by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The method of fulfilling the Perfection of Morality (Sila-Parami) 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).
Wishing to support others with material aids, one should, in the first instance, strive to become possessed of wealth and property. Likewise, wishing to adorn beings with the ornaments of morality, the Bodhisatta, to begin with, has to purify his own morality.
Herein, morality is purified in four modes:
(i) Purifying one’s inclination (ajjhāsaya-visuddhi): A person, through purity of his own inclination, is naturally disgusted with evil. He may become very pure in morality by arousing his inward sense of moral shame (hirī).
(ii) Undertaking oneself the observance of precepts taken from others (samādāna): Likewise, a person, who has taken precepts from others, reflects: “I am undertaking the observance of precepts which are taken from such and such a teacher,” and, having respect for other beings, he may become very pure in morality by arousing his sense of moral dread of evil (ottappa).
(iii) Non-transgression (avītikkamana): When endowed with both moral shame and moral dread to do evil, there can be no transgression. Through non-transgression, one may become pure in morality and be well established in it.
(iv) Making amends in case of transgression (paṭipākatika-karana): If due to forgetfulness, one sometimes breaks a precept or two, then, through one’s sense of moral shame and moral dread, one quickly makes amends by proper means of reinstating such as confession or observance of parivāsa penance and carrying out manatta penance to become pure again in morality. (On transgression, a bhikkhu has to observe parivāsa penance and carry out manatta penance; a layman or a sāmaṇera has to renew the undertaking for observance of precepts to gain reinstatement.)
Precept of Abstention (Vāritta-Sīla) and Precept of Performance (Cāritta-Sīla)
(i) Not doing what is prohibited by the Buddha and other noble persons who say: “This is wrong. This should not be done. It should be abstained from.” Thus abstaining from ten acts of evil, such as killing, etc., is called Vāritta-Sīla.
(ii) Showing respect to honourable persons, such as one’s teachers, parents or good friends, and performing blameless, useful services for them is called Cāritta-Sīla.
How Bodhisattas observe Vāritta-Sīla
(a) The Bodhisatta has such great compassion for all beings that he harbours no resentment towards anyone, not even in a dream. Thus he abstains from killing.
(b) As he is always dedicated to assisting others, he would handle the belonging of others with an inclination to misappropriate it no more than he would take hold of a poisonous snake.
(c) In his existences of a monk or a recluse, he keeps away from sexual practice. Not only does he avoid coital relations with a woman, he refrains from the seven minor acts of sensual craving (methuna saṃyoga) (mentioned in the Aṅguttara Nikāya) which are:
(i) taking delight in being caressed, massaged and rubbed by a woman;
(ii) taking delight in jokes and laughter with a woman;
(iii) taking delight in staring and gazing at a woman, eye to eye;
(iv) taking delight in hearing a woman laughing, singing, crying from the other side of a wall;
(v) taking delight in recalling the past pleasures one had enjoyed in the company of a woman;
(vi) taking delight in watching someone enjoying sense pleasures and longing for such pleasures; and
(vii) leading a holy life with a longing for rebirth in a divine abode.
Since he avoids even such minor sensual craving, to commit adultery is totally impossible for him. He has already abstained from such sexual misconduct from very early times.
In those existences of his as a householder, the Bodhisatta does not entertain even an evil thought of passion for the wives of others.
(d,e,f,g) When he speaks, he avoids the four wrong speeches and states only what is true, what is conducive to harmony between friends, what is endearing, and he makes only timely talks on the Dhamma in a measured manner.
(h,i,j) His mind is always devoid of covetousness and ill-will. Always holding unperverted views, he is endowed with the knowledge that he is the owner of his deeds (kammassakata-ñāṇa). He has faith and good will towards recluses, who are practising rightly.
