Seeing Contemplative (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2021-03-26

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

The Pāli word for contemplatives is samaṇa, including the ariyas—noble beings and yogis practicing for overcoming defilement. Here it includes all monks, but also can count sages and wise people. The best samaṇas to see are arahants and sekhas (one already has the realization of the lower stages, i.e., still in training for full realization).

Seeing contemplatives include asking Dhamma, listening and practicing Dhamma. Seeing noble beings has a great effect on someone. Not only at the time of the Buddha, even today, someone has a strong inclination to Dhamma knows the effects. It makes one’s mind peaceful and changes one’s life. Most people not sensitive and aware of the energies around us either living beings or nature, such as a tree, etc.

I have some of these experiences before. Once in New Zealand, some monks were invited to a house for paritta chanting. A man over 60 died in a hospital with cancer. Before he died said to his wife that he would come back and stay with her. It seemed he was attached to her and the properties left behind. Therefore, become a ghost there. Three monks and the car driver went there. As soon as I entered the house and felt a very strong unpleasant and gloomy feeling of the place.

And then a very strong putrid smell arose in the whole room. It smelled to the end of the chanting. After that, it disappeared. After getting out of the house, I asked the other three did they had any smell in the house. Only the senior monk answered as yes. The other two did not aware or feel it at all. This was strange, indeed. It was quite a strong repulsive smell and they did not smell it.

In New Zealand, there is some preserved forest with very big and old trees. By walking in there also one can feel the energies of the big trees and forests. There was an old practicing monk in Taiwan and he was an adept in samādhi. He could be in samādhi state for many days. He passed away at the age of 95 in the samādhi state.

After over 20 years of his passing away and I went to his place where he used to sit in samādhi. This was a small room and now became a shrine room with his cane chair which he used to sit samādhi. This room pervades with peaceful energy and one can feel it as soon as there.

Seeing contemplatives very often pervade wholesome energies to one’s mind is a blessing. It is also related to the blessing of the association with the wise. Seeing contemplatives (samaṇa) is a higher blessing than associate with good and moral people. By associate with good and moral people, we can also become one of them. Without becoming a good and moral person, we will never interest to see and associate with contemplatives.

By seeing samaṇa, we can learn the higher Dhamma from them and follow the path of transcending dukkha. There were many stories in the suttas on this point. Some lay people by seeing the Buddha or one of his disciples their lives were changed. Some of them before had wrong views with the wrong teachers after seeing the Buddha and his disciples had the right views and even some had the realization of Dhamma.

In the Majjhima Nikāya, there was a discourse called Upāli Sutta (MN 56 Upālisuttaṃ). Upāli was a very well known and wealthy lay disciple of Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta (The Jain Teacher Mahāvīra). Mahāvīra sent Upāli to see the Buddha for the argument on certain aspects of the law of kamma. He thought Upāli was so bright that and could defeat the Buddha.

Nigaṇṭha stressed on the physical and verbal actions being more productive resultant effects. But the Buddha viewed the mental actions (volition) as the most important factor. The Buddha explained to Upāli with examples and converted him. Nātaputta was overwhelmed by intense wrath over the loss of his most prominent lay supporter and then later passed away.

Also, there are two suttas in the Majjhima Nikāya, about the wandering ascetic Saccaka: Cūlasaccaka Sutta (MN 35 Cūḷasaccakasuttaṃ) and Mahāsaccaka Sutta (MN 36 Mahāsaccakasuttaṃ). In the first discourse, he was conceited with his skill in debate and went to see the Buddha for debate. The debate was on the topic of atta (self).

Saccaka took the five khandhas (aggregates); body, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness as atta (self). It was the self who enjoyed the fruits of good action and suffered the results of bad action. The Buddha refuted his wrong view as the five khandhas were not self (anatta). Because they were subjected to the laws of inconstant, suffering and not self (anicca, dukkha and anatta). Therefore, these were not under the control of anyone.

At last he was admitted his defeat. He did not become a follower but invited the Buddha and the monks for next day meals. In the second discourse, after his debate, he met the Buddha again sometimes. He asked the Buddha on the cultivation of mind and body. He knew only the wrong practices by other teachers. Then the Buddha explained to him the various practices he had followed before with mistakes.

