The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Seven Factor of Non-decline of Bhikkhu 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 Declared the Seven Factors of Non-Decline for Rulers. 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 4 - The Seven Factor of Non-decline of Bhikkhu

The First Set of Seven Factor of Non-decline

Even when the Buddha was giving a discourse on the Seven factors of growth for rulers to Brahmin Vassakāra, he had in mind of making a similar discourse for the guidance of bhikkhus, in the interest of the prolongation of His Teaching, (i.e. the threefold training) which will be conducive to release from the round of existences, and realization of Nibbāna and hence are more beneficial than the seven factors of growth for rulers which are merely mundane principles.

Accordingly, soon after the Brahmin Vassakāra had left, the Buddha said to Venerable Ānanda: “Go, Ānanda, and let all the bhikkhus living around Rājagaha gather in the assembly hall.”

“Very well, Venerable Sir,” said Ānanda and arranged for a full gathering of bhikkhus. He sent bhikkhus endowed with special powers to inform those bhikkhus who dwelled at some distance from Rājagaha, and went personally to those bhikkhus who were living near by. When the bhikkhus had gathered in the Assembly Hall, Ānanda approached the Buddha, made obeisance to Him, and standing at a suitable place, said to Him: “Venerable Sir, the community of bhikkhus is assembled. It is for the Bhagava to go as and when he wishes.”

Then the Buddha went to the Assembly Hall and, taking the seat prepared for Him, addressed the bhikkhus thus:

Bhikkhus, I shall expound to you the seven factors of non-decline. Listen and pay attention to what I am going to say in detail.”

“Very well, Venerable Sir,” the bhikkhus responded, and the Buddha gave this discourse:

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus hold frequent meetings and have many meetings, they are bound to make progress (spiritually);there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus assemble and disperse in harmony, and attend to the affairs of the Sangha in harmony, they are bound to make progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not prescribe rules that had not been prescribed by the Buddha, and observe well the training rules (vinaya) prescribed by the Buddha, they are bound to make progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus show respect, deference, esteem, and veneration towards the bhikkhu-elders, who are of long standing and senior in bhikkhuhood, who have acquired the position of leadership among the Sangha, and consider that the advice of those bhikkhu-elders are worth listening to, they are bound to make progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not yield to the power, the influence of taṇhā, craving which arises in them and which leads to rebirth, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus are willing to go into seclusion in remote forest dwellings, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus remain established in mindfulness themselves so that those co-practitioners of the bhikkhu practice who cherish morality and who have not yet come might come, and those (of similar nature) who have already come might live in peace and comfort, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

Bhikkhus, so long as these seven factors of non-decline remain with the bhikkhus, and so long as the bhikkhus live by them, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.”

(The discourse is not concluded yet.) The above seven factors are called the first set of seven factors of non-decline of bhikkhus.

i) Of these seven the first factor of assembling often is essentially the same as the first principle of progress taught to the Vajjians. Unless bhikkhus meet together often they cannot get to know what is going on at various monasteries. For instance, a certain simā in a certain monastery may be flawed for having mixed boundaries so that valid Sangha functions cannot be held in them, or that certain bhikkhus at a certain monastery are practising medicine, or acting as messenger for lay persons, or taxing the patience of their lay supporters by too many wants; or are pursuing gain with gain etc.

When laxity of bhikkhu conduct is not taken note of by the Sangha, evil bhikkhus may take undue advantage of it, and multiply their numbers with adverse consequences for the Teaching.

By the Sangha frequently meeting in assembly promptly, a faulty simā can be put right by Sangha acts so that it can function according to the Vinaya. When evil bhikkhus have formed a community of their own, ariya-bhikkhus who have attained magga-phala can be despatched to teach them the ways and practices of the ariyas (Ariyavaṃsa Dhamma); evil bhikkhus can be chastised by sending bhikkhus adept at the Vinaya rules. In such case, evil bhikkhus will know that the Sangha are vigilant and that they cannot thrive. Thus the progress for the bhikkhus in the threefold training is assured.

ii) ‘Bhikkhus assembling in harmony’ means promptly responding to a call for Sangha congregation to carry out any Sangha business such as clearing a stupa precincts or doing repair work to the shrines, or making vows or imparting instructions under the Vinaya rules. On no account should the signal for gathering of the bhikkhus be treated slightly. All personal engagements, such as stitching robes, or baking an alms-bowl, or repairing the monastery, should be dropped for the moment to attend the assembly. This attitude of always giving priority to the business of the Sangha assembly assures harmony in bhikkhu assemblies.

