by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes Preaching to the Sakyan Prince Mahanama 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 Buddha’s Fifteenth Vassa at Kapilavatthu. 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).
Summary: Preaching to the Sakyan Prince Mahānāma as to what makes a lay devotee.
Prologue: After staying in Sāvatthi for the fourteenth vassa, the Buddha remained in that city, after the end of the vassa, for as long as there were beings worthy of teaching. Thereafter, He set out to administer the medicinal Dhamma of Deathlessness to all beings, devas, humans and Brahmās, and He eventually arrived in the city of Kapilavatthu and observed, together with a host of monks, the fifteenth vassa at Nigrodhārāma (which was built and given to Him on His first visit by the Sakyan prince, Nigrodha, and which had come to be known as Nigrodhārāma).
While the Buddha was thus staying at Nigrodhārāma of Kapilavatthu in the country of Sakka, the Sakyan prince, Mahānāma, paid a visit to Him, did obeisance and sat down at a proper place. Then the Prince asked the Buddha:
(1) Prince: “By doing what, Exalted, Buddha, does one become a lay devotee (upāsaka)?”
(That is to say, taking refuge in the Triple Gem makes one a lay devotee.)
(2) Prince: “By doing what, Exalted Buddha, is a lay devotee endowed with morality (sīla)?”
Buddha: “Mahānāma, (1) abstaining from taking life, (2) abstaining from taking what is not given, (3) abstaining from wrong sexual acts, (4) abstaining from telling lies and (5) abstaining from taking strong drink, a cause of unmindfulness. By doing so, Mahānāma, a lay devotee is endowed with morality.”
(That is to say, taking the Triple Refuge and keeping the Five Precepts makes one a lay devotee of morality.)
(3) Prince: “By doing what, Exalted Buddha, is a lay devotee endowed with faith (saddhā)?”
Buddha: “In this dispensation, Mahānāma, a lay devotee believes that the Buddha is an arahat (Arahaṃ) because He is worthy of extra-ordinary homage;.... that He is a Bhagavā because He has great glory in the sense of Enlightenment. By believing so, Mahānāma, a lay devotee is endowed with faith”
(Herein, talking only about the nine attributes of the Buddha is just an elliptical way (upalukkhana-nava) of preaching, A lay devotee who believes in the nine attributes of the Buddha also believes in the six attributes of the Dhamma and in the nine attributes of the Sangha. Therefore, it means to say that a lay devotee who is convinced of the attributes or the Triple Gem is endowed with faith.)
(4) Prince: “By doing what, Exalted Buddha, is a lay devotee endowed with generosity (cāga)?”
Buddha: “In this dispensation, Mahānāma, a lay devotee abides at home with his mind freed from the impurity of stinginess (macchera), he gives away with full detachment; he washes his hand to give with (his hand is wet); he takes delight in giving; he is befitting to alms-seekers as he shuns wearing a grim face; he is delighted in offering and distributing things. By doing so, Mahānāma, a lay devotee is endowed with generosity.”
(5) Prince: “By what, Exalted Buddha, is a lay devotee endowed with wisdom (paññā)?”
Buddha: “In this dispensation, Mahānāma, a lay devotee is wise; he has wisdom which is pure and noble, which destroys moral defilement, which leads to Nibbāna, the end of suffering, and which helps him understand the rise and fall (udayabbaya-ñāṇa) of mind and matter. All this makes him endowed with wisdom.”
(Details of Mahānāma, the Sakyan prince, will be given in the portion of the Jewel of the Sangha.)