Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – April 19th, 2019L uang Por Anan: I would like to start today talking about Christianity. Today is Good Friday before the Easter Sunday in Christianity. Many people believe in this religion around the world. Easter is the holiday of the resurrection of Jesus, and Christians are happy. Jesus had a lot of lovingkindness and compassion, and he sacrificed everything for others. He is a symbol of compassion. This is another religion, but Christians want to escape suffering all the same.
Luang Pu Chah talked about how religions are not different, how God is Dhamma. Once some Christian nuns came to listen to Luang Pu Chah speak on Dhamma, and they were very impressed. Today we study Dhamma more.
Seeing Dhamma is for everyone, not just for monks, nuns, or novices. Laypeople can see the Dhamma, as well – seeing the Dhamma is not specific to age, sex, or ordination status. One young child of 7 years old, Lady Visakha, saw the Dhamma in the time of the Buddha.
I rejoice with all the novices and those supporting them. Let us study the history of the first novice in Buddhism.
Welcome to all of you from your centres. This Friday we learn about Dhamma on the subject of learning and training. The Buddha’s disciple who was the foremost of all the monks in his eagerness to learn and train was Venerable Rahula Thera.
Rahula was the son of Prince Siddhartha and Princess Yashodhara, also named Lady Pimpa. Rahula was the grandson of King Suddhodana of Kapilvastu. He was born on the same day that his father (Prince Siddhartha) renounced his royal wealth to ordain as an ascetic. So Rahula grew up never seeing his father at all. After the Buddha had attained enlightenment, he came back to teach his Sakyan relatives at Kapilavastu, staying in Nigrodharama, the monastery that his relatives had offered together. The next morning, the Buddha did his morning duties going for alms round in the city of Kapilvastu and taught Dhamma to his father King Suddhodana, on the side of the road, and his father attained to becoming a Sotapanna, or stream entry.
On the 2nd day the Buddha came and received alms again in the palace and he taught the Dhamma to his father and to Queen Maha Pajapati Gotami, his aunt and foster mother. Upon completion of the Dhamma talk, his father attained to Sakadagami, or once-returner. And Queen Maha Pajapati Gotami attained to the fruit of Sotapanna. Here, even after the Buddha had received alms in the palace for 6 days in a row, Princess Pimpa, the mother of Rahula, did not take the young Rahula to see the Buddha. This was not like other people. But on the 7th day, standing looking at the city of Kapilvastu, Princess Pimpa Devi dressed up Rahula with fine ornaments and clothing, and told him, “Beloved child, that ascetic of golden complexion, with features like the Brahma-God, surrounded by a great number of monks, he is your father and he has great treasures. From the day of his renunciation, we have not seen any of it. Go up to him and ask for your rightful inheritance, because you are the future monarch.”
Rahula heard this and and went to go see the Buddha, following what his mother had said. And upon seeing the Buddha, there arose a great love for his father. He had great joy and admiration gazing at the Buddha, and being around him was pleasant and refreshing. The features of the Buddha were so incomparably bright and radiant, and Rahula ended up talking about other things and did not ask for wealth. After the Buddha had gone for alms and gave the anumodana and blessings, he went back to Nigrodharama and Rahula followed him back there as well. No one could persuade him otherwise.
When it was time, Rahula asked the Buddha for his wealth that he should rightfully receive. Lord Buddha heard this and considered that Rahula wanted the wealth of his father, but this worldly wealth would be something that would make him keep going in the round of birth and death called Vatta. And the Buddha couldn’t find even the slightest value in this type of wealth. So the Buddha would give Rahula the Noble most excellent wealth. And this would make him a true relative on the transcendental level. And then Rahula would follow in the lineage of the Buddha. When King Suddhodana found out that Rahula had ordained as a samanera, or novice, he was very saddened and distressed. Although the King was a Sakadagami, he still could not get past his sorrow. This is because of his high hopes that after Prince Siddhartha had gone to ordain, Prince Nanda could later inherit the throne one day. But the Buddha had taken Prince Nanda to ordain. After this, he still had hopes left that Rahula could inherit the royal throne, but the Buddha took Rahula to ordain as well. So there was no one left to inherit the Royal throne. He thought that if it continued like this, then there would be no children in the Sakyan lineage because they would all ordain. He thought that this sadness would probably arise in the fathers of other lineages, too.
Because of this reason, he went to the Buddha at Nigrodharama and asked the Buddha to give the allowance that, from this day onwards, if there is a child that wishes to ordain in the Buddha’s teaching, if his mother and father have not given their permission, may he not be allowed to ordain. The Buddha gave his approval according to the wishes of his father, King Suddhodana. Shortly after giving this allowance, Lord Buddha took Venerable Nanda and Samanera Rahula and the Sangha to depart to go to City of Rajagaha.
Now we look at when Rahula ordained as a samanera. Ven. Sariputta, the right hand chief disciple of the Buddha, was the preceptor to Rahula. One day while Ven. Rahula was staying at the Mango Grove in Rajagaha City, the Buddha went there and gave the discourse called the Rahulovada Sutta. The Buddha taught him vipassana, or clear seeing, talking on the subject of the sense-bases of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Talking on the inner and outer sense-bases. The Ven. Rahula sent his mind to the current of the Dhamma and attained to becoming fully enlightened. He practiced and received the praise of being the foremost of all the monks in being eager to learn.
