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Requisites of Enlightenment

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw



[This chapter has been abridged. (Ed.)]

These thirty-seven Requisites of Enlightenment (bodhipakkhiya-dhamma) treated in the preceding chapters, are the heritage of the Buddha. They are the heritage of the Sàsana. They constitute gems of the Sàsana that are priceless and invaluable.

I shall now examine what constitutes this Heritage of the Sàsana (sàsana-dàyajja).

By "heritage" is meant property given as legacy by parents to their children who are fit to receive it as heirs (dàyàda). This applies also to the Heritage of the Sàsana (sàsana-dàyajja) which is the Buddha's heritage (Buddha-dàyajja).

As to the nature of that Heritage, there are two kinds of it: worldly (àmisa) and Dhamma heritage.

The worldly heritage consists of the four requisites of a Bhikkhu, namely, alms-food, robes, dwelling place, and medicines. The Dhamma heritage are the three Trainings (sikkhà: sìla, samàdhi, pannà), the seven Purifications, and the thirty-seven Requisites of Enlightenment.

There are two kinds of Dhamma Heritage, namely mundane (lokiya) and supramundane (lokuttara). The mundane one consists of the above three Trainings on the mundane level, the six mundane Purifications and the Requisites of Enlightenment as far as associated with those mundane Purifications. -- The supramundane Dhamma heritage consists of the three Trainings on the supra-mundane level, the supramundane seventh Purification, and the supramundane Requisites of Enlightenment.

Mundane Dhamma Heritage may be divided into

(1) that dependent on the round of rebirths (vatta-nissita), and
(2) that tending towards the ending of the Round of Rebirths

or into:

(1) stable Dhamma heritage (niyata)
(2) unstable Dhamma heritage

The practice of the three Trainings (Morality etc.) if directed towards the attainment of worldly positions such as mentor or teacher of kings (or governments), or towards the acquisition of dignity (titles, degrees), power, retinue, and property, or towards the attainment of rebirth as noble and highly placed humans and devas, -- this is called "Dhamma heritage dependent on the round of rebirths".

There are three forms of the Round of Rebirth: the Round of Defilements (kilesa-vatta), the Round of Kamma (kamma-vatta), and the Round of Kamma Resultants (vipaka-vatta). Vivatta means Nibbàna which is the end of these three Rounds of Rebirths. The practice of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom directed towards the ending of these Rounds of Rebirths is called "Dhamma heritage tending towards the ending of the Round of Rebirths" (vivatta-nissita-dhammadàyajja).

With reference to the classification of "stable" (niyata) and "unstable" (aniyata), the great realm of "proclivity towards Personality Belief" (sakkàya-ditthi anusaya) in which Worldlings (puthujjana) are involved, is like a great and deep ocean of burning hot embers. The Morality, Concentration and Wisdom occasionally practised by Worldlings can be compared to droplets of rain falling into that great ocean of burning hot embers. Such utterances as "I fulfil sìla, I possess sìla. I practice samàdhi. I know. I am wise and clever. I perceive Mind and Matter (nàma-rùpa). I contemplate Mind and Matter" are declarations about Morality, Concentration and Wisdom, which revolve around the Personality-Belief which is concerned with "I", and thus resemble the rain drops falling into the great ocean of red-hot embers. Just as the heat of those embers absorbs the rain drops and makes them disappear, so does the great kingdom of Personality-Belief absorb the Worldling's acts of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom and makes them disappear as they are "unstable" (aniyata). Though Worldlings may possess Morality, Concentration and Wisdom, their possession of them is temporary (tadanga).

In the case of Sotàpannas, their mundane Morality of keeping the mundane "Precepts with Right Livelihood as the eighth" (lokiya-àjivatthamaka-sìla); their mundane Concentration firmly directed to the noble Qualities of the Triple Gem; and their mundane Wisdom perceiving the Four Noble Truths -- all these are of the rank of stability (niyata). They are like rain drops falling into a great lake and never disappear even throughout many lives. This shows the nature of the mundane (lokiya) Dhamma heritage.

The supramundane states of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom, the supramundane seventh Purification and the 37 Requisites of Enlightenment (bodhipakkhiya dhamma) accompanying the eight kinds of supramundane consciousness are vivatta-nissita and are stable. Also the mundane Morality etc., in the case of Noble Ones (ariya) who also have attained their supramundane state, are likewise "stable". In such persons, there is no longer any possibility of their becoming dussìla (immoral), asamàhita (uncomposed), duppanna (unwise) or andhabàla (foolish).

... Persons who lack Faith (saddhà) and Zeal (chanda) do not even conceive the idea that the higher attainments of the Purifications are the heritage which they can acquire in this very life. Because they lack Energy (viriya), they are reluctant to put forth effort that involves privations. They are liable to reject such effort as impossible. Because they are weak of will, their minds are not fixed on such kind of work.

They change their mind whenever they listen to various theories and expositions. Because they lack knowledge and wisdom, they reject such work as being beyond their capabilities.

Therefore the Buddha has urged all beings to strengthen their weak Iddhipàdas (Bases of Success), such as Zeal (chanda) etc. Then only can new desires and new thoughts arise.

