The fruits of the going forth
It was a Full Moon day. The moon was brightening in the firmament. Ajatasatthu, the King of Magadha was sitting on the balcony of his grand Palace surrounded by his brainy Ministers. At a moment, the whole environment was deep silent .Breaking the silence the king uttered to the ministers, " O delightful, friends, is this moon light night! charming is this moonlight night !. Auspicious is this moonlight night! can we not today visit some ascetic or Brahmin, to visit whom would bring peace to our heart?." Then the Ministers, one by one, suggested to visit the six religious Teachers of the day namely; Parana Kassapa ,MakkhaliGosala, Ajitha Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccana, Sanjaya Belatthiputta and Nighanthanatha putta. At these words the king was silent. Mean while , Jivaka, the physician of the king , also was sitting silently near the king. Then the king asked "you friend, Jivaka , why are you silent?. Jivaka then suggesting said " Sire , there is this blessed One ,the Arahant One, the Fully-Enlightened Buddha staying in my mango –grove with a large company of monks. May your Majesty visit the Blessed One. He may well bring peace to your Majesty's heart. The king asked him to have the ridding –elephants made ready. So the Royal tusker was ready for the king and together with another five hundred for the retinue of the king and announced that everything was ready . The king proceeded in royal state accompanied by torch –bearers towards the Jivaka's mango –grove where the Buddha was dwelling at that time together with some twelve hundred and fifty monks.
When the king came nearer to the mango-grove, as it was pitch dark and the whole area was dead silent, he felt fear and terror. Phase by phase his fear and terror aggravated. His hair of the body stood on end. The king said to Jivaka: friend Jivaka, you are not deceiving me you are not tricking me?. You are not delivering me up to an enemy?. How is it that from this great number of twelve hundred and fifty monks not a sneeze, a cough, or a shout is to be heard?. Have no fear your Majesty, I would not deceive you or trick you or deliver you up to an enemy. Approach sire approach there are the lights burning in the round Pavilion. Then he said Jivaka where is the Buddha. " That is the Buddha , sire. That is the Buddha sitting against the middle column with his order of monks in front of him". The king went up to the Buddha and stood to one side, and standing there to one side he observed how the order of monks continued in silence like a clear lake, and he then exclaimed " If only prince Udayabhaddha (king's son) were possessed of such calm as this order of monks!". The then Buddha said" Do your thoughts go to the one you love, your Majesty?" "Yes Ven. Sir prince Udayabhaddha is very dear to me. If only he were possessed of the same calm as this order of monks!". The king said.
Then the king having bowed down to the Buddha and saluted the Order of the monks with joined hands sat down to one side and said. Ven. Sir, I would like to ask some thing, if you would design to answer me. "Ask your Majesty, anything you like" The Buddha said. So the king said. "Venerable Sir, just as there are these various craftsman , such as elephant-drivers, horse-drivers, chariot-fighters, archers, standard-bearers, adjutants, army caters, champions and senior officers, scouts, heroes, brave fighters, cuirassiers, slaves' sons, cooks, barbers, bathmen, bakers, garland –makers, bleachers, weavers, basket-makers, potters, calculators, and accountants and whatever other skills there are: they enjoy here and now the visible fruit of their skills, they themselves are delighted and pleased with this as are their parents children and colleagues and friends, they maintain and support ascetics and Brahmins, thus assuring for themselves a heavenly happy reward rending towards paradise. Can you Ven. Sir, point to such a reward visible here and now as a fruit of the going forth. ?"
The Buddha pointing the fruits of the going forth explained one by one. At that time the following dialogue took place between the Buddha and the king.
B: Your Majesty , I will just ask a few questions in return and you sire, shall answer as you see fit. What do you think sire?, suppose there were a man, a slave, a labourer, getting up before you and going to bed after you, willingly doing whatever has to be done. well-mannered, pleasant-spoken working in your presence. And he might think. " It is strange, it is wonderful ,the destiny and fruits of meritorious deeds!. This king of Magadha is a man ,and I too a man. The king is addicted to and indulges in the fivefold sense-pleasures, just like a god, where as I am a slave doing all these things here. I ought to do something meritorious .Suppose I were to shave off my hair and beard ,don yellow robe and go forth from the household life into homelessness .And before long he does so and he having thus gone forth might dwell restrained in body, speech, and though, satisfied with the minimum of food and clothing, content, in solitude. Then if people were to announce to you " Sire ,you remember that slave who worked in your presence, and who shaved off his hair and beard and went forth into homelessness?. He is living restrained in body speech and thought" and would you then say "that man must come back and be a slave and work for me as before"?.
