Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
Introduction to 1.4.4
Sekhasuttaṃ - Seven Befitting Qualities of an Ariyan Disciple
Tasmā have appamādaṃ,
Indeed, without negligence and ardently,
A man of truly great wisdom will
Always recollect the Saṅgha’s qualities,
Blessed thus with great potency.
Once the Buddha’s teaching is applied and its beneficial results manifest within those who try to develop Dhamma accordingly, ‘enlightening saddhā’ as well as boundless gratitude naturally arises towards those who worked out their own enlightenment through this path. Thus they present themselves as an inspiring example of earnestness, persistence and determination. Therefore, the Sekhasuttaṃ is chosen, where the Venerable Ānanda emphasizes seven essential qualities that should be valued, replicated and fully realized for oneself!
Ānanda’s elucidation occurred when the Buddha was dwelling among the Sakyans near Kapilavatthu at the Nigrodha’s Park. At that time the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu had just erected a new assembly hall (santhāgāra) and according to custom invited the Buddha to be the first to visit this hall and enlighten them with a Dhamma talk.2 The Buddha agreed and after all had assembled the Buddha for a long period of the night addressed, instructed, inspired and encouraged the Sakyans with Dhamma discourses. But then he asked the Venerable Ānanda to continue instructing them about the training of a disciple so he himself could take rest.
Atha kho bhagavā kāpilavatthave sakye bahudeva rattiṃ dhammiyā kathāya sandassetvā samādapetvā samuttejetvā sampahaṃsetvā āyasmantaṃ ānandaṃ āmantesi – ‘‘paṭibhātu taṃ, ānanda, kāpilavatthavānaṃ sakyānaṃ sekho pāṭipado Piṭṭhi me āgilāyati3; tamahaṃ āyamissāmī’’ti.
Then the Venerable Ānanda opened his talk addressing the chief of the Sakyans Mahānāma with the following summary.
Atha kho āyasmā ānando mahānāmaṃ sakkaṃ āmantesi – ‘‘idha, mahānāma, ariyasāvako sīlasampanno hoti, indriyesu guttadvāro4 hoti, bhojane mattaññū hoti, jāgariyaṃ anuyutto hoti, sattahi saddhammehi samannāgato hoti, catunnaṃ jhānānaṃ ābhicetasikānaṃ5 diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārānaṃ6 nikāmalābhī7 hoti akicchalābhī8 akasiralābhī.”
“… a noble disciple Mahānāma is firmly established in sīla, guards his sense doors, eats aware of the proper amount, he maintains wakeful- and awareness; is endowed with seven benefitting qualities; and he is capable to obtain wilfully, without trouble or difficulty the four jhānas that establish the flawless mind that results in a pleasant abiding in this very life.”
After this first orientation, the Venerable Ānanda then expounded each and every component in detail, and highlighted the ‘seven benefitting qualities’ as presented in this lesson.9 that once more emphasize the importance of saddha as the first of these attributes.
…saddho hoti, hirimā hoti, ottappī hoti,10 bahussuto hoti, āraddhavīriyo viharati, satimā hoti, paññavā hoti…
1. Buddhānussatikathā, Chaanussatiniddeso, Visuddhimagga.
2. It was a practice, and still is even today in some Buddhist countries, that a new building should be inaugurated with a Dhamma talk by a saintly person. According to this tradition the Sakyans invited the Buddha with the following words: Bhagavatā paṭhamaṃ paribhuttaṃ pacchā kāpilavatthavā sakyā paribhuñjissanti. Tadassa kāpilavatthavānaṃ sakyānaṃ dīgharattaṃ hitāya sukhāyā. (After the Bhagava has used it first then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu will enjoy it afterwards and this will lead to long-lasting benefit and welfare for the the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu.).
3. āgilāyati: be tired, to ache.
4. guttadvāro: gopeti (pp.) + dvāro: guarded, protected + door. Two lessons will explain in more detail how one keeps guard over one’s sense-doors: 3.7.4 Indriyabhāvanāsutta – Mastering the Sense-faculties and 3.8.13 Dhammānupassanā āyatanapabbaṃ – Understanding the Contents of the Mind - The Section on the Sense Spheres.
5. ābhicetasikānaṃ: ābhi + ceto ika + anaṃ – of clear consciousness.
6. diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārānaṃ: diṭṭha + Dhamma + sukha + vihārānaṃ – seen + Dhamma + happy + dwelling.
7. nikāmalābhī: nikāma + lābhī – willingly, voluntarily + attained.
8. akicchalābhī: a + kiccha + lābhī – without + difficulty + attained.
10. For the difference between hirī (sense of shame) and ottappa (moral sense of guilt) see 1.3.7 Hirīsuttaṃ - By Sense of Shame. Their cause is self-respect and respect for others. The Saṅkhārakkhandhakathā, Visuddhimaggo gives a further explanation and explains that hirī is conscientiousness about misconduct in body and speech, it is a term for modesty. Its characteristic is the abominating of evil as its characteristic (Kāyaduccaritādīhi hiriyatīti hirī. Lajjāyetaṃ adhivacanaṃ. Tattha pāpato jigucchanalakkhaṇā hirī).
Ottappa refers to having dread, anxiety about evil that could cause blame, it has dread of blame as its characteristic (Tehiyeva ottappatīti ottappaṃ. Pāpato ubbegassetaṃ adhivacanaṃ. Uttāsanalakkhaṇaṃ ottappaṃ).