At last he found the middle way—The Noble Eightfold Path without a teacher and it led to the realization and became a Buddha. Also, in the end, he did not become a disciple. But with these two meetings or seeing the Buddha and he carried the potential seed of enlightenment with him. According to the commentary, after the Buddha Dhamma flourished in Sri Lanka, he was born there. Later became a monk with the practice & he had the realization as an arahant.

Another interesting discourse in the Majjhima Nikāya is the Dog-Duty Ascetic Discourse (Kukkuravatika Sutta, MN 57 Kukkuravatikasuttaṃ). Two naked ascetics, Puṇṇa and Seniya the cow-duty and the dog-duty practisers went to see the Buddha. They asked the Buddha about the results of their practices. They held the wrong views of with these practices could transcend dukkha or after died had good rebirths.

The Buddha told them if they practiced like cow and dog after death became cow and dog. If holding these wrong views would fall into hells. (What about human-dog culture in today world?) They regretted their behaviors, which came from meeting with the wrong teachers. Then the Buddha taught them the four types of action; black, white, mixed (black with white) and neither of them (i.e., The Noble Eightfold Path). At the end of the discourse, Puṇṇa became a Buddhist. Seniya became a monk and after with practice, he became an arahant. This discourse is warning us of the consequences of wrong teachings and teachers.

Here I want to present a present-day story of an Italian yogi. This came from a Dhamma talk by Ven. U Ādiccaramsī. Eduardo an Italian who held a Ph.D. degree was practicing mindfulness of breathing every day for two years. According to him, he never missed it and sat for two hours. Later he went to Burma and looking for a teacher. And then met with the venerable who was living in a forest and developed his practice. The venerable was a lecturer in Philosophy before and had a wide knowledge of Dhamma. After sometimes under his guidance, Eduardo penetrated anatta doctrine with vipassanā contemplation.

At night time interview, he presented his experience to the teacher. At the end the teacher said; “I think you come to an end. But don’t believe what I say this. You can try it out by yourself.” And then he taught him how to enter into the fruition state. He was succeeded in the test and continued to develop it in Italy. Then he could do it for many hours. Later he wrote a letter to the venerable and said that now he was teaching vipassanā in St. Peters burg in Russia.

There are many things to say about seeing contemplatives, not only on spiritual practices. Monks who are wise and have a lot of knowledge in Dhamma can give a lot of help. There were many teachings by the Buddha on worldly matters. If we carefully study and research will admire and amaze the great wisdom of the Buddha. No human or any living being (i.e., any heavenly being—deva or brahma god) can surpass him. Many worldly matters and problems which are on family, society, or international levels can be solved with the Buddha’s teachings. This is not an exaggeration.

Only that most people do not know his teachings and not using it that all the human problems arise in the world. Most human sufferings are unnecessary, except the natural ones—such as aging, sickness and death. Most human problems and sufferings are mind made. Therefore, understanding and penetrating our mind can stop all these unfortunate things to happen. Seeing contemplatives, wise, sages and noble beings is not an ordinary or insignificant matter. It is the highest blessing and protection—to oneself and others.

Most human beings are worry and fear about aging, sickness and death. These unpleasant things are part of nature and can teach us a lot about how to live a meaningful life. With proper and wise attention and contemplation can develop our mind and life. From aging, sickness and death can develop love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and concern for others because we are in the same situations.

When someone is in a situation of terminally ill or dying and good to see the monks or invite them to see the patient or dying person, it can help to alleviate mental suffering and has a good death. In the suttas, the Buddha and some of his great disciples were helping the sick and dying persons, whether monks or lay disciples.

There is a sutta in the Aṅguttara Nikāya called “The Unsurpassed Things—Anuttariya Sutta (AN. 6.30 Anuttariyasuttaṃ)”. The meaning of anuttariya is noble because nothing is better than that. The Buddha taught six kinds of them. For example, people are looking and choosing the best things. Sometimes the Buddha’s views and worldlings are opposite. The Buddha’s views were always noble and seeing matters in complete and far-reaching. Worldlings not seeing things in the longer terms. Therefore, they have short-sighted views, and concern only with the present.

This is one of the most important causes for nowadays human beings (politicians, economists, businessmen, scientists and nearly all walks of life) out of greed and delusion create a lot of problems and sufferings in today world. Wise, sages and noble beings are seeing things and matters in depth with right views.