Only those who possess one or other of the four Iddhipàdas as foundation can enjoy the full benefits of the Buddha's heritage. Others who are without any of these Iddhipàdas, will get the opportunity to enjoy only some of the superficial benefits, without the chance of enjoying the essence of the heritage. Some may not even have the opportunity to enjoy those superficial benefits because they have squandered their heritage and thus become severed from the Buddha's and the Sàsana’s heritages.

The heirs of the Sàsana may be classified into

1. Stable or constant heirs (niyata)
2. Unstable or inconstant heirs

People who never obtained knowledge of Impermanence and Not-self within themselves, are called unstable heirs. They may be disciples or heirs of the Buddha today and may become disciples or heirs of another teacher to-morrow. They may scorn and harm the Buddha Sàsana. Even in the present world there are persons who have changed their faith from the Buddha Sàsana to other religions, and who scorn and undermine the Sàsana. How easily they can change, after death, in another birth, can be imagined.

One can be a disciple of the Buddha this month and the disciple of another teacher next month. One can be a disciple of the Buddha this year and the disciple of another teacher next year. One can be a disciple of the Buddha this life and the disciple of another teacher in the next.

Therefore it was said that Puthujjanas (Worldlings) are so called because they look up to the faces of various teachers.

This means that, in the unfathomable past Samsàra, Worldlings have never been constant in the choice of a teacher in whom they have taken refuge. The occasions on which they have approached a Buddha and taken refuge in him, are very few indeed. Sometimes they took refuge in Brahmà, sometimes in Sakka (Indra), sometimes in various deities, sometimes in planets, spirits and ogres, and they have done so as if these "refuges" were almighty. The number of false teachers is very numerous in the world, and so is the number of existences in which Worldlings have taken refuge in such false teachers. While worldlings continue to wander and drift in Samsàra, replete with false attachments to Personality Belief, they will continue to change their teachers. How frightful, terrible and repellent is the state of a Worldling!

Whenever a Worldling changes his teacher and refuge, a change alsooccurs in the doctrines and principles on which he dependsfor his guidance. Sometimes World-lings accept the Purified morality (adhisìla) of a Buddha, but more often the moral of numerous other teachers. Also in the matter of views, the existences in which they accept Right View are extremely few, while the lives in which they depend on wrong views are extremely numerous. Of the countless errors and perversities possessed by Worldlings, that of seeking refuge in false teachers is one of the gravest errors causing them great harm.

This is because taking refuge in wrong teachers leads to wrong Moral principles and practices, and thus the precious and rare achievement of rebirth as a human being (manussatta-dullabha) becomes entirely like a tree producing the evil fruits of rebirth in the worlds of misery, instead of being like a great Wishing Tree bearing the fruits of good rebirths. This shows the future path of unstable heirs of the Sàsana.

But those persons who perceive in themselves the characteristics of impermanence (anicca) and not-self (anattà), are freed from the realm of Personality Belief. They become heirs of the Sàsana. "Stable" (niyata) means here that throughout their future lives in Samsàra they are no longer inclined to seek refuge in false teachers. They become true children and heirs of the Buddha throughout the future succession of their rebirths. They become members of the "Bon-sin-san" family (see Note 1, page 55). Their views of the incomparable qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha become clearer and brighter from one rebirth to another. All the Dhamma heritages will prosper and increase in their minds, i.e. the three Path categories (Morality, etc.), the seven Purifications and the thirty-seven Requisites of Enlightenment. They are beings who will invariably ascend to Anupàdisesa-Nibbàna, the Extinction of Defilements without any Groups of Existence remaining. This shows the undeviating path of stable heirs of the Sàsana.

Good and virtuous persons did not put forth effort in past existences because they desired to become heirs of bad heritages of the Sàsana. They did not practice Morality, Concentration and Wisdom, because they desired to become heirs of the unstable temporary heritages, but because they wished to become heirs of the stable heritages.

Taking these facts into account, and taking heed of the fact that the Buddha disapproved of the bad heritages of the Sàsana, those persons who have now become disciples of the Buddha should not permit themselves to become bad heirs, nor to become temporary, unstable heirs. They should attempt to become heirs of the good heritages which are the Requisites of Enlightenment, the Bodhipakkhiya-dhammas. They should attempt to become stable heirs.

As regards persons deficient in wisdom, the mere performance of good and meritorious acts has to be encouraged as beneficial. But as to those persons who possess wisdom, if they desire to become stable heirs either in this life or the next, then they should establish in themselves firmly Àjìvatthamaka-sìla (see Note 2, page 12), set up mindful Body Contemplation (kàyagatà sati) and try (for at least three hours a day) to achieve perception of the three Characteristics of Existence in the five aggregates of "personality". If they perceive any of the three Characteristics, they can become "stable" (niyata) heirs and attain to the status of a "Bon-sin-san" -- Streamwinner.



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Vietnamese translation

Sincere thanks to Mr. Sunanda Pham Kim Khanh for supplying this electronic copy
(Binh Anson, 05-2002)

[Trở về trang Thư Mục]
updated: 11-05-2002