Saturday, September 6, 2014

狮子的乐园 The Lion's Playground! [1]


GM Lu: Where Lions leap, rabbits should not follow suit! Follow suit will Die with [Jest]!

The Lion's Roar

The Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar

Among the hordes of animals that roam the wild, whether the jungle, the mountains or the plain, the lion is universally recognized to be their chief. 

The living embodiment of self-possessed power, he is the most regal in manner and deportment, the mightiest, the foremost with respect to speed, courage and dominion. 

The expression of the lion's supremacy is its roar — a roar which reduces to silence the cries, howls, bellows, shrieks, barks and growls of lesser creatures. 

When the lion steps forth from his den and sounds his roar, all the other animals stop and listen. 
On such an occasion none dares even to sound its own cry, let alone to come into the open and challenge the fearless, unsurpassable roar of the golden-maned king of beasts.

The Buddha's discourses, as found in the ancient Pali canon, frequently draw their imagery from the rich and varied animal life of the luxuriant Indian jungle. 

It is thus not surprising that when the Buddha has occasion to refer to himself, he chooses to represent himself as the stately lion and to describe his proclamation of the Dhamma, bold and thunderous, as a veritable lion's roar in the spiritual domain. 

The Majjhima Nikaya, the Collection of Middle Length Discourses, contains two suttas which bear this metaphor in their title. 
These two — No. 11 and No. 12 in the collection — are called respectively the Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar and the Great Discourse on the Lion's Roar. 

The variation in their titles, signalled by the Pali words cula, "minor," and maha, "great," evidently refers at one level to their different lengths, the one being four pages in the Pali, the other sixteen. 

At another level, these different designations may allude to the relative weight of the subject matter with which they deal, the "great" discourse being a rare revelation by the Buddha of his exalted spiritual endowments and all-encompassing knowledge, which entitle him to "roar his lion's roar" in the assemblies of human beings and gods. Still, both suttas, as their controlling image suggests, are of paramount importance. 

Each delivers in its own way an eloquent and inspiring testimony to the uniquely emancipating nature of the Buddha's Teaching and the peerless stature of the Teacher among the spiritual guides of humanity.

The Pali Commentaries explain that there are two kinds of lion's roar: 
that of the Buddha himself and that of his disciples. 

The former is sounded when the Buddha extols his own attainments or proclaims the potency of the doctrine he has realized; 
the latter, when accomplished disciples testify to their own achievement of the final goal, the fruit of arahantship. 

Viewed in the light of this distinction, the Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar exhibits a hybrid character, being a sutta spoken by the Buddha to instruct his disciples how they should affirm, in discussions with others who hold different convictions, the singular greatness of the Teaching.

Section 2. The Buddha opens the discourse by disclosing the content of this roar. 
He tells his monks that they can boldly declare that "only here" (idh'eva) — 
i.e., in the Dispensation of the Enlightened One — is it possible to find true recluses of the first, second, third and fourth degrees. 

The expression "recluse" (samana) here refers elliptically to the four grades of noble disciples who have reached the stages of realization at which final deliverance from suffering is irrevocably assured: the stream-enterer, the once-returner, the non-returner and the arahant. 

The "doctrines of others"(parappavada), the Buddha says, are devoid of true recluses, of those who stand on these elevated planes. 
In order to understand this statement properly, it is important to distinguish exactly what the words imply and what they do not imply. 

The words do not mean that other religions are destitute of persons of saintly stature. 
Such religions may well engender individuals who have attained to a high degree of spiritual purity — beings of noble character, lofty virtue, deep contemplative experience, and rich endowment with love and compassion

These religions, however, would not be capable of giving rise to ariyan individuals, those equipped with the penetrative wisdom that can cut through the bonds that fetter living beings to samsara, the round of repeated birth and death. 

For such wisdom can only be engendered on a basis of right view — 
the view of the three characteristics of all conditioned phenomena, 
of dependent arising, 
and of the Four Noble Truths — 
and that view is promulgated exclusively in the fold of the Buddha's Dispensation.

Admittedly, this claim poses an unmistakable challenge to eclectic and universalist approaches to understanding the diversity of humankind's religious beliefs, but it in no way implies a lack of tolerance or good will. 

During the time of the Buddha himself, in the Ganges Valley, there thrived a whole panoply of religious teachings, all of which proposed, with a dazzling diversity of doctrines and practices, to show seekers of truth the path to liberating knowledge and to spiritual perfection. 

In his frequent meetings with uncommitted inquirers and with convinced followers of other creeds, the Buddha displayed the most complete tolerance and gracious cordiality. 

But though he was always ready to allow each individual to form his or her own convictions without the least constraint or coercion, 
he clearly did not subscribe to the universalist thesis that all religions teach essentially the same message, 
nor did he allow that the attainment of final release from suffering, Nibbana, was accessible to those who stood outside the fold of his own Dispensation. 

While this position may seem narrow and parochial to many today, when reaction against the presumptions of dogmatic religion has become so prevalent, it is not maintained by the Buddha as a hidebound dogma or from motives of self-exalting pride, but from a clear and accurate discernment of the precise conditions required for the attainment of deliverance.

