathlessness that we can touch within.

The word Sangha, on the external level, has two senses: conventional and ideal. In its ideal sense, the Sangha consists of all people, lay or ordained, who have practiced the Dhamma to the point of gaining at least a glimpse of the Deathless. In a conventional sense, Sangha denotes the communities of ordained monks and nuns. The two meanings overlap but are not necessarily identical. Some members of the ideal Sangha are not ordained; some monks and nuns have yet to touch the Deathless. All those who take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha become members of the Buddha’s four-fold assembly (parisa) of followers: monks, nuns, male lay devotees, and female lay devotees. Although there’s a widespread belief that all Buddhist followers are members of the Sangha, this is not the case. Only those who are ordained are members of the conventional Sangha; only those who have glimpsed the Deathless are members of the ideal Sangha. Nevertheless, any followers who don’t belong to the Sangha in either sense of the word still count as genuine Buddhists in that they are members of the Buddha’s parisa.

When taking refuge in the external Sangha, one takes refuge in both senses of the Sangha, but the two senses provide different levels of refuge. The conventional Sangha has helped keep the teaching alive for more than 2,500 years. Without them, we would never have learned what the Buddha taught. However, not all members of the conventional Sangha are reliable models of behavior. So when looking for guidance in the conduct of our lives, we must look to the living and recorded examples provided by the ideal Sangha. Without their example, we would not know (1) that Awakening is available to all, and not just to the Buddha; and (2) how Awakening expresses itself in real life.

On the internal level, the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are the skillful qualities we develop in our own minds in imitation of our external models. For instance, the Buddha was a person of wisdom, purity, and compassion. When we develop wisdom, purity, and compassion in our own minds, they form our refuge on an internal level. The Buddha tasted Awakening by developing conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. When we develop these same qualities to the point of attaining Awakening too, that Awakening is our ultimate refuge. This is the point where the three aspects of the Triple Gem become one: beyond the reach of greed, anger, and delusion, and thus totally secure.

Dhammachari Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan handed over to Venerable Ananda Bhante at MAHA BODHI SOCIETY Rupees Five Thousand that was given as purse by Reverand Ronnie Prabhu on 09-11-2007 on the occation of Krishthosava.


# 14, Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, Bangalore - 560009. Karnataka, India

Tel; 91-080-22250684, Fax ; 91-080-22264438, Email : info@

Maha Bodhi Society, Bangalore is actively running the following programs. Please participate and make use of the opportunity.

1. Every day puja and meditation, Morning 5.30 a.m. and evening 6.00 p.m.

- to have peace of mind and to lead a good life.

2. Every Sunday discourse at 9.30 a.m to 11.30 a.m

- Teaching the basic teachings of Lord Buddha, meditation undertaking of precepts.

3. Every Saturday and Sunday Abhidhamma classes

- To understand the profound teachings of the Buddha.

Saturday : 3.00 - 5.30 p.m

Sunday : 12.00 - 2.30 p.m.

4. Mnahbodhi Monastic Institute

- Training monks to become the future ambassadors of Buddha Sasana.

5. Mahabodhi Academy for Pali and Buddhist Studies

- Giving diploma in Buddhist Studies through distance education in English, Kannada and Hindhi Languages,

6. Pabbajja course

- Temporary ordination and meditation course for seven days. Normally held once in two momths.

7. Every full moon day Dana service to hospitals

- Helping the patients for quick recovery and for the well being

8. Publishing Every month international magazine  DHAMMA in English

- To spread the teaching of the Buddha to the masses.

9. Publishing once in two months BUDDHA DHAMMA magazine in Kannada

- To Spread Dhamma in Karnataka.

10. Publishing Dhamma books and translation of Tipitaka

- To spread the teachings of the Buddha to the masses.

11. Special poojas and blessing ceremonies are held for devotees. Contact office for arrangments.

12. For more details please contact : Mahabodhi Office at 10.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.  ph. 91-080-22250684


Maha Bodhi Society is actively running all these programs by your kind help.

It can do further more. No donation is small. Any help or kind donation

from your side is welcome.

May all beings be happy !


Sabbadaanam Dhammadaanam Jinaati


     Questionnaire No.. 1  and Answers of First Year Diploma Course conducted by

Mahabodhi Academy for Pali and Buddhist Studies


Shri. Nyanatiloka

14, Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, Bangalore-560009

Tel: 91-080-64501433 Fax: 91-080-22264438





1.                   Together with the Three Refugees what moral principles should a Buddhist follow?


            Together with the Three Refuges the moral principles a Buddhist should follow are the five precepts-Pancasila


            In Buddhism, the most important rules are the Five Precepts. These have been passed down from the Buddha himself.

1. No killing                              Respect for life
2. No stealing                            Respect for others’ property
3. No sexual misconduct           Respect for our pure nature

4. No lying                                Respect for honesty
5. No intoxicants                       Respect for a clear mind

2.                  Write down Buddha Vandana in Pali and in English.


Buddha Vandana                                                                                   Salutation to the Buddha


Iti pi so Bhagava Araham Samma sambuddho             Such, indeed, is the Exalted One: worthy, perfectly enlightened, endowed with knowledge and conduct, well-gone, knower of the worlds, supreme trainer of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened and exalted

vijja carana-sampanno

Sugato Lokavidu Anuttaro

Purisa damma-sarathi

Sattha Deva-manussanam

Buddho Bhagava ti



2.                   Write a brief essay on the meaning of Buddha Vandana, as you understand it.


Buddha Vandana


Iti pi so Bhagavâ-Araham Sammâ-sambuddho.

Vijjâ-carana sampanno Sugato Lokavidû Anuttarro

Purisa-damma-sârathi Satthâ deva-manussânam

Buddho Bhagavâti


Homage to the Buddha

Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.


3.                  Is the word ‘Buddha’ a personal name or title, or does it stand for an office?



The word Buddha is a title and does not stand for any office. For example President of any Country is a title. Person could be any one.


5.                  Explain clearly the meaning of the word ‘Buddha’ as you understand it.


The term Buddha means “Awakened”. As he fully comprehended the Four Noble Truths and as he arose from the slumbers of ignorance he is called a Buddha. Since he not only comprehends but also expounds the doctrine and awakens others, He is called a Samma-Sambuddha –a Fully Awakened One.


6.                  Why is he called Buddha? What are the pre-requisites for becoming a Buddha?

Before His Awakenment he was a bodhisattva which means one who is aspiring to attain Buddhahood. He was not born a Buddha, but became a Buddha by his own efforts.  Every aspirant to Buddhahood passes through the bodhisattva period — a period comprising many lives over a vast period of time. During this period he undergoes intensive spiritual exercises and develops to perfection the qualities of generosity, discipline, renunciation, wisdom, energy, endurance, truthfulness, determination, benevolence and perfect equanimity.  In a particular era there arises only one Fully Awakened Buddha. Just as certain plants and trees can bear only one flower, even so one world-system can bear only one Fully Enlightened Buddha.

“Monks, there is one person  whose birth into this world is for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the gain and welfare and happiness of gods and humanity. Who is this one person? It is the Tathâgata, who is a Worthy One, a Fully Enlightened One  ~ Anguttara Nikaya”

The Buddha was a unique being. Such a being arises but rarely in this world, and is born out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. The Buddha is called by many epithets, among them The Great Physician, The Giver of Deathlessness, The Lord of the Dhamma (Doctrine).   As the Buddha himself says, “He is the Accomplished One, the Worthy One, the Fully Awakened One.”  The Buddha had no teacher for His Awakenment. His knowledge of the secrets of all existence was realized by himself through his own intuitive wisdom.

“Hard is it to be born a man; hard is the life of mortals. Hard is it to gain the opportunity of hearing the Sublime Truth, and hard to encounter is the arising of the Buddhas.~ Dhammapada 182″

Who is the Buddha?

One may think that the Buddha was a human. But the Buddha denied this too. Once a Brahmin named Dona, approached the Buddha and questioned him.

“Your Reverence will be a deity ?”
“No, indeed, brahmin, a deity am I not,” replied the Buddha.
“Then Your Reverence will be a god?”
“No indeed, brahmin, a god am I not.”
“Then Your Reverence will be a human being?”
“No indeed, brahmin, a human being am I not.”
“Who, then will Your Reverence be?”

The Buddha replied that He had destroyed Defilements which conditions rebirth as a god or a human being and added:

“As a lotus, fair and lovely, By the water is not soiled, By the world am I not soiled; Therefore, brahmin, am I Buddha!”

The Buddha had discovered the path to liberation from the cycles of continued rebirth in this world. Out of compassion for the world, he shows the path and method whereby he delivered himself from suffering and death and achieved man’s ultimate goal. It is left for man to follow the path.

Be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge ~ Maha Parinibbana sutta”

These significant words uttered by the Buddha in his last days are very striking and inspiring. They reveal how vital is self-exertion to accomplish one’s ends, and how superficial and futile it is to seek redemption through self-proclaimed saviours, and to crave for illusory happiness in an afterlife through the propitiation of imaginary gods by fruitless prayers and meaningless sacrifices.

The Buddha was a human being. As a man he was born, as a Buddha he lived, and as a Buddha his life came to an end. Though human, he became an extraordinary man owing to his unique characteristics. The Buddha laid stress on this important point, and left no room for any one to fall into the error of thinking that he was an immortal being. This is important as he sets an example for what we too can achieve if we are to put effort in practising his teachings.

The Buddha’s Greatness

Born a man, living as a mortal, by his own exertion he attained the supreme state of perfection called Buddhahood, and without keeping his Awakenment to himself, he proclaimed to the world the latent possibilities and the invincible power of the human mind. Instead of placing an unseen Almighty God over man, and giving man a subservient position in relation to such a conception of divine power, the Buddha demonstrated how man could attain the highest knowledge and Supreme Awakenment by his own efforts. He thus raised the worth of man. He taught that man can gain his deliverance from the ills of life and realize the eternal bliss of Nibbana without depending on an external God or mediating priests.

He taught the egocentric, power-seeking world the noble ideal of selfless service. He protested against the evils of caste-system that hampered the progress of mankind and advocated equal opportunities for all. He declared that the gates of deliverance were open to all, in every condition of life, high or low, saint or sinner, who would care to turn a new leaf and aspire to perfection. He raised the status of down-trodden women, and not only brought them to a realization of their importance to society but also founded the first religious order for women. He banned the sacrifice of unfortunate animals and brought them within his compass of loving kindness.

“Driven by fear, men go for refuge to many places — to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines. Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering. He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering. This,
indeed, is refuge secure. By seeking such refuge one is released from all
~ Dhammapada 188-192″

He did not force his followers to be slaves either to his teachings or to himself, but through teaching the famous Kalama Sutta, granted complete freedom of thought and admonished his followers to accept his words only after subjecting them to a thorough examination.

He comforted the bereaved who had lost loved ones. He ministered to the deserted sick  with his hands. He helped the poor and the neglected. He ennobled the lives of criminals and courtesans and accepted them into his order of monks.  The rich and the poor, the saint and the criminal, loved him alike. His noble example was a source of inspiration to all. He was the most compassionate and tolerant of teachers.


7.                  What is the meaning of the term Bodhi? How many different types of Bodhi are there? Enumerate.

Buddha and Trees

When we read the various accounts of Buddha’s life we can’t avoid noticing the important role trees fulfilled in his life. Most western people have only heard about the tree Buddha sat under when he attained awakenment, but there are many others.

It seems clear to me that the world the physical Buddha was born into, was a place where trees were highly respected and venerated.

The relationship between people and Nature permeated the entire culture, since it was obvious to all that we depend utterly on our environment. In India, as elsewhere in Pagan countries at that time, the Gods and Goddesses were accurate descriptions of Nature’s forces.

There is no doubt that Gautama Buddha was a genuine historical human being, but the way his legend is now told shows that even more ancient elements have grown into the story. We can detect the theme of the archetypal Green Man, who is given birth by the Earth Goddess. He is at One with all of Nature since he is the physical manifestation of it: the green growth. His flowering nourishes the multitudes.

For me this adds an extra attractive dimension to the life story of the founder of what could be said to be the kindest of the Great Religions of the World..

Buddha’s birth in the Sal Forest

The Bodhisatta was born in Lumbini forest, outside the town of Kapilavatthu, in a country we now call Nepal. The native forest here is dominated by a tree called ‘Sal’, Shorea robusta (This is a tree very common in the Himalayan foothills. it was used to build houses and provided many other essential commodities to the local people. We have an illustration and will explore Sal Forest more on the next page).

The Buddha’s Mother, the Queen Maya was travelling with a retinue of servants, to her parental home when she had to give birth

She therefore took her rest under a Sal tree, which immediately bend down a branch for Maya to support herself. As soon as the Queen held on to the tree, the infant Siddharta emerged from her. It is said that “The infant walked seven steps each in four directions of the compass, and lotus flowers sprouted from where his foot touched the earth. Then the infant said, “No further births have I to endure, for this is my last body.”


The 7 year old Siddharta meditates
under the Jambolan tree


One day, in accordance with royal tradition, there was a royal plowing ceremony held in a field just outside Kapilavatthu. The King, who was to perform the ceremony himself, had Siddharta accompany him.

The boy sat watching the proceedings under a tree referred to in the Patåhamasambodhi as Jambupikkha, which is also known as the Jambolan tree.


What happens next is poetically described: The tree “was endowed with lush branches and leaves like a mountain indanil, with broad spread, a shady place…” The prince’s pure mind, endowed with the potential for the future attainment of Buddhahood, was moved to calm and naturally went into the level of concentration (samadhi) known as first absorption (jhana).

In the afternoon, when the plowing ceremony was over and the royal attendants rushed to find the Prince, they found that the shadow of the tree under which he sat had remained where it was at
midday, not following the movements of the sun.”


The seven weeks at Uruvela
(now called Bodhgaya) and its Trees

Buddha attained Awakenment under the Boddhi tree at Uruvela on Vaisakha Poornima, the full moon day in April-May month. After that he is said to have stayed for 7 weeks meditating and mastering all his senses, whilst staying under the Boddhi tree as well as some other trees. Various Buddhist accounts of these seven weeks do not always exactly match in some details such as timing, but we have tried to record the essence here. The possibility has to be kept in mind that the seven weeks are more of an allegory or a teaching aid than actual physical history.

Week 1

During the first week the Buddha stayed under the Great Bodhi tree and so does include the awakenment.

This is where, just before his awakenment, he received the bowl of kheer from the shepardess Sujatta. One version of this event is that Sujatta had prepared the food to offer to the tree spirit. When the starving skeleton of the Bodhisattva was found, he was thought to be a physical manifestation of the tree spirit.

This is also the place where Buddha had to face a battle with Mara. Mara is said to be the Lord of Death and desire (craving). Mara tempts people with the illusionary attractions of dualistic thinking: Good and evil, light and dark, success and failure, purity and defilement, life and death, ‘me’ as a separate entity from everything else, and so on.

Mara makes us forget that all these concepts are completely and utterly interdependent. He tells us we can choose for good, for the light, for success, for purity, for life, for our own ego. But of course we can never have the one without the other. No life without death, No good without evil.

Mara’s ultimate challenge to Buddha was to claim (the throne of) awakenment as his own achievement. But Buddha responded that it the result of the accumulated perfections of many previous lives and called on Mother Earth to witness the truth of this statement.

A Buddhist scripture called “The Pathamasambodhi” describes what happens next: “The great earth was incapable of remaining inactive … It sprang up from the earth in the form of a young maiden…” and served as witness for the Bodhisatta. Thereupon, [the maiden] squeezed water from her hair. That water is referred to as daksinodaka, which is all the water that the Great Being had used to consecrate the vows made in his previous lives, which Mother Earth had kept in her hair. When she squeezed her hair, all that water flowed out.

 ”It was a great flow that flooded all the land, like a great ocean….. The armies of Mara were powerless to stop it and were swept away and entirely carried off by the current. As for Girimekhala, Vassavadi Mara’s elephant, it was swept off its feet and, unable to maintain its balance, was carried off to the ocean. …Thus Mara was eventually defeated.”

The place, at the foot of the Bodhi tree, where Buddha sat is known as the “Throne of Awakenment.”  The Buddhist emperor Asoka had a shrine called the Diamond throne  (Vajrasana) erected at this exact place, which is often called “The navel of the Earth”.  A cutting of the progeny of the original Bodhi tree was planted nearby.  It seems reasonable to suppose that the title “Navel of the Earth” was derived from the actual tree, since this symbolism in connection with the tree is ancient and world-wide.

The Buddha’s statement that his awakenment was not just the achievement of the actual person he is now, but also of accumulated mindfulness of many different previous existences (which must have included a long evolutionary chain of all different creatures) is very significant. Again, this is an assertion which includes the whole of the Natural World, as opposed to the dualistic separatism of Mara.

In the ‘light’ of the above, we note that echo’s of Mara continue to be heard in the word ‘awakenment’. Light and dark create and need each other as much as any other pair of opposites. Maybe there might have been better translations of the original word, which must have meant something like ‘receiving (or being) supreme knowledge’???

Be that as it may, Buddha attained his awakenment at dawn. The time when the majority of living creatures wakes up invigorated by resting in the nurturing dark.

It is said that the devas (Nature spirits) played music, danced and sang in his honor.
Their tribute may be seen as another sign of the Buddha at-one-ness or harmony with Nature.

Week 2

Some accounts say that the Buddha spend this second week under the Banyan tree, where he faced Mara again, this time in the form of his three daughters. Their names translated give the following qualities:

  • ‘delight’ (including craving, endless desire)
  • ‘aversion or hatred’ (incl. jealousy)
  • lust

None of the sensual attractions offered were able to tempt or distract the Buddha away from his mindfulness meditation.

This particular Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) he sat under is also known as the “ajapalanigrodha” tree from ‘ajapala’ meaning ‘a place for goatherds’ and ‘nigrodha’ meaning ‘banyan tree’. According to the legend, this banyan tree had long been a resort of goatherds, and goatherds in the local area had long used the shade of this banyan tree to graze their goats.

Other accounts of the 7 weeks say that Buddha stood in standing posture gazing motionless at the Bodhi tree in this second week and went to the Banyan tree later on.

Week 3

Again we meet with some differences in interpretation. Some hold that the Buddha sat meditating near Mucalinda lake/pond, whereas other think this event took place in week 6.

There was an incredible thunderstorm and a veritable deluge, lasting 7 days, coming down from the sky. However, the snake-king of the lake, called ‘Muchalinda’ came out of the lake and encircled Buddha’s body several times and held his great head above him like an umbrella.

The illustrated history of the Buddha’s life on interprets the Mucalinda as a type of tree. Here follow two quotes which describe the tree:

·         “The mucalinda is a tree that grows commonly in India, and figures in much Indian literature, such as the Jatakas and elsewhere. In the Vessantara Jataka the mucalinda is the tree to which the Bodhisatta resorted when he was banished to the forest.” (1)


·         “In Thailand we call the mucalinda the “jik” tree. This seems to be right, as the places in which the two trees tend to take root are similar: both tend to arise in damp places, such as on river banks, near ponds, along canals and lakes. Its wood is resilient, its flowers hang down, and are white and red in color. The leaves are about the same size as roseapple leaves. The tender leaves are astringent and are tasty used as a vegetable and dipped in chili sauce. The flavor is similar to the leaves of the roseapple tree. Usually the tree has rich foliage and offers good shade.” (1)

The snake was said to have wrapped himself around Buddha seven times and in some pictures, it has seven heads. Snakes have not always had a popular press, but snakes or serpents are an ancient symbol of the life force that has much richness and depth (Read more about this elsewhere on The-Tree) Snakes which eat their own tail are an example and many people are also familiar with the healing symbol of two snakes wrapping themselves around a flowering wand 3½ turns.

Beneficent creatures that come from the bottom of lakes also often symbolise perfect attunement or intuition.

Mythical snakes have of course since ancient times been closely associated with trees. Not just as a tempting voice, like that of the  Snake in the Garden of Eden, but often as a partner with the Tree.
Both Tree and Serpent are beings whose qualities act as a map of the “shape of the world” and its energy-flows. (See
Tree of Life meditation)

This tale shows again that Buddha is completely at one with the World/Life force. This is a state in which we do not suffer from fear even in the heaviest of weathers, commotions or emotional traumas.

The image of Buddha being protectively embraced by the snake is also said to indirectly teach the benefits of developing loving kindness and compassion.(1)

 Week 4

The Buddha spent the fourth week in meditation under the Rajayatana or Ket tree reflecting on the Patthana or the Causal Law.

(Some sources say that he stayed under this tree in the seventh week).
While He sat here in deep contemplation the six rays of blue, yellow, red, white, orange and a combination of all these colours together emanated from His body. The Buddhist flag used in all Buddhist countries is designed on the basis of these colours.

Two caravan merchants from Burma, who were traveling through, heard about the Buddha and went to offer food, but the Buddha had no bowl to receive it in. However four deva kings (Nature spirits, who have the duty of protecting the world) each brought a bowl to offer to the Buddha. The Buddha received the four bowls and through a vow made them all into one. The kings are:

·         King Dhataratha, who lives in the East, is the Lord of the gandhabbas (heavenly musicians).

·         King Virulhaka, who lives in the South, is the Lord of the earth devas..

·         King Virupaka, lives in the West,  is the Lord of the nagas.

·         King Kuvera, lives in the North, is the Lord of the yakkhas.

The merchants became the very first followers of Buddha.

Rajayatana or Ket tree (Buchanania latifolia - Anacardiaceae or Cashew family) medium sized tree found in India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Yunnan; fruit black, 1-seeded, kernels pear-shaped, 1 cm long, oily, edible, delicious with a combination of almond and pistachio flavours - known as “almondettes” occasionally imported into Europe, eaten raw or roasted or in sweetmeats, pounded and dried fruits made into bread in India, seed oil a substitute for almond or olive oil; bark and fruit yield a varnish; bark used in tanning; browsed; gum used in traditional medicine against leprosy; also used to treat burns, cholera, dysuria, fever, gingivitis, phthisis; wood for fuel; trees grown for erosion control . Kernel 51.8% oil, 12.1% protein, 21.6% starch, 5% sugars. (Facts from UN - FAO)

 Week 5

Buddha returns to the Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis).

“He reflected on the truth (dhamma) that he had been awakened to. Realizing how subtle and profound it was, he felt disinclined to teach, wondering whether there would be anyone who could understand his teaching. Thus, part of him was inclined to contentment [merely with his own awakenment], to not bothering to teach others.” (1)

Lord Sahampati was gravely concerned about those thoughts, and declared out loud three times, “Now the world is lost.” The Pathamasambodhi writes: “That sound resounded throughout the ten thousand world systems. Lord Sahampati, together with a retinue of devas, approached the Buddha and formally made a request to him to teach the Dhamma.” 

This “is an allegorical teaching. Translated into a factual statement, we might interpret Sahampati Brahma as being the Buddha’s own compassion. Even though the Buddha was inclined not to teach the Dhamma, another part of him, which was stronger, decided to teach.”

One of the most important statements the Buddha then made was that only by one’s deeds one becomes a perfect Brahmana, and not by birth. This was a radical assertion to make since the cultures of
India and Nepal have rigid caste systems.

 Week 6 and 7

From the sixth to the eighth weeks after the awakenment the Buddha spent his time going back and forth between the Great Bodhi tree and the goatherds’ banyan tree. 

Some accounts report that he sat in the 6th week under the Muchalinda Tree (see week 3) and in the 7th under the Rajayata or  Ket Tree (see week4).

The Buddha began to reflect what would be the best way to go about teaching Dhamma (the truth) and decided to start with his former companions, the five ascetics. 

Other trees in Buddha’s life

On the fourteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month, in the eighth week after the awakenment, the Buddha took leave of the area of the awakenment to make his way to the Deer Park, nowadays known as Sarnath, in the vicinity of Varanasi. 

Here he found the five companions with whom he wondered in the forest for several years and here he delivered he also delivered his first teachings.

For the next 45 years the Buddha walked and taught in the region of the Ganges/Ganga river and its tributaries and the Himalayan foothills.

Of course Buddha lived in a time and place when forests and trees were still very abundant. Nevertheless it is truly remarkably how often specific trees and forests are mentioned in various Scriptures

It appears very much as if these trees and places are seen as entities in their own right, with a spirit which deserves recognition. In addition to all that is mentioned already above, we can also note the following:

·         The first Buddhist monastery was a grove of Bamboo trees donated by a regional king.

·         The new community also made a regular habit of holding retreats in forests, for example Palilaya Forest (see illustration above).

·         We could also wonder just how often the trees with their fruits and nuts provided a meal for Buddha and those of his follower monks, who were his traveling companions?

When the Buddha knew that the end of his life was near, he asked his helper Ananda to prepare a bed for him between two Sal trees (Shorea robusta) with his head turned towards the North and this is where he died. The two trees were said to be in full blossom when he died This is a huge Thai site, dedicated to making Buddhist scriptures digitally available. It contains amongst many other gems a illustrated history of the Buddha’s life. The pictures used to illustrate this page and quotes concerning the Pathamasambodhi and notated quotes derive from the illustrated history on this website.

There are are a wealth of excellent websites if you want to know more about the life of the Buddha. Please also see the links on previous pages

The Bodhi Tree - Ficus religiosa

Ficus religiosa is a variety of Fig tree that was already known as the Bodhi tree, is a sacred tree to Buddhists. It is the oldest depicted tree in Indian art and literature and it can be said that this is the mythical ‘World Tree’ or the ‘Tree Of Life’ of the Indian subcontinent (as we find other locally common trees fulfilling this role in different parts of the world, for example the Yggdrasil the Ash tree in Scandinavia).

On this page we present a overview of various bits of human knowledge about this Sacred Tree.


·         Botanical Familiy                                            

·         Medicinal Uses of the Tree

·         Animal Fodder

·         Customs and beliefs


·         Cultivation

·         Websites

·         Common names

·         Nomenclature

·         Description

·         Habitat


Botanical Family

Moraceae (Mulberry family).
The tree is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Urticales, family Moraceae.

Common names

Bodhi tree, Bo tree, Peepal, Beepul tree, Pipal, Pipalla, Sacred tree, Ashwattha, Ashvattha, Sacred Fig, Buddha tree.

Since there are many different languages on the Asian sub-continent, this tree has a huge number of common names, too numerous to mention here.
Some examples follow:

Gujrati: Jari, Pipers, Pipal
Hindi: Pipal, Pipali
Kanarese: Arani, Ashwatha mara, Pippala, Ragi
Marathi: Pimpal
Sanskrit: Ashvatha, Bodhidruma, Pippala, Shuchidruma, Vrikshraj, yajnika


‘Ficus’ is the latin word for ‘Fig’, the fruit of the tree.
‘Religiosa’ refers to ‘religion’, because the tree is sacred in both Hinduism and Buddhism and is very frequently planted in temples and shrines of both faiths.
‘Bodhi’ or its short form ‘Bo’ means ’supreme knowledge’ or ‘awakening’ in the old Indian languages.
‘Pipal’ relates (I believe) to the same ancient roots which give rise to English words like ‘Pip’ and ‘Apple’, and therefore mean something like ‘fruit-bearing tree’.
‘Ashwattha’ and ‘Ashvattha’ come from an ancient Indian root word “Shwa” means ‘morning’ or ‘tomorrow’. This refers to the fact that Ashwattha is the mythical Hindu world tree, both indestructible and yet ever-changing: the same tree will not be there tomorrow.



A medium sized tree with a relatively short trunk (often about the height of human being) and a large crown with wonderful wide spreading branches. 

