The Laity

Anything goes (almost).

The Laity

Postby thornbush » Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:08 am

I came across this lately:
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Thus ... nd_Stories
PARABLE 0157: OUR DEBT TO ANATHAPINDIKA
The name Anathapindika has come to be synonymous with extreme generosity in connection with Buddhist activities. However, this is not his only claim to fame.
An interesting story about Anathapindika goes like this: at the time of the Buddha, the role of lay people was merely to provide material support to monks and nuns.
It was not the practice to teach them the higher truths, which were reserved for those who had joined the Order.
At Anathapindika's deathbed however, the Elder Sariputra made an exception and conveyed to him the Buddha's teaching on Wisdom.
Anathapindika was moved to tears and requested that henceforth, such teachings be shared with lay people also, as some of them could benefit from these ideas.
It was as a result of this plea that lay people may now be exposed to the higher wisdom teachings of the Buddha.

Interesting. Any comments anyone? :thanks:
thornbush
 
Posts: 609
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:21 am

Re: The Laity

Postby genkaku » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:39 pm

Since I didn't live in that time, I have no way to assess the story, although I admit it makes me sad to think that teachings would be withheld. Even if the imagined secrets of Buddhism were told, what could that possibly tell anyone?

No disrespect intended: I just have a hard time seeing how the essence of Buddhism could either be given or withheld...and those who claim to do either certainly arouse my suspicions.
genkaku
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:23 pm

Re: The Laity

Postby sraddha » Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:56 pm

Hi thornbush,

actually, I never heard of the laity only existing for the material needs of the monks/nuns- that sounds more like the sad state of affairs in modern Buddhism.

The Ittivutaka is a collection from the Pali Canon that is attributed to a lay woman -- and shows the depth of the Dharma taught to the laity.

If you read the pali canon, the top 2 men and women lay disciples are counted -- and they were all great practitioners.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/disciples14.htm

92. It is often mistakenly thought that it is the job of monks and nuns to practise and teach the Dharma, while it is the job of lay men and women to practise the Five Precepts and support the monks and nuns by providing them with their needs. This is an incorrect and dangerous belief, and in countries where it is widely accepted it has helped lead to a corruption of the Dharma. The Buddha's goal was to develop a community of disciples, ordained and lay, men and women, who were well-educated in the Dharma, who practised it fully, and who taught it to and learned it from each other.[ N1 ] While the Buddha praised Anathapindika for his great generosity, he reserved his highest praise for Citta of Macchikasanda and Hatthaka of Alavi because they were both skilful in and diligent at giving something infinitely more precious than material things - the Dharma.


And of course, there is also the great Vimalkirti sutra -- which is a lay person who is more masterful in understanding the Dharma than the monks/nuns!
sraddha
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Re: The Laity

Postby thornbush » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:25 am

This is the likely source for it:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
When this was said, Anathapindika the householder wept and shed tears. Ven. Ananda said to him, "Are you sinking, householder? Are you foundering?"

"No, venerable sir. I'm not sinking, nor am I foundering. It's just that for a long time I have attended to the Teacher, and to the monks who inspire my heart, but never before have I heard a talk on the Dhamma like this."

"This sort of talk on the Dhamma, householder, is not given to lay people clad in white. This sort of talk on the Dhamma is given to those gone forth."

"In that case, Ven. Sariputta, please let this sort of talk on the Dhamma be given to lay people clad in white. There are clansmen with little dust in their eyes who are wasting away through not hearing [this] Dhamma. There will be those who will understand it."

Then Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Ananda, having given this instruction to Anathapindika the householder, got up from their seats and left. Then, not long after they left, Anathapindika the householder died and reappeared in the Tusita heaven. Then Anathapindika the deva's son, in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and stood to one side. As he was standing there, he addressed the Blessed One with this verse:
This blessed Jeta's Grove, home to the community of seers, where there dwells the Dhamma King: the source of rapture for me. Action, clear-knowing, & mental qualities,1 virtue, the highest [way of] life: through this are mortals purified, not through clan or wealth. Thus the wise, seeing their own benefit, investigating the Dhamma appropriately, should purify themselves right there. As for Sariputta: any monk who has gone beyond, at best can only equal him in discernment, virtue, & calm.

