Glories of the Buddha

Recollection inspired by the Tathāgata is mindfulness of the Enlightened One’s special qualities. Successful development of the Path comes only to one who has absolute confidence in the Buddha and his teaching. Absolute confidence is the confidence afforded by the Noble Path. It is a constituent of the factors of stream-entry. This confidence is developed by practicing according to the Buddha’s teaching and experiencing the result.

A meditator who wants to develop absolute confidence in the Noble Path should practice recollection of the Enlightened One at the commencement of each session. Fixed in the Precepts, he should go into solitary retreat in a favorable abode, quite secluded from sense enjoyment, free himself from the ten impediments to concentration (attachment to dwelling, family, gain, class, buildings, travel, kin, affliction, books and supernormal powers), and recollect the special qualities of the Enlightened One, the Blessed One, as follows:

Buddha-vandanā

Iti pi so Bhagavā Araham
Sammā-sambuddho
Vijjā carana-sampanno
Sugato Lokavidu
Anuttaro Purisa Damma-sārathi
Sattā Deva-manussānam
Buddho Bhagavā’ti


“That Blessed One is such since he is accomplished, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, well-gone, the knower of worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.”

Every word in this verse is deeply significant. Here we will explain the Buddha’s special qualities as reflected in each word above. Most of this material is from the Visuddhimagga, translated by Bhikkhu Ñānamoli. It has been edited for clarity and usefulness in meditation practice.

Accomplished (Arahanta)

The Blessed One is accomplished (arahanta) for the following reasons:

because of remoteness (āraka) from defilements
because his enemies (ari) the defilements are destroyed
because the spokes (ara) of the wheel of samsāra have been destroyed (hata)
because of his worthiness (araha) of requisites and other offerings
because of absence of secret (rahābhāva) evil-doing

The following sections explain the significance of these qualities.

Remoteness

He stands utterly remote from all defilements because he has expunged all trace of defilement by means of the Path. Because of such remoteness (āraka) he is accomplished (arahanta).

Enemies Destroyed

Also, those enemies (ari) the defilements are destroyed (hata) by the Path. Because the enemies are thus destroyed he is accomplished (arahanta).

Spokes of Samsāra Destroyed

The wheel of samsāra, its hub of ignorance and craving for becoming, its spokes of fabrications of merit, its rim of aging-and-death, joined to the chariot of the triple becoming by the axle of the origins of cankers, revolves throughout beginningless time. All the spokes (ara) of this wheel were destroyed (hata) by the Tathāgata at the Place of Enlightenment. Because the spokes are thus destroyed he is accomplished (arahanta).

Beginningless samsāra is called the “wheel of the round of rebirths”. Ignorance is its hub because it is its root. Aging-and-death is its rim because it terminates it. The remaining ten states of Dependent Origination are its spokes because ignorance is their root and aging-and-death their termination. Ignorance is not knowing the Four Noble Truths.

Fabrications in sensual becoming are conditions for rebirth-linking consciousness in sensual becoming; similarly with fine-material and immaterial becoming. Rebirth-linking consciousness in sensual becoming is a condition for mentality-materiality (nāma-rūpa) in sensual becoming and fine-material becoming. In immaterial becoming it is a condition for mentality only.

Mentality-materiality (nāma-rūpa) in sensual becoming is a condition for the sixfold base in sensual becoming. In fine-material becoming, mentality-materiality is a condition for three bases. In immaterial becoming, mentality is a condition for one base.

The sixfold base in sensual becoming is a condition for six kinds of contact in sensual becoming. In fine-material becoming, three bases are conditions for three kinds of contact. In immaterial becoming, the mind base alone is a condition for one kind of contact.

The six kinds of contact in sensual becoming are conditions for six kinds of feeling in sensual becoming. In fine-material becoming, three kinds of contact are conditions for three kinds of feeling. In immaterial becoming, one kind of contact is a condition for one kind of feeling.

The six kinds of feeling in sensual becoming are conditions for the six groups of craving in sensual becoming. In fine-material becoming, three kinds of feeling are conditions for three groups of craving. In immaterial becoming, one kind of feeling is a condition for one group of craving. The craving in the several kinds of becoming is a condition for clinging there.

Clinging and the other stages of Dependent Origination are conditions for becoming, birth, aging and death. How? Someone thinks out of ignorance, “I shall enjoy sense desires,” and with sense-desire clinging as a condition he misconducts himself in body, speech, and mind. Owing to the fulfillment of his misconduct he reappears in a state of loss (deprivation). The kamma that is the cause of his reappearance there is kamma-process becoming, the aggregates generated by the kamma are rebirth-process becoming, the generating of the aggregates is birth, their maturing is aging, their dissolution is death.

Another thinks, “I shall enjoy the delights of heaven,” and in a parallel manner he conducts himself well. Owing to the fulfillment of his good conduct he reappears in a sensual-sphere heaven. The kamma that is the cause of his reappearance there is kamma-process becoming, and the rest as before.

Another thinks, “I shall enjoy the delights of the Brahmā-world,” and with sense-desire clinging as condition he develops loving-kindness, compassion, gladness and equanimity. Owing to the fulfillment of the meditative development he is reborn in the Brahmā-world. The kamma that is the cause of his rebirth there is kamma-process becoming, and the rest is as before.

Yet another thinks, “I shall enjoy the delights of immaterial becoming,” and with sense-desire clinging as condition he develops the attainments beginning with the base consisting of boundless space. Owing to the fulfillment of that development he is reborn in one of those states. The kamma that is the cause of his rebirth there is kamma-process becoming, the aggregates generated by the kamma are rebirth-process becoming, the generating of the aggregates is birth, their maturing is aging, their dissolution is death. The remaining kinds of clinging are construable in similar ways.

The discernment of conditionality—‘In the past and in the future ignorance is a cause, fabrications are causally arisen, and both these states are causally arisen’—is knowledge of the causal relationship of states leading to becoming in any plane of existence.

In the process of Dependent Origination, ignorance and fabrications are the first summarization; consciousness, mentality-materiality, the sixfold base, contact and feeling are the second; craving, clinging and becoming are the third; and birth and aging-and-death are the fourth. In the typical interpretation the first summarization is past, the two middle ones are present, and the last summarization is future.

The Blessed One knew, saw, understood and penetrated all aspects of this Dependent Origination with its four summarizations, three times, twenty aspects and three links. Knowledge is the sense of that being known, and understanding is the sense of the act of understanding that knowledge. Hence it was said: ‘Understanding of discernment of conditions is knowledge of the causal relationship of states’.

