The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Reflective Knowledge (Paccavekkhana Nana) contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as on Miscellany. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Part 6e - Reflective Knowledge (Paccavekkhana Ñāṇa)

[Summary: Reflective Knowledge (Paccavekkhana Ñāṇa) of The Disadvantages of Non-giving, etc., and of Advantages of Giving, etc.]

Reflective knowledge of the disadvantages of not fulfilling the Ten Perfections, such as generosity, morality, etc., and of the advantages of fulfilling them also form basic conditions of the pāramīs.

(This section should be carefully studied by those who aspire after Buddhahood).

1. Detailed Method of Reflecting on The Perfection of Generosity

“Personal possessions, such as land, gold, silver, cattle, buffaloes, female slaves, male slaves, children, wives, etc., bring great harm to their owners who become attached to them. Because they are the objects of sense desires, coveted by many people, they can be taken away or destroyed by five enemies (water, fire, kings, thieves and unloved heirs); they cause quarrels and disputes; they are insubstantial; their acquisition and protection necessitate harassment of others; their destruction leads to intense suffering such as sorrow, lamentation, etc. Through attachment to them, those who are filled with stinginess (macchariya) are bound to be reborn in the realms of suffering. Thus, these possessions bring much harm to the possessor in diverse manners. Giving them away, forsaking them, renouncing them is the only means of escape to happiness.” A Bodhisatta should reflect in this manner and practise mindfulness so as not to be remiss in acts of generosity.

A Bodhisatta should also reflect in the following manner whenever a supplicant presents himself for alms: “He is a very intimate friend, confiding all his personal secrets to me. He instructs me well on how to take along with me, by this means (of dāna), to the next existences, my possession which I will have to leave behind otherwise. He is a great friend who assists me in removing, to a safe place, my possessions from this world, which like a blazing house, is raging with the fires of death. He is, to me, like an excellent storehouse where my possessions can be kept safe from burning.” and “He is my best friend, for by enabling me to perform the act of generosity, he helps me achieve the most eminent and difficult of all attainments, the attainment of the ground for Buddhahood (Buddhabhūmi).”

Likewise, he should reflect thus: “This man has favoured me with an opportunity to do a most noble deed, I should therefore seize this opportunity without fail.”; “My life will certainly come to an end, I should therefore give, even when not asked, (indeed I should do) all the more when asked.”; “Bodhisattas, who are intensely inclined towards generosity, go about searching for someone to receive their alms, in my case, a supplicant has come on his own accord to receive my offering because of my merit.”; “Although an act of generosity is shown to recipients, true to its nature, it benefits me only.”; “I should benefit all these beings as I benefit myself.”; “How could I fulfil the Perfection of Generosity if there were no one to receive my offering.”; “I should acquire and accumulate properties only for those who may ask.”; “When would they come and avail themselves of my belongings freely, on their own accord, without asking me?”; “In what way could I endear myself to recipients and how could they become friendly with me.”; “How would I rejoice while giving and after giving?”; “How would recipients come to me and inclination for giving them develop in me?”; “How would I know their mind and give them (what they need) without their asking?”; “When I have things to offer and supplicants to receive, should I fail to give them, it would be a great deception on my part.”; “How would I sacrifice my life and limb to those who come for them?” He should thus constantly develop propensity to perform acts of generosity.

“Just as a hopping insect (kīṭaka)[1] springs back to one who throws it away without any concern, good results come back to one who has performed dāna generously, without expecting any reward.” reflecting thus, he should develop the mind which does not wish or expect any fruit out of his act. (Here fruit means celestial or human bliss but not attainment of Buddhahood).

Mental Attitude at The Time of Offering

When the recipient of alms happens to be a dear person, he should be glad by reflecting: “One, who is dear to me, asks me for something.” If the recipient is a neutral person, he should be glad by reflecting: “By making this offering to him, I will surely gain his friendship.” If the recipient is a hostile person, he should specially rejoice by reflecting: “My enemy asks for something. By this offering to him, he will surely become a dear friend of mine.”