When Samanera Rahula was 20 years old he ordained as a Bhikkhu, and was very intent to learn the Dhamma Vinaya. Every day when he woke up he would fill his palm full of sand and make the determination: “Today may I receive words of teachings from the Buddha, my preceptor, and all the teachers equal to the number of grains of sand in my hand.” He lived a reasonable lifespan and attained to parinibbana in pandu gampa in the Tavatimsa Heaven realm. Ven. Rahula did not live to an old age, because he attained parinibbana before the Buddha and before Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Maha Moggalana.
Ven. Rahula had made a lot of parami in uncountable lifetimes. He had made the determination in the past to be foremost in being intent in learning and training. Upon coming to this life, his aspirations were realised through his spiritual determination.
Therefore, we should not think that we are well-educated enough. May you be intent and determined to set your mind to be interested in learning more skills and knowledges. This is also for the novices that have ordained in Maha Bodhi Bangalore, India, and the many novices that have ordained for this period. These novices are well-behaved and inspiring faith. So may you take V. Rahula as an example of how you should be – being intent and eager to study and learn. Even though you are a novice, be intent to study and train. Even when you leave being a samanera, still be determined to study and learn the knowledges of the world and the Dhamma together. Keep building your parami until ultimately you can meet with true happiness. You will gain success in your life when you find real happiness in Buddhism. Whether you are a child or an adult, may you be intent to learn Dhamma until you gain true understanding. May you all grow in blessings.
Questions and Answers:
1. Q: One of our nuns here asks: If I am a stream enterer or once returner, but I have not learned the texts very much, can I still teach others?
Luang Por Anan: Yes. Knowledge comes from the heart that has already practiced well. You can explain Dhamma to people without study if you have tasted the Dhamma for yourself first. This knowledge is a language of the heart that comes out in words. Those who only study but have not tasted the Dhamma can explain things, but they do not really understand.
2. Q: We chant here “May this action be a cause for the realizing of nibbana”. Where is nibbana? What does it feel like?
Luang Por Anan: Nibbana means coolness; it is an easy and normal word. Nibbana is the coolness that cools the heat of greed, aversion, and delusion. All the goodness we do leads to more coolness to oppose greed, aversion, and delusion—the three roots of all evil. We practice to grow in coolness.
3. Q: I see in western countries little Buddhism but a lot of wealth, and in Buddhist countries I see poverty. Why is this?
Luang Por Anan: There are 2 types of wealth: outer and inner wealth. Inner wealth cannot be destroyed in fire, stolen by thieves, or lost. People with effort, diligence, and wisdom can get wealth anywhere, and those with no morality can get wealth too. The faith in Buddhist countries is a type of wealth. Even if one can be rich one would not do that action if gaining that wealth would cause others harm. This is the great wealth of virtue that is safe from fire, theft, enemies, and other dangers.
4. Q: Why is it that people cannot ordain when younger than 7?
5. Q: My friend says the Buddha threw away his family. How should I explain this to my friend?
Luang Por Anan: If the friend has faith this is easy to explain. If the friend has no faith than this is hard to explain. The Buddha sacrificed everything he loved to find a way to freedom to help those he loved later in a true and meaningful way. This is hard to do. Only one with great parami can do this – give up what they love. What does your friend love most? Can your friend give that up?
For example, a father goes to find food for his wife and child stranded on a deserted island. He is gone for many days. The family thinks he ran away, found food, and just ate it for himself. But in reality the father tried very hard to get food and rushed back to give that food to his family. The Buddha found food for the heart – the deathless Dhamma.
6. Q: If a doctor or prime minister ordains, people may think this is bad because that person helped many others in their profession. How can I understand this?
Luang Por Anan: If that person practices with true virtue and true understanding, then comes back to teach Dhamma, this is an even bigger help to society. And doctors would be more willing to listen to a former doctor teach Dhamma. Luang Pu Chah praised an old famous monk who was said to be fully enlightened, who used to be a very high status attendant to the king, but then he ordained. The reason people don’t ordain is because they do not see the drawbacks of the world and the benefits of renunciation – just that much. Anyone with faith can ordain, whether they have a little or a lot of knowledge
At Wat Marp Jan more than half the monks have a Bachelor’s degree, but they came to ordain. Ajahn Larry had everything but came to ordain. Why is that, Ajahn Larry?
Ajahn Larry: I come from a wealthy family and am the only son. I didn’t think to ordain, but when I practiced more, I felt dispassionate towards all the things that I used to think had value.
7. Q: Why did Rahula die young? Do all Buddhas have a son and family?
Luang Por Anan: Rahula’s death was up to his spiritual virtues. Some die young, some old. All Buddhas have giving and sacrifice, and build parami to fullness first. In the last life before Buddhahood, Buddhas give away their family as an act of giving. In a past life, Rahula was the child of a wealthy family. He saw that Padumuttara Buddha had a son who ordained as a novice and aspired to do the same under a future Buddha.
8. Q: What is the name of the next Buddha?
9. Q: (Child asking) What is the meaning of the word arahant?
10. Q: How is the present Buddha different from past Buddhas?
11. Q: For a Dhamma practitioner, how does one know if one is on the correct path or not?
12. Q: How can I keep reminding myself of the importance of life? We have a good opportunity now to practice, but sometimes I feel lazy.
Luang Por Anan: One needs wisdom. One is healthy and has energy now, but in the future one’s body will be weaker and more likely to be sick. It is not sure how long one will be strong and how long one will live. One only has loss in the future. Life is uncertain. Therefore do a lot of goodness—use your life to do good.
13. Q: In the beginning of this session you said God is Dhamma. Can other religions know the Dhamma?