Instructions to Rahula – Ambalaṭṭhikarāhulovāda Sutta

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    • #15746
      Eric
      Participant

      https://suttacentral.net/mn61/pli/ms

      (I hope that’s the right one; if not, I’m referring to the Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone Discourse, the sutta mostly on reflection: “What do you think, Rāhula? What is the purpose of a mirror?” and so on.)

      To reflect on IOW to be mindful of bodily, verbal, & mental actions before, during, & after said action sounds like helpful and important instructions. But you guys are good at cracking the surface, correcting what has been distorted, sifting & ferreting out deeper meanings, and the like. So before anyone embarks on possible misinterpretations, what are your thoughts?

    • #15771
      Lal
      Keymaster

      This is a VERY important sutta. Evreyone should read it.

      In this sutta, the Buddha described in detail these “basics” that one should first undertake, pointing out the bad outcomes of lying, etc, which are nothing other than dasa akusala.

      Here is the link to a translation and the Pali versions side-by-side, at the same website that you referred to:
      Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhika“.

      Translations of some verses are not that good, but the general idea comes through, especially if you take into account the following. Two especially bad translations are for akusala as “unskillful” and kusala as “skillful”. It would be much better to translate them as “immoral” and “moral”. One does not get rebirth in the apayas with unskillful actions, but rather immoral actions.

      I just discussed the importance of this sutta under the topic, “Basic mindfulness & sense-pleasures for niramisa sukha?“. You may want to read that too.

    • #15773
      Eric
      Participant

      Re-reading this sutta after all your admonishments against breath/walking meditation and so forth, repeatedly and constantly reflecting during and around all actions from all forms seems a lot more helpful than as you call “robotically” naming all one’s little movements, emotions, whatever’s external and noticeable… — what I’m gonna call “Mango-Reflecting” or “Mangoing” (because goofy names helps me remember =P ) accomplishes the same job of keeping calm by bringing and keeping oneself to the present moment in alert awareness (no room in your head to let past/future depression/anxiety creep in), WHILE letting one constantly guard not only the sense-doors for its own sake* but to do a guard’s job of letting proceed only the good and useful, slaying the hidden evils that have snuck past…

      • Thinking about it, isn’t it useless for a guard to play the name-game with whatever’s going on around him?

      “Standing, watching, bored, standing…”
      “Here comes a robber. He is walking past me. He is entering the castle. He has entered the castle.”
      “Watching, standing…”
      “Robber is leaving the castle. He is carrying a large, filled bag. He is walking past me. He is leaving. He is gone.”
      “Standing, watching…”
      “It is windy yet lukewarm…”

      Instructions like the following (which I’ve seen/read myriad variants myriad times) now seem incredibly laughable, a complete WASTE OF TIME!!

    • #15789
      Lal
      Keymaster

      OK, Eric. I was able to restore your original reply.
      Sorry you had to go through so many re-postings.

      You are absolutely right. Many of the misinterpretations of suttas arise because people just translate suttas word-by-word, mechanically.

    • #15796
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Even a Buddha cannot prevent that his words, behaviour and lifestyle lead to irritation, anger, distress, suffering, regardless his thoughtfullness. In the end we must see and accept that suffering does not arise only due to our actions, but there is the mind of the other person too.

      If everybody becomes so reserved before acting, things become unnatural. And when that happens virtue, goodness, withers. Contacts between persons run dry. Happiness dissappears. It leads to suffering, not to happiness. I think we all know this from experience.

      Please imagine a world in which there is no spontaniety anymore but everybody reflects on any deed before acting. Well, to be honest, this must be like hell. It is like all people have become politicians.

      Even when this constant reflection on actions would lead to some kind of happiness or some kind of peace or some kind of harmony, it is a very forced kind of happiness, peace and harmony.

      Siebe

    • #15797
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Siebe: ” In the end we must see and accept that suffering does not arise only due to our actions, but there is the mind of the other person too.”

      What are you trying to say?
      That you can change another person’s thoughts/suffering?
      OR
      That another person can make you suffer (without physical force)?

      One can of course hurt another physically. One may be able to make another person (especially one who is ignorant of Dhamma) suffer by bad speech. But one cannot significantly affect another by one’s thoughts; that will only hurt oneself (of course bad actions and speech directed towards another will hurt oneself too, many times over!).

      One needs to find happiness within oneself. Even the Buddha can only show the way.

      I am not really sure what you are trying to say. If you are referring to a particular passage in the sutta, please quote from that, so that we can see what you really mean.

    • #15800
      y not
      Participant

      Siebe:

      ‘If everybody becomes so reserved before acting, things become unnatural’.
      and..
      ‘Please imagine a world in which there is no spontaniety anymore but everybody reflects on any deed before acting.’

      Rashness, unmindfulness, thoughtlessness, heedlessness.. these we call the spontaneity we should have applied when our actions through the opposites of those qualities did not bring about the desired result.

      Is this what you are getting at?

      “…suffering does not arise only due to our actions, but there is the mind of the other person too.”