Thus by correctly knowing these states with knowledge of the causal relations of states, the Blessed One became dispassionate towards them. When his greed faded away, when he was liberated, then he quite destroyed and abolished the spokes of this wheel of the round of rebirths just described. Because the spokes are thus destroyed he is accomplished (arahanta).

Worthiness

He is worthy (arahati) of the requisites of robes, etc., and of the distinction of being accorded homage because he is most worthy of offerings. For when a Perfect One has arisen, important deities and human beings pay homage to none else; for Brahmā Sahampati paid homage to the Perfect One with a jeweled garland as big as Mount Sumeru, and other deities did so according to their means, as well as human beings as King Bimbisāra of Magadha and the king of Kosala. And after the Blessed One had finally attained Nibbāna, King Asoka renounced wealth to the amount of ninety-six million for his sake and founded eight-four thousand monasteries throughout all Jambudīpa (India). And so with all these, what need to speak of others? Because of worthiness of requisites he is accomplished (arahanta) also.

No Secret Evils

And he does not act like those fools in the world who vaunt their cleverness and yet do evil, but in secret for fear of getting a bad name. Because of absence of secret (rahābhāva) evil-doing he is accomplished (arahanta) also.

So the Tathāgata is Arahanta, accomplished in all ways.

Fully Enlightened (Sammā-sambuddha)

He is fully enlightened (sammā-sambuddha) because he has discovered (buddha) all things rightly (sammā) and by himself (sāmaī).

In fact, he discovered all things rightly because he discovered, of the things to be directly known (the Four Noble Truths) that they must be directly known, of the things to be fully understood (penetration of suffering) that they must be fully understood, of the things to be abandoned (penetration of the origin of suffering) that they must be abandoned, of the things to be realized (penetration of the cessation of suffering) that they must be realized, and of the things to be developed (penetration of the Path) that they must be developed.

Hence it was said:

“What must be directly known is directly known,
What has to be developed has been developed,
What has to be abandoned has been abandoned;
And that, brahman, is why I am enlightened.” (Sn 558)

Besides, he discovered all things rightly by himself step-by-step thus: “The eye is the truth of suffering; the prior craving that originates it by being its root-cause is the truth of origin; the non-occurrence of both is the truth of cessation; the way that is the act of understanding cessation is the truth of the path.” And so too in the case of the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind.

And the following things should be construed in the same way:

the six bases beginning with visible objects
the six groups of consciousness beginning with eye-consciousness
the six kinds of contact beginning with eye-contact
the six kinds of feeling beginning with the eye-contact-born
the six kinds of perception beginning with perception of visible objects
the six kinds of volition beginning with volition about visible objects
the six groups of craving beginning with craving for visible objects
the six kinds of applied thought beginning with applied thought about visible objects
the six kinds of sustained thought beginning with sustained thought about visible objects
the five aggregates beginning with the aggregate of matter
the ten kasinas
the ten recollections
the ten perceptions beginning with perception of the bloated
the thirty-two aspects of the body beginning with head hairs
the twelve bases
the eighteen elements
the nine kinds of becoming beginning with sensual becoming
the four jhānas beginning with the first
the four measureless states beginning with the development of loving-kindness
the four immaterial attainments
the factors of the dependent origination in reverse order beginning with aging-and-death and in forward order beginning with ignorance

This is the construction of a single clause of Dependent Origination: aging-and-death is the truth of suffering; birth is the truth of origin; the escape from both is the truth of cessation; the way that is the act of understanding cessation is the truth of the Path. In this way he rightly, progressively and completely discovered all states by himself step-by-step. Hence it was said above: “He is fully enlightened because he has discovered all things rightly and by himself”.

The Tathāgata’s body is also replete with all the signs of a great personality:

Thus I have heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering in the country of the Videhans with a large sangha of bhikkhus, about five hundred bhikkhus.

Now on that occasion the Brahmin Brahmāyu was living at Mithilā. He was old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, and come to the last stage; he was in his hundred and twentieth year. He was a master of the Three Vedas with their vocabularies, liturgy, phonology and etymology, and the Puranas as the fifth; skilled in philology and grammar, he was fully versed in natural philosophy and in the marks of a great man.

The Brahman Brahmāyu heard: “The recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from the Sakyan clan, has been wandering in the country of the Videhans with a large sangha of bhikkhus, about five hundred bhikkhus. Now a good report of Master Gotama has been spread to this effect: ‘The Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, well-gone, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed. He declares this world with its gods, its Māras and its Brahmās, this generation with its recluses and Brahmans, with its princes and people, which he has himself realized with direct knowledge. He teaches the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing, and he reveals a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure.’ Now it is good to see such Arahants.”

Now at the time the Brahman Brahmāyu had a young Brahman student named Uttara who was a master of the three Vedas…fully versed in natural philosophy and in the marks of a great man. He told his student: “My dear Uttara, the recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from the Sakyan clan, has been wandering in the country of the Videhans with a large sangha of bhikkhus, about five hundred bhikkhus… Now it is good to see such Arahants. Come, my dear Uttara, go to the recluse Gotama and find out whether the report spread about him is true or not, whether the recluse Gotama is one such as this or not. Thus we shall know about Master Gotama through you.”

“But how shall I find out, sir, whether the report spread about Master Gotama is true or not, and whether the recluse Gotama is one such as this or not?”

“My dear Uttara, the thirty-two marks of a great man have been handed down in our hymns, and the great man who is endowed with them has only two possible destinies, no other. If he lives the home life he becomes a great wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma, master of the four quarters, all-victorious, who has stabilized his country and possesses the seven treasures: the wheel treasure, the elephant treasure, the horse treasure, the jewel treasure, the woman treasure, the steward treasure, and the counsellor treasure as the seventh. His children, who exceed a thousand, are brave and heroic, and crush the armies of others; over this earth bounded by the ocean, he rules without a rod, without a weapon, by means of the Dhamma. But if he goes forth from the home life into homelessness, he becomes an accomplished one, a fully enlightened one, who draws aside the veil in the world. But I, my dear Uttara, am the giver of the hymns; you are the receiver of them.”

