Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rahula, the Buddha's Son

Rahula was the son of Siddhattha Gotama and Yasodhara. Siddhattha Gotama left him at the day he was born to attain enlightenment. Buddha gave the Dhamma to Rahula who was asking for his inheritance. Venerable Sariputta ordained him. Thus Rahula became the first samanera and a role model for all samaneras through his obedience and humility.
He was so called Rahula, as his father murmured: Rahulajato Bandhanam jatamon hearing his birth. It means, An obstacle to his renunciation had arisen. Nevertheless, his presence prompted Siddhattha Gotama to renounce the world immediately and made himself become Buddha, the Noble One.
King Suddhodana felt sad when his sons Siddhattha and Nanda renounced the world. Again, he was very unhappy to hear the ordination of his grandson, Rahula. He requested the Buddha, not to ordain sons without permission of their parents or guardians. The Buddha agreed to do so. He made it a discipline of the Noble Order.
Rahula was brought up by his mother and his grandfather. He only met his father when he was seven. He said,Lord, even your shadow is pleasing to me. These words showed his deep love to his father.
Teachers of Rahula were Venerable Sariputta and Moggallana. Venerable Sariputta taught him knowledge of the Dhamma while Venerable Moggallana instructed on his behaviour.
Everymorning, Rahula took a handful of sand and threw it up in the air, wishing:May I get advice and instruction as these grains of sand from my teachers”. This action expressed how much he was eager to learn.
Buddha never failed to teach him too. Several suttas were preached by him to his son, Rahula. After listening to the Cula Rahulovada Sutta, Rahula became an arahat.
His friends called him Rahulabhadda, meaning the lucky one. He said that he was worthy of this name, for he was being the Buddha's son and an arahat as well.
Rahula deceased before the Buddha and his two teachers.
Records showed that King Asoka built a thupa (monument of relics enshrined) in honour of Rahula, particularly for the samaneras to worship.
Precisely, samaneras should worship Rahula Thera as a role model for his obedience and truthfulness.
Posted by Aye Sat

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nine Attributes of the Sangha

“Suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ujuppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, ñāyappaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, sāmīcippaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, yadidaṃ cattāri purisayugāni aṭṭha purisapuggalā, esa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho, āhuneyyo, pāhuneyyo, dakkhineyyo, añjalikaraṇīyo, anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā ti.”

The Noble Sangha has the nine attributes as follows:

[1]  Suppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho _
      The disciples of the Blessed One practised well the morality, concentration and wisdom,
[2]  Ujuppaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho _
      The disciples of the Blessed One practised straightly.
[3]  ñāyappaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho _
      The disciples of the Blessed One practised insightfully,
[4]  Sāmīcippaṭipanno bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho _
      The disciples of the Blessed One practised respectably,
      Yadidaṃ cattāri purisayugāni aṭṭha purisapuggalā _
      That is the four pairs and eight kinds of noble beings.
      Esa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho _
      These are the Blessed One’s disciples.
[5]  āhuneyyo _ Worthy of offerings,
[6]  Pāhuneyyo _ Worthy of hospitality,
[7]  Dakkhineyyo _ Worthy of gifts,
[8] Añjalikaraṇīyo _ Worthy of reverence,
[9] Anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassā _ The incomparable field of merit in the world.

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Sangha: Duties and Responsibilities

After the Buddha's parinibbana, the arahants decreased gradually in number. Nowadays the Sammuti Sanghas come to increase, and the Ariya Sangha becomes very rare, but not yet extinct. For this reason the role of Sammuti Sangha is more important. They require patience with the heavy duty of the Buddha Sasana.  

The Sammuti Sanghas carry out the two main duties:  
[1] the duty of learning dhamma literature (Ganthadhura);  
[2] the duty of practising meditation (Vipassanadhura).  

The first one concerns with the doctrine and the discipline laid down by the Buddha. The second one is relevant to the practical aspect for the path to the enlightenment.

In addition they have two great responsibilities. That is an endeavour for the sake of preserving and propagating Buddhism. So, the Buddhist people must first encourage everyone to contribute in those honorable tasks such as:
[1] Maintenance and Restoration,  
[2] Propagation and Promotion of Buddhism.

What we do to achieve all is to have faith in the Sangha for providing them with four things that the Buddha had permitted monks to accept as offerings. Those are monastery, robes, food and medicine.

To fulfil the first responsibility, every learned monk and nun first need to study and comprehend thoroughly the teachings of Buddha. Then those monks would in turn pass on to and educate the successors—no matter how young and old, rich and poor, high and low they are.   

To try for the second responsibility, each monk and nun must be well trained and prepared for any challenging tasks that lie ahead. It must also be fluent in conversation on the Buddha's Dhamma in foreign languages.  
In a nutshell, the Buddha advised his disciples (Savakas), "Go forth, Bhikkhu, for the benefit of the many, for the welfare of the many, in compassion for the world. Preach the glorious teachings in Dhamma; proclaim the life of holiness."

