Poor Venerable Aananda! To Tep
- Dear Brother Tep,
It seems that the wisdom of Venerable Aananda, who was only
a Sotaapanna before the Lord passed away, was less advanced and less developed
than the wisdom of some people of present-day, in that Venerable Aananda did
not realize that there was no Tathaagata but only Dhammas.
Please see the following excerpts from DN 16
Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta translated by Myanmar Pitaka Association.
207. Then the Venerable Ananda went into the pavilion and
leaning against the door-post, stood lamenting "I am still a sekha, with
tasks still to be done (to reach the higher stages of Magga nana). And my
Teacher (i.e., the Buddha), who has ever been compassionate towards me, is
going to pass away!"
Then the Bhagava asked the bhikkhus, "O Bhikkhus, where
is Ananda?" The bhikkhus replied, "Venerable Sir, the Venerable
Ananda has gone into the pavilion, and stands leaning against the door-post,
lamenting (thus): I am still a sekha, with tasks still to be done. And my
Teacher, who has ever been compassionate towards me, is going to pass
away." Then the Bhagava said to a bhikkhu, "Come bhikkhu, say you to
Ananda in my words: Friend Ananda, the Teacher calls you." That bhikkhu
assented respectfully, saying "Very well, Venerable Sir," and went to
the Venerable Ananda, and said, "Friend Ananda, the Teacher calls
you". The Venerable Ananda, replying "Very well, friend," to
that bhikkhu, went to the Bhagava, and making obeisance to the Bhagava., sat at
a certain place. The Bhagava said to the Venerable Ananda, seated on one side:
[Paragraph 5.13 of the Translation by Maurice Walshe]
"Enough, Ananda. Do not be grievously anxious, do not
lament. Have I not from former times shown that there must be separation (while
living), severance (through death) and sundering (through being in different
states of existence) from all that are dear and beloved? Ananda in this matter,
that which has the nature of arising, of appearing, of being compounded, and of
decay and dissolution, how can the wish that it should not disintegrate and
disappear be realized , even if it is the body of the Tathagata? There can be
no such possibility. For a long time now, Ananda, you have served the Tathagata
faithfully both in his presence and in his absence and with unbounded
loving-kindness indeed, to the benefit and welfare (of the Tathagata);
faithfully and with unbounded loving-kindness in words, to the benefit and
welfare (of the Tathagata); faithfully and with unbounded loving-kindness in
thought, to the benefit and welfare (of the Tathagata). You, Ananda, have
gained much merit. Exert yourself in fundamental mental concentration (i.e.
vipassana meditation). You will soon become an arahat, free from defilements."
[Paragraph 5.14 of the Translation by Maurice Walshe]
Han: It seems that Venerable Aananda, who was only a
Sotaapanna before the Lord passed away, did not realize that there was no
Tathaagata but only Dhammas. Otherwise, he would not have lamented as described
in the above paragraphs. Poor Venerable Aananda!
224. When the Bhagava passed away, some bhikkhus who were at
that place and who were not free from the passions wept with upraised hands,
flung themselves down, rolled forward and backward, and rolled hither and
thither, (lamenting) "Too soon has the Bhagava realized parinibbana! Too
soon has the Sugata realized parinibbana! Too soon has the Eye (i.e, the
Possessor of the Eye of Wisdom) disappeared from the world!" But those
bhikkhus who were free from sensual passion could bear it, mindfully and
deliberately reflecting: "All conditioned and compounded things (sankhara)
are impermanent. How then can it be possible to get that (permanence) in this
[Paragraph 6.10 of the Translation by Maurice Walshe]
225. Then the Venerable Anuruddha said to the bhikkhus:
"Enough; friends! Do not grieve, do not lament. Had not the Bhagava
proclaimed from former times that there must be separation (while living),
severance (through death) and sundering (through being in different states of
existence) from all that are dear and beloved? Friends, in this matter, that
which has the nature of arising, of appearing, of being compounded, and of
decay and dissolution, how can the wish that it should not disintegrate and
disappear be realized? There can be no such possibility. Friends, the devas are
[Paragraph 6.11 of the Translation by Maurice Walshe]
Han: I belong to the above monks who were not free from the
passions. To those persons of present-day, who are free from sensual passions and
who are like Venerable Arahant Anuruddha, I bow down three times most
Dear Brother Tep, I am exhausted. I think I will remain
with metta and respect,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Hi Rob E
--- In email@example.com, "Robert E" <epsteinrob@...> wrote:
> Hi Jon.
> RE: So anyway, that's what it's about, but I can use some help understanding what the terms of the discussion mean, which don't quite add up for me.
J: I haven't gone into the terms of the discussion between the Buddha and Upaali, because that discussion has no bearing on the gradual teaching given by the Buddha.
As you'll recall, the gradual teaching began after the discussion had concluded and Upaali had professed himself to be a follower of the Buddha. Here's the link to the sutta again:
(Discussions involving followers of other teachings can be difficult to follow because they assume a detailed knowledge of the other teaching and its particular vocabulary and terms of dialogue/debate.)
> RE: As for those of highly developed panna not needing to practice and getting enlightened from a short word from the Buddha, that doesn't surprise me so much, given two important factors:
> 1. The accumulation of panna in former lives.
> 2. The BUDDHA being the one giving the short talk.
J: Yes, both factors are important, although the former (previously accumulated panna) is indispensable, whereas the latter (hearing the teachings from the Buddha in person) is not: there are examples in the texts of people becoming enlightened after hearing a short piece of the Dhamma from a person other than the Buddha.
> RE: I don't think anyone can overemphasize the influence of these two highly unusual factors, in the absence of which it may be necessary to do a lot of regular meditation to develop the missing panna.
J: So as you understand the teachings, any "missing panna" can be made up for by "doing a lot of regular meditation"? If only it were that easy! Wishful thinking, I'm afraid!
To get back to the point in issue, those such as Upaali who received the gradual teaching became enlightened (a) on the basis of considering and understanding by direct experience, there and then, the meaning of words being spoken by the Buddha, and (b) without there being any suggestion of past attainment of jhana or indeed any particular `practice' of samatha.
> RE: The fact that so many of these highly developed monks at the time of the Buddha spent a large part of their day sitting cross-legged in a quiet place to develop samatha and vipassana says a lot in favor of such "meditation," or whatever one would like to call it.
J: Given that, at the time of the Buddha, there were "highly developed" monks who were able, while sitting cross-legged in a quiet place, to develop samatha and vipassana, the question to then consider is what cause lead to what result.
It cannot simply be assumed that this says a lot in favour of seated meditation(!).
To my understanding, such monks must have developed both samatha and panna to a high degree in previous lives.
As regards the possible significance of their sitting cross-legged in a quiet place, while a quiet place is one of the (many) conditions for the development of samatha *at its higher levels* (i.e., jhana), it is not among the conditions for the development of awareness/insight.