“Yes sir,” he replied, and rising from his seat, and after paying homage to the Brahman Brahmāyu, keeping him on his right, he left for the country of the Videhans, where the Blessed One was wandering. Traveling by stages, he came to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side and looked for the thirty-two marks of a great man on the Blessed One’s body. He saw, more or less, the thirty-two marks of a great man on the Blessed One’s body, except two; he was doubtful and uncertain about two of the marks, and he could not make up his mind about them: about the male organ being enclosed in a sheath and about the largeness of the tongue.

Then it occurred to the Blessed One, “This Brahman student Uttara sees, more or less, the thirty-two marks of a great man on my body, except two; he is doubtful and uncertain about two of the marks, and cannot make up his mind about them: about the male organ being enclosed in a sheath and about the largeness of the tongue.”

Then the Blessed One worked a feat of supernatural power such that the Brahman student Uttara saw that the Blessed One’s male organ was enclosed in a sheath. Next the Blessed One extruded his tongue, and repeatedly touched both ear holes and both nostrils, and he covered the whole of his forehead with his tongue.

Then the Brahman student Uttara thought, “The recluse Gotama is endowed with the thirty-two marks of a great man. Suppose I were to follow the recluse Gotama and observe his behavior?”

Then he followed the Blessed One like a shadow for seven months, never leaving him. At the end of seven months in the country of the Videhans, he set out to Mithilā where the Brahman Brahmāyu was. When he arrived, he paid homage to him and sat down at one side. Thereupon, the Brahman Brahmāyu asked him, “Well, my dear Uttara, is the report that has been spread about the Master Gotama true or not? And is the Master Gotama one such as this or not?”

“The report that has been spread about the Master Gotama is true, sir, and not otherwise. He possesses the thirty-two marks of a great man:

Master Gotama sets his foot down squarely—this is a mark of a great man in Master Gotama.
On the soles of his feet there are wheels with a thousand spokes and ribs and hubs all complete…
He has projecting heels…
He has long fingers and toes…
His hands and feet are soft and tender…
He has netted hands and feet…
His feet are arched…
He has legs like an antelope…
When he stands without stooping, the palms of both his hands touch and rub against his knees…
His male organ is enclosed in a sheath…
He is the color of gold, his skin has a golden sheen…
He is fine-skinned, and because of the fineness of his skin, dust and dirt do not stick on his body…
His body hairs grow singly, each body hair growing singly in a hair socket…
The tips of his body hairs turn up; the upturned body hairs are blue-black, the color of collyrium, curled and turned to the right…
He has the straight limbs of a Brahmā…
He has seven convexities (the backs of the four limbs, the two shoulders and the trunk)…
He has the torso of a lion…
The furrow between his shoulders is filled in…
He has the spread of a banyan tree; the span of his arms equals the height of his body, and the height of his body equals the span of his arms…
His neck and his shoulders are even…
His taste is supremely acute…
He is lion-jawed…
He has forty teeth…
His teeth are even…
His teeth are without gaps…
His teeth are quite white…
He has a large tongue…
He has a divine voice, like the call of the Karavika bird…
His eyes are deep blue…
He has the eyelashes of an ox…
He has hair growing in the space between his eyebrows, which is white with the sheen of soft cotton…
His head is shaped like a turban—this is a mark of a great man in Master Gotama.

Thus Master Gotama is endowed with these thirty-two marks of a great man.”
— Brahmāyu Sutta (MN 91)

Clear Vision and Virtuous Conduct (Vijjā carana-sampanno)

The Blessed One is endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct. There are three kinds of clear vision mentioned in the Bhayabherava Sutta and eight kinds of clear vision mentioned in the Ambattha Sutta: six kinds of direct knowledge plus insight and the supernormal power of the mind-made body.

Virtuous conduct should be understood as fifteen things: restraint by virtue, guarding of the sense faculties, knowledge of the right amount in eating, devotion to wakefulness, the seven good states (faith, conscience, shame, learning, energy, mindfulness and understanding), and the four jhānas of the fine-material sphere. For it is precisely by means of these fifteen things that a noble disciple conducts himself, that he goes towards the deathless. It is called virtuous conduct, as it is said, “Here, Mahānāma, a noble disciple has virtue.” The whole of virtuous conduct should be understood as given in the Middle Fifty of the Majjhima Nikāya.

The Blessed One is endowed with these kinds of clear vision and with virtuous conduct as well; hence he is called “endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct.”

The Blessed One’s possession of clear vision consists in the fulfillment of omniscience, while his possession of conduct consists in the fulfillment of the great compassion. He knows through omniscience what is good and harmful for all beings, and through compassion he warns them of harm and exhorts them to do good. That is how he is possessed of clear vision and conduct, which is why his disciples have entered upon the good way instead of entering upon the bad way, as the sense enjoyers and the self-mortifying disciples of those who are not possessed of clear vision and virtuous conduct have done.

The Master’s possession of vision shows the greatness of his understanding, and his possession of virtuous conduct shows the greatness of his compassion. The Blessed One reached the kingdom of the Dhamma through understanding, and he bestowed the Dhamma through compassion. He felt revulsion for the round of rebirths through understanding, and he bore it through compassion.

Through understanding he fully understood others’ suffering, and through compassion he undertook to counteract it. Through understanding he was brought face-to-face with Nibbāna, and through compassion he attained it. Through understanding he himself crossed over the flood of suffering, and through compassion he brought others across. Through understanding he perfected the Enlightened One’s state, and through compassion he perfected the Enlightened One’s task. Through compassion he faced the round of rebirths as a Bodhisatta, and through understanding he took no delight in it.

Likewise through compassion he practiced non-cruelty to others, and through understanding he himself was fearless of others. Through compassion he protected others to protect himself, and through understanding he protected himself to protect others. Likewise through compassion he did not torment others, and through understanding he did not torment himself.

Likewise through compassion he became the world’s helper, and through understanding he became his own helper. Through compassion he had humility as a Bodhisatta, and through understanding he had dignity as a Buddha. Likewise through compassion he helped all beings as a father, while through understanding his mind remained detached from them all. Through understanding his mind remained detached from all dhammas while through compassion he was helpful to all beings. For just as the Blessed One’s compassion was devoid of sentimental affection or sorrow, so his understanding was free from the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’.

Well-gone (Sugata)

He is called well-gone (sugata) because his manner of going is good (sobhana-gamana), because of being gone to an excellent place (sundaram thānam gatattam), because of having gone rightly (sammāgatattā), and because of enunciating rightly (sammāgadattā).