The tree is semi- or fully deciduous in monsoon climates. It becomes leafless for a brief period in dry habitats.

The trunk has smooth grey bark and with age this trunk becomes irregularly shaped, fluted and often has low buttresses. The bark can have brownish specks and peel off in irregular rounded flakes

The young tree can be epiphytic. (Epiphytic plants can have aerial roots and do not require soil to grow. This strategy gives young plants many advantages such as plenty of light.  Water is obtained mostly via air humidity. Nutrients, such as nitrogen, are also derived from the air and occasionally from decomposing matter such as leaves and dead insects. The roots seek out cracks and crevices where soil, water and rotting organic matter accumulate. In natural circumstances most epiphytic plants may be attached to tree bark, as something to hold on to, but not in any way feeding off the tree. This is probably because the seeds have been excreted by birds who visited this tree.  Rocks or buildings are other places the young plants may be found. Once the roots reach the ground they switch over to growing as normal trees.)

A spectacular example is shown on the right.


When the leaves first appear their colour is red-pinkish, but then they turn deep green and grow to about 12 to 18 cm long (5-7 inches). They are attached to long flexible stalks, which makes them rustle, flutter and dance in the slightest whiff of wind. The foliage can often be dense. The alternate leaves are heart-shaped, shiny with an elegant tail-like tip, which is often called a “drip-tip”, guiding water efficiently down to the soil. This prevents the sometimes heavy monsoon rain from collecting on the leaves for prolonged periods, which could make them rot in very warm weather. The leaves have 6-8 pairs of side-veins and a further network of very fine veins. This delicate venation and the ability of the leaf to disintegrate easily in water are both clearly illustrated in the greeting cards which are sometimes made with Peepal leaves. The leaves are soaked for 8 hours (in warm countries) in a bowl of water and then washed carefully under running water until only the veins remain. This skeleton leaf is dried and stuck on a darker background (see illustration on the right).


The small red flowers appear in February. The tree is dependant on its associated pollinator wasp, Blastophaga quadraticeps to set seed.


The tree fruits in May/June and bears a small flat-topped figs (12-13mm or ½ inch in diameter), which appears in pairs in the angles of the leaves on the twigs (or above the scars in the bark left by fallen leaves). They have 3 basal bracts, are green at first and ripen to a blackish purple (may have reddish dots). The fruiting tree becomes a treat for many different birds and animals.


Ficus religiosa is known to be a native Indian tree, and thought to be originating mainly in Northern and Eastern India, where it widely found in uplands and plane areas and grows up to about 1650 metres or 5000 ft in the mountainous areas.

 It is also found growing elsewhere in India and throughout the subcontinent and southern Asia, especially in Buddhist countries, wild or cultivated. After at least 3000 years of veneration and cultivation, it is of course difficult to tell exactly which trees are indigenous and which are not. 

It is a familiar sight in Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries and shrines, villages and at roadsides. People also like to grow this sacred tree in their gardens. In urban situations where there is little room one often finds the tree growing in Bonsai form. Many places derive their name from the tree and one can find villages such as Piprahi and Piperbandha.

Ficus religiosa has also been widely planted in many hot countries all over the world from
South Africa to Hawaii and Florida, but it is not able to naturalise away from its Indian home, because of its dependence on its pollinator wasp, Blastophaga quadraticeps. 
An exception to this rule is
Israel where the wasp has been successfully introduced.


Each Fig species has an associated species of agaonid wasp to pollinate its flowers. This means that it will only freely propagate itself in its native areas where this wasp is present, unless the wasp gets successfully introduced (see above). In turn the wasps will only lay their eggs in the Figs they are associated with. The pollinator wasp for Ficus religiosa is Blastophaga quadraticeps.

Wherever pollinator wasps are not present, the seeds are therefore not viable and the trees must be propagated from cuttings.

Once established Ficus religiosa can be a very long-lived tree. On page 3 we described the venerable tree in
Sri Lanka which is known to have been planted in the 3th century before Christ’s birth. There is also a veteran tree in Bombay which is even older at about 3000 years.

Known Medicinal Uses of the Tree:

Please note:

It has to be kept in mind that many of the uses reported below, may have been part of a particular system of medicine, mostly Indian Aryuvedic Medicine and the usage of parts of  Ficus religiosa, as given here, may not be as effective outside the general Aryuvedic regime or without the knowledge of an Aryuvedic practioner who would know the finer details of doses and application details.

One of the sources of the indications below, Pushp K. Jain warns the reader with a millennium old quote:

“Proper use makes a good remedy even out of poison while a good medicinal plant acts as a poison if used improperly.” Caraka-samhita (1000 B.C) 

All parts of the tree are cooling and useful in diseases of blood, vagina, uterus, leucorrhoea, burning sensation, biliousness, ulcers. The notable exception here is the milky juice or latex found in the stem, which must be handled with care and which should not be taken internally, as it may be toxic. 


·         The bark is cooling and astringent.

·         An aqueous extract of the bark shows anti-bacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

·         The bark is useful in inflammations and glandular swellings of neck.

·         An infusion or decoction of the bark is used with some honey for the treatment of gonorrhoea, ulcers, skin diseases and scabies.

·         Freshly burnt ashes of the bark are steeped in water and given to cure obstinate cases of hiccups, resistant to other home remedies. This preparation also stops nausea. The healers simply burn the bark, collect the ash and store it for future use.

·         A decoction of milk boiled with dried bark is said to be a good aphrodisiac.

·         Unani practitioners blow the powder of the dried bark into the rectum through a pipe in cases of anal fistula and inflammatory swellings as an absorbent. The astringent property of the bark will be helpful here.

·         The dried bark powder is also sprinkled over unhealthy ulcers and wounds to promote granulation.

·         A standard compound preparation, Pancha Valkaladi Tailum, containing several herbs including the decoction of the bark of Peepal is used as an external application in cases of eczema, leprosy and rheumatism. 

·         Leaves and bark are astringent and laxative and are employed together to relieve diarrhea and dysentery and also to help reduce bleeding.

Root bark

·         Root bark is good for stomatitis, to clean ulcers, and it is astringent in leucorrhoea and promotes granulations.

·         According to Unani system of medicine, root bark is aphrodisiac and also good for lumbago


·         Roots are said to be good for gout.

·         The roots are chewed to prevent gum disease.


·         The fruit is laxative, promotes digestion, is aphrodisiac, and checks vomiting.

·         Ripe fruits are alexipharmic (an antidote or defensive remedy against poison, venom or infection), are good for foul taste, thirst, and heart disease,

·         The powdered fruit is taken for asthma. It is said that the powder taken with water for two weeks cures asthma.


·         The seeds are cooling, laxative, refrigerant.

·         Seeds are useful in urinary troubles.

Leaves (Some of the indication below may seem contradictory, but the therapeutic action is very likely due to combining ingredients and quantities given, etc.)

·         The leaves are used with “ghee” (a clarified butter) as a poultice and applied to boils and to swollen glands in mumps.

·         As female tonic and also as preventive, the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh plains suggest the female patients to use the leaves of Pipal with cow milk regularly, both during attack and disease free time. They instruct them to boil the leaf in milk and drink it, once in a day. 

·         The leaves and bark together are employed to relieve diarrhea and dysentery and to reduce bleeding.

·         The leaves alone are used to treat constipation.

·         The leaves and young shoots together are purgative (strong laxative).

·         In some areas licking honey placed on peepal leaves is believed to cure speech irregularities.

Latex (milky juice in the stems)

·         The latex is used in the same way as other Fiscus species, including application to hemorrhoids, warts, and aching joints. This should never be used internally and must be handled carefully.

Animal fodder

The fruits, tender leaves and twigs of the tree are commonly lopped to provide cattle and elephant fodder.

Some Customs and beliefs associated with the Tree:

The traditions and beliefs surrounding this venerable tree go back into the mists of time. There is an Upanisadic  story of the Pippala tree as the Tree of Supreme Knowledge, which is the great-grandmother to the Bible story of Adam and Eve eating from The Tree of Life.

Ficus religiosa is said to have its mythical origin in the personality of Indra, the ruler of the skies, but many of the Hindu Gods have equally close associations with the tree. It has been called the Tree of eternal life whose roots originate in heaven and whose branches spread on Earth to bring blessings to humankind.

We will explore the religious and philosophical significance of the tree a bit more on page 7 (so as not to overload this page too much) and concentrate here on listing some of the practical side of the beliefs, which has lead to a great variety of customs

Vedic Boat

In Vedic times, boats were made of peepal wood. “(6)

I wonder if this usage is related to the tree being connected with the passage of souls to the world of the Dead, because further down we see that the tree is associated with Death, Ancestors and Ghosts. Many cultures all over the world have looked on special trees as vehicles to connect our world with the so called “Otherworld” and the residence of dead souls and ancestors in trees (as well as the trees’ own spirits) is universal.


The peepal has inspired artists and sculptors for centuries to create graphic designs and sculptural friezes which stylise its branches as a symbol of a rich life. “(8)

The leaves of some of the temple trees are highly prized as relics which pilgrims take home with them..
The leaves, which are about the size of a hand, have also been widely used as a canvas for small paintings, sometimes describing mythical or religious themes or also just rural scenes.


The ashwattha symbolises the continuity of life because the tree itself lives and grows for hundreds of years. Childless couples devoutly believe in its powers and worship it, tying threads of white, red and yellow silk around it to pray for progeny and rewarding parenthood.”(8)

Women circumambulate the peepal tree to be blessed with children or to gain a desired thing or person.”(6)

Watering the bodhi tree enhances another aspect of its magic: the power of fertility. ‘Villagers come to the bodhi tree” observes Godakumbura “and having made due observances, pray for a male child, thus continuing the original fertility image” (1)

“Godakumbura enumerates a number of factors which seem to assert the fertility aspect of this tree. “When we consider the history of the bodhi tree, we notice that from the very beginning of its recorded history it was attended by females… Emperor Asoka had sent it to
Ceylon accompanied by the Theri Sanghamitta and Bhikkunis, making a total of twelve. Along with the large retinue that was sent to attend on the bodhi tree, Asoka also sent four royal maidens to pour water on the tree during the festivals that took place at the port. The bodhi tree was sprinkled with water by virgins of the Ksatriya, Vesya and Brahmana clans…. At Anuradhapura, the duty of attending on the bodhi tree fell to the nuns, the order which was founded by Theri Sanghamitta. 

The four royal maidens who were appointed by the king to sprinkle water on the bodhi tree were called peraehara bisavu (
Bath Maidens). The ‘Sinhala Bodhivamsaya’ (The Chronicle of the Bodhi tree) describes in detail the institution of peraehara biso “Saying that four royal virgins should pour water on the Bodhi-tree with golden and silver pitchers, the king decked them with every kind of ornament and appointed them to the office of Peraharabiso. All four of these royal virgins entered the king’s palace with great splendour. The position of the Peraharabiso maidens was somewhat like that of the Vestal Virgins in ancient Rome

Today, however, this ritual is conducted not by maidens but by monks and laymen. Bodhi-pujas, offering of vows to the bodhi has become today extremely popular. The bodhi tree which makes rains fall, crops grow and blesses women with offspring is, thus, tended with care and veneration by the Sri Lankan Buddhists. “(1)


The Banian (Ficus benghalensis) tree is  ” supposed to be a male tree, while the Aswath-tha or Peepul (Ficus religiosa) is looked upon as a female, whence the lower orders of the people plant them side by side and perform the ceremony of matrimony with a view to connect them as man and wife”.(7)

Bengal, peepal and banyan trees are married..”(6)

“In Awadh, if a girl’s horoscope predicts widowhood, she is first married to a peepal tree on Chaitra krishna or Ashwin Krishna tritiya. In olden days, when remarriage was forbidden for girls, young widows were married to the peepal tree and then allowed to remarry.”(6)

“People belonging to Dhantale caste who reside in
Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh use a branch of the peepal tree in the marriage ceremony. The branch, along with a pot of water, is placed between the bride and groom. The village deity is installed under the peepal tree which also provides a shaded place to hold the panchayat.”(6)

More healing properties

Watering the bodhi tree even at other times is a common rite observed in all temples. Folklore has it that giving life to the bodhi tree by watering it is similar to giving life to a being who is in need of it. When someone is taken fatally ill, it is the custom for one of his relatives to visit the bodhi, water it seven times on seven days and make vows on behalf of the sick for speedy recovery.” (1)

The air purification properties of Pipal tree are also mentioned in ancient Indian literatures”. (7)

“The natives informed me about the benefits of taking bath under the Pipal tree.” (7)

Death, ancestors and ghosts

Peepal tree is also believed to be the abode of Lord Yama (god of death) and ancestors. Offerings made at its roots are believed to reach them. In Rajasthan, if a man dies, his son pours 300 buckets of water at the root of a peepal tree and circumambulates it five times so that his father’s soul would rest in peace. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, water, milk and sesame seeds are offered to ancestors in an earthen pot hung on the peepal tree.” (6)

The natives of rural areas associate Pipal tree with Bhoot (ghost) and according to them, this tree is home of ghosts. This is the reason that during night time, they hesitate to go near these trees.”(7)
The Munja ghost is also believed to stay on peepal tree.”(6)

The Thai people also believe that ghosts live in the tree and it is said that their whispers can be heard in the rustling leaves of the tree.

Rites of passage

A peepal tree is planted to the east of the house or temple. Eight, 11 or 12 years after the tree has been planted, the upanayan ceremony is performed for the tree. A round platform is constructed around the tree. Different gods like Ashwattha, Narayan, Vasudev, Rukmini, Satyabhama are invoked and worshipped. All the rituals of the upanayan ceremony are performed and then the tree is married to the basil plant.”(6)

Gods and the Tree

“Once, Agni (the fire god) left the land of the gods, took the form of Ashwattha and resided on the peepal tree for a year. Since then, Peepal is also known as Ashwattha.”(6)

“According to Padmapuran , Vishnu turned into a peepal tree because of a curse by sage Ambarish.”(6)
“Once, all the gods decided to visit Shiva. However, Narad informed them that it was an inappropriate time for a visit as Shiva and Parvati were in solitude. But Indra did not heed the advice and assured the gods that there was nothing to fear when he was there to protect them. Narad reported Indra’s arrogance to goddess Parvati. She cursed the gods that they, along with their wives, would turn into trees. When the gods asked for forgiveness, she promised that as trees, they would attain fame. Thus Indra turned into a mango tree, Brahma became a palash tree and Vishnu turned into a peepal tree.”(6)

Peepal and the Neem tree

In Tamil Nadu, peepal and neem trees are planted so close to each other that they mix up as they grow. A naga idol is placed under them and worshipped. This is believed to bless the worshipper with wealth. Women take an early morning bath and circumambulate these trees.”(6)

Other Rituals

Chakkiliyan people in Tamil Nadu place the Gangamma ghatam under a peepal tree near a river and worship it for ten days.”(6)

“Tribals in
Bengal call the peepal tree as Vasudev (a Hindu God). They water the plant in the month of Vaishakh and at times of difficulty.”(6)

“Peepal tree is planted in the temples of Shani and Hanuman. The tree is worshipped on Saturday, especially in the month of Shravana, because goddess Lakshmi sits under the tree on this day. Any person who waters the tree is believed to earn merit for his progeny, his sorrows are redeemed and diseases cured. The peepal tree is also worshipped to escape from contagious diseases and enemies.(”6)

Another popular ritual connected with the Bodhi-tree is the lighting of coconut-oil lamps as an offering (pahan-puja), especially to avert the evil influence of inauspicious planetary conjunctions………The other aspects of this ritual consist of the offering of flowers, milk-rice, fruits, betel, medicinal oils, camphor, and coins. These coins (designated panduru) are washed in saffron water and separated for offering in this manner.. The offering of coins as an act of merit-acquisition has assumed ritualistic significance with the Buddhists of the island. ………..Another part of the ritual is the hanging of flags on the branches of the tree in the expectation of getting one’s wishes fulfilled……Bathing the tree with scented water is also a necessary part of the ritual. So is the burning of incense, camphor, etc. Once all these offerings have been completed, the performers would circumambulate the tree once or thrice reciting an appropriate stanza. “(1)

Worship of the tree

“The Vibhanga Commentary (p.349) says that the bhikkhu who enters the courtyard of the Bodhi-tree should venerate the tree, behaving with all humility as if he were in the presence of the Buddha. Thus one of the main items of the daily ritual at the Anuradhapura Bodhi-tree (and at many other places) is the offering of alms as if unto the Buddha himself. A special ritual held annually at the shrine of the Anuradhapura tree is the hanging of gold ornaments on the tree. Pious devotees offer valuables, money, and various other articles during the performance of this ritual.”(1)

“To the Buddhists, the Bodhi-tree became a sacred object belonging to the paribhogika group of the threefold division of sacred monuments, while the ordinary veneration of trees, which also exists side-by-side with the former in Sri Lanka, is based on the belief already mentioned, i.e. that there are spirits inhabiting these trees and that they can help people in exchange for offerings. “(1)

Ficus religiosa leaves, which are about the size of a hand, have been widely used as a canvas for small paintings, sometimes describing mythical/ religious themes and also just rural scenes.


Some informative web pages, which have been consulted for this page:

·         1.

·         2.

·         3.

·         4.

·         5.

·         6.

·         7.

·         8.

Buddha and
the Bodhi tree

James Ricalton, the extraordinary traveller, who left us a photo and description of The Sacred Bo-Tree of Lanka in 1891 (see below)

The oldest living continually documented tree in the world

Many sacred trees in India and other countries are originally raised from seeds brought from the ancient Bodh Gaya tree (Photo on the right shows the entrance to the tree shrine). A shoot of the original Bodhi tree was taken to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka. The Lankan king Devanampiya Tissa planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura where it still grows to this day. The event was documented in the the Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of the Sinhalese.
It is also recorded that forty Bodhi-saplings that grew from the seeds of the original Bodhi-tree at
Anuradhapura were planted at various places in the island during the time of Devanampiya Tissa himself. It has been a custom for every Buddhist monastery in the island to have its own Bodhi-tree. Nowadays the tree has become a familiar sight in Sri Lanka, and it is possible that all were derived from the original tree at Anuradhapura through seeds. No one know whether or not the Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) was indigenous before the introduction of the Anuradapura tree, as this cannot be proved or disproved.

Below you find a couple of brief and extremely readable extracts left to us by James Ricalton, who visited the tree in 1891. James was a much-loved teacher in Maplewood, USA, whose great passion was traveling all over the world. He also played a part in the physical enlightenment of our houses. Thomas Edison, a local friend of James, asked him to search the Far East for a bamboo filament to use in his new electric light bulb. He delivered hundreds of samples to Edison, together with his recommendation for the two species he felt most suitable. For nearly nine years (until Edison discovered something better), all Edison lamps were made with the bamboo filaments that Ricalton discovered. 

The Sacred Bo-Tree of (Sri) Lanka

ANURADHAPURA - “More than a hundred years before Tsin-Shee Hwang-Tee had set his millions of laborers at work on the great wall of China, ancient Anuradhapura was a flourishing city and the capital of Lanka, as the island was called by the ancients. It was a youthful contemporary of Babylon and Nineveh, greater than either in territorial area, and was in its glory and amplitude when Rome and Carthage were young”.

The Sacred Bo-Tree of Lanka
(The oldest historical tree in the world having stood for more than 2130 years)
From a photograph by James Ricalton.)

“For a time I become a pilgrim myself, and join their number, that I may witness the object of their devotion as wonderful to me as it is worshipful to them. We reach the uppermost of three successive terraces of masonry, which is crowned by the multiple trunk of a venerable tree. The several divisions of this tree are feeble, gnarled, and bent; the leaves lack the fresh verdancy of a vigorous growth, and plainly show the yellowish pallor of decrepitude. The soil that nourishes its roots is wellnigh saturated with the oil of its anointment; yet, bent with age, this patriarch spreads its protecting arms over the jaded devotees, while they deposit beneath it and around it their offerings of coconut-oil, palm-blossom, champac flowers, and the bloom of the temple-tree (frangipani). Then their eager gaze is turned upward to the branches; they crave a single leaf, but none would dare pluck it from the tree; it must fall in full maturity to yield its maximum of merit. I had travelled nearly a hundred miles to look upon this wonderful tree, and was also anxious to carry away a specimen of its sacred leafage. A passing breeze sways the branches; the leaves rustle; the watchers gaze more expectantly; a withered member is separated from its branch and comes sailing down. There is no whoop of exultation, no trifling smile; but instead, a determined sally, a pious scramble, a collision of zealous hands and heads, and the solitary leaf is borne away in the happy bosom of the successful competitor. The prizes were few and the competitors were many, so I could only hope to secure one by remaining till the pilgrims, at nightfall, had turned their steps homeward, which I did; but even then robed monks remained to guard this holy of holies.
As if, however, to reward my patience, two leaves fell at my feet, whereupon, well satisfied, I turned away from a tree that is enshrined in the hearts of four hundred millions of the human family, and which is, in all probability, the oldest historical tree in the world; and when I tell the reader that it has been dropping its consecrated leaves into the outstretched hands of pilgrims for two thousand one hundred and thirty years, he will, I trust, pardon a desire on my part to carry away a memorial.”

by James Ricalton in 1891

The stone surround and steps leading to the ancient Anuradhapura Bodhi or Bo-Tree in modern days. Note the many prayer flags hanging in the foreground.

Brief history of the Mahabodhi Temple

About 250 years after the Enlightenment, Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya with the intention of establishing a monastery, shrine, and erecting the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana), the Seat of Awakenment. He is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi Temple.

During the 12th century AD, Bodh Gaya and the nearby regions were invaded by Muslim armies. Afterward, the Mahabodhi Temple fell into disrepair and was largely abandoned. During the 16th century, a Hindu monastery was established near Bodh Gaya. Over the following centuries, the monastery’s abbot or mahant became the area’s primary landholder and claimed ownership of the Mahabodhi Temple grounds.

In the 1880’s, the new British government began to restore Mahabodhi Bodhi under the direction of Alexander Cunningham. A short time later, in 1891, the Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala started a campaign to return control of the temple to Buddhists, over the objections of the mahant. The campaign was partially successful in 1949, when a new Temple law was passed and the daily management passed to a temple committee with 4 Hindu and 4 Buddhist members and a Hindu chairman.

From 2002 the Mahabodhi Temple has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Details of carvings on the Stupa near the Bodhi tree


Some 19th century pictures of the Bodhi tree

Watercolour, 19th century By Thomas Daniel 


Painting of the Temple in 1830 by Charles D’Oyly


Engraving, 19th century By William Daniel 

The teachings of Buddha

After Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, he bathed in the Nairanjana (also spelled ‘Nerañjara’ )river, now called the river Phalgu. He is said to have spend 7 weeks (some say 50 days) in or near Uruvela village after his enlightenment, and this place was later called Bodh Gaya in honour of what happened here.
(We will write more about these 7 weeks on page 6, because not only was the Bodhi tree (a Fig tree, called Ficus religiosa)  involved during this period, but several other trees are also explicitly mentioned in various Buddhist traditions.)

“Seven weeks he tarried there, mastering his senses, while that be himself, knew the high bliss of deliverance and let (others) behold its felicity.” (Mahavamsa chapter 1)

Sarnath, also known as the “
Deer Park“,
 the place where Buddha presented his first teachings.
 One of the 4 holy places of Buddhism.

Then Buddha went to Sarnath, also known as the “Deer Park” to find the companions he used to wander with in the forest. The five ascetics were not impressed seeing that the Buddha was no longer a complete starving skeleton and reminded him of his former vows of denying the body. They made some fun of him saying things like: “Here comes the mendicant Gautama, who has turned away from asceticism!”

However Buddha said “Austerities only confuse the mind. In the exhaustion and mental stupor to which they lead, one can no longer understand the ordinary things of life, still less the truth that lies beyond the senses. I have given up extremes of either luxury or asceticism. I have discovered the Middle Way“.

Of course we don’t know exactly what happened between Gautama Buddha and his old friends. He may have told them how an instrument cannot make harmonious music if the strings are not just exactly strung right: “Too slack and they won’t play at all. Too tight and they break!” He may have used other examples to convince them to consider the Middle Way, but whatever took place: the five ascetics became his first disciples and found enlightenment too . Some say that the Buddha emanated light, which convinced the ascetics.

Gautama Buddha started teaching not to debate but for the advantage of and out of compassion for human beings. 
He explained the middle way which avoids extremes..
Very briefly, the essence of this teaching can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold path.

The Four Noble Truths

  • 1. There is suffering
  • 2. Suffering has a cause (which is craving)
  • 3. The cause is removable, and 
  • 4. There are ways to remove the causes. The way to end Suffering is to end craving, through practice of the Eightfold Path

The Eight-fold Path

  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right concentration
  • Right attitude
  • Right view


Monks meditating and praying near the Bodhi tree

Other major teachings, which all Buddhist schools agree on, are:

·         The law of dependent causation: Events are not predestined, nor are they random, but events are caused by the actions that preceded them.

·         Rejection of the infallibility of accepted scripture: teachings should not be accepted unless they are borne out by our experiences.

·         Anicca: All things are impermanent.

·         Anatta: There is no eternal soul, and the perception of a constant “self” is an illusion.

After his birth in what is now Nepal, the ascetic phase of Gautama played mostly in Southeastern India. The enlightenment and first teachings at Sarnath took place in the Buddha’s 35th year.
For the remaining 45 years of his life, he traveled the Gangetic Plain of central India (region of the Ganges/Ganga river and its tributaries), teaching his doctrine and discipline to an extremely diverse range of people, from nobles, street sweepers, outcastes, and including many adherents of rival philosophies and religions. His religion was open to all races and classes and had no caste structure. He founded the community of Buddhist monks and nuns (the Sangha) to continue the dispensation after his death and Paranirvana or complete Nirvana. He made thousands of converts.

To shun all evil.
To do good.
To purify one’s heart.
This is the teaching of the Buddhas.
       Dhammapada, XIV, 5

Buddhism largely consists of the doing of good action, the avoidance of bad action, and mental training. The aim of these practices is to put an end to suffering and achieve enlightenment; either for oneself, or ideally for all beings. Enlightenment leads to touching or abiding in nirvāna (Sanskrit: “Extinguishing.”). When you achieve this you do not have to be reborn again because you are no longer part of the wheel of pain and suffering. Yet some enlightened beings, such as the Dalai Lama and other great teachers, renounce this achievement and choose to be reborn again to work for the greater good of all sentient beings.
Buddhist morality is guided by principles of harmlessness and moderation. Buddhists frequently use meditation to try to gain insight into the fundamental operations of human psychology and the causal processes of the world.
While Buddhism does not deny the existence of supernatural beings (indeed, many are discussed in Buddhist scripture), it does not ascribe power for creation, salvation or judgment to them. Like humans, they are regarded as having the power to affect worldly events, and so some Buddhist schools associate with them via ritual.


The 4 holy places of Buddhism

There have traditionally been 4 holy places in Buddhism, which are all much visited by pilgrims. They are:

  • Lumbini Forest in Nepal where the Buddha was born
  • Bodh Gaya (also spelled Bodhgaya) in India where he gained enlightenment under the Boddhi tree. This is place that we highlight on our website, because we find here what is probably the most revered tree in the whole world.
  • Sarnath (”the Deer Park“) in India where Buddhi first set the Wheel of Dharma (meaning ‘Teachings”) in motion by teaching his first discourse. 
  • Kusinanara in Nepal, where the Buddha died in a Sal Forest.

