Introduction to 3.7.11 Upaññātasuttaṃ - ‘Let my Efforts be Maintained until I have Attained what is Attainable!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 3.7.11 Upaññātasuttaṃ –
my Efforts be Maintained until I have Attained what is Attainable!’
‘Let my Efforts be Maintained until I have Attained what is Attainable!’
- About strong Determination
‘‘Atisītaṃ atiuṇhaṃ, atisāyamidaṃ ahu;
Iti vissaṭṭhakammante1, khaṇā accenti2māṇave.
Yo ca sītañca uṇhañca, tiṇā bhiyyo na maññati;
Karaṃ purisakiccāni, so sukhā na vihāyati3.
Dabbaṃ kusaṃ poṭakilaṃ, usīraṃ muñjapabbajaṃ;
Urasā4 panudissāmi5, vivekamanubrūhaya6’’nti
“It’s too cold, too hot and too late in the evening,
People who say this, shirking their work, thus the moments pass them by.
Whoever regards neither cold nor heat as no more than grass,
And performs his manly duties won’t fall away from ease.
With my chest I push through shrubs and grass, through wild grass,
Spear-grass, roots, reeds and bulrush, cultivating my seclusion of heart.”7
Achieving the final goal of liberation doubtlessly isn’t an easy task!
A long road has to be travelled, various unexpected obstacles to be crossed, manifold hindrances to be left behind and numerous qualities to be developed and fostered. The path itself has to be properly understood, knowledge and wisdom cultivated and matured and multifarious efforts executed unyieldingly. When the Buddha once addressed the Bhikkhus at Kīṭāgiri8 he explained to them that all his teachings were based on the experience and wisdom that he had realized and that his disciples should follow his teaching likewise:
‘‘Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, ādikeneva9 aññārādhanaṃ10 vadāmi; api ca, bhikkhave, anupubbasikkhā anupubbakiriyā anupubbapaṭipadā aññārādhanā hoti.”11 – “I do not say, Bhikkhus, that final knowledge is accomplished at once. It is that final knowledge has to be accomplished by gradual training, by ongoing practice and by gradual walking on the path.”
Kathañca, bhikkhave, anupubbasikkhā anupubbakiriyā anupubbapaṭipadā aññārādhanā hoti? Idha, bhikkhave, saddhājāto upasaṅkamati, upasaṅkamanto payirupāsati12, payirupāsanto sotaṃ odahati, ohitasoto dhammaṃ suṇāti, sutvā dhammaṃ dhāreti, dhatānaṃ13 dhammānaṃ atthaṃ upaparikkhati14, atthaṃ upaparikkhato dhammā nijjhānaṃ khamanti15, dhammanijjhānakkhantiyā sati chando jāyati, chandajāto16 ussahati17, ussāhetvā tuleti18, tulayitvā19 padahati, pahitatto20 samāno kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti, paññāya ca naṃ ativijjha passati.21 – “And how is final knowledge accomplished by gradual training, by ongoing practice and by gradual walking on the path? Here, Bhikkhus, one who has acquired faith approaches (a teacher), having approached (the teacher) he sits respectfully beside him, having sat respectfully beside him he gives ear, giving ear he listens to the Dhamma, having listened to the Dhamma he mentally dwells on what he has heard, bearing the Dhamma heard in mind he investigates the meaning, having investigated the meaning he approves it with insight, having approved the Dhamma with insight ardour springs up, with reinforced enthusiasm he examines the Dhamma, having examined it he strives resolutely, striving resolutely he realises personally the ultimate truth and having realised it he ‘eyewitnesses’ it with with wisdom in all details.
Depending on the qualities every individual has developed to support one’s endeavour naturally the starting point is different for each individual at different periods. When the texts refer to the time of the Buddha and relate that many of his contemporaries: ‘… saw the Dhamma, attained it, understood it and plunged into Dhamma, crossed over doubt, left behind uncertainty gaining full confidence in the teaching without any other help… - … te diṭṭhadhammā pattadhammā viditadhammā pariyogāḷhadhammā tiṇṇavicikicchā vigatakathaṃkathā vesārajjappattā aparappaccayā satthusāsane bhagavantaṃ etadavocuṃ …’ - then the qualities or perfections –pāramī– of these peers were highly developed.22
So when Mātaṅgaputtatthera had overcome his lethargic nature it seemed to have been easy for him to earn the fruit of his endeavour quickly on the base of previously developed perfections.
When the Bodhisatta had fulfilled the necessary precondition of all the dasa pāramiyo necessary for the attainment of full enlightenment of a Sammasaṃbuddha he was able to make a vow of the following strong determination-adhiṭṭhāna-: “May my skin and sinews, my bones remain and the flesh and blood of my body dry up entirely, not before I have attained full enlightenment will I leave this cross-legged position!” With this foundation ‘… the Bodhisatta sat down with his back to the Bodhi-tree, facing East, bending his legs cross-legged in an undividable position not to be disconnected even by a hundred thunderbolts (thrown at him) till he had achieved full enlightenment of a sammāsambuddha 23.
