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One Useful Verse is Better than a Thousand Useless Verses *

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  • R. K. Wijayaratne
    Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammâ Sambuddhassa! Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara ~ Dhamma Message ~ Saturday, 6 October, 8:00 AM : Monthly Meditation Retreat is
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2007
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      Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammâ Sambuddhassa!

      Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara
      ~ Dhamma Message ~

      Saturday, 6 October, 8:00 AM : Monthly Meditation Retreat is aimed at persons who are genuinely interested in pursuing the Noble Eightfold Path. At Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara, 125 Homestead Road, Berwick. For information please contact Ven. Wimalananda 03 9702 6275 or Saman 0419 878 273. View program and other information.

      Taken from The Dhammapada1
      Translated by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

      Commentary. Most of the words that are heard at the work place, at home, among friends, etc. fall into the category of useless words, or words of little value (movies, trips, gossip, etc.). To hear a single verse of the Buddha-Dhamma (Lord Buddha's teachings about the way things really are, or more simply, the Truth), which pacifies one's mind is more worthwhile than listening to a barrage of useless words all day long.
      Sahassam api ce gâthâ-----
      anattha padasamhitâ
      Ekam gâthâ padam seyyo-----
      Yam sutvâ upasammati(101)

      Better than a thousand verses, comprising useless words, is one beneficial single verse, by hearing which one is calmed. (101)

      Dhammapada, Verse 101
      The fastest way to attain Arahanthood (Bâhiya)
      A group of merchants went out to sea in a boat; their boat was wrecked at sea and all except one died. The only survivor got hold of a plank and eventually came to land at the port of Suppâraka. As he was naked, he tied a piece of bark to his body, and sat in a place where people could see him.

      Passers-by gave him food; some thought that he was a holy man and paid respects to him. Some brought clothes for him to wear but he refused. fearing that by wearing clothes, people would give him less respect. Besides, because some said that he was an Arahant, he mistakenly came to think that he really was one. Thus, because he was a man of wrong views who was wearing a piece of bark as his clothing, he came to be known as Bâhiya Dârucîriya.

      At about this time, Maha Brahmâ, who had been his friend in one of his previous existences, saw him going astray and felt that it was his duty to put Bâhiya on the right path. So, Mahâ Brahma came to him in the night and said to him, 'Bâhiya, you are not an Arahant yet, and what is more, you do not have the qualities that make one an Arahant.' Faced with the truth, Bâhiya looked up at Mahâ Brahma and said, 'Yes, I must admit that I am not an Arahant, as you have said. I now realise that I have done a great mistake. But is there anyone in this world now who is an Arahant?' Mahâ Brahma then advised him to go and seek help from the Buddha who was staying in Sâvatthi.

      Bâhiya, realising the enormity of his guilt, felt very much distressed and travelled all the way to Sâvatthi to see the Buddha. Bâhiya found the Buddha going on an alms round with other bhikkhus and respectfully followed him. He pleaded with the Buddha to teach him the Dhamma, but the Buddha replied that since they were on an alms round it was not yet time for a religious discourse. And again, Bâhiya pleaded, 'Venerable Sir, one cannot know the danger to your life or to my life, so please teach me the Dhamma.'

      The Buddha knew that Bâhiya's mental faculties were not yet ready to completely realize the Dhamma. The Buddha also knew that Bâhiya's mind was not receptive at that time because he had just made the long journey and also because he was overwhelmed with joy at seeing him. The Enlightened One did not want to expound the Dhamma immediately but wanted him to calm down to enable him to absorb the Dhamma properly. Still, Bâhiya persistently pleaded. So, while standing on the road, the Buddha said to him, 'Bâhiya, when you see an object, be conscious of just the visible object; when you hear a sound, be conscious of just the sound; when you smell or taste or touch something, be conscious of just the smell, the taste or the touch; and when you think of anything, be conscious of just that mind-object.'

      Bâhiya did as he was told and because of his deep concentration, the accumulated kammic force of his past good deeds became dominant and he attained Arahanthood. He asked permission from the Buddha to join the Order. The Buddha told him to first collect the robes, the bowl and other requisites of a bhikkhu. On his way to get them, he was attacked by an animal and died. When the Buddha and the other bhikkhus came out after having had their meal, they found Bâhiya lying dead on the road. As instructed by the Buddha, the bhikkhus cremated the body of Bâhiya and his ashes were enshrined in a stupa.

      Back at the Jetava monastery, the Buddha told the bhikkhus that Bâhiya had attained Nibbâna. He also told them that as far as the time factor was concerned in attaining Insight (abhiññâ) Bâhiya was the fastest, the best. The bhikkhus were puzzled by the statement made by the Buddha and they asked him how and when Bâhiya had become an Arahant. To this, the Buddha replied, 'Bâhiya attained Arahanthood while he was listening to my instructions given to him on the road when we were on the alms round.'

      The bhikkhus wondered how one could attain Arahanthood after listening to just a few words of the Dhamma. So, the Buddha told them that the number of words or the length of a speech does not matter if it was beneficial to someone.
      1. Dhammapada verses and stories are especially suitable for children. See an online versions here http://www.geocities.com/ekchew.geo/dhammapada.htm , here http://www.mettanet.org/english/Narada/index.htm and here http://www.buddhanet.net/dhammapada/

      * See the previous instalment here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhamma/message/1278

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