Prayer flags near the Bodhi tree

The Sacred Bodhi tree in Bodgaya

The Bodhi tree, which so many Buddhist pilgrims travels from far places to come and see,  is situated in the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya.. It is believed that the tree has died or has been destroyed at least five times. However, it has always been replanted from offspring of the previous tree.
Quite early on a cutting of the original tree is said to have been planted in
Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka (You can read about this tree on the following page). The present tree in turn has grown from a sapling of the Anuradhapura tree.

Many tales are told about the Sacred Bodhi tree. It is believed that the original tree sprang up the day the Buddha was born

Bodh Gaya is now quite an international town. Over the years Buddhists of different countries (Burma or Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Tibet, China, Thailand, Bhutan) have built temples, stupas, monasteries, guest houses, and meditation centres in their own particular architectural styles. These are decorated with colourful images and Buddhist symbols. Many of them date back to the 8th to 12th century.

The Bodhi tree is close to the Stupa in the Mahabodhi Temple

Want to learn more about Buddhism?

Some of the information on these pages about Budhist teachings and the Mahabodhi Temple is derived from Wikipedia, a marvelous free Internet encycopedia with excellent and very comprehensive sections on the Buddha and his life and Buddhism and its teachings:
It is probably one of the best sources on the Internet, which allows a beginner to get a good overview of Buddhist doctrines and its various schools.

Buddha and
the Bodhi tree

Buddha reached enlightenment, whilst sitting under a variety of Fig tree known as Ficus religiosa. In these pages we learn more about this extraordinary event, the place where it happened,  the tree species involved and we end with some contemplations about ancient Buddhism and trees. 

The Sacred Boddhi tree in in the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodgaya in 2004 CE. The tree is a descendant of the actual tree under which Buddha reached enlightenment.
Photo courtesy of Dan Minock
(from Beva pilgrimage website)

The Awakenment of Buddha

The birth of Buddha and the prophecy

In 544 BCE, over five centuries before the birth of Christ, the ruling family of the Sakyas in the kingdom of Magadha (an area which is now in Nepal) was enriched by the addition of a baby boy.
It was tradition for a woman to give birth in her parents house, but whilst on her way there, Mayadevi (also known as Mahamaya) his Mother, started her labours and so it was that a very special baby was born in Lumbini forest in

His name was Siddhārtha Gautama (Also spelt ‘Gotama’) and a highly respected hermit and seer foretold that this boy would become a great holy man or the greatest religious teacher in the world.
Siddhārtha’s Father, Suddhodana, was mighty upset by the prediction concerning his child. He had a different vision for his son and heir and wanted him to follow in his footsteps rather than face the rigours and austerities of becoming a holy man.

He took a great deal of trouble to give the boy a most enjoyable life and to shield him from the tragedies and pains all living creatures will have to endure at times. All to make sure that Siddhārtha would not be tempted to choose the spiritual path and aspire to be anything else but a prince.

Buddha’s first exposure to pain and suffering

Everything went according to plan. The young Siddhārtha thrived and excelled at many arts and activities. In time he was married to a beautiful woman, and a little son was born to the young couple.
Some legends say that on the occasion of the celebrations for the birth of this son, it was the first time ever that Siddhārtha was exposed to the world outside the 3 palaces in which he had been kept a happy prisoner.

The event deeply affected the sensitive young man and was to change his life for ever. He saw what has become known as the 4 “Passing sites”: an old crippled man, a sick man, a decaying corpse, and finally a wandering holy man. Siddhārtha was profoundly bewildered by the suffering he beheld and the realisation that that birth, old age, sickness and death came to everyone, not only once but repeated for life after life for endless aeons.

He felt the need rise within himself to find out if there is a way in which this suffering can be stopped or transformed. His heart flowed over with compassion at the thought of so much pain and anguish for all of humanity, and he set off to lead the life of a wandering holy man, determined not to return until he had found a path that would resolve suffering.

Six years (from age 29 to 35) as a wandering ascetic

There is an ancient tradition that by denying the flesh, we set the spirit free. In Hinduism it was thought that through advanced mind control and ascetic practices, it is possible to set the soul free from cycle of rebirth with its inevitable pain and suffering. The famous Holy people of
India are a good example of humans trying to achieve such a goal and there were a great number of these 2½ millennia ago.
For 6 years Siddhārtha lived the life of an ascetic. He sought instruction from hermit teachers and is said to have surpassed them in his practice, but he did not find the answer he was looking for. He and a small group of companions decided to take their ‘flesh-denying’ practices to the extreme. They practiced breath control, including holding the breath and are said to have survived on merely one grain of rice a day. He became a skeleton and nearly died.

Buddha’s Awakenment under the Bodhi tree

Their are different accounts of how Siddhārtha reached enlightenment, although all of these stories have very similar elements.

Everyone seems to agree that he had begun to realise that starvation and denying the body leads to yet more pain and suffering rather than resolving it. 

At dawn on Vaisakha Poornima, the full moon day in April-May, the kind daughter of the village chief of Senani, Sujata, brought him a bowl of kheer (sweet thickened milk). It is said that the gods had infused the kheer with ambrosia. 

He sat down under the Boddhi Tree to eat it.  ‘Bodhi’ means ‘to awaken’ and ‘Buddha’ means ‘one who is awake’. Siddhartha attained Samma Sambodhi, the Enlightenment that he had been seeking for six years. He was no more a seeker … he had become the Buddha.

The Sacred Boddhi tree in the
Mahabodhi Temple in Bodgaya, India

Ancient Universal principles and archetypes in Buddhism

In spite of all its beneficence Buddhism is undoubtedly a patriarchal religion.
Many of the visitors to websites like this feel a deep longing in their hearts for eco-spirituality. a way of being which embraces non-hierarchical, non-species-ist, non-exploitative, and non-violent, etc. ideas. A spirituality that includes the sacredness of the physical world here and now, as well as other dimensions.

This is why, very briefly, I will sum up some of the ancient universal principles and archetypes incorporated in Buddhism, which have their foundation in the old Nature religions.

·         Maya, His Mother

The name of Buddha’s mother: Maya or Maia originates from the root ‘ma’ from which such words as Mama, making, magic, majesty, moon, month, menses, measure, meter, men, mental, mind, etc. are derived.

She is the pregnant womb of infinite potentiality, the World Virgin, the Cosmic Cauldron of Creativity, Nature made Manifest. She is the endless play of manifestations, which may seem similar yet are never exactly the same. She is the Mother of us all and the magical month of May was called after her..

In Greek myth Maia also was the Mother of the God Hermes, who was a healer and the messenger of the Gods. We come across her in many cultures and with many name variations. Examples are: Maga the Grandmother- goddess who bore Cu Chulainn’s mother; Mary, who was the Mother of Jesus Christ; the May-maiden of Scandinavian mythology.
She is often portrayed as an enchantress for she is the one who appears to make something out of nothing. She has been called ‘the self-projection of the Supreme’. She is much maligned, especially in patriarchal religions as a ‘temptress’, ‘the (oh, so temporary) pleasures of the flesh’, the one who brought pain and death by the virtue of giving life. The Hindu Maya was said to be ‘She who measures’ and ‘Illusion’.

However, her world of appearances gives Divine intelligence (of which we are a little spark)  the opportunity to know its own true nature and to experience its own endless possibilities.

·         Born and enlightened in the April/May month
It seems to me that the emphasis on the timing of Buddha’s birth and enlightenment points in the direction of the Buddha being not only himself but also a representation of the much older archetype of the Green Man, son of Mother Nature or the Earth Goddess. Buddha’s growth and flowering resonate to her great cycles.


·         The Union with Nature: Trees, Nature Spirits, Rain making

In the life story of the Buddha there are countless instances where is he and Nature all around him are completely in tune and at one. We’ve already explored how his relationship with various trees is described, and especially how he becomes at one with or receives enlightenment under the tree. We’ve also heard how all the Nature spirits delighted in his attainment and celebrated it. There are also various accounts of Buddha making rain when he visits drought-stricken areas.

·         The compassion that includes all

Buddha did not seek enlightenment just for his own sake, but to relieve the suffering and pain of all beings.
This too is an ancient theme as a quality which belongs to the son of Nature’s growth. The Green Man (vegetation) is harvested so all creatures can eat, and grow and ‘become’. The God Hermes, also the son of the Goddess Maia, is a healer. Jesus, the virgin Mary’s sun, is sacrificed to save the world.
Similarly Buddhism nurtures compassion and non-violence to all beings, a manifestation of the enlightened knowledge that we are all One.



Sal forest and Lotus flower

Buddha and the Sal tree

According to the various scriptures Buddha was both born and died under Sal trees. A branch of the tree bend down to support his Mother Maya and as soon as she held on to the tree, the baby appeared. He choose to lay down between two Sal trees to die and although this is said to have happened on the “15th day of the waxing moon, on the sixth lunar month, or the month of visakha” the trees were in full bloom when he died.

This is of course partly an allegory, but also indicates again his miraculous relationship with these trees. Usually the tree blossoms earlier at the onset of spring. I have never seen this myself but have read that the festival of Sarhul which means the sal blossom festival is to this very day celebrated by various tribes of the Chotanagpur plateau.

(This seems to be a festival of ancient Pagan origins. Prayers and sometimes sacrifices are made to
the Gods and Goddesses of Nature to ask for for protection and blessings on all beings in the forest. Where hunter-gathering is no longer practiced and agriculture has taken over, prayers are made for a good and abundant crops. Where the forest has been cleared a cluster of Sal trees has usually been kept as a place of worship or communication with the Nature Spirits. This is called “The Saran” or Sacred Grove. Last years seeds, such as rice, are blessed and ceremonially mixed with cow dung and this will be mixed with the rest of the seeds to be sown. Sal flowers and other blossoms are collected and offered to the Deities. There is also much merry-making.)

We will have a closer look at these trees, which featured so prominently in the Buddha’s life. Hopefully this brief glimpse will give us some appreciation of the abundant and varied uses of this one single tree species in addition to its rich spiritual and ecological significance!

The Sal tree and its forest

The lovely Sal tree grows in the foothills and plains south of the Himalayas from Nepal and India all the way into Burma. It is not surprising therefore that it has many different local common names, such as Sarai, Sargi, Salwa, Sakhu, Sakher, Shal, Kandar and Sakwa to mention but a few. 

It’s scientific name is Shorea robusta and it belongs to the Dipterocarpaceae family.

Sal is classified as a ‘
Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest‘ tree. Nevertheless it is seldom without any leaves at all. In dry condition it will shed its leaves from February to March.. New ovate-oblong leaves appear in April/May and will be shiny on top when mature. They have a tough texture and vary in size from 10 x 5cm to 25 x 15 cm. The creamy white spring flowers mature into fruit during the summer and the seeds ripen already in June/July. They often germinate whilst still on the tree, which is something we do not tend to see in our trees in Britain.

Sal is the dominating tree in the forests, in which it grows, hence we speak of ‘Sal Forests’. However, that does not mean monoculture, because in natural Sal woods we can find as many as 500 species in the understorey. 

Young trees have a linear crown, which becomes rounder and flatter as time goes by. In favourable conditions the tree can attain a height of 30-35m (100-117 ft) and a girth of 2-2½m (7-8 ft) in about 100 years.

With its erect trunk and excellent wood, Shorea robusta has always been used for building local houses, but is now also much sought after as a commercial timber, even to the extent that the supply does not match the demand.

The sapwood is whitish in colour and the heartwood becomes dark brown on exposure. The pores in the wood are filled with a resin which makes the timber very durable. With the Deodar and the Teak tree it forms a trio of the longest lasting Asian woods. It is very heavy (nearly 25 to 30 kg to a cubic foot), strong and fibrous. This last quality makes it hard to plane or to apply a polish. Hammering nails in the wood can also be a tough job. 

The high quality timber has been used for all those jobs where strength, durability and elasticity are essential and a polished surface is not so imported. Examples are: All general construction purposes, load-bearing timbers in bridges, wheels and carts, foundation piles for bridges and houses, telegraph poles, boat construction and also general carpentry and furniture.

Sal trees are also economically valuable for the many non-timber forest product they yield.
Tapping the tree yields a white opalin oleoresin (aromatic gum), variously known as ‘Sal damar’, ‘Rhal’, ‘Ral’, ‘Guggal’, ‘Laldhuna’, ‘Dhoom’, etc. It has a great variety of uses, which  include making paints and varnishes, incense (popular in Hindu homes during religious ceremonies), caulking boats and ships, a plastering medium for walls and roofs, a cementing material for asbestos and plywood sheets, medical uses such as a skin ointment, making carbon paper and type writer ribbon, and so on.

The leaves have many different uses as well! They have always been used for serving and carrying food in a variety of ways. They are collected and made into platters, bowls, cups, often lacquered. They are also used for making plates and small baskets to serve dry foods. Tribal people have used the leaves for preparing rice cakes and for smoking. Distilled leaves produce an oil used in perfumery and for flavouring chewing and smoking tobacco.

Quantities of lopped leaves can be used as roughage for cattle. Fallen leaves make a good fertiliser and are collected for this purpose. Like the oleoresin, the roots and the fruits, the leaves too have medicinal qualities. An interesting cultural use of the leaves is their employment as marriage invitations. The folded Sal leaves are given with a little bit of turmeric and a few rice grains inside.

Last but not least we come to the fruits and seeds of this useful tree.

The fruits have been ground by poor people into flour to ward off starvation and the pounded fruits have been given to people suffering from diarrhoeal diseases. The oil pressed from the seeds is edible and has been known as Sal butter.  It can be used for cooking, as well as for burning in simple oil lamps and has often been used to adulterate ghee (clarified butter).

In addition the seeds have been used as animal fodder in the form of pressed seedcakes. Like many tree products these cakes contains tannins (5-8%) and furthermore the protein in them tends to remain undigested. Nevertheless it is very useful to supply a portion of the dietary energy demands of animals. It can be used for cattle as 20% of their concentrates. The seedcakes may be given to pigs and poultry up to 10% of their daily rations with good results.

The many pressures on Sal forests (such as over-exploitation, deforestation, excessive leaf-litter collection, encroachment, inconsiderate collection medicinal supplies and fodder,  other form of human interference) have been added to in recent years by an increase in the appearance of the Sal-borer (Hoplocerambyx spinicornis),  whose attacks since 1997 in India has destroyed many thousands of trees.

Sal Forest © Banglopedia

The Lotus Flower and its symbolism

It is interesting to note that in the Sal Forests, which feature so large in the Buddh’as life story, we find another plant closely associated with Buddha: the sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, also known as the Indian or Oriental Lotus. It is native to southern Asia, where it grows in ponds and still waters, and is found at altitudes of up to 1,600 metres.

Legend tells how Gautama Buddha could walk straight after he was born and wherever  he stepped Lotus flowers appeared. 

The chakra’s (meaning energy wheels) in our body have traditionally often been portrayed as varying Lotus flowers.  The crown chakra, the energy wheel located at the very top of the head, is also called “The Thousand-Petalled Lotus”, 

This top chakra opens on awakenment, just as the Lotus flower unfolds gradually in the morning, one petal at the time, in response to the light of the sun.

The Lotus has been a symbol of Spiritual Liberation, of the Sun, of Creation and Rebirth since ancient times, both in Asia, as well as in the Middle east and Egypt.

There are creation stories which tell how the world was born through a “Golden Lotus”, which was a sort of doorway or an opening from the womb of the universe. It is also told how the giant lotus which came forth from the watery chaos at the beginning of time gave rise to the Sun on its first day.

In Hinduism there is a similar story that it arose from the navel of God Vishnu, and at the center of the flower sat Brahma.. Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Protector) and Siva (the Merger), as well as other Gods and Goddesses are all associated with the Lotus  In
India the plant has therefore sometimes been called “God’s favourite flower”. The response of the Lotus which awakes at the first rays of the morning sun has also made the flower sometimes a symbol of Love.

The roots of the Lotus plants grow deep in the muddy soil below the water and they send up a long cylindrical stalk, which grows leaves  and flowers on the surface of water.
The muddy earth is usually compared to our earthly, material being. The water is compared to the astral world and the stalk is like the famous ’silver cord’, which people who have experienced astral travel, have so often described.

The world of air and light is compared to the way the spiritual world feeds our being.
The theme of sun and rebirth is reinforced by the fact that the flower closes its petals and (just like the sun) sinks underwater at night and rises up at dawn and opens again.
The perennial rise of the Lotus can thus be compared to similar spiritual themes, such as making Gold from base metals. Like the Lotus human consciousness can rise from a limited form of material being (and identification with just our ego and our body) to immense spiritual liberation (and the merging with the Divine Nature of All).

Meditating on the lotus is said to bring harmony into all aspects of our being. 
In  yoga, the lotus position (padmasana and known by most people as the classic meditation position) is adopted to help us reach the highest level of consciousness, which itself is found in the chakra at the top of the head (symbolised as the thousand-petalled lotus).

Hindu scriptures proclaim that Atman (the soul) lives in the lotus within the heart and looks like a brilliant light about the size of a  thumb.  You can practice seeing your heart as an opening lotus flower right in the centre of your chest.  Within behold the radiant glow your soul, your Self God, your radiant being, your connection with the root of All Being.

“In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the bodhisattva Manjushri addressing the Buddha, says, “Noble sir, one who stays in the fixed determination of the vision of the Uncreated is not capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment.  However, one who lives among created things, in the mines of passions, without seeing any truth, is indeed capable of conceiving the spirit of unexcelled perfect enlightenment.  {For] Noble sir, flowers like the blue lotus, the red lotus, the white lotus, the water lily, and the moon lily do not grow on dry ground in the wilderness, but do grow in swamps and mud banks.
Just so, the Buddha-qualities do not grow in living beings certainly destined for the uncreated but do grow in those living beings who are like swamps and mud banks of passions. Likewise, as seeds do not grow in the sky but do grow in the earth, so the Buddha-qualities do not grow in those determined for the Absolute but do grow in those who conceive the spirit of enlightenment, after having produced a Sumeru-like mountain of egoistic views. ”(1)


8.                  What is the meaning of the term Bodhisatta? How many different types of Bodhisattas are there? Enumerate.

It is a great pleasure to be asked to speak to you today about the two main traditions of Buddhism: those of the so-called hinayana and mahayana : the lesser way and the greater way, the ways of Shravaka to become an Arhat and the way of the Bodhisattva to become a Buddha.

Oh dear! Lots of foreign words - shravaka, arhat, bodhisattva- 30 seconds into the talk and you might already feel like going home!

Well, let’s try to explain these terms simply, before going into the details. Most religions are about the relationship between you, the individual, and God or, in the case of some religions, between you and a whole series of Gods. This God or these Gods are believed to be the governing power of the universe: creator of the universe. Buddhism is different. It has no belief at all in a creator God.

All of Buddhism is about working with the potential that exists in the human mind. Not about a relationship with another being, a Supreme Being, but about understanding and changing oneself. It is about awakening to the possibilities of life and in particular about using this extraordinary thing -which is our own mind- to the full: to become a wiser, kinder, more peaceful person. Buddhism believes that there is a timeless, perfect purity, a profound love for all beings, a perfect peace and amazing wisdom deep within each and every one of us. Life’s task is to discover it.

The Buddha taught very extensively about the nature of life and our human potential. He taught to thousands of people over a 45 year period. He taught each person according to his or her needs and capacities. Over the two and a half thousand years since he taught, all of those teachings of the Buddha have given rise to two main ways of working with one’s life, known as the Greater Way and the Lesser Way.

Those following the Lesser Way -Hinayana- want to find perfect inner peace and want to live in a kind, truthful and generous way in the world.. They are sometimes called Shravakas: Shravakas means those who heed the teachings. They have a certain “been there, done that” feeling about most of the pleasures of this world and are no longer interested in them one bit. You know, the way you feel about whatever was the craze three years ago - it just doesn’t grab you any more. These Shravakas see the world as obsessed with satisfying the senses to find happiness -seeing beautiful things, hearing nice sounds, smelling pleasant odours, tasting good food and seeking pleasant physical sensations. They consider such happiness too shallow, too fragile and find great inner strength instead in meditation. The end of their journey, their dream, their goal -the perfection of inner peace- is called the state of being an Arhat. Sometimes you can achieve that state in one lifetime of intense meditation, sometimes it takes many lifetimes.

Those following the Greater Way -Mahayana- are called Bodhisattvas: bodhi -sattva means with a mind to be Buddha. They are people who are also very aware of life’s fragile happiness and the suffering that exists in most people. They are so moved by this suffering that they promise, from the depths of their hearts, to dedicate this life and all future lives to caring for other beings. They feel that the best way to care is to become just like the Buddha. Buddhahood is a state far beyond that of the Arhat. It takes hundreds of lifetimes -hundreds of reincarnations- to achieve. The bodhisattva way is based upon truthfulness, peace and non-violence but its main characteristic is not a withdrawal from the world into inner peace but an active engagement with the world, a development of incredibly deep loving kindness, compassion and care for others. In fact, from beginning to end, the Bodhisattva’s way is the way of compassionate care.

So that you are clear about ‘where I’m coming from’, you should know I belong to the mahayana tradition and that I’ll be teaching today’s topic in the traditional way in which it is presented in the mahayana.

Please have a good look at these terms - they’ll come up a few times in the talk. Please notice that shravakas and bodhisattvas are those following a spiritual path, and that the ends of those paths are the states of Arhat and Buddha. Having introduced these two main strands of Buddhism very briefly, I’d like to go into them more deeply by talking about a topic traditionally called the three types of valuable human being, taught widely in India in the 11th century. They are called ‘valuable humans’ because -from a Buddhist point of view, in terms of Buddhist value judgements -they are really doing something with their lives: making a marked and definitive change to themselves, and perhaps other people, for the better. If you like, they can be considered the three sorts of audience for Buddhism or the three psychological types that Buddhist teachings address. This topic will help us understand where Arhats and Bodhisattvas fit in -they are the second and third types of valuable human- and help us define these words hinayana and mahayana.

The first type of valuable human being: the person who lives wisely in the world.

The vast majority of dedicated Buddhists (as opposed to people just born into a Buddhist culture and not strongly practising it) belong to this first type of valuable human being. They are not yet following the way of either the Arhat or the Bodhisattva. It is too soon. They are like children learning to walk. Shravakas and Bodhisattvas are like adults drive cars or pilot a plane. Unlike the Shravaka and Bodhisattva, this first type of valuable human is not yet ready to let go of its attachment to worldly things, in order to seek spiritual peace. The Buddha’s teachings can nevertheless still help them greatly. So really today’s talk could have been about three ways and been called the ways of the worldly Buddhist, the Arhat and the Bodhisattva.

How does the Buddha help the first sort of valuable human, the worldly Buddhist? By helping them live their lives according to principles based on the laws of karma. Karma means action and the laws of karma explain why things happen and how our actions determine our destiny. Everyone wonders why things happen. You know, you must have asked yourselves why you are you, different from the person sitting next to you. Why is there life’s exquisite beauty? Why are there life’s atrocious horrors? Most religions describe these things in terms of God’s purpose: divine forces are pulling the strings and pushing the buttons of life. Buddhism, by contrast, says that events are not God-created but the long-term consequences of our own action: actions as individuals and actions as groups. Buddhism says our actions make us what we are and make our world what it is.

The Buddha taught that nearly all the things we do, say and think have long-term consequences for their doer. What we are doing now is shaping our own future, in this life and lives to come. What we are now has been shaped by how we acted and reacted in the past. Remember that Buddhists believe this life to
be just one in a long chain of lives, as we reincarnate over and over again. What we do in this life generates all the details of our future lives: who we meet, the way the environment changes, our health, our suffering, our happiness. When we live in a harmonious, helpful and wise way with each other now, this generates happiness for later. When we live in conflict, self-centredly and unwisely now, it stores up suffering for later.

Thus, if we protect and save life -in this life- then we ourselves will be born with long life and good health next time round. If we are generous and caring now, we will feel satisfied with our lot in the future life and be cared for by others. If we lead what Buddhism defines as a respectful, responsible life in one’s sexual relationships, we will find loving, caring and suitable partners in the next life and so on and so forth.

The Buddha gave many teachings about our actions - and in particular a very helpful list of the 10 main actions to avoid and the 10 to cultivate. These form the basis for Buddhist morality just as the 10 commandments do in the Judaeo-Christian traditions. I have listed these 10 in the printed version of this talk, which is also on the Web.
There is, of course, in the action of this first type of Buddhist, a fair degree of self-interest: a studied concern for one’s own worldly future. These are not Buddhists who desperately want to leave all worldliness and find the lasting peace of nirvana. If we use Shakespeare’s words, “To be or not to be…” then our first Buddhist customer is definitely not ready not to be. This person likes life, still wants to be someone, somewhere in the world but preferably would like to be a healthier, happier and more prosperous person in a better family and social environment than at present. Even if that does not look likely in this existence, they try to live according to the Buddha’s teaching on karma so that they will have a better time in the next life.

In teaching the laws of karma - the cause and effects of our actions - the Buddha was not only trying to help people help themselves but also trying to make for a better society: one in which there is less violence, less dishonesty and greater respect for others.

Furthermore, our other two types of valuable human being -those following the ways of the Arhat and the Bodhisattva- emerge from this pool of good people. One day, one life, it is said, there will dawn in their minds a profound awareness of the extent of suffering that there is in the world and indeed in one’s own mind; then they become candidates for the ways of the Shravaka and the Bodhisattva.

The second type of valuable human being: the Shravaka, who shuns worldliness to attain nirvana; the nirvana of the Arhat.

Now we come to the second type of Buddhist or second type of valuable human being. These are people who -if we return to Shakespeare’s to be or not to be -no longer want ‘to be’ someone, somewhere. They have understood that there is a deep, spiritual state of equanimity and peace, far more satisfactory than anything this world can offer. You know, it’s as though you’ve been in a smoky, noisy, crowded room all your life and suddenly you discover the vast, clean open spaces of nature. The crowded, smoky room is a busy, worldly mind. The purity and freshness is discovered in the inner space of meditation. It is a peaceful, infinite space which transcends personality and the cult of personality - you know what I mean by cult of personality, where ME, I is all important - a world in which you have to assert yourself, create territory, be beautiful, be intelligent, BE …someone.

Our second type of valuable human being has had enough of seeking the pleasures of the senses and of having a happiness that always depends on external things: on other people, on the weather, on food, on sights, on sounds, on success at work, on human affection etc. They are shocked by the fragility
and impermanence ( anicca) of such happiness and by the price-tag of suffering ( dukha) that goes along with it. They know that the Buddha and the Arhats of the past managed to stopped being reborn into lives of mixed happiness and suffering. How did they do it? By stopping doing the harmful actions - karma- that generate rebirth. How to stop these harmful actions? By getting rid of their cause: anger, jealousy, pride, ignorance and desire. How to get rid of all those? by destroying their cause: the illusion of self, of ME of I.

These saintly beings cleanse their mind of all these unhelpful emotions, feelings and illusions and instead cultivated very natural states of inner peace and harmony. The advantage of this inner happiness is that it does not depend on other people and external things. It is a state of constant well-being which does not depend upon the up-and-down world of personality and feelings. It is self-contained. It is free of suffering. When it is perfected, it will remain forever. It is called nirvana. This is what the Shravaka hopes to achieve.