Worldlings see things and matters superficially with wrong views that take wrong things as right. With different views and have different results. This sutta is interesting and we can learn many things from it. It is also a connection with seeing contemplatives. The Buddha mentioned six kinds of them. Each kind can divide into two kinds. The Buddha’s views and the views of the worldlings. The six unsurpassed things are:

(1) The unsurpassed sight,
(2) The unsurpassed hearing,
(3) The unsurpassed gain,
(4) The unsurpassed training,
(5) The unsurpassed service,
(6) The unsurpassed recollection.

  1. The unsurpassed sight: dassanānuttariyaṃ

With the eyes, we can see many things. But there are also things that cannot see with the normal eyes. Now, with the help of science and technology, we create gadgets, televisions, computers, cell phones, etc. can see more things at any time. What are the things people use to see and watch? These are depending on interest and necessities. There are useful and proper things to see and watch. There are also harmful and improper things to see and watch by wasting precious times. But usually, people want to see harmful and improper things for entertainments at leisure times.

Even there are many accidents when people using cell phones by crossing roads and driving cars. People are too addicted to these things that it becomes a habit and they will use it at any time and any place. It is good to ask a question to oneself. If we are seeing and watching these many things (here not only cell phones and all the other things) what do we get, from it? And what are the benefits? It becomes wholesome or unwholesome?

Seeing the Buddha, arahants, noble beings and monks is the unsurpassed sight. From these people, we can gain seven benefits from it. These are for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha and discontent, for acquiring the true method and for the realization of Nibbāna. All of these are true values.

If we go and see a white elephant or a lovely panda bear in China, these are just seeing only, and it brings no other benefits to us. There are many worldly phenomena and matters are like this. We waste a lot of money and time for them. In the Buddha Kassapa’s time, our bodhisatta (i.e., the past life of Buddha Gautama) was a young brahman named Jotipāla. Even though he was born at the time of a Buddha and quite mature in developing his perfections to become a Buddha (It was already more than four incalculable aeons— asaṅkheyya-kappa) but he still did not want to see the Buddha Kassapa and the monks. (MN.81 Ghaṭikārasuttaṃ)

Because he was a brahman with his view of Brahmanism, anyhow, his best friend Ghaṭīkāra, the potter forced him to see the Buddha after he was seeing the Buddha and listening Dhamma talk and became a monk. Before Sāriputta met the Buddha and he had a wrong teacher named Sañjaya. One day he met Ven. Assaji who was on his alms round. Ven. Assaji’s serenity and graceful deportment attracted Sāriputta. So, he approached him and asked about his teacher and the teaching.

At last Ven. Assaji gave him a short instruction on Dhamma and Sāriputta became a stream-winner on the spot. There was another story about Aṅgulimāla, the notorious robber and murderer who killed people for their fingers. The day he met his mother, he needed only a finger to complete his mission for one thousand fingers. The Buddha knew all these and came in between them. Without seeing the Buddha, he was sure to kill his mother for the finger he needed.

The Buddha saved him for killing his mother. This was a very heavy unwholesome action and would fall into Hell after death. By seeing the Buddha and listening to his teaching, he gave up his evil deeds. Later ordained as a monk and practiced became an arahant. Therefore, seeing the samaṇa is the best seeing (dassanānuttariya) and the highest blessing (maṅgalam-uttama).

For people who do not have the chances of seeing samaṇas they need to be very careful how to use the many media. Because there are many unwholesome things and matters are going on. Out of greed and hatred, some foolish people using the media exploit and harm others. Even politicians or some world leaders using them to harm the opposition. With the help of science to harm people are more easier and have great consequences than before.

  1. The unsurpassed hearing: savanānuttariyaṃ

We have ears and hear many types of sound and voices. Most people are not using their ears properly or wisely. Therefore, there are a lot of noise pollution going on. Mostly these are artificial sound and voices by men and barking dogs. Even pollution of the ear can be divided into 2; material sound and human voices or speech. In modern-day noise, pollution are big problems. Human life is not quiet anymore. There are noises or sound from machines, animals (especially dogs barking) and music, etc.

I have no doubt all these noisy and unpleasant sounds harm the physical body if subject too much to them. There were already research or experiment with water to sound noises and voices. Noisy sounds (include violent music), ugly and unwholesome speeches made the water crystals very ugly and disgusting. Gentle, sweet, polite and peaceful sound and speech made the water crystals beautiful and majestic. Worse than these pollution are speech pollution from the media; televisions, movies, music, etc.