Dispersing in harmony’ means to rise from the meeting all at once and to break up without exception. If some bhikkhus were to stay on, those who have left the assembly hall might harbour suspicious thoughts against those staying behind. “Those bhikkhus have real business to discuss between themselves only” and such misunderstanding will arise.

Dispersing in harmony’ may also mean rising up together eagerly to take responsibility to carry out the resolutions made at the assembly such as participation in Sangha acts concerning simās or volunteering for chastising an errant bhikkhu.

Attending to the affairs of the Sangha in harmony’ means a readiness, on the part of every bhikkhu, to live as a community, never being selfish. For instance, if a guest bhikkhu arrives, he should be given a warm welcome instead of being directed to another monastery, or making undue inquiries about his identity. This is particularly important in respect of a sick bhikkhu needing shelter and attention. Finding bhikkhu requisites, such as alms-bowl, robes, medicine, for the needy is also an act of harmonious discharge of bhikkhu obligation. Where there is a dearth of learned bhikkhus at a certain place and there is the danger of the Pāli text or the correct meaning thereof going to extinction, the bhikkhus of that place should find a competent bhikkhu to teach the text and interpret the meaning thereof, and he should be looked after properly, by way of the four bhikkhu requisites.

iii) In the third factor of non-decline, prescribing a bhikkhu undertaking which is not in accordance with the Doctrine amounts to prescribing something that had not been prescribed by the Buddha.

An example of such undertaking: There is a certain provision in the Vinaya rules called Nisīdānasantata rule or Purāṇasantata rule in the Pārājika Pāli, 2-Kosiya Vagga (the fifth rule at page 336, Myanmar translation). When the Buddha was staying in Sāvatthi at the Jetavana Monastery, He said to the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus, I wish to remain in seclusion for three months. No bhikkhu shall come to Me except the one who brings My meals.” The bhikkhus then made an undertaking among themselves that any bhikkhu who went to the Buddha, other than the one bringing food for Him, should be liable to pācittiya offence, and breach of this offence should be conveyed to the Sangha. Now this is overdoing the Buddha’s orders. These bhikkhus had no right to classify breach of the Buddha’s words on that particular occasion as one of pācittiya offence, nor any right to declare (by their own undertaking) the breach a cause for confession. Such undertaking is against the Dhamma-Vinaya, and amounts to prescribing something which the Buddha had not prescribed. Disregarding what the Buddha prescribed is best illustrated by the case of Vajjīputtaka bhikkhus of Vesālī when they tried to introduce ten unlawful rules of their liking, in flagrant disobedience to the Buddha’s Vinaya rules. That event took place on the hundredth year of the Buddha’s passing away. (Ref: Vinaya Cūḷaovagga Pāli, Satta Satikakkhandhaka).

During the time of the Buddha, there were Bhikkhus Assaji and Punabbasuka who intentionally infringed minor rules of the Discipline. However trifling the offence might be, non-observance of what the Buddha prescribed is nothing but non-observance.

In the story of Puranasantata, the Arahat Upasena, (brother of Sāriputta) refrained from making an (novel) undertaking as a bhikkhu rule of conduct. This is a case of not prescribing rules that had not been prescribed by the Buddha.

The Venerable Yasa, who headed the Second Council, taught the Dhamma-Vinaya to the bhikkhus. This is an instance of not disregarding the training rules prescribed by the Buddha.

On the eve of the First Council, a lively discussion took place among the Sangha whether minor offences should be dropped from the code of Vinaya because the Buddha, when His passing away was near, gave this option to the Sangha after He was gone. The Venerable Kassapa, head of the First Council, made a formal proposal at the Sangha congregation to uphold all minor offences as prescribed by the Buddha. This is a case of observing well the training rules prescribed by the Buddha.

iv) With reference to this factor of non-decline, bhikkhu-elders would give spiritual guidance only to those bhikkhus who are courteous and reverential towards them and who approach them twice or thrice every day. To those who willingly seek guidance by showing their admiration, the bhikkhuelders would impart practical wisdom handed down from generation of teachers and essential points in the Doctrine that are fit to be taught only to the sincere and devoted pupils. If the bhikkhus do not show due respect and regard to the bhikkhu-elders, they will be deprived of the five benefits such as morality, and the seven properties of the ariyas, and so stand to great loss and decline.