At this point, I think it will be useful to clarify the meaning of this word nirvana. Nirvana is not something in particular: not something that is . Nirvana means “suffering transcended”. In other words, it is defined by what it isn’t: it isn’t suffering. It means that you have got free from suffering forever. It is like saying, “got out of the fire”. One is no longer being burnt by the sufferings of life. But this does not tell us where we actually are: in a swimming-pool, up a mountain, in a space-capsule. It only tells us that we are out of the fire. So this word nirvana can cover many possibilities. This will become important when we look at the way of the bodhisattva. We will find that the bodhisattva is trying to achieve a much higher nirvana than that of the Arhat. Both are nirvana inasmuch as both have gone beyond the suffering of the world because both have ceased creating the karma that causes suffering. But the bodhisattva aims to become a Buddha and a Buddha has far more qualities than an Arhat and has removed more blockages from the mind.

To give an analogy: if we think of worldliness as the planet Earth, the Arhat has gone beyond the Earth’s gravitational field and is floating in the space of meditation. The Buddha has also gone beyond the Earth’s gravity but has reached the heart of the Sun of Wisdom.

Now let us return to the way of the Arhat. It consists of the Triple Training: Conduct, Meditation and Wisdom. I think you may know these. The basis for the Arhat’s path to the Arhat’s nirvana is a very pure ethical and moral conduct in all one says, all one does physically and also in one’s profession. In one respect, it is similar to the careful attention to karma of the first type of valuable human being. But the motivation is different. Here the pure conduct is aimed at switching off the video of life, not at making it into a better film! This different motivation channels things differently. It is like earning the same amount of money but investing it in another account. The Arhat’s good karma is not paying the worldly mortgage - it is going in to the permanent retirement fund.

On this basis of pure conduct, nirvana is achieved through the skilful combination of two things: meditation and wisdom. Let us first examine meditation.

Concentration meditation is the way in which those becoming Arhats overcome their passions, angers and other agitations of the mind. Concentration meditation cultivates inner peace. As the peace develops, desires, aggravations, and all these other things naturally diminish. As the peace grows, worldiness diminishes. It is like water. Let’s just think together for a minute. Has everyone seen a turbulent ocean? Try to imagine it: those vast, powerful, rolling grey-green waves Brrrr! You can’t see into it, it is busy, dangerous and it reflects nothing clearly. That’s the worldly mind: very agitated, very busy with itself, very short-sighted and very endless. Now let’s think of clear water - a very calm loch. Got the image? As water becomes calm, the waves subside. When water is calm, you can see all the fish and plants in its depths and it reflects the sky by day and the stars at night. The meditation mind is very still, clear and beautiful, like a very calm ocean. It has far-seeing wisdom.

As anger, desires and so on diminish through meditation, the peace becomes more lasting and more stable. This reveals levels of thought and subconscious activity of which one was not previously aware. Again and again, one refines the process of inner peace, until the mind is exceedingly clean and pure, knowing nothing but happiness and equanimity. A great, calm ocean of peace. Meditation requires careful training in mindfulness, concentration and channeling one’s effort.

Now let us consider wisdom. As meditation improves, the quietness and clarity of mind enables great precision in the mind’s self-knowledge. Just as our modern science pierces the secrets of the material universe through very fine investigation into the atom and into the human genome, the science of concentration meditation investigates the complex workings of the human mind and this knowledge is very helpful in transforming the mind and bringing it to stability and wisdom.This wisdom ends up being real insight into the Four Noble Truths, which lie at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching. When I say ‘real insight’ I mean that the Four Truths are no longer ideas but things vividly, directly experienced as true, direct insight into life itself, without the need of thoughts. This gives you the “right view” of things -the right perspective- and provides the right intention for instructing other people.

I don’t want to get too technical in this talk. The Buddha’s own teachings -called sutra- on this topic of the way of the Arhat fill dozens of books. We could -for example- examine extensively the real meaning of the Eightfold Path that I have just described.

We could also explore (if we had time) how meditation actually changes the mind, bringing freedom and peace as well as the emergence of saintly qualities, which are quite extraordinary; miraculous.

Also, given time, we would explore the nature of wisdom in this path, seeing how it is anatta - a complete de-masking of all the delusions of self that the human mind can fabricate, whether it be a personal self or a cosmic self in the form of a God or a series of gods. This wisdom also recognises anicca - the totally transient, or impermanent, nature of the various phenomena of the worlds
of mind and matter and understands in detail how they come together and trigger each other into making the events we perceive as life, with all of its suffering; dukkha.

The Hinayana mental journey of purification is a voyage deep into the inner peace of one’s mind. There are four main stages on the journey, with Arhat being the final stage.

1. Stream-entrant when one has profound faith in what one is doing because the results are emerging and the process is very obvious. If we compared the path of meditation to unblocking a drain, it is at this stage that -after poking for ages with the rods- the blockage clears and the water starts to flow swiftly.

2. Once-returner when one has purified so much of one’s mind and karma that
there will be only one more rebirth in the world.

3. Non-returner when one is living that last life in which one becomes an Arhat

4. Arhat the final achievement when every trace, gross or subtle, of ego-delusion and its subsequent desires, anger, jealousy, pride and confusion are all irreversibly eliminated from the mind and the mind will rest continuously in deep, far-reaching meditation.

At this stage, I would like to sum up so far. We have looked at two types of what are called valuable human beings. Together, they make up what is known as the hinayana or the smaller way. I must make it clear that the term hinayana does not refer to the Buddhism of any particular country. It refers to the Buddhism suitable to a certain psychological type: a person who is working first and foremost for his or her own well-being. That person could be in Tibet, Sri Lanka or Scotland, following any school of Buddhism. Such people are not without love or compassion for others. It is just that they feel -quite pragmatically- that, in the end, we cannot change other people that much but that we can change
ourselves and that self-transformation is our prime duty as human beings. So much of the world’s problems come through people trying to change each other but being unwilling or unable to change themselves.

Hina means smaller or lesser and Yana means the power to carry. Because these first two types of valuable human being can, at best, only take one person to liberation -that person being oneself- then their way is called the lesser way. It’s like a car with only one seat. We will see that the greater way aims to carry many people to liberation. It’s like a jumbo jet.

C. The third type of valuable human being: the bodhisattva, who works within the world, in order
to attain the ‘non-situated’ Nirvana of the Buddha

The bodhisattva shares absolutely all the positive points of the hinayana follower: he or she recognises the futility and suffering of worldliness (samsara) and also knows that there is a much more elevated state to be achieved. But instead of wanting to make the Arhat’s journey deep into the mind’s peaceful
recesses, the bodhisattva wants to become a Buddha, so as to be able to help thousands of other people free themselves from suffering. A Buddha is not only a great guide and friend for living beings: a Buddha’s attainment - the Buddha’s Nirvana- is far purer than that of the Arhat. It is in understanding the difference between their two “nirvanas” that one can clearly understand the different paths of the bodhisattva and the Shravaka.

In the printed version of this talk, I have spelt the Buddha’s Nirvana with a capital N and the Arhat’s nirvana with a small n. The Buddha’s nirvana is called non-situated Nirvana, because we cannot situate it:
1. either in samsara - the world
2. or in the profound inner peace of the Arhat’s nibbana.

The Buddha’s Nibbana -with a captial N- is therefore said to be neither samsara nor nirvana (with a small n). Here I’d like to remind you of the all-important point made earlier: nirvana simply and only means that all suffering has ended but not all nirvanas are the same.

Like all nirvanas, the Nirvana of the Buddha has transcended worldly suffering and the necessity of rebirth as someone, somewhere. But it is much, much more than the profound peace of the Arhat’s nirvana. The Buddha’s Nirvana is the total discovery of the timeless, perfect, heart-essence of the universe. It is everywhere and in everything and everyone. It is a natural, brilliant world of peace present everywhere (once you know how to recognise it), not the peace of withdrawal into an inner sanctum. It is something naturally sacred, ultimately pure and radiant with immeasurable qualities of universal love, universal compassion and an incomprehensible outreach, helping beings to the farthest ends of the universe. Because it is so sublime, so far-reaching and so much beyond the imagination, we call it the undefinable or unlocated or non-situated Nirvana which we can locate neither in the things of this world nor in the peaceful meditation of the Arhat’s nirvana. The Arhat’s nirvana we can, by contrast, define very clearly, in terms of concentration meditation.

I really hope that as you come to understand this point about the difference between the two nirvanas. If you do, it will clear up the confusion created in books about Buddhism, in which they say that the bodhisattva renounces nirvana in order to help other beings. It sounds almost like somebody giving up their holiday in order to stay at home to help the family. Or like someone in prison who could be released but somehow has to commit more crimes to stay inside and help the inmates. This really is a misunderstanding. It is true that the bodhisattva abandons one sort of nirvana (the one with a small ‘n’, that of the hinayana path - the inner peace) but this is because he or she is taking a quite different route towards a different Nirvana: that of the Buddha: the peace of the compassionate, totally-wise mind. Nirvana with a capital N.

The only way to reach this Nirvana of the Buddha -often called buddha nature-is through perfect compassion. Compassion involves being in living contact with the suffering of the world, facing it and doing all one can to eliminate it. Furthermore, here one is not shutting off the senses but liberating them. There is a very good expression in Christianity which explains exactly what the bodhisattva is doing: being in the world but not of the world. Take the work of primary school teachers, for example. They need to skilfully enter into the world of 5 and 6 year-olds. They give these tiny children the magnificent skills of literacy and numeracy. It doesn’t mean that they have to become childish themselves and renounce their adulthood. They operate in the world of small children but are not themselves of that world.

Someone who dedicates this life and all future lives to attaining this universal essence which is Buddhahood and helping millions of beings alleviate their suffering is called a bodhisattva. Bodhi means Buddha and sattva means mind, in the sense of a determined and courageous mind. Thus a bodhisattva is someone with the courage and determination to become a Buddha. The word Arhat means the one who has conquered the enemy, the “enemy” being the delusion of personality and all the desires and adversities it produces.

What does the bodhisattva’s path involve? First, all the same mind-purifying work of the hinayana path. Whichever Buddhist path one follows, every trace of selfish desire, anger, jealousy, pride and confusion must be eliminated from the mind.But the way in which these are eliminated by the bodhisattva is different. You will remember that -in the hinayana way- it is done by going ever more finely
into the tranquil depths of concentration meditation. The mind draws away from the senses, draws away from all that is worldly and goes deep inside. The bodhisattva does not need to withdraw from the world but instead faces the world and learns through the world and through his or her own reactions to it. It
is not so much a path of escape as one of transformation. Anger is transformed into love. Jealousy is transformed into a sincere joy, which rejoices in the achievement of others. Pride is transformed into an awareness of the sameness of us all, before what is eternal and so on and so forth.

This work -of transforming emotions- is made possible by meditation, as only meditation gives clear insight into how the mind works. You know, if you want to fix something you first need to know how it works. Meditation helps us discover how the human mind works. The bodhisattva’s meditation practices are structured differently from those of the hinayana path. Also, there are many more of them. As mentioned before, the bodhisattva is avoiding the nirvana (with a small ‘n’) of the hinayana path and the bodhisattva is very careful not to be drawn into its beautiful inner peace of meditation’s tranquillity. One of the main tools for doing this is right thought or prayer.

In other religions, people pray to a God or to several gods, asking for their help. In Buddhism, prayer is not addressed to an external, other, being. Prayer is an organised way of changing the mind. By repeating good thoughts, sincerely from the depths of one’s heart, over and over again, they become habitual ways of thinking. They change the mind. In the end, the way one reacts to life’s situations will be made very different, just through constant prayer. The main prayer of the bodhisattva is a commitment to help all beings, by achieving the perfection of Buddhahood. Why is this? The Buddha was just one person. All he had were three robes, a begging bowl and one or two small objects. Yet,
through his purity and deep wisdom, he was able to help many tens of thousands of people personally during his own lifetime and many thousands of millions after his death, through his extensive teachings, which show people how to help themselves. The bodhisattva remembers this over and over again. One
person helps millions simply by attaining a perfect mind. The Bodhisattva knows that the finest way to help others is to become totally pure, totally wise and totally skilful in guiding others on the path, just like the Buddha. Many times a day, the bodhisattva dedicates his life to this end, in prayer, and tries to do every daily task -even making a cup of tea- with a mind filled with compassionate love for all other beings and a deep longing to attain buddhahood.

But longing to achieve something is not enough. One must actually do the work. I can stand here for years, longing to go to Hawaii, but I won’t budge an inch. One needs to earn the money, buy the ticket, buy the baggy shorts, get to the airport, catch a plane and so on and so forth. What the bodhisattva has to do in order to really become a Buddha is usually described through six things. These are like six parts of a puzzle. When they are all complete and perfectly put together, the puzzle of Buddhahood is complete. What are they:

The six paramitas LINK
1. Perfect generosity.
2. Perfect right conduct.
3. Perfect forbearance (you could call this one patience or tolerance).
4. Perfect diligence.
5. Perfect meditation.
6. Perfect wisdom.

The six are called the six paramita or six transcendent perfections. You will have noted that I have tried not to use Pali or other foreign words in this talk. We only need to use them when we have no equivalent term in English. I know a lot about this as my own life’s work is translating scriptures from Tibetan. Your
school examiners may want you to know words like anicca or dukkha but I cannot see the point too much. We have perfectly good words for these in English -impermanence and suffering- and why should you learn the Pali words, rather than the Sanskrit or the Japanese or the Tibetan? Anyway, paramita is a word without a direct equivalent in English and so it is useful to use the Sanskrit.
It literally means “gone to the other shore”. This is because when all these six qualities have been brought to an absolute perfection, one has crossed the ocean of worldly existence (samsara) and attained the other
shore of Buddhahood
. We can look at it another way. What is a Buddha? Someone in
whose mind these six things are totally, immaculately perfect.

Why does the bodhisattva work with his or her mind in a different way from the hinayana follower? Let us compare this universal essence -of love, compassion and wisdom which is everywhere and which we call buddha nature- to a bright light. Although this light is in each and every one of us, it cannot shine because it is covered up, blocked off. There are two layers of blockage:

1. The first is called klesha in Sanskrit. This is often translated as mind poisons or cankers or defilements. I have mentioned it a couple of times already today: it consists of selfish desire, aggression, jealousy, pride and ignorance. All of these feelings arise through the negative delusions of personality -the harmful ways in which one defines oneself- I must have, I can’t stand, I ought to have what he has, I’m better than she is etc. In the hinayana path one removes all such deluded ideas about self and this removes this first covering on the light of truth. By simply doing that, one no longer needs to act selfishly, therefore there is no bad karma and so one stops the cycle of rebirth after rebirth into worldly existence ( samsara) and eventually become an Arhat.

2. The second covering, blockage or veil is something much more subtle. For simplicity, we can call it “duality”. It is the split-second by split-second play of our minds, which is constantly defining not only ourselves but also the world around us. It is like a piece of mind-programming which produces, second
after second, a two-sided movie: me and you, self and other, ours and theirs, my body and the world in which it moves, my mind and my body etc. etc. It is through these conscious and subconscious processes that we define ourselves and our world: our parents, friends, enemies, every detail of life.
Each of us has his or her totally unique way of seeing and defining the world. We each move in our own unique universe. In the mahayana path, one needs not only to see anatta - that our delusions about ourselves are de void of truth - but also to see how our delusions concerning other people and other things are also devoid of truth. Piercing through the illusions and seeing the raw truth of the cosmos is called discovering its voidness (sunyata). We say voidness because we discover that other people and other things are devoid of the illusions we have been projecting onto them - like suddenly realising
that a mirage is just an optical illusion and not real water on the road or like realising that someone you have been assuming was uninteresting is in fact pretty cool. Part of the discovery of voidness concerns the non-ego (anatta) discovered in the hinayana path. But it is only a part. By only uncovering anatta, one becomes an Arhat. By uncovering the whole truth about everything, sunyata, one becomes a Buddha.

One simple way of putting things may be this: the Arhat overcomes all illusions concerning himself and is therefore totally at peace with himself. The Bodhisattva is overcoming all illusions not only about himself/herself but also about all other people and the entire universe and is therefore at peace with
everything. By destroying all illusions, the bodhisattva becomes a Buddha, knowing everything there is to be known. The Buddha is omniscient. The Arhat is extraordinarily wise but not ommniscient.

In the six paramita, the main work of discovering voidness is accomplished through a combination of the meditation paramita and the wisdom paramita. The second of these -wisdom paramita- is called prajnaparamita in Sanskrit. It is exceedingly important in mahayana Buddhism and there are many gigantic phiolosophical texts elaborating the meaning of voidness. Although there are so many texts, the truth of voidness can only be discovered directly, in meditation, as it transcends all thought and philosophy.

As the six paramita - generosity, right conduct, forbearance, diligence, meditation and wisdom - come to completion, the real meaning of the word Buddha becomes apparent.
At the start, Buddha simply meant someone: an historical figure who gave us the Buddhist teachings. But as time goes by, one realises that the historical Buddha Sakyamuni simply achieved something that everyone, one day, in one life or another, will achieve. What he discovered is inside each and every one of us. It is our true nature, our Buddha-nature. This does not mean that each of us is really, at heart, an Indian prince! It does mean that there is perfect love, perfect compassion, infinite wisdom and a great ability to help and guide others, locked up in each and every one of us. It is the inner light. We just need to find it and to remove all the layers of illusion covering it and blocking off its power.

This timeless light, universal peace or cosmic wisdom manifests in three ways, known as the three kaya.
1. This Buddha nature, just as it is and as only a Buddha will ever know it, is called dharmakaya. Dharmakaya is formless: that means it has no shape, colour, sound, smell or form whatsoever. It is a vast, cosmic wisdom: the wisdom of voidness

2. Bodhisattvas who are very saintly, who are no longer reborn in human worlds but have bodies of light, experience this buddha nature through the filters of their senses. Though it is formless, they see it as thousands of different Buddhas in various pure paradises. They hear it as deeply moving teachings
expressing the universal laws of truth. The whole experience of their senses is an uninterrupted mental ‘movie’ of transcendent perfection. The way Buddha-nature appears in these bodhisattva’s minds is called sambhogakaya: the enjoyment body, meaning the visions and experiences of purity enjoyed
by saintly bodhisattvas.

3. More ordinary beings, who are still in the world of rebirth and suffering, also have an experience of Buddha nature. They will have religious experiences, perhaps see a Buddha or a being of light in a vision and so on and so forth. This happens in moments when the mind is pure and open. It doesn’t last
and is not nearly so pure or so accurate as the experience of the bodhisattvas mentioned just now. The bodhisattvas’ experience is constant, never interrupted. Nevertheless, when worldly beings have experience of the Buddha mind, it is usually a remarkable moment which changes and shapes
the whole of their life. This aspect of Buddha-nature or Buddha mind is called nirmanakaya: the emanated body.

Today, I have spoken briefly -and very quickly- about the three types of valuable human being. Of course, this does not mean that other beings are worthless. It is just that these three types live lives which help themselves mature as human beings and they help the world. When the Buddha came to our planet, he came, like all great spiritual teachers, to help everyone, not just Buddhists. Understanding that we are each unique, he taught everyone he met according to their individual needs and, in general, he helped the three psychological types. I have spoken of today as the three sorts of valuable human being: the everyday Buddhist and those deeply committed to the paths of the Arhat and the Bodhisattva. It is not that one way is better than the other. They are just different way suited to different people.

Today I have not spoken about the “sociological” side of Buddhism: its different temples, different customs for marriages etc. These are simply the outer shell of a faith. They are the clothes it wears. The actual faith is a series of beliefs and attitudes towards life, towards oneself and other people. They form the real body of the religion. It is true that some Buddhist countries accentuate some of these ways, while others have dropped into the background or disappeared. I could have spent the whole lecture describing the geographical and historical develoment of Buddhism. Instead I have chosen to sketch the psychology of these main strands of Buddhism and tried to explain how the Buddha was trying to help everyone through these three approaches.

The Buddha often used the analogy of a doctor to describe himself. His teachings are like medicine, our mind’s impurities and our karma are like the sickness. These three ways are suited to different types just like different medicines are suited to different diseases. Can we say a heart medicine is better than medicine for rheumatism? Of course not. Would ther be any point in giving the rheumatism medicine to the heart patient? Of course not. These three ways of living one’s life and meditating suit different types of people. When someone comes to our monastery in Dumfriesshire for training, we use all three types
according to the individual.

In fact, when you look closely, you will see that -besides denoting types- these three psychologies often exist side by side in nearly all of us. One part of us wants very much to be, another part seeks a peace beyond the passing pleasures of this world and another part of us seeks the way to truly serve and help other beings find their way to liberation. I would like to conclude by expressing my profound respect for all the goodness achieved by all three types of valuable human being and by saying that I think the Buddha was extremely wise and broad-minded in providing such an immense spectrum of advice concerning these three ways, teachings filling over a hundred books, during the 45 years of his teaching.


9.                  What are the requirements for becoming the different types of Bodhisatta?


10.              How many types of Buddha are there? What are the prerequisites for becoming these different types of Buddha?

11.              What is Paarami? How many Paaramis are there? Enumerate.

12.              How do the paaramis determine the attainment of different types of Bodhi?



In its earliest phase, as represented by the four main collections of the Sutta Pi.taka, the focal concern of Buddhism was the attainment of nibbaana by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. In these collections the Buddha teaches his doctrine as a direct path to deliverance, and perhaps no feature of the presentation is so striking as the urgency he enjoins on his disciples in bringing their spiritual work to completion by reaching the final goal. Just as a man who discovers his turban to be in flames would immediately seek to extinguish it, so should the earnest disciple strive to extinguish the flames of craving in order to reach the state of security, the consummate peace of nibbaana.

The oldest suttas, however, already mention three types of individuals who attain to the consummate state: a sammaasambuddha or perfectly enlightened Buddha, who realizes the goal without the aid of a teacher and teaches the Dhamma to others, founding a dispensation (saasana); a paccekabuddha or solitary enlightened one, who achieves realization unaided but does not establish a dispensation; and a disciple arahat, who realizes the goal through the instruction of a supreme Buddha and then teaches others according to his inclination and capacity. With the passage of time, quite possibly due to a decline in practice and an increasing rarity of higher attainments, these three types came to be viewed as three alternative ideals toward which a disciple could aspire in the hope of some distant future attainment. All were identical in their realization of nibbaana, but each was seen to stand for a distinct aspect of the enlightened personality and to presuppose a distinct yaana, a “vehicle” or spiritual career, leading to its actualization. For the Theravaada, the more conservative of the ancient schools, the emphasis was always placed on the ideal prescribed in the Paali suttas, the attainment of arahatship by following the instructions of the historical Buddha; the other ideals remained in the background, acknowledged but not especially attended to. Other early schools, such as the Sarvaastivaada and the Mahaasa”nghika, while upholding the primacy of the disciple’s course and the arahat ideal, also gave consideration to the other ideals as possible goals for individuals inclined to pursue them. Thus they came to admit a doctrine of three yaanas or vehicles to deliverance, all valid but steeply graded in difficulty and accessibility.

Within all the early schools, thinkers and poets alike attempted to fill in the background history to the three enlightened persons, composing stories of their past lives in which they prepared the foundations for their future achievements. Since it was the figure of the Buddha, as the founder of the Dispensation, who commanded the greatest awe and veneration, gradually a literature began to emerge depicting the evolution of the bodhisattva or “Buddha-to-be” along the arduous path of his development. In this way the figure of the bodhisattva,0 the aspirant to Buddhahood, came to claim an increasingly prominent place in the popular Buddhist religious life. The culmination of these innovations was the appearance, in about the first century B.C., of the Mahaayaana, the self-styled “Great Vehicle,” which proclaimed that of the three vehicles to enlightenment the bodhisattva-vehicle was alone ultimate, the other two being only expedients devised by the Buddha to lead his less competent disciples to perfect Buddhahood, which they held to be the only valid spiritual ideal.

Through its conservative bent and relative insulation from the other schools, the Theravaada managed to resist the metamorphic changes taking place elsewhere in the Buddhist world, preserving the teachings as compiled at the early councils without radical alterations of their doctrinal framework. Nevertheless, in this school as well, from a period even preceding the rise of the Mahaayaana, the figure of the bodhisattva began to make inroads into both its literature and spiritual atmosphere. Two elements in the early teaching seem to have provided the germs for this development. One was the fact that the Buddha had used the word “bodhisattva” to refer to himself in the period preceding his enlightenment, pushing its scope as far back as his existence in the Tusita heaven before his final descent to earth. The second was the recognition of the multiplicity of Buddhas, which showed the Sakyan Gotama to be, not a unique figure in the cosmic genealogy, but only the most recent member of a series of Buddhas each of whom attains enlightenment, founds a dispensation, and liberates a multitude of beings from the bondage of sa.msaaric suffering. The Diigha Nikaaya mentions by name the six most recent predecessors of the Buddha Gotama (D.ii,2), and predicts as well the advent of Metteyya, the Buddha of the future, who will rekindle the lamp of the true Dhamma after it is extinguished in the dark ages that lie ahead (D.iii,76).

These two features jointly implied the existence of “germinal Buddhas” or bodhisattvas toiling to perfect themselves through countless lives in order to reach the summit of supreme enlightenment. The trials and triumphs of the being who became our own Buddha were recorded in the Jaataka tales, relating the bodhisattva’s conduct in his previous births. Just when and how the bodhisattva entered upon this course is told in the Buddhava.msa, a late addition to the Sutta Pi.taka, in a story which has become the paradigm for all subsequent developments of the bodhisattva ideal. According to this story, incalculable aeons ago in the far distant past, our bodhisattva (as the ascetic Sumedha) made an aspiration (abhiniihaara) at the feet of the Buddha Diipa”nkara, the twenty-fourth Buddha of antiquity, in which he renounced the right to enter nibbaana then open to him, in order that he might become a Buddha in the future and provide salvation for the host of gods and humans. He then received a prediction from the Buddha confirming his future success, went off into solitude, and reflected on the qualities that had to be perfected to fulfill his goal. These, the ten paaramiis, became the standard constituents of the bodhisattva’s practice, the “requisites of enlightenment” (bodhisambhaara) of our present treatise.

But though the existence of a bodhisattva career was thus acknowledged by the Theravaada, the dominant attitude prevailed among the exponents of the school that this path was reserved only for the very rare and exceptional individual. Since it was not recommended in the oldest authentic records of the Buddha’s teaching, those who professed to follow the Buddha were advised to comply with the instructions contained in these documents and aim at the attainment of nibbaana by the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. Thus the bulk of literature in the Paali school was devoted to explaining the details of this path and its doctrinal ramifications, while the practice of the paaramiis was treated only in broad and general terms.

As time passed, however, perhaps partly through the influence of the Mahaayaana, the bodhisattva ideal must have come to acquire an increasing appeal for the minds of the Buddhist populace, and the need became felt for a work explaining in a practical manner the factors and phases of the paaramitaa path without deviating from the established doctrinal position of the Theravaada. Works expounding the bodhisattva career abounded in the Mahaayaana schools, since this was their axial concern, but a comparable work was lacking in Theravaada circles. To meet this need, apparently, AAcariya Dhammapaala composed his “Treatise on the Paaramiis,” which is found in at least two places in the Paali exegetical literature, in a complete version in the Cariyaapi.taka A.t.thakathaa, and in an abridged version in the .tiikaa or subcommentary to the Brahmajaala Sutta.

