Thank you so much for that very kind introduction, Rob, and I'm coming to you here from Harris Park, which is on the land of the Burramattagal people of the Dharug Nation in eastern Sydney. And so, as is the custom in Australia, we pay respects to the elders past present and emerging and we acknowledge their unceded custodianship of the land upon which I sit. And just for a bit of background, for those of you who are not aware that Australia is one of the few colonized countries where there is no treaty arrangement with indigenous people whatsoever. They're not acknowledged in our Constitution, we are trying to change that. And there is a movement this year, called the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is intended to provide acknowledgement for Aboriginal people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within our Constitution and to give them an advisory voice in our federal government. And so if you're interested to look at that, Google the Uluru statement from the heart, and I've been one of the Buddhist representatives who have been supporting that movement. Wonderful to be here and just glancing at some of our old friends. Older than ever, in fact; Ayya Tathaaloka, Venerables from the Aranya Bodhi, Susan Pembroke, hey going, Susan, Wei Yin and a number of others who've crossed paths with in this strange journey along the dhamma highway, Oh, and some closer to home as well, Ayya Sevira, good to see you here. And, okay.
Is there anyone here who does not have any familiarity with the sutta? And if this is your initiation into the sutta, if you are, as it were, sutta virgins, then please notify or put your hand up on Zoom or something like that, just so I can double check, because I don't want to leave anyone behind. Okay, so I'm just checking...or you can leave a comment in the chat. Okay, looks like most people have some kind of background, good. So for the next four weeks, we're going to be discussing the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. And the Mahāparinibbāna sutta is, of course, the narrative of the end of the Buddha's life, his final journey towards his parinibbāṇa. We are right now in the month of May, which is the month of Wesak, which is celebrated by the Buddhist community as the birth, awakening and death of the Buddha. I come here as a historical scholar to harsh your buzz. And to let you know that unfortunately, the Buddha didn't actually die in May. And the evidence of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta suggests rather that he died probably in December or January. So sorry about that. But in any case, as we know, we celebrate it as a symbolic day. I'm going to be reading from my translation of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta, which is available on sutta central, let me just pop the link into the chat if anyone doesn't have it. And that link I just sent you has the notes available. So these will give you some annotations, which I've recently started doing as a project for the suttas to sort of explain my translations, and hopefully give some clarity and some historical background as to what's going on with the suttas.
I'll also be reading from this. Nice, isn't it? So this is a book and sutta central has...you remember these things, don't you? It's like from before, there were like fax machines and so on. All the gray hairs, you all remember what a book was. So this is paper. And on paper, we use ink and we print words just like on a screen. It's amazing. And so sutta central has recently started publishing translations as books, we'll be rolling this feature out gradually over time. And so you can order these from sutta central website. And they're nice. And I always think, and I think many studies support that if you want to read meaningfully and you want to read in depth then paper is always the best medium. And screens are great for looking something up or doing a bit of research or something. But if you want to really sit with a sutta contemplatively then nothing beats paper. So that's that. All right. Let's begin. So I'm going to start by beginning reading a short passage from the sutta. And then we can discuss that and see how far we go.
So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha on the vultures Peak Mountain. Now at that time King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha wanted to invade the Vajjis. He declared, "I should wipe out these Vajjis so mighty and powerful! I shall destroy them, and lay ruin and devastation upon them!" And then King Ajātasattu addressed Vassakāra, the brahman Minister of Magadha, "Please brahman, go to the Buddha and in my name, bow with your head to his feet, ask him if he's healthy and well, nimble, strong and living comfortably, and then say: "Sir, King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha wants to invade the Vajjis. He says, "I shall wipe out these Vajjis so mighty and powerful! I shall destroy them, and lay ruin and devastation upon them!" Remember well how the Buddha answers and tell it to me for the realized ones say nothing that is not so."
Alright, so this is the introduction to the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. Now quite dramatic, all right? It's a pretty dramatic opening now compared to most sutta openings. You know, "At one time, the Buddha was staying in Savatthi, and then he spoke to the monks..." Pretty mundane stuff. Here, we begin with this highly charged opening, and a lot of assumed knowledge and assumed historical knowledge and context behind that opening. So this already, lets us know a number of the features of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. One feature is that it was composed by a very careful and intelligent literary mind. Right? This is how you engage some of the narrative, you begin with something dramatic, something that creates a tension that requires a resolution. Of course, there's a tension here. And so in the historical sense, what did Ajātasattu do? Did he in fact, evade the Vajjis? But there's also a narrative tension in it raises the question, How is Buddha going to respond to this kind of thing? So immediately, we're propelled into a narrative in a way that is very unusual in early Buddhist literature. Most suttas don't propel you into a narrative like that at all, some do. But it's fairly rare. And so this immediately prompts the question: What's going on? Why is it formed like this? Who is behind it? And what significance does this have for the wider themes of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta.
Now the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta is obviously very long, it's about as long as a short novel, and I won't even attempt to read or discuss all of the teachings in there. But what I will try to do in this short series of talks, is to introduce a few perspectives, highlight a few passages, and try to give some kind of richness to a background and a context to help to understand what's going on with a bit more depth and a bit more color. Now, we can look at Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta from a number of perspectives. We can look at it purely as a piece of history, as a journalistic account, a diary, if you will, of the Buddha's last days, he went to this place, did this and went to that place, and did that, and so on leading up to the time of his death.
We can also see it as a compilation of dharma teachings. Because within that, at different places, the Buddha was giving different kinds of teachings. And so it first of all gives us a summary of those teachings. But it also suggests what were the things that were most important for the Buddha to convey in his final days. And so this is giving us some doctrinal content to the teaching. Now, in addition to that, we also can look at this from a literary perspective. And as I already suggested, the sutta has quite a sophisticated literary hand behind it. There is somebody who's guiding, for example, the sequence of events, what we call the ghatti of events, what comes after another and what propels the narrative. Which then leads us to the next perspective which we have, which is a very interesting and I think, possibly unique, really, perspective within the early suttas, which is the the subtext, the authorial subtext. Within this entire narrative, the Buddha is accompanied by Venerable Ananda. And we know from Buddhist tradition that Venerable Ananda was the leading monk who helped to assemble the scriptures after the Buddha died, put them together, organize them and set the sangha up to continue the legacy of the Buddha. But at the same time, Ananda is a character in the narrative. I think the authorial hand here, the person who decided, for example, let's begin the narrative of the end of the Buddha's life, with this incredibly dramatic statement by King Ajātasattu. The person who made those kinds of decisions, and put it together in this kind of way, I believe, was Venerable Ananda. And I think that in the days after the passing of his great master, he devoted himself to creating this narrative as a way of ensuring the legacy and long lasting of his master. That is, of course, not to say that every detail in the sutta was, you know, exactly historical, it's not to say that every detail was composed by Ananda personally, there are significant differences between the different versions, and the multiple versions and intertextuality of Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta is actually incredibly complex, I won't delve into it very much. So clearly, it was under development for a period of time. But I think the primary text was put together by Venerable Ananda.