Thus, he should make an offering to a neutral person or a foe in the same way as he does to a dear person with compassion, preceded by loving-kindness.

When in Great Difficulty

If the aspirant to Buddhahood finds himself so attached to objects of offering that relinquishing is impossible because greed, which he is imbued over long stretches of time, he should reflect on himself: “You, good man, aspiring after Buddhahood, when you resolved to attain it, in order to assist and support beings, did you not give up this body as well as the good deeds done by sacrificing it and the fruits thereof. Even then you are now attached to external objects; it is like the bathing of an elephant. So you should not remain attached to any object.”

(Other animals bathe to wash their bodies. Elephants bathe not to clean themselves, but to crush and destroy lotus shoots and stems. Just as an elephant’s bathing is futile, attachment to external object will not be fruitful, will not bring about the benefit of Buddhahood.)

Suppose there is a medicine tree;those in need of its roots, take away its roots; those in need of its crust, bark, trunk, fork, heartwood, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, take whatever they need. Although thus stripped of its roots, crust, etc., the medicine tree is not disturbed with such a thought as “They have deprived me of my possessions.”

Likewise, the Bodhisatta should reflect thus: “I, who have worked strenuously for the welfare of beings, should not entertain even one iota of wrong thought in serving others by making use of this body which is miserable, ungrateful and unclean. The four great elements, whether internal (of the body) or external (of the outside world), are all subject of decomposition and dissolution. There is no distinction between internal and external elements. In the absence of such distinction, attachment to this body, thinking: ‘This is mine, this am I, this is myself’ is apparently a mere display of activity by delusion[2]. So, without regard for my hands, feet, eyes, flesh and blood, as in the case of external objects, I should be prepared to give up my whole body, thinking: ‘Let those who need any of them take it away.’ ”

When he reflects in this way, with no regard for his life and limb, relinquishing them for the sake of self-enlightenment, his deeds, words, and thoughts easily become more and more purified. The Bodhisatta, who is thus purified in physical, verbal and mental actions, comes to possess purity of livelihood, and becomes established in the practice of the true path leading to Nibbāna. He gains accomplishment also in the knowledge of what is detrimental and what is beneficial. As a result, he becomes indeed a person who is capable of rendering more and more services to all beings through gift of material goods (vatthudāna), gift of harmlessness (abhaya-dāna) and gifts of Dhamma (dhamma-dāna).

(This is the detailed treatment of the Bodhisatta’s reflection on the Perfection of Generosity.)

2. Detailed Treatment of Reflection on The Perfection of Morality

“Morality is the dhamma water which can wash away mental defilements that cannot be removed by the waters of the Ganges, etc. Morality acts as a good medication to eradicate the heat of passion which cannot be assuaged by the yellow sandalwood, etc. It is the ornament of the wise, having nothing in common with the adornments, such as necklaces, diadems and earrings, of ordinary people.

It is a kind of natural perfume whose fragrance pervades all directions and which is suitable for all occasions. It is an excellent mantra of spell-binding power (vasikaraṇa mantam) which commands homage and reverence of the high-born humans, such as kings, brahmins, etc., and of devas and Brahmās. It is a stairway to deva and Brahmā-worlds. It serves as a means of gaining jhānas and abhiññās, a highway leading to the great city of Nibbāna, the foundation of the three forms of Enlightenment. As it fulfils all that one wishes, it is superior to the wish-fulfilling gem (cintā-maṇi) and the tree of plenty (kappa- rukkha).” Thus should one reflect on the attributes of morality.

(The commentary recommends the Aggikkhandhopama Sutta, etc., for reflecting on the faults of not being endowed with morality. The following is a summary of the Aggikkhandhopama Sutta mentioned in the Sattaka Nipāta, Aṅguttara Nikāya.)

At one time, the Buddha was touring in the country of Kosala accompanied by many bhikkhus. On seeing a blazing fire at one place, He left the highway and sat down on the seat of four-folded robe, prepared by Venerable Ānanda at the foot of a tree. Then the Buddha addressed the bhikkhus:

(i) Bhikkhus, which would be better, to sit and lie down embracing a raging flame than to sit and lie down embracing a damsel of high birth with a lovely soft body, pleasant to the touch? Bhikkhus responded (unwisely) that it would be better to sit and lie down, embracing a damsel.