The work introduces itself as a treatise composed “for clansmen following the suttas who are zealously engaged in the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment, in order to improve their skillfulness in accumulating the requisites of enlightenment.” Followers of the suttas (suttantikas) are specified probably because those who aspired to follow the bodhisattva course had to work selectively from various suttas to determine the practices appropriate for their aim, as the text itself illustrates in filling out its material. The mention of the “vehicle to great enlightenment” (mahaabodhiyaana) does not indicate the historical Mahaayaana, but signifies rather the greatness of the bodhisattva career by reason of the loftiness of its goal and its capacity to provide for the emancipation of a great number of beings.

The “requisites of enlightenment” are the paaramiis themselves, the main topic of the treatise. The word paaramii derives from parama, “supreme,” and thus suggests the eminence of the qualities which must be fulfilled by a bodhisattva in the long course of his spiritual development. But the cognate paaramitaa, the word preferred by the Mahaayaana texts and also used by Paali writers, is sometimes explained as paaram + ita, “gone to the beyond,” thereby indicating the transcendental direction of these qualities. The list of paaramiis in the Paali tradition differs somewhat from the more familiar list given in Sanskrit works, which probably antedates the Mahaayaana and provided a ready set of categories for its use. Our author shows that the two lists can be correlated in section xii, and the coincidence of a number of items points to a central core already forming before the two traditions went their separate ways. The six paaramiis of the Sanskrit heritage are: giving, virtue, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom. Later Mahaayaana texts add four more — resolution, skillful means, power, and knowledge — in order to co-ordinate on a one-to-one basis the list of perfections with the account of the ten stages of the bodhisattva’s ascent to Buddhahood. The Paali works, including those composed before the rise of Mahaayaana, give a different though partly overlapping list of ten: giving, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity. Unlike the Mahaayaana, the Theravaada never developed a theory of stages, though such may be implicit in the grading of the paaramiis into three degrees as basic, intermediate, and ultimate (section xi).

The treatise draws upon various sources for its material, both Theravaada and Mahaayaana, and thus represents perhaps a unique instance of a classical style Theravaada work consciously borrowing from its northern cousin; in matters of philosophical doctrine, however, the work never deviates from the Theravaada perspective. The set of ten paaramiis itself comes from the Buddhava.msa, as does the discussion of the great aspiration (abhiniihaara) with its eight qualifications. All of this had become part of the standard Theravaada tradition by the time the work was composed and was easily absorbed. Other Paali sources — the suttas, Jaatakas, later canonical works, the Visuddhimagga, etc. — have all contributed to the overall composition of the treatise. The basic methodology of the commentaries is evident in the explication of the ten paaramiis by way of the fourfold defining device of characteristic, function, manifestation, and proximate cause (section v). The heritage of the oral traditions of various teachers in later Paali scholasticism is seen in the various views expressed on the three grades of practice for each paaramii (section xi), on the correlation of the four foundations with the different stages of the bodhisattva’s career (section xii), and on the classification of time required for the completion of the paaramiis (section xiv). Perhaps the influence of another early school, the Sarvaastivaada, lies behind the dyadic treatment of the six paaramiitas (section xii).

The main Mahaayaana work utilized by the author is the Bodhisattvabhuumi, the fifteenth chapter of the Yogaacaarabhuumi, a voluminous text of the Yogaacaara school ascribed to Maitreyanaatha, the teacher of Asanga. The Bodhisattvabhuumi has contributed to the sections on the practice of the paaramiis, particularly the first, on the four shackles to giving, and on the special accomplishments resulting from the paaramiis. The originals, however, have all been divested of their specifically Mahaayaana features to make them fully compatible with the Theravaada perspective. Mahaayaana influence may further be discernible in the emphasis on compassion and skillful means, in the vows to benefit all beings, in the statement that the bodhisattva causes beings “to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles,” etc.

On points of doctrine, as we mentioned, the work remains well within the bounds of Theravaada orthodoxy. Its section on the perfection of wisdom has nothing more in common with the Praj~naapaaramitaa literature than the core of Buddhist doctrine shared by all schools. There is nothing about the identity of nibbaana and sa.msaara, the triple body of the Buddha, the suchness and sameness of all dhammas, mind-only, the provisional nature of the disciple and paccekabuddha vehicles, or any of the other ideas distinctive of the Mahaayaana. Even the mention of emptiness (su~n~nataa) is restricted to the absence of a self or ego-entity and is not carried through to the radical ontology of the Mahaayaana suutras. The discussion of wisdom draws entirely upon the Paali suttas and the Visuddhimagga, only with the stipulation that the bodhisattva must balance wisdom with compassion and skillful means and must postpone his entrance upon the supramundane path until his requisites of enlightenment are fully mature.

It should be noted that in established Theravaada tradition the paaramiis are not regarded as a discipline peculiar to candidates for Buddhahood alone but as practices which must be fulfilled by all aspirants to enlightenment and deliverance, whether as Buddhas, paccekabuddhas, or disciples. What distinguishes the supreme bodhisattva from aspirants in the other two vehicles is the degree to which the paaramiis must be cultivated and the length of time they must be pursued. But the qualities themselves are universal requisites for deliverance, which all must fulfill to at least a minimal degree to merit the fruits of the liberating path.

The present translation has been based on the version in the Cariyaapi.taka A.t.thakathaa, in the Burmese-script Sixth Council edition. This has been abridged in places in deference to the size limits of a Wheel booklet. For a translation of the complete text, the reader is directed to my translation of the Brahmajaala Sutta and its commentaries, The Discourse on the All-Embracing Net of Views (BPS 1978, 1992), Part IV.

— Bhikkhu Bodhi

A Treatise on the Paaramiis

We now undertake a detailed explanation of the paaramiis for clansmen following the suttas who are zealously engaged in the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment (mahaabodhiyaana), in order to improve their skillfulness in accumulating the requisites for enlightenment.

This is the schedule of the questions: (i) What are the paaramiis? (ii) In what sense are they called paaramiis? (iii) How many are there? (iv) What is their sequence? (v) What are their characteristics, functions, manifestations, and proximate causes? (vi) What is their condition? (vii) What is their defilement? (viii) What is their cleansing? (ix) What are their opposites? (x) How are they to be practiced? (xi) How are they analyzed? (xii) How are they synthesized? (xiii) By what means are they accomplished? (xiv) How much time is required to accomplish them? (xv) What benefits do they bring? (xvi) What is their fruit? The answers follow.

(i) What are the paaramiis?

The paaramiis are the noble qualities such as giving, etc., accompanied by compassion and skillful means, and untainted by craving, conceit, and views.1

(ii) In what sense are they called “paaramiis”?

The bodhisattvas, the great beings, are supreme (parama), since they are the highest of beings by reason of their distinguished qualities such as giving, virtue, etc. The paaramiis — the activities of giving, etc. — are their character or their conduct. Or else: he excels, thus he is supreme (paratii ti paramo). The bodhisattva is the fulfiller and guardian of the noble qualities such as giving, etc.; that which belongs to the supreme — the character or conduct of the one who is supreme (i.e., of the bodhisattva) — is a paaramii, i.e., the activities of giving, etc.

(iii) How many are there?

In brief there are ten. These have come down in the texts in their specific character. As it is said:

“How many qualities are there, Lord, issuing in Buddhahood?”

“There are, Saariputta, ten qualities issuing in Buddhahood. What are the ten? Giving, Saariputta, is a quality issuing in Buddhahood. Virtue, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity are qualities issuing in Buddhahood.”2

But some say there are six. This is said by way of their synthesis, which we will explain below (section xii).

(iv) What is their sequence?

Here “sequence” means sequence of teaching. This sequence is rooted in the order in which the paaramiis are initially undertaken, which in turn is rooted in the order in which they are investigated.3 The quality which is investigated and undertaken at the beginning is taught first. Therein, giving is stated first, for giving assists (the development of) virtue and is easy to practice. Giving accompanied by virtue is abundantly fruitful and beneficial, so virtue is stated immediately after giving. Virtue accompanied by renunciation… renunciation by wisdom… wisdom by energy… energy by patience… patience by truthfulness… truthfulness by determination… determination by loving-kindness… and loving-kindness accompanied by equanimity is abundantly fruitful and beneficial; thus equanimity is stated immediately after loving-kindness. Equanimity is accompanied by compassion and compassion by equanimity. (Someone may ask:) “How can the bodhisattvas, the great compassionate ones, look upon living beings with equanimity?” Some teachers say: “Sometimes they show equanimity toward living beings when it is necessary to do so.” But others say: “They do not show equanimity toward living beings (as such), but toward the offensive actions performed by beings.”

Another method (of explaining the sequence) may be given:

(1) Giving is stated at the beginning: (a) because it is common to all beings, since even ordinary people practice giving; (b) because it is the least fruitful; and (c) because it is the easiest to practice.

(2) Virtue is stated immediately after giving: (a) because virtue purifies both the donor and the recipient; (b) to show that, while giving benefits others, virtue prevents the affliction of others; (c) in order to state a factor of abstinence immediately after a factor of positive activity; and (d) in order to show the cause for the achievement of a favorable state of future existence right after the cause for the achievement of wealth.4

(3) Renunciation is mentioned immediately after virtue: (a) because renunciation perfects the achievement of virtue; (b) in order to list good conduct of mind immediately after good conduct of body and speech; (c) because meditation (jhaana) succeeds easily for one who has purified his virtue; (d) in order to show that the purification of one’s end (aasaya) through the abandoning of the offensive mental defilements follows the purification of one’s means (payoga) by the abandoning of offensive actions; and (e) to state the abandoning of mental obsessions immediately after the abandoning of bodily and verbal transgressions.5

(4) Wisdom is mentioned immediately after renunciation: (a) because renunciation is perfected and purified by wisdom; (b) to show that there is no wisdom in the absence of meditation (jhaana), since concentration is the proximate cause of wisdom and wisdom the manifestation of concentration; (c) in order to list the causal basis for equanimity immediately after the causal basis for serenity; and (d) to show that skillful means in working for the welfare of others springs from meditation directed to their welfare.

(5) Energy is stated immediately after wisdom: (a) because the function of wisdom is perfected by the arousing of energy; (b) to show the miraculous work the bodhisattva undertakes for the welfare of beings after he has reached reflective acquiescence in their emptiness; (c) to state the causal basis for exertion right after the basis for equanimity; and (d) to state the arousing of energy right after the activity of careful consideration, according to the statement: “The activity of those who have carefully considered brings excellent results.”

(6) Patience is mentioned immediately after energy: (a) because patience is perfected by energy, as it is said: “The energetic man, by arousing his energy, overcomes the suffering imposed by beings and formations”; (b) because patience is an adornment of energy, as it is said: “The patience of the energetic man shines with splendor”; (c) in order to state the causal basis for serenity immediately after the basis for exertion, for restlessness due to excessive activity is abandoned through reflective acquiescence in the Dhamma;6 (d) in order to show the perseverance of the man of energy, since one who is patient and free from restlessness perseveres in his work; (e) in order to show the absence of craving for rewards in a bodhisattva diligently engaged in activity for the welfare of others, for there is no craving when he reflects on the Dhamma in accordance with actuality; and (f) to show that the bodhisattva must patiently endure the suffering created by others even when he is working to the utmost for their welfare.

(7) Truthfulness is stated immediately after patience: (a) because the determination to practice patience continues long through truthfulness; (b) having first mentioned the patient endurance of wrongs inflicted by others, to mention next fidelity to one’s word to render them help; (c) in order to show that a bodhisattva who through patience does not vacillate in the face of abuse, through truthful speech does not relinquish (his antagonist); and (d) to show the truthfulness of the knowledge developed through reflective acquiescence in the emptiness of beings.

(8) Determination is stated immediately after truthfulness; (a) because truthfulness is perfected by determination, since abstinence (from falsehood) becomes perfect in one whose determination is unshakeable; (b) having first shown non-deception in speech, to show next unshakeable commitment to one’s word, for a bodhisattva devoted to truth proceeds to fulfill his vows of giving, etc., without wavering; and (c) to show, right after the veracity of knowledge, the complete accumulation of the requisites of enlightenment (bodhisambhaara); for one who knows things as they really are determines upon the requisites of enlightenment and brings them to completion by refusing to vacillate in the face of their opposites.7

(9) Loving-kindness is mentioned immediately after determination: (a) because loving-kindness perfects the determination to undertake activity for the welfare of others; (b) in order to list the work of actually providing for the welfare of others right after stating the determination to do so, for “one determined upon the requisites of enlightenment abides in loving-kindness”; and (c) because the undertaking (of activity for the welfare of others) proceeds imperturbably only when determination is unshakeable.

(10) Equanimity is mentioned immediately after loving-kindness: (a) because equanimity purifies loving-kindness; (b) in order to show the indifference one must maintain toward the wrongs inflicted by others when one is providing for their welfare; (c) having mentioned the development of loving-kindness, to state next the development of the quality which evolves from it; and (d) to show the bodhisattva’s wonderful virtue of remaining impartial even toward those who wish him well.

Thus the sequence of the paaramiis should be understood as explained.

(v) What are their characteristics, functions, manifestations, and proximate causes?

Firstly, all the paaramiis, without exception, have as their characteristic the benefiting of others; as their function, the rendering of help to others, or not vacillating; as their manifestation, the wish for the welfare of others, or Buddhahood; and as their proximate cause, great compassion, or compassion and skillful means.

Taken separately, the perfection of giving is the volition of relinquishing oneself and one’s belongings, accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of virtue is good conduct of body and speech, accompanied by compassion and skillful means; in denotation, it is the abstinence from what should not be done, the volition to do what should be done, etc. The perfection of renunciation is the act of consciousness which occurs renouncing sense pleasures and existence, preceded by the perception of their inherent unsatisfactoriness and accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of wisdom is the comprehension of the general and particular characteristics of dhammas, accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of energy is bodily and mental work for the welfare of others, accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of patience is the endurance of harm imposed by beings and formations, or the act of consciousness occurring in such a mode, predominated by non-aversion and accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of truthfulness is non-deceptiveness in speech, analyzed into an abstinence, a volition, etc., accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The perfection of determination is the unshakeable determination to undertake (activity for the good of others), accompanied by compassion and skillful means; or it is the act of consciousness occurring in such a mode. The perfection of loving-kindness is the wish to provide for the welfare and happiness of the world, accompanied by compassion and skillful means; in denotation, it is benevolence. The perfection of equanimity is the attitude of impartiality toward desirable and undesirable beings and formations, dispelling attraction and repulsion, accompanied by compassion and skillful means.

(On the basis of these definitions, the characteristics, etc., may be stated thus:)

(1) Giving has the characteristic of relinquishing; its function is to dispel greed for things that can be given away; its manifestation is non-attachment, or the achievement of prosperity and a favorable state of existence; an object that can be relinquished is its proximate cause.

(2) Virtue has the characteristic of composing (siilana); co-ordinating (samaadhaana) and establishing (pati.t.thaana) are also mentioned as its characteristic. Its function is to dispel moral depravity, or its function is blameless conduct; its manifestation is moral purity; shame and moral dread are its proximate cause.

(3) Renunciation has the characteristic of departing from sense pleasures and existence; its function is to verify their unsatisfactoriness; its manifestation is the withdrawal from them; a sense of spiritual urgency (sa.mvega) is its proximate cause.

(4) Wisdom has the characteristic of penetrating the real specific nature (of phenomena), or the characteristic of sure penetration, like the penetration of an arrow shot by a skillful archer; its function is to illuminate the objective field, like a lamp; its manifestation is non-confusion, like a guide in a forest; concentration, or the Four (Noble) Truths, is its proximate cause.

(5) Energy has the characteristic of striving; its function is to fortify; its manifestation is indefatigability; an occasion for the arousing of energy, or a sense of spiritual urgency, is its proximate cause.

(6) Patience has the characteristic of acceptance; its function is to endure the desirable and undesirable; its manifestation is tolerance or non-opposition; seeing things as they really are is its proximate cause.

(7) Truthfulness has the characteristic of non-deceptiveness in speech; its function is to verify in accordance with fact; its manifestation is excellence; honesty is its proximate cause.

(8) Determination has the characteristic of determining upon the requisites of enlightenment; its function is to overcome their opposites; its manifestation is unshakeableness in that task; the requisites of enlightenment are its proximate cause.

(9) Loving-kindness has the characteristic of promoting the welfare (of living beings); its function is to provide for their welfare, or its function is to remove resentment; its manifestation is kindliness; seeing the agreeable side of beings is its proximate cause.

(10) Equanimity has the characteristic of promoting the aspect of neutrality; its function is to see things impartially; its manifestation is the subsiding of attraction and repulsion: reflection upon the fact that all beings inherit the results of their own kamma is its proximate cause.

And here it should be mentioned that accompaniment by compassion and skillful means is the distinguishing feature of the characteristic of each virtue — e.g., of relinquishing in the case of giving, etc. For the virtues such as giving, etc., which occur in the mental continuities of bodhisattvas are always accompanied by compassion and skillful means. It is this which makes them paaramiis.

(vi) What is their condition?

The condition of the paaramiis is, firstly, the great aspiration (abhiniihaara). This is the aspiration supported by the eight qualifications (see just below), which occurs thus: “Crossed I would cross, freed I would free, tamed I would tame, calmed I would calm, comforted I would comfort, attained to nibbaana I would lead to nibbaana, purified I would purify, enlightened I would enlighten!” This is the condition for all the paaramiis without exception.

The eight qualifications through which the aspiration succeeds are: the human state, the male sex, the cause, the sight of the Master, the going forth, the achievement of noble qualities, extreme dedication, and strong desire (Bv. IIA,v.59).

(1) The human state (manussatta): The aspiration for Buddhahood only succeeds when made by one who has attained to the human state of existence, not when made by one existing as a naaga,, etc. Why? Because these other states do not correspond with the state of a Buddha (who always arises in the human state).

(2) The male sex (li”ngasampatti): For one who has attained to the human state, the aspiration only succeeds when made by a man, not when made by a woman, eunuch, neuter, or hermaphrodite. Why? For the aforesaid reason (i.e., because the Buddha is always of the male sex), and because there is no fulfillment of the required characteristics (in these other cases). As it is said: “This is impossible, bhikkhus, this cannot come to pass, that a woman might become a perfectly enlightened Buddha” (A.i,28).

(3) The cause (hetu): the achievement of the necessary supporting conditions. Even for a man, the aspiration only succeeds for one endowed with the necessary supporting conditions, one who has achieved the requisite causal foundation, not for anyone else.

(4) The sight of the Master (satthaaradassana): the personal presence of the Master. The aspiration only succeeds when made by one aspiring in the presence of a living Buddha. When made after the Exalted One has passed into parinibbaana — before a shrine, at the foot of the Bodhi-tree, in front of an image, or in the presence of paccekabuddhas or the Buddha’s disciples — the aspiration does not succeed. Why? Because the recipient lacks the power (necessary to confirm the aspiration). The aspiration only succeeds when made in the presence of the Buddhas, for they alone possess spiritual power adequate to the loftiness of the aspiration.

(5) The going forth (pabbajjaa): The aspiration succeeds only when made in the presence of the Exalted Buddha by one who has gone forth (into the homeless state of a monk), either as a bhikkhu or as an ascetic who maintains the doctrine of kamma and the moral efficacy of action; it does not succeed for one living in the household state. Why? Because the household state does not correspond with that of a Buddha (who has himself gone forth). The great bodhisattvas (in their last existence) attain the supreme enlightenment only after they have gone forth into homelessness, not while they are still householders. Therefore, at the time of making the resolution, it is only one who has gone forth, endowed with the appropriate qualities and determination, who can succeed.

(6) The achievement of noble qualities (gu.nasampatti): the achievement of such noble qualities as the direct knowledges (abhi~n~naa), etc. For the aspiration only succeeds when made by one who has gone forth and gained the eight meditative attainments (samaapatti) and the five mundane types of direct knowledge;8 it does not succeed for one devoid of these qualities. Why? Because one devoid of them is incapable of investigating the paaramiis. It is because he possesses the necessary supporting conditions and the direct knowledges that the Great Man, after he has made the aspiration, is able to investigate the paaramiis by himself.

(7) Extreme dedication (adhikaara): extreme devotion. The aspiration only succeeds for one endowed with the aforesaid qualities who at the time has such strong devotion for the Buddhas that he is prepared to relinquish his very life for them.

(8) Strong desire (chandataa): wholesome desire, the wish for accomplishment. One possessed of the aforesaid qualities must have strong desire, yearning, and longing to practice the qualities issuing in Buddhahood. Only then does his aspiration succeed, not otherwise.

The following similes illustrate the magnitude of the desire required. If he were to hear: “He alone can attain Buddhahood who can cross a whole world-system filled with water and reach the further shore by the bare strength of his arms” — he would not deem that difficult to do, but would be filled with desire for the task and would not shrink away. If he were to hear: “He alone can attain Buddhahood who can tread across a whole world-system filled with flameless, smokeless red-hot coals, cross out, and reach the other side,” etc…. If he were to hear: “He alone can attain Buddhahood who can tread across a whole world-system that has become a solid mass of sharp-pointed sword-stakes, cross out, and reach the other side,” etc…. If he were to hear: “He alone can attain Buddhahood who can cut through a whole world-system that has become a jungle of thorny creepers covered by a solid thicket of bamboo, cross out, and reach the other side,” etc…. If he were to hear: “Buddhahood can only be attained after being tortured in hell for four incalculables and a 100,000 aeons” — he would not deem that difficult to do, but would be filled with desire for the task and would not shrink away. Such is the magnitude of the desire required.

The aspiration, made by one endowed with these eight factors, is in denotation the act of consciousness (cittuppaada) occurring together with the collection of these eight factors. Its characteristic is rightly resolving to attain the supreme enlightenment. Its function is to yearn, “Oh, may I awaken to the supreme perfect enlightenment, and bring well-being and happiness to all beings!” It is manifest as the root-cause for the requisites of enlightenment. Its proximate cause is great compassion, or the achievement of the necessary supporting conditions. Since it has as its object the inconceivable plane of the Buddhas and the welfare of the whole immeasurable world of beings, it should be seen as the loftiest, most sublime and exalted distinction of merit, endowed with immeasurable potency, the root-cause of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood. Simultaneous with its arising, the Great Man enters upon the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment (mahaabodhiyaanapa.tipatti). He becomes fixed in his destiny, irreversible, and therefore properly gains the designation “bodhisattva.” His mind becomes fully devoted to the supreme enlightenment in its completeness, and his capacity to fulfill the training in the requisites of enlightenment becomes established. For when their aspiration succeeds, the Great Men correctly investigate all the paaramiis with their self-evolved knowledge which prefigures their future attainment of omniscience. Then they undertake their practice, and fulfill them in due order, as was done by the wise Sumedha when he made his great aspiration.

Like the aspiration, great compassion (mahaakaru.naa) and skillful means (upaayakosalla) are also conditions for the paaramiis. Therein, “skillful means” is the wisdom which transforms giving (and the other nine virtues) into requisites of enlightenment. Through their great compassion and skillful means, the Great Men devote themselves to working uninterruptedly for the welfare of others without any concern for their own happiness and without any fear of the extremely difficult course of conduct that great bodhisattvas must follow. And their nature is such that they are able to promote the welfare and happiness of beings even on occasions when they are merely seen, heard of, or recollected, (since even the sight, report, or thought of them) inspires confidence. Through his wisdom the bodhisattva perfects within himself the character of a Buddha, through his compassion the ability to perform the work of a Buddha. Through wisdom he brings himself across (the stream of becoming), through compassion he leads others across. Through wisdom he understands the suffering of others, through compassion he strives to alleviate their suffering. Through wisdom he becomes disenchanted with suffering, through compassion he accepts suffering.. Through wisdom he aspires for nibbaana, through compassion he remains in the round of existence. Through compassion he enters sa.msaara, through wisdom he does not delight in it. Through wisdom he destroys all attachments, but because his wisdom is accompanied by compassion he never desists from activity that benefits others. Through compassion he shakes with sympathy for all, but because his compassion is accompanied by wisdom his mind is unattached. Through wisdom he is free from “I-making” and “mine-making,” through compassion he is free from lethargy and depression.

So too, through wisdom and compassion respectively, he becomes his own protector and the protector of others, a sage and a hero, one who does not torment himself and one who does not torment others, one who promotes his own welfare and the welfare of others, fearless and a giver of fearlessness, dominated by consideration for the Dhamma and by consideration for the world, grateful for favors done and forward in doing favors for others, devoid of delusion and devoid of craving, accomplished in knowledge and accomplished in conduct, possessed of the powers and possessed of the grounds of self-confidence. Thus wisdom and compassion, as the means for attaining each of the specific fruits of the paaramiitaas, is the condition for the paaramiis. And the same pair is a condition for the resolution as well.

The four factors — zeal, adroitness, stability, and beneficent conduct — are likewise conditions for the paaramiis. Because they serve as the basis for the arising of Buddhahood, these factors are called “grounds for Buddhahood” (buddhabhuumiyo). Herein, “zeal” (ussaaha) means energy in striving for the requisites of enlightenment. “Adroitness” (umma”nga) is wisdom in applying skillful means to the requisites of enlightenment. “Stability” (avatthaana) is determination, an unshakeable determination of the will. “Beneficent conduct” (hitacariyaa) is the development of loving-kindness and compassion.

Another set of conditions is the six inclinations — the inclinations toward renunciation, solitude, non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion, and escape. For bodhisattvas, seeing the fault in sense pleasures and in household life, incline to renunciation. Seeing the fault in company, they incline to solitude. Seeing the faults in greed, hatred, and delusion, they incline to non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion. Seeing the fault in all the realms of existence, bodhisattvas incline to escape. Therefore these six inclinations of bodhisattvas are conditions for the paaramiis. For the paaramiis do not arise without seeing the danger in greed, etc., and the superiority of non-greed, etc. The inclination to non-greed, etc., is the slanting of the mind toward relinquishing, etc., because of the superiority of non-greed, etc.

So too, for bodhisattvas striving for enlightenment, the inclination toward each of the ten paaramiis is a condition for the practice of each. For bodhisattvas, through their inclination toward giving, see the fault in its opposite, i.e., in stinginess, and therefore fulfill the perfection of giving. Through their inclination toward virtue, they see the fault in moral depravity, and therefore fulfill the perfection of virtue. Through their inclination toward renunciation, they see the fault in sense pleasures and in household life; through their inclination toward knowing things as they really are, they see the faults in ignorance and perplexity; through their inclination toward energy, they see the fault in laziness; through their inclination toward patience, they see the fault in impatience; through their inclination toward truthfulness, they see the fault in deceptive speech; through their inclination toward determination, they see the fault in lack of determination; through their inclination toward loving-kindness, they see the fault in ill-will; and through their inclination toward equanimity, they see the danger in the vicissitudes of the world. Thus they fulfill the perfection of renunciation and the other perfections down to equanimity. In this way, the inclination toward giving and the other nine virtues, by bringing about the achievement of all the paaramiis, serves as their condition.

Reviewing the danger in their opposites and the benefit in their practice is another condition for the paaramiis; e.g., in the case of the perfection of giving, the danger in non-relinquishing and the benefit in relinquishing. This is the method of reviewing:

(1) The perfection of giving should be reflected upon thus: “Possessions such as fields, land, bullion, gold, cattle, buffaloes, slaves, children, wives, etc., bring tremendous harm to those who become attached to them. Because they stimulate desire they are wanted by many people; they can be confiscated by kings and thieves; they spark off disputes and create enemies; they are basically insubstantial; to acquire and protect them one has to harass others; when they are destroyed, many kinds of calamities, such as sorrow, etc., follow; and because of attachment to these things, the mind becomes obsessed with the stain of stinginess, and as a result one is reborn in the plane of misery. On the other hand, one act of relinquishing these things is one step to safety. Hence one should relinquish them with diligence.”