A manner of going (gamana) is called “gone” (gata), and that in the Blessed One is good (sobhana), purified, blameless. But what is that? It is the Noble Path; for by means of that manner of going he has “gone” without attachment in the direction of safety. Thus he is well-gone (sugata) because of a manner of going that is good.

And it is to the excellent (sundara) place that he has gone (gata), to the deathless Nibbāna—thus he is well-gone (sugata) also because of having gone to an excellent place.

And he has rightly (sammā) gone (gata), without going back again to the defilements abandoned by each path. For this is said: “He does not again turn, return, go back to the defilements abandoned by the stream-entry path, thus he is well-gone … he does not again turn, return, go back, to the defilements abandoned by the Arahant path, thus he is well-gone.” Alternately, he has rightly gone from the time of making his resolution at the feet of Dìpankara up till the Enlightenment Session, by working for the welfare and happiness of the whole world through the fulfillment of the thirty perfections, and through following the right way without deviating towards either of the two extremes—neither eternalism nor nihilism, indulgence in sense pleasures nor self-mortification—thus he is well-gone also because of having gone rightly.

And he enunciates (gadati) rightly (sammā); he speaks only fitting speech in the fitting place—thus he is sublime because of enunciating rightly. Here is a Sutta that confirms this:

“Such speech as the Perfect One knows to be untrue and incorrect, conducive to harm, and displeasing and unwelcome to others, that he does not speak. And such speech as the Perfect One knows to be true and correct, but conducive to harm, and displeasing and unwelcome to others, that he does not speak. And such speech as the Perfect One knows to be true and correct, conducive to good, but displeasing and unwelcome to others, that speech the Perfect One knows the time to expound. Such speech as the Perfect One knows to be untrue and incorrect, and conducive to harm, but pleasing and welcome to others, that he does not speak. And such speech as the Perfect One knows to be true and correct, but conducive to harm, though pleasing and welcome to others, that he does not speak. And such speech as the Perfect One knows to be true and correct, conducive to good, and pleasing and welcome to others, that speech the Perfect One knows the time to expound.” (M I 395)

Thus he is sugata also because of enunciating rightly.

Knower of Worlds (Loka-vidu)

He is the knower of worlds because he has known the world in all ways. For the Blessed One has experienced, known and penetrated the world in all ways to its individual essence, its arising, its cessation, and the means to its cessation. Accordingly it is said:

“Friend, that there is a world’s end where one neither is born nor ages nor dies nor passes away nor reappears, which is to be known or seen or reached by travel—that I do not say. Yet I do not say that there is ending of suffering without reaching the world’s end. Rather, it is in this fathom-long carcass with its perceptions and its consciousness that I make known the world, the arising of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the world.

“It is utterly impossible
To reach the world’s end by travel;
But there is no escape from pain
Until the world’s end has been reached.
It is a sage, a knower of the worlds,
Who gets to the world’s end, and it is he
Whose life divine is lived out to its term;
He is at peace who has known the world’s end
And hopes for neither this world nor the next.” (S I 62).

Moreover, there are three worlds: the world of fabrications, the world of beings, and the world of location. In the passage, “One world: all beings subsist by nutriment” the world of fabrications is to be understood. In the passage, “‘The world is eternal’ or ‘The world is not eternal’” (M I 426) it is the world of beings. In the passage:

“As far as moon and sun do circulate
Shining and lighting up the directions,
Over a thousand times as great a world
Your power holds unquestionable sway” (M I 328)

it is the world of location. The Blessed One has known that in all ways too.

Likewise, because of the words: “One world: all beings subsist by nutriment. Two worlds: mentality and materiality. Three worlds: three kinds of feeling. Four worlds: four kinds of nutriment. Five worlds: five aggregates as objects of clinging. Six worlds: six internal bases. Seven worlds: seven stations of consciousness. Eight worlds: eight worldly states. Nine worlds: nine abodes of beings. Ten worlds: ten bases. Twelve worlds: twelve bases. Eighteen worlds: eighteen elements,” this world of fabrications was known to him in all ways.

And he knows all beings’ habits, their inherent tendencies, temperaments and bents, knows them with little dust on their eyes and with much dust on their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good behavior and with bad behavior, easy to teach and hard to teach, capable and incapable of achievement. Therefore this world of beings was known to him in all ways. And the world of beings is also the world of location. Therefore this world of location was known to him in all ways too. So he is “knower of worlds” because he has seen the world in all ways.

Incomparable Leader of Men to be Tamed (Anuttaro Purisa Damma-sārathi)

In the absence of anyone more distinguished for special qualities than himself, there is no one to compare with him; thus he is incomparable. He surpasses the whole world in the special quality of virtue, and also in the special qualities of concentration, understanding, deliverance, and the knowledge and vision of deliverance. In the special quality of virtue he is without equal; he is the equal only to other Enlightened Ones (Buddhas) without equal. He is without like, without double, without counterpart. In the special quality of knowledge and vision of deliverance he is without counterpart. Accordingly it was said:

“I do not see in the world with its deities, its Māras and its Brahmās, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmans, with its princes and men, anyone more perfect in virtue than myself.”

‘All-vanquishing,
all-knowing am I,
with regard to all things,
unadhering.
All-abandoning,
released in the ending of craving:
having fully known on my own,
to whom should I point as my teacher?

I have no teacher,
and one like me can’t be found.
In the world with its devas,
I have no counterpart.

For I am an arahant in the world;
I, the unexcelled teacher.
I, alone, am rightly self-awakened.
Cooled am I, unbound.

To set rolling the wheel of Dhamma
I go to the city of Kasi.
In a world become blind,
I beat the drum of the Deathless.’

“‘From your claims, my friend, you must be an infinite conqueror.’

‘Conquerors are those like me
who have reached fermentations’ end.
I’ve conquered evil qualities,
and so, Upaka, I’m a conqueror.’ — Ariyapariyesana Sutta (MN 26)

He guides (sāreti) men to be tamed (purisa-damme), thus he is leader of men to be tamed (purisadammasārathì); he tames, he disciplines, is what is meant. Herein, animal males (purisā) and human males, and non-human males that are not tamed but fit to be tamed (dametum yuttā) are “men to be tamed” (purisadammā). For the animal males, namely, the royal nāga (serpent) Apalāla, Cūlodara, Mahodara, Aggisikha, Dhūmasikha, the royal nāga Āravāla, the elephant Dhanapālaka, and so on, were tamed by the Blessed One, freed from the poison of defilement and established in the refuges and the precepts of virtue; and also the human males, namely, Saccaka the Niganthas’ (Jains’) son, the brahman student Ambattha, Pokkharasāti, Sonadanda, Kūtadanta, and so on; and also the non-human males, namely, the spirits Ālavaka, Sūciloma and Kharaloma, Sakka Ruler of Gods, etc., were tamed and disciplined by various disciplinary means.