And so that means that when we see him, he's telling his own story, together with his own vulnerabilities, and own fears, which are encoded in the narrative in ways either quite subtly or in some cases, quite openly. Alright, so these are some perspectives that we can bring to the text. Another perspective that we can bring to the text is the vast intertextuality of this particular narrative. There is a whole cycle of suttas, which I call the Mahāparinibbāṇa cycle that draws on this sutta, that tells related events sometimes is extracted from the sutta and expanded, and which relates to this particular text in all kinds of ways. And one of the things that that means is that there's actually like a huge chunk of Buddhist literature, early Buddhist literature that stems from these last days of the Buddha's life, not just the Mahāparinibbāṇa, but many other suttas, often themselves quite complex and significant. Again, I won't delve too much into this, but just to sort of remark in passing that we are dealing with this complex intertextual situation.
Alright, so to come back to the opening passage, Ajātasattu of Magadha wants to attack the Vajjis, what's going on here? Well, let me introduce you the characters that we've heard about so far, so we've heard of King Ajātasattu son of Bimbisāra, one of the great kings of that era. He had been previously corrupted by Devadatta, seduced into killing his own father. And the narrative of his confession of that crime is told in the second sutta, the Digha Nikaya, the Samaññaphala sutta. Here must be some time after the Samaññaphala sutta, not that long after, a few years, maybe. And it seems that even though he had repented from his crime of patricide. Well, he was still a bit of a character, and his conversion to Buddhism was perhaps not as complete as we might have liked it to be. So he wants to invade the Vajjians. Why does he want to invade the Vajjians? Well, the sutta doesn't tell us the commentary tells us that it originated from a trade dispute about controlling the trade on the Ganges River. So Magadha, Ajātasattu's empire bounded the Ganges on the north, while the Vajjis bounded the Ganges, the Ganges bounded them on the south side so that they shared some ports and some transit points. And it seems that it was a dispute over one of those that led to Ajātasattu wanting to invade the Vajjis. Regardless of the details of that specific thing, the general idea is surely true, that Ajātasattu and the Magadhan Empire wanted to control the Ganges and to control the trade routes along the Ganges. I don't know if any of you saw in the news recently, the last few days, a few people have been reporting, finding a Buddha image in Egypt. Did anybody see that come up in the news? A few people? No? Anyway, so they found a Buddha image in Egypt dated from about maybe third century or so. And what we're seeing in Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta is the beginnings of the expansionism, that about 100 years later resulted in the great Mauryan Empire of Chandragupta, who met with and formed an alliance with ultimately Alexander and then opened up the trade routes through to Rome through to the west. So there's a there's a connection between the events we're seeing here in the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta and that Buddha image, which was found in Egypt, stemming from all those hundreds of years later.
Why was Ajātasattu...oh, thanks for sharing the link. Ann. Why was Ajātasattu asking for the Buddha's advice? Interesting question. The text doesn't really tell us except it says that the realized ones, the Tathāgatas don't say anything that isn't so. Remember that in Ajātasattu's previous encounter with the Buddha, he confessed his crime of murdering his father. Now this is a very kind of touchy moment. I mean, when a king confesses something to you, especially when he confesses a violent crime like that. I mean, it's dodgy, right? What do you exactly say? It's not exactly... you have to be very careful about the words that you choose. And when that happened, the Buddha was very straightforward with Ajātasattu he agree with him? Yes, you did this. It was a great crime. And he didn't try to sort of negate it. He didn't try to say, Oh, yes, yes, yes, well, you are the great king, or you didn't try to butter him up or anything like that. He was very straightforward. And he acknowledged Yes, this is the crime that you did. And now let us try to move on. And I believe that it is Ajātasattu's experience at that time, that showed him that the Buddha was somebody that he could rely on, to give him honest feedback. That's what he says; Tathāgatas don't say anything that is not true. We know that it is one of the great traps for a king or a dictator or an autocrat, or really any leader when they stop listening to people. And when they think, when their advisors or the people around them, are too scared to give them honest advice. And I think that Ajātasattu for all his flaws, was aware of this and was aware that perhaps his own advisers would not be giving him honest advice. And so he wanted to seek some feedback from the Buddha. That's my reading on that anyway.
Now, this is the story that initiates the journey towards the end of the Buddha's life. But there is something more to it as well, because in a wider sense, it's not just the end of the Buddha. It's the end of the world that the Buddha had known. And in this period of time, we see around, you know, say a decade before or after this, we see conflict erupting between the Vajjians and the Magadhans, as we see here. A little bit earlier, there'd been a war between the Kosalans and the Magadhans. There's a war between the Kosalans and the Sakians. There's another war between the Sakians and the Koliyans. There's a war between The Mallians and the Kosalans. It's probably quicker to list the people who weren't fighting each other than it is to list all the people who were fighting each other. So during most of the Buddha's lifetime, it was fairly peaceful during that, it was fairly stable in that region of northern India. And clearly, that piece was breaking down. And there were economic and social factors which were underlying this. And so that entire world that we see depicted in the suttas, and if you read the suttas, you see, Oh, the Buddha was in Kosala, he was at Savati, and he traveled to here. All of those different nations, and different peoples were gone. And when we go through the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. And we see of the Vajjian Republic, we see the Mallian Republic, we see the different people and all of those things- all of those different republics were gone within a few decades of the Buddha's passing away. Everything was changed, and the entirety of the Northern India became dominated by a single empire. What that means for the Buddhists as of that time, is that they were faced with this great gaping abyss of uncertainty. Not just the uncertainty of the Buddhist passing away. But the uncertainty of what is life going to be like? Is this the ending of the world? I mean, when you see the dissolution of a particular social order, it is not at all assured that there's going to be another social order that comes afterwards. Sometimes the social order disappears, and nothing comes. Everything falls apart into chaos, madness, that can happen. And we know from our perspective, that the Buddhist community not only survived, but thrived and received the patronage of King Ashoka and others. But they didn't. And so this undercurrent of fear about what's going to happen to them, what's going to happen to the Buddhist community, what's going to happen to the Dhamma, this informs the entire through line of the narrative of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. All right, very good. Well, I should mention, by the way, that if anyone has some questions, we'll have time for some questions a bit later. But meanwhile, if you do want to pop questions into the chat, I have the chat open here so if you have questions as we go along, please do pop them into there. All right.
