The Wings to Awakening

PART III A. CONVICTION

As we noted in the Introduction, all of the 37 factors listed in the Wings to Awakening can be subsumed under the five faculties. Whereas Part II focused on the interrelationships among these various factors, this part of the book is devoted to using the five faculties as a framework for discussing the individual factors in and of themselves.

Of the five faculties, the faculty of conviction covers the most ground, as it includes the total context for the practice of the Buddha's teachings. The many issues related to the attitudes and ethics needed to lead a Buddhist life, whether as a lay person or a monastic, fall under this category.

Passage 69 defines the faculty of conviction as the four factors of stream-entry [II/A], so to understand the nature of conviction, it is necessary to know what these four factors are. Passages 70 and 71 give different definitions for the four. The first list gives prerequisites for stream-entry: association with good people, listening to the true Dhamma, appropriate attention, and practice in accordance with the Dhamma. The second list gives qualities that characterize a person who has entered the stream: unwavering conviction in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha; and virtues that are appealing to the noble ones. Both lists are relevant here, for conviction is a quality that leads to stream-entry, whereas the attainment of stream-entry is the point where conviction becomes unshakable. Only on the attainment of Arahantship does knowledge become so total that conviction is no longer needed [89].

The two lists of the factors of stream-entry are similar in that they both cover all three aspects of conviction: social (whom to trust), intellectual (what to believe), and practical (how to act as a result). Because conviction is focused not on a descriptive proposition but on a course of action-the skillful mastery of the processes of kamma in a social context-these aspects are inextricably intertwined. The social aspect comes from the need to associate with people who have already mastered these processes, learning from their words and emulating their actions. The intellectual aspect-belief in the principle of kamma-is necessary because the development of skillfulness within the mind requires that one understand the nature of kamma, take responsibility for one's actions, and have conviction in one's ability to benefit from developing one's skills. The practical aspect is necessary, for if one does not follow through in developing skill, it shows that one's conviction in the development of skillfulness is not genuine, and that one is not fully benefiting from one's beliefs.

The relationship of these factors to the development of skillfulness is shown in several passages. For instance, 53 and 54 cite association with good people and appropriate attention-both of which are members of the first list above-as the primary external and internal prerequisites for the development of what is skillful. At the same time, the intellectual and practical aspects of conviction help to counteract the grosser levels of the roots of unskillfulness [3]: belief in the principle of kamma helps to undercut delusion, while the practice of virtue helps to weaken the force of greed and aversion in the mind.

To understand the detailed interaction of the social, intellectual, and practical aspects of conviction, we first have to examine them separately. Because having admirable people as friends is the whole of the holy life [115], we will begin with the social aspect first.
The passages in this section that focus on the social aspect of conviction touch on two major issues: how to recognize good people, and why one should associate with them.

Passage 119 lists three basic teachings of good people. These can be taken as criteria for judging whether a person qualifies as good. If one meets people who criticize the practice of generosity, the practice of going forth into the renunciate life, or the practice of giving service to one's parents, one would do well to avoid associating with them, for their wisdom and motives cannot be trusted. If one must associate with them, one should not regard them as people to learn from or to emulate. Thus the social and intellectual aspects of conviction interact in that one way of knowing whether to associate with a person is by listening to what that person teaches; at the same time, the teachings of good people enable one to know what is good. Passage 117 carries this point further, listing positive qualities to look for in a good person: conviction in the principle of kamma, generosity, virtue, and discernment. People who teach these qualities and embody them in their lives qualify as good. The important point here, of course, is that good people are ultimately recognized by what they habitually do, rather than simply by what they say. These habits can be known only through long association over time. This is why, in the Buddhist monkhood, a student does not take a lifetime vow of obedience to a teacher. If he feels that the teacher does not have his best interests at heart-i.e., if he sees that the teacher does not really embody the above qualities-he is free to leave the teacher in search of another.