Then Kesi the horse-trainer went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him: “You, Kesi, are a trained man, a trainer of tamable horses. And how do you train a tamable horse?”

“Lord, I train a tamable horse [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & harshness.”

“And if a tamable horse doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, Kesi, what do you do?”

“If a tamable horse doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild and harsh training, lord, then I kill it. Why is that? [I think:] ‘Don’t let this be a disgrace to my lineage of teachers.’ But the Blessed One, lord, is the unexcelled trainer of tamable people. How do you train a tamable person?”

“Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with harshness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & harshness.

“In using gentleness, [I teach:] ‘Such is good bodily conduct. Such is the result of good bodily conduct. Such is good verbal conduct. Such is the result of good verbal conduct. Such is good mental conduct. Such is the result of good mental conduct. Such are the devas. Such are human beings.’

“In using harshness, [I teach:] ‘Such is bodily misconduct. Such is the result of bodily misconduct. Such is verbal misconduct. Such is the result of verbal misconduct. Such is mental misconduct. Such is the result of mental misconduct. Such is hell. Such is the animal womb. Such the realm of the hungry shades.’

“In using gentleness & harshness, [I teach:] ‘Such is good bodily conduct. Such is the result of good bodily conduct. Such is bodily misconduct. Such is the result of bodily misconduct. Such is good verbal conduct. Such is the result of good verbal conduct. Such is verbal misconduct. Such is the result of verbal misconduct. Such is good mental conduct. Such is the result of good mental conduct. Such is mental misconduct. Such is the result of mental misconduct. Such are the devas. Such are human beings. Such is hell. Such is the animal womb. Such the realm of the hungry shades.'”

“And if a tamable person doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, what do you do?”

“If a tamable person doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi.”

“But it’s not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, ‘I kill him, Kesi.'”

“It is true, Kesi, that it’s not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn’t regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don’t regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine & Discipline, when the Tathagata doesn’t regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one’s knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don’t regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing.”

“Yes, lord, wouldn’t one be totally destroyed if the Tathagata doesn’t regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one’s knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don’t regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing!

“Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One—through many lines of reasoning—made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life.” — Kesi Sutta (AN 4.111)

Then the Blessed One moreover further tames those already tamed, doing so by announcing the first jhāna, etc., respectively to those whose virtue is purified, etc., and also the way to the higher path to stream enterers, and so on.

Alternately, the words ‘incomparable leader of men to be tamed’ can be taken together as one clause. For the Blessed One so guides men to be tamed that in a single session they may go in the eight directions (of the eight liberations) without hesitation. Thus he is called the incomparable leader of men to be tamed.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks replied.

The Blessed One said: “Monks, I will teach you the analysis of the six sense media. Listen, and pay close attention. I will speak.”

“Yes, lord,” the monks replied.

The Blessed One said: “The six internal sense-media should be known. The six external sense-media should be known. The six classes of consciousness should be known. The six classes of contact should be known. The eighteen explorations for the intellect should be known. The thirty-six states to which beings are attached should be known. With regard to them, depending on this, abandon that. There are three frames of reference that a noble one cultivates, cultivating which he is a teacher fit to instruct a group. Among master trainers, he is said to be the unexcelled trainer of those people fit to be tamed. This is the summary of the analysis of the six sense-media.

“‘The six internal sense-media should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? The eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. ‘The six internal sense-media should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘The six external sense-media should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? The form-medium, the sound-medium, the aroma-medium, the flavor-medium, the tactile-sensation-medium, the idea-medium. ‘The six external sense-media should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to thus was it said.

“‘The six classes of consciousness should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. ‘The six classes of consciousness should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to thus was it said.

“‘The six classes of contact should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? Eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, intellect-contact. ‘The six classes of contact should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘The eighteen explorations for the intellect should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? Seeing a form via the eye, one explores a form that can act as the basis for happiness, one explores a form that can act as the basis for unhappiness, one explores a form that can act as the basis for equanimity. Hearing a sound via the ear … Smelling an aroma via the nose … Tasting a flavor via the tongue … Feeling a tactile sensation via the body … Cognizing an idea via the intellect, one explores an idea that can act as the basis for happiness, one explores an idea that can act as the basis for unhappiness, one explores an idea that can act as the basis for equanimity. Thus there are six happiness-explorations, six distress-explorations, and six equanimity-explorations. The eighteen explorations for the intellect should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘The thirty-six states to which beings are attached should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? Six kinds of household joy & six kinds of renunciation joy; six kinds of household distress & six kinds of renunciation distress; six kinds of household equanimity & six kinds of renunciation equanimity.

“And what are the six kinds of household joy? The joy that arises when one regards as an acquisition the acquisition of forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, connected with worldly baits — or when one recalls the previous acquisition of such forms after they have passed, ceased, & changed: That is called household joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of household distress? The distress that arises when one regards as a non-acquisition the non-acquisition of forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, connected with worldly baits — or when one recalls the previous non-acquisition of such forms after they have passed, ceased, & changed: That is called household distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: ‘O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?’ This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of household equanimity? The equanimity that arises when a foolish, deluded person—a run-of-the-mill, untaught person who has not conquered his limitations or the results of action & who is blind to danger—sees a form with the eye. Such equanimity does not go beyond the form, which is why it is called household equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“And what are the six kinds of renunciation equanimity? The equanimity that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: This equanimity goes beyond form, which is why it is called renunciation equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

“‘The thirty-six states to which beings are attached should be known’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘With regard to them, depending on this, abandon that’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said?

“Here, by depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation joy, abandon & transcend the six kinds of household joy. Such is their abandoning, such is their transcending. By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation distress, abandon & transcend the six kinds of household distress. Such is their abandoning, such is their transcending. By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation equanimity, abandon & transcend the six kinds of household equanimity. Such is their abandoning, such their transcending.

“By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation joy, abandon & transcend the six kinds of renunciation distress. Such is their abandoning, such is their transcending. By depending & relying on the six kinds of renunciation equanimity, abandon & transcend the six kinds of renunciation joy. Such is their abandoning, such their transcending.

