Siddhattha’s Enlightenment

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The following is what occurred during Siddhattha’s awakening beneath the Bodhi-Tree. The sacred snapshot of him sitting reflectively on a grassy knoll is known as sitting on the Throne of Wisdom. Having departed from the game of samsara at the age of twenty-nine, then practicing severe austerities for six years, he was now thirty-five years of age and thus more fully seasoned to be cloaked with the mantle of deathlessness. He was more fully prepared for Mara’s greatest molestations. Attempting to entice Siddhattha with every sensual device possible, Mara is justly rebuked and vanquished by the young and aspiring noble arhat. The Bodhisatta then became attuned to all of his previous incarnations; afterwards there was no more karma to burn in Light of the True Home of the Deathless—yea, he burned-off all his past karmic associations. It was during the middle-watch of that illuminative night that Siddhattha developed the Divine-Eye, which empowered him during the last watch to contemplate the Law of Dependent Origination, which was soon accompanied with the insight into the arising and cessating of the Five Aggregates of skandhic-grasping.

the Divine-Eye: the Light of the Deathless Body now sees through the Divine-Eye, indeed, from realms of the Dharmakayic-Spirit Itself.

18.“Then, bhikkhus, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to ageing, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, seeking the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, seeking the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, seeking the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, seeking the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, seeking the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My deliverance is unshakeable; this is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being.’

The following highlights the core of this experience:

When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn’t, that isn’t.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
In other words:
From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name & form.
From name & form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.
From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.
From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.
From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.
From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play.
Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.
Now from the remainderless fading and cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications.
From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness.
From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name & form.
From the cessation of name & form comes the cessation of the six sense media.
From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact.
From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.
From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving.
From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/ sustenance.
From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth.
From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, and despair all cease.
Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress. (From Pali Canon online)

The traditional narrative then recounts how Siddhattha, now fully *enlightened*, spent seven days upon that Throne of Wisdom beneath the Bodhi-Tree, and then seven days at six other locations—*forty-nine days in total—before enjoying the Fruits of Arhatship. But, Mara, never resisting an opportunity to inflict injury, makes another attempt to ruin Siddhattha’s newfound Dhamma. He implants within his mind the troubling vexation, “Who could possibly join me in this realization? Who could possibly comprehend its supreme eminence?”

*enlightened*, Supreme Antecedent Conjoinment in the Source—ascending to the True Self; unborn, uncreated, unbound, deathless and as such in perfect nibbāna. The Divine-Absolute Spirit is now speaking through him; hence, a profound truth was revealed:  that the Unborn Buddha-Mind Itself is prior-to all manner of formal manifestations.

*Forty-nine days: symbolic of successfully navigating through the Bardo of re-becoming; yea, Siddhattha Gotama has broken the chain of endless cyclic rebirth (the death of his skandhic-carnality) and is forever-after known as the Supreme Awakened-Spiritual-Being, the Buddha—the Arhat—The Noble Shining One.

19. “I considered: ‘This Dhamma that I have attained is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in worldliness, takes delight in worldliness, rejoices in worldliness. It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, namely, specific conditionality, dependent origination. And it is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna. If I were to teach the Dhamma, others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me.’ Thereupon there came to me spontaneously these stanzas never heard before:

Enough with teaching the Dhamma
That even I found hard to reach;
For it will never be perceived
By those who live in lust and hate.

Those dyed in lust, wrapped in darkness
Will never discern this abstruse Dhamma
Which goes against the worldly stream,
Subtle, deep, and difficult to see.’

Considering thus, my mind inclined to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.

Just as the ignoble seed of pessimism was planted by a vile agency, just so was the noble seed of optimism and fortitude implanted in the form of a Divine-Agency. Brahmā Sahampati is the most prominent of the Mahabrahmas and he descended at the hour of Siddhattha’s discouragement and entreated him not to keep the salvific medium of the Dhamma for himself alone, but to entrust it to all manner of sentient beings.

