Sunday, June 21, 2020

Homer reborn. How to treat parents (sutra)

The Simpsons; Ven. Piyadassi Thera (trans.), Vasala Sutra: "The Discourse on Outcasts" (Sn 1.7, PTS Sn 116-142), 1999, edited by Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Pat Macpherson, Father's Day, Wisdom Quarterly
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Siddhartha Gautama, Scythian Shakyamuni
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One [the Buddha] was living near Savatthi at Jetavana in Anathapindika's monastery.

Then in the forenoon, having dressed, he took bowl and [double] robe, and entered the city of Savatthi for alms.

Now at that time the Brahmin Aggika Bharadvaja was at home preparing a fire ceremony to make oblations (burnt offerings) to his God.

The Blessed One came to that Brahmin's residence. And the Brahmin, seeing the Blessed One from afar, yelled at him:

"Stay there, shaveling. Stay there, wretched wandering ascetic. Stay there, outcast."

When he spoke this way, the Blessed One said to the Brahmin: "Do you know, Brahmin, who an outcast is and what the conditions are that make one an outcast?"

The Buddha was much respected.
"No, actually, Venerable Gautama, I do not know who an outcast is nor the conditions that make one an outcast. It would be good if Venerable Gautama were to explain the Dharma to me so that I might know who an outcast is and what the conditions are that make one an outcast."
  • [The abusive terms used by the Brahmin and the respectful address that follows need a word of explanation. The Brahmin had just prepared his offering to is God, Great Brahma, when his eyes fell upon the Buddha. To the Brahmin the sight of a wandering ascetic (samana), a head shaved recluse, is an unlucky sign. So he burst into angry words. The Buddha, however, was unruffled and spoke to him gently in words with a soft cadence. The Brahmin was apparently ashamed of his unskillful outburst and, repenting of his folly, addressed the Buddha courteously. Commentary: Note the Buddha's emphasis on anger and hatred in his very first stanza.]
"Listen then, Brahmin, and pay attention. I will explain."

"Yes, Venerable Sir," replied the Brahmin.

1. "Whoever is angry, harbors hatred, and is reluctant to speak well of others [discredits the good of others], perverse in views, deceitful — know that person as an outcast.

2. "Whoever in this world kills living beings, once born or twice born,* in whom there is no sympathy for living beings — know that person as an outcast.
  • [*Dvijam, birds, are "twice-born" in that they are first born as an egg and then are born again out of their shells when they hatch.]
3. "Whoever destroys and besieges villages and hamlets and becomes notorious as an oppressor — know that person as an outcast.

4. "Be it in village or forest, whoever steals what belongs to others, what is not freely given — know that person as an outcast.

5. "Whoever having actually incurred a debt runs away when pressed to pay it, saying, 'I owe no debt to you' — know that person as an outcast.

6. "Whoever, coveting anything, kills a person going along the road, and grabs whatever that person has — know that person as an outcast.

7. "One who for one's own sake or for the sake of another or for the sake of wealth, utters lies when questioned as a witness — know that person as an outcast.

8. "Whoever by force [rape] or with consent [adultery] associates with the spouses of relatives or friends — know that person as an outcast.

Good karma: Treat parents like buddhas.
9. "Whoever having wealth supports not one's own mother and father who have grown old — know that person as an outcast.

10. "Whoever strikes and annoys by [harsh] speech, mother, father, brother, sister, mother-in-law, or father-in-law — know that person as an outcast.

11. "Whoever, when questioned about what is good, says what is detrimental, and talks in an evasive manner — know that person as an outcast.

12. "Whoever, having committed an unskillful deed, wishes that it may not be discovered by others, and commits harm in secret — know that person as an outcast.

13. "Whoever, having gone to another's house and partaken of choice food, does not honor that host by offering food when receiving a visit — know that person as an outcast.

14. "Whoever deceives a Brahmin priest or wandering ascetic or any other mendicant [alms person] by uttering lies — know that person as an outcast.

15. "Whoever when a Brahmin or wandering ascetic appears during mealtime angers that person by harsh speech and does not offer that person [any alms] — know that person as an outcast.

16. "Whoever in this world, shrouded by ignorance, speaks harsh words (asatam) or falsehood [asantamtipi patho (SnA)] expecting to gain something — know that person as an outcast.

17. "Whoever, debased by pride, exalts oneself and belittles others — know that person as an outcast.

18. "Whoever is given to anger, is miserly, has base desires, and is selfish, deceitful, shameless, and fearless [in doing what is unskillful] — know that person as an outcast.

19. "Whoever reviles the Enlightened One [the Buddha], a disciple of the Buddha, a recluse, or a householder — know that person as an outcast.

20. "Whoever not being an enlightened person, a consummate one, pretends to be one, is a thief in the whole universe — the lowest of outcasts.

21. "Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a Brahmin. By deed one becomes an outcast, and by deed one becomes a Brahmin.

22. "Know by the example now cited [the fact that by birth one is not an outcast]: There was an outcast's son, Sopaka, who became known as Matanga.

23. "This Matanga attained the highest fame difficult to gain. Many were the warriors (kshatriyas) and Brahmins who went to attend on him.

24. "Mounting the celestial chariot [the Noble Eightfold Path, and driving] along the passion-free high road, [Sopaka, now a monk], reached the Brahma realm having given up sense-desires.

25. "His [lowly] birth did not prevent him from being reborn in the Brahma realm. There are Brahmins born in the family of preceptors, kinsmen of [Vedic] hymns.

26. "They are often seen committing unskillful deeds. In this life itself they are despised, in the next they are reborn in an unfortunate state of existence. High birth does not prevent them from falling into a woeful state or from censure [here and now].

27. "Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a Brahmin. By deed one becomes an outcast, and by deed one becomes an Brahmin."

Honoring the worthy ones is good karma.
When the Buddha had spoken, the Brahmin Aggika Bharadvaja said to him:

"Excellent, O Venerable Gautama, excellent! O Venerable Gautama, it is just as if a person were to set upright what had been overturned, or were to reveal what had been hidden, or were to point the way to one who had gone astray, or were to hold an oil lamp to the dark so that those with eyes might see things, even so in many ways has Venerable Gautama expounded the Dharma, the Doctrine. I go for guidance (sarana) to Venerable Gautama, the Dharma, and the [Arya-] Sangha [the community of enlightened disciples]. May Venerable Gautama accept me as a lay follower who has gone for guidance from this day onwards so long as life lasts."

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