Therefore the Bodhisatta could uphold his ardor and equanimity when confronted with all that was to be faced - picturesquely and metaphorically described in the Jātaka-aṭṭhakathā as the ferocious attack of Māra’s army24.
Reflecting on the forthcoming assault in his unaccompanied situation, the Bodhisatta was left all alone, where the devas fled, where no mother, father, brother or any relative could help him, he took shelter in the ten perfections25 which he had developed over a long time. They were like retainers and when he sat down he made them his shield towards all directions from where Māra attacked and likewise used it as the defensive weapon of his own counter-attack.
Only on the base of the perfection of the dasa pāramiyo
–dānaṃ, sīlaṃ, ca nekkhamaṃ, paññā, vīriyena pañcamaṃ,
khantī, saccaṃ, adhiṭṭhānam, mettaṃ upekkhā ti te dasa–
in their threefold ways the Bodhisatta could utter such a determination with the assurance of successful attainment. For a Bodhisatta each of the ten had to be accomplished in the threefold manner:
· as ordinary perfection (pāramī),
· higher perfection (upapāramī)
· and as highest perfection (paramattha pāramī).
The Ratanacaṅkamanakaṇḍavaṇṇanā defines these thirty perfections:26 Evaṃ dasa pāramiyo dasa upapāramiyo dasa paramatthapāramiyoti samattiṃsa pāramiyo honti. - Thus there are thirty perfections: ten perfections (pāramī), ten higher perfections (upapāramī) and ten ultimate perfections (paramattha pāramī).
Elucidating with the example of the dānapāramī the commentary highlights how each of the pāramitā have to be accomplished firstly by sacrificing one’s possessions, sacrificing any of the body’s limbs as higher–upapāramī and sacrificing even one’s life as ultimate–paramattha pāramī.27 In this way the three perfections are achieved as well likewise all the other pāramitā28 i.e. by maintaining patience, protecting the truth etc. even one’s life will be sacrificed29.
So when Māra approached with its horrifying army to remove the Bodhisatta from his seat of enlightenment the Buddha could rely on all these perfected qualities to confront the attack successfully: “Māra, neither have you practised the ten perfections, nor the higher nor the ultimate perfections! … This seat is not meant for you. It is my right alone!”30
Keeping in mind this inspiring situation a follower of the path today will learn to judge where his own confines lie.
Recurrently recalling the twofold advise the Buddha gives in the Upaññātasutta: - yā ca asantuṭṭhitā kusalesu dhammesu, yā ca appaṭivānitā padhānasmiṃ - will be an ever present inspiration expanding these confines in a balanced way: “ … (still) not contented I urged on towards the path of Arahantship, as long as this did not arise, I remained dissatisfied. Being dissatisfied in endeavoring, I strove on in putting forth endeavor unremittingly.31
1. vissaṭṭhakammante: vi + sajjati (pp.) + kammante: forsake, dismiss + work
2. accenti: pass, elapse
3. vihāyati: vijahati (ger.): forsake, abandon
4. urasā: with the breast, heart
5. panudissāmi: panudati (fut.) : I will push away
6. vivekamanubrūhayaṃ: viveka +m +anu +brūhana + ayaṃ: seclusion + cultivation, increase
7. These verses were uttered by Mātaṅgaputtatthera, by nature a lethargic person who was reprimanded by his father Mātaṅga, a landowner of Kosala for his idleness, laziness and easygoing ways. Mātaṅgaputta decided to join the order because he felt that in this way he was to enjoy a stress-free and easy life and took robes. But when a discourse of the Buddha inspired him he developed diligence and effort and attained Arahantship – realizing the nuisance of lethargy he here joyful described his attainments in the words above. (Tikanipāto Theragāthāpāḷi, Khuddakanikāyo)
8. Kīṭāgiri was a village in the province of Kāsi with the previous capital of Bārāṇasī, at the time of the Buddha already absorbed by the kingdom of Kosala and governed by King Pasenadi. This region had become a predominant residence of the group of six – chabaggiyā – who made it their habit to commit various offences of the regulations the Buddha used to lay down – many because of them. (See previous lesson 3.7.10 where the Buddha amended the regulation of allowing sandals). In this sutta two of them (Assaji and Punnabbasuka - they were the ‘leaders’ of the chabaggiyā, in general dwelling in the Kīṭāgiri-area) refused to follow the principle of eating at the appropriate time and to abstain from eating at night as laid down by the Buddha then.
