The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes The Six Factors of Non-decline of Bhikkhus 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 5 - The Six Factors of Non-decline of Bhikkhus

Further, the Buddha said to the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus, I shall expound to you six factors of non-decline. Listen and pay good attention. I shall explain it in detail.”

“Very well Sir,” responded the bhikkhus. The Buddha gave this discourse:

i) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus show, by their bodily action, their kind regards towards fellow-practitioners of the Pure Life, both openly and in private, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

ii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus show, by their speech, their kind regards towards fellow-practitioners of the Pure Life, openly and in private, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iii) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus keep an attitude of kind regards towards fellow-practitioners of the Pure Life, openly and in private, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

iv) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus share with virtuous fellow-practitioners of Pure Life, whatever they receive righteously (i.e. the four bhikkhu requisites), least of all, even the alms-food collected in their alms-bowl, without enjoying it alone, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

v) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus, both openly and in private, remain in observance of the same moral precepts (sīla) which lead to liberation from bondage to craving (taṇhā), which are extolled by the wise, which are not subject to misconception, which make for concentration, and which are unbroken, intact, unblemished, unspotted, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline.

vi) Bhikkhus, so long as the bhikkhus, both openly and in private, remain in Ariya-Knowledge which leads to Nibbāna and which leads one guided by it to the end of the unalloyed woefulness (dukkha) of sentient existence, they are bound to progress (spiritually); there is no reason for their decline. “Bhikkhus, so long as these six factors 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.”

Thus the Buddha taught the assembly of bhikkhus five sets of seven factors of nondecline and a set of six factors of non-decline.

Regarding factors i, ii, iii above,

Showing kind regards by one’s physical action’ means doing any deed with lovingkindness. ‘Showing kind regards by one’s speech’ means speech uttered with lovingkindness. ‘Keeping kind attitude towards others’ means thinking kind thoughts towards them.

In this text, although the Buddha taught that a bhikkhu's deeds, words and thoughts are to be expressions of loving-kindness towards fellow-bhikkhus, the same principle should govern all actions of lay persons too. The Buddha addressed the bhikkhus here simply because in the four kinds of assembly the assembly of bhikkhus is the noblest.

Thus, a deed of a bhikkhu's loving-kindness may consist in doing personal service to fellow-bhikkhus. In the case of a lay person, going to worship at a shrine or at Bodhi-tree, or going to the monastery to invite the Sangha to an offering ceremony, warmly greeting the bhikkhus on their alms-round, offering a suitable seat, seeing the bhikkhu off on his religious mission, etc, are deeds of loving kindness.

A verbal action of a bhikkhu's loving kindness may be expressed in terms of preaching the Rules of the Vinaya, showing the methods of meditation, preaching the Doctrine, teaching the Piṭaka as the most important action. With lay person, stimulating and organizing one’s friends to do meritorious acts, such as going to a stupa or to the Bodhi tree to pay respect, going to hear a discourse on the Dhamma, or to offer flowers or lights at the shrines; urging them to abide by the ten moral actions; or to offer ticket alms-food or to offer robes for the vassa period, or to donate the four bhikkhu requisites to the Sangha; (and then having invited the Sangha for the offering,) to organize and urge friends to prepare the food, to lay the seats, to provide drinking water, to greet the Sangha, to conduct them to the seats prepared for them, and above all, to remind them to have the right attitude in serving the Sangha. All these verbal activities spring from loving kindness.

A mental action of a bhikkhu's loving kindness takes the form of diffusing goodwill, after having made the morning’s ablutions, seated at a secluded place, and wishing all bhikkhus in the monastery well, that they all be free from trouble and ill-will. On the part of lay persons they should diffuse a similar spirit of good will to all the Sangha “may the Sangha be well, may they be free from trouble and ill-will.” Such an attitude constitutes mental action springing from loving kindness.

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