Scriptural

Precious realisations

8. “As a post deep-planted in the earth stands unshaken by the winds from the four quarters, so too, I declare is the righteous man who comprehends with wisdom the Noble Truths. This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana Sutta

Recalling the previous verses, the Sangha refers to both monastic communities and householders with attainments. The mind of the noble disciples is unshaken by events unfolding around them because they already know the Noble Truths.

The Truth extol by this verse is that, anyone who follows the Buddha Dharma and practice accordingly can achieve True happiness. (no matter what situation they are in)

In the context of suffering, I think this verse offers hope.

Remember, Ratana sutta was chanted to benefit a city that was plagued by famine, disease and spirits(mental unsettling) By following Buddha’s teaching the noble disciples gain insight and enlightenment. They are not shaken by events happening around them.

9. “Those who realized the Noble Truths well taught by him who is profound in wisdom (the Buddha), even though they may be exceedingly heedless, they will not take an eighth existence (in the realm of sense spheres). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the)truth may there be happiness.

Ratana sutta

The above verse recall the quality of the stream-winner. Stream-winner is the first level of attainment. (entry level attainment) Once a person becomes a stream-winner, he or she will not fall into bad rebirth.

Good rebirth includes being born as a human or in heavens. Buddhist teaching cautioned its disciples that being born in heaven may not be a good thing. This is because the beings in heaven usually engage in abundance of enjoyments. That causes them to become heedless and when their good karma is exhausted, they will usually end up being reborn in lower realm. Just like a man who had completely squandered his wealth and become poor.

In this verse, the Buddha highlighted that even though the stream-winner may be enjoying themselves in a good rebirth, they will not be reborn  for more than 7 times. It is said that non of the 7 rebirths will be in a lower realm.

This verse states the wonderful attainments of stream-winner. Although it is a basic entry level attainments, suffering in the lower realm is no longer possible.

10. “With his gaining of insight he abandons three states of mind, namely self-illusion, doubt, and indulgence in meaningless rites and rituals, should there be any. He is also fully freed from the four states of woeful rebirth, and is incapable of committing the six major wrongdoings. This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana sutta

The above verse elaborates on the stream-winner attainments.

The gaining of insight means to realise the path of stream-winner. Such realisation is beyond book knowledge. It is a direct insight. A stream-winner abandons the 3 state of mind

  • Abandon the wrong view of self-identity. One no longer holds the view that there is a unique individuality. (not to be mistaken as a belief of non-existence) Once a person gain insight that there is no “I” or a “soul occupying the body” or a “persona” trapped in the mind etc; the ego becomes baseless. Therefore, suffering that is caused by perception of “someone” suffering is automatically resolved.
  • Abandon sceptical doubt. This is because one had insight and know the truth as it is. One is no longer doubtful of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Buddhist training, past lives, future lives, past and future lives and dependent origination. (Not to be confused with strong faith)
  • Abandon attachment to useless rituals. This refers to removing the misconception that mere compliance with physical rituals such as observing precepts, chanting, rites, etc will directly cause enlightenment. In modern language, I think it means that one is no longer blinded by religious rites. Once insight is gained, religious practice is not mistaken as the direct cause of enlightenment. A famous analogy describes religious rites as a boat. Once a wise person crossed a river, he is not attached to the boat.

Free from 4 states of woeful rebirth means that one will not be reborn in hell, as a ghost,  as an animal, as demons / anti-god.

6 major misdeeds – matricide, patricide, killing an Arhant, causing schism in Sangha, wounding a Buddha, acknowledging a non-Buddha as one’s teacher

with reference from  “RatanaSutta: The Jewel Discourse” (Sn 2.1), translated from the Pali byPiyadassi Thera. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition),30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.2.01.piya.html .

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My Buddhist name is Ratna Jamyang Puntsog. I first encountered Buddhism in this life when I was 12. Formally took ceremonial refuge in the triple gem when I was 19. I believe the different spiritual methods were taught by Buddha to suit various beings who each have their own unique characteristic. The various sects and practices that arose are just a naming convention invented by disciples out of communication necessity. Had read and studied different forms of Buddhism. Volunteered in Buddhist organization. Until it last, I hope to share my views on Buddhism and find like minded practitioners around the world. May we practice Buddha's instruction together and connect through cyber space!

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