Those bhikkhus who are courteous and reverential towards the bhikkhu-elders and approach them twice or thrice every day, gain knowledge from them in many ways. They get practical instructions (in insight meditation), such as: “you should go forward thus (being mindful and with clear comprehension), you should go backward thus; you should look straight ahead thus; you should look sideways thus; you should bend the arm thus; you should stretch the folded arm thus; you should carry the great robe and alms-bowl thus, etc.” The bhikkhu-elders would impart to them practical wisdom, which was handed down from generations of teachers, and the essential points in the Doctrine, which were worthy to only sincere and devoted pupils. They would teach them the thirteen ascetic practices and warn them against pitfalls in doctrinal controversy by explaining to them the moot points contained in the Ten Points of Controversy (Abhidhamma Piṭaka). Thus, being established as good pupils of worthy teachers, these bhikkhus will gain the five benefits such as morality fulfilling the task of arahatship, the fruit of becoming bhikkhu.

v) As regards the fifth factor of non-decline, a bhikkhu who goes about from village to village, town to town, always at the heels of their donors for the sake of acquiring the four bhikkhu requisites, is one who yields to the power of craving. One, who yields to craving, is on the decline in the benefits of bhikkhu practice such as morality. One who does not yield to craving progresses spiritually beginning with morality.

vi) As regards the sixth factor of non-decline, a remote forest dwelling is a place away from human settlements (not necessarily to be in a forest). One must be willing to dwell in seclusion at such a place. That indeed is so. In a monastery close to a town or village, when a bhikkhu rises from jhāna, he hears human voices, male, female or children’s voices which spoil the tempo of concentration

At a forest abode, one wakes up in the morning to the sounds of animals and birds (which make for peace and contentment) which creates delightful satisfaction (pīti) and by wisely reflecting on that delightful satisfaction, one can attain arahatta-phala. Thus the Buddha speaks in praise of a bhikkhu sleeping at a remote forest dwelling even more than a bhikkhu in jhānic absorption living near a town or a village. This is because He sees the potential for easier attainment of arahatship in the forest-dwelling bhikkhu. That is why he says that as long as bhikkhus are willing to dwell in seclusion in forest abode, they are bound to progress spiritually and that there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Regarding the seventh factor of non-decline, resident bhikkhus, who do not welcome co-practitioners of the bhikkhu-practice who cherish morality, are those who lack faith in the Triple Gem. This type of bhikkhu would not greet guest-bhikkhus on arrival, would not offer a seat, nor would fan them to cool them and would not do any act normally expected of a host bhikkhu. A monastery, where such bhikkhus live, earns the reputation it deserves that such and such monastery is a place where bhikkhus lacking in faith in the Triple Gem live, that it is unfriendly to guest-bhikkhus, and inhospitable. That reputation keeps away guest bhikkhus from entering that monastery even though they may happen to be passing by it. Therefore, virtuous bhikkhus who have not been there, will never go there. Those virtuous bhikkhus, who have been there, not knowing the inhospitable nature of the monastery, will soon find out that the place is not the right one for them to stay long, and will go away in disgust. In this way that monastery will become a place where other virtuous bhikkhus do not care to settle down. The result is that the resident-bhikkhus of that monastery will lack any opportunity of seeing virtuous ones who can share with them the Doctrine which could dispel doubts in them, teach them the training precepts, and preach to them the excellent Doctrine. These resident- bhikkhus will then hear no new discourse, nor will they try to retain through constant recitation whatever they have learnt. Thus the benefits of bhikkhuhood such as morality will dwindle day by day.