“There is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity; and there is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness.

“And what is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity? There is equanimity with regard to forms, equanimity with regard to sounds…smells…tastes…tactile sensations & ideas. This is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity.

“And what is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness? There is equanimity dependent on the dimension of the infinitude of space, equanimity dependent on the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness… dependent on the dimension of nothingness… dependent on the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness.

“By depending & relying on equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness, abandon & transcend equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity. Such is its abandoning, such its transcending.

“By depending & relying on non-fashioning, abandon & transcend the equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness. Such is its abandoning, such its transcending.

“‘Depending on this, abandon that’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘There are three frames of reference that a noble one cultivates, cultivating which he is a teacher fit to instruct a group’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said?

“There is the case where the Teacher — out of sympathy, seeking their well-being — teaches the Dhamma to his disciples: ‘This is for your well-being, this is for your happiness.’ His disciples do not listen or lend ear or apply their minds to gnosis. Turning aside, they stray from the Teacher’s message. In this case the Tathagata is not satisfied nor is he sensitive to satisfaction, yet he remains untroubled, mindful, & alert. This is the first frame of reference that a noble one cultivates, cultivating which he is a teacher fit to instruct a group.

“Furthermore, there is the case where the Teacher — out of sympathy, seeking their well-being — teaches the Dhamma to his disciples: ‘This is for your well-being, this is for your happiness.’ Some of his disciples do not listen or lend ear or apply their minds to gnosis. Turning aside, they stray from the Teacher’s message. But some of his disciples listen, lend ear, & apply their minds to gnosis. They do not turn aside or stray from the Teacher’s message. In this case the Tathagata is not satisfied nor is he sensitive to satisfaction; at the same time he is not dissatisfied nor is he sensitive to dissatisfaction. Free from both satisfaction & dissatisfaction, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert. This is the second frame of reference…

“Furthermore, there is the case where the Teacher — out of sympathy, seeking their well-being — teaches the Dhamma to his disciples: ‘This is for your well-being, this is for your happiness.’ His disciples listen, lend ear, & apply their minds to gnosis. They do not turn aside or stray from the Teacher’s message. In this case the Tathagata is satisfied and is sensitive to satisfaction, yet he remains untroubled, mindful, & alert. This is the third frame of reference that a noble one cultivates, cultivating which he is a teacher fit to instruct a group.

“‘There are three frames of reference that a noble one cultivates, cultivating which he is a teacher fit to instruct a group’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘Among master trainers, he is said to be the unexcelled trainer of those people fit to be tamed’: thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said?

“Steered by the elephant trainer, the elephant to be tamed runs in only one direction: east, west, north, or south. Steered by the horse trainer, the horse to be tamed runs in only one direction: east, west, north, or south. Steered by the ox trainer, the ox to be tamed runs in only one direction: east, west, north, or south.

“But steered by the Tathagata — worthy and rightly self-awakened — the person to be tamed fans out in eight directions.

“Possessed of form, he/she sees forms. This is the first direction.

“Not percipient of form internally, he/she sees forms externally. This is the second direction.

“He/she is intent only on the beautiful. This is the third direction.

“With the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] ‘Infinite space,’ he/she enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is the fourth direction.

“With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] ‘Infinite consciousness,’ he/she enters and remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the fifth direction.

“With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] ‘There is nothing,’ he/she enters and remains in the dimension of nothingness. This is the sixth direction.

“With the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, he/she enters and remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This is the seventh direction.

“With the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he/she enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. This is the eighth direction.

“Steered by the Tathagata — worthy and rightly self-awakened — the person to be tamed fans out in eight directions.

“‘Among master trainers, he (the Tathagata) is said to be the unexcelled trainer of those people fit to be tamed’: thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words. — Salayatana-vibhanga Sutta (MN 137)

Teacher of Gods and Men (Sattā Deva-manussānam)

He teaches (anusāsati) by means of the here and now, of the life to come, and of the ultimate goal, according as befits the case, thus he is the Teacher (satthar). And furthermore this meaning should be understood according to the Niddesa thus:

“‘Teacher (satthar)’: the Blessed One is a caravan leader (satthar) since he brings home caravans (sattha). Just as one who brings a caravan home gets caravans across a wilderness, gets them across a robber-infested wilderness, gets them across a wild-beast-infested wilderness, gets them across a foodless wilderness, gets them across a waterless wilderness, gets them right across, gets them quite across, gets them properly across, gets them to reach a land of safety, so too the Blessed One is a caravan leader, one who brings home the caravans, he gets them across a wilderness, gets them across the wilderness of birth” (Nidd I 446).

Of gods and men: This is said in order to denote those who are the best and also to denote those persons capable of progress. For the Blessed One as a teacher bestowed his teaching upon animals as well. For when animals can, through listening to the Blessed One’s Dhamma, acquire the benefit of a suitable rebirth as support for progress, and with the benefit of that same support they come, in their second or third rebirth, to partake of the path and its fruition

Mandūka, the deity’s son, and others illustrate this.

While the Blessed One was teaching the Dhamma to the inhabitants of the city of Campā on the banks of the Gaggarā Lake, it seems, a frog (mandūka) apprehended a sign in the Blessed One’s voice. A cowherd who was standing leaning on a stick put his stick on the frog’s head and crushed it. He died and immediately was reborn in a gilded divine palace, twelve leagues broad, in the realm of the Thirty-three (Tāvatimsa). He found himself there, as if waking up from sleep, amidst a host of celestial nymphs, and he exclaimed, “So I have actually been reborn here. What deed did I do?” When he sought for the reason, he found it was none other than his apprehension of the sign in the Blessed One’s voice. He went with his divine palace at once to the Blessed One and paid homage at his feet.

Though the Blessed One knew about it, he asked him:

“Who now pays homage at my feet,
Shining with glory of success,
Illuminating all around
With beauty so outstanding?”

“In my last life I was a frog,
The waters of a pond my home;
A cowherd’s crook ended my life
While listening to your Dhamma” (Vv 49).

As the Blessed One taught him the Dhamma. eighty-four thousand creatures gained penetration to the Dhamma. As soon as the deity’s son became established in the fruition of stream-entry, he smiled and then vanished.

Enlightened

He is enlightened (buddha) with the knowledge that belongs to the fruit of liberation, since everything that can be known has been discovered (buddha) by him.

