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Buddha’s discourse on four great references

17 August 2016 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sam buddhassa!

A Buddha appears in this World, out of great compassion, to benefit and delight countless suffering beings.  


Being fully enlightened, he is defined as Tathagata. All Samma Sambuddhas in the past and in the future fulfil the identical purpose in awakening the spiritually dormant beings.   


Now, is the era of Tathagata Gautama. At the time he was born as Prince Siddharta 2640 (2016), years ago, there lived an eminent soothsayer named Asitha. He was a dignified Brahmin of widespread renown. On his visit to King Suddhodana’s palace to bless the new born Prince, he skilfully realized the new born baby’s transcendent features and significant signs. Then the sage exceedingly rejoiced and momentarily shed tears. While the King remained perplexed the sage uttered a prediction.   


The Prince would be illustrious among his race and explained the spiritual Omen that took place, as an indication that the Prince would bring deliverance to the World becoming the gloriously resplendent divine Guru and attain the State of Samma Sambodhi. The sage had first smiled foreseeing this delight but had later cried in agony that he would not live that long to see the Enlightened One.   


Coincidentally decades afterwards, a holy Brahmin Dona, observed similar unique characteristics of the Buddha. Dona, noticing the radiant footprints of the Tathagata and followed them to where the Buddha was seated cross-legged, under a tree. Moved by his serenity, with mind deeply appeased, the Brahmin respectfully approached him and queried:- 

 “Who, then will pray your Reverence be?” The Buddha then explained that he had destroyed defilements which conditions rebirth. Brahmin, Verily I was Deva, a gandhabba, Yakka, a man, so long as I had not purged myself, of the intoxicants. These very intoxicants have I now given up with roots cut-out like unto a palm-tree, with its base destroyed and rendered unable to sprout again, so that in future they do not come into existence. “As a lotus, fair and lovely, by the water is not soiled, by the World I am not soiled, therefore Brahmin, am I Buddha”. So, Brahmin consider me as the Exalted One!    


The Buddha had a regular time table and fulfilled his duties as the Buddha. On rising the Buddha attains the “Ecstasy of great compassion” (saryyers the world with his divine eye to admonish and salvage the ones most deserve). He spent every single moment purposefully and for forty five years continuously endeavoured to enlighten the suffering beings and free them from ills of life either individually or in groups.   
Accompanied by his disciples, he traversed long distances. Though hard and weary even during his last days, at the age of 80, he continued his mission.   


During his 45th year retreat (Vas), he often fell ill. Sharp pains had come upon him as if the Monarch of Death (Mara), was calling him. Even Ven. Ananda Thera who remained by him had become nervous. Yet, the Tathagata by will had subdued the sickness, determining not to pass away, without giving his final instructions to the order.  


During the last three months of his life, while he journeyed to Kusinara, the Tathagata delivered a series of most significant discourses to the order of disciples and laymen “Four Great References”, contained his noble guidelines to the large company of Bhikkhus, who accompanied him throughout his last journey.   


The Blessed One, addressed the disciples on Righteousness, earnest thought, wisdom and freedom.“When freedom is realized and understood, then only the carving for existence rooted out, that which leads to renewed existence is ended. Then there is no more birth. We have had to suffer so long in this weary path of transmigration due to the failure and ignorance in realizing and grasping the Four Truths.  
 

The Noble conduct of life  
The Noble earnestness in meditation  
The Noble kind of wisdom  
The Noble salvation of freedom   
This is the path to end the 
Sansarik Journey”.   


While at Bhandagama the Blessed One also delivered comprehensive religions discourse on the “Nature of upright conduct”. Staying at Bhandagama, so long as he desired he then addressed Ven. Ananda, “come, Ananda, let us go on to Hathigama.“Even so, lord!, said Ananda, in assent to the Blessed One.  


Thereafter the Exalted One proceeded with the great company of disciples Via Ambagama, Jambugamato Bhoga Nagara.   
The Four Great References (By means of which the Dhamma could be tested and clarified). At Bhoganagara, the blessed One addressed the Bhikkhus. ‘I will teach you, O Bhikkhus, these four Great References. Listen thereto, and give good heed, and I will speak.’  


‘Even so, Lord!’ said the Bhikkhus, in assent, to the Blessed One, and the Blessed One spoke.  
(1) ‘In the first place, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu may say thus: “From the mouth of the Blessed One himself have I heard, from his own mouth have I received it. This is the truth, this the law, this the teaching of the Master.” The word spoken, Bhikkhus, by that Bhikkhu should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and then put beside the scripture and compared with the rules of the order. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the scripture, and do not fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that Bhikkhu?” Therefore, you should reject it. But if they harmonise with the scripture and fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that Bhikkhu.” This, you should receive as the first Great Reference.   


(2) ‘Again, a Bhikkhu may say thus: “In such and such a dwelling-place there is a company of the Bhikkhus with their elders and leaders. From the mouth of that company have I heard, face to face have I received it. This is the truth, this the law, this the teaching of the Master.” The word spoken, Bhikkhus, by that Bhikkhu should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and then put beside the scripture and compared with the rules of the order. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the scripture, and do not fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by that company of the Bhikkhus.” Therefore, Bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if they harmonise with the scripture and fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that company of the Bhikkhus.” This, Bhikkhus, you should receive as the second Great Reference.   


(3) ‘Again, a Bhikkhu may say thus: “In such and such a dwelling-place there dwell many elders of the order, Deeply read, holding the faith as handed down by tradition, versed in the summaries of the doctrines and the law. From the mouth of those elders have I heard, from their mouth have I received it. This is the truth, this the law, this the teaching of the Master.” The word spoken, Bhikkhus, by that Bhikkhu should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and then put beside the scripture and compared with the rules of the order. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the scripture, and do not fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by those elders.” Therefore, Bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if they harmonise with the scripture and fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by those elders.” This Bhikkhus, you should receive as the third 
Great Reference.   


(4) ‘Again, a Bhikkhu may say, “In such and such a dwelling-place there lives a Bhikkhu, deeply read, holding the faith as handed down by tradition, versed in the truths, versed in the regulations of the order, versed in the summaries of the doctrines and the law. From the mouth of that elder have I heard, from his mouth have I received it. This is the truth, this is the law, this is the teaching of the Master.” The word spoken, Bhikkhus, by that Bhikkhu should neither be received with praise nor treated with scorn. Without praise and without scorn every word and syllable should be carefully understood, and then put beside the scripture and compared with the rules of the order. If when so compared they do not harmonise with the scripture, and do not fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by the brother.” Therefore, Bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if they harmonise with the scripture and fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is not the word of the Blessed One, and has been wrongly grasped by the brother.” Therefore, Bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if they harmonise with the scripture and fit in with the rules of the order, then you may come to the conclusion, “Verily, this is the word of the Blessed One, and has been well grasped by that Bhikkhu.” This, Bhikkhus, you should receive as the fourth Great Reference.  
‘These, Bhikkhus, are the Four Great References.”     
“Vinayo Nama Sasanassa Ayu!” the exalted one stressed.”   
“The survival of the Dhamma depends on the discipline of the order.”  

 

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