05 September 2011

4 September 2011 - Commentary on Pāsādika Sutta (The Delightful Discourse)

During the Service Sunday, Bro. HS Tan shared with the congregation the Buddha’s words recorded in Pāsādika Sutta of the Digha Nikaya No.29. 

(Besides the commentary by Bro. Tan, the source of reference for the write-up below is: The Long Discourses of the Buddha, a Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya by Maurice Walshe, 1995, Wisdom Publications, Boston)

What is the background of Pāsādika Sutta?

The Buddha was staying among the Sakyans at Sāmagāma.  At that time, Nigantha Nātaputta, the leader of the Jains, had just died at Pāvā. At his death, his disciples had heated quarrels, disputes, fighting and attacking each other with words over the doctrine and discipline. Even the lay disciples were disgusted when they saw what had happened.  This incident was later reported to the Buddha by Ven. Ānanda and the novice Cunda who was the student of Ven. Ānanda.

What did the Buddha say about the root cause of the incident?

The doctrine and discipline preached by Nigantha Nātaputta was ill-proclaimed and not effective in calming the senses.  What is the reason?  Its proclaimer was not a fully enlightened one.

What are the two possible outcomes for the disciples who were taught the ill-proclaimed doctrine and discipline?

1.      Possibility 1: A disciple does not live according to that doctrine, but deviates from it.  [In this case, the teacher and the doctrine are to be blamed, but not the disciple.]  

2.      Possibility 2: A disciple lives according to that doctrine, and conforms to it.  [In this case, the teacher, the doctrine and the disciple are to be blamed.]   

If someone were to encourage other to practise the doctrine which is badly-proclaimed, both he who encouraged and the one who so practised would all generate demerit. 

·         The above can be implied to well-proclaimed doctrine and discipline with the praise-worthy results if a disciple lives by it and conforms to it.  For one who encourages another to practise the well-proclaimed doctrine, both he who encouraged and the one who so practised would all generate much merit.

This phrase “He sees, but does not see” was quoted by the Buddha from Uddaka Ramaputta – What does it mean in its proper expression?

One sees that a holy way of life is well-proclaimed, with nothing lacking and nothing superfluous.  But if one were to deduct (remove part it) or add anything (i.e. one’s own ideas) to it, thinking: “In this way it will be purer” or “In this way it will be more complete”, he does not see it. 

What should we do in order for this holy life which is well-proclaimed by the Buddha to be continued and established for a long time, for the profit and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world?

We should come together and recite the truth taught by the Fully Enlightened One, comparing meaning with meaning, and phrase with phrase, without dissension.  While meeting with others, we shall train ourselves to meet others in concord and harmony without conflict.   

Besides the points above, there is much more advice given by the Buddha in the Sutta which can be skilfully applied in our Dhamma practice or even in our daily undertakings, e.g.  

While coming together, if someone were to misquote the Dhamma, what should be the appropriate response to it? 

While coming together, if someone were to quote the Dhamma correctly, shall we response to it?  What should be the appropriate response? 

Do you want to know?
What did the Buddha say about ‘the past’ and the speculation about ‘the future’?

Find out the answers of the above questions from this Pāsādika Sutta of Dīgha Nikāya No. 29.  

May the continuous learning and practice of the Dhamma conducive to our understanding of the Truth.  Happy learning!