The Buddha's statement on this issue emerges in at least two important passages in the Canon, each of which reveals, from a slightly different angle, exactly what those conditions are. 

One is found in the Maha-parinibbana Sutta (DN 16/ii,151-52). 
While the Buddha was lying between the twin sal trees on the eve of his demise, a wandering ascetic named Subhadda came into his presence to resolve a doubt: 
he wished to know whether or not the other great religious teachers contemporary with the Buddha, who were regarded as saints by the multitude, had actually attained spiritual realization, as they claimed to have done. 

The Buddha shifted the burden of the discussion away from a question aimed at assessing particular individuals and rephrased it in terms of a general evaluative principle. 

He declared: "In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, there one cannot find true recluses of the four degrees of liberation. 

But in whatever Dhamma and Discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is found, there one can find the four types of true recluses." 

Then the Buddha imparted to Subhadda the information that was important for him to know: 
"In this Dhamma and Discipline the Noble Eightfold Path is found, and in it alone are found also the true recluses of the four degrees. 

Outside this Dispensation the four types of enlightened individuals are not to be found. 
The doctrines of others are devoid of true recluses." 

In this passage the thrust of the Buddha's explanation points to a particular method of practice as essential to the attainment of true realization. 

That method of practice is the training in the Noble Eightfold Path, and because this path, in its fullness and perfection, is unique to the Dispensation of a Fully Enlightened One, it follows that persons who have reached the planes of deliverance are unique to his Dispensation as well.

In the Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar the reason for the Buddha's exclusivistic claim does not focus upon practice but upon doctrine, upon the understanding of the nature of reality that separates his own Dhamma from all other attempts to comprehend the human situation. 

As the argument unfolds, the Buddha will show that the essential key to liberation, the key that he alone makes available, is the teaching of anatta, of non-self or egolessness, which is at the same time the boundary line that marks the difference between his own doctrine and the doctrines of other teachers.

Sections 3-4. After announcing the "lion's roar" in Section 2, in the next section the Buddha begins to construct an imaginary dialogue between "the wanderers of other sects," i.e., the proponents of the rival religious systems, and his own ordained disciples, the bhikkhus. 

In the first stage of the discussion, the wanderers ask the bhikkhus about the grounds on which they advance their seemingly sweeping claim. 

The Buddha advises the monks that they should answer by mentioning four reasons: 
that they have confidence in the Teacher, 
they have confidence in his Teaching, 
they have fulfilled the precepts of training, 
and their co-religionists, both monastic and lay, live together in cordial harmony. 

The wanderers, however, do not remain satisfied with this answer, but join issue with the bhikkhus by pointing out that the four reasons that the Buddhists have offered are also found in their own sects. Thus there seems to be no essential distinction between them that the bhikkhus can appeal to as the basis for their thesis.

Section 5. The Buddha does not meet this challenge with a direct reply, but instead approaches it via an indirect route. 

He enters upon this route by first clarifying, through questioning of the wanderers, the criteria of a truly emancipating teaching. 
As a matter of mutual consensus both the bhikkhus and the wanderers agree that such a teaching must posit a goal that can be attained only by those who have achieved complete purification: 
freedom from lust, hate and delusion, 
from craving and clinging, 
from arbitrary prejudices ("favoring and opposing"), 
and from the coils of "proliferation" (papañca), 
i.e., thought constructions born of craving and groundless speculation.

Although the bhikkhus and the wanderers both agree on these criteria, this does not suffice to establish that they are shared equally by the different spiritual systems, nor does this imply that they are capable of being fulfilled regardless of the specific doctrine to which one subscribes or the discipline in which one trains. 

To show, again in an indirect manner, that the outside systems are not capable of leading to final liberation, the Buddha points out that there are two broad "families" of views, 
diametrically opposed to each other, 
under which the wide diversity of speculative systems can be subsumed. 

These two views are called, in the sutta, 
the view of being (bhavaditthi) 
and the view of non-being (vibhavaditthi). 

The view of being is identical with eternalism (sassatavada), 
the positing of some eternal entity or spiritual principle, 
i.e., a substantial self or soul, as the essence of the individual, and the positing of an eternal entity, such as a creator God or metaphysical Absolute, as the ground or source of the objective universe. 

The view of non-being is identical with annihilationism (ucchedavada), the repudiation of any principle of continuity beyond death and the denial of an objective, transpersonal foundation for morality.

While those who adhere to the former view do concur with the Buddhists in accepting the efficacy of spiritual practice, their teachings, according to the Buddha, are not free of an erroneous grasp of actuality. 

They spring from a deep clinging to the notion of a permanent self, which issues in an edifice of doctrine designed to substantiate that idea and guarantee the immortality of the imagined self. 

Hence the Buddha traces this view to its root in the craving for being (bhavatanha), and he maintains that those who adopt such a view are for that very reason the victims, even though unwittingly, of craving and attachment. 

The view of non-being, on the other hand, arises from an attitude of contempt towards existence, and finds its root in the craving for non-being(vibhavatanha). 