All right. Continue! “Yes, sir,” Vassakāra replied. He had the finest carriages harnessed. Then he mounted a fine carriage, and along with other fine carriages set out from Rājagaha for the Vultures Peak Mountain. He went by carriage as far as the terrain allowed, then descended and approached the Buddha on foot and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha, “Master Gotama, King Ajātasattu Vedehiputta of Magadha bows with his head to your feet. He askes if you're healthy and nimble, strong and living comfortably. Master Gotama, King Ajātasattu wants to invade the Vajjis, he has declared, "I shall wipe out these Vajjis so mighty and powerful, I shall destroy them and lay ruin and devastation upon them." Just a quick note here on the form of address when Vassakāra addresses the Buddha he refers to him as Master Gotama, Bho Gautama, which is a respectful, but not reverential term of address. And I think that Vassakāra was kind of a follower of the Buddha at the time, but not necessarily a really committed follower just yet. Also, just to mention, there's been some question and some discussion about the word Gotama, which is a bit of an unusual term of address because the Buddha was a khattiya, an aristocrat, and Gotama is the name of a Brahmanical lineage. And there's been a degree of speculation and discussion about why the Buddha is referred to with a Brahmanical clan name. And it seems that the reason why that is so is because it was the custom that when a ruler from an aristocratic clan was anointed, that they took the name of their Brahmanical family chaplain, the purohita. And during the ceremony of anointing, their status as a khattiya was suspended and they temporarily became a brahman in the lineage of their purohita. And afterwards, they would continue to be referred to by that name. So the Sakians had a family priest, the lineage of the family priest was in the Gotama clan. And we'll see later on that some of the other khattiya clans were likewise referred to by Brahmanical names like Aggivessana. So that's just a little by the by, bit of historical context there. Right, moving along.
"Now at that time, Venerable Ananda was standing behind the Buddha fanning Him. And the Buddha has said to him, Ananda, have you heard that the Vajjis meet frequently and have many meetings?" Alright, so I'm sure most of you are familiar with Venerable Ananda. He was the younger cousin of the Buddha. And yes, Ayya T puts in there that the Buddha is likewise referred to as Angirasa another Brahmanical name, Angirasa, as well as Okaka refer to the royal lineage and the solar lineage, yeah. Angirasa is a kind of a solar name, it evokes the radiance of the sun. But it's interesting, one of the reasons it's interesting is because the time of the Buddha was also the time of the Brahmanization of that part of India. So most of Northern India had been Brahmanized. And we can see in this sutta that Ajātasattu has a brahman minister who is advising him. And it seems that the Sakkians also had that Brahmanical ministers who are advising them, but the process of Brahmanization was still ongoing, especially towards the south. Yeah, that's correct, the Angirasa was one of the seven Rishis Yeah. If you if you're interested, Ayya T, or others, have a look at the notes that I did on DN 14, where I go into some of those backgrounds to some detail. Anyway, moving on.
Alright, so Ananda was the Buddhist cousin, younger cousin, probably about 20 or 30 years younger than him. And he went forth, some years after the Buddha had already gone forth. And then from the time that he went forth, he rapidly became the Buddha's primary attendant and carer as we see in the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. Others also as we see in Mahāparinibbāṇa did play that role as well Ananda wasn't exclusively but Ananda was certainly the closest one to the Buddha. (Melanie, I love your friend. Wow. Very good dogo) Okay, excellent. Moving along. So, Ananda was a complex character because he had this kind of gentleness and devotion to the Buddha. So he exemplifies this more kind of vulnerable emotional character, who nonetheless had a highly acute intellect. And so he was often the one who would like be bringing people together or had that kind of voice or that way of communicating that was reconciling and bringing communities together, again, as we see in the sutta itself. Anyway, so Ananda says, "Have you heard that the Vajjis meet frequently and have many meetings? I have heard that sir, as long as the veggies meet frequently and have many meetings they can expect growth, not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjis meet in harmony, leave in harmony and carry on their business in harmony? I have heard that, Sir. As long as they do so they can expect growth and not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjis don't make new decrees or abolish existing decrees, but proceed having undertaken the traditional Vajjian principles as the as they have been decreed? I have heard that sir. As long as they don't make new decrees or abolish existing decrees or proceed having undertaken the traditional Vajjian principles they can expect growth. Have you heard that the Vajjis honor, respect, esteem and venerate Vajjian elders and think them worth listening to? I have heard that, sir. As long as they honor, respect, esteem and venerate Vajjian elders and think them worth listening to, they can expect growth not decline. Ananda, have you heard that the Vajjis don't rape or abduct women or girls from their families and forced them to live with them? I have heard that sir. As long as they don't rape or abduct women are girls from their families and force them to live with them, they can expect growth, not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjians honor, respect, esteem and venerate the Vajjian shrines whether inner or outer not neglecting the proper spirit offerings that were given and made in the past? I have heard that. As long as they do so they can expect growth and not decline. Have you heard that the Vajjis organize proper protection, shelter and security for perfected ones, so that more perfected ones might come to the realm and those already here may live in comfort. I have heard that. As long as they organize proper shelter, protection, and security, then they can expect growth not decline. Then the Buddha said to Vassakāra, "Brahman, this one time I was staying near Vesālī at the Sārandada woodland shrine. There I taught the Vajjiss these seven principles that prevent decline, as long as the seven principles that prevent decline last among the Vajjis, and as long as the Vajjis are seen following them, they can expect growth not decline." When the Buddha had spoken, Vassakāra said to him, "Master Gotama if the Vajjis follow even a single one of these principles, they can expect growth and not decline. How much more so all seven?" Actually, I'm just going to check the online translation because I think I've changed the next bit.