If we use them in an unwholesome way, one creates unwholesome kammas and also polluted the listener’s mind. It is harmful to both; the entertainers and the viewers. (with hearing and seeing). There are many kinds of harm going on by media which are using by evil people. It is quicker and easier to harm people than before. Now you can kill hundreds of people in a second.

Most people like to listen to music and singing. These only give temporary pleasure (i.e., classical music and pleasant music, not include violent music and songs). People want to hear strange things and gossips. Therefore, there are a lot of meaningless entertainments in the media. What benefits we get from them?!

Here I want to emphasize “The Burning Discourse” (SN. 35.28 Ādittasuttaṃ) in the Saḷāyatana-saṃyutta by the Buddha. It was quite suitable for today human beings. Most of our six sense-doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind), sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, mental object, six consciousness, six contacts, and the feelings come from these are burning with the fire of lust, hatred and delusion.

The eye and ear are burning with polluted media sound and noises. The nose is burning with polluted air. The tongue is burning with pesticides, many kinds of chemicals and polluted water. The body is burning with the severe climate changes by temperature rising. Our minds are burning with lust, hatred; delusion come from the polluted media and matters. Can these things free us from dukkha? Do these things and matters can reduce our defilement?

There are a lot of things, not helping our many problems and difficulties in life. If we get lost in them, even become harmful. The wholesome things and matters are medicines of the mind and it become educations and the unwholesome ones will become poisons and harm everyone. For living beings, especially humans, seeing and listening are very important parts of our lives. How to use them properly and wisely is very important? The gods in rūpaloka (fine-material realm) use only the eyes and ears. Nose, tongue and body sensations are not useful for them.

Why is that? Because their minds are pure and they only need the eyes to see the Buddha and noble beings, and with ears listen to their Dhamma. These two factors of seeing contemplatives and listening Dhamma are prerequisites for practicing Dhamma, and enlightenment. There were a lot of stories in the suttas mentioned about monks and lay people who met contemplatives and listened to Dhamma and their lives were changed dramatically. For the Buddha, the unsurpassed hearing or noble listening was on Dhamma—Dhamma savanānuttariyaṃ.

  1. The unsurpassed gain—lābhānuttariyaṃ

This is a very wide subject to talk about. The Buddha mentioned some of them by common people, such as someone gains a son, a wife, wealth and various goods, etc. There are many kinds human beings want to get or attain. These things are depending on their desire and interest. Some of them are necessary to have and some are not. Some of the things are for pleasure and some are for knowledge.

People use money, time and effort to get them. Some of them after attaining, it leads to stress, problems and sufferings; e.g., money, power. Because people cannot use them properly or wisely. And then by loosing or lost them lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Nowadays, humans are crazy to get more money. It becomes the mad, mad world. What is this for? For indulging in sensual pleasure which is low, common, worldly, ignoble and unbeneficial. These made people become more and more discontent.

So, they do all sorts of things and matters to satisfy their desire and craving. This harm themselves and others, even to nature and environments. For the Buddha to have or gain faith (saddhā) in the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha was the unsurpassed thing to have or gain—lābhānuttariya. Faith in the Buddha’s teaching had levels. It can be blind faith, ordinary faith and confident or conviction (the highest level). The Buddha never encouraged the lowest level of blind faith which could be false or true, and it could be dangerous and harmful, e.g., some modern cults (Faith in religions is a serious matter and we should not take it lightly).

Buddhists should only have ordinary faith and confidence or conviction and not the blind faith. Start the Buddha’s teachings with ordinary faith; it comes from study, research and wise reflection. With this faith can have interest and follow the teachings with the practice. By practice and we have the direct experiences which confirm the truth of the Buddha-Dhamma.

And then will come confident or unshakable true faith. Whatever his religious background, if someone only has blind faith in wrong faith, and then declares has true faith, it will harm himself and others. This point is very important for spiritual people, especially for religious leaders. Only someone who has intelligent faith will have an interest in the Dhamma. Although faith (saddhā) is not included in the Noble Eightfold Path, it has closed relationship with wisdom or discernment or right view. As spiritual faculties, they have to be in balance (i.e., faith and wisdom).