Because he avoids the unwholesome course of action (kamma) which leads to the four planes of misery, and because he is established in the wholesome course of action which leads to the deva-world and Nibbāna, through the purity of his inclinations, and through the purity of his physical and verbal actions, all the Bodhisatta’s wishes for the welfare and happiness of beings are rapidly fulfilled. He also achieve the fulfilment of his pāramīs.
Advantages of Abstention from Wrong Deeds
By abstaining from the wrong deed of killing (pāṇātipāta), the Bodhisatta gives the gift of harmlessness to all beings. He becomes accomplished in the development of lovingkindness without difficulty and enjoys the eleven advantages of developing lovingkindness. Together with the advantages of enjoying robust health, longevity and great happiness, he possesses the distinguished characteristics of a Great Being such as long, tapering fingers and toes; and he is able to eradicate the natural tendencies towards hatred (dosa vāsanā).
By abstaining from the wrong deed of taking what is not given (adinnādāna), the Bodhisatta acquires wealth and possessions which are immune from molestation by the five enemies. He is not susceptible to suspicion by others. He is dear, amiable and trustworthy. He is not attached to wealth and property. With an inclination to relinquishing, he is able to eradicate the natural tendencies towards greed (lobha-vāsanā).
By abstaining from unchaste practices (abrahmacariya), the Bodhisatta remains modest, calm in mind and body, dear, agreeable to all beings and unloathed by them. He enjoys good reputation. He has neither attachment to women nor strong desire for them. With earnest inclination to renunciation, he is able to eradicate the natural tendencies towards greed (lobha-vāsanā).
By abstaining from false speech (musā-vāda), the Bodhisatta is highly esteemed, trusted and relied upon by beings. His words are well accepted and have much influence on many. He is dear and agreeable to devas. He has sweet oral fragrance. He is well guarded in his speech and action. He possesses the distinguished characteristics of a Great Being such as a single hair only in each of the pores of his body, etc. He is able to eradicate the natural tendencies towards defilements (kilesa-vāsanā).
By abstaining from slander (pisuṇa-vācā), the Bodhisatta possesses a physical body which is indestructible and a following that cannot be divided by the wiles of others. He has unbreakable faith in the true Dhamma. He is a firm friend, endearing to all beings, enjoying the benefits of scanty defilements (kilesa).
By abstaining from abusive language (pharusa-vāca), the Bodhisatta becomes dear to beings. With pleasant, amiable disposition, sweet in speech, he is held in high esteem by all. He becomes endowed with a voice of eight qualities.
By abstaining from frivolous talks (samphappalāpa-vācā), the Bodhisatta is dear and agreeable to all beings, esteemed and revered by them. Speaking, as a rule, in a cautious manner, his words are well accepted and have much influence on them. He wields great power and has the skill to give instant answers to questions asked by others. When he becomes a Buddha, he becomes capable of answering all the questions put forward by beings in numerous languages. He answers by giving a single reply in Magadhi, the language of noble persons (ariya-vācā). (The single reply given in Magadhi is well understood by the audience of different races numbering one hundred and one, each speaking its own tongue.)
By abstaining from covetousness (abhijjhā), the Bodhisatta gains whatever he wishes without difficulty. He obtains excellent riches to his liking. He is honoured and revered by wealthy kings, brahmins and householders. He is never vanquished by his adversaries. He has no defects in his faculties of eye, ear, nose, etc., and becomes a person without a peer.
By abstaining from ill-will (vyāpāda), the Bodhisatta becomes a pleasant person, lovely to behold and is admired by all. He inspires them easily with faith in him. He is inoffensive by nature, abides only in loving-kindness and is endowed with great power.
By rejecting wrong views and developing only right views, the Bodhisatta gains good companions. He does not commit evil even if he is threatened with beheading. Holding the view that he is the owner of his deeds (kamma), he does not believe in superstitious omens. He has firm confidence in the True Dhamma, and steadfast faith in the Omniscience of the Enlightened Ones. (Just as a royal swan takes no delight in a dung heap) so does he take no delight in various creeds other than the right view (sammā-diṭṭhi). He is skilled in fully comprehending of the three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and unsubstantiality. In the final existence when he becomes a Buddha, he gains the Unobstructed Knowledge (anāvarana-ñāṇa), (which knows all there is to know without any hindrance). Before gaining Buddhahood, he becomes the chief and foremost of beings in every existence he happens to be born in and attains the highest fortunes.