"If even a single one of these principles they can expect growth and not decline, how much more so, all seven. King Ajātasatu cannot defeat the Vajjians in war, unless by bribery or by sowing dissension. Well, now Master Gotama, I must go. I have many duties and much to do, please brahman, go at your convenience. Then Vassakāra, the brahman having approved and agreed with what the Buddha said, got up from his seat, and left." All right. So these are the seven principles of non decline. The Buddha then goes on to teach seven similar principles of non decline for the monks, which I will go on to in just a minute. But first of all, let me just go back over those seven and briefly discuss what is going on here. First thing is that the Vajjians were what you might describe as an aristocratic Republic. So they were governed by the councils of the leading clans within the Republic. It wasn't a full democracy, in the sense of having universal enfranchisement. But the leading clans would elect a Raja, a ruler, or a council of rulers for a period of time. So it was a kind of a semi-democratic system. And so this is what it refers to when it talks about meeting frequently. And in fact, we'll encounter some examples of that as we go along. Now, these meetings that were that the Buddha's referring to here, were basically townhall meetings. And I know that there's still a strong culture of that in the US as there is in Australia. That part of the life of our democracy is that people should get together and talk about things. And if we're going to be making decisions as a community, then we need a level of commitment and involvement from the people who are part of that community who are going to sacrifice some of their time to go and have boring meetings, where, look, nobody really likes going and having meetings, but it is a part of what makes a country or a spiritual community possible. And I think that's really important for all of us to bear in mind, whether it's in terms of our local neighborhood, or if it's in terms of our spiritual community, and our you know, local temples, local Buddhist centers, retreat centers, meditation centers, to show up and to be a voice and to help to support that process. And it doesn't have to be, you know, it doesn't have to be that you only show up when you want something. Right. It can be just you show up because you want to support the process and you think it's a it's better that we live in a place where this happens than to live in a place where it doesn't happen. And of course in terms of government, like local state government, and so on as well, to be able to participate in this process. We have a number of kind of accounts of what happens in those meetings. And they will discuss various kinds of business and so on and so forth. And so this was very much a major feature of the life, especially of the aristocratic republics in those days. But an important part of the meeting is not just that the meetings happen, but also that the meetings were carried out in harmony. And I'm sure as we're all aware, that isn't always the case. And sometimes you go to these meetings, and everyone just yells at each other. And everyone's like, you've got that you come here with your AAARGH and your, all of your anger and all of your hate, and you have to like blurt it out at people. And so this is not really productive. And when this happens so often, then it makes us feel disenfranchised, makes us feel disenchanted with even the thought of taking part in a meeting like that. And so if we want good people to come to these kinds of meetings, and to actually play a role in their civic society, it's critical that those that civic society be carried out in a manner that is civil and kind and polite, and which honors and respects the voices of people who have come to attend. This thing is also very important. So this is why I say that, you know, it's not even so important that, you know, you're advocating for a certain position to come to a meeting, you know, it's even more valuable in some cases to come along and not know what your position is, but just to be able to listen and to just be a quiet presence there.
Okay, so the next one is an interesting one. It says that the Vajjis shouldn't make new decrees or abolish existing decrees. Now, the word for decree here, the Pali word is Paṇeta, what has been laid down. And how we interpret this is not not at all obvious. I mean, doesn't mean that the Vajjians can't make new laws, right? Seems a bit weird, right? I mean, why do you meet if you can't legislate? I mean, sure, they're a government, they should be able to make new laws. Like what does it actually mean by these, by these decrees? What I think it means is that the decrees are something a bit like a constitution. Elsewhere in the suttas, it talks about the ancient principles, or the Ancient Rules that the Brahmins would have, with the idea that there were a set of principles and ideals upon which life should be led. Now, the Vajjian Republic, had been founded some centuries earlier, not a huge amount of time, maybe one or two centuries before the time of the Buddha as a union of smaller republics of different clans in the area. And so you had to, like unite these different families and these different clans with these different ideals, different values, different traditions, and to be able to somehow get everybody to work together on a common process for a common outcome. And it was pretty successful in doing that, it became highly economically prosperous and lasted for quite a few hundered years. So it was very successful at doing that. And what I think that these Vajjian principles is referring to is the underlying principles upon which the Republic was formed, namely, such principles as getting together and having meetings and the various other principles that's referred to in these lists. So it doesn't mean that the Vajjians couldn't make new laws or couldn't respond to new kinds of situations. But it did mean that they didn't arbitrarily abandon those principles which informed the creation of their republic. And so I think that's, that's something which is good. And that's something which most nations today still respect that we, we respect our constitutions and we don't, we don't sort of arbitrarily sort of try it out and change it on a whim. In Australia, as I said, we are looking towards a fairly rare constitutional amendment later in the year. In Australia, the way it works is to make a constitutional amendment you have to have a majority of people in a majority of states, plus a majority of states, plus a majority in both houses of parliament, something like that. It's a bit complicated. But the point is that you need to be sort of very careful before you can make this kind of change.
Okay, so that's what I found. And of course, this is regarded as analogy with what happens with the sangha. Okay, moving on. 'Have you heard the Vajjians honor, respect esteem and venerate the Vajjian elders and think them worth listening to?' Another interesting one, one word that is not found there is "obey". Or "follow their orders". Yeah. It's that they should listen to them. Listen to what the elders say. And they should treat elders with respect. I think this also was quite interesting, isn't it? There's a kind of a fine line here. Between, yes, elders should be listened to. They should be respected. But should we always have to obey elders? Should we always have to do what they tell us? Not so obvious. And that kind of fine line also, we find in the monastic vinaya as well, that the senior monastics like myself or like Ayya T, regarded as people who, in a meeting of the sangha or group of the sangha, you know, we've been around for a while, we've seen some things, some things that you people wouldn't believe, happening. And so our advice is regarded as something which should be listened to, but at the same time within the sangha itself, we don't like have a power of decree, we don't have a power to command the sangha or whatever. And if the sangha decides a decision that goes against what we want, then that's okay. That's just how it goes sometimes.
All right. So again, the next one, I think I've changed my translation a little bit. But the idea is basically the same. That the Vajjians don't forcibly abduct the women or girls of the clans and make them live with them. So here, obviously, is an explicit injunction against sexual violence, and for the protection of women. And I think it's really remarkable that the Buddha regarded the protection for women against violence as being one of the foundational principles of the establishment of a republic, and one of the foundational principles that allowed that Republic to continue. And of course, we know that today, women are still subject to violence in many and harrowing ways. And that one of the signs of what we would really consider to be a civilized government is that it provides for adequate protection and consideration for the rights of women, and for the protection of women against domestic violence. And this, of course, is all violence, domestic violence and other forms of violence as well. And this is still an ongoing situation. And we have seen many changes in our own lifetimes, for good or for bad. I think that we have sometimes a sense of conceit in our modern world that we think that, you know, we think that we've made progress, or we're more aware of these issues, and that in the past, people often say, you know, there's a news about somebody, you know, some bloke who's, you know, groped a woman or done something inappropriate. And then they're like, oh, yeah, that was the 80s. That was a different time. You know? I was, I was a student in the 80s. And I can tell you that that was not okay, then. And these kinds of excuses, as if it's only in the last 10 years that we've suddenly realized that women are subjected to violence and need protection and need to be listened to. We can see in the Buddhist scriptures that this was very much the case, even two and a half thousand years ago. There is a rule in the Vinaya for the monks called the aniyatta rule. And the aniyatta rule essentially says that if a trustworthy lay woman makes an accusation of sexual misconduct against a monk, that the monk should be investigated, and that they should be treated according to the accusation by the woman herself. And so this is an explicit and very clear injunction in the original vinaya that women should be listened to, and women should be believed. And it's the only case in the vinaya where the voice of somebody else can outweigh the voice of the monk himself. So again, as we know that these things are still very much current issues. And of course, there's a rape trial going on at the moment, where the former President is being very credibly accused of rape. And these questions are still so important for us. So I think one thing to bear in mind with the suttas (excuse me, my robe's coming off) with the suttas is that we can't expect, you know, two and a half thousand year old texts to answer all our problems for us. And we can't expect them to, you know, deal with all of the issues that we're going to be facing today. Obviously, it was a different time. But we can look for principles for precedents and for ideas. And when we see something like this, then we have to acknowledge that it is very significant.