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Sangha: Rules of Conduct and Routines

There are much more numerous rules and regulations for a fully-fledged monk. Most important are the 227 rules of Patimokkha in Vinaya Pitaka. Of these 227 rules of conduct, the four parajikas are the most serious. The transgression of these four results in permanent expulsion from the Sangha. The remainders are considered redeemable. The four parajikas are: 

[1] Not to have sexual intercourse. 
[2] Not to steal. 
[3] Not to commit murder. 
[4] Not to claim attainments of stages of pure mental concentration that have not been achieved. 

The community of Sangha is not ones who are making time waste. They are the virtuous and venerable ones because they devote their life not only in social welfare but also in performing self-sacrifice. Thus almost everyone is living with a good deed all the times. 

Most monks have to get up early in the morning. They devote their time to meditation, chanting, and Buddhist studies at the pre-dawn hours. At daybreak, the monks walk the streets on alms round to receive food offered by the religious devotees. 

According to the Vinaya, monks may eat only between daybreak and midday, not before or after that. The mealtime is limited. Some monks eat only one meal a day. Others take breakfast and lunch, however, all finish their last meal before midday. 

The monastic chores are to sweep the compounds; to clean up the chapel area; to draw water from the well; to take care of the temple, the gardens and the elders; to teach for posterity; to visit the sick and so on. They are also invited to perform ceremonies at homes, offices or communities. 

Some brainy monks write books and make the Buddha images. Some also give Dhamma talks and lectures. Normally they take the regular services of worship every day. Therefore the monks are always busy throughout the year. But, they never spend their time in idle gossip, though the life of monk is simple. 

In the first establishment of Buddhism, all disciples of the Buddha were only Arahants. This is the first community of Sangha, all Arahants. They spent the first Buddhist Lent (Vassa) with the Buddha.

Posted by Nyan U.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Sangha: Significance and Grades

The term Sangha in Pali is a group of monks (Bhikhus) or nuns (Bhikhunis). It literally means a community. In its broadest sense, the term covers both the lay and the monastic communities.
The word Sangha usually has two meanings in proper Buddhist usage.
[1] It refers to the community of ordained disciples i.e. monks and nuns. or 
[2] It refers to the community of disciples, "noble ones" (ariya sangha).
They may be ones (whether ordained or not) who have gained any of the stages of Enlightenment.
According to Itivuttaka, “Among whatever communities or groups there may be, the Sangha of the Buddha's disciples is considered supreme.” The Sangha is the third part of the Triple Gem (Tri-ratana). Every Buddhist takes refuge in the Sangha. When Buddhists recite "Sangham saranam gachchâmi" they are referring to the Ariya Sangha. The Buddhist Sangha is the community of Noble Ones. They had led an ideal example of life and also attained extraordinary insight into the true nature of things. But the Sangha also generally implies the Buddha's disciples of the fourfold assembly. These are monks (Bhikhus), nuns (Bhikhunis), lay men disciples (Upasakas) and lay women disciples (Upasikas).
In Buddhism the first monk and sangha is Kondanna. Kondanna was once a leader of ascetic group known as Pancavaggi. On hearing Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, Kondanna became enlightened and gained a first glimpse of Nibbana. He asked the Buddha for ordination. Thus he became the first member of the Noble Sangha as the Buddha's first disciple. This happened to the completion of the Triple Gem in Buddhism viz the Buddha (the teacher), the Dhamma (the teaching) and the Sangha (the community). The Buddha added to Kondanna the name of Annata Kondanna. Annata means one who has understood.
In fact, there are two kinds of Sangha such as the Bhikkhu Sangha (the community of monks) and the Savaka Sangha (the community of Noble disciples). The former is also known as the Sammuti Sangha (Conventional Sangha). The latter is also called the Ariya Sangha (Noble Sangha). For instance, when Kondanna was ordained a Bhikkhu, he became the first member of the Conventional Sangha. When he attained awakening, he became the first member of Noble Sangha.
The four types of persons who form the Noble Sangha are as follows:

[1] the Sotapanna (Stream-Enterers), 
[2] the Sakatagami (Once Returners), 
[3] the Anagami (Non-Returners) and 
[4] the Arahanta (Worthy Ones), who attained the goal of nibbana.
These noble disciples form the Sangha of the Triple Gem. Nine attributes of the Noble Sangha are said to be 1. of good conduct, 2. of upright conduct, 3. of wise conduct, 4. of seemly conduct; 5. the Sangha is worthy of offerings, 6. worthy of hospitality, 7. worthy of gifts, 8. worthy of reverence, 9. the Sangha is the incomparable field of merit in the world.
A Bhikkhu, the Buddhist monk cultivates himself along the path of moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom in accordance with the Buddha's teachings.
Posted by Nyan U

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Happy New Year to Everybody!

A year is new and we are older.
We might be more mature.
We greet, '' Happy New Year '' to each other.
Will we be really happy ever after?
It depends on what we've done.
We can work hard for the next year to be a happy one.
Let's try our best to be truly happy throughout every new year!

Posted by Nyan U and Aye Sat