Further, when a suppliant asks for something, a bodhisattva should reflect: “He is my intimate friend, for he divulges his own secret to me. He is my teacher, for he teaches me: ‘When you go you have to abandon all. Going to the world beyond, you cannot even take your own possessions!’ He is a companion helping me to remove my belongings from this world which, like a blazing house, is blazing with the fire of death. In removing this he helps me to get rid of the worry it costs me. He is my best friend, for by enabling me to perform this noble act of giving, he helps me to accomplish the most eminent and difficult of all achievements, the attainment of the plane of the Buddhas.”

He should further reflect: “He honors me with a lofty task; therefore I should acknowledge that honor faithfully.” And: “Since life is bound to end I should give even when not asked, much more when asked.” And: “Those with a lofty temperament search for someone to give to, but he has come to me on his own accord because of my merit.” And: “Bestowing a gift upon a suppliant will be beneficial to me as well as to him.” And: “Just as I would benefit myself, so should I benefit all the world.” And: “If there were no suppliants, how would I fulfill the perfection of giving?” And: “Everything I acquire should be obtained only to give to others.” And: “When will beggars feel free to take my belongings on their own accord, without asking?” And: “How can I be dear and agreeable to beggars, and how can they be dear and agreeable to me? How can I give and, after giving, be elated, exultant, filled with rapture and joy? And how can beggars be so on my account? How can my inclination to giving be lofty? How can I give to beggars even without being asked, knowing their heart’s desire?” And: “Since there are goods, and beggars have come, not to give them something would be a great deception on my part.” And: “How can I relinquish my own life and limbs to those who ask for them?”

He should arouse a desire to give things away without concern by reflecting: “Good returns to the one who gives without his concern, just as the boomerang9 returns to the one who threw it without his concern.” If a dear person asks for something, he should arouse joy by reflecting: “One who is dear is asking me for something.” If an indifferent person asks for something, he should arouse joy by reflecting: “Surely, if I give him something he will become my friend, since giving to those who ask wins their affection.” And if a hostile person asks for something, he should be especially happy, thinking: “My foe is asking me for something; though he is hostile toward me, by means of this gift he will surely become my dear friend.” Thus he should give to neutral and hostile people in the same way he gives to dear people, having first aroused loving-kindness and compassion.

If, due to their cumulative force, states of greed should arise for things which can be given away, the bodhisattva-aspirant should reflect: “Well now, good man, when you made the aspiration for full enlightenment, did you not surrender this body as well as the merit gained in relinquishing it for the sake of helping all beings? Attachment to external objects is like the bathing of an elephant; therefore you should not be attached to anything. Suppose there is a great medicine-tree, and someone in need of its roots takes away its roots; someone in need of its shoots, bark, trunk, limbs, heartwood, branches, foliage, flowers, or fruits takes away its shoots, bark, trunk, etc. The tree would not be assailed by such thoughts as: ‘They are taking away my belongings.’ In the same way, when I have undertaken to exert myself for the welfare of all the world, I should not arouse even the subtlest wrong thought over this wretched, ungrateful, impure body, which I have entrusted to the service of others. And besides, what distinction can be made between the internal material elements (of the body) and the external material elements (of the world)? They are both subject to inevitable breaking-up, dispersal, and dissolution. This is only confused prattle, the adherence to this body as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self.’ I should have no more concern over my own hands, feet, eyes, and flesh than over external things. Instead I should arouse the thought to surrender them to others: ‘Let those who need them take them away.’”

As he reflects in this way, resolved upon full enlightenment without concern for his body or life, his bodily, vocal, and mental actions will easily become fully purified. When his bodily, vocal, and mental actions, along with his livelihood, become purified, he abides in the practice of the true way, and through his skillful means in regard to gain and loss, he is able to benefit all beings to an even greater extent by relinquishing material gifts and by giving the gift of fearlessness and the gift of the true Dhamma.

This is the method of reflecting on the perfection of giving.

(2) The perfection of virtue should be reflected upon as follows: “Even the waters of the Ganges cannot wash away the stain of hatred, yet the water of virtue is able to do so. Even yellow sandalwood cannot cool the fever of lust, yet virtue is able to remove it. Virtue is the unique adornment of the good, surpassing the adornments cherished by ordinary people, such as necklaces, diadems, and earrings. It is a sweet-scented fragrance superior to incense as it pervades all directions and is always in place; a supreme magical spell which wins the homage of deities and of powerful khattiyas, etc., a staircase ascending to the world of the gods, to the heaven of the Four Great Kings,10 etc., a means for achieving the jhaanas and the direct knowledges; a highway leading to the great city of nibbaana; the foundation for the enlightenment of disciples, paccekabuddhas, and perfectly enlightened Buddhas. And as a means for the fulfillment of all one’s wishes and desires, it surpasses the tree of plenty and the wish-fulfilling gem.”

Virtue should be reflected upon as the basis for rapture and joy; as granting immunity from fear of self-reproach, the reproach of others, temporal punishment, and an evil destination after death; as praised by the wise; as the root-cause for freedom from remorse; as the basis for security; and as surpassing the achievements of high birth, wealth, sovereignty, long life, beauty, status, kinsmen, and friends. For great rapture and joy arise in the virtuous man when he reflects on his own accomplishment in virtue: “I have done what is wholesome, I have done what is good, I have built myself a shelter from fear.” The virtuous man does not blame himself, and other wise men do not blame him, and he does not encounter the dangers of temporal punishment or an evil destination after death. To the contrary, the wise praise the noble character of the virtuous man, and the virtuous man is not subject to the remorse which arises in the immoral man when he thinks: “I have committed evil, wicked, sinful deeds.” And virtue is the supreme basis for security, since it is the foundation for diligence, a blessing, and a means for achieving great benefits, such as preventing the loss of wealth, etc.

Accomplishment in virtue surpasses birth in a good family, since a virtuous man of low birth deserves to be worshipped even by great, powerful khattiyas. Virtue surpasses material wealth, for it cannot be confiscated by thieves, follows one to the world beyond, produces great fruit, and acts as the foundation for such qualities as serenity, etc. Because it enables one to achieve supreme sovereignty over one’s own mind, virtue surpasses the sovereignty of khattiyas, etc. And because of their virtue, beings attain sovereignty in their respective orders. Virtue is superior even to life, for it is said that a single day in the life of the virtuous is better than a hundred years of life devoid of virtue (Dhp.110); and there being life, the disavowal of the training (in the holy life) is called (spiritual) death. Virtue surpasses the achievement of beauty, for it makes one beautiful even to one’s enemies, and it cannot be vanquished by the adversities of aging and sickness. As the foundation for distinguished states of happiness, virtue surpasses such distinguished dwellings as palaces, mansions, etc., and such distinguished social positions as that of a king, prince, or general. Because it promotes one’s highest welfare and follows one to the world beyond, virtue surpasses kinsmen and friends, even those who are close and affectionate. Again, in accomplishing the difficult task of self-protection, virtue is superior to troops of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry, as well as to such devices as mantras, spells, and blessings, for it depends on oneself, does not depend on others, and has a great sphere of influence. Hence it is said: “Dhamma protects the one who lives by Dhamma” (Thag.303).

When one reflects in this way upon the numerous noble qualities of virtue, one’s unfulfilled achievement of virtue will become fulfilled, and one’s unpurified virtue will become purified.

If, due to their cumulative force, states antithetical to virtue such as aversion should arise from time to time, the aspirant should reflect: “Did you not make the resolution to win full enlightenment? One defective in virtue cannot even succeed in mundane affairs, much less in supramundane matters. You should reach the peak of virtue, for virtue is the foundation for supreme enlightenment, the foremost of all achievements. You should always be well behaved, safeguarding your virtue perfectly, more carefully than a hen safeguarding its eggs. Further, by teaching the Dhamma you should help beings to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles (see pp.1-2). But the word of a morally dubious man is no more reliable than the remedy of a doctor who does not consider what is suitable for his patients. How can I be trustworthy, so that I can help beings to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles? I must be pure in character and in virtue. How can I acquire the distinguished attainments such as the jhaanas, etc., so that I will be capable of helping others and of fulfilling the perfection of wisdom, etc.? The distinguished attainments such as the jhaanas, etc., are not possible without purification of virtue. Therefore virtue should be made perfectly pure.”

(3) The perfection of renunciation should be reflected upon by first discerning the dangers in household life, according to the text “household life is constricting, a path for the dust of passions,” etc. (D.i,63); in sense pleasures, according to the text, “sense pleasures are like a chain of bones,” etc. (M.i,364); and in sensual desire, according to the text “suppose a man borrowed a loan and undertook work,” etc. (D.i,71). Then, in the opposite way, one should reflect upon the benefits in going forth, according to the text “going forth is like open space,” etc. (D.i,63). This is a brief statement. For details one should consult such suttas as “The Great Mass of Suffering” (M.i,83-90) or “The Simile of the Venomous Snakes” (S.iv,172-75).

(4) For the perfection of wisdom, the noble qualities of wisdom should be considered, as follows: “Without wisdom, the virtues such as giving do not become purified and cannot perform their respective functions. Just as, without life, the bodily organism loses its luster and cannot perform its proper activities, and as without consciousness the sense faculties cannot exercise their functions in their respective spheres, just so, without wisdom the faculties such as faith, etc., cannot perform their functions. Wisdom is the chief cause for the practice of the other paaramii. For when their wisdom-eyes open up, the great bodhisattvas give even their own limbs and organs without extolling themselves and disparaging others. Like medicine-trees they give devoid of discrimination, filled with joy throughout the three times. By means of wisdom, the act of relinquishing, exercised with skillful means and practiced for the welfare of others, attains the status of a paaramii; but giving for one’s own benefit is like an investment.. Again, without wisdom virtue cannot be severed from the defilements of craving, etc., and therefore cannot even reach purification, much less serve as the foundation for the qualities of an omniscient Buddha. Only the man of wisdom clearly recognizes the dangers in household life, in the strands of sense pleasure, and in sa.msaara, and sees the benefits in going forth, in attaining the jhaanas, and in realizing nibbaana; and he alone goes forth into homelessness, develops the jhaanic attainments, and, directed toward nibbaana, establishes others therein.

“Energy devoid of wisdom does not accomplish the purpose desired since it is wrongly aroused, and it is better not to arouse energy at all than to arouse it in the wrong way. But when energy is conjoined with wisdom, there is nothing it cannot accomplish if equipped with the proper means. Again, only the man of wisdom can patiently tolerate the wrongs of others, not the dull-witted man. In the man lacking wisdom, the wrongs of others only provoke impatience; but for the wise, they call his patience into play and make it grow even stronger. The wise man, having understood as they really are three noble truths,11 their causes and opposites, never speaks deceptively to others. So too, having fortified himself with the power of wisdom, the wise man in his fortitude forms an unshakeable determination to undertake all the paaramiis. Only the man of wisdom is skillful in providing for the welfare of all beings, without discriminating between dear people, neutrals, and enemies. And only by means of wisdom can he remain indifferent to the vicissitudes of the world, such as gain and loss, without being affected by them.”

In this way one should reflect upon the noble qualities of wisdom, recognizing it to be the cause for the purification of all the paaramiis.

Furthermore, without wisdom there is no achievement of vision, and without the achievement of vision there can be no accomplishment in virtue. One lacking virtue and vision cannot achieve concentration, and without concentration one cannot even secure one’s own welfare, much less the lofty goal of providing for the welfare of others. Therefore a bodhisattva, practicing for the welfare of others, should admonish himself: “Have you made a thorough effort to purify your wisdom?” For it is by the spiritual power of wisdom that the Great Beings, established in the four foundations, benefit the world with the four bases of beneficence, help beings enter the path to emancipation, and bring their faculties to maturity.12 Through the power of wisdom, again, they are devoted to the investigation of the aggregates, sense bases, etc., fully comprehend the processes of origination and cessation in accordance with actuality, develop the qualities of giving, etc., to the stages of distinction and penetration, and perfect the training of bodhisattvas. Thus the perfection of wisdom should be reinforced by determining the noble qualities of wisdom with their numerous modes and constituents.

(5) The perfection of energy should be reflected upon thus: “Without energy a man cannot even achieve success in worldly works directed to visible ends. But there is nothing the energetic, indefatigable man cannot achieve. One lacking energy cannot undertake to rescue all beings from the great flood of sa.msaara; even if his energy is only moderate he will give up in the middle. But one bristling with energy can achieve perfection in all he undertakes.”

The noble qualities of energy should be further reviewed as follows: “One intent on rescuing himself alone from the mire of sa.msaara cannot fulfill his ideal if he relaxes his energy; how much less one who aspires to rescue the entire world.” And: “Through the power of energy such wrong thoughts as the following are kept away: ‘It is quite right for you to escape from the suffering of sa.msaara by yourself alone; for so long as you are a foolish worldling the host of defilements is as difficult to restrain as a herd of mad elephants, the kamma caused by them is like a murderer with drawn sword, the evil destinations based on these actions stand constantly before you with open doors, and evil friends are always around to enjoin you in those actions and admonish you to practice them.’” And: “If even full enlightenment can be achieved by one’s own energy, what can be difficult?”

(6) The perfection of patience should be considered next: “Patience is the unimpeded weapon of the good in the development of noble qualities, for it dispels anger, the opposite of all such qualities, without residue. It is the adornment of those capable of vanquishing the foe; the strength of recluses and brahmans; a stream of water extinguishing the fire of anger; the basis for acquiring a good reputation; a mantra for quelling the poisonous speech of evil people; the supreme source of constancy in those established in restraint. Patience is an ocean on account of its depth; a shore bounding the great ocean of hatred; a panel closing off the door to the plane of misery; a staircase ascending to the worlds of the gods and Brahmaas; the ground for the habitation of all noble qualities; the supreme purification of body, speech and mind.”

Patience should be further fortified by reflection: “Those who lack patience are afflicted in this world and apply themselves to actions which will lead to their affliction in the life to come.” And: “Although this suffering arises through the wrong deeds of others, this body of mine is the field for that suffering, and the action which is its seed was sown by me alone.” And: “This suffering will release me from the debt of that kamma.” And: “If there were no wrong-doers, how could I accomplish the perfection of patience?” And: “Although he is a wrong-doer now, in the past he was my benefactor.” And: “A wrong-doer is also a benefactor, for he is the basis for developing patience.” And: “All beings are like my own children. Who becomes angry over the misdeeds of his own children?” And: “He wrongs me because of some residue of anger in myself; this residue I should remove.” And: “I am just as much the cause as he for the wrong on account of which this suffering has arisen.” And: “All those phenomena by which wrong was done, and those to whom it was done — all those, at this very moment, have ceased. With whom, then, should you now be angry, and by whom should anger be aroused? When all phenomena are non-self, who can do wrong to whom?”

If, due to its cumulative force, anger caused by the wrongs of others should continue to overpower the mind, one should reflect: “Patience is the contributive cause for rendering help to others in return for their wrong.” And: “This wrong, by causing me suffering, is a condition for faith, since suffering is said to be the decisive support for faith, and it is also a condition for the perception of discontent with all the world.” And: “This is the nature of the sense-faculties — to encounter desirable and undesirable objects. How then is it possible not to encounter undesirable objects?” And: “Under the control of anger, a person becomes mad and distraught, so why retaliate?” And: “All these beings are watched over by the Buddha as if they were his own dear children. Therefore I should not be angry with them.” And: “When the wrong-doer is endowed with noble qualities, I should not be angry with him. And when he does not have any noble qualities, then I should regard him with compassion.” And: “Because of anger my fame and noble qualities diminish, and to the pleasure of my enemies I become ugly, sleep in discomfort, etc.” And: “Anger is the only real enemy, for it is the agent of all harm and the destroyer of all good.” And: “When one has patience one has no enemies.” And: “Because of his wrong, the wrong-doer will meet suffering in the future, but so long as I remain patient I will not.” And: “Enemies are the consequence of my angry thought. When I vanquish anger by patience, my foe, who is the by-product of my anger, will also be vanquished.” And: “I should not relinquish the noble quality of patience because of a little anger. Anger is the antithesis and obstruction to all noble qualities, so if I become angry, how can my virtue, etc., reach fulfillment? And when those qualities are absent, how can I devote myself to helping other beings and attain the ultimate goal in accordance with my vows.” And: “When there is patience, the mind becomes concentrated, free from external distraction. With the mind concentrated, all formations appear to reflection as impermanent and suffering, all phenomena as non-self, nibbaana as unconditioned, deathless, peaceful, and sublime, and the Buddha-qualities as endowed with inconceivable and immeasurable potency. Then, established in acquiescence in conformity,13 the groundlessness of all ‘I-making’ and ‘mine-making’ becomes evident to reflection thus: ‘Mere phenomena alone exist, devoid of self or of anything pertaining to a self. They arise and pass away in accordance with their conditions. They do not come from anywhere, they do not go anywhere, they are not established anywhere. There is no agency in anything whatsoever.’ In this way a bodhisattva becomes fixed in destiny, bound for enlightenment, irreversible.”

This is the method of reflecting upon the perfection of patience.

(7) The perfection of truthfulness should be reviewed thus: “Without truthfulness, virtue, etc., is impossible, and there can be no practice in accordance with one’s vows. All evil states converge upon the transgression of truth. One who is not devoted to truth is unreliable and his word cannot be accepted in the future. On the other hand, one devoted to truth secures the foundation of all noble qualities. With truthfulness as the foundation, he is capable of purifying and fulfilling all the requisites of enlightenment. Not deceived about the true nature of phenomena, he performs the functions of all the requisites of enlightenment and completes the practice of the bodhisattva path.”

(8) The perfection of determination should be reviewed thus: “Without firmly undertaking the practice of giving (and the other paaramiis), maintaining an unshakeable determination in the encounter with their opposites, and practicing them with constancy and vigor, the bases of enlightenment — i.e., the requisites such as giving, etc. — do not arise.”

(9) The noble qualities of loving-kindness should be reflected upon as follows: “One resolved only upon his own welfare cannot achieve success in this world or a happy rebirth in the life to come without some concern for the welfare of others; how then can one wishing to establish all beings in the attainment of nibbaana succeed without loving-kindness? And if you wish to ultimately lead all beings to the supramundane achievement of nibbaana, you should begin by wishing for their mundane success here and now.” And: “I cannot provide for the welfare and happiness of others merely by wishing for it. Let me put forth effort to accomplish it.” And: “Now I support them by promoting their welfare and happiness; afterward they will be my companions in sharing the Dhamma.” And: “Without these beings, I could not acquire the requisites of enlightenment. Since they are the cause for the manifestation and perfecting of all the Buddha-qualities, these beings are for me a supreme field of merit, the incomparable basis for planting wholesome roots, the ultimate object of reverence.”

Thus one should arouse an especially strong inclination toward promoting the welfare of all beings. And why should loving-kindness be developed toward all beings? Because it is the foundation for compassion. For when one delights in providing for the welfare and happiness of other beings with an unbounded heart, the desire to remove their affliction and suffering becomes powerful and firmly rooted. And compassion is the first of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood — their footing, foundation, root, head and chief.

(10) The perfection of equanimity should be considered thus: “When there is no equanimity, the offensive actions performed by beings cause oscillation in the mind. And when the mind oscillates, it is impossible to practice the requisites of enlightenment.” And: “Even though the mind has been softened with the moisture of loving-kindness, without equanimity one cannot purify the requisites of enlightenment and cannot dedicate one’s requisites of merit along with their results to furthering the welfare of beings.”

Moreover, the undertaking, determination, fulfillment, and completion of all the requisites of enlightenment succeed through the power of equanimity. For without equanimity, the aspirant cannot relinquish something without making false discriminations over gifts and recipients. Without equanimity, he cannot purify his virtue without always thinking about the obstacles to his life and to his vital needs. Equanimity perfects the power of renunciation, for by its means he overcomes discontent and delight. It perfects the functions of all the requisites (by enabling wisdom) to examine them according to their origin. When energy is aroused to excess because it has not been examined with equanimity, it cannot perform its proper function of striving. Forbearance and reflective acquiescence (the modes of patience) are possible only in one possessed of equanimity. Because of this quality, he does not speak deceptively about beings or formations. By looking upon the vicissitudes of worldly events with an equal mind, his determination to fulfill the practices he has undertaken becomes completely unshakeable. And because he is unconcerned over the wrongs done by others, he perfects the abiding in loving-kindness. Thus equanimity is indispensable to the practice of all the other paaramiis.

Such is the reflection on the perfection of equanimity.

Thus reviewing the danger in their opposites and the benefits in their practice is a condition for the paaramiis.

(vii) What is their defilement (sa”nkilesa)?

In general, being misapprehended by craving, etc., is the defilement of all the paaramiis. Taken separately, discriminating thoughts (vikappa) over gifts and recipients are the defilement of the perfection of giving. Discriminating thoughts over beings and times are the defilement of the perfection of virtue.. Discriminating thoughts of delight in sense pleasures and existence, and of discontent with their pacification, are the defilement of the perfection of renunciation. Discriminating thoughts of “I” and “mine” are the defilement of the perfection of wisdom; discriminating thoughts leaning to listlessness and restlessness, of the perfection of energy; discriminating thoughts of oneself and others, of the perfection of patience; discriminating thoughts of avowing to have seen what was not seen, etc., of the perfection of truthfulness; discriminating thoughts perceiving flaws in the requisites of enlightenment and virtues in their opposites, of the perfection of determination; discriminating thoughts confusing what is harmful with what is beneficial, of the perfection of loving-kindness; and discriminating thoughts over the desirable and undesirable, of the perfection of equanimity. Thus the defilements should be understood.

(viii) What is their cleansing (vodaana)?

Their cleansing is the removal of the taints of craving, etc., and the absence of the aforementioned discriminations. For the paaramiis become pure and luminous when untainted by such defilements as craving, conceit, views, anger, malice, denigration, domineering, envy, stinginess, craftiness, hypocrisy, obstinacy, presumption, vanity, and negligence, and when devoid of the discriminating thoughts over gifts and recipients, etc.

(ix) What are their opposites (pa.tipakkha)?

In general, all the defilements and all unwholesome qualities are their opposites. Taken separately, stinginess is the opposite of giving, and so on, as mentioned earlier. Further, giving is opposed to greed, hatred, and delusion, since it applies the qualities of non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion to gifts, recipients, and the fruits of giving, respectively. Virtue is opposed to greed, hatred, and delusion, since it removes crookedness and corruption in bodily conduct, etc. Renunciation is opposed to these three corruptions since it avoids indulgence in sense pleasures, the affliction of others, and self-mortification. Wisdom opposes them in so far as greed, etc., create blindness, while knowledge restores sight. Energy opposes them by arousing the true way free from both listlessness and restlessness. Patience opposes them by accepting the desirable, the undesirable, and emptiness. Truthfulness is their opposite because it proceeds in accordance with fact whether others render help or inflict harm. Determination is the opposite of these three defilements since, after vanquishing the vicissitudes of the world, it remains unshakeable in fulfilling the requisites of enlightenment in the way they have been undertaken. Loving-kindness is the opposite of greed, hatred, and delusion, through its seclusion from the hindrances. And equanimity is their opposite by dispelling attraction and repulsion toward desirable and undesirable objects, respectively, and by proceeding evenly under varying circumstances.

(x) How are they to be practiced?

(1) The perfection of giving, firstly, is to be practiced by benefiting beings in many ways — by relinquishing one’s own happiness, belongings, body, and life to others, by dispelling their fear, and by instructing them in the Dhamma. Herein, giving is threefold by way of the object to be given: the giving of material things (aamisadaana), the giving of fearlessness (abhayadaana), and the giving of the Dhamma (dhammadaana). Among these, the object to be given can be twofold: internal and external. The external gift is tenfold: food, drink, garments, vehicles, garlands, scents, unguents, bedding, dwellings, and lamps. These gifts, again, become manifold by analyzing each into its constituents; e.g., food into hard food, soft food, etc. The external gift can also become sixfold when analyzed by way of sense object (aaramma.nato): visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, and non-sensory objects. The sense objects, such as visible forms, become manifold when analyzed into blue, etc. So too, the external gift is manifold by way of the divers valuables and belongings such as gems, gold, silver, pearls, coral, etc.; fields, lands, parks, etc.; slaves, cows, buffaloes, etc.

When the Great Man gives an external object, he gives whatever is needed to whomever stands in need of it; and knowing by himself that someone is in need of something, he gives it even unasked, much more when asked. He gives generously, not ungenerously. He gives sufficiently, not insufficiently, when there is something to be given. He does not give because he expects something in return. And when there is not enough to give sufficiently to all, he distributes evenly whatever can be shared. But he does not give things that issue in affliction to others, such as weapons, poisons, and intoxicants. Nor does he give amusements which are harmful and lead to negligence. And he does not give unsuitable food or drink to a person who is sick, even though he might ask for it, and he does not give what is suitable beyond the proper measure.

Again, when asked, he gives to householders things appropriate for householders, and to monks things appropriate for monks. He gives to his mother and father, kinsmen and relatives, friends and colleagues, children, wife, slaves, and workers, without causing pain to anyone. Having promised an excellent gift, he does not give something mean. He does not give because he desires gain, honor, or fame, or because he expects something in return, or out of expectation of some fruit other than the supreme enlightenment. He does not give detesting the gift or those who ask. He does not give a discarded object as a gift, not even to unrestrained beggars who revile and abuse him. Invariably he gives with care, with a serene mind, full of compassion. He does not give through belief in superstitious omens; but he gives believing in kamma and its fruit. When he gives he does not afflict those who ask by making them do homage to him, etc.; but he gives without afflicting others. He does not give a gift with the intention of deceiving others or with the intention of injuring; he gives only with an undefiled mind. He does not give a gift with harsh words or a frown, but with words of endearment, congenial speech, and a smile on his face. Whenever greed for a particular object becomes excessive, due to its high value and beauty, its antiquity, or personal attachment, the bodhisattva recognizes his greed, quickly dispels it, seeks out some recipients, and gives it away. And if there should be an object of limited value that can be given and a suppliant expecting it, without a second thought he bestirs himself and gives it to him, honoring him as though he were an uncelebrated sage. Asked for his own children, wife, slaves, workers, and servants, the Great Man does not give them while they are as yet unwilling to go, afflicted with grief. But when they are willing and joyful, then he gives them. But if he knows that those who ask for them are demonic beings — ogres, demons, or goblins — or men of cruel disposition, then he does not give them away. So too, he will not give his kingdom to those intent on the harm, suffering, and affliction of the world, but he would give it away to righteous men who protect the world with Dhamma.

This, firstly, is the way to practice the giving of external gifts.

The internal gift should be understood in two ways. How? Just as a man, for the sake of food and clothing, surrenders himself to another and enters into servitude and slavery, in the same way the Great Man, wishing for the supreme welfare and happiness of all beings, desiring to fulfill his own perfection of giving, with a spiritually-oriented mind, for the sake of enlightenment, surrenders himself to another and enters into servitude, placing himself at the disposal of others. Whatever limbs or organs of his might be needed by others — hands, feet, eyes, etc. — he gives them away to those who need them, without trembling and without cowering. He is no more attached to them, and no more shrinks away (from giving them to others), than if they were external objects. Thus the Great Man relinquishes an internal object in two ways: for the enjoyment of others according to their pleasure; or, while fulfilling the wishes of those who ask, for his own self-mastery. In this matter he is completely generous, and thinks: “I will attain enlightenment through non-attachment.” Thus the giving of the internal gift should be understood.