Okay, very good. So Ayya T has commented here that in one of the old Pāli text Chronicles from Sri Lanka, it was said that as one of the characteristics of the early Buddhist tradition that a woman could walk alone from one end of the island to another, without fear or danger. Yeah. Very nice. Thanks, Ayya, I wasn't aware of that. Which chronicle was that in, do you know? Was it the Dipavamsa? Because they think the Dipavamsa was written by bhikkunis, right? That seems to be the consensus. (I'd have to check back Bhante, Seems like) Yeah, seems like, Yeah. Okay. Anyway, thank you so much for that. All right. Moving on, just a little bit. Okay. You're right. So the Vajjians esteem the Vajjian shrines. Another interesting one, right, making the proper spirit offerings. It's a very interesting addition here now, you know, the Buddha, of course, wasn't an animist, right? He didn't believe that by making offerings to shrines, that therefore, whatever, you're going to go to heaven or whatever, you know, something like that. At the same time, though, the Buddha always endorsed and practiced a positive relationship with the spirits, or even with the beliefs and the customs and religious practices that were around him at the time. And he didn't have that kind of, like acidic reductionism that we see today in some kinds of secularist and modernist approaches, where there's like, oh, that's all just rubbish, oh, we'll just throw all that away. The Buddha, I think the Buddha cultivated a positive and healthy relationship with the different kinds of spirituality that were happening at the time, not however, an uncritical relationship. Obviously, if we're talking about animal sacrifice, human sacrifice and practices that were extreme or harmful, then the Buddha rejected those things. But if it was a matter of offering a bit of rice to a tree shrine or something like that, the Buddha didn't see any harm with that, and if you believe in the spirits, and in... I'm looking at the great redwood trees behind Ayya Tataloka, I'm not sure if they're real ones, or they're just the background. But if you believe that those trees have a power to them, and that there are beings who live in those trees, then probably a good idea to be on the good side of those beings. But on another level, what this is talking about is about maintaining connections with the world around us. Whether it's people's beliefs, people's customs, with nature, with the trees and all of those things.
In the Buddha's time, or sorry, in some later Indian treaties about how society was to be organized, they said that each village should be associated with three forests. So you should have the wilderness forest, primeval. You should have the Paribaho Gavana, the extractive forests, right? where you went for your timber or hunting or whatever. And then you have the tapovana, the spiritual grove where you would have the different wandering ascetics and so on would stay. And that sounds, I don't know, that sounds pretty good, right? If we, if all of our villages and towns today had three forests attached to them, I think the world would be a much nicer place. And so this idea that we live in this mutual connective relationship with the environment around us, and where the maintenance and care for natural places was a part of our spiritual duty. So the Buddha, when wandering, the Buddha wasn't entirely un-self interested in making this rule, because when the Buddha and other monks and nuns would wander across India, they would very frequently stay at these Woodland shrines. And we see that happening a number of times in the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta itself, the Buddha was enlightened at one of these shrines and stayed at them very often so these would have been places outside the village a little bit, maybe you find a particularly impressive tree or a particularly impressive Grove. And then the villagers would clear some of the ground around that, make it a nice place to visit, they would set up maybe a small shrine there, come offer some ghee, some rice, and often there would be a deity who would be associated with that place, who would be regarded as the protector deity for that realm. And so we see one class of deities in the suttas, deities of place. So, this still happens in Buddhist countries today, if you go to Thailand, you see the little spirit houses outside the front of all the houses, people will still make those kinds of offerings. Oh, so Ayya T says that is a genuine Aranyabodhi redwoods, nice! The view of the back deck of the Freedom Kuṭi, Oh sorry, that is the photo backdrop. Okay, fine. Okay. So we're seeing the photo backdrop of the real thing. Okay. Very good. Well, this is the genuine inside of the Lokanta vihāra here that you're getting here. No photo backdrops. All right, very good. So moving along.
And then, okay, so "The Vajjians would organise proper protection and shelter for the Perfected ones for the arahants. So that they can come and live in the realm. So again, this is this is referring to the idea that in that ancient Indian civilization, like the idea of arahants, is a little bit, um, how do I say this... a bit, I mean, we associate that with Buddhism, but generally speaking, I think that it's meant to be more broad here that they were providing shelter for spiritual seekers, wonders, and practitioners. And so this is regarded as being part of the obligations of civil society in those days. And of course, it still is today, here I live in Harris Park. And Harris Park is known as Little India, in Sydney. And so when I go for alms round, which I just did, just before we do this talk, then we have all people from different backgrounds in India, the Nepalese and Gujaratis, we have the Sikhs, we have the Muslims, everyone and they will all give alms. And so I'll take my bowl, Ayya Sevira is here, she will also take a bowl into Harris Park and go to the different restaurants and so on. And people will give some food. We came down here one day with a friend of ours when I was with Venerable Akāliko and and one of Akāliko's former buddies came with us. And he'd never seen alms around before. And when he saw that, you know, he came with us and he saw that all of these different people were giving and you know, like the Hindus would all give and the Muslim greengrocer would give and and he said he said to us "Aren't they your competition? Why are they helping you?" And we're like "Well, we don't really think of it like that." And so that's their custom. And it's one of the really lovely things about being here in Harris Park, that I get to be a part of this community.