Alternately, he discovered (bujjhi) the Four Noble Truths by himself and awakened (bodhesi) others to them, thus and for other such reasons he is enlightened (buddha). And to explain this meaning the whole passage in the Niddesa beginning thus: “He is the discoverer (bujjhitar) of the truths, thus he is enlightened (buddha). He is the awakened (bodhetar) of the generation, thus he is enlightened (buddha)” (Nidd I 457), or the same passage from Patisambhidā I 174 should be quoted in detail.

Blessed (Bhagavā)

Blessed (bhagavā or bhagavant) is a term signifying the respect and veneration accorded to him as the highest of all beings and distinguished by his special qualities. Hence the Ancients said:
“Blessed” is the best of words, “Blessed” is the finest word; deserving awe and veneration, Blessed is his name therefore.

Alternately, names are of four kinds: denoting a period of life, describing a particular mark, signifying a particular acquirement, and fortuitously arisen or capricious. Names denoting a period of life are those such as “yearling calf” (vaccha), “steer to be trained” (damma), “yoke ox” (balivaddha) and the like. Names describing a particular mark are those such as “staff-bearer” (dandin), “umbrella-bearer” (chattin), “topknot-wearer” (sikhin), “hand possessor” (karin—elephant) and the like. Names signifying a particular acquirement are those such as “possessor of the threefold clear vision” (tevijja), “possessor of the six direct-knowledges” (chalabhiñña), and the like. Such names are Sirivaddhaka (“Augmenter of Luster”), Dhanavaddhaka (“Augmenter of Wealth”), etc., are fortuitously arisen names; they have no reference to the word-meanings.

This name, Blessed (bhagavā), signifies a particular acquirement; it is not made by Mahā-Māyā, or by King Suddhodana, or by the eighty thousand kinsmen, or by distinguished deities like Sakka, Santusita, and others. And this is said by the General of the Law, the Elder Sāriputta:

“‘Blessed’: this is not a name made by a mother … This name ‘Buddha,’ which signifies final liberation, is a realistic description of Buddhas—Enlightened Ones, the Blessed Ones—together with their obtainment of omniscient knowledge at the root of an Enlightenment Tree.”

To explain the special qualities signified by this name they cite the following stanza:

The reverend one (garu) has blessings (bhagì), is a frequenter (bhajì), a partaker (bhāgì), a possessor of what has been analyzed (vibhattavā). He has caused abolishing (bhagga), he is fortunate (bhāgyavā), he has fully developed himself (subhāvitattano) in many ways. He has gone to the end of becoming (bhavantago); thus is called “Blessed” (bhagavā).

The meaning of these words should be understood according to the method of explanation given in the Niddesa:

“The word Blessed (bhagavā) is a term of respect. Moreover, he has abolished (bhagga) greed, thus he is blessed (bhagavā); he has abolished hate, … delusion, … views, … craving, … defilement, thus he is blessed.

“‘He divided (bhaji), analyzed (vibhaji), and classified (paþivibhaji) the Dhamma treasure, thus he is blessed (bhagavā). He makes an end of the kinds of becoming (bhavānaí antakaroti), thus he is blessed (bhagavā). He has developed (bhāvita) the body, virtue, the mind and understanding, thus he is blessed (bhagavā).

“‘Or the Blessed One is a frequenter (bhajì) of remote jungle-thicket resting places with little noise, with few voices, with a lonely atmosphere, where one can lie hidden from people, favorable to retreat, thus he is blessed (bhagavā).

“‘Or the Blessed One is a partaker (bhāgì) of robes, alms food, resting place, and the requisite of medicine as cure for the sick, thus he is blessed (bhagavā). Or he is a partaker of the taste of meaning, the taste of the Law, the taste of deliverance, the higher virtue, the higher consciousness, the higher understanding, thus he is blessed (bhagavā). Or he is a partaker of the four jhānas, the four measureless states, the four immaterial states, thus he is blessed. Or he is a partaker of the eight liberations, the eight bases of mastery, the nine successive attainments, thus he is blessed. Or he is a partaker of the ten developments of perception, the ten kasina attainments, concentration due to mindfulness of breathing, the attainment due to foulness, thus he is blessed. Or he is a partaker of the ten powers of Perfect Ones (see Mahāsīhanāda Sutta, MN 12), of the four kinds of perfect confidence (ibid), of the four discriminations, of the six kinds of direct knowledge, of the six Enlightened Ones’ states not shared by disciples, thus he is blessed. Blessed One (bhagavā): this is not a name made by a mother … This name, Blessed One, is a designation based on realization.”

But there is another way: He is fortunate (bhāgyavā), possessed of abolishment (bhaggavā), associated with blessings (yutto bhagehi), and a possessor of what has been analyzed (vibhattavā).

He has frequented (bhattavā), and he has rejected going in the kinds of becoming (VAnta-GAmano BHAvesu), thus he is Blessed (bhagavā).

Here, by using the characteristic of language beginning with “vowel augmentation of syllable, elision of syllable”, or by using the characteristic of insertion, it may be known that he can also be called “blessed” (bhagavā) when he can be called “fortunate” (bhāgyavā) owing to the fortunateness (bhāgya) to have reached the further shore of the ocean of perfection of giving, virtue, etc., which produce mundane and supramundane bliss.

Similarly, he can be called “blessed” (bhagavā) when he can be called “possessed of abolishment” (bhaggavā) owing to the following menaces having been abolished; for he has abolished (abhañji) all the hundred thousand kinds of trouble, anxiety and defilement classed as greed, hate, delusion and misdirected attention; as lack of conscience and shamelessness, as anger and enmity, as contempt and domineering, as envy and avarice, as deceit and fraud, as obduracy and presumption, as pride and haughtiness, as vanity and negligence, as craving and ignorance; as the three roots of the unprofitable (greed, hate, and delusion), three kinds of misconduct (of body, speech, and mind), three kinds of defilement (misconduct, craving and views), stains, fictitious perceptions (those connected with greed, hate, and delusion), applied thoughts (of sense-desire, ill will, and cruelty), and diversifications (those due to craving, conceit, and false views); as the four perversenesses (seeing permanence, pleasure, self, and beauty, where there is none), cankers, ties, floods, bonds, bad ways, cravings, and clinging; as the five wildernesses in the heart, shackles in the heart, hindrances, and kinds of delight (in the five aggregates); as the six roots of discord (anger, contempt, envy, fraud, evilness of wishes, and adherence to one’s own view), and groups of craving; as the seven inherent tendencies; as the eight wrongnesses; as the nine things rooted in craving; as the ten courses of unprofitable action (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slander, harsh speech, gossip, covetousness, ill will, wrong view); as the sixty-two kinds of false view (see Pañcattaya Sutta, MN 102); as the hundred and eight ways of behavior of craving (Vibhava 400)—or in brief, the five Māras: the Māras of defilement, of the aggregates, and of kamma-formations, Māra as a deity, and Māra as death.