Herein, giving an internal gift, he gives only what leads to the welfare of the recipient, and nothing else. The Great Man does not knowingly give his own body, limbs, and organs to Maara or to the malevolent deities in Maara’s company, thinking: “Let this not lead to their harm.” And likewise, he does not give to those possessed by Maara or his deities, or to madmen. But when asked for these things by others, he gives immediately, because of the rarity of such a request and the difficulty of making such a gift.

The giving of fearlessness is the giving of protection to beings when they have become frightened on account of kings, thieves, fire, water, enemies, lions, tigers, other wild beasts, dragons, ogres, demons, goblins, etc.

The giving of the Dhamma is an unperverted discourse on the Dhamma given with an undefiled mind; that is, methodical instruction conducive to good in the present life, in the life to come, and to ultimate deliverance. By means of such discourses, those who have not entered the Buddha’s Dispensation enter it, while those who have entered it reach maturity therein. This is the method: In brief, he gives a talk on giving, on virtue, and on heaven, on the unsatisfactoriness and defilement in sense pleasures, and on the benefit in renouncing them. In detail, to those whose minds are disposed toward the enlightenment of disciples, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them (in progress toward their goal) by elaborating upon the noble qualities of whichever among the following topics is appropriate: going for refuge, restraint by virtue, guarding the doors of the sense-faculties, moderation in eating, application to wakefulness, the seven good qualities; application to serenity (samatha) by practicing meditation on one of the thirty-eight objects (of serenity meditation); application to insight (vipassanaa) by contemplating the objects of insight-interpretation such as the material body; the progressive stages of purification, the apprehension of the course of rightness (, the three kinds of clear knowledge (vijjaa), the six direct knowledges (abhi~n~naa), the four discriminations (pa.tisambhidaa), and the enlightenment of a disciple.14 So too, for beings whose minds are disposed toward the enlightenment of paccekabuddhas and of perfectly enlightened Buddhas, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them in the two vehicles (leading to these two types of enlightenment) by elaborating upon the greatness of the spiritual power of those Buddhas, and by explaining the specific nature, characteristic, function, etc., of the ten paaramiis in their three stages. Thus the Great Man gives the gift of the Dhamma to beings.

When he gives a material gift, the Great Man gives food thinking: “May I, by this gift, enable beings to achieve long life, beauty, happiness, strength, intelligence, and the supreme fruit of unsullied bliss.” He gives drink wishing to allay the thirst of sensual defilements; garments to gain the adornments of shame and moral dread and the golden complexion (of a Buddha); vehicles for attaining the modes of psychic potency and the bliss of nibbaana; scents for producing the sweet scent of virtue; garlands and unguents for producing the beauty of the Buddha-qualities; seats for producing the seat on the terrace of enlightenment; bedding for producing the bed of a Tathaagata’s rest; dwellings so he might become a refuge for beings; lamps so he might obtain the five-eyes.15 He gives visible forms for producing the fathom-wide aura (surrounding a Buddha); sounds for producing the Brahmaa-like voice (of a Buddha); tastes for endearing himself to all the world; and tangibles for acquiring a Buddha’s elegance. He gives medicines so he might later give the ageless and deathless state of nibbaana. He gives slaves the gift of freedom so he might later emancipate beings from the slavery of the defilements. He gives blameless amusements and enjoyments in order to produce delight in the true Dhamma. He gives his own children as a gift in order that he might adopt all beings as his children by granting them a noble birth. He gives his wives as a gift in order that he might become master over the entire world. He gives gifts of gold, gems, pearls, coral, etc., in order to achieve the major marks of physical beauty (characteristic of a Buddha’s body), and gifts of the diverse means of beautification in order to achieve the minor features of physical beauty.16 He gives his treasuries as a gift in order to obtain the treasury of the true Dhamma; the gift of his kingdom in order to become the king of the Dhamma; the gift of monasteries, parks, ponds, and groves in order to achieve the jhaanas, etc.; the gift of his feet in order that he might approach the terrace of enlightenment with feet marked with the auspicious wheels; the gift of his hands in order that he might give to beings the rescuing hand of the true Dhamma to help them across the four floods;17 the gift of his ears, nose, etc., in order to obtain the spiritual faculties of faith, etc.; the gift of his eyes in order to obtain the universal eye; the gift of his flesh and blood with the thought: “May my body be the means of life for all the world! May it bring welfare and happiness to all beings at all times, even on occasions of merely seeing, hearing, recollecting, or ministering to me!” And he gives the gift of his head in order to become supreme in all the world.

Giving thus, the Great Man does not give unwillingly, nor by afflicting others, nor out of fear, moral shame, or the scolding of those in need of gifts. When there is something excellent, he does not give what is mean. He does not give extolling himself and disparaging others. He does not give out of desire for the fruit, nor with loathing for those who ask, nor with lack of consideration. Rather, he gives thoroughly, with his own hand, at the proper time, considerately, without discrimination, filled with joy throughout the three times.18 Having given, he does not become remorseful afterward. He does not become either conceited or obsequious in relation to the recipients, but behaves amiably toward them. Bountiful and liberal, he gives things together with a bonus (saparivaara). For when he gives food, thinking: “I will give this along with a bonus,” he gives garments, etc., as well.. And when he gives garments, thinking: “I will give this along with a bonus,” he gives food, etc., as well. The same method with gifts of vehicles, etc. And when he gives a gift of one of the sense objects, such as visible forms, he gives the other sense objects also as a bonus.

This entire accomplishment in giving he dedicates to the welfare and happiness of the whole world, and to his own unshakeable emancipation through supreme enlightenment. He dedicates it to the attainment of inexhaustible desire (for the good), inexhaustible concentration, ingenuity, knowledge, and emancipation. In practicing the perfection of giving the Great Being should apply the perception of impermanence to life and possessions. He should consider them as shared in common with many, and should constantly and continuously arouse great compassion toward beings. Just as, when a house is blazing, the owner removes all his property of essential value and himself as well without leaving anything important behind, so does the Great Man invariably give, without discrimination and without concern.

This is the method of practicing the perfection of giving.


(2) Now comes the method of practicing the perfection of virtue. Since the Great Man desires to adorn beings with the adornment of the virtue of the omniscient, at the beginning he must first purify his own virtue. Herein, virtue is purified in four modes: (1) by the purification of one’s inclinations (ajjhaasayavisuddhi); (2) by the undertaking of precepts (samaadaana); (3) by non-transgression (aviitikkamana); and (4) by making amends for transgressions ( For someone who is dominated by personal ideals is naturally disgusted with evil through the purity of his own inclinations and purifies his conduct by arousing his inward sense of shame. Someone else, who is dominated by a consideration for the world, afraid of evil, purifies his conduct by receiving precepts from another person and by arousing his sense of moral dread. Both establish themselves in virtue through non-transgression. But if, due to forgetfulness, they sometimes break a precept, then through their sense of shame and moral dread, respectively, they quickly make amends for it by the proper means of rehabilitation.

Virtue is twofold as avoidance (vaaritta) and performance (caaritta). Herein, this is the method by which virtue as avoidance should be practiced. A bodhisattva should have such a heart of sympathy for all beings that he does not feel any resentment toward anyone, even in a dream. Because he is dedicated to helping others, he would no more misappropriate the belongings of others than he would take hold of a poisonous water snake. If he is a monk, he should live remote from unchastity, abstaining from the seven bonds of sexuality (A.iv,54-56), not to speak of adultery. If he is a householder, he should never arouse even an evil thought of lust for the wives of others. When he speaks, his statements should be truthful, beneficial, and endearing, and his talk measured, timely, and concerned with the Dhamma. His mind should always be devoid of covetousness, ill-will, and perverted views. He should possess the knowledge of the ownership of kamma and have settled faith and affection for recluses and brahmans who are faring and practicing rightly.

Because he abstains from unwholesome states and from the unwholesome courses of kamma leading to the four planes of misery and the suffering of the round, and because he is established in the wholesome courses of kamma leading to heaven and liberation, through the purity of his end and the purity of his means the Great Man’s wishes for the welfare and happiness of beings succeed immediately, exactly in the way they are formed, and his paaramiis reach fulfillment, for such is his nature. Since he desists from injuring others, he gives the gift of fearlessness to all beings. He perfects the meditation on loving-kindness without trouble, and enjoys the eleven benefits of loving-kindness (A.v,342). He is healthy and robust, attains longevity, abundant happiness, and distinguished characteristics, and eradicates the mental impression of hatred.19 So too, because he desists from taking what is not given, his possessions cannot be confiscated by thieves, etc. He is unsuspicious to others, dear and agreeable, trustworthy, unattached to prosperity and success, inclined to relinquishing, and he eradicates the mental impression of greed.

By desisting from unchastity he becomes unexcitable, peaceful in body and mind, dear and agreeable, unsuspicious to beings. A good report circulates concerning him. He is without lust or attachment to women, is devoted to renunciation, achieves distinguished characteristics and eradicates the mental impression of greed.

By desisting from false speech his word comes to be authoritative for others. He is regarded as reliable and trustworthy, one whose statements are always accepted. He is dear and agreeable to deities. His mouth gives off a sweet fragrance and his bodily and vocal conduct are protected. He achieves distinguished characteristics and eradicates the mental impression of defilements.

By desisting from slander he obtains a retinue and a following that cannot be divided by the attacks of others. He possesses unbreakable faith in the true Dhamma. He is a firm friend, as exceedingly dear to beings as though they were acquainted with him in the last existence. And he is devoted to non-defilement.

By desisting from harsh speech he becomes dear and agreeable to beings, pleasant in character, sweet in speech, held in esteem. And he develops a voice endowed with eight factors.20

By desisting from idle chatter he becomes dear and agreeable to beings, revered, held in esteem. His statements are accepted and his talk measured. He acquires great influence and power, and becomes skillful in answering the questions of others with the ingenuity that creates opportunities (to benefit others). And when he reaches the plane of Buddhahood, he becomes capable of answering the numerous questions of beings, speaking numerous languages all with a single reply.

Through his freedom from covetousness he gains what he wishes and obtains whatever excellent possessions he needs. He is honored by powerful khattiyas. He can never be vanquished by his adversaries, is never defective in his faculties, and becomes the peerless individual.

Through his freedom from ill-will he gains a pleasant appearance. He is esteemed by others, and because he delights in the welfare of beings, he automatically inspires their confidence. He becomes lofty in character, abides in loving-kindness, and acquires great influence and power.

Through his freedom from wrong view he gains good companions. Even if he is threatened with a sharp sword, he will not perform an evil deed.. Because he holds to the ownership of kamma, he does not believe in superstitious omens. His faith in the true Dhamma is established and firmly rooted. He has faith in the enlightenment of the Tathaagatas, and no more delights in the diversity of outside creeds than a royal swan delights in a dung heap. He is skillful in fully understanding the three characteristics (of impermanence, suffering, and non-self), and in the end gains the unobstructed knowledge of omniscience. Until he attains final enlightenment he becomes the foremost in whatever order of beings (he happens to be reborn in) and acquires the most excellent achievements.

Thus, esteeming virtue as the foundation for all achievements — as the soil for the origination of all the Buddha-qualities, the beginning, footing, head, and chief of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood — and recognizing gain, honor, and fame as a foe in the guise of a friend, a bodhisattva should diligently and thoroughly perfect his virtue as a hen guards its eggs: through the power of mindfulness and clear comprehension in the control of bodily and vocal action, in the taming of the sense-faculties, in purification of livelihood, and in the use of the requisites.

This, firstly, is the method of practicing virtue as avoidance.

The practice of virtue as performance should be understood as follows: Herein, at the appropriate time, a bodhisattva practices salutation, rising up, respectful greetings, and courteous conduct toward good friends worthy of reverence. At the appropriate time he renders them service, and he waits upon them when they are sick. When he receives well-spoken advice he expresses his appreciation. He praises the noble qualities of the virtuous and patiently endures the abuse of antagonists. He remembers help rendered to him by others, rejoices in their merits, dedicates his own merits to the supreme enlightenment, and always abides diligently in the practice of wholesome states. When he commits a transgression he acknowledges it as such and confesses it to his co-religionists. Afterward he perfectly fulfills the right practice.

He is adroit and nimble in fulfilling his duties toward beings when these are conducive to their good. He serves as their companion. When beings are afflicted with the suffering of disease, etc., he prepares the appropriate remedy. He dispels the sorrow of those afflicted by the loss of wealth, etc. Of a helpful disposition, he restrains with Dhamma those who need to be restrained, rehabilitates them from unwholesome ways, and establishes them in wholesome courses of conduct. He inspires with Dhamma those in need of inspiration. And when he hears about the loftiest, most difficult, inconceivably powerful deeds of the great bodhisattvas of the past, issuing in the ultimate welfare and happiness of beings, by means of which they reached perfect maturity in the requisites of enlightenment, he does not become agitated and alarmed, but reflects: “Those Great Beings were only human beings. But by developing themselves through the orderly fulfillment of the training they attained the loftiest spiritual power and the highest perfection in the requisites of enlightenment. I, too, should practice the same training in virtue, etc. In that way I, too, will gradually fulfill the training and in the end attain the same state.” Then, with unflagging energy preceded by this faith, he perfectly fulfills the training in virtue, etc.

Again, he conceals his virtues and reveals his faults. He is few in his wishes, content, fond of solitude, aloof, capable of enduring suffering, and free from anxiety. He is not restless, puffed up, fickle, scurrilous, or scattered in speech, but calm in his faculties and mind. Avoiding such wrong means of livelihood as scheming, etc.., he is endowed with proper conduct and a suitable resort (for alms). He sees danger in the slightest faults, and having undertaken the rules of training trains himself in them, energetic and resolute, without regard for body or life. He does not tolerate even the slightest concern for his body or life but abandons and dispels it; how much more then excessive concern? He abandons and dispels all the corruptions such as anger, malice, etc., which are the cause for moral depravity. He does not become complacent over some minor achievement of distinction and does not shrink away, but strives for successively higher achievements.. In this way the achievements he gains do not partake of diminution or stagnation.

The Great Man serves as a guide for the blind, explaining to them the right path. To the deaf he gives signals with gestures of his hands, and in that way benefits them with good. So too for the dumb. To cripples he gives a chair, or a vehicle, or some other means of conveyance. He strives that the faithless may gain faith, that the lazy may generate zeal, that those of confused mindfulness may develop mindfulness, that those with wandering minds may become accomplished in concentration, and that the dull-witted may acquire wisdom. He strives to dispel sensual desire, ill-will, sloth-and-torpor, restlessness-and-worry, and perplexity in those obsessed by these hindrances, and to dispel wrong thoughts of sensuality, ill-will, and aggression in those subjugated by these thoughts. Out of gratitude to those who have helped him, he benefits and honors them with a similar or greater benefit in return, congenial in speech and endearing in his words.

He is a companion in misfortune. Understanding the nature and character of beings, he associates with whatever beings need his presence, in whatever way they need it; and he practices together with whatever beings need to practice with him, in whatever way of practice is necessary for them. But he proceeds only by rehabilitating them from the unwholesome and establishing them in the wholesome, not in other ways. For in order to protect the minds of others, bodhisattvas behave only in ways which increase the wholesome. So too, because his inclination is to benefit others, he should never harm them, abuse them, humiliate them, arouse remorse in them, or incite them to act in ways which should be avoided. Nor should he place himself in a higher position than those who are of inferior conduct. He should be neither altogether inaccessible to others, nor too easily accessible, and he should not associate with others at the wrong time.

He associates with beings whom it is proper to associate with at the appropriate time and place. He does not criticize those who are dear to others in front of them, nor praise those who are resented by them. He is not intimate with those who are not trustworthy. He does not refuse a proper invitation, or engage in persuasion, or accept excessively. He encourages those endowed with faith with a discourse on the benefits of faith; and he encourages as well those endowed with virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom with a discourse on the benefits of those qualities. If the bodhisattva has attained to the direct knowledges, he may inspire a sense of spiritual urgency (sa.mvega) in the negligent by showing them the fate of those in hell, etc., as is fit. Thereby he establishes the faithless (immoral, ignorant, stingy, and dull-witted) in faith (virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom). He makes them enter the Buddha’s Dispensation and brings to maturity those already endowed with these qualities. In this way, through his virtuous conduct, the Great Man’s immeasurable flood of merit and goodness ascends to ever increasing heights.

The detailed explanation of virtue is given in diverse ways in the Visuddhimagga (Chapter I), in the passage beginning: “Virtue is the states beginning with volition present in one who abstains from the destruction of life, etc., or in one who fulfills the practice of the duties.” All that should be brought in here. Only there is this distinction: in that work the discussion of virtue has come down for beings who seek the enlightenment of disciples; but here, because the discussion is intended for great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skillful means the forerunners. Just as the Great Man does not dedicate the merits from his practice of virtue to his own release from affliction in the unfortunate destinations, or to his own achievement of kingship in the fortunate destinations, or to becoming a world-ruling monarch, a god, Sakka, Maara, or Brahmaa, so too he does not dedicate it to his own attainment of the threefold knowledge, the six direct knowledges, the four discriminations, the enlightenment of a disciple, or the enlightenment of a paccekabuddha. But rather he dedicates it only for the purpose of becoming an omniscient Buddha in order to enable all beings to acquire the incomparable adornment of virtue.

This is the method of practicing the perfection of virtue.

(3) The perfection of renunciation is the wholesome act of consciousness which occurs renouncing sense pleasures and existence, preceded by the perception of their unsatisfactoriness and accompanied by compassion and skillful means. The bodhisattva should practice the perfection of renunciation by first recognizing the unsatisfactoriness in sense pleasures, etc., according to the following method: “For one dwelling in a home there is no opportunity to enjoy the happiness of renunciation, etc., because the home life is the dwelling place of all the defilements, because a wife and children impose restrictions (on one’s freedom), and because the diverse crafts and occupations such as agriculture and trade lead to numerous entanglements. And sense pleasures, like a drop of honey smeared over the blade of a sword, give limited satisfaction and entail abundant harm. They are fleeting like a show perceived in a flash of lightning; enjoyable only through a perversion of perception like the adornments of a madman; a means of vengeance like a camouflaged pit of excrement; unsatisfying like a thin drink or the water moistening the fingers; afflictive like food which is inwardly rotten; a cause for calamity like a baited hook; the cause of suffering in the three times like a burning fire; a basis for bondage like monkey’s glue; a camouflage for destruction like a murderer’s cloak; a place of danger like a dwelling in an enemy village; food for the Maara of the defilements like the supporter of one’s foes; subject to suffering through change like the enjoyment of a festival; inwardly burning like the fire in the hollow of a tree; fraught with danger like a ball of honey suspended from the bulrushes in an old pit; intensifying thirst like a drink of salt water; resorted to by the vulgar like liquor and wine; and giving little satisfaction like a chain of bones.”

Having recognized the unsatisfactoriness in sense pleasures in accordance with this method, he should then, by the reverse method, contemplate the benefits in renunciation, with a mind slanting, sloping, and inclining toward the happiness of renunciation, solitude, and peace.

Since renunciation is rooted in the going forth (i.e., into the homeless life of a monk), the going forth should be undertaken. If the Great Being is living at a time when no Buddha has arisen in the world, he should go forth under ascetics or wanderers who maintain the doctrine of kamma and the moral efficacy of action. But when the perfectly enlightened Buddhas appear in the world, he should go forth only in their Dispensation. Having gone forth, he should establish himself in virtue, as described above, and in order to cleanse his virtue, should undertake the ascetic practices. For Great Men who undertake the ascetic practices and maintain them properly become few in their wishes and content. The stains of their defilements get washed off in the waters of such noble qualities as effacement, solitude, aloofness from society, the arousal of energy, and ease of maintenance, and all their conduct becomes purified through their blameless rules, observances, and noble qualities. Established in three of the ancient traditions of the ariyans,21 they are able to achieve the fourth of the ariyan traditions, i.e., delight in meditation, entering and abiding in jhaana, both access and absorption, through whichever among the forty subjects of meditation are appropriate. Thus they completely fulfill the perfection of renunciation.

At this point it would be proper to explain in detail the thirteen ascetic practices and the forty meditation subjects for the development of concentration — i.e., the ten, the ten impurities, the ten recollections, the four Brahmavihaaras, the four immaterial states, the one perception, and the one analysis. But since all these are explained in complete detail in the Visuddhimagga, it should be understood in the way stated there. Only there is this distinction: in that work the subject is explained for beings who seek the enlightenment of disciples. But here, because it is intended for great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skillful means the forerunners.

This is the method of practicing the perfection of renunciation.


(4) Just as light cannot coexist with darkness, wisdom cannot coexist with delusion. Therefore a bodhisattva wishing to accomplish the perfection of wisdom should avoid the causes of delusion. These are the causes of delusion: discontent, languor, drowsiness, lethargy, delight in company, attachment to sleep, irresoluteness, lack of enthusiasm for knowledge, false over-estimation of oneself, non-interrogation, not maintaining one’s body properly, lack of mental concentration, association with dull-witted people, not ministering to those possessed of wisdom, self-contempt, false discrimination, adherence to perverted views, athleticism, lack of a sense of spiritual urgency, and the five hindrances; or, in brief, any states which, when indulged in, prevent the unarisen wisdom from arising and cause the arisen wisdom to diminish. Avoiding these causes of confusion, one should apply effort to learning as well as to the jhaanas, etc.

This is an analysis of the sphere of learning: the five aggregates, the twelve sense bases, the eighteen elements, the four truths, the twenty-two faculties, the twelve factors of dependent origination, the foundations of mindfulness, etc., the various classifications of phenomena such as the wholesome, etc., as well as any blameless secular fields of knowledge which may be suitable for promoting the welfare and happiness of beings, particularly grammar. Thus, with wisdom, mindfulness, and energy preceded by skillful means, a bodhisattva should first thoroughly immerse himself in this entire sphere of learning — through study, listening, memorization, learning, and interrogation; then he should establish others in learning. In this way the wisdom born of learning (sutamayii pa~n~naa) can be developed. So too, out of his wish for the welfare of others, the bodhisattva should develop the wisdom of ingenuity in creating opportunities to fulfill his various duties to his fellow beings and the skillful means in understanding their happiness and misery.

Then he should develop wisdom born of reflection (cintaamayii pa~n~naa) by first reflecting upon the specific nature of the phenomena such as the aggregates, and then arousing reflective acquiescence in them. Next, he should perfect the preliminary portion of the wisdom born of meditation (pubbabhaagabhaavanaapa~n~naa) by developing the mundane kinds of full understanding through the discernment of the specific and general characteristics of the aggregates, etc.22 To do so, he should fully understand all internal and external phenomena without exception as follows: “This is mere mentality-materiality (naamaruupamatta), which arises and ceases according to conditions. There is here no agent or actor. It is impermanent in the sense of not being after having been; suffering in the sense of oppression by rise and fall; and non-self in the sense of being unsusceptible to the exercise of mastery.” Comprehending them in this way, he abandons attachment to them, and helps others to do so as well. Entirely out of compassion, he continues to help his fellow beings enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles, assists them to achieve mastery over the jhaanas, deliverances, concentrations, attainments, and mundane direct knowledges, and does not desist until he reaches the very peak of wisdom and all the Buddha-qualities come within his grasp.

The wisdom born of meditation may be divided into two groups. The first comprises the mundane direct knowledges, together with their accessories; namely, the knowledge of the modes of psychic power, the knowledge of the divine ear-element, the knowledge of penetrating other minds, the knowledge of recollecting past lives, the knowledge of the divine eye, the knowledge of kammic retribution, and the knowledge of the future.23 The second comprises the five purifications — purification of view, purification by overcoming doubt, purification by knowledge and vision of what is and what is not the path, purification by knowledge and vision of the way, and purification by knowledge and vision. The first four of these are mundane, the last is supramundane.

After acquiring through study and interrogation a knowledge of the phenomena such as the aggregates, etc., constituting the soil of wisdom, he should establish himself in the two purifications constituting its roots, purification of virtue and purification of mind, and then accomplish the five purifications just mentioned which constitute the trunk of wisdom. Since the method for accomplishing these, along with the analysis of their objective sphere, is explained in complete detail in the Visuddhimagga, it should be understood in the way given there.24 Only in that work the explanation of wisdom has come down for beings seeking the enlightenment of disciples. But here, because it is intended for the great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skillful means the forerunners. One further distinction must also be made: here insight (vipassanaa) should be developed only as far as purification by knowledge and vision of the way, without attaining purification by knowledge and vision.25

(From this point on the remaining paaramis are treated piecemeal and synoptically rather than in systematic detail like the first four.)

A Great Being who has formed his aspiration for supreme enlightenment should, for the sake of fulfilling his paaramiis, always be devoted to what is proper and intent upon service. Thus he should be zealous in providing for the welfare of beings, and from time to time, day by day, should reflect: “Have I accumulated any requisites of merit and of knowledge today? What have I done for the welfare of others?” In order to help all beings he should surrender some possession of his with a mind unconcerned with body or life. Whatever action he does, bodily or vocal, all should be done with a mind slanting toward full enlightenment; all should be dedicated to enlightenment. He should turn his mind away from sense pleasures, whether superior or inferior, and should apply skillful means to the fulfillment of his various duties.

He should work energetically for the welfare of beings, be capable of enduring everything whether desirable or undesirable, and should speak without deception.26 He should suffuse all beings with universal loving-kindness and compassion. Whatever causes suffering for beings, all that he should be ready to take upon himself; and he should rejoice in the merits of all beings. He should frequently reflect upon the greatness of the Buddhas and the greatness of their spiritual power. Whatever action he does by body or speech, all should be preceded with a mind slanting toward full enlightenment. In this way, the Great Being, the bodhisattva, devoted to what is proper, endowed with strength, firm in striving, day by day accumulates immeasurable requisites of merit and of knowledge through the practice of the paaramiis.

Further, having relinquished his own body and life for the use and protection of beings, the bodhisattva should seek out and apply the antidotes to the various kinds of suffering to which beings are exposed — hunger, thirst, cold, heat, wind, sun, etc. And whatever happiness he himself gains by alleviating these kinds of suffering, and the happiness he gains when his own bodily and mental afflictions subside in delightful parks, gardens, mansions, pools, and forest abodes, and the happiness of the blissful jhaanic attainments he hears are experienced by the Buddhas, their enlightened disciples, paccekabuddhas, and great bodhisattvas, established in the practice of renunciation — all that he seeks to procure universally for all beings.

