WHAT IS THE SUTTANTA PITAKA?
Observances and Practices in the Teaching of the Buddha.
In the Suttanta Pi¥aka are found not only the fundamentals of the Dhamma but also pragmatic guidelines to make the Dhamma meaningful and applicable to daily life. All observances and practices which form practical steps in the Buddhas Noble Path of Eight Constituents lead to spiritual purification at three levels:
Søla: moral purity through right conduct;
Samædhi: purity of mind through concentration (Samatha);
Paññæ: purity of Insight through Vipassanæ Meditation.
To begin with, one must make the right resolution to take refuge in the Buddha, to follow the Buddhas Teaching, and to be guided by the Saµgha. The first disciples who made the declaration of faith in the Buddha and committed themselves to follow his Teaching were the two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Bhallika. They were travelling with their followers in five hundred carts when they saw the Buddha in the vicinity of the Bodhi Tree after his Enlightenment. The two merchants offered him honey rice cakes. Accepting their offering and thus breaking the fast he had imposed on himself for seven weeks, the Buddha made them his disciples by letting them recite after him:
"Buddhaµ Saranaµ Gacchæmi (I take refuge in the Buddha)."
"Dhammaµ Saranaµ Gacchæmi (I take refuge in the Dhammæ)."
This recitation became the formula of declaration of faith in the Buddha and his Teaching, Later when the Saµgha became established, the formula was extended to include the third commitment:
"Saµghaµ Saranaµ Gacchæmi (I take refuge in the Saµgha)."