The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

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

This page describes Vijjacarana sampanno 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 Dhamma Ratanā. 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).

Buddha attributes (3): Vijjācaraṇa sampanno

The One endowed with the three knowledges or the eight knowledges and the fifteen forms of perfect practice of morality.

The three knowledges are taught by the Buddha in Bhayabherava Sutta(Majjhima Nikāya. Mullapaṇṇāsa), the eight knowledges are taught by the Buddha in Ambaṭṭha Sutta(Dīgha Nikāya). The two ways of teaching knowledge in three categories and eight categories is adopted by the Buddhas through compassionate consideration of the mental framework of the hearers on each occasion.

The Three Knowledges:

(i) Knowledge of past existences (pubbenivāsa-ñāṇa): By this knowledge, the Buddha can see the past existences of Himself and other beings.

(ii) Knowledge of the deva eye (dibbacakkhu-ñāṇa): By this knowledge, the Buddha can see things at far away places, things concealed, and things too subtle for the ordinary human eyes to see.

(iii) Knowledge of the extinction of moral intoxicants (āsavakkhaya-ñāṇa): This is arahatta-phala-ñāṇa which extinguishes all the four moral intoxicants

The Eight Knowledges:

(i) to (iii) as above and

(iv) Insight Knowledge (vipassanā-ñāṇa): Understanding the impermanence, woefulness and unsubstantiality of all conditioned mental and physical phenomena.

(v) Psychic power of the mind (manomayiddhi-ñāṇa): Power to assume various forms through mastery of mind accomplished by jhāna practice.

(vi) Multifarious kinds of psychic power (iddhividha-ñāṇa): Power to conjure up great numbers of various forms, human or otherwise.

(vii) Knowledge of the Deva Ear (dibbasota-ñāṇa): Power to hear sounds from far away places, sounds muffled up and sounds too subtle to hear by the ordinary human ear.

(viii) Knowledge of reading the mind of others (cetopariya-ñāṇa): The Buddha can know the mind of others in sixteen different ways.

Of the above eight knowledges, the fourth knowledge, Insight Knowledge, is knowledge pertaining to the sensuous sphere. The third knowledge, knowledge of extinction of āsavas is supramundane knowledge. The remaining six knowledges pertain to the Fine Material Sphere jhānic powers called (rūpāvacara kriyā abhiññā ñāṇa.)

The Fifteen Forms of Perfect Practice of Morality, Carana.

(i) Morality of restraint(sīla saṇvara): Observance of bhikkhu precepts of restraint, Pātimokkha Saṇvara Sīla.

(ii) Control of the faculties(indriyesugutta dvāratā): Keeping watch over the doors of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind with constant mindfulness so as not to allow any demeritoriousness to enter.

(iii) Knowing the proper extent regarding food(bojane matanutā): Knowing the proper extent in receiving alms-food and in enjoying it. In receiving alms-food, the Buddha considers the degree of devotion of the donor. If the devotion is strong but the gift is small, the Buddha does not scorn the gift for its smallness but accepts it. On the hand, if the gift is big but the donor’s devotion is weak, the Buddha accepts only a small amount of the gift, considering the weak devotion of the donor. If the gift is big and the donor’s devotion is strong, the Buddha accepts just an appropriate amount to satisfy His need. This is called knowing the proper extent regarding acceptance of alms-food. In enjoying the food thus collected, the Buddha never eats to the full but stops four or five morsels short of filling His stomach. More important, He never takes food without cultivating the bhikkhu's contemplation while eating.

(iv) Wakefulness(jāgariyā nuyoga): Wakefulness does not mean not just remaining without sleep. The Buddha spends the whole day; during the first watch of the night and the last watch of the night in meditation, while walking or sitting, thus keeping away the hindrances. This purposeful waking is called wakefulness. Out of twentyfour hours in a day, the Buddha sleeps just four hours, i.e. between 10p.m. and 2a.m., to recuperate His energy; the remaining twenty hours are spent in meditation and bhikkhu practice.

(v - xi): The Seven Properties of virtuous persons:

(v) Confidence in the Triple Gem, saddhā.

(vi) Mindfulness, sati.

(vii) Sense of shame to do evil, hirī

(viii) Sense of horror to do evil, ottapa.

(ix) Wide learning (of the doctrine), bāhusacca.

(x) Diligence, vīriya.

(xi) Knowledge, paññā.

(xii - xv) The four Fine Material Sphere Jhānas: These refer to the four jhānas of the Fine Material Sphere under the fourfold reckoning of jhānas.

(The above fifteen forms of perfect practice of morality lead straight to Nibbāna, the Deathless Element, which as worldlings, the disciples never have realized before. Hence they are called Caraṇa.

Knowledge (vijjā) and perfect practice of morality (caraṇa) are complementary to each other. The former is like the eyes, whereas the latter is like the legs. To get to a desired place the eyes without the legs cannot accomplish it any more than the legs without the eyes. Therefore, knowledge and perfect practice of morality should be cultivated together. (It might be asked: “Are not knowledge and perfect practice of morality attainable by the ariya-disciples?” The answer is yes and no. The ariyas can attain them but they cannot be said to have the attribute of vijjācaraṇa sampaññā which belongs to the Buddha alone for the reasons given below:

There are two factors in this attribute, they are, being accomplished in knowledge, and being accomplished in perfect practice of morality. The Buddha’s accomplishment of knowledge is the source of Omniscience. His accomplishment of perfect practice of morality is the source of His being the Compassionate One. Being thus accomplished in two ways, the Buddha, by His knowledge, knows what is beneficial to each individual being and what is not. Further, the Buddha, by His perfect practice of morality, extends His Compassion on all beings to cause them to abstain from what is not beneficial to them and to adopt what is beneficial to them. His accomplishment of knowledge and accomplishment of perfect practice of morality, therefore, together make His Teaching the doctrine of liberation. It also ensures His disciples that their practice is the righteous, correct practice.)

Therefore, the accomplishment of knowledge and the accomplishment of perfect practice of morality combined together are called the attribute of Vijjācaraṇa Sampanno. The mindbody continuum of the five aggregates of the Buddha is the possessor of this attribute. (Here go back to the meaning of this attribute given earlier on to ponder on it and recite it.)

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