Resident-bhikkhus, who wish to see guest-bhikkhus arrive at their monastery, are those that have faith in the Triple Gem, so they would cordially greet those virtuous bhikkhus who visit them, would offer lodging, and ask them to join them on the alms-round. They get an opportunity to learn the Doctrine from the guest bhikkhus and have their doubts dispelled. They can hear discourses on the excellent Doctrine. The monastery, resided by this type of bhikkhus, earns a good reputation as a place where bhikkhus with faith in the Triple Gem live, as a hospitable place that honours virtuous guest bhikkhus. That reputation attracts virtuous bhikkhus to it. When they arrive, the resident bhikkhus do whatever acts of hospitality is due. They would pay respects to the visiting bhikkhus who are senior to them, or would sit on their own seats around the visiting bhikkhus who are junior to them, and then ask whether the visitor plans to stay or to move on to another place. If the visitor says he intends moving on, the resident bhikkhus would invite him to stay on, pointing out that the place is a suitable one for them and that alms-gathering would also be no problem for him. If the visitor agrees to stay on, then the resident bhikkhus get the privilege of learning the Vinaya rules, if the visitor is proficient in the Vinaya; or learning the Suttanta, if the visitor is proficient in the Suttanta. Abiding by the instructions given by the virtuous visitors, the resident bhikkhus attain arahatship with the Four Discriminative Knowledges (paṭisambhidā-ñāṇa). As for the virtuous guest bhikkhus, they say gladly: “When we first came here, we thought of staying only a few days but since the resident bhikkhus make our stay pleasant, we shall stay here for ten or twelve years.” Thus the benefits of bhikkhuhood such as morality increase.

The Second Set of Seven Factor of Non-decline

Further, the Buddha said to the bhikkhus:

Bhikkhus, I shall expound to you another set of seven factors of non-decline. Listen and pay good attention. I shall explain in detail.”

“Very well, Venerable Sir,” the bhikkhus responded. And the Buddha gave this discourse;

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not delight in and concern themselves with mundane activities or transactions, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not delight in and seek enjoyment in idle talk, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not delight in, and seek enjoyment in slothfulness, and are not fond of sleeping, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not seek enjoyment in company of associates, they are bound to progress (spiritually);there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not have any evil desire to make pretentious claims to attainment or to virtue, and do not yield to such evil desire, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not associate with evil friends or evil companions, and are not favourably disposed towards evil companionship, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus do not stop halfway (before attaining arahatship) after comprehending the Truth in a small way, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

Bhikkhus, so long as these seven factors of non-decline remain with the bhikkhus, and so long as the bhikkhus live by them, they are bound to progress spiritually; there is no reason for their decline.”

(The discourse is not concluded yet.) The above seven factors are called the second set of seven Factors of non-decline of bhikkhus.

i) Of those seven factors, the first factor, ‘mundane activities’ means assigning a robe for use, stitching robes, reinforcing the layers of a robe, making needle-container, stitching a sling for the alms-bowl, stitching the girdle, stitching a water-strainer, making a circular stand for the alms-bowl, making potsherd for scraping the feet, or making a broom etc.

Some bhikkhus devote to these matters all the time. This, pointed out as the first factor, is not proper. A bhikkhu should apportion his time for such matters, but he should have time for learning, studying, cleaning the stupa precinct, etc., as well as allow some time for meditation. A bhikkhu who uses his time judiciously is not one who enjoys worldly affairs.

ii) ‘Idle talk’ means speaking fondly about women or about men, and any other flippant speech that is not conducive to magga-phala. A bhikkhu, who indulges in such petty talk all the time, is one who seeks enjoyment in idle talk. A bhikkhu, who discourses on the Doctrine by day and by night, who answers doctrinal questions, is called ‘a reticent bhikkhu, one who is disciplined in speech.’

The Buddha has said: “Sannipatitānaṃ vo bhikkave dvayaṃ karanīyaṃ dhammīkathā ariyo vā tunhībhāvo——For you, bhikkhus, there are only two things to do when you meet one another: talking about the Doctrine, and remaining silent in deep contemplation.” iii) A bhikkhu, who is given to sloth and torpor even while going, sitting or lying down, is one who seeks enjoyment in slothfulness and is fond of sleeping. A bhikkhu, who might have a cat-nap due to earnest effort at bhikkhu practice that tires his body, is not one who is slothful and is fond of sleeping.

iv) A bhikkhu, who feels uneasy in being alone but is fond of company of one or more to talk to, is one who seeks enjoyment in company. A bhikkhu, who delights in being alone in all the four bodily postures and who is perfectly at ease while alone, is not one who is fond of company.

v) A bhikkhu, lacking morality, may claim morality; such a bhikkhu is called one who has an evil desire. A bhikkhu, who does not have pretention to morality, is not one who has an evil desire.

vi) A friend is one whom one loves; a companion is one who lives, goes or eats together with oneself.

vii) A bhikkhu, who does not rest contented with purity of morality, or attainment of Insight-Knowledge, or attainment of jhāna, or attainment of Stream-Entry, or attainment of a Once-Returner, or attainment of a Never-Returner, (but relentlessly strives to attain arahatship), is one who is bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for his decline.