And in this context it is said:

He has abolished (bhagga) greed and hate,
Delusion too, he is canker-free;
Abolished every evil state,
“Blessed” his name may rightly be.

And by his fortunateness (bhāgyavatā) is indicated the excellence of his material body which bears a hundred characteristics of merit; and the excellence of his Dhamma-body indicates his having abolished defects (bhaggadosatā). Likewise, his fortunateness is indicated by the esteem of worldly people; and by his having abolished defects, the esteem of those who resemble him. And his fortunateness indicates that he is fit to be relied on by laymen; and his having abolished defects indicates that he is fit to be relied on by those gone forth into homelessness; and when both have relied on him, they acquire relief from bodily and mental pain as well as help with both material and Dhamma-gifts, and they are rendered capable of finding both mundane and supramundane bliss.

He is also called “blessed” (bhagavā) since he is associated with blessings (bhagehi yuttattā) such as those of the following kind, in the sense that he has those blessings (bhagā assa santi). Now, in the world the word “blessing” is used for six things: lordship, Dhamma, fame, glory, wishes and endeavor. He has supreme lordship over his own mind, of the kind reckoned as mundane and consisting of animā, laghimā, mahimā, patti, pākamma, īsitā, vasitā and yatthakāmāvasāyitā. Animā means making the body minute (the size of an atom—anu) enabling penetration of any substance. Laghimā means lightness of body; walking on air, and so on. Mahimā means enlargement, producing hugeness of the body. Patti means arriving where one wants to go. Pākamma means producing what one wants by resolving, and so on. Īsitā means self-mastery, lordship. Vasitā means mastery of miraculous powers. Yatthakāmāvasāyitā means “attainment of perfection in all ways in one who goes through the air or does anything else of the sort” or that complete in all aspects, and likewise the supramundane Dhamma.

And he has exceedingly pure fame, spread through the three worlds, acquired though the special quality of veracity. And he has glory of all limbs, perfect in every aspect, which is capable of comforting the eyes of people eager to see his material body. And he has his wish, in other words, the production of what is wanted, since whatever is wanted and needed by him as beneficial to himself or others is then and there produced for him. And he has the endeavor, in other words, the right effort, which is the reason why the whole world venerates him.

He can also be called “blessed” (bhagavā) when he can be called “a possessor of what has been analyzed” (vibhattavā) owing to his having analyzed and clarified all states into the three classes of profitable, unprofitable and neither; or profitable, etc., states into such classes as aggregates, bases, elements, truths, faculties, Dependent Origination, etc.; or the Noble Truth of suffering into the senses of oppressing, being formed, burning and changing; and that of origin into the senses of accumulating, source, bond and impediment; and that of cessation into the senses of escape, seclusion, being unformed and deathless; and that of the path into the senses of outlet, cause, seeing and predominance. Having analyzed, having revealed, having shown them, is what is meant.

He can also be called “blessed” (bhagavā) when he can be called one who “has frequented” (bhattavā) owing to his having frequented (bhaji), cultivated, repeatedly practiced, such mundane and supramundane higher-than-human states as the heavenly, the divine, and the noble abidings (heavenly abiding or kasina jhāna, divine abiding or loving-kindness jhāna, etc., and noble abiding or fruition attainment) as bodily, mental and existential seclusion, as the void, the desireless, and the signless liberations, and others as well.

He can also be called “blessed” (bhagavā) when he can be called one who “has rejected going in the kinds of becoming” (vantagamano bhavesu) because in the three kinds of becoming (bhava), the going (gamana), in other words, craving, has been rejected (vanta) by him. And the syllables bha from the word bhava, ga from the word gamana, and va from the word vanta with the letter a lengthened, make the word bhagavā, just as is done by the grammarians outside the Dispensation by deriving the word mekhalā (waist-girdle) from “garland for the private parts” (MEhanassa KHAssa māLĀ).

Conclusion

As long as the meditator recollects the special qualities of the Buddha in this way, “For this and this reason the Blessed One is accomplished, … for this and this reason he is blessed,” then: “On that occasion his mind is not obsessed by greed, or obsessed by hate, or obsessed by delusion; his mind has rectitude on that occasion, being inspired by the Perfect One.”

So when he has thus suppressed the hindrances by preventing obsession by greed, etc., and his mind faces the meditation subject with rectitude, then his applied thought and sustained thought occur with a tendency toward the Enlightened One’s special qualities. As he continues to exercise applied thought and sustained thought upon the Enlightened One’s special qualities, happiness arises in him. With his mind happy, with happiness as a proximate cause, his bodily and mental disturbances are tranquilized by tranquillity. When the disturbances have been tranquilized, bodily and mental bliss arise in him. When he is blissful, his mind, with the Enlightened One’s special qualities for its object, becomes concentrated, and so the jhāna factors eventually arise in a single moment. But owing to the profundity of the Enlightened One’s special qualities, or else owing to his being occupied in recollecting special qualities of many sorts, the jhāna is only access and does not reach absorption. And that access jhāna itself is known as “recollection of the Buddha” too, because it arises with the recollection of the Enlightened One’s special qualities as the means.

When a bhikkhu is devoted to this recollection of the Buddha, he is respectful and deferential towards the Master. He attains fullness of faith, mindfulness, understanding and merit. He has much happiness and gladness. He conquers fear and dread. He is able to endure pain. He comes to feel as if he were living in the Master’s presence. And when the recollection of the Buddha’s special qualities dwells in his body, it becomes as worthy of veneration as a shrine room. His mind tends toward the plane of the Buddhas. When he encounters an opportunity for transgression, he has awareness of conscience and shame as vivid as though he were face-to-face with the Master. And if he penetrates no higher, he is at least headed for a happy destiny.

Now, when a man is truly wise,
His constant task will surely be
This recollection of the Buddha
Blessed with such mighty potency.

Thus concludes the detailed explanation of the recollection of the Enlightened One.

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Published by

Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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