So yes, King Ajātasatu... Vassakāra then remarked that King Ajātasatu cannot beat the Vajjians in war unless by bribery, or by sowing dissension, mithubhedha. The first word there by bribery is a somewhat difficult word to translate, Upalāpana, and the basic meaning of the word sounds like it should mean, upa is close, lāpana is to speak. So it sounds like it should be like whispering things in people's ears or sowing dissension, which is how a lot of people have translated it, but in fact, Upalāpana is used throughout the suttas in the sense of giving someone something in order to get something that you want from them. In other words, bribery. So that's why I've changed my translation of that term. We know that, following this time, that the Vajjian Republic did, in fact, fall. And we know that Magadha, the Empire, King Ajātasatu did, in fact, swallow them up, as well as swallowing up all of the other, ultimately, all of the other places that we read about in the early suttas. That doesn't mean that the Vajjian model was a failure. And as I said, it lasted for hundreds of years lasted longer than the Magadhan empire did, at least that very large scale Magadhan Empire. And it was very economically prosperous. And it has set I think, a model, one of the early models for how democracy can work in running a country. The Buddha didn't openly endorse any particular political model. He worked with both of those aristocratic republics, as well as with the absolute monarchies of Kosala and Magadha. But rather than endorsing a particular political model, he tried to encourage whoever was running those different models to do so in line with dhamma. Do so in line with principle, with the truth, with fairness and with justice.
However, even though we don't have an explicit endorsement of a political model by the Buddha, the Buddha then goes on in the next part of this sutta, to talk about how to run the sangha, the monastic community, and there he's clearly using similar principles that he taught to the Vajjians. And not to forget that these are also similar principles that he would have learned as a Sakyan. Because the government models of the Vajjians and the Sakyans were similar. So this was how he was brought up in this Republican context. We can also see that what the Buddha does right away after this is he basically picks up his bags and walks north out of the Magadhan Kingdom and to the Vajjian Republic. And I think that this also is a kind of a comment about where the Buddha's sympathies lie. Ultimately, he was to walk through the Vajjian Republican to die in the neighboring Mallian Republic. I wonder, and this is just purely a speculation on my part. But if you go from Magadha, to Vajji, and from Vajji to Malla- if you were to keep walking for, I don't know, a few more weeks, you'd end up in the Sakyan Republic. I can't help but wonder if he was walking home and then didn't quite make it. Anyway, like I said, That's just my speculation.
Let's have a look at the Buddhist response to how he adapted those Vajjian rules for the Buddhist sangha. And then I'll take some questions if anyone has any more questions. All right. Principles that prevent decline among mendicants: So go and gather all the mendicants staying in the vicinity of Rājagaha together in the assembly hall. Now in that region, Rājagaha is the capital of Magadha. There are a number of different monasteries and a number of different monastic residences. So he's wanting to bring them all together. When they assembled, he taught the seven principles for the sangha. Sangha should meet frequently and have many meetings. So, this is referring specifically to the Uposatha meeting or the fortnightly recitation of the monastic rules. They should carry on their business in harmony, just like the Vajjis. And there are a number of different examples of this and a number of rules and procedures, which aimed at maintaining that harmony and ensuring that, even though divisive issues might be talked about in a meeting of the sangha, that should be done in a spirit of goodwill and good faith. And we should ensure that the issues are resolved satisfactorily before the meeting is finished. Again, the mendicants shouldn't make new decrees or abolish existing decrees but undertake and follow the training rules as they have been decreed. And then they can expect growth and not decline.
Obviously, similar to the rule for the Vajjians, but there's even something more significant here is that this is, in a way launching the whole narrative arc of not just the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta, but of the connected narratives of the first and the second councils, which follow the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. So here, the Buddha refers to the Sikkhāpada, the training rules, which are the Pāṭimokkha rules for the bikkhus and bhikkhunis. Now, how this works is that when you have a naughty monk, or a naughty nun, and they do something that they shouldn't, then basically somebody goes to the Buddha complaints about it, and the Buddha calls them to him and says, Is this true? Did you do this, and if they say it is true, then the Buddha says, Okay, you shouldn't do that. Let's make a rule saying that we shouldn't do that after that. And so, these Pāṭimokkha rules have evolved gradually, because of actual incidents that happen. Now, when, as not infrequently happens, a new case arises, that is somewhat different, the Buddha would modify that original rule, sometimes expanding the scope, sometimes restricting the scope of the rule. So the Buddha was quite happy to make those changes to the rules himself. However, the Buddha did not allow the sangha to make the changes to those rules. And it seems from what's happening here is that those rules would be essentially frozen at the time of the Buddha's death. Now, the fact that the letter of the rules is frozen, doesn't mean that the vinaya as a text and a practice was frozen. We know that the Vinaya Pitaka that is the collection of monastic discipline, evolved, and was developed over quite some time after the death of the Buddha, probably two or 300 years. And if we compare the different vinayas from different traditions, what we see is that overwhelmingly, the vinaya rules, the Sikkhāpada, which is what the Buddha is talking about here are the same. But the explanations and interpretations of those rules are often different. I mean, there are some differences in the the rules themselves between the traditions, but they tend to be fairly minor. But the differences between the explanations of those rules, the analysis of them, and all kinds of the detail applications, in different cases, and so on, those things tend to be more different. So you can see that what the Buddhist tradition did from the earliest days was that they accepted the text of those rules, but then within the community, that they would have to interpret them and apply them according to different conditions. And so it doesn't mean that there's a rigidity, in terms of like how you practice and understand the vinaya. But it does mean that `that practice and understanding happens within the scope of the text as it is passed down or the rules as they're passed down. So these days, there's still some discussion on these kinds of things when people think, oh, should we abolish certain rules or this or that, but that's not really how the tradition works, the tradition works that not by changing the rules, but by changing the interpretation and practice of the rules.
The next one, that the mendicants should honor and esteem the senior mendicants and think them worth listening to, again, not necessarily worth obeying, but at least worth listening to. Not too bad. As a senior monk, if you get anyone to listen to, you're not doing too badly. And so then they shouldn't fall under the sway of arisen craving for future lives. Right? So that basically means you're not corrupted by worldly desires or these kinds of things. And they should also take care to live in wilderness lodgings. So this is something that the Buddha was very strong about, he strongly believed that the monks and nuns should live in forest, and that they should live in seclusion. And he saw a great danger in living in the city. And somebody asked me the other day, are you a forest monk? You come from a forest tradition, but you're living in the city and I'm like, I guess I'm a temporarily suspended forest monk, or I'm a forest monk who got lost on my way to the city or something, I'm not sure. But I'm spending some time here in Sydney. And in the back of my mind, you know, I've been a monk for many years now. In the back of my mind, I'm always looking at those redwood trees behind Ayya T and feeling that sense of longing about getting back to the forest. So I'm sure I'll do at some point. Anyway.