The Third Set of Seven Factor of Non-decline

Further, the Buddha said to the bhikkhus:

Bhikkhus, I shall expound to you another set of seven factors of non-decline. Listen and pay good attention. I shall explain it in detail.”

“Very well Sir,” the bhikkhus responded and the Buddha gave the discourse:

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus are instilled with confidence or faith grounded on conviction, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus feel ashamed of doing evil (hirī) they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus have fear of wrong doing (ottappa), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus have vast learning, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus are diligent, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus are established in mindfulness, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus are endowed with Insight Knowledge (vipassanā-paññā), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

Bhikkhus, so long as these seven factors of non-decline remain with the bhikkhus, and so long as the bhikkhus live by them, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.”

(The discourse is not concluded yet.) The above seven factors are called the third set of seven factors of Non-decline of bhikkhus.

i) Of these seven factors, the first factor of non-decline.

Saddhā—Conviction or faith, is of these 4 kinds:

(a) Agamanīya saddhā refers to the strength of conviction that arises in a Bodhisatta due to the noble striving after Perfection in ten ways (pāramī), liberality (cāga) and conduct (cariya), without external prompting, which puts unshakable faith in anything that deserves faith.

(b) Addigama saddhā refers to the unassailable firm conviction of an ariya in the Four Ariya Truths due to having penetrative knowledge of the Path. (As an example, we may cite Surambaṭṭha, about whom we shall describe under the chapter on the Sangha Ratanā.)

(c) Pasāda saddhā refers to the depth of conviction in the Triple Gem such as that of King Mahākappina. When he hears the words “Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha,” he has a deep faith in the noble qualities of the Buddha such as “The Buddha has analytical knowledge of all things,” etc., and this faith arises in him without being tutored by others about the attributes of the Buddha, the Dhamma, or Sangha.

(d) Okappana saddhā refers to conviction after considered judgment regarding the

Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha when others make mention about them. After well considered judgment, the holder of this kind of faith has unshakable conviction in the Triple Gem like that of an ariya who has realized the Truth.

In the present context about the first factor of non-decline, Pasāda saddhā and Okappana saddhā are meant.

ii)–(iii) In the second and third Aparihāniya Dhammas, the distinction between hirī and ottapa should be understood by means of this analogy: Let us say, there are two balls of iron, the first is cool but is smeared with human excreta, the second is just a red hot iron ball. A wise man would not touch the first iron ball lest he would pollute his hand, and he would not touch the second one lest his hand would get burnt. Likewise, a wise person abhors evil because he detests it for its shameful quality; his sense of shame to do evil is hirī. He dreads evil because he is full of apprehension about the consequences, both here and in the hereafter; his dread to do evil is ottappa.

iv) In the fourth Aparihāniya Dhamma, “a person of vast learning” means (a) one who is well read in the Pāli texts and literature (pariyatti), and (b) one who has penetrative knowledge of the truth that is, one who has gained Supramundane Knowledge (paṭivedha). In the present context the first meaning should be taken.

Of the type of persons well read in the Piṭaka, there are these four kinds: (a) a bhikkhu who needs no guidance in the interpretation of the Piṭaka, (b) a bhikkhu who is fit to head a monastery, (c) a bhikkhu who can give advice and instructions to bhikkhunīs,

(For details about these three kinds of persons, refer to Commentary on the Vinaya entitled Samantapāsādika, in the explanation on the Pacittiya in Ovāda vagga.) (d) a bhikkhu who, like the Venerable Ānanda, is conversant with the whole of the three Piṭakas and can explain and discourse on any point in them. In the context regarding the fourth Aparihāniya dhamma, this fourth kind of learned person is meant. Only such a person can become established in the Good Practice (patipatti), the Good Penetration (paṭivedha saddhama), because pariyatti saddhama is the foundation for both of them.

v) In the fifth Aparihāniya dhamma, the diligent person fulfils two aspects of diligence, physical and mental. ‘Physical diligence’ refers to a loner who shuns company and cultivates, in all the bodily postures, the eight subjects[1] on which diligence should be built. ‘Mental diligence’ refers to a yogi who distances himself from the six sense objects and dwells in the eight stages of jhāna, and who, in other moments, in all the bodily postures, allows no defilements to enter his mind which is constantly vigilant. So long as bhikkhus are diligent both physically and mentally, they are bound to prosper; there is no possibility for them to decline.

vi) In the sixth Aparihāniya dhamma, "established in mindfulness" means persons who have such power of awareness as being able to remember all deeds or words that they had done or spoken long ago, such as in the case of Thera Mahā Gatimbaya Abhaya, Thera Dīgabhāṇaka Abhaya, and Thera Tipiṭakacūḷābhaya.