“Morality is the foundation of all achievements. It is the origin, source of all the attributes of a Buddha. It is the beginning of all the Perfections.” Reflecting thus and with highly adoring morality, the Bodhisatta develops power of mindfulness and comprehension in four matters, namely, control of verbal and physical actions, restraint of faculties, purity of livelihood, and use of the four requisites. He fulfils the observance of morality with due respect and care, considering gain and honour as a foe in the guise of a friend.
(This is how Vāritta-Sīla is observed.)
How Bodhisattas observe Cāritta-Sīla
The Bodhisatta always welcomes good friends, greeting them with a gesture of respect and courtesy, by extending his clasped hands towards them and waits upon them. He attends personally on the sick and renders needful services to them. He expresses appreciation after hearing a Dhamma discourse. He speaks in praise of the virtues of the virtuous. He bears with patience the wrongs of others and recollects repeatedly only their services rendered to him. He rejoices in the meritorious acts of others and dedicates his own good deeds to Supreme Enlightenment. He always abides without neglecting the practice of wholesome Dhamma. If he happens to commit a wrong doing, he sees it as such (without attempting to hide it) and confesses it to his Dhamma companions. He develops more and more the practice of Dhamma, going up higher and higher in the stages of attainment.
Likewise, he is skilful and diligent in rendering services to beings in such matters that are agreeable to him and would benefit them. When they are afflicted with disease, etc., he tries to give relief to them as much as possible. When misfortune (vyasana) befalls them, concerning relatives, wealth, health, morality and belief, he gives them solace by dispelling their sorrow. He reproves righteously those who need to be reproved, only to take them out of evil and establish them in good. To those who deserve his support, he gives them a helping hand righteously.
On hearing the supreme practices of the past Bodhisattas, by means of which they gain maturity of pāramī, cāga, cariya, and which are most difficult to perform, inconceivably powerful, and which definitely contribute to the happiness and welfare of beings, the Bodhisatta is not frightened or discouraged at all.
He reflects, “All the past great Bodhisattas, just like me, were only human beings; and yet by dint of constant training in morality, concentration and wisdom they reach Supreme Enlightenment. Like those great Bodhisattas of the past, I too will undergo the complete training in morality, concentration and wisdom. In this way, after completing the same three trainings, I will ultimately attain the same goal of Omniscience.”
Thus, with unrelenting diligence preceded by faith, he undertakes to complete the training in morality, etc.
Similarly, the Bodhisatta does not publicize his own good deeds, instead he confesses his faults without concealing them. He has few wishes, is easily contented, enjoys seclusion, and is not given to socializing. He endures hardships, and does not crave for this or that object nor does he get agitated. He is not haughty, not immodest, not scurrilous, and not given to loose talk. He is quiet, calm and free from such wrong means of livelihood as fraud.
He is endowed with proper physical and verbal conduct and with his own subjects for meditation. He sees danger even in the slightest fault and undertakes to observe well the rules of training. With no attachment to body or life, he has his mind directed only to attainment of Omniscience and Nibbāna and incessantly devotes himself to wholesome practices. He has not formed even the slightest attachment to body and life, instead he discards them. He dispels also defiling factors, such as ill-will, malice, etc., which will cause corruption of morality.
He does not remain complacent with minor achievements but strives successively for higher attainments. By such endeavours, his achievements in jhāna, etc., do not get diminished or stagnant at all but grow and develop more and more into higher and higher stages.