This, firstly, is the method for a bodhisattva not yet established on the plane of concentration. One established on the plane of concentration bestows upon beings the rapture, tranquility, happiness, concentration, and true knowledge produced in the achievements of distinction as they are experienced by himself. He procures them and dedicates them to all. Such a bodhisattva should contemplate the whole world of sentient beings immersed in the great suffering of sa.msaara and in the sufferings of the defilements and kamma-formations at its base. He should see the beings in hell experiencing violent, racking, agonizing pains uninterruptedly over long periods, produced as they are cut up, dismembered, split, pulverized, and roasted in scorching fires; the great suffering of the animals due to their mutual hostility, as they afflict, harass, and kill one another, or fall into captivity at the hands of others; and the suffering of the various classes of ghosts, going about with their bodies aflame, consumed and withered by hunger, thirst, wind, and sun, weeping and wailing as their food turns into vomit and spittle. He should contemplate as well the suffering experienced by human beings, which is often indistinguishable from the suffering in the plane of misery: the misery and ruin they encounter in their search (for the means of sustenance and enjoyment); the various punishments they may meet, such as the cutting off of their hands, etc.; ugliness, deformity, and poverty; affliction by hunger and thirst; being vanquished by the more powerful, pressed into the service of others, and made dependent upon others; and when they pass away, falling over into the hells, the realm of ghosts, and the animal kingdom. He should see the gods of the sense-sphere being consumed by the fevers of lust as they enjoy their sense objects with scattered minds; living with their fever (of passions) unextinguished like a mass of fire stoked up with blasts of wind and fed with a stock of dry wood; without peace, dejected, and dependent on others. And he should see the gods of the fine-material and immaterial spheres, after so long a life-span, in the end succumb to the law of impermanence, plunging from their heights back down into the round of birth, aging, and death, like birds swooping swiftly down from the heights of the sky or like arrows shot by a strong archer descending in the distance. And having seen all this, he should arouse a sense of spiritual urgency and suffuse all beings universally with loving-kindness and compassion. Accumulating the requisites of enlightenment in this way by body, speech, and mind without interruption, he should fulfill the perfection of energy, arousing zeal while working thoroughly and perseveringly and acting without cowering, in order that all the paaramiis may reach fulfillment.

While striving for the state of Buddhahood — the store and repository of inconceivable, immeasurable, vast, lofty, stainless, incomparable, undefiled qualities — he should encourage the arising of energy; for such energy is endowed with inconceivable spiritual power, which common people cannot even hear about, much less practice. It is entirely through the spiritual power of energy that the practice of all the requisites of enlightenment succeeds — the threefold arising of the great aspiration, the four grounds for Buddhahood, the four bases of beneficence, the single flavor of compassion, the reflective acquiescence which is the specific condition for the realization of the Buddha-qualities, being untainted amidst all things, the perception of all beings as his own dear children, not being fatigued by all the sufferings of sa.msaara, the relinquishing of everything that may be given away, delight in so giving, the determination upon the higher virtue, etc., unshakeableness therein, rapture and exultation in wholesome actions, the inclination toward seclusion, application to the jhaanas, being insatiable in blameless states, teaching the Dhamma to others as he has learned it out of the wish for their welfare, firm initiative in setting beings upon the true path, sagacity and heroism, being imperturbable in the face of the abusive speech and wrongs of others, the determination upon truth, mastery over the meditative attainments, the attainment of power through the direct knowledges, the comprehension of the three characteristics, the accumulation of the requisites for the supramundane path by practicing meditation in the foundations of mindfulness, etc., and the descent on to the nine supramundane states.27 Thus from the time of forming the aspiration until the great enlightenment, a bodhisattva should perfect his energy thoroughly and uninterruptedly, without surrendering, so that it might issue in higher and higher states of distinction. And when this energy succeeds, all the requisites of enlightenment — patience, truthfulness, determination, etc., as well as giving, virtue, etc. — will succeed; for all these occur in dependence on energy.

The practice of patience and the rest should be understood in accordance with the same method.

Thus through giving, relinquishing his own happiness and belongings to others, he practices the benefiting of others in many ways; through virtue, the protection of their lives, property, and wives, the non-breach of his word, endearing and beneficial speech, non-injury, etc.; through renunciation, many kinds of beneficial conduct such as giving the gift of the Dhamma in return for their material gifts; through wisdom, skillful means in providing for their welfare; through energy, the arousing of zeal in his work without slacking off; through patience, the enduring of the wrongs of others; through truthfulness, not breaking his pledge to help others without deception; through determination, remaining unshakeable in rendering them help even when encountering difficulties; through loving-kindness, concern for their welfare and happiness; and through equanimity, remaining imperturbable whether others render help or inflict harm.

This is the practice which the great bodhisattva, compassionate for all beings, undertakes for the sake of incalculable beings, by means of which he accumulates immeasurable requisites of merit and knowledge not shared by worldlings. Their condition has been stated. They should be accomplished thoroughly.

(xi) How are they analyzed (ko vibhaago)?

They are analyzed into thirty paaramiis: ten (basic) paaramiis, ten intermediate paaramiis (upapaaramii), and ten ultimate paaramiis (paramatthapaaramii).

Herein, some teachers say that the ten basic paaramiis are the intermingled bright and dark qualities practiced by a bodhisattva who has just formed his aspiration, whose end is the welfare of others, and whose means are directed toward working for this end; the intermediate paaramiis are the bright qualities untainted by any darkness; and the ultimate paaramiis are the qualities which are neither dark nor bright.

Others say that the basic paaramiis are being filled at the commencement (of his career); the intermediate paaramiis are filled on the plane of bodhisattvahood: and the ultimate paaramiis reach perfect fulfillment in all modes on the plane of Buddhahood. Or alternatively, the basic paaramiis involve working for the welfare of others on the plane of bodhisattvahood; the intermediate paaramiis, working for one’s own welfare; and the ultimate paaramiis, the fulfillment of the welfare of both oneself and others with the achievement of the Tathaagata’s powers and grounds of self-confidence on the plane of Buddhahood. Thus they analyze the paaramiis according to the beginning, middle, and consummation (of the bodhisattva’s career) by way of the resolution (to fulfill them), the undertaking (of their practice), and their completion, respectively.

The basic perfection of giving (daanapaaramii) is the relinquishing of one’s children, wives, and belongings such as wealth; the intermediate perfection of giving (daana-upapaaramii), the relinquishing of one’s own limbs; and the ultimate perfection of giving (daanaparamatthapaaramii), the relinquishing of one’s own life. The three stages in the perfection of virtue should be understood as the non-transgression (of moral conduct) on account of the three — children and wife, limbs, and life; the three stages in the perfection of renunciation, as the renunciation of those three bases after cutting off attachment to them; the three stages in the perfection of wisdom, as the discrimination between what is beneficial and harmful to beings, after rooting out craving for one’s belongings, limbs, and life; the three stages in the perfection of energy, as striving for the relinquishing of the aforementioned things; the three stages in the perfection of patience, as the endurance of obstacles to one’s belongings, limbs, and life; the three stages in the perfection of truthfulness, as the non-abandoning of truthfulness on account of one’s belongings, limbs, and life; the three stages in the perfection of determination, as unshakeable determination despite the destruction of one’s belongings, limbs, and life, bearing in mind that the paaramiis ultimately succeed through unflinching determination; the three stages in the perfection of loving-kindness, as maintaining loving-kindness toward beings who destroy one’s belongings, etc.; and the three stages in the perfection of equanimity, as maintaining an attitude of impartial neutrality toward beings and formations whether they are helpful or harmful in regard to the aforementioned three bases (i.e., belongings, limbs, and life).

In this way the analysis of the paaramiis should be understood.

(xii) How are they synthesized (ko sa”ngaho)?

Just as the ten paaramiis become thirtyfold through analysis, so they become sixfold through their specific nature: as giving, virtue, patience, energy, meditation, and wisdom.28

When this set is considered, the perfection of renunciation, as the going forth into homelessness, is included in the perfection of virtue; as seclusion from the hindrances, in the perfection of meditation; and as a generally wholesome quality, in all six paaramiis. One part of the perfection of truthfulness, i.e., its aspect of truthful speech or abstinence from falsehood, is included in the perfection of virtue, and one part, i.e., its aspect of truthful knowledge, in the perfection of wisdom. The perfection of loving-kindness is included in the perfection of meditation, and the perfection of equanimity in the perfections of meditation and wisdom. The perfection of determination is included in all.

These six paaramiis fall into at least fifteen pairs (yugala) of complementary qualities which perfect fifteen other pairs of qualities. How?

  1. The pair — giving and virtue — perfects the pair of doing what is beneficial for others and abstaining from what is harmful to them.
  2. The pair — giving and patience — perfects the pair of non-greed and non-hatred.
  3. The pair — giving and energy — perfects the pair of generosity and learning.
  4. The pair — giving and meditation — perfects the abandoning of sensual desire and hatred;
  5. the pair giving and wisdom, the noble vehicle and burden;
  6. the dyad of virtue and patience, the purification of means and the purification of the end;
  7. the dyad of virtue and energy, the dyad of meditative development (i.e., serenity and insight);
  8. the dyad of virtue and meditation, the abandoning of moral depravity and of mental obsession;
  9. the dyad of virtue and wisdom, the dyad of giving;29
  10. the dyad of patience and energy, the dyad of acceptance and fervor;
  11. the dyad of patience and meditation, the abandoning of opposing and favoring;
  12. the dyad of patience and wisdom, the acceptance and penetration of emptiness;
  13. the dyad of energy and meditation, the dyad of exertion and non-distraction;
  14. the dyad of energy and wisdom, the dyad of refuges;
  15. and the dyad of meditation and wisdom perfects the dyad of vehicles (i.e., the vehicles of serenity and insight).

The triad of giving, virtue, and patience perfects the abandoning of greed, hatred, and delusion. The triad of giving, virtue, and energy perfects the giving of wealth, life, and bodily vitality. The triad of giving, virtue, and meditation perfects the three bases of meritorious deeds. The triad of giving, virtue, and wisdom perfects the triad of giving material gifts, fearlessness, and the Dhamma. In the same way, the other triads and tetrads may be applied to each other as is appropriate in each case.

These six paaramiis are also included in the four foundations (cattaari adhi.t.thaanaani), which provide a synthesis of all the paaramiis.30 What are they? The foundation of truth, the foundation of relinquishment, the foundation of peace, and the foundation of wisdom. Therein, taking them first without distinction: after making his aspiration for the supramundane qualities, the Great Being, filled with compassion for all beings, establishes the foundation of truth by acquiring all the paaramiis in conformity with his vow; the foundation of relinquishment by relinquishing their opposites; the foundation of peace by pacifying their opposites with all the qualities of the paaramiis; and the foundation of wisdom by skillful means in promoting the welfare of others through those same qualities.

Taken separately, giving is a proximate cause for the four foundations of wholesome qualities as follows: (1) (for the foundation of truth) since one vows to give to those who ask without deceiving them, gives without violating one’s vows, and rejoices without deceiving them about the gift; (2) (for the foundation of relinquishment) through the relinquishing of the opposite qualities such as stinginess, etc.; (3) (for the foundation of peace) through the pacification of greed, hatred, delusion, and fear, in regard to the objects to be given, the recipients, the act of giving, and the loss of the objects to be given, respectively; (4) (and for the foundation of wisdom) through giving according to deserts, at the proper time, in the appropriate manner, and through the pre-eminence of wisdom.. Virtue is a proximate cause for the four foundations thus: (1) through non-transgression of the restraint undertaken; (2) through the relinquishing of moral depravity; (3) through the pacification of misconduct; and (4) through the pre-eminence of wisdom. Patience is a proximate cause for the four foundations thus: (1) through patient acceptance in accordance with one’s vow; (2) through the relinquishing of discrimination against others on account of their wrongs; (3) through the pacification of the obsession of anger; and (4) through the pre-eminence of wisdom.

Energy is a proximate cause for the four foundations: (1) through working for the welfare of others in accordance with one’s vows; (2) through the relinquishing of dejection; (3) through the pacification of unwholesome qualities; and (4) through the pre-eminence of wisdom. Meditation is a proximate cause for the four foundations: (1) through concern for the welfare of the world in accordance with one’s vow; (2) through the relinquishing of the hindrances; (3) through the pacification of the mind; and (4) through the pre-eminence of wisdom. And wisdom is a proximate cause for the four foundations: (1) through skillful means in promoting the welfare of others in accordance with one’s vow; (2) through the relinquishing of unskillful activity; (3) through the pacification of the fevers springing from delusion; and (4) through the attainment of omniscience.

The foundation of truth is practiced by acting in accordance with one’s vow and understanding; the foundation of relinquishment by relinquishing (outer) objects of sense enjoyment and the (inner) defilement of sensuality; the foundation of peace by the pacification of hatred and suffering; and the foundation of wisdom by understanding and penetration. The foundation of truth is embraced by the threefold truth and opposed to the three corruptions (of greed, hatred and delusion). The foundation of relinquishing is embraced by the threefold relinquishment and opposed to the three corruptions. The foundation of peace is embraced by the threefold pacification and opposed to the three corruptions. And the foundation of wisdom is embraced by the threefold knowledge and opposed to the three corruptions.

The foundation of truth embraces the foundations of relinquishment, peace, and wisdom through non-deceptiveness and through acting in accordance with one’s vow. The foundation of relinquishment embraces the foundations of truth, peace, and wisdom through the relinquishing of their opposites and as the fruit of relinquishing everything. The foundation of peace embraces the foundations of truth, relinquishment, and wisdom through the pacification of the fever of defilement and the fever of kamma. And the foundation of wisdom embraces the foundations of truth, relinquishment, and peace, since they are all preceded and accompanied by knowledge. Thus all the paaramiis are grounded in truth, clarified by relinquishment, intensified by peace, and purified by wisdom. For truth is the cause for their genesis, relinquishment the cause for their acquisition, peace the cause for their growth, and wisdom the cause for their purification.

In the beginning (of the bodhisattva’s career) truth is the foundation, since his vow is made in accordance with truth. In the middle, relinquishment is the foundation, since after forming his aspiration the bodhisattva relinquishes himself for the welfare of others. In the end, peace is the foundation, since the consummation (of the career) is the attainment of perfect peace. And in every phase — the beginning, the middle, and the end — wisdom is the foundation, since the entire career originates when wisdom is present, does not exist when it is absent, and because the nature (of wisdom) accords with the vow.

Thus it should be understood how the aggregation of the paaramiis is included in the four foundations, which are adorned with numerous noble qualities. And just as the paaramiis are all included in the four foundations, they are also included in wisdom and compassion. For all the requisites of enlightenment can be included in wisdom and compassion, and the noble qualities such as giving (and the other paaramiis), accompanied by wisdom and compassion, are the requisites for the great enlightenment culminating in the perfection of Buddhahood.

(xiii) By what means are they accomplished?

The means by which the paaramiis are accomplished is the four-factored method: (1) the accumulation without omission of all the requisites of merit, etc., for the sake of supreme enlightenment, by performing them without deficiency; (2) performing them thoroughly with respect and high esteem; (3) performing them perseveringly without interruption; and (4) enduring effort over a long period without coming to a halt half-way. We will explain the length of time later.

For the sake of the supreme enlightenment, the Great Being, striving for enlightenment, should first of all surrender himself to the Buddhas thus: “I offer myself up to the Buddhas.” And whenever he obtains any possession, he should first of all resolve upon it as a potential gift: “Whatever requisite of life comes my way, that I will give to those who need it, and I myself will only use what remains over from this gift.”

When he has made a mental determination to completely relinquish whatever possessions come his way, whether animate or inanimate, there are four shackles to giving (which he must overcome), namely: not being accustomed to giving in the past, the inferiority of the object to be given, the excellence and beauty of the object, and worry over the loss of the object.

(1) When the bodhisattva possesses objects that can be given and suppliants are present, but his mind does not leap up at the thought of giving and he does not want to give, he should conclude: “Surely, I have not been accustomed to giving in the past; therefore a desire to give does not arise now in my mind. So that my mind will delight in giving in the future, I will give a gift. With an eye for the future let me now relinquish what I have to those in need.” Thus he gives a gift — generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the first shackle to giving.

(2) Again, when the object to be given is inferior or defective, the Great Being reflects: “Because I was not inclined to giving in the past, at present my requisites are defective. Therefore, though it pains me, let me give whatever I have as a gift even if the object is low and inferior. In that way I will, in the future, reach the peak in the perfection of giving.” Thus he gives whatever kind of gift he can — generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the second shackle to giving.

(3) When a reluctance to give arises due to the excellence or beauty of the object to be given, the Great Being admonishes himself: “Good man, haven’t you made the aspiration for the supreme enlightenment, the loftiest and most superior of all states? Well then, for the sake of enlightenment, it is proper for you to give excellent and beautiful objects as gifts.” Thus he gives what is excellent and beautiful — generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Man destroys, shatters, and eradicates the third shackle to giving.

(4) When the Great Being is giving a gift, and he sees the loss of the object being given, he reflects thus: “This is the nature of material possessions, that they are subject to loss and to passing away. Moreover, it is because I did not give such gifts in the past that my possessions are now depleted. Let me then give whatever I have as a gift, whether it be limited or abundant. In that way in the future I shall reach the peak in the perfection of giving.” Thus he gives whatever he has as a gift — generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the fourth shackle to giving.

Reflecting upon them thus in whatever way is appropriate is the means for dispelling the harmful shackles to the perfection of giving. The same method used for the perfection of giving also applies to the perfection of virtue and the other perfections.

Further, self-surrender to the Buddhas is also a means for the complete accomplishment of the paaramiis. For when the Great Man, straining and striving for the fulfillment of the requisites of enlightenment, encounters troubles difficult to endure, depriving him of happiness and his means of support, or when he encounters injuries imposed by beings and formations — difficult to overcome, violent, sapping the vitality — then, since he has surrendered himself to the Buddhas, he reflects: “I have relinquished my very self to the Buddhas. Whatever comes, let it come.” For this reason he does not waver, does not quake, does not undergo the least vacillation, but remains absolutely unshaken in his determination to undertake the good.

In brief, the destruction of self-love and the development of love for others are the means for the accomplishing of the paaramiis. For by fully understanding all things in accordance with their nature, the Great Being who has formed the resolution to attain the supreme enlightenment remains untainted by them, and his self-love thereby becomes eliminated and exhausted. Then, since through the repeated practice of great compassion he has come to regard all beings as his dear children, his loving-kindness, compassion, and affection for them increase. In conformity with this stage the Great Man, having expelled the defilements such as stinginess, etc., that are opposed to the requisites of enlightenment, and having dispelled greed, hatred, and delusion in regard to himself and others, further causes people to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles by benefiting them to the utmost with the four bases of beneficence which accompany the four foundations, namely: giving, loving speech, beneficent conduct, and equality of treatment.

For the great compassion and the great wisdom of the Great Beings are adorned by giving. Their giving is adorned and accompanied by loving speech, loving speech by beneficent conduct, and beneficent conduct by equality of treatment. When the bodhisattvas are practicing the requisites of enlightenment, they treat all beings without exception as equal to themselves and perfect their sense of equality by remaining the same under all circumstances, pleasant or painful. And when they become Buddhas, their ability to train people is perfected by benefiting them to the utmost with these same four bases of beneficence brought to fulfillment by the four foundations. For the perfectly enlightened Buddhas, the base of giving is brought to fulfillment by the foundation of relinquishment, the base of loving speech by the foundation of truth, the base of beneficent conduct by the foundation of wisdom, and the base of equal treatment by the foundation of peace. For in regard to parinibbaana, all the disciples and paccekabuddhas are completely equal to the Tathaagatas; they are identical, without any distinction. Thus it is said: “There is no diversity among them in regard to emancipation.”

He is truthful, generous, and peaceful,

Endowed with wisdom and sympathy,

Complete in all the requisites:

What good can he not achieve?


He is the great compassionate Teacher,

Equanimous yet seeking the welfare of all,

Free from concern on all occasions:

Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror!


Dispassionate toward all things of the world,

And toward all beings of equal mind,

Still he abides devoted to their welfare:

Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror!


Always engaged in work promoting

The welfare and happiness of all beings,

He never ceases on account of the trouble:

Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror!

(xiv) How much time is required to accomplish them?

As a minimum, four incalculables (asa”nkheyya) and a hundred thousand great aeons (mahaakappa); as a middle figure, eight incalculables and a hundred thousand great aeons; and as a maximum, sixteen incalculables and a hundred thousand great aeons.31 This threefold division obtains by way of those in whom wisdom is predominant, those in whom faith is predominant, and those in whom energy is predominant, respectively. For those in whom wisdom is predominant, faith is weakest and wisdom keenest; for those in whom faith is predominant, wisdom is middling (and energy weakest); and for those in whom energy is predominant, wisdom is weakest (and faith middling). But supreme enlightenment must be achieved by the power of wisdom; so it is said in the commentary.

But others say that the classification of the time required for bodhisattvas obtains by way of the keen, middling, and tender quality of their energy. Still others say that without distinction the three divisions of time correspond to the time required for their requisites of enlightenment to reach fulfillment, which in turn is determined by the keen, middling, and tender quality of their factors maturing toward emancipation (vimuttiparipaacaniyaa dhammaa)..

Bodhisattvas also become threefold at the moment they form the aspiration, according to their division into those who comprehend through a condensed teaching (uggha.tita~n~nuu), those who comprehend through an elaborated teaching (vipa~ncita~n~nuu), and those who are capable of training (neyya).32 Among these, one who comprehends through a condensed teaching has such supporting conditions that, if he were disposed toward the enlightenment of a disciple, he could attain arahatship together with the four discriminations (pa.tisambhidaa) and the six direct knowledges while listening to a four-line stanza from the lips of a perfectly enlightened Buddha, even while the third line is as yet unconcluded. The second has such supporting conditions that, if he were disposed toward the enlightenment of a disciple, he could attain arahatship together with the six direct knowledges while listening to a four-line stanza from the lips of the Exalted One, even while the fourth line is as yet unconcluded. And the third has the supporting conditions to attain arahatship together with the six direct knowledges when the four-line stanza he hears from the Exalted One is concluded.

These three types, who form their aspirations without any allotted division of time, receive predictions (of their future Buddhahood) directly from the Buddhas. Then they fulfill the paaramiis in order and reach the supreme enlightenment according to the aforementioned time allotted to each type. But that these Great Beings, day by day giving great gifts like those given by Vessantara,33 accumulating all the other paaramiis in the same way, making the five great relinquishings, reaching the summit in conduct for the good of kinsmen, conduct for the good of the world, and conduct developing intelligence — that they should become perfectly enlightened Buddhas before the time allotted to their respective types is fulfilled, this is not possible. Why? Because their knowledge is not yet mature enough and their accumulation of the factors issuing in Buddhahood not yet complete. For just as grain ripens only after the lapse of the time required (for its growth), so too the supreme enlightenment is perfected only after the lapse of the aforementioned periods of time. Before then, even though striving with all his might, the bodhisattva cannot attain enlightenment. The paaramiis are fulfilled according to the aforementioned distinction of time. Thus it should be understood.

(xv) What benefits do they bring?

The benefits obtained by bodhisattvas who have formed their aspirations are explained thus:

Those men in all factors complete,

Bound for perfect enlightenment,

Though wandering through the round of births

For countless aeons yet to come


Never arise in Aviici hell,

Nor in the intermundane voids.

They never appear as titans black

Or ghosts consumed by hunger and thirst.


Though reborn in the plane of pain,

They do not take on minor forms,

And when reborn in the human world

They never come deprived of sight.


Their hearing is intact from birth,

Nor are they dumb or lame of limb.

They never become of female sex,

Nor eunuchs or hermaphrodites.


Those men bound for enlightenment

Never commit the five black deeds.

Always pure in their way of life,

Their conduct’s range is free from flaw.


They never hold perverted views

But recognize the kammic laws.

They are born at times in heavenly worlds,

But not in the mindless or pure abodes.


Those true men bent on renunciation,

Detached from all the planes of being,

Plow their course for the good of the world,

Striving to fulfill the paaramiis.

Some other benefits of the paaramiis are the following: The sixteen wonderful and marvelous qualities that begin: “Mindful and clearly comprehending, AAnanda, the bodhisattva passes away from the Tusita heaven and descends into his mother’s womb” (D.ii,12); the thirty-two portents, such as “cold disappears and heat is allayed,” and “when the bodhisattva is born, this ten thousandfold world-system shakes, trembles, and quakes,” etc. (D.ii,15); and the other qualities shown here and there in the Jaatakas, the Buddhava.msa, etc., such as the fulfillment of the bodhisattva’s wishes, his mastery over kamma, and so forth. Other benefits are the pairs of complementary qualities such as non-greed and non-hatred already discussed.

Moreover, from the time that he makes the aspiration, the bodhisattva becomes like a father to all beings, wishing for their welfare. By reason of his distinguished qualities he is worthy of offerings, worthy of reverence, worthy of esteem, a supreme field of merit. He is generally dear to humans and to non-humans alike, and is protected by deities. Because his mind is grounded in loving-kindness and compassion, he cannot be harmed by wild beasts, etc. Whatever order of beings he is reborn in, on account of his distinguished merit, he surpasses the other beings there in his superior beauty, fame, happiness, strength, and dominion.

He is healthy and robust. His faith is very pure and lucid. His energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom are also very pure and lucid. His defilements, disturbances, and passions are weak. Because his defilements are weak, he is easy to admonish, adroit, patient, meek, congenial and hospitable. He is free from anger, malice, denigration, domineering, envy, stinginess, craftiness, hypocrisy, obstinacy, pride, presumption and negligence. He endures torments at the hands of others but never torments anyone himself. Whenever he enters a village area, the unarisen dangers and calamities facing the beings there generally do not arise, and those which have arisen subside. And whenever he is reborn in the planes of misery, unlike the common inhabitants there he is not oppressed by excessive suffering but acquires an even greater sense of spiritual urgency.

Therefore these distinguished qualities of the Great Man — such as being like a father to beings, being worthy of offerings, etc. — found in this or that state of existence, are the benefits of the paaramiis.

Further, the accomplishment of life-span, the accomplishment of form, the accomplishment of family, the accomplishment of sovereignty, credibility, and greatness of spiritual power are also benefits of the Great Man’s paaramiis. Therein, the “accomplishment of life-span” (aayusampadaa) is length of life or longevity in whatever state of existence he takes rebirth in; by this means he concludes whatever wholesome undertakings he began and accumulates many wholesome qualities. The “accomplishment of form” (ruupasampadaa) is beauty of form, comeliness, or loveliness; by this means he inspires confidence and esteem in beings who take physical form as their standard. The “accomplishment of family” (kulasampadaa) is rebirth in excellent families; by this means he is (judged) to be worth approaching and ministering to by beings who are intoxicated with the vanity of birth, etc. The “accomplishment of sovereignty” (issariyasampadaa) is greatness of power, greatness of influence, and greatness of retinue; by means of these he is able to benefit with the four bases of beneficence those who need to be benefited and to restrain with Dhamma those who need to be restrained. “Credibility” (aadeyyavacanataa) means trustworthiness, reliability; by this means he becomes an authority for beings, and his command cannot be disregarded. “Greatness of spiritual power” (mahaanubhaavataa) means magnitude of spiritual power; by this means he cannot be vanquished by others, but he himself invariably vanquishes them — by Dhamma, by righteousness, and by his genuine noble qualities.

Thus the accomplishment of life-span and so forth are benefits of the Great Man’s paaramiis. These are the causes for the growth of his own boundless requisites of merit, and the means by which he leads other beings to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles.

(xvi) What is their fruit?

Their fruit is, in brief, the state of perfect Buddhahood. In detail, it is the acquisition of the form-body (ruupakaaya) resplendent with the multitude of meritorious qualities such as the thirty-two characteristics of a Great Man, the eighty minor marks of physical beauty, the fathom-wide aura, etc.; and, founded upon this, the glorious Dhamma-body (dhammakaaya) radiant with its collection of infinite and boundless meritorious qualities — the ten powers, the four grounds of self-confidence, the six kinds of knowledge not held in common with others, the eighteen unique Buddha-qualities, and so forth.34 And so numerous are the Buddha-qualities that even a perfectly enlightened Buddha could not finish describing them, even after many aeons. This is their fruit.

And it is said:

If a Buddha were to speak in praise of a Buddha,

Speaking nothing else for an aeon’s length,

Sooner would the long-standing aeon reach its end,

But the praise of the Tathaagata would not reach its end.

comments (0)