The Buddha explained that for an immoral person, it would be better to sit and lie down embracing a raging flame for it would cause suffering for one existence only whereas embracing a damsel would lead them to lower realms (existence). He continued to question the bhikkhus:

(ii) Would it be better to be tormented by a strong man who rough up ones legs with a leather tether until the skin, flesh, muscles and bones are all torn and crushed, than to take delight in the homage paid by the faithful?

(iii) Would it be better to have one’s chest pierced by a strong man with a sharp spear than to be paid homage by the faithful?

(iv) Would it be better to have your body enveloped in a red hot iron plate by a strong man than to make use of the robe offered by the faithful?

(v) Would it be better to have your mouth opened and held up with a red hot iron prop and to have a burning hot lump of iron thrown into it so that it burns up all the internal organs (the lips, palate, tongue, throat, chest, stomach and intestines) along its way to the lower orifice of the body than to partake of the alms-food offered by the faithful?

(vi) Would it be better to be seized firmly by the head or shoulder by a strong man and forcibly pushed down to sit or lie down on an iron couch which is burning red hot than to make use of the couch or divan offered by the faithful?

(vii) Would it better to be held upside down by a strong man and flung into a big pan of boiling iron than to dwell in a monastery offered by the faithful.

To all these six latter questions, the bhikkhus answers (unwisely) as they did to the first question. The Buddha gives answers similar to that given to the first one, namely, that for an immoral person, it would be better to have one’s legs torn and crushed, to be pierced by a sharp spear, etc., for they would cause suffering for one existence only; whereas to take delight in the homage paid by the faithful, to be paid homage by the faithful, etc., would lead to the woeful realms of intense suffering where they would remain for a long time.

The Buddha ends His discourse with these words:

In order to bring utmost benefit to the faithful donors, who offer requisites and to make one’s life advantageous in the Order, a bhikkhu should undergo the three Trainings (sīkkhā)[3]. A bhikkhu wishing his own welfare as well as that of others must be ever mindful and diligent.

By the end of the discourse, sixty immoral bhikkhus vomited hot blood; sixty bhikkhus who had infringed light disciplinary rules left the Order for household life; sixty bhikkhus who had led a pure life attained arahantship.

(This is a summary of the Aggikkhandopama Sutta.)

One should continue reflecting on the attributes of morality in this manner also:

“A moral person takes delight in the thought: ‘I have done a faultless, good deed which protects one from harm.’ He is free from danger of self-reproach or reproach by others who are wise. To him there is no possibility of punishment, or of destination in woeful states. He is praised by the wise who say: ‘This man is moral and of good conduct. Unlike an immoral person, he is absolutely free from remorse’ ”

Since morality is the root cause of mindfulness, it brings manifold benefits such as prevention of loss of one’s wealth (bhogavyasana), etc., and since it eradicates demeritoriousness, it is the best source of one’s prosperity and wellbeing.

Even a person of low caste, when endowed with morality, receives homage and respect from person of high birth such as kings, brahmins, etc. Thus, accomplishment in morality excels high birth or caste.

The wealth of moral virtues surpasses that of external materials because it cannot be endangered by five enemies. It follows one to the next existence. Its benefit is great and it serves as a foundation for development of concentration and wisdom.

Even those so-called rulers in the world have no control over their own minds. Only those who are moral, have control over their minds (cittissariya). Therefore morality is superior to the authority of kings, etc.

Those who are moral, gain the attribute of Supremacy (issariya) in their respective existences.

Morality is superior even to life itself, as the Buddha explains that a single day in the life of a person with morality is far better than a hundred years in the life of an immoral one and that mere living without any moral virtue amounts to death.

Because a moral person is esteemed even by his enemy and because he cannot be vanquished by ageing, sickness and misfortunes, his morality transcends his physical beauty. As it is the foundation for states of happiness of devas or Nibbāna, it is far superior to the best mansions and palaces or to the highest status and positions of kings, princes or general.