Thera Mahā Gatimbaya Abhaya:

He was a precocious child. At the traditional ceremony for feeding him with the auspicious milk-rice, on the fifth day after he was born, he made the sound “Shoo! Shoo!” to scare away the crow that tried to poke its head into the ricebowl. When he grew up into an elderly bhikkhu, his pupils asked him: “Venerable Sir, what earliest physical or verbal action of yours do you remember?” He related the event of his shooing away the crow when he was just five days old.

Thera Dīghabhāṇaka Abhaya:

When he was just nine days old, his mother, in trying to kiss him, bent down on his face. The big hairdo adorned with lots of Spanish jasmine buds loosened itself, letting handfuls of the flower buds drop on his bare chest. He remembers how that dropping of buds caused him pain then. When asked by his pupils about his earliest memories, he recounted this event that he experienced as a nine-day old child.

Thera Tipiṭakacūḷābhaya:

When asked about his power of memory, this Mahāthera said: “Friends, there are four gates to the city of Anurāttha. After the closing of three of these gates, when only the fourth gate was allowed to be used by the people, I would ask the name of each person going out in the morning. When they re-entered the city by the same gate in the evening, I could call up all of their names.”

(vii) In the seventh Aparihāniya dhamma. ‘Insight’ means the comprehension of the rising and dissolution of the five aggregates (udayabbaya paññā). In another sense, mindfulness or awareness mentioned in the sixth Aparihāniya dhamma and insight mentioned in the seventh refer to Right Mindfulness and Insight which are the foundation of Insight development. (i.e., awareness and perception while meditating).

The Fourth Set of Seven Factor of Non-decline

The Buddha then continued with the further seven factors of Non-decline thus;

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate mindfulness (sati), which is a factor of (necessary condition for) Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate investigative Knowledge of phenomena (dhamma vicaya), which is a factor of (necessary condition for) Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually);there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate Effort (vīriya) a factor of Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate Delightful Satisfaction (pīti), a factor of Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate Serenity (passaddhi), a factor of Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate Concentration (samādhi), a factor of Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate Equanimity (upekkhā) which is a factor of Enlightenment, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

Bhikkhus, so long as these seven factors of Non-decline remain with the bhikkhus, and so long as the bhikkhus live by them, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.”

(The discourse is not concluded yet.) In these seven Factors of Enlightenment which should be cultivated by bhikkhus for progress, the Buddha teaches Insight development pertaining to magga-phala both at the mundane and supramundane levels.

The Fifth Set of Seven Factor of Non-decline

The Buddha then continued with the further seven factors of Non-decline thus:

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of Impermanence (anicca), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of Non-Self (anatta), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of the Foulness or Impurity of the body (asubha), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of the Faults of the khandha aggregates (ādīnava), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of Abandonment (pahāna), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of Detachment from desire (virāga), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus cultivate the perception of Cessation (nirodha), they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

Bhikkhus, so long as these seven factors of non-decline remain with the bhikkhus, and so long as the bhikkhus live by them, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.”

(The discourse is not concluded yet.) Herein, the perception of impermanence means perception that arises with concentrated reflection on the impermanence of mind and body. The perception of Non-Self should be understood likewise. Insight into the impermanent nature of conditioned phenomena that pertain to the three spheres of existence is Insight-Knowledge (vipassanā paññā), the perception of that knowledge is worth cultivating since it is perception associated with Knowledge. It should be noted that the word, ‘perception’ essentially means ‘knowledge’. The same method of the Buddha’s teaching should be understood regarding perception of non-self, etc.

(Of the above seven factors, the first five are mundane;the last two are both mundane and supramundane.)

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Eight subjects on which diligence should be built Virivarambha Vattu.

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