The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Discourse on the practice of Meditation 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 the Six Princes achieved different Attainments. 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 1 - Discourse on the practice of Meditation

The Buddha, (as explained before) kept the second vassa at Veḷuvana monastery, Rājagaha. It was during this period that Venerable Bhaddiya became established as Tevijja arahat, accomplished in the three knowledges, namely, Pubbenivāsa-ñāṇa, Dibbacakkhu-ñāṇa, Asavakkhaya-ñāṇa.

The Venerable Anuruddha achieved the eight mundane attainments (jhāna-samāpatti) during the first vassa after his ordination. Based on these attainments, he further developed dibbacakkhu-abhiññā, the supernatural power that enabled him to see one thousand worldsystems. One day, he went to the Venerable Sāriputta and told him (vide 8-dutiya Anuruddha Sutta, 3-Kusinara Vagga, Tatiya Paññāsaka, Tikanipata, Anguttara Nikāya):

(a) “Friend Sāriputta, in this Buddha’s sāsana, I can see one thousand world-systems by means of dibbacakkhu-abhiññā;

(b) “My effort is vigorous and resolute, not flagging. My mindfulness is clear and intent, wholly free from forgetfulness; my body is also calm and collected, completely free from anxiety; my mind is serene, fixed on a single object.

(c) “In spite of all this, my mind, though void of craving and wrong view (taṇhā and diṭṭhi), is still not free from the grip of the āsavas. (meaning, he has not yet achieved arahatship).”

Whereupon, the Venerable Sāriputta said:

“Friend Anuruddha, (1) when you are preoccupied with the thought as described in your first statement, it is a case of pride (māna) arising in your mental continuum. (2) Regarding the preoccupation described in your second statement, it is a case of distraction (uddhacca) arising in your mental continuum. (3) As regards your third statement, it means that you are being assailed by worrying over past commissions and omissions, (kukucca). Let me beseech you, friend Anuruddha, to get rid of these three states of pride, distraction and worry and to occupy your mind only with the thought of Nibbāna, the Deathless State (amata-dhatu).”

He then gave the Venerable Anuruddha a discourse on the practice of meditation.

Having learnt the technique of meditation from Venerable Sāriputta, the Venerable Anuruddha took leave of the Buddha and left for Ceti country and in the bamboo grove which lay east of where the Buddha was residing, he started practising meditation. He began practising in a walking posture for fifteen successive days (without lying down). The strain was so severe that he became tired and weak. He could not help sitting down under a bamboo grove where he continued his meditation, contemplating on the eight thoughts of a great being (mahāpurisa-vitakka). (Vide 10-Anuruddha Mahāvitakka Sutta, 3-Gahapati vagga, Atthaka nipata, Anguttara Nikāya). Having acquired seven of them, he became exhausted through strain at the eighth stage. When the Buddha knew of his distress, He came personally to the bamboo grove and helped him to complete the eighth stage, by expounding the Mahapurisa Vitakka Sutta together with the Four Ariyavamsa discourse. Foreseeing that the very same forest would serve as a sufficing condition (upanissayapaccaya) for attainment of arahatship, the Buddha instructed him: “Anuruddha, carry on with your work during the next vassa also at this place.” After this, the Buddha left by means of iddhividha-abhiññā, arriving simultaneously at the forest of Bethakala near the town of Susumagira of Bhagga country. On arrival there, the Buddha preached the discourse on the eight mahāpurisa-vitakka to the bhikkhus residing in the forest there.

Venerable Anuruddha kept the next two vassa in the bamboo grove as instructed by the Buddha and continued to practise meditation and eventually he attained the Fruition stage of arahatta.

The Venerable Ānanda

The Venerable Ānanda listened to the discourse given by the Venerable Punna, son of a brahmin woman named Mantani, who explained the arising of the “I-concept” based on the five aggregates (khandas) with the illustration of reflection of one’s own face from the clear surface of a mirror or a cup of water. He also taught Ānanda the teparivatta dhamma concerning the three characteristics, anicca, dukkha, anatta of the five aggregates. As a result of hearing these discourses from the Venerable Punna and reflecting on them, the Venerable Ānanda achieved the sotāpatti-phala and became a streamwinner. (Sam,2, 86-87)

Mahātheras Bhagu and Kimila

After all the theras, as described above, had gained arahatship, the Mahātheras Bhagu and Kimila also practiced Vipassanā meditation and eventually, they also became arahats.

The Venerable Devadatta

The Venerable Devadatta also engaged himself in meditation practices but he was able to achieve only eight mundane jhānic attainments with the power of iddhi which is possible to those who are yet of the world (puthujjanika-iddhi). (He was not an ariya-bhikkhu but only an ordinary bhikkhu with jhānic power.)

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