Continuing from Part 8, we continue with questions by Alavaka (the Sotapanna Yaksha). It is important to note that the conversion of Alavaka into Buddhism is not about a spirit being subjugated. Nor is it about a spirit vowing to protect Buddhism. The conversion that happened is permanent. This is because Alavaka had undergone an irreversible transformation in his being. He had become a Sotapanna and will become fully enlightened in 7 lifetimes. Therefore, Alavaka’s path in Buddha Dharma is irreversible.
We do not have to worry that Alavaka (formerly an evil spirit) will revert to its old way. Nor will we have to be afraid that this demon might be willy and think of ways to break his commitment to serving Buddha. So you see, the way Buddha convert a spiritual being into Buddhism is not about command, control, imprisonment, and etc.
Buddha awakens the wisdom in a being and it enables them to become equally enlightened. A state that is beyond craving, aversion, and ignorance.
Let us continue reading….
Kathaṁsu labhate paññaṁ? – Kathaṁsu vindate dhanaṁ?
Kathaṁsu kittiṁ pappoti? – Kathaṁ mittāni ganthati?
Asmā lokā paraṁ lokaṁ – Kathaṁ pecca na socati
Translation: How does one gain wisdom? How does one obtain wealth? How does one achieve fame? How does one win many friends? When passing from this world to the next, how does one not sorrow?
Patirūpakārī dhuravā – Uṭṭhātā vindate dhanaṁ
Saccena kittiṁ pappoti – Dadaṁ mittāni ganthati
Doing what’s fitting, enduring burdens, one with initiative finds wealth.
- Who is tactful and energetic,
- And gains wealth by his own effort;
- Fame will he acquire by truth,
- And friendship by his giving. (inserted)
In this question, Avalaka asked about finding wealth and Buddha advised accordingly.
As explained in my other posts, a Sotapanna is not freed from wanting and aversion yet. Therefore, this question is actually very relevant and useful for lay Buddhist practitioners because the wealth that is mentioned here includes both mundane and spiritual wealth.
Buddha explained that we have to do whatever is fitting for our goals. That means we need to acquire the correct skillsets, be diligent, be consistent, have faith in ourselves, have faith in our methods, etc.
Although we engage ourselves in doing whatever that is fitting for our goals, there will be challenges along the way. When we encounter obstacles, we need to have patience and endure those challenges if we wish to succeed in the end. For example, enduring setbacks, delayed results, doubts, loneliness, etc.
Imagine a scientist who is bent on discovering something new while the rest of his peers mock him as “crazy”. Imagine a student studying art but is scorned by his unsupportive family. Imagine a meditator who spent many hours, days, and nights trying to attain jhana but was unable to still his thoughts.
Last but not least, we need initiative. The initiative refers to an independent effort to start doing something. If we want to succeed in our goal, we cannot rely upon other people to tell us what to do or when to do our work. We need to take initiative and drive ourselves towards success.
For example, if we discover that meditating at 5 am is the most conducive, then we need to take initiative to rebalance our lifestyle so that meditating at 5am becomes our new routine. To discover that 5am works best for us, we must have the initiative to try meditating at 5 am.
Therefore, setting an alarm at 4.30 am becomes something fitting. Going to bed earlier and reducing our attachment to Tik Tok becomes something fitting. After meditating at 5am for 6 months, we may still fail to achieve Jhana.
Along the way, we began to have doubts about our practice. Is sitting cross-legged on the floor, just focusing on our breathing really going to help us experience Jhana? Is it that simple? Can there be a better method? Besides enduring the internal doubts in our minds, our family commented on why we are torturing ourselves by waking up so early to meditate. Then we may start to feel discouraged. That’s when we need to endure and not give up easily.
If we reflect deeply, the above scenarios are encountered in all our endeavors. Buddha’s advice on 3 things we need to have if we wish to acquire wealth (mundane or spiritual)
May all be well and happy.
Yasse’te caturo dhammā – Saddhassa gharamesino
Saccaṁ damo dhitī cāgo – Sa ve pecca na socati
If a faithful householder is truthful, wise, energetic, and fond of giving, by virtue of these four qualities, he will not sorrow when he passes on.
Iṅgha aññe’pi pucchassū – Puthu samaṇabrāhmaṇe
Yadi saccā damā cāgā – Khantyā bhiyyo na vijjati
If you wish, ask of other recluses and brāhmins, if there is anything better in this world than truth, self-control generosity, and patience.