K. No indeed Ven. Sir, For we should pay homage to him, we should rise and invite him and press him to receive from us robes, food, lodging, medicines for sickness and requisites ,and make arrangements for his proper protection.
B. Well, what do you think sire? is that one fruit of the going forth visible here and now?
K. Certainly ,Ven.Sir
B. Then that sire ,is the first such fruit of the going forth
K. But can you show any other sir?
B. I can sire, suppose there were a man, a farmer, a householder, in your service, the steward of an estate. He might think : " It is strange, it is wonderful the destiny and fruits of meritorious deeds!. This king is a man and I too am a man. The king is addicted to and indulges in the fivefold sense-pleasures, just like a god, whereas I am a farmer. I ought to do something meritorious. Suppose I were to go forth from the household life into homelessness and before long he does so. And he having thus gone forth might dwell in solitude satisfied with minimum of food and clothing. And if people were to tell you about him would you then say" That man must come back and be a farmer as before "?.
K. No indeed Ven. Sir, For we should pay homage to him ,we should rise and invite him and press him to receive from us robes, food, lodging medicines for sickness and requisites and make arrangements f for his proper protection.
B. What do you think Sire,? Is that one fruit of the going forth visible here and now?
K. Certainly Ven. Sir. But can you show me any other reward visible here and now?
B. I can sire, please listen your Majesty, pay proper attention. Your Majesty, it happens that a Buddha arises in the world. He having realised the Dhamma by his own super-knowledge and proclaims the Dhamma . He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its ending , in the spirit and in the letter, and displays the fully-perfected and purified holy life. Then this Dhamma is heard by a householder or a householder's son, or one reborn in some family or other. Having heard it he gains faith in the Buddha, and then he reflects: " The household life is close and dusty, the going forth is free as the sky. It is not easy living the household life, to live the fully-perfect holy life, purified and polished like a conch –shell. Suppose I were to shave off my hear and beard, don yellow robes and go forth from the house life into homelessness. And after sometime ,he abandons his property, small or great, leaves his circle of relatives, small or great, shaves off his hair and beard ,don yellow robes and goes forth into the homeless life. Having gone forth ,he dwells restrained by the restraint of the rules, persisting in right behaviour, seeing danger in the slightest faults, observing the commitments he has taken on regarding body, deed and word, devoted to the skilled and purified life, perfected in morality, with the sense doors guarded skilled in mindful, awareness and content. With this he finds a solitary lodging , at the root of a forest tree, in a mountain- cave or gorge, a charnel-ground, a jungle-thicket or in the open air, on a heap of straw. Then he sits down cross-legged, holding his body erect ,and concentrates on keeping mindfulness established before him. Abandoning worldly desires he dwells with a mind freed from worldly desires and his mind is purified of them. Abandoning ill-will and hatred he dwells with a mind freed and compassionate love for the welfare of all living beings, his mind is purified of ill-will and hatred. Abandoning sloth and torpor, perceiving light, mindful and clear aware ,his mind is purified of sloth and torpor. Abandoning worry and flurry with an inwardly calmed mind his heart is purified of worry and flurry. Abandoning doubt he dwells with doubt left behind ,without uncertainly as to what things are wholesome ,his mind is purified of doubt. When he knows that these five hindrances have left him, gladness arises in him, from gladness comes delight from the delight in his mind his body is tranquillised, with a tranquil body he feels joy, and with joy his mind is concentrated. Being thus detached from sense-desires, detached from unwholesome states, he enters and remains in the first Jhana which is with thinking and pondering born of detachment, filled with delight and joy. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Again a monk with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner tranquility and oneness of mind enters and remains in the second Jhana. This sire, is a fruit more excellence and perfect than the former ones. Again a monk with the fading away of the delight remains imperturbable mindful and clearly aware, and experiences in himself that joy of which the noble ones say. "Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness" and he enters and remains in the 3rd Jhana. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Again, a monk having given up pleasure and pain and with the disappearance of former gladness and sadness, enters and remains in the fourth Jhana, which is beyond pleasure and pain and purified by equanimity and mindfulness . This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