In one of Mogok Sayadaw’s talks, he said about faith. [The Buddha answered to some questions put by the fierce spirit Āḷavaka were: Through conviction (saddhā) one crosses over the flood (i.e., the flood of the wrong view—diṭṭhi-ogha) (SN. 10.12 Āḷavakasutta). Through heedfulness (appamāda—mindful diligence in wholesomeness), one crosses over the rugged sea. Through persistence, one overcomes dukkha. Through discernment, a person is purified.], So, the Buddha taught to Āḷavaka that with conviction closed the doors to woeful planes.

This is the faith of a stream-winner (sotāpanna), or unshakable faith. By faith, one crosses over the flood of the wrong view. You must believe that it leads to stream entry (sotāpatti magga). Why you do the practice? You do it because believing in the Buddha’s words and the teacher’s words if the Buddha and teacher said that you must see impermanence and with the practice, you will discern it. You discern it because you have practiced with faith. For doing the practice, let faith leads you.

Another point what the Buddha taught was with heedfulness (mindfulness) could cross over the four floods. (i.e., become sotāpanna to arahant). In the round of existences (saṁsāra) the most miserable places are the four woeful planes. The sufferings there are unthinkable. If we get with whatever means for wealth and power will never safe for falling into it. Therefore, the Buddha said that faith (saddhā) was the unsurpassed gain—lābhānuttariyaṃ.

  1. The unsurpassed training—sikkhānuttariyaṃ

This is a very interesting and wide subject need to contemplate thoroughly. There is a lot to say on these matters. Here the Buddha mentioned some of them—train in elephantry, horsemanship, chariotry, archery, swordsmanship and in various fields. Human being quite different from other beings is on knowledge. It starts from birth to death. Humans are a thirst for knowledge. But does everyone get the right knowledge? So, learning, training and knowledge are education.

Generally can separate into two groups; unwholesome and wholesome knowledge or educations. Even some worldly wholesome knowledge can become unwholesome by misusing it, e.g., pesticide and other chemicals. Only with the training of the Buddha-Dhamma is becoming perfectly wholesome knowledge. At least a human being knows livelihood. For this purpose, we have to start school education from young. But most human beings neglect the importance of basic education or training, i.e., moral education.

Without this fundamental training, whatever worldly knowledge maybe can lead to problems and sufferings. The world arms industries in many superpowers; U.S, Russia, China, France, etc. based on sciences and technologies. Science, technology and economics should be used for the welfare of the human race to bring, peace, happiness and harmony. Many developed countries use a lot of money, human resources, times and earth resources produce weapons of mass destruction to create problems and conflicts around the world. If humans not using it, what is the point of producing them?

So, they have to create problems and conflicts for using it. These leaders and governments create evil kamma for themselves to harm others, but they take it as great fortunes. This money can help poor and underdeveloped countries to have a better life. If we cannot solve the poverty in many countries, and civil wars, refugees and economic migrants problems will never stop. These problems have already happened in across Europe. Competition in nuclear arsenals is also a very stupid and crazy thing a human can do. It cannot bring anything good to the human race, but only dangers and destruction.

Therefore, fundamental knowledge or moral education is extremely important. Without this foundation, even wholesome knowledge can create problems and sufferings to family life and society. So, human knowledge is use to solve poverty and other problems and not for selfishness, exploitation and harming. Therefore, human worldly knowledge has two kinds; wholesome and unwholesome. There is also a special knowledge or transcendental knowledge, or super knowledge only came from a Buddha.

Even wholesome worldly knowledge by using it wrongly, foolishly and stupidly bring a lot of harms, because it is based on craving, greed, ill-will, hatred, delusion, and ignorance. Therefore, the Buddha said that all worldly pleasure came from worldly knowledge are low and ignoble. These cannot free one from the round of existences (saṁsāraṁ), not free from dukkha, not make the mind calm and peaceful, cannot develop penetrative knowledge, not lead to right knowing, not leading to the goal of Nibbāna which known by the ariyas. Sometimes people are too ignorant and stupid that they study, learn and imitate everything. There was an interesting ghost (peta) story on this point.

