Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – February 9th, 2018
L uang Por Anan: Let us meditate now. When we see the breath come and go, we see that it is impermanent. Then we see there is no one here doing the breathing, and wisdom arises. We see there is only emptiness, and Buddha arises in our hearts.
The great female lay supporter of the Buddha, Lady Visakha, when her favorite niece died, she was very sad. Lady Visakha was crying and went to the Buddha. The Buddha said that if she had a 100 loved ones she would have 100 such sufferings. Not attaching to anyone, there is no suffering.
Today I will talk on the story of Phra Sivali Maha Thera, who was the foremost out of all the monks of receiving gains. Phra Sivali’s story was stranger than that of the other monks. He had to be in his mother’s womb for 7 years and 7 days. This was from the power of the karma that he had done in the past that followed him and gave results. The Buddha gave him the title of highest out of all the monks of receiving gains and fame in his dispensation. Even his mother, Queen Suppavasa – the queen of King Koliya – was the foremost of female disciples in giving the most refined offerings to the monks. The Buddha praised Phra Sivali as the foremost in gains, which followed the determination he had made in the past. The past determination of Phra Sivali Maha Thera was made 100,000 world cycles ago.
In that time, the time of Padumuttara Buddha, he was born and witnessed the Buddha conferring on Sudasana as the monk foremost in receiving gains. So he made the determination that he would be likewise, and he made offerings for 7 days to the Buddha and the retinue of monks. By the power of this great offering, he made the determination that he would be foremost in gains in the future. Padumuttara Buddha – foretold that “he would succeed in 100,000 world cycles (kalpas), that he would be born with the name Sivali, would be under the Buddha Gotama”. So in that life he continued doing good acts. After death, he enjoyed many lifetimes in heavenly and human realms.
Later he was reborn 91 world cycles previously, in the Buddha Vipassi era. He was born close to the city of Bandhumati. He was born into a wealthy family, and was diligent in his work. After the Buddha had travelled and came back to Bandhumati, in that time, the king Pandumana – who was the father of the Buddha – made the determination to make great offerings of dana to the Buddha and the retinue of monks, more lavish than the villagers. The villagers knew this and the next day were going to offer more. The king was going to offer even more the following day. Till the 6th day this continued, and the 6th day was the villagers’ day. All the villagers organised everything – and determined that they didn’t want anything missing from the offering. They inspected the offering – and the fresh honey wasn’t there – there was only mixed honey. So they gave 1000 gold coins to 4 people and told them to wait at the 4 main doors of the city to see who came and they would buy the fresh honey from them.
On that day the wealthy son came to enter the city to pay a visit to his relative and on the way, he saw a very fresh and special honey. He collected it to bring to his relative and met the villager waiting who wanted to buy that honey off him, so offered 1 gold coin. The wealthy son thought to himself that usually this would not even be worth that much, but this villager wanted to offer it so easily. So he refused. The villager raised it to 2 coins, and again he refused until 1000 coins. He thought it was so strange and asked the reason behind it. The villager explained that it was to offer Buddha Vipassi, who had a retinue of 6.8 million monks – but they had no fresh honey. So they wanted to buy it at that price. So he thought this was his opportunity to make a great offering and wanted to join the offering.
The villager told the others – and they rejoiced with his intention. With a small coin (māsaka) he bought five kinds of spices, pounded them into powder, took sour sediment from milk-curd, and he pressed down the honey-comb, mixed them all with the powder of five grains of spice, and packed the mixture in a lotus leaf. He then brought it and waited for the appropriate time and brought it to the Buddha – “May the Blessed One, out of compassion, accept this offering that has been difficult to obtain by me.” The Buddha accepted – and made it with his determination that it was enough for all the 6.8 million monks. And after the meal Phra Sivali of that life, stood and made the determination, “By the result of this offering, may I become the foremost of the monks in gains in a future rebirth” – the Buddha said your wish will succeed – and Anumodana to all the villagers and left.
When he died he was born as a deva for many lifetimes and then born as Phra Sivali in our Buddha’s time. He had the faith to ordain as a monk. And when the preceptor shaved his head, before the first bunch of hair fell he attained to sotapanna, and then attained successively to sakadagami, anagami, and finally to arahant before he had finished shaving his head. And Phra Sivali, who was foremost in gains, because he had done many merits in the past, everywhere he would go, the devas would come and support. And he would let the devas rejoice. This is the parami he made since the past Buddha’s time by making a great offering of fresh honey. So by this power of goodness and the parami of Phra Sivali Maha Thera, may you all have gains wherever you go, whether far or near, may you all have success in all your aspirations, may you not be lacking in anything and may you not encounter any difficulties. May you have just fulfilment, happiness, and much wealth, and may you have devas supporting and looking after you.
Questions and Answers:
Luang Por Anan: When we build goodness then devas come and help that person who has built goodness. They rejoice in the goodness of that person and support him or her in any lifetime that they are born into.
Q: Where should a Phra Sivali statue be kept and how should we recollect Phra Sivali?
Luang Por Anan: The statue should be next to the Buddha statue.
To recollect Phra Sivali, remember all the good things he did in order to become the foremost in gains, and how he received the good results of all those good actions. After reflecting like this you can feel fullness of heart, rapture, and happiness. Then build goodness yourself and you will be able to receive gains yourself.
A monk from America, Phra Jivako, once did a tudong of about 1,000 kilometers from Melbourne to Sidney. He asked for metta from me before his journey and I determined the goodness of Phra Sivali to help him on his journey. He had people put food in his bowl every day, and even, sometimes when he wished for coffee, someone would come to him and bring him coffee. This is truly miraculous. Devas can know one’s wishes and help in this way, with the power of Phra Sivali.