Okay, so these are the seven principles of non decline for the sangha. There are a number of similar principles the Buddha goes on to give a number of different sets of seven principles, which I won't go through all in details, you can read them in the text. Finally, the Buddha wraps up this whole section by giving, at Vulture's Peak, a dhamma talk to the mendicants and this teaching is found eight times throughout the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta itself. "Such is ethics, sila such is immersion, samadhi, such is wisdom, Paññā. When immersion is imbued with ethics, it's very fruitful and beneficial. When wisdom is imbued with immersion. It's very fruitful and beneficial. When the mind is imbued with wisdom, it is rightly freed from the defilements, namely the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. When the Buddha had stayed in Rājagaha, as long as he pleased, he addressed Venerable Ananda, "Come, Ananda let's go to Ambalaṭṭhikā."
Alright, so I'm going to leave off the reading at that point. And here with this short discourse, we can see the Buddha is summarizing the essential principles of the dhamma: sila, samadhi, paññā. That exact way of framing that teaching is not found outside of the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. But the basic idea is there. And one of the fundamental things that's being emphasized here is that it's not just the fact that it sila, samadhi, paññā; ethics, immersion and wisdom. But that it's these things are imbued with each other, and that these things come together as a great whole. And that is when they're of great fruit and great benefit. These days, there is sometimes a tendency that people will not really want to do that. And people say, Oh, do you have to keep your precepts before you want to meditate? Right, so you can just take you know, I can get my meditation app, I can just do a bit of meditation. And you know, we think of meditation or people think of meditation or mindfulness as a mind hack, or something like that, rather than being part of a, you know, spiritual and psychological growth. And so people say, Well, you know, Can you can you meditate without having sila? Well, of course you can if you want to, you know, but the Buddha didn't say that is of great fruit and great benefit. Doesn't mean it's not of any fruit and benefit, right? It can still be helpful, but, it can be problematic. One reason it can be problematic is because it can act as a kind of a placebo. It can give you short term relief for things without adressing the real problems. And by doing so it can make you ultimately, can make people lose faith in the idea of meditation. Because they're like, you know, they're doing all of these things that are creating stress or anxiety. And without really looking at the causes for those things. They then go and do some meditation and it helps for a little while, but then they come back, and they think, oh, meditation is not that good. So you give it up. And it's not that the meditation doesn't work, it's that it's not being undertaken in that way, that will lead to being very fruitful. And so personally, I think that it's okay to cherry pick bits of the dhamma and to practice bits here and there. The Buddha never said, You know, the Buddha was never absolutist about these things, he always encouraged people to, you know, if you can only practice a little bit of dhamma, then that's good. And if you want to do a few minutes meditation or a lot of meditation, without doing other things, that's fine. It's still good to do that meditation. But let's see that as a first step. And then let's see, well, if that's useful, and that's helpful for you, what else might there be in the dhamma, that's also going to be supportive for those things. So that's how I would tend to tend to approach that. Alright, very good.
Thanks, Ayya. Ayya T said, come and visit us in the redwoods. Okay, I will bear that in mind. Yeah. I think it's more, it's a bit more civilized now than it was last time I was there. Would that be correct to say that? No? I've said it before and I'll say it again. But when I went to stay at Aranyabodhi, that was the toughest monastery that I've ever been in. That was hardcore. So alright, so we have, I think, a little bit of time left. So Rob left it a bit open ended when we're going to finish, I do have another event I have to get to this afternoon. So I can't stay on for too long. So but please, if anyone has any questions, you please feel free to unmute yourself. I think we can unmute ourselves and speak. Or else I'll just have a look at a couple of the questions that are in the chat.
So, Dave has asked, he doesn't understand what's meant here by immersion. So immersion is my translation of the Pali word Samadhi. So part of Samadhi, of course, you will usually see translated as concentration, which I don't really like as a translation, because it suggests a kind of effortfulness, usually, to me what concentration means is, you know, you sit at your sitting in your class, and the teacher yells at you and says "Concentrate!" Which means that you have to sort of make yourself pay attention to something that is inherently boring. Nobody says to you, if you're like playing a video game, or if you're watching a great movie, no one says to you, "Concentrate!" Because you're naturally immersed in that experience, it draws you into that experience. And so you're not being told to concentrate on it. So the idea is that to be immersed in Samadhi is to be drawn into that experience. So think about, say, you're sitting at home, and you're reading a really good book, and you're immersed in that book, and then you know, your partner comes home, and they open the door, and you don't even hear them. And they say, "Oh, hello?" and you're startled, "Oh, I didn't hear you" because you're so immersed in what you're doing. And so this is where I think this is where I sort of drew that idea of immersion from for samādhi. Also, because the word samādhi in Pāli is very similar in application to the word jhāna, which we usually translate as absorption. And so immersion and absorption, also kind of along a similar sort of semantic spectrum. Interestingly, both of the words samādhi and the word jhāna have a dual meaning. And that dual meaning in both cases has on the one hand, a psychological sense of being concentrated and focused on something so as to samādahati, in that sense, is to, to gather or to withdraw, like a tortoise that will gather and draw its limbs inside its shell so that it's not being attacked by a jackal who's trying to get at it. So that's samādhi as in gathering in, but samādahati also has a dual meaning where it means to ignite a flame. And so to kindle a flame is also to samādahati. And so jhāna also has those two meanings. It means both absorption focus concentration, but also the blazing or illumination of a flame. So we translate, or I translate them as immersion and absorption. But we could also translate them as incandescence and illumination. Those two meanings are both present, anyway.
Good. So, just seeing if there are any other questions there... doesn't look like we've got any questions. Anyone? Anyone want to drop any more questions in the chat or online? So we have one from Victoria. Victoria. How's it going? Victoria?
Yes, hello. I'm very new to everything. So I hope you won't take this question amiss, if it may be a sign of my ignorance. I was wondering, in the, what with these with this kind of ceremonial greeting it because it seemed to me it could be almost like mettā phrases, the nimble and living comfortably. And does that make any sense? I've, it seems like when, when I've learned mettā from people, it always goes in fours. There's always four you know, conditions or whatever for, you know, safe, protected, well, et cetera. So it's sort of struck me with the with the, in these greetings, you know, hoping that you're nimble and where is it... healthy and well nimble, strong and living comfortably? It sounded very mettā-esque to me. So, curious.