Then Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Ananda, having given this instruction to Anathapindika the householder, got up from their seats and left. Then, not long after they left, Anathapindika the householder died and reappeared in the Tusita heaven. Then Anathapindika the deva's son, in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and stood to one side. As he was standing there, he addressed the Blessed One with this verse:
This blessed Jeta's Grove,
home to the community of seers,
where there dwells the Dhamma King:
the source of rapture for me.

Action, clear-knowing, & mental qualities, virtue,
the highest [way of] life:
through this are mortals purified,
not through clan or wealth.

Thus the wise, seeing their own benefit,
investigating the Dhamma appropriately,
should purify themselves right there.

As for Sariputta:
any monk who has gone beyond,
at best can only equal him in discernment,
virtue, & calm.

That is what Anathapindika the deva's son said. The Teacher approved. Then Anathapindika the deva's son, [knowing,] "The Teacher has approved of me," bowed down to him, circled him three times, keeping him to his right, and then disappeared right there.

It was only last year in a now defunct Forum, a poster there had made a remark, that somehow, today's Buddhists had mistakenly thought that the more profound part of Dharma was taught to the Laity or addressed to them when it was mainly reserved for the Ordained.

I never understood this part until I came across this story and the Sutta above and perhaps that's why some parts the Buddhist World has this condescending attitude towards the Laity that our only worth is attending to offerings and the temple kitchen or at the very least, a basic teaching akin to how the Buddha taught to Sigalovada, the young rich householder. I recall how a woman had told that in certain parts of my country, there are still traditionalists who refuse to allow the Laity to do chanting as they claimed it was the domain of the Ordained.
I refuted that with the Sutras. Of course, no doubt that the Dharma should be taught according to capacities of sentient beings but in the issue of accessibility of the Dharma, there should be no holding back.

Then, the Vinaya is another issue altogether. Should that also be barred from the Laity reading on it, for fear that some calculative minds will use it as an arsenal to criticise and cause a rift in the Sangha, which is one of the 5 Grave Offenses?

I recall that in the Chinese Mahayana world, there were Venerables who at one time disallow the Laity to read even Sutras like the Brahmajala which was part of the Bodhisattva Sila, containing the code of the Bodhisattvas but later, other Venerables allowed it on grounds of compassion and also to expose the more capable Laity to higher Discipline. Even in the Lotus Sutra, we see how the Buddha Himself, who only after 3 strong requests from the Elder Sariputra, consented to give the Teaching, and after that 5000 walked out, amongst them, the Ordained.

Reminds me also of what happened during Martin Luther's time, when he allegedly described how in his days, the Church did not encourage people to study the doctrines nor the Bible but merely limited to perfunctory rituals and at the most, listening to short homilies, and even then, the liturgy of the Mass then did not incorporate sermons but merely Scripture readings. Of course, all these were revamped at the Councils of Trent and Vatican II.

So now, thanks to Ananthapindika, we the Laity have access to the Dharma, the beginning, middle and the end.
And the rise of Vimalakirtinirdesan, Srimala, the Contemplation on Amitayus Sutras and others, they are a grave reminder for us as the Laity to cherish this Dharma learning opportunity, so essential for our understanding, practice and liberation.
thornbush
 
Posts: 609
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:21 am

Re: The Laity

Postby sraddha » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:12 pm

Hi thornbush,

thanks for the sutta, when I read it though, I smiled :jumping: .

As a Mahayanist (we look at suttas for all the different interpretations :smile: that can make sense as fitting pieces of a puzzle) for all suttas --

1)Sariputta, gave a teaching to Anathapindika, a lay disciple, that is not given to the lay disciple -- I found that to be quite hilarious! :smile:

2) We must remember -Sariputta and the master disciples are all experts in reading minds, and can predict things far into the future and see their past for expansions and contractions of the universe - I.e. Sariputta invariably knew this and saw this -- so did Buddha -- that the lay disciples MUST be taught this -- and so did.

3) They give merit credit to Anathapindika for requesting the teachings be taught to lay disciples -- DESPITE THE FACT SARIPUTTA ALREADY DID -- BY TEACHING IT TO ANATHPINDIKA, without Anathapindika's request!


So is it thanks to Ven. Sariputta, thanks to Anathapindika or ultimately thanks to Buddha that the teachings on Anatta are taught to lay people? :shrug: All three get the credit.
sraddha
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun May 24, 2009 11:54 pm


Return to Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], muni and 16 guests

>