A person who has attained stream-entry finds it easier to recognize good people, for he/she is now a member of the noble Sangha and can recognize the qualities of that attainment in others as well. "Good people" for a member of the Sangha means the Buddha and the rest of the noble Sangha. Of course the Buddha has long since passed into total nibbana, but he left his Dhamma and Vinaya as a teacher in his stead [D.16], and so on that level one may still associate with him.

The reason why a person embarking on the path to practice would need to associate with good people, rather than trying to be totally self-reliant, is that the roots of skillfulness within the mind lie mixed with the roots of unskillfulness, and the roots of unskillfulness make it difficult to tell which is which. Thus one needs the advice and example of others more experienced on the path to help identify one's own skillful qualities and to give encouragement in the task of developing them [9]. Even if one is not yet committed to following the path, one would be wise to associate with good people who embody conviction, generosity, virtue, and discernment, for they are unlikely to treat one in an unfair or harmful manner. If they truly embody conviction and virtue, one can trust that their sense of conscience and concern will prevent them from acting on unskillful intentions. If they truly embody generosity and discernment, they have wisdom worth acquiring and will be willing to share it. This sharing of wisdom forms the basis for further benefits-as listed in 125 and 126-setting in motion a causal chain leading all the way to the experience of Awakening. This causal chain requires that one listen to the teachings of good people so as to understand the implications of the principle of kamma. It also requires that one take such people as examples to emulate in one's own life. In this way, one can become a better person oneself, and can enjoy the benefits that come with one's own improved mastery over the principle of kamma.

The wide availability of books on Buddhism tends to obscure the fact that the truths of the Buddha's teachings are not simply words or propositions, but are qualities of the heart and mind: the skillful mastery of thoughts, words, and deeds. These qualities are best learned not from books but from people who are actually skilled. This is like learning a sport. One can pick up important principles from books written about the sport, but there is much more on a non-verbal level that can be learned only by associating with people who have actually mastered the sport. This might include a sense of how much practice is enough, a sense of one's own strengths and weaknesses, a sense of timing, a sense of one's teammates and opponents, and so forth. A.VII.64 gives a similar list of the principles that characterize a good person, many of which cannot be verbalized in simple rules: knowledge of the Dhamma, knowledge of the meaning of statements, a sense of one's own strengths and weaknesses, a sense of moderation in the use of the requisites of life, a sense of the proper time and season for doing things, a sense of different levels of societies, and a sense of how to judge people. Although the first two types of knowledge in this list are verbal and can be passed on in words, the others are more subliminal and can be picked up only by associating with good people and watching them in action.

With the issue of verbal knowledge we move from the social aspect of conviction to its intellectual aspect. The content of the verbal knowledge that can be picked up from good people begins with what 106 defines as mundane right view:

There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits and results of good and bad actions. There is this world and the next world. There is mother and father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are priests and contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves.

As noted in II/H, this passage means that there is merit in generosity; that the moral qualities of good and bad are inherent in the universe, and not simply social conventions; that there is life after death; that one has a true moral debt to one's parents; and that there are people who have lived the renunciate's life properly in such a way that they have gained true and direct knowledge of these matters. These beliefs form the minimum prerequisite for following the path to skillfulness. If one doubts them, one will find it difficult to muster the energy or commitment needed to develop skillful qualities in the mind. One would be more likely to revert to the selfish gratification of immediate desires, with little thought for right or wrong. The willingness to accept these beliefs on faith thus counts as the first step from the stage of mere acquaintance with the Buddha's teachings to the stage of commitment.