Morality is better than one’s relatives and friends who are solicitous of one’s wellbeing because it truly promotes one’s welfare and interest and follows one closely to the next existence.

Morality serves as a special body guard protecting this body, which is difficult to be guarded, against harm even by the four divisions of an army or by such devices as drugs, spells and charms.

When one reflects that “morality is full of innumerable qualities”, one’s imperfect morality will become perfect or one’s impure morality will become pure.

Should aversion in his life continuum antithetical to morality and having accumulative effect occurs to the aspirant for Buddhahood from time to time, he should reflect thus:

“Have you not resolved to attain arahatta-magga ñāṇa and Omniscience? If your morality is defective, you cannot progress even in mundane matters, let alone in supramundane ones. The Omniscience you aspire to is the highest of all achievements. Since Morality is the foundation of Omniscience, your morality should be of very high quality. Therefore, you should be a person who regards morality with much affection.”

Or, “You should teach Dhamma and save beings by three vehicles of such characteristics as anicca, dukkha and anatta; you should also help immature beings in the five faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom, to reach maturity. Just as the treatment of a doctor, who gives wrong prescription, is untrustworthy, even so the word of an immoral person is unreliable to many. Therefore, reflecting as a trust-worthy person, how could I save them and help them reach maturity in those faculties, you should be pure in morality.”

Furthermore, “Only when I have special attributes, such as attainments of jhāna, etc., will I be able to help others and fulfil the Perfections, such as Wisdom, etc. And such special attributes as attainment of jhāna, etc., are not possible without pure morality. Therefore, you should be a person of naturally pure morality.”

Reflecting thus, the Bodhisatta should earnestly strive to purify his morality. (This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Morality.)

3. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Renunciation

The Bodhisatta should reflect on the disadvantages of a household life which is restricted with duties towards one’s wife and children, and on the advantages of the life of a bhikkhu, which, like space, is free and vast being exempted from such obligations.

As explained in the Dukkhakkhandha Sutta (of the Majjhima Nikāya) one should dwell upon the fact that sensual objects are more of worry and lamentation than of enjoyment and so on; upon suffering from contact with heat, cold, gadflies, mosquitoes, flies, wind, sun, reptiles, fleas, insects, etc., while in quest of sense objects, as motivated by sensedesires; upon pain and distress when one’s laborious quest for sense objects ends up fruitless; upon worry and anxiety for their security against the five enemies after they have been acquired; upon great suffering caused by terrible wars waged through desire for sense objects; upon the thirty-two kinds of severe punishment (kamma-kāraṇa) meted out in this life to those who have committed crimes through sense-desires; upon terrible suffering in the life beyond in the four realms of miserable existences.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Renunciation.)

4. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Wisdom

“Without wisdom, such Perfections as Generosity, etc., cannot become pure; and volition for giving, volition for observing morality, etc., cannot perform their respective functions.” In this manner, one should reflect on the attributes of wisdom.

Without life, this bodily mechanism loses its significance and cannot function properly. Without consciousness, the sense faculties of eye, ear, etc., cannot perform their respective functions of seeing, hearing, etc. Similarly, the faculties of faith, energy, etc., cannot do their respective duties effectively in the absence of wisdom. Therefore, wisdom is the main and chief cause for the fulfilment of Perfections, such as generosity, etc.

How Wisdom helps Fulfilment of Other Perfections

(a) Because they keep their eyes of wisdom always open, Bodhisattas, when giving away their limbs and organs, they do so without extolling themselves or disparaging others. (As mentioned above) like the great medicine-tree, they give without developing wrong thoughts, and are always filled with joy in the past, present and future.

Only when endowed with wisdom does one become equipped with upāya-kosalla ñāṇa and gives for the benefit of others;and only such an act of generosity is a genuine perfection. (Without wisdom, one is likely to give with the motivation of self-interest; such an act of generosity for one’s own benefit is like earning interest for oneself from an investment.)

(b) Morality without wisdom but overwhelmed by greed, ill-will, etc., cannot achieve purity, much less serve as foundation of Omniscience.

(c) Only a person of wisdom discerns faults in the household state and benefits of an ascetic life, faults in sensuous pleasures and benefits of attaining jhānas, faults in saṃsāra and benefits of Nibbāna. Discerning thus, he goes forth into homelessness, develops jhānas and realizes for himself Nibbāna. He can then help others to go forth and get established in jhāna and Nibbāna.

(d) Energy without wisdom is wrong striving; it does not serve the purpose desired. (It is better not to strive at all than to make wrong application of energy.) When accompanied by wisdom, it becomes right endeavour achieving the required object.

(e) Only a person of wisdom can bear with patience wrongs done by others; for one devoid of wisdom, offensive actions by others incite in him unwholesome state, such as ill-will, etc., which go against forbearance. For the wise, such wrongs help him develop patience and strengthen it.

(f) Only a person of wisdom comprehends the three truths as they really are i.e. truth of abstinence (viratī sacca), truth of speech (vacī sacca), truth of Knowledge (ñāṇa sacca); their causes and opposites. Having understood them himself perfectly (by abandoning what should be abandoned and cultivating what should be cultivated), he could help others keep to the Path of Truth.

(g) Having fortified himself with the power of wisdom, a wise person becomes accomplished in concentration. With concentrated mind, unshakable determination to fulfil all the Perfections is possible.

(h) Only a man of wisdom can direct his thoughts of loving-kindness towards the three types of person without discriminating them as dear ones, neutrals or enemies.

(i) And only by means of wisdom can one remain indifferent to vicissitudes of life (whether good or bad) without being affected by them.

In this way, one should reflect on the attributes of wisdom, realizing it to be the cause for the purification of the Perfections.

Or, the Bodhisatta should admonish himself thus:

“Without wisdom, there can be no perfect and pure view; without perfect and pure view, there can be no perfect and pure morality;without perfect and pure morality, there can be no perfect and pure concentration. Without concentration one cannot work for one’s benefit, much less others. Therefore, practising as you are for the welfare of others, should you not make an earnest effort to develop your wisdom?”

It is by the power of wisdom that the Bodhisatta becomes established on the four foundations[4], benefits all beings with four objects of support[5], helps them remain on the path of liberation and brings their five faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom to maturity.

Likewise, by the power of wisdom, he engages in the investigation of absolute realities, such as aggregates (khandha), sense-bases (āyatana) etc., and comes to understand truthfully the processes of saṃsāra and its cessation. He endeavours to bring his meritorious deeds, such as Perfection of Generosity, etc., to the most beneficial stage of development and to enjoy the profits of the Path and Fruition. Thus, he works to complete and perfect the training of Bodhisattas.

Comprehending the various virtues of Wisdom in this manner, he should repeatedly develop the Perfection of Wisdom.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Wisdom.)

5. Detail Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Energy

Even in worldly pursuits, the end of which is foreseeable, one cannot achieve the desired goal without necessary energy. There is nothing which a man with indefatigable energy cannot achieve. It should be reflected that, “One lacking energy cannot even begin the task of rescuing all beings from the whirlpool of saṃsāra. One with moderate energy will undertake the task, only to give it up half-way without pursuing it to the end. It is only the person with superior kind of energy who will see to the completion of the task, without regard to one’s personal wellbeing, to realise the goal (Omniscience).”

Again, without sufficient energy, even aspirants for Sāvaka-Bodhi or Pacceka-Bodhi[6], who intent on liberating themselves from saṃsāra, cannot achieve their desired goal of Enlightenment. How can one aspiring after Perfect Self-Enlightenment rescue the entire world of beings with devas and Brahmās without sufficient exertion?