      It is true that ‘we are all connected’, so our thoughts must affect others, as much as those of others must affect ours, but HOW INTENSE AND PROLONGED must they be to bring into doubt what Lal says that ‘we cannot SIGNIFICANTLY affect another by our thoughts’

      y not

    • #15815
      sybe07
      Spectator

      What i am trying to say is that, i belief there are two sides to the instructions of the Buddha to Rahula:

      1. I can see for myself that impulsive behaviour, based on gati, re-activity, does often (if not always) lead to suffering for oneself and others. It leads to all kind of problems. It is also wise to become more thoughtful about the relation between our own intentions, words and deeds and their results. It is good to be aware of the effects of our own deeds. It is good to be oriented upon ones own welbeing and that of others.
      2. Being oriented this way at the same time is a kind of burden. Becoming so concerned with not creating suffering to oneself and others, that itself is a kind of suffering, a burden.

      For me it worked out this way that i have become more aware of the effects of my own intentions, words and deeds, and i have become more interested in others welbeing too. My orientation has shifted more to the welbeing of others. I think you can say, otappa has increased too. I think knowledge about kamma has also increased by the instructions taught by the Buddha to Rahula and which i practice.

      So i think it has many positive fruits, but at the same time, i feel, being authentic is even more important. If one is authentic there is no way one will do consciously or impulsively any wrong. Any impulsive behaviour is not authentic, it is a re-action mode. For me, this lesson is even more important then the instruction to Rahula, although i really belief those are of great fruit.

      This lesson about authenticity is not literally in the Sutta-pitaka but it can be derived from it when one realises that anusaya’s, asava’s, gati’s, are mentioned in the sutta’s because they also relate to a certain kind of behaviour which is of a re-active kind, a habitual kind of behaviour, driven by the force a habit and therefor not realy authentic. In the end, i belief, that is what we have to strive for. That will be the result of buddha-dhamma.
      The purity of the arahant and Buddha is at the same time their authenticity and their authenticity is their purity.

      Siebe

    • #15820
      Lal
      Keymaster

      @Siebe:
      You said: “..i have become more aware of the effects of my own intentions, words and deeds, and i have become more interested in others welbeing too. My orientation has shifted more to the welbeing of others.”
      AND
      “Being oriented this way at the same time is a kind of burden. Becoming so concerned with not creating suffering to oneself and others, that itself is a kind of suffering, a burden.’

      I cannot see how compassion for others can be a burden. If one has compassion for others, the MOST one can do is to stay away from dasa akusala that deals with other living beings:
      intentionally killing humans or animals is bad, stealing from others is bad, engaging is sexual misconduct is bad, participating in heavy drinking/taking drugs is bad, intentionally deceiving others is bad, engaging in gossiping, empty talk, etc are bad.

      Furthermore, generating bad thoughts about someone/something all the time is bad. This is an aspect most people do not pay attention to: “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra“.

      On the other hand, one must do good things and generate good thoughts or good vaci sankhara. One can also help others by giving to needy, fulfilling one’s responsibilities at work and at at home, teaching/discussing Dhamma, etc. None of these are burdens, if one does those with true understanding. One feels that one should do those things out of compassion and to be a responsible human being.

      Can you state clearly how having compassion for others can be a burden? Please use simple words like I did in the above paragraphs.

    • #15825
      sybe07
      Spectator

      Hi Lal,

      My question to you: in a specific situation, do you always know what is the best to do? How to act? What to say, what to do? And not to say, not to do?

      Is it Always clear immediately what will be helpful?

      If it is, how?

    • #15828
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Seibe: Your questions are all over the place. I spend time answering your questions and you don’t even respond to what I ask.

      Please think through before asking questions, and ask them in a simple way so that the question is clear. Also, you need to answer my questions, if this is going to be discussion.

      The above question does not make any sense, in the sense that answer should be obvious: Each person responds to a given situation in his own way, based on his own understanding. Hereafter, I will just ignore questions that do not make sense or trivial like this one.

    • #16263
      firewns
      Participant

      Siebe said: ‘Becoming so concerned with not creating suffering to oneself and others, that itself is a kind of suffering, a burden.’

      Siebe, when one develops intense compassion and wishes for the welfare of all sentient beings, it will be an even much greater burden not to be concerned with relieving the suffering of oneself and others.

      Ways we can deepen our compassion for other sentient beings would be to realize that throughout this beginningless samsaric cycle, all sentient beings are likely to have been our father, mother or other close relative whom we had cared deeply for at one time or other. They would probably have taken great care of us, and suffered when we suffered, etc.

      We can also imagine that when someone is hurt by our actions or words, we could very well have been at the receiving end of such hurt had circumstances changed. Just as we very much would not like to be hurt, in just the same way, other sentient beings, too, would not want to be hurt. Thus we become better able to understand the plight of others.

      Due to the anicca, dukkha and anatta nature of samsara, it is inevitable that there will be a burden even when we try to act compassionately. However, when true compassion arises in us, we will gladly undertake this burden without hesitation.

      After all, even the Buddha was not able to stop all sufferings of others who were near him. He chose to keep quiet when a butcher was slaughtering pigs next door, so that the butcher would not develop a much greater akusala kamma for bearing ill will towards the Buddha, had the Buddha admonished him against taking lives.

      Hence there is much anicca, dukkha and anatta in this world. We should not aim for an ideal perfectness which can never arise. Instead we should make do with what we can. When enough of us do this, we can create astounding changes in this world. However, even then, we should understand that perfectness would still not be realistically attainable.

      Siebe, perhaps these situations could be an opportunity for you to contemplate upon anicca, dukkha and anatta?

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