Monday, December 27, 2010

The Child who Reached Enlightenment

Ven. Sri K. Dhammananda and Wisdom Quarterly translation

"Irrigators lead the waters;
Fletchers bend their arrows;
Carpenters shape raw wood;
But the wise control themselves."
(Dhp. 80)

VI:5 The Wise Control Themselves (Pandita)
Young Pandita was the son of a well known man in Savatthi. He became a novice-monk when he was very young. Seven days after becoming a novice he was following Ven. Sariputra on almsround.

As he walked he noticed some farmers irrigating by channeling water into their fields and asked Sariputra, "Venerable sir, can water which has no mind be guided wherever one wishes?"

"Yes, it can be guided wherever one wishes," replied Sariputra as they continued on their way.

The novice Pandita next noticed fletchers making arrows by heating and straightening them. Farther along, he came across carpenters sawing, cutting, and planing timber to create such things as cart wheels.

All of this led him to ponder: "If water which is without mind can be guided wherever one wishes, and if crooked bamboo which is also without mind can be straightened, and if raw timber which is also without mind can be made into useful things, why couldn't I, having mind, be able to tame my own consciousness by practicing serenity and insight meditation?"

There and then he asked permission from Sariputra to return to his room in the monastery.

There he diligently and persistently put forward balanced-effort practicing the mindfulness meditation of contemplating the body. Unseen devas helped by keeping the monastery and its surroundings very quiet and peaceful. Soon thereafter Pandita attained non-returning, the third stage of enlightenment.

By then Sariputra was returning to the monastery. The Buddha saw the situation with his supernormal power of knowing. Understanding that Pandita had already attained non-returning, he also saw that with continued practice the young novice could soon attain full enlightenment (arhatship).

The Buddha therefore decided to delay Sariputra and keep him from entering the novice's room.

The Buddha went to the door and kept Sariputra engaged -- putting some questions to him. And while that conversation was taking place, Pandita attained full enlightenment on the eighth day after ordaining as a novice.

In this connection, the Buddha uttered this verse: "When one is earnestly practicing the Dharma, even devas give protection and keep guard. I myself kept Sariputra engaged at the door so that Pandita could attain the goal."

No comments: