Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Advice to the Buddha's son (sutra)

John D. Ireland (trans.), Access to Insight, excerpt of the Rahula Sutra: "Advice to Rahula," the Buddha's son, edited by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly
Young Prince Rahula is prompted by his mother Bimba Devi (aka Princess Yasodhara) to ask for his inheritance from his father, Prince Siddhartha, who has now become the Buddha. To give it to him, he instructs Ven. Sariputta (Sariputra) to ordain Prince Rahula, giving him a spiritual inheritance better than the one he asked for.


"Renouncing the five sense pleasures that entrance and delight the mind/heart, and with confidence (faith) departing from home, become [a noble] one who makes an end of all suffering!

"Associate with good friends and choose a remote lodging, secluded, with little distrubing noise. Be moderate in eating. Robes, alms-food, medicinal remedies, and a dwelling — do not have craving [hankering] for these things; do not be one who returns to the world [Note 1].

"Practice restraint according to the Monastic Discipline [2], and control the five sense-faculties.

"Practice mindfulness of the body [in accordance with the Four Factors of Mindfulness Sutra] and continually develop dispassion [towards it].

"Avoid the sign of the beautiful connected with passion; by meditating on the foul [3] cultivate a mind that is concentrated and collected.

"Meditate on the Signless [4], and get rid of the tendency to conceit. By thoroughly understanding and destroying conceit [5] you will live in the [highest] peace." In this manner the Buddha repeatedly exhorted [his son who was the youngest person to ordain and become a monk, who was therefore called the] Venerable Rahula.

1. By being dragged back to it again by your craving for these things (Commentary).

2. The Vinaya, or Monastic Disciplinary Code followed by the community (sangha) of Buddhist monks and nuns.

3. The "foul," or asubha-kammatthana [the field-of-effort contemplating the repulsive aspect of things that formerly easily gave rise to lust and sensual craving], refers to the practice of contemplating a corpse in various stages of decay and the contemplation on the 32 parts of the body, as a means of cultivating liberating detachment from body and dispassion with regard to its beautiful aspects (or "the sign of the beautiful," subha-nimitta).

4. The Signless (animitta) is one of the three Deliverances (vimokkha) by which beings are liberated from the world. The other two are Desirelessness (appanihita) and Emptiness (sunnata). The Signless is connected with the idea of the impermanence of all conditioned things (cf. The Path of Purification or Visuddhi Magga, XXI 67f).

5. The word "mana" means both conceit [the pernicious tendency to view things in relation to a self when, in an ultimate sense, no such "self" exists] and misconceiving.

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