The thinkers who adopt this view generally begin, as the Buddha does, 
by recognizing the pervasive nature of suffering; 
but instead of pursuing this suffering back to its true causes, 
they rush to an unwarranted extreme by declaring that the entire life-process comes to an absolute end with the breakup of the body at death, so that at death a being is annihilated and exists no more in any way.

Having isolated these two views and shown them in their mutual opposition, the Buddha then states that any "recluses or brahmans," i.e., spiritual teachers, who do not understand these views as they really are fail to measure up to the criteria of those who have achieved the final goal. 

They are still subject to lust, hatred and delusion, to craving and clinging, etc., and thus they cannot claim to be freed from the cycle of repeated birth and death. 

Only those who have comprehended these views, who see their dangers and have relinquished them, are accessible to the right view that leads beyond all erroneous extremes, and it is by the instrumentality of that view that they are capable of cutting off the defilements and arriving at release from the samsaric round.

Sections 9-15. Even at this point, however, the Buddha has not yet explicitly shown that liberation from cyclic existence is an exclusive prerogative of his own Dispensation. 

He has only left this conclusion as an inference for those who are already aware that his Dhamma makes known the middle way that transcends extremist views. 

In the present sequence, however, he will bring his argument to its conclusion by homing in on the crucial point that separates his own teaching from all other religious and philosophical systems. 

He takes up this task by way of an examination of the mental activity of clinging (upadana).

He states that there are four kinds of clinging: 
(1) clinging to sense pleasures; 
(2) clinging to speculative views regarding the self and the world; 
(3) clinging to rules and observances, i.e., to external rules, rituals and austerities in the belief that they lead to liberation; 
(4) and clinging to a doctrine of self, i.e., to a view of a truly existent self. 
The last type of clinging, the subtlest and most elusive of the group, is tantamount to what the texts refer to as "personality view" (sakkayaditthi): the view of a substantial self taken to be either identical in some way to the five aggregates that constitute the personality, or to stand in some relationship to those aggregates (see MN 44/i,300, etc.).

The Buddha next points out that the recluses and brahmans who propose a path to liberation all declare that they propound "the full understanding of all kinds of clinging," a phrase the commentary to the sutta glosses as meaning the overcoming (samatikkama) of all kinds of clinging. 

However, the Buddha says, in spite of this claim, the other spiritual teachers recognize and attack only a limited number of the forms of clinging; 
at best, they might teach the overcoming of the first three forms of clinging. 

What they cannot teach, because they have not comprehended this for themselves, 
is the overcoming of clinging to a doctrine of self, and it is this fourth type of clinging that vitiates even the aspects of their teachings that are wholesome and praiseworthy. 

Because they perceive the dangers in the grosser types of clinging, 
they might urge their disciples to relinquish them, 
to give up sensuality, dogmatism and ritualism, and 
to cultivate in their place renunciation, detachment and equanimity. 

Thereby they can enjoin their disciples to engage in virtuous courses of spiritual practice, courses which have the potency to generate superior states of rebirth within the round of samsara. 

However, what they have not discovered, because of the insurmountable limits to their range of understanding, is the buried root of the entire cycle of repeated existence, which consists precisely in that adherence to the notion of self. 

For this reason, the Buddha maintains, such a Dhamma and Discipline cannot show the way to the uprooting of the belief in self, and he therefore concludes that it is "unemancipating, unconducive to peace" — the final peace of Nibbana. 

Being taught by one who is not a Fully Enlightened Buddha, such a system does not merit the confidence of those who can be satisfied with nothing less than complete release from all samsaric suffering.

In contrast to other spiritual teachers, the Buddha continues, he himself, the Tathagata, describes the full understanding of all kinds of clinging, inclusive of the clinging to a doctrine of self. 

Recognizing the danger in views of self, aware that all such views, no matter how lofty, are undermined by a fundamental cognitive error, he proclaims a path that leads to the eradication of views of self in all their bewildering variety. 

Hence, the Buddha says, his Dhamma and Discipline is truly emancipating, truly capable of leading to final peace, promulgated by a Fully Enlightened One, the proper field of confidence for seekers of liberation.

Sections 16-17. In the final sections of the discourse, the Buddha will validate his claim regarding the emancipating quality of his Dispensation by showing how a disciple who undertakes the practice of his teaching can reach the fruit of final deliverance. 

He first takes up the four kinds of clinging, the subject around which the preceding portion of the exposition revolved, and connects this topic with another major principle of his doctrine, dependent arising (paticca samuppada). 

By applying the principle of dependent arising, he traces clinging to its source in craving, and then, continuing this line of inquiry, he pursues the entire sequence of conditional factors at the base of samsara back to its deepest and most pernicious root, ignorance (avijja).

In the final paragraph he introduces a bhikkhu who arrives at the culmination of the path: 
one who develops wisdom to the fullest extent, abandons all ignorance, and arouses the liberating knowledge. 

Such a one no longer clings through any kind of clinging: 
he has eradicated all four types of clinging, 
including the clinging to a doctrine of self, 
and with their eradication has attained the final goal, 
the personal realization of Nibbana right in this very life.

Cheers all

Om Guru Lian Sheng Siddhi Hom
Lama Lotuschef

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