Miserable Strange Ghost:

One day Ven. Mahāmoggallāna came down from the Gijjha-kūṭa hill in Rājagaha. On the way, he met a very strange miserable ghost (peta). This peta head was pounding with many iron hammers and he fell on to the ground. And then he became normal again and the ghost got up again. As soon as he got up, all the iron hammers fell on his head again. It went on like this for non-stop. So, the Venerable asked him; “Oh! Man, why are you like a crazy one—like a deer, the whole body is trembling with fear and running to here and there? Indeed you had done the evil deed in the past and because of that, you were crying loudly with miserable voice. Who are you?”

Before the hammers appeared again and struck his head, he answered to the Ven. as follow; “I am a peta and because of my evil deed, I had been fallen into hell before. The result of my evil deed is not finished yet. So, I have to continue for it as a peta. Every day my suffering is 60,000 iron hammers are falling on my head and breaking it into pieces.” The Ven. asked him; “Of the three actions, physical, verbal and mental which action did you commit?” Then the peta described his evil deed. “Ven. Sir, in one of my past lives as a man, I saw the Pacceka-buddha Sunetta. He was in meditation under a tree near the bank of the Ganges River. At that time, I have just learned my skill of throwing pebbles. For testing my skill, I threw a pebble on his head and it broke his head and died on the spot. (The stone pebble went into the right ear and came out from the left ear. People saw this became very angry and beat him to death.) Because of this evil deed, now the iron hammers are pounding on my head.” (DhA. ii. 71F; Pv. iv. 16; PvA. 283f)

The Pacceka-buddha Sunetta was mentioned in the Peta Vatthu two times. Another time was he met a young prince who was conceited and with anger broke his alms bowl (Pv. iii. 2; iv. 7; PvA. 177f., 264). The prince after died and born in hell. After released from hell and born as a peta, and then at last born into a fishing village as a man. From this last life as a human being, he became the arahant Ven. Sāṇavāsī [Sānuvāsi (sī.), Sānavāsi (syā.)]. All these peta stories taught us to see the burdened khandha and its dukkha.

This miserable story was warning human beings how to use their many worldly knowledge properly and wisely. Not all worldly knowledge are good to learn. Especially the knowledge of politics, science and economics are very important and should use them properly and wisely. It can bring peace, happiness and progress to the human race. Also, it can lead to the destruction of the human race. We can see this in today world. Even temperature is rising to the destructive level, the leader of a super power, out of selfishness and greedy he neglected of the agreement his country had already signed with others to tackle the climate problem.

Whatever someone’s motives are if he did evil deeds himself or asks others to do it, all of them have to bear the results of actions. For example, a world leader orders to drop a hydrogen bomb on a city. The results of the evil deed not only the pilot who drops the bomb but also the leader and the scientists who create this matter to happens have to bear the evil results.

For the Buddha, the unsurpassed training—sikkhānuttariya was in morality, concentration and discernment—sīla, samādhi and paññā. It is called supreme training—adhi-sikkhā. Why is that? Because it gives rise to vision, to knowledge, leads to peace, to direct knowledge (i.e., insight), to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. But all worldly knowledge and trainings for craving and indulgence in sensual pleasures lead to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and the whole mass of sufferings. So, the Buddha said that the best and supreme knowledge and training were sīla, samādhi and paññā.

  1. The unsurpassed service—pāricariyānuttariyaṃ

There are many ways of supporting with materials to people. Some are doing as a duty and some as a profession. The types of people we need to support or helping are the Buddha and the saṅgha, parents, family members, relatives, elderly people, sick people (patients), etc. As a profession, we can make money as a livelihood, e.g., doctors, nurses. For the Buddha, the best supporting was to the Buddha and the saṅgha. Why is that? Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha are the best treasures, refuges and blessings and very rare indeed.

Only a Buddha arises living beings can see the Buddha and Saṅgha and have the chance to know the Dhamma. How difficult to has the chance for a Buddha to arise it can be imagined? Our bodhisatta (i.e., Buddha Gautama) started his perfections (pāramīs) during the Buddha Dīpaṅkara’s time. After the Buddha Dīpaṅkara and Buddha Kondañña arose.

The period between them was one incalculable aeon (asaṅkheyya‐kappa). After Buddha Kondañña and Buddha Maṅgala arose. Between them was one incalculable aeon and no other Buddhas. From Buddha Maṅgala to Buddha Anomadassī was one incalculable aeon, between them with three Buddhas. Buddha Gautama developed his perfections for four incalculable and 100,000 aeons.

