Poson The start of a religious renaissance | Daily News


Poson The start of a religious renaissance

It is with great devotion that we, Sri Lankan Buddhists, celebrate Poson Poya that marks the arrival of a great compassionate teacher who had enormous loving kindness, Arahat Mahinda Thera with the wonderful message of the Buddha.  Arahat Mahinda Thera and his companions four Arahats Ittiya, Uththiya, Sambhala , Bhaddhasaala and the novice monk Sumana and lay person Bhanduka, arrived here in the 236th year after the Parinibbana of the Buddha to establish Buddhasasana in Sri Lanka.

Using his special powers Arahat Mahinda appeared in the presence of King Devanampiyatissa on top of the Mihintale Rock when the king was hunting deer with his 40,000 retinue.  Asking two sets of questions from the king which are commonly known as the mango question and the relations question to test the intelligence of the King, Arahat Mahinda Thera delivered the discourse on Chula Haththipadopama Sutta (Simile on the Foot of an Elephant). At the end of the discourse the King and his retinue of 40,000 people embraced the new teaching and took refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

What is this Chula Hatti Padopama Sutta? It is a Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya (Middle-length Discourses of the Buddha of the Sutta Pitaka) that clearly explains the path to Nibbana, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist. 

This Sutta comprises almost all the teachings of the Buddha, such as, the Eight Fold Path and the Four Noble Truths. It gives a clear understanding of the Triple Gem. It gives us a clear understanding about how a follower recognizes the Samma Sambuddha-hood of the Buddha by active involvement in the path.

A Samma Sambuddha realizes the truth by his own knowledge and makes others also realizes the Truth. It is a Samma Sambuddha who could show us the way to the end of suffering but not ask anyone to follow him blindly. But it is when someone in whom Saddha (serene commitment to the practice of the Buddha’s teaching and trust in enlightened) has arisen pay homage, hear the teachings, remember the teachings, reflect on their meaning, and accept them after consideration. Then enthusiasm springs up and they make an effort, examine thoroughly, and persevere. They would be able to realize the ultimate truth, and see it with penetrating wisdom.

In Chula Hatti Padopama Sutta of Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha gave the simile of the elephant’s footprint to understand the Dhamma step by step. Using an analogy of a skilled elephant-forester finding a big bull elephant, the Buddha explained the way a disciple should follow to find the truth to a Brahmin named Janussoni who met the Buddha with a real desire to understand Buddha’s teachings.

A big bull elephant could be identified only by going to the place where it is lying, walking or standing. Likewise, in order to identify the Samma Sambuddha, one should necessarily go to Him in person.

The Buddha explained that if a person realizes the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path, the way to Nibbana as shown by the Buddhas, he or she could realize that the Buddha is enlightened and His Dhamma well discoursed and well observed by the Sangha.

Most Venerable Thapowanaye Rathana Thera of Minipura Amashanthi Thapowana Aranya Senasanaya in Pelwadiya, Ratnapura said that Buddhism offers the goal of Nibbana to those who need it, and is not forced on any. Those who prefer to achieve this goal are perfectly free to do so.

“All four congregations Bhikkus (Buddhist monks), Bhikkunis (Buddhist nuns), Upasaka (layman) and Upasika (laywoman) can follow the teachings of the Buddha without any obstacle and they are expected to lead a useful life till the ultimate goal is achieved.” said the Ven. Thera. 

Venerable Rathana Thera further explained that the Chula Hatti Padopama Sutta gives a full description of a monk’s way of life and the utmost goal. So a Buddhist monk who puts on the saffron robes by abandoning his wealth and relatives should definitely practice the holy life, in all its purity. As it was mentioned by the Buddha in this Sutta, Buddhists monks cannot engage in politics or gardening.

“Having abandoned the destruction of life, he abstains from destroying life. He dwells with rod and sword lay down, conscientious, merciful, and compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Having abandoned the taking of the not-given, he abstains from taking the not-given. He takes only what is given, accepts only what is given, lives not by stealth but by means of a pure mind. Having abandoned in celibacy, he lives a celibate life, living apart, refraining from coupling.........” (Chula Hatti Padopama Sutta)Accordingly Bhikkus and Dasa Sil Matha can be active in their own fields without invading their limits and lay followers can serve their religion, country and the world in their own way, guided by their Buddhist principles which mean that the Buddha has shown one way of life to Bhikkus and another to lay followers.

If a Buddhist observes five precepts he or she would be able to gain many benefits during their lifetime. If they do not to kill animals they can live a long live longer, if they not steal, they will never lose their wealth. Buddhists who apply noble qualities taught by Buddha in their lives can live a happy life. The Buddha has shown us the correct path to Nibbana and it is left for us to follow that path. So while enjoying a happy family life, Buddhists can also develop wisdom which leads to the complete destruction of suffering and the realization of Nibbana.

References: (Dhamma sermon by the late Most Venerable Nauyane Ariyadhamma Thera, The Fruits of True Monkhood: Benefits of monk’s life by Dhammakaya series, Chua Hatti Padôpama Sutta Translated by Piya Tan, The Buddha and His Teachings by Most Ven Narada Maha Thera)

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