HOW TO BECOME A BUDDHIST
Venerable U Pandita, A.M.P.,
Anisakan Sayadaw, Sagaing, Burma
Vol. III, No. 4, 1958
'How to become a Buddhist' must be a difficult question to those who desire to become Buddhists, and yet who neither understand the Buddhist scriptures nor have any acquaintance with learned Buddhist monks. When a person desires to become a Buddhist, perhaps he may be uneasy to know whether he does need a good teacher to instruct him.
First and foremost, one must fully know of the Buddha, the Dhamma and Sangha. Here is a short story of the Three Gems (Tri-Ratana). More than two thousand and five hundred years ago, there was a Sakya clan in Kapilavatthu, which is, according to the present map, in Nepal in the north of India. Their king was Suddhodana and his queen Mahamaya Devi. They begot a son whose name was Siddhattha. He was made king at the age of sixteen and married to the princess Bhaddakancana Devi, daughter of king Suppabuddha.
He had enjoyed the kingly luxury for thirteen years. Then one day when he went to the park for pleasure, he saw the four augaries, the old man first, the sick man second, the dead man third, and the monk fourth respectively. Having seen these four omens, he had no taste in the kingly luxury any more, and took a keen interest in renouncing the world and becoming Buddha in order to save all the sufferers.
Then he retired from the world and wandered about. At last he came to Uruvela forest near Gaya, and there he practised the austerities for six years without any advantage. On the day when he was about to become Buddha, he came to the right place, the root of Bodhi tree near Neranjara river. After having taken the food offered by Sujata, a daughter of a wealthy man nearby, he sat at the root of the Bodhi tree and meditated the whole night. At dawn he attained Buddhahood. He had become Sammasarnbuddha (All Enlightened One) in the whole world.
He has nine-fold peerless qualities:- "It is he, the Exalted One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, He who is endowed with knowledge and right conduct, the Happy One, the Knower of the worlds, the Charioteer of beings ready to be tamed, the Teacher of Devas and Mankind, the Buddha, the Exalted One". One must have the explicit faith in this Buddha fully endowed with these nine-fold peerless qualities. The one must say verbally, 'Buddham Saranam Gacchami" To the Buddha I go for refuge.
Soon after his Enlightenment, he set in motion the wheel of Dhamma all over the world for forty-five years up to his last day. All those doctrines which he delivered have concerned with the four noble truths:- The suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the way to the cessation of suffering. Out of these four, the latter two belong to the nine-fold supramundane laws (Navalokuttara-Dhamma), namely, the four noble paths, the four noble fruits and the Nibbana. All those doctrines that he expounded during his lifetime lead to the nine-fold supramundane norms. The law or norm has six-fold paramount qualities:-
"The Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, Visible here and now, Not delayed (timeless), Inviting of Inspection, Onward-leading, and directly experienceable by the wise".
One must have the explicit faith in this Dhamma fully endowed with the six-fold paramount qualities. The one must say verbally, "Dhammam Saranam Gacchami"=To the Norm I go for refuge.
After he had spent forty-nine days at the seven places round Bodhi tree, he went to Baranasi, Kasi, to preach the doctrines to the group of five Bhikkhus (Pancavaggiya). During that Buddhist Lent, these five Bhikkhus and forty-four other Bhikkhus headed by Yasa from Baranasi became Arahants. Then he left for Uruvela forest near Gaya after the Buddhist Lent. There were one thousand hermits headed by Uruvela Kassapa, Nadikassapa and Gayakassapa. They also became Arahants after they heard the Five Sutta (Adittapariyaya Sutta), preached by the Buddha. Then the Buddha left for Rajagaha (Rajgir) with this great retinue. There Upatissa and Kolita, who were to be known later as Sariputta and Moggallana respectively, became Arahants. They both became immediate right and left disciples of Buddha. In this way many persons became noble ones and Arahants in the Buddhist Order. This community of brethren, Noble Ones and Arahants, is called Noble Sangha (Ariyasangha) who has nine-fold special qualities:- "The community of the Blessed One's disciples has entered on the good way, the community of the blessed One's disciples has entered on the straight way, the community of the Blessed One's disciples has entered on the true way, the community of the Blessed One's disciples has entered on the proper way, that is to say, the Four Pairs of Men, the Eight Persons; this community of the Blessed One's disciples is fit for gift, fit for hospitality, fit for offerings, fit for reverential salutation, as an incomparable field of merit for the world".
One must have the explicit faith in this Sangha fully endowed with the nine-fold incomparable qualities. The one must say verbally. "Sangham Saranam Gacchami"=To the Order I go for refuge.
The formula is fully given in the Khuddaka-Patha. It is as follows:
Namo Tassa Bhagavato
Buddham Saranam Gacchami=To the
Buddha I go for refuge.
Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchami
=Second time also, To the Buddha I go for refuge.
Tatiyampi Buddham Saranam
Gacchami=Third time also, To the Buddha I go for refuge.
After a perfect understanding of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, one must say verbally, the above-mentioned formula before an image or a learned Bhikkhu or alone, keeping the explicit faith within one's heart.
The result by doing so
What is the result by becoming a real Buddhist with the explicit faith in these Three Gems? None who have sought refuge in Three Gems, shall be reborn into states of sufffering:
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