Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Compassion of the Foremost in Wisdom edited and expanded by the editors of Wisdom Quarterly

Why was Ven. Sariputra (born Upatissa) so compassionate? Several incidents are related in the texts show the exemplary qualities possessed by Ven. Sariputra (Pali Sāriputta Thera) -- the monk the Buddha declared "foremost in wisdom," the counterpart of Ven. Khema Theri, the nun declared "foremost in wisdom" among all female monastic disciples.
  • [Shariputra is best known outside Theravada Buddhism (the "Teaching of the Theras or Enlightened Elder Disciples of the Buddha") for his fanciful appearance as a stick figure in the apocryphal "Heart Sutra," the culmination of the perfection of wisdom (prajna paramita) literature, where he is lectured by Avalokiteshvara (thought of as an incarnation of Kwan Yin), the Bodhisattva of Compassion, about how Brahminical Hinduism/Mahayana Buddhism interprets the historical Buddha's path to the attainment of enlightenment.]
Karma keeps returning to harm the killer.
There is the remarkable story of Tambadāthika, a sort of Angulimala (the far better known "serial killer who became a saint"), Punna (2) and his wife, the poor woman in the Kundakakucchisindhava Jātaka (Jat 254), and Losaka Tissa. These show Ven. Sariputra's great compassion for the poor and needy and his eagerness to help them.

The great disciple's first teacher was the wandering ascetic Sañjaya, whom he tried but failed to convert to the Buddha’s Dharma (path to enlightenment and liberation). His second teacher was Ven. Assaji, an enlightened disciple of the Buddha, who taught him a short version of the Four Noble (Ennobling = Enlightening) Truths.

What's done is done, Tambadathika.
It is said that every night before going to bed, Ven. Sariputra would bow to the quarter (cardinal direction) in which he knew Ven. Assaji to be. And he would sleep with his head in that direction out of deep respect (DhA.iv.150 f.; cf. SNA.i.328).

If Ven. Assaji were in the same monastic complex (vihara), Ven. Sāriputra would visit him immediately after visiting the Buddha. It was in connection with this that the Dhamma Sutta was taught. More

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