Likewise, the Bodhisatta helps the blind to reach the desired destination or directs them the right way. He communicates with the deaf and the dumb by signalling gestures (with his hands). He provides a chair or a vehicle to the cripple; or he carries them personally on his back to wherever they want to go.
He works hard so that those with poor faith may develop faith, the lazy may develop energy, the heedless, unmindful ones may develop mindfulness, the restless, worried ones may develop concentration and the ignorant, uninstructed one may develop wisdom. He strives to enable those troubled by hindrances to dispel such troubling factors and those oppressed by wrong thoughts of sensuality, ill-will and cruelty to remove such oppressing factors.
To those who have helped him before, he shows his gratitude, greeting them with endearing words, honouring them in return with benefits similar to or even greater than those bestowed on him. In time of their misfortune, he serves them as a boon companion.
Understanding the natural disposition of various beings, he assists them to be free from what is unwholesome and to become established in what is wholesome. He associates with them, meeting their needs and wishes. (What is meant here is that he seeks their company and friendship to free them from evil and establish them in virtues by giving (dāna) to those who like gifts, by speaking endearing words (piya-vācā) to those who like kind speech, by showing a life of usefulness (attha-cariya) to those who approve such a life, and by treating with a sense of justness (samānattatā) to those who wish to be treated like unto themselves.)
Likewise, even with a desire to serve their interest, the Bodhisatta does not hurt others nor quarrel with them. He does not humiliate them or make them remorse. He does not look down on others nor finding fault with them. He is humble when dealing with those who treat him without arrogance but with humility.
He does not keep himself completely aloof from others, but also avoids excessive familiarity or association at the wrong time. He keeps company with only those worthy to associate with, at proper times and places. He does not speak ill of others in the presence of their friends nor praise those who are not on good terms with them. He does not cultivate intimate friendship with those not appropriate to mix with.
He does not refuse a proper invitation, nor does he indulge in making excessive demands either; nor does he accept more than what he needs. He gives delight and encouragement to the faithful by giving a discourse on the merits of faith. Likewise, he gives delight and encouragement to those endowed with morality, learning, generosity and wisdom by giving discourses on the merits of these qualities.
If the Bodhisatta, in an existence, happens to be accomplished in the attainments of jhāna and abhiññā, by exercising these powers, he arouses fright in those beings who are negligent (in doing good deeds). By showing them, to a certain extent, the horrors in realms of misery, he gets those devoid of faith and other virtues established in faith, etc., and gives them access to the Buddha Dispensation. To those already endowed with faith, etc., he helps them gain maturity in those virtues.
In this manner, the Bodhisatta’s Cāritta-sīla is like the “flood” of immeasurable meritorious deeds, which grows bigger and bigger, one existence after another.
(This is the method of fulfilling the Perfection of Morality.)
Footnotes and references:
Parivāsa. Read Anudīpanī Chapter VI Pāramīta (Prefections) sub-title on Vematika Sīla.
Manatta. as above (footnote 30)
The owner of his deeds; he is solely responsible for all his deeds, good or bad.
Eleven advantages of developing loving-kindness: read Anudīpanī Chapter VI Pāramīta (Prefections).
Eight qualities of voice: According to Mahāgovinda Sutta of Mahā Vagga, Digha Nikāya, the eight qualities of voice possessed by Sanankumara Brahmā are (i) purity of enunciation; (ii) clearness, being easily understood; (iii) melodiousness; (iv) pleasantness; (v) being full and rounded; (vi) not being scattered and diffused; (vii) being deep and resonant; and (viii) not travelling beyond his audience; like the Brahmā, Bodhisattas are also possessors of voice with these eight qualities.
Superstitious omens: dittha suta mutamangala. Tipitaka P.M.D describes it as the meaning of akotuhalamangala (mentioned in the Commentary of the Cariya Piṭaka) which is explained as “belief held by the uninstructed in the auspiciousness of the five sense objects when they happened to be seen, heard or touched under such and such circumstances and conditions.”