Scriptural

Alavaka Sutta – Part 6

Continuing from previously. So, we have covered up till the 2nd Q&A. The questions by Alavaka is in green box and Buddha’s reply is in yellow box

1. Kiṁsū’dha vittaṁ purisassaseṭṭhaṁ? – KKathaṁsu taratī oghaṁ? – Kathaṁsu taratī aṇṇavaṁ?
Kathaṁsu dukkhaṁ acceti? – Kathaṁsu parisujjhati?

Saddhāya taratī oghaṁ – Appamādena aṇṇavaṁ
Viriyena dukkhaṁ acceti – Paññāya parisujjhati

How does one cross over the flood?

By faith one crosses over the flood

Commentary for the above verses can be found in Alavaka Sutta – part 4

How does one cross over the ocean? 

 by diligence is the ocean crossed

Commentary for the above is in part 5

How does one overcome suffering?

 by effort one overcomes suffering

This 3rd part of the Q&A can be explained as referring to the 3rd stage of enlightenment, the Anagami (Non-returner). When one has attained to this stage of enlightenment, it is said that they no longer take rebirth in the form realm. Instead, they are reborn in a Pure Abode that is beyond the physics of world creation and destruction.

This Pure Abode is like a pit stop before they realise the final stage of enlightenment. An Anagami’s mind is further refined from the previous stage of enlightenment and no long has sensual cravings or ill-will. Therefore, they no longer experience sufferings. (For Pureland practitioners, you may find this description very similar to the beings in Amitabha Sutra?)

However, an Anagami is still trapped by the following, and that is why they are still being reborn in a Pure abode.

  1. Rūpa-rāga: Craving for fine-material existence (the first 4 jhanas)
  2. Arūpa-rāga: Craving for immaterial existence (the last 4 jhanas)
  3. Māna: Conceit
  4. Uddhacca: Restlessness
  5. Avijjā: Ignorance

When I was a beginner and reading all the above, it was very hard to understand; Enlightenment seems so foreign and unattainable. However, we should not be discouraged. It is also important for beginners to know that enlightenment is not a knoweldge that we can read and figure out with our imagination.

We really need to engage in mind training and learn how to quiet our thoughts and experience Jhana (refer to Kevatta Sutta)

Once we have Jhana, we can have more fruitful meditation on the immateriality of our physical body (the Mahayana uses the term Emptiness meditation). We also engage in Vippassana meditation and explore the 12 links of interdependent origination.

Following that, there will be breakthrough experiences that will “re-wire” or “re-progarmme” our sense of being.

Thus, our first aim is to break through our false / deluded perception of a “Soul” or “being” in us. In other words, we want to realise Non-“I” or emptiness. (That is the 1st stage of enlightenment). When we experience it, we will see Dharma clearly, and will know how to refine our mind further. (note: non-“I” is not negating or denying existence)

Buddhist enlightenment is not a fairy tale. We just need lots of correct practice.

May all be well and happy

How is one’s life purified?

by wisdom one’s life is purified.

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