During three incalculable aeons only six Buddhas arose. Today Buddhists of the world should contemplate this point seriously and not wasting our times and chances for the momentary, fleeting pleasure. Supporting for others are wholesome actions and merits. But their qualities are different. So, their results are also. By supporting the Buddha and Saṅgha people could close to them, and learn the Dhamma, by following it, they lived a fruitful life and even could transcend dukkha. It was not only good at the beginning (present life) but also good for the next life and saṁsāra. With the help of the Buddha, Saṅgha and the Dhamma people developed wisdom.

All the worldly problems and mental sufferings came from not supporting the Buddha and Saṅgha that we did not have the chances to meet them and learn the Dhamma. So, we had wrong teachings and wrong views and based on them by doing a lot of unwholesome actions with mind, speech and body. In the world, what is more, important than quenching of dukkha? This can be possible only with the help of Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha and your inner power and not by God and supernatural beings.

  1. The unsurpassed recollection—anussatānuttariyaṃ

There are many things and matters human beings recollect and remember them. Here the Buddha mentioned some of them; someone recollects the gain of a son, a wife or wealth, or various kinds of gain. Because many objects are connecting with the six sense-doors, some living beings, material objects and mental objects. Most of them can be ignoble, lowly and not lead to peace and happiness. These things do not bring benefits to humans if they are recollecting or remembering them with craving, greed, hatred, ill-will, etc.

There are many examples to give, as, e.g. on sensual pleasures and objects; on someone whom one hates; someone has died whom one attached to, etc. We should not use our memory and recollection blindly and without control. If very often, it will become a habit and character. Surely unwholesome dhammas never bring happiness and peace. Near death is very important in one life. Dying moment determines one’s future rebirth.

With a bad memory leads to painful rebirth. With bad recollections defile our mind and increase our defilement. The untrained mind is out of control and running to the past and future things and matters. And then we do not know what the mind is thinking. So, we are carrying away by them. We need sati—mindfulness and proper attention. With sati and proper attention, we can develop wisdom.

The things and matters themselves are neither bad nor good. It depends on the mind reaction. But still, we need to practice sense restraints. Because most human beings latent with a thickness of defilement. Kilesa is like a tiger hidden in a bush and waiting for the preys. Without restraint, it will kill us at any time.

The Buddha taught us the best recollections were the following ten recollections—dasa anussatiyo. These are:

[1] Recollection of the Buddha:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[2] Recollection of the Dhamma:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[3] Recollection of the Saṅgha:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[4] Recollection of the virtue:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[5] Recollection of generosity:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[6] Recollection of the devas:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[7] Mindfulness of in and out breathing:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[8] Mindfulness of death:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[9] Mindfulness immersed in the body:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

[10] Recollection of stilling:

This is one thing that—when developed and pursued—leads solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge to self-awakening, to Nibbāna.

The ten recollections a set of meditation themes that highlight the positive role, memory and thought play in training the mind. Only seven of them are recollections (anussati). These are; no. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] and [10]. The other three are mindfulness practices (sati). The Pāli words for mindfulness and recollection are intimately related. (For details on these ten recollections refer to Ajahn Thanissaro Bhikkhu—“A Meditators’ Tools”). All these ten recollections; when developed and pursued, lead solely to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening and Nibbāna that the best recollections or noble recollections.

Therefore, Buddhists should know the best or noble things and matters to choose and follow them. These are the lessons in our life. The Buddha laid down the standards to distinguish ignoble or noble, low or high, bad or good, not benefit or benefit, etc. These were mentioned in the First Discourse of the Buddha—Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma.

The negative things and matters; which are low, vulgar, the ways of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial and painful. The positive things and matters; which give rise to vision, to knowledge, lead to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment and Nibbāna. For us, the most important standards are things and matters bring benefits, peace and happiness.

Nowadays, because of material developments or progress, there are many things and matters; some are good and some are bad. With self and money centeredness—that there are more bad than good. Therefore, we should know the Buddha-Dhamma and doing things rightly and wisely. So, seeing contemplatives is an important part of Buddhist life.

Therefore, the Buddha taught that this was the highest protection and blessing in life. At least the benefit of contact with samaṇas are we can distinguish unwholesome and wholesome dhammas. Nowadays, even most leaders and politicians do not have this quality. Therefore, there is a lot of turmoil going on in some countries.

revised on 2021-03-26; cited from (posted on 2019-11-21)

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