A host of defilements, such as greed, hatred, etc., are as hard to restrain as elephants in must. One’s actions (kamma), that happen due to these defilements, are like executioners holding high their swords and threatening to put one to death. The four woeful states caused by these kammas have their doors constantly open. Evil friends are always around to instigate one to commit these kammas and thus despatch one to these states of woe. The nature of a foolish worldling is such that he succumbs easily to the ill advice of such evil friends. One should therefore keep oneself away from these evil friends who are sophists, who put forward their wrong, irrational argument, saying: “If emancipation from saṃsāra were a reality, it should be achieved automatically without any need to strive for it.” Dissociation from such wrong sayings is possible only through the power of energy.

Or, “If Buddhahood is attainable through personal effort, what difficulty can there be for a superior person like me to put forth the required energy?” In this manner the attributes of energy should be reflected upon.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Energy.)

6. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Forbearance

“Forbearance dispels anger which is opposed to all wholesome attributes and serves as an indestructible weapon of good people in the acquisition of such attributes. It is the adornment of Bodhisattas who can dominate others; the strength of samaṇas and brāhmaṇas;a stream of water that extinguishes the fire of anger; a magic charm for neutralizing the poison of rude, abusive word of evil persons; it is the natural disposition of those established in the faculties of restraint and of those supremely wise one.”

“Forbearance is a faculty, deep like an ocean; the shore where the waves of the ocean terminate; the door that closes the way to the realms of misery; the stairway that ascends to the realms of devas and Brahmās, the sanctum where all wholesome attributes reign; the supreme purity of body, speech and mind.” Thus one should reflect on the virtues of forbearance.

Again, forbearance should be cultivated repeatedly by reflecting thus:

“Without holding on to forbearance, which gives calm and peace, these beings pursue demeritorious deeds which afflict them. In consequence, they are subjected to affliction in this life as well as in the life to come.”

“Although it is true that I suffer through wrongs of others, this body of mine, which serves as a field, and the action, which serve as seeds of that suffering, have been done by none other than myself.”

“This forbearance of mine is the means of settling the debt of suffering.”

“If there were no wrong doer, how could I fulfil the Perfection of Forbearance?” “Although this person has wronged me now, he had brought certain benefits to me in the past.”

“His wrong deed forms a cause for my practice of forbearance, and it therefore proves beneficial to me.”

“All these beings are like my own children, how could a wise man become angry about the misdeeds of his own children?”

“He has wronged me as he is seized by the demon of wrath; I should exorcise this demon that has seized him.”

“I am also the cause of the wrong deed which gives rise to this suffering, (for if I were not in existence, there could be no wrong-doing.)”

“The mental and physical phenomena (nāma-rūpa) which did the wrong deed, and the mental and physical phenomena (nāma-rūpa), to which the wrong deed was done, both sets of such phenomena, at this very moment, have ceased. Who should then be angry with whom? There should be no arising of anger.”

And, “when all the phenomena are non-self, in the absolute sense, there could be no wrong doer and no one to whom any wrong is done.”

Reflecting in this manner, he should repeatedly develop forbearance.

Should the anger, that arises from wrongs done by others, continue to overpower one’s mind through the force of habit, which is gained for a long time, the aspirant for Buddhahood should reflect thus:

“Forbearance is a complementary to practices which oppose the wrongs of others.”

“Wrongs of others, by causing my suffering, become a factor of arising in me of faith (since suffering is the cause of faith) and also a factor of the perception of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the world (anabhirati saññā).”

“It is the nature of sense faculties, such as eyes, etc., to encounter various objects, good and bad; it is not possible to avoid coming across undesirable sense objects.” “Following the dictates of anger, a person is distraught and mad with fury. What is the use of retaliating wrongs of such a person?”

“An Omniscient Buddha looks after all these beings as if they were His own dear children. Therefore, aspiring after Omniscient Buddhahood, I should not despair because of them or be angry with them.”

“Should the wrong-doer be one endowed with noble attributes such as morality, one should reflect, 'I should not show anger to such a virtuous one.”

“Should the wrong-doer be one without any noble attributes such as morality, one should reflect: ‘He is a person I should regard with great compassion.’ ”

“By getting angry, my virtues and fame will diminish.”

“Becoming angry with him, I shall look ugly, sleep in discomfort, and so forth[7], to the delight of my enemies.”