With mind concentrated ,purified and cleansed ,unblemished ,free from impurities, malleable, workable, established and having gained imperturbability he directs and inclines his mind towards knowing and seeing. And then he knows:" This my body is material made up from the four great elements, born of mother and father, fed on rice and gruel , impermanent, liable to be injured and abraded, broken and destroy, and this is my consciousness which is bound to it and dependent on it". This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Again with his concentrated mind he applies and directs his mind to the production of a mind made body. And out of this body he produces another body, having a form ,mind made complete in all its limbs and faculties. It is just as if a man were to draw out a reed from its sheath. He might think "This is the reed and this is the sheath, reed and sheath are different. Now the reed has been pulled from the sheath"; Or as if a man were to draw a sward from the scabbard. He might think: "This is the sward and this is the scabbard. sward and scabbard are different. Now the sward has been drawn from the scabbard ." This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
And with his concentrated and purified mind he applies and directs his mind to the various supernormal powers. He then enjoys different powers: being one he becomes many, being many he becomes one, he appears and disappears; he passes through fences, walls and mountains unhindered as if through air; he sinks into the ground as emerges from it as if it were water; he walks on water without breaking the surface as if on land; he flies cross-legged through the sky like a bird with wings; he even touches and strokes with his hand the sun and moon, mighty and powerful as they are and he travels in the body as far as the Brahma world. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
With his concentrated and purified mind he applies and directs his mind to the divine ear. With the divine ear ,purified and supper passing that of human beings, he hears sounds both divine and human whether far or near. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
With mind purified he applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of others mind. He knows and distinguishes with his mind the mind of other beings, of other persons. He knows the mind with passion to be with passion and the mind without passion to be without passion. He knows the mind with hate to be hate and the mind without hate to be without hate. Thus he knows every aspect of mind. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Again with mind concentrated and purified he applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of previous existences. He remembers many previous existences: one birth, two, three, four ,five births, ten ,twenty, thirty, forty, fifty births, several periods of contraction, of expansion, of both contraction and expansion. He remembers various past births, their conditions and details. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Again with concentrated and purified mind he applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of passing away and arising of beings. With the divine eye purified and surpassing that of humans, he sees beings passing away and arising; base and noble, well-favoured and ill-favoured, to happy and unhappy destinations as kamma directs them. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones.
Finally with mind concentrated, purified and cleansed unblemished free from impurities malleable workable established he applies and directs his mind to the knowledge of destruction of the cankers. He knows as it really is: "This is suffering ,he knows as it really is: "This is the origin of suffering " he knows as it really is: This is the cessation of suffering" he knows as it really is:" This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering"
At the end ,in him arises the knowledge " This is deliverance!. Then he knows " Birth is finished, the holy life has been led, done is what had to be done, there is nothing further here". Just as if there were a pond, clear as a polished mirror a man standing on the bank could see plants, oyster-shells, pebbles and shoal of fish on the move or stationary in it, he could see the world in its real nature. This Sire, is a fruit of the going forth visible here and now that is more excellent and perfect than the former ones. At this, the king exclaimed: "Excellent ,Ven. Sir excellent the blessed One expounded the Dhamma in various ways. May the blessed One accept me from this day forth as a lay-follower as long as life shall last. Rejoicing and delighting the king rose from the seat ,saluted the Buddha and departed with his right side towards the Buddha.
Let us all strive to understand these fruits of the going forth and think to take a wise step in our life which lasts only for a short time. May the Triple Gem bless you ! May all beings be well and happy!.
Courtesy: The Samannaphala Sutta of the Digha Nikaya ,Translation by Maurice Walshe.
By Bhikkhu Seelananda– Paramita International Buddhist Centre , Kadugannawa.