Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.2.1
(Seeing the Essence)

These verses from the first chapter of the Dhammapada, the verses of pairs, highlight the importance of developing a correct attitude and forthright perspective in one’s life. They were uttered by the Buddha in reference to Sañjaya1.

Sañjaya was the previous teacher of the Buddha’s chief disciples, the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahā Moggallāna. They had promised themselves on their search of truth, that whosoever was to encounter a spiritual teacher of high standing would immediately inform the other. (Their friendship and relationship is related in lesson 1.3.8) Both had attained the state of Sotāpanna through listening and realization of the stanza of the Venerable Assaji. This famous reply to the adamant requests of Sāriputta2 to inform him about the doctrine of his teacher is: “Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā3, tesaṃ hetuṃ tathāgato āha; tesañca yo nirodho, evaṃvādī mahāsamaṇo”ti.—“Of those states that have arisen from a cause, their cause is explained by the Tathāgata, and the cessation of those, this is what the great saint teaches.”

After they had met and Sāriputta had repeated these words to Moggallāna he desired to go with Sāriputta to Veluvana to immediately see the Buddha there. But Sāriputta expressed his wish to inform their previous teacher about their successful quest first and suggest to Sañjaya to join them to follow the Buddha. Sañjaya refused by explaining to them that it was for him to attract many disciples that went to him rather than just a few, and that it would be an absurdity for him to become a pupil again: - Ahaṃ mahājanassa ācariyo hutvā4 vicariṃ5, vicarantassa me antevāsikavāso6 cāṭiyā udañcanabhāvappatti viya hoti7, na sakkhissāmahaṃ8 antevāsikavāsaṃ vasitun’’ti. When Sāriputta and Moggallāna expressed their conviction that from the time a Buddha has appeared people would apply the teaching of this Enlightened One rather than other teachings Sañjaya still insisted to remain a teacher of many, because he felt that the multitude of people were foolish and preferred to follow the foolish rather than the few who were wise and would be attracted by the wise: — ‘‘Tātā, kiṃ nu kho imasmiṃ loke dandhā9 bahū, udāhu10 paṇḍitā’’ti. ‘‘Dandhā, ācariya, bahū, paṇḍitā ca nāma katipayā11 eva hontī’’ti. Sañjaya decided in spite of the advice of his former disciples to let the wise search the vicinity of the saint Gotama and to await the stupid to come to him:‘‘Tena hi, tātā,

paṇḍitā paṇḍitassa samaṇassa gotamassa santikaṃ12 gamissanti, dandhā dandhassa mama santikaṃ āgamissantiand then dismissed both with the words:gacchatha tumhe, nāhaṃ gamissāmī’’ti “You may go – I will not go!”

After being informed about this incident the Buddha uttered the verses given here after he had told Sāriputta and Moggallāna: ‘‘bhikkhave, sañcayo attano micchādiṭṭhitāya asāraṃ sāroti, sārañca asāroti gaṇhi13. Tumhe pana attano paṇḍitatāya14 sārañca sārato, asārañca asārato ñatvā asāraṃ pahāya sārameva gaṇhitthā15’’ti !” ‘‘O’Bhikkhus, because of his wrong view Sañjaya mistook untruth for truth and truth for falsehood. But you, by reason of your wisdom understood truth for truth and falsehood for falsehood and wisely rejected the false and accepted the true.”

The commentary on these verses spoken in reference to Sañjaya by explaining right and wrong views emphasizes that those maintaining wrong thoughts will not be able to enter upon nor achieve any of the three trainings:Te sāranti te pana taṃ micchādiṭṭhiggahaṇaṃ16 gahetvā ṭhitā kāmavitakkādīnaṃ vasena micchāsaṅkappagocarā hutvā sīlasāraṃ, samādhisāraṃ, paññāsāraṃ, vimuttisāraṃ, vimuttiñāṇadassanasāraṃ17, paramatthasāraṃ, nibbānañca nādhigaccha’’ti Those who thus having taken up wrong views and maintain wrong thoughts by upholding thoughts of sense desires and so on18 will not realize the essence of sīla, nor the essences of samādhi and paññā, nor of liberation nor the essence of the understanding of annihilation and will not come into the possession of the essence of the highest goal, which is Nibbāna

May the following lessons inspire to those who read them to dive into deeper understanding of the first necessary link of the Ariyo Aṭṭhaṅgiko Maggo being a mandatory pre-requisite to realize the remaining ones in order to come into the possession of the essence of the highest goal, which is Nibbāna!

[1] Sañjaya was one of the great teachers of the Buddha’s time, a sceptic, who evaded definite statements and therefore was called: Amarāvikkhepika: name of a fish (difficult to catch) + confusion, perplexity: one who equivocates, an eel-wriggler. (see lesson 3.2.10)

[2] Sāriputta had requested the Venerable Assaji:—“Appaṃ vā bahuṃ vā bhāsassu, atthaṃyeva me brūhi; attheneva me attho, kiṃ kāhasi byañjanaṃ bahun”ti.—“Whether it is little or much that you can tell, the meaning only, please tell me, my only quest is the meaning, what are those many words to me?”—and he then received those stanzas in reply. (see lesson 1.3.8)

[3] hetuppabhavā: hetu + p + pabhavā: cause + origination, birth, springing up

[4] hutvā: (gerund of) bhavati: having made

[5] vicariṃ: vicarati (aor.): walked, went about

[6] antevāsikavāso: one who is living with a teacher, a pupil

[7] cāṭiyā udañcanabhāvappatti viya hoti: Sañjaya here compares his situation with that bizarre one of a jar to be used at the well for drawing water

[8] sakkhissāmahaṃ: sakkhissāmi + ahaṃ: will be able + I

[9] dandhā: slothful, slow, heavy, foolish

[10] udāhu: or

[11] katipayā: few, some, several

[12] santika: near

[13] gaṇhi: (aor.) gaṇhati: take; acquire, comprehend, adopt, perceive

[14] paṇḍitatā: skill, wisdom

[15] gaṇhitthā: gaṇhati – aorist-2.pers. pl.

[16] micchādiṭṭhiggahaṇaṃ: micchādiṭṭhi + g + gahaṇa: wrong view + holding, grasping, seizing

[17] vimuttiñāṇadassanasāraṃ: vimutti +ñāṇa + dassana + sāraṃ: liberation + knowledge + seeing + essence

[18] kāmavitakkādīnaṃ: kāma + vitakko + adīnaṃ: sense desires + thought + beginning with. (This refers to the three unwholesome kinds of thought momentum of rolling in sense desires, aversion and violence: pāpake akusale vitakke vitakkeyyātha, seyyathidaṃ–kāmavitakkaṃ, byāpādavitakkaṃ, vihiṃsāvitakkaṃ- see lesson 3.3.3)

Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.2.1

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Last modified: Monday, 14 December 2015, 8:31 AM