“This anger is a powerful enemy which brings all harm and destroys all prosperity.”

“When one has forbearance, one can have no enemies.”

“Thinking that with forbearance, I will meet with no suffering (which will befall the wrong-doer); or, by retaliating him with anger, I shall only be following in the footsteps of my foes.”

“Should I overcome anger through forbearance, I would be completely vanquishing also the foe who is a slave of anger.”

“It is not proper for me to relinquish the noble quality of forbearance because of anger.”

“How could I be endowed with noble qualities, such as morality, etc., when anger, the opposite of all good qualities, is arising in me? And, in the absence of such noble qualities, how could I render help to beings and achieve the vowed goal of Omniscient Buddhahood.”

“Only with forbearance, one can remain undistracted by external objects and have concentration of mind; and only with concentration of mind can one discern all conditioned formations (sankharas) to be impermanent and unsatisfactory and all dhammas to be non-self Nibbāna, to be unconditioned, deathless, etc., and the attributes of a Buddha to be of inconceivable, immeasurable powers.”

Because of such discernment, one becomes established in Vipassanā Insight (anulomika khantī) through which it is realized that “All these dhammas are natural phenomena, devoid of self or anything pertaining to self. They arise and pass away in accordance with their individual conditions. They came from nowhere and they go nowhere. They are not permanently established as an entity anywhere. There is no (operating) agency in this group of natural phenomena (as there is no such thing as individuality in the first place).” Realizing what they really are, one could comprehend that they are not the abode of ‘Iconceit’. With such reflection, Bodhisattas stand firmly and irreversibly in their destiny, and are bound to attain Omniscience.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Forbearance.)

7. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Truthfulness

The Perfection of Truthfulness should be reflected thus:

“Without truthfulness, attributes, such as morality, etc., are impossible and there can be no performance of the vow of attaining Buddhahood.”

“When truthfulness is transgressed, all kinds of evil come together.”

“One, who does not speak truth constantly, is regarded as untrustworthy in this very life. In every future existence too, his word will not be accepted by others.” “Only with truthfulness, can one develop attributes such as morality, etc.”

“Only with truthfulness as a foundation, can one purify and fulfil noble qualities such as pāramī, cāga, cariya. Therefore, by being truthful with regard to phenomena, one can perform the functions of pāramī, cāga, cariya and become accomplished in the practice of Bodhisattas.”

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Truthfulness.)

8. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Resolution

“In the absence of firm resolution in doing good deeds, such as the Perfection of Generosity, etc., and on encountering their opposites, such as miserliness (macchariya), immorality (dussīlya), etc., one could not maintain steadfastness in performing such good deeds; and without steadfastness, one could not practise them with skill and valour. And without skill and valour, the Perfection of Generosity, etc., which form the requisites for Omniscience, could not be accomplished.

“Only when resolution in doing good deeds such as the Perfection of Generosity, etc., is firm, can one maintain steadfastness on encountering their opposites such as miserliness, immorality, etc. Only when such steadfastness is maintained, can one gain skill and valour in performing such good deeds. Then only Perfection of Generosity, etc., which form the requisites of Omniscience, could be accomplished.” In this manner, the attributes of resolution should be reflected upon.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Resolution.)

9. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Loving-kindness

“Even one occupied entirely with one’s personal welfare (a selfish person), one could not gain prosperity in this or future life without promoting loving-kindness for the wellbeing of others. How much more should a Bodhisatta, wishing to establish all beings in the bliss of Nibbāna, develop it? Only by fostering infinite loving-kindness for them, can a Bodhisatta establish all beings in Nibbāna.” “Wishing to help later all beings achieve the supra-mundane bliss of Nibbāna when I become a Buddha, I should begin right now, wishing them, in advance, mundane prosperity.”

“If I could not perform now the mere mental act of wishing for their welfare, when would I accomplish the verbal and physical deeds of helping them achieve their welfare?”

“These beings, whom I nurture now with loving-kindness, would, in future, become heirs and companions, in the future occasion, of sharing my Dhamma inheritance.”