Yeah. No, that is a very interesting question. Please never feel never feel shy to ask questions. The dumbest questions are the most interesting ones. I had not thought of that. But you may be onto something. Let me see...appābādhaṁ, So I'll just read Pāli of these words. So healthy is appābādhaṁ literally, "of few afflictions". Appātaṅkaṁ is of a similar kind of meaning. Lahuṭṭhānaṁ is an interesting one. I've translated that as nimble, probably after previous translators, but Lahuṭṭhānaṁ, literally, it means standing lightly. Something like that standing lightly. Interesting, right? Yeah, balaṁ is strong. Phāsuvihāraṁ. And it means, yeah, living comfortably or living at ease living, living happily. So yeah, just sort of polite phrases. But yeah, clearly, you know, clearly these are some of the niceties of the time.
Is there any particular significance in these sets of four? Like this?
I believe this one's five isn't it? Appābādhaṁ...Appātaṅkaṁ...
Well, I don't know in the Pāli. I didn't I can't read Pali
Healthy and well are two separate ones. So, healthy, well, nimble...
Oh, they're seperate. Okay.
Yeah. So five in this case. Okay. So I don't think there's a direct correlation with the teachings on mettā. No, but there is some you know, it's obviously a you know, that kindly introduction. Okay. I wonder what Lahuṭṭhānaṁ really means...nimble? Seems good enough. But it seems a bit curious, doesn't it? Might have to go and do another afternoon's research on that one to figure out exactly. Yeah. Thanks Ayya T has popped in an essay I did a while ago on samadhi both the gathering and the fire. And for those who are interested in these kinds of issues, from time to time on our sutta central forum, I will just write a little article discussing different points in Pāli in translation and interpretation and sometimes come across some interesting things there. Dereyupa has commented that in the Thai language, the word samādhi means 'concentrate our attention', okay. Which introduces an interesting point, like the question was raised about translating immersion, and as a translator, people often ask why you translate this like this will translate that like that. And when you sort of negotiate some of the complexities of that they often say, Oh, just leave it in the Pali. And so you can just leave samādhi in the Pali. And there are plenty of words that you can do like that, you can leave bodhisattva in the Pāli. Or you can leave bhikkhu. So bhikkhu Bodhi leaves bhikkhu in the Pāli, and deva and various other kinds of things. The problem with that is, I mean, I'm kind of exaggerating a little bit, but you can end up with a sentence that goes something like, you know, the bhikkhu was sitting samādhi, when a deva came to him, and then you realize that actually, the entire substance of the sentence is just in Pali with some grammatical grease to stick it together. And to me, it's important if you're going to translate to actually translate things. And the word samādhi is a good example of that. Because if you look, the people will say leave it in the Pāli makes the meaning clear. But in fact, the word Pāli has many different meanings, especially in the later different traditions. And so it really depends on what your background is. So in Thai languages, as Dereyupa mentioned there, it means concentrate your attention, it can also just be used in the sense to meditate, right, so if you just say, I'm going to go and sit Samadhi just means I'm going to go and do some meditation. In India, in Hindu culture, Samadhi is often used in the sense of the, similar to what we would use for paranibbāna, at the final immersion, or connection of the soul of a saint with the cosmic brahman is called a samādhi. In the vipassana traditions, they use Samadhi, to refer to what they call kanika samadhi, which is a kind of momentary, moment to moment mindfulness, which again, is a different kind of sense, and so on, and so forth. So if we use Samadhi, then somebody from Thailand and somebody from India, and somebody from maybe Myanmar, and somebody from the United States,might all read this word samādhi, and actually read four different, quite different meanings from them. So this is why the idea of leaving things in the original language doesn't solve that problem, not of ambiguity or difficulty of translation. So samādhi is one, been one of the hardest words to translate. A number of years ago, when I came back from doing all my translation work, I've been on an island off the coast of Taiwan for three years, just translating Pāli every day. And this was one of the most difficult ones to do. And when I came out of that, I went to a conference and at the conference, I met this Aboriginal woman called Susan Boyle and Kearns and we were just chatting and talking about language and things like that. And she mentioned there are these words, in these words you find in Aboriginal languages that you don't have in English. And I will admit, I was kind of skeptical because I'm like, Well, you can really translate anything if you put your mind to it. And she said, for example, we have a word "Cabarananga", which means a state of mind that is still and peaceful and clear. And I said, Oh, yeah, you're right, we don't have a word like that in english, but there is a word in Pāli for that. And so this is one case where it would have been really easy to, if I was translating it into an Aboriginal dialect, but not into English. Incidentally, started this talk talking about the Uluru statement from the heart and the Uluru voice. One of the events I went through this, I was talking with a Torres Strait Islander woman who's running a orphanage for girls. So these are basically Aboriginal girls who come from a background of broken homes or domestic violence or something, and they come to a come to an orphanage, and they're being looked after and educated. She said, when they started this, that it was really difficult. And they had all of these behavior problems, all the kids were acting out, you know, they've never really had good role models. They've never learned to live together. They just never learned any kind of emotional regulation or anything like that. And she said, they're really kind of despairing for quite a while. And now after a while they heard about this traditional Aboriginal practice of caberananga, or didiri is another word that they use for a similar practice, which is basically a kind of meditation or mindfulness practice. So they introduced the didiri practice with the girls. And she said that originally they kind of resisted and it was really hard, but they persevered. And after six months or a year, they really started loving it and they learned how to emotionally regulate not to act out. And she said that now, all of those behavioral problems have gone away. They just don't have them anymore. And the girls are all work together and live together fine through that practice of didiri. So to me, that was a really beautiful example of that practical application of meditation. Okay?
Okay, we should probably wrap up about there, I think that's been about 90 minutes, I want to thank everybody for your attention. And I want to encourage you all to reflect about the Satipatthana sutta, oh sorry about the Mahāparinibbāṇa sutta. As we go forward. There is such a lot of richness in this text. As I mentioned briefly, at the beginning, I won't be reading all of it. So next week, I'm not going to be necessarily picking up from the point I left off. So I do encourage you to read the sutta for next week, if you haven't already. And please, if you've got any questions that come up in your reading, or during the talks, please do let me know. And to me, one of the things that becomes most apparent is that this sutta of really is a journey. And it leads us from one place to another, you know, and we've started in one place with this with this declaration of war, and with these principles of organizing communities and all of these things. But the sutta then moves and moves into deeper and deeper waters, sometimes into literal waters. And so as we go through for the next few weeks, we're going to be going on that journey towards the deeper and deeper reaches of the dharma and I hope that you will stay with me for that journey. Thank you so much, everybody. Thanks to Rob and the Sati Center for putting this on. And I look forward to seeing you all again next next week. Sādhu. Sādhu. Sādhu.