20. “Then, bhikkhus, the Brahmā Sahampati knew with his mind the thought in my mind and he considered: ‘The world will be lost, the world will perish, since the mind of the Tathāgata, accomplished and fully enlightened, inclines to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.’ Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, the Brahmā Sahampati vanished in the Brahma-world and appeared before me. He arranged his upper robe on one shoulder, and extending his hands in reverential salutation towards me, said: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma, let the Sublime One teach the Dhamma. There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are wasting through not hearing the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.’ The Brahmā Sahampati spoke thus, and then he said further:

‘In Magadha there have appeared till now
Impure teachings devised by those still stained.
Open the doors to the Deathless! Let them hear
The Dhamma that the Stainless One has found.

Just as one who stands on a mountain peak
Can see below the people all around,
So, O Wise One, All-seeing Sage,
Ascend the palace of the Dhamma.
Let the Sorrowless One survey this human breed,
Engulfed in sorrow, overcome by birth and old age. [169]

Arise, victorious hero, caravan leader,
Debtless one, and wander in the world.
Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma,
There will be those who will understand.’

Impassioned  by Brahma’s passionate plea, the Buddha then surveyed the world with his spiritual eye and saw that there were indeed people of different predilections – ‘some with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties—easy to teach and hard to teach.’ Although there are those with a clouded, limited vision, handicapped from seeing the All as they see what is only partial and divided, yea—the dust of defilement *piles deep—the Buddha was compassionately moved by this encounter and subsequently resolved to remain in the world and accept Brahmā Sahampati’s advice to teach the Dhamma to all: hence, the origin of skillful-means was thus constituted.

compassionately moved: as Tozen once penned, “Thus, the true [bodhi-being], in infinite compassion works unceasingly to enlighten these “born” minds of their error, by showing the exit-sign and escape from this old and burning theatre, by saying ,“adieu”, to this collectively sustained and samsaric mind-realm….”

*piles deep: a traditional commentary refers to this Sutta as the “discourse on the pile of snares.”

  21. “Then I listened to the Brahmā’s pleading, and out of compassion for beings I surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha. Surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelt seeing fear in blame and in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses that are born and grow in the water thrive immersed in the water without rising out of it, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rest on the water’s surface, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rise out of the water and stand clear, unwetted by it; so too, surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelt seeing fear in blame and in the other world. Then I replied to the Brahmā Sahampati in stanzas:

‘Open for them are the doors to the Deathless,
Let those with ears now show their faith.
Thinking it would be troublesome, O Brahmā,
I did not speak the Dhamma subtle and sublime.’

Then the Brahmā Sahampati thought: ‘I have created the opportunity for the Blessed One to teach the Dhamma.’ And after paying homage to me, keeping me on the right, he thereupon departed at once.

22. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma is wise, intelligent, and discerning; he has long had little dust in his eyes. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to Āḷāra Kālāma. He will understand it quickly.’ Then deities approached me and said: ‘Venerable sir, Āḷāra Kālāma died seven days ago.’ And the knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma died seven days ago.’ I thought: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma’s loss is a great one. If he had heard this Dhamma, he would have understood it quickly.’

23. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta is wise, intelligent, and discerning; he has long had little dust in his eyes. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to Uddaka Rāmaputta. He will understand it quickly.’ Then deities approached me and said: ‘Venerable sir, Uddaka Rāmaputta died last night.’ And the knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta died last night.’ I thought: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta’s loss is a great one. If he had heard this Dhamma, he would have understood it quickly.’

Notice how the Buddha’s bent with the initiation of skillful-means first leaned towards the “most able”, such as Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta. The indication here that they have both “passed-on” is indicative of the old scriptural admonition—healthy minds have no need of the physician, but rather minds in ill-health. It soon dawns on Siddhattha that his mission is also to the “lesser-able”, or those who are in most need of escaping the burning house into the fresh and salvific air of the Buddhadharma. The door of the Deathless is open for all with a sincere spirit.

24. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘The bhikkhus of the group of five who attended upon me while I was engaged in my striving were very helpful. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to them.’ Then I thought: ‘Where are the bhikkhus of the group of five now living?’ And with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw that they were living at Benares in the Deer Park at Isipatana.

with the divine eye: from the Royal Sambhogakayic vantage-point, seeing into the nature of things regardless of obstructing time and space; this also has to do with clairvoyant and all siddhic-like abilities that transcend the usual norms of perception.

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