Scriptural

Precious enlightenment

11. “Any evil action he may still do by deed, word or thought, he is incapable of concealing it; since it has been proclaimed that such concealing is impossible for one who has seen the Path (of Nibbana). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana Sutta

Following from previous verse, this verse describes another noble aspect of the stream-winner. However, it should be clarified that evil action here does not mean major transgression such as killings etc. but rather minor faults that is driven by fetters that a stream winner had not overcome yet.

Stream winner is an entry level attainment. If an entry level attainer is incapable of hiding their flaws, I would presume that such noble qualities also exist in higher attainments. As one purifies oneself further, one simply become more perfect and is incapable of imperfections.

It is also important to look deeper into this verse and reflect upon its significance. “Incapable of concealing” refers to a situation whereby it is actually a nature. That means it is not a conscious effort to be truthful but simply becomes impossible. I once read that our mind makes special effort to lie. “Normal” people will tend to put up their best show and put on a mask. Try to appear the best in front of others, sometimes even fooling themselves along the way. For a stream-winner, the attainment must have caused some irreversible update to their mind such that it becomes impossible for them to pretend and to conceal.

12. “As the woodland groves though in the early heat of the summer month are crowned with blossoming flowers even so is the sublime Dhamma leading to the (calm) of Nibbana which is taught (by the Buddha) for the highest good. This precious jewel is the Buddha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana Sutta

This verse extols the greatness of the Buddha’s sublime preaching. The Buddha taught tirelessly and his teachings are many. Not only that, the Dharma had helped many men and women attained the state of enlightenment.

Moreover, the reason for teaching is to benefit sentient beings. Not for any selfish reasons or material gains. Therefore it is for the highest good. The Buddha helps beings be free from the imprisonment of Samsara and thus be free from its sufferings.

13.”The Peerless Excellent one (the Buddha) the Knower (of Nibbana), the Giver (of Nibbana), the Bringer (of the Noble Path), taught the excellent Dhamma. This precious jewel is the Buddha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana Sutta

This verse praises the Buddha and help people understand the importance of Buddha. He is peerless because he had gained Enlightenment. Buddha only appear when the Dharma (way leading to enlightenment) no longer exist. The significance of this is that He rediscover the Truth. That also means He had attained the Truth. He had experienced it personally and knows enlightenment. Then he gave sentient beings the knowledge that he had obtained. This is done by teaching them the Dharma. For a world that had completely forgotten about enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha brought back the knowledge of how to break free from Samsara. For all sentient beings who had lost the way to Enlightenment, He showed us the way.

14. “Their past (karma) is spent, their new (karma) no more arises, their mind to future becoming is unattached. Their germ (of rebirth-consciousness) has died, they have no more desire for re-living. Those wise men fade out (of existence) as the flame of this lamp (which has just faded away). This precious jewel is the Sangha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.

Ratana Sutta

This verse makes it crystal clear that Buddhist enlightenment is not about seeking higher rebirth. This differentiate Buddhism from most eternalist religion. It is also very important to note that when most people read this verse, they become fearful. This is because people tend to swing into extreme views and imagine that enlightenment means a state of nihilism (believing that it means nothingness) However, that is wrong too. Enlightenment is beyond our limited imagination and speculation. 

At our limited level, the state is simply described as wonderful. Beyond words. It is because of this, that the power of enlightenment is beyond the definition and limitation of Samsara. Likewise, beyond the suffering of Samsara. By such wonderful dharma, the wonderful Sangha arise. By such power, may 

May all be well and happy.

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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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