“Without these beings, there could be no requisites for my Pāramīs. Therefore, they form complementary conditions for fulfilment and accomplishment of all the attributes of a Buddha. They serve as a highly fertile field for sowing the seeds of merit, the best location for performing of meritorious deeds, the unique site to be revered.”

In this manner, one should especially cultivate goodwill towards all beings.

The attributes of loving-kindness should also be reflected on this way:

“Compassion is the first and foremost of all fundamental practices which lead to Buddhahood. For the Bodhisatta, who delights in providing welfare and happiness of all beings without discrimination, mettā, and the desire to remove their suffering and misfortune, karuṇā, becomes firmly rooted and powerful.” Thus lovingkindness which forms the foundation of compassion should be developed towards all beings.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Loving-kindness.)

10. Detailed Treatment of Reflecting on The Perfection of Equanimity

“In the absence of equanimity, abuses and wrongs done by others may cause disturbances in my mind. With a disturbed mind, there is no possibility even of doing good deeds of generosity, etc., which are the requisites for Buddhahood.” “When loving-kindness is cultivated towards beings as mere affection, unaccompanied by equanimity, purification of requisites of the pāramīs is not possible.”

“Having no equanimity, one cannot channel requisites of meritorious deeds and their results towards promotion of welfare of beings.”

“A Bodhisatta makes no discrimination of gifts and of their recipients. It is impossible not to do so without equanimity.”

“When not endowed with equanimity, one cannot attend to purification of morality without taking consideration the dangers that may befall one’s life and lifeaccessories (jivitaparikkharā).”

“Only one who has overcome, by virtue of equanimity, the dislike of good deeds

and delight in sensual pleasures can acquire the power of renunciation.”

“All functions of pāramī requisites can be accomplished only by examining them rightly with intelligent equanimity (ñānupekkhā).”

“In the absence of equanimity, excess of energy makes engagement in meditation impossible.”

“Only with equanimity, it is possible for one to concentrate on forbearance.”

“Only because of equanimity, beings can possess truthfulness.”

“By remaining indifferent to the vicissitudes of life, one’s resolution to fulfil the pāramīs becomes firm and unshakeable.”

“Only with equanimity, can one disregard others' wrong;only such disregard promotes abiding in loving-kindness.”

Building up the requisites of all the pāramīs in this manner, remaining unshakeable in determination, fulfilling and accomplishing them, all these become possible only by virtue of equanimity. Thus should the Perfection of Equanimity be reflected on.

(This is the detailed treatment of reflecting on the Perfection of Equanimity.)

Thus, reflections (paccavekkana-ñāṇa) on the disadvantages of not doing meritorious deeds, such as alms-giving, etc., and on the advantages accruing from such deeds of merit form the basis of the pāramīs.

Footnotes and references:


Kitaka: According to Tipitaka Pali Myanmar Dictionary, ‘hopping inset’, according to Sanskirit- English Dictionary by Monier Williams ‘weapon’ & P.E.D quoting Peta-vatthu Commentary says; kitaka=(hot) copper plate.


Display of activity by delusion: sammoha vijambhītā.


Sikkhā: the training, which the Buddha’s disciples have to undergo, is of three kinds viz. training in Higher Morality (adhisīla sikkhā), Higher Mentality (adhicitta sikkhā) and Higher Wisdom (adhipaññā sikkha). This threefold training forms the threefold divison of the Noble Path of Eight Constituents, namely, Sīla, Samādhi, Paññā.


The four Foundations, Caturadhitthāna: the foundation of Insight (paññā); of Truth (sacca); of Liberality (dāna) and of Tranquility (upasama).


Four objects of support (catu sangaha vatthu): liberality (dāna), kindly speech (peyya vajja), a life of usefulness (attha cariya), and impartiality (samānattata).


Sāvaka Bodhi, Pacceka Bodhi: read, Chapter II RARE APPEREANCE OF A BUDDHA.


The remaining consequences are loss of wealth, loss of subordinates, loss of friends and rebirth in a woeful state. Sattaka Nipāta, Aṅguttara Nikāya.

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