9. ādikeneva: ādikene + va: first, in (from) the beginning
10. aññārādhanaṃ: aññā + rādhanaṃ: knowlegde + accomplished
11. Kīṭāgirisuttaṃ, Bhikkhuvaggo, Majjhimapaṇṇāsapāḷi, Majjhimanikāye
12. payirupāsati: sit beside, attend on, associate with, honour: com: payirupāsatīti santike nisīdati – sit down nearby
13. dhata: dhāreti (pp.): kept in mind, known by heart
14. upaparikkhati: investigate
15. nijjhānaṃ khamati: find pleasure in, being pleased with
16. com: chando jāyatīti kattukamyatākusalacchando jāyati – the wish arises: the desire of willing to do wholesome things arises
17. ussahati: be able, endeavour: com: ussahatīti vīriyaṃ karoti – to be able exerting (putting forth) energy
18. tuleti: weigh, examine, compare: com: tuletīti aniccaṃ dukkhaṃ anattāti tulayati – he examines impermanence, suffering and non-self – this he examines
19. com: tulayitvā padahatīti evaṃ tīraṇavipassanāya tulayanto maggapadhānaṃ padahati – having examined he strives is: thus having examined with full understanding and insight he strives through with right exertion on the path
20. pahita: padahati (pp.): com: pahitattoti pesitacitto – he puts forth all his strength with an employed mind
21. com: Kāyena ceva paramasaccanti nāmakāyena nibbānasaccaṃ sacchikaroti. Paññāya cāti nāmakāyasampayuttāya maggapaññāya paṭivijjhati passati. – By body he realizes the ultimate truth; by mental body he realizes the truth of nibbāna. Through this wisdom gained with the mental body he penetrates it with the wisdom of the path.
22. About the different categories (and qualities) of people (ugghāṭitaññu puggala; vipañcitaññu puggala; ñeyya puggala; padaparama puggala) see lesson 1.3.5 - Maṇḍūkadevaputtavimānavatthu - (The Frog Transforms into a Deva)
23. Avidūrenidānakathā, Jātaka-aṭṭhakathā: Bodhisatto bodhikkhandhaṃ piṭṭhito katvā puratthābhimukho daḷhamānaso hutvā – ‘‘Kāmaṃ taco ca nhāru ca, aṭṭhi ca avasissatu; Upasussatu nissesaṃ, sarīre maṃsalohitaṃ’’. Na tvevāhaṃ sammāsambodhiṃ appatvā imaṃ pallaṅkaṃ bhindissāmīti asanisatasannipātenapi abhejjarūpaṃ aparājitapallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā nisīdi.
24. The army of Māra here is said to have presented itself with the length of twelve yojanas in front, to the right and left, endlessly large in the back and upwards nine yojanas wide. When approaching on the elephant Girimekala no two soldiers were armed with the same weapon, but with thousands of different weapons and it sounded like an earthquake progressing. As a result of which all the deities, including Sakka and the Naga-king Kāla, fled. -… mārasenā mārassa purato dvādasayojanā hoti, dakkhiṇato ca vāmato ca dvādasayojanā, pacchato yāva cakkavāḷapariyantaṃ katvā ṭhitā, uddhaṃ navayojanubbedhā, yassā unnadantiyā unnādasaddo yojanasahassato paṭṭhāya pathaviundriyanasaddo viya suyyati. Atha māro devaputto diyaḍḍhayojanasatikaṃ girimekhalaṃ nāma hatthiṃ abhiruhitvā bāhusahassaṃ māpetvā nānāvudhāni aggahesi. Avasesāyapi māraparisāya dve janā ekasadisaṃ āvudhaṃ na gaṇhiṃsu, nānappakāravaṇṇā nānappakāramukhā hutvā mahāsattaṃ ajjhottharamānā āgamiṃsu.
25. … imā pana dasa pāramiyova mayhaṃ dīgharattaṃ puṭṭhaparijanasadisā, tasmā pāramiyova phalakaṃ katvā pāramisattheneva paharitvā ayaṃ balakāyo mayā viddhaṃsetuṃ vaṭṭatī’’ti dasa pāramiyo āvajjamāno nisīdi...
26. Ratanacaṅkamanakaṇḍavaṇṇanā, Buddhavaṃsa-aṭṭhakathā, Khuddakanikāye
27. Evaṃ paraṃ jīvitapariccāgaṃ karontassa dānapāramī paramatthapāramī nāma jātā.
28. Tattha dānapāramiyaṃ tāva bāhirabhaṇḍapariccāgo pāramī nāma, aṅgapariccāgo upapāramī nāma, jīvitapariccāgo paramatthapāramī nāmāti. Esa nayo sesapāramīsupi.
29. The Jātaka stories relate each instance where the Bodhisatta reached full perfection in the respective ten pāramitā. See in the order of the above verse the following Jātakas: sasapaṇḍitajātake; saṅkhapālajātake; cūḷasutasomajātake; sattubhattakapaṇḍitakāle; mahājanakajātake; khantivādijātake; mahāsutasomajātake; mūgapakkhajātake; suvaṇṇasāmajātake; lomahaṃsajātake
30. Mahāsatto tassa vacanaṃ sutvā avoca – ‘‘māra, neva tayā dasa pāramiyo pūritā, na upapāramiyo, na paramatthapāramiyo, … tasmā nāyaṃ pallaṅko tuyhaṃ pāpuṇāti, mayheveso pāpuṇātī’’ti (Jātaka-aṭṭhakathā)
31. … “asantuṭṭho hutvā arahattamaggameva uppādesiṃ. Yāva so na uppajji, na tāvāhaṃ santuṭṭho ahosiṃ. Padhānasmiṃ ca anukkaṇṭhito hutvā anosakkanāya ṭhatvāyeva padhānakiriyaṃ akāsi’’ - Upaññātasuttavaṇṇanā
Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.7.11
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