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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 39 Thus he is the Blessed One: because he is an Arahant, perfectly and completely Awakened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of worlds, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, Buddha, Blessed One. (SN.V.344) Reflecting on the Buddha in this way is the path of the noble disciple: When a noble disciple recollects thus, on that occasion his mind is not obsessed by attachment, hatred or delusion; his mind is straight, with the Tathagata as object. A noble disciple whose mind is straight gains inspiration of the meaning, inspiration of the Dhamma, gains gladness con- nected with the Dhamma. When he is gladdened, joy arises; for one uplifted by joy the body becomes tranquil; one tranquil of body feels happy; for one who is happy, the mind becomes concentrated. This is called a noble disciple who dwells evenly amidst an uneven generation, who dwells unafflicted amidst an afflicted generation, who has entered the stream of the Dhamma and cultivates recollection of the Buddha. (AN.III.285) The Buddha was a real historical person who ate, slept, sweated, and got tired. Yet he was also an extraordinary person who developed inspiring qualities that we are all capable of developing. If you find some of the details of the developed hagi- ography of the Buddha an off-putting burden, look to him as a great human teacher of the path beyond human limitation. to stand above it, unsoiled. He had developed from the “mud” of limitations and defilements of ordi- nary beings but had risen above all attachment. elsewhere, he said that an enlightened person was beyond attachment to the bundles of processes that comprise a normal person: material form, feeling, perceptual labelling, constructing activities, and conditioned consciousness. Having abandoned attachment to these, such a liberated one was truly “deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom as is the great ocean” (MN.I.487–88). The Voice of Dhamma Ultimately, the most extraordinary features of the Buddha are his applied wisdom and compassion in teaching a great range of beings. A real human voice comes through the suttas, that of a person of deep, incisive, and subtle knowledge responding to the questions and situations of brahmins, non-Bud- dhist renunciants, kings, a great range of ordinary men and women, and even gods. It is said that what the Buddha taught, compared to what he knew, was like a handful of leaves compared to all the leaves in a forest (SN.V.437–38). From what he knew to be true, he said he taught what was spiritually useful and appropriate to the moment, whether the person he taught found the teaching pleasant or painful to hear (MN.I.395). The most important aspect of the Buddha was the Dhamma he taught and embodied in order to aid others in seeing and fathoming it. Both the restrained glorification of the Buddha in the early texts and the more embellished and magni- fied glorifications in the developed hagiographies were intended to help a person open to the magi- cally transformative aspects of the Dhamma (and are only of value if they do); conversely, to see the Dhamma is to see the Buddha. Indeed, one of the qualities of a stream-enterer, someone who has had a first transformative “seeing” of nirvana with the “Dhamma-eye,” is to have this unshakable faith in the Buddha: The Buddha was a real historical person who ate, slept, sweated, and got tired. Yet he was also an extraordinary person who developed inspiring qualities that we are all capable of developing. (oPPosITe)sourceunknown