Sunday, August 17, 2008

Are You Enlightened?

"Mirror of Dharma" (MN 16.2.8)

"Ananda, it is not remarkable that that which has come to be as a human should die. But that you should come to the Tathagata [the Buddha referring to himself in the third-person] to ask the fate of each of those who have died, that is a weariness to him.

"Therefore, Ananda, I will teach you a way of knowing Dharma [a universal truth], called the Mirror of Dharma, whereby the noble disciple, if s/he so wishes, can discern of her or himself: "I have [overcome further rebirth in] hell, the animal world, the realm of ghosts, the entire Downfall, all unfortunate and miserable states.

"I am a Stream-Winner, incapable of falling into states of woe, certain of attaining Nirvana.

"And what is this Mirror of the Dharma by which one can know this? [If one were enlightened even to the least degree, which is the stage of Stream-Winning, these four would also be true.]
  1. "Here, Ananda, this noble disciple is possessed of unwavering confidence in the Buddha in the following way: 'This Blessed Lord is an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, the Well-farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of persons to be tamed, Teacher of devas and humans, enlightened and blessed.'
  2. One is possessed of unwavering faith in the Dharma in the following way: 'Well-proclaimed by the Buddha is the Teaching, visible here and now, timeless, inviting investigation, leading onward, to be comprehended by the wise each one for him/herself.'

  3. One is possessed of unwavering faith in the [Noble] Sangha in the following way: 'Well-directed is the Sangha of the Buddha's disciples, of upright conduct, on the right path, on the perfect pah; this is to say, the four pairs of persons, the eight kinds of humans. The Sangha of the Buddha's disciples is worthy of offerings, worthy of hospitality, worthy of gifts, worthy of veneration, an unsurpassed field of merit in the world.

  4. And one is possessed of virtue dear to the Noble Ones, unbroken, without defect, unspotted, without inconsistency, liberating, uncorrupted, and conducive to concentration.
"This, Ananda, is the Mirror of Dharma, whereby the Noble Disciple...can discern of oneself: 'I have destroyed hell,...I am [at least] a Stream-Winner,...certain of attaining Nirvana."

This version of the exchange between the Buddha and Ananda is based on a translation of the Mahaparinibbana Sutra by Maurice Walshe in The Long Discourses of the Buddha (pp. 241-242).

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