Jumat, 12 Juli 2013

Angels in Battle vs. Meditation Advice (sutra)

Ashley Wells and Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly based on Ven. Piyadassi Thera translation (accesstoinsight.org), "Banner Protection" (Dhajagga Sutta, SN 11.3)
The Buddha high atop pyramid, pagoda, and pedestal (Linc060/flickr.com)

 
Dispelling fear (Mikecogh/flickr)
Thus have I heard.  On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling near Savatthi at Jetavana in the monastery [provided by] Anathapindika. He addressed the monastics saying, "O meditators!" -- "Venerable sir!" they replied. Then he said:

"I shall relate a former incident. There arose a battle between the devas (angels, light beings, "gods") and asuras (fallen angels, titans, "demons"). Then Sakka, the King of the Devas, addressed the devas of the World of the Thirty-Three in this way:

Sakka can adopt any form (ChristyB30/flickr)
"'Happy ones, if the devas who have gone into battle should experience fear or terror or suffer hair standing on end, let them behold the crest of my banner! If one does so, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end will pass away.

"'If one fails to look up to the crest of my banner, look at the crest of the banner of Pajapati, King of the Devas. If one does so, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end will pass away.

"'If one fails to look up to the crest of Pajapati, King of the Devas, look at the crest of the banner of Varuna, King of the Devas. If one does so, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end will pass away.'

"Meditators, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end in those who look at the crest of the banner of Sakka, the King of the Devas... of Pajapati... of Varuna... of Isana, the King of the Devas, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end may pass away OR it may not pass away.
 
"What is the reason for this?

"Sakka, the King of the Devas, O meditators, is not free from lust, is not free from hate [aversion including fear], is not free from delusion, and is therefore liable to fear, terror, fright, and flight.
  • [That is to say, Sakka may be a "god," an archangel, a stream enterer, and a being with a great deal of merit and glory, but he is nevertheless not enlightened, not accomplished, not an arhat.]
Fearlessness
Banner, Wat Doi Suthep (ChristyB30/flickr)
"I also say to you, O meditators -- if any fear, terror, or hair standing on end should arise in you when you have gone into the forest or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty house (or to any quiet place suitable for meditating), then only think this of me in this way:

"'Such indeed is the Blessed One, arhat (a consummate one), supremely enlightened, endowed with wisdom and virtue, a welcome being, knower of worlds, peerless trainer of persons, teacher of devas and humans, the Buddha (Enlightened One), the Blessed One.'
 
"Meditators, if you think of me, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end that may arise in you will pass away.

"If you fail to think of me then think of the Dharma (Teaching) in this way: 'Well expounded is the Dharma by the Blessed One, a Dharma to be realized for oneself which gives immediate (timeless) results, a Dharma which invites investigation and leads up to nirvana (freedom from all suffering), a Dharma to be understood by the wise each for oneself.'
 
"Meditators, if you think of the Dharma, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end that may arise in you will pass away.

Devas over the Buddha (a1eatoire/flickr)
"If you fail to think of the Dharma then think of the Sangha (the Community of Awakened Ones) in this way:
 
"'Of good conduct (practicing correctly) is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of upright conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of wise conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One, of dutiful conduct is the Order of Disciples of the Blessed One.

"'This Order of Disciples of the Blessed One -- namely those four pairs of persons [Note 1], the eight kinds of individuals [Note 2], is worthy of offerings, is worthy of hospitality, is worthy of gifts, is worthy of reverential greetings, is an incomparable field of merit for the world.'
 
"Meditators, if you think of the Sangha, any fear, terror, or hair standing on end that may arise in you will pass away.
 
"What is the reason for this?

"The Tathagata [Buddha], O meditators, who is an arhat, supremely enlightened, IS free from lust, is free from hate, is free from delusion, and is (therefore) not liable to fear, terror, fright, or flight."

So said the Blessed One. Having spoken, the teacher, the Welcome One (Sugata), further said:

Whether in forest wilds or foot of tree,
Or any secluded spot, O meditators,
Call to mind the Buddha supreme.
Then will there be no fear for you at all.

If you think not of the Buddha, O meditators,
Light of the world and chief among humans,
Then think, O meditators, of the Dharma
Well proclaimed and leading to nirvana.
If you think not of the Dharma, O meditators,
Well proclaimed and leading to nirvana,
Then think, O meditators, of the Sangha,
That incomparable field of merit for all.
To those recalling the Buddha supreme,
To those recalling the Dharma sublime,
And to those recalling the Sangha,
No fear, no terror will make them quiver.

NOTE 1. The "four pairs of persons" = the four kinds of "noble" (arya) disciples who have attained the four paths-and-fruits (magga and phala) of enlightenment, namely: the "stream-enterer," "once-returner," "non-returner," and the arhat, the final stage when ALL fetters are severed and taints finally uprooted.

NOTE 2. The four pairs become eight when the paths and fruits are regarded separately. This is an interesting distinction because it strongly suggests that one may enter upon the "path" but not consummate it immediately, yet the fruition is guaranteed in that life. This is how the eight persons were regarded in the past. The American scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi devotes a portion of his anthology, In the Buddha's Words, to explaining this distinction and providing textual support.

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