These beliefs form the basis for the three points mentioned above as the teachings of good people: generosity, going forth, and service to one's parents [119]. Appreciating the value of these principles, and following them to the extent of one's abilities, enables one to develop the proper character needed for comprehending the higher levels of the Buddha's teachings, culminating in the four noble truths. As the first list of factors of stream-entry points out, simply listening to the Dhamma is not enough. One has to develop appropriate attention as well, which as we have already seen [II/G] involves knowing how to focus on the right questions. In this context, one begins by learning how to ask productive questions of one's teacher and then moves on to using the categories of the four noble truths to ask questions of one's experience in general. In this sense, the act of listening and paying appropriate attention covers the first two levels in the development of discernment-understanding based on listening and on reasoning-and gets one started on the third: understanding based on the development of skillful qualities in the mind [D.33].

Although listening to the Dhamma is a prerequisite for appropriate attention, appropriate attention does not follow automatically from listening to the Dhamma. It has to be consciously cultivated; otherwise, the causal process will not lead to clear knowledge and release. This point is expressed in a famous stanza from the Dhammapada (64-65):

Even if for a lifetime
the fool stays with the wise,
he knows nothing of the Dhamma-
as the ladle,
the taste of the soup.

Even if for a moment,
the perceptive person stays with the wise,
he immediately knows the Dhamma-
as the tongue,
the taste of the soup.

The purpose of meditation, in which one consciously develops mindfulness and discernment so as to master and understand the skillful use of the mind, is to turn one into the perceptive person who can fully understand the Dhamma.

With the attainment of stream-entry at one's first taste of the Deathless, the intellectual aspect of conviction is expressed in terms of unshakable conviction in the Awakening of the Buddha [72], which branches out into unshakable conviction in the Triple Gem: the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha [71]. One's own taste of Awakening confirms the reality of the Buddha's Awakening and that of the noble Sangha; one's understanding of how the Awakening came about through the practice of the Dhamma confirms that the noble eightfold path is the ideal synopsis of that practice, with nothing lacking or in excess. From this comes the standard expression of conviction in the Triple Gem: The Buddha is rightly self-awakened; the Dhamma, well taught; and the noble Sangha, worthy of honor [71]. What this means in practical terms is that one is now convinced beyond a doubt that the human ability to develop skillfulness can lead all the way to the Deathless, and that the Deathless is the highest excellence.

Several passages [87] emphasize that the experience of stream-entry reinforces one's conviction that the true Dhamma is fully expressed only in the Buddha's teachings. This point will come as a surprise to many people who are aware of Buddhism's long history of tolerance toward other religions, and who assume that the enlightened attitude toward alternative teachings is to endorse the statement that many roads lead to the top of the mountain. This assumption, though, is based on a confusion between "tolerance" and "endorsement." As we have already noted, from the streamwinner's point of view the noble eightfold path is the ideal expression of the way to Awakening. To endorse any other path to the same goal would be to concede that the noble eightfold path either lacks something essential or contains something superfluous. The Buddha is quoted as saying that any other supposed path to Awakening would by definition be wrong: wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, etc. To try to get results from such a path, he says, would be like trying to squeeze sesame oil out of gravel or to churn butter out of water [M.126]. He did not deny that other teachings, advocating virtue and concentration, can lead one to states of great peace or to rebirth in the higher heavens, but if one views those attainments as equivalent to nibbana, one is suffering from wrong view. To hold to that wrong view puts the total release to be found with nibbana beyond reach.

This unwillingness to endorse other paths, however, does not necessarily lead to intolerance. Buddhism's basic premise is the principle of kamma, that happiness and suffering are the results of one's own past and present actions. The noble eightfold path grows out of this principle as the most skillful mode of action for escaping from the cycle of kammic retribution and attaining the Deathless. Other paths are either incomplete expressions of the noble eightfold path or are based on other principles. For example, they may state that there is a being who can sidestep the law of kamma and provide for one's happiness without one's having to master the skills of the noble eightfold path, or that certain ritual actions or words can provide a similar shortcut to happiness. People who follow either of these two latter beliefs could well feel threatened by outsiders who do not share their beliefs, for the outsiders are in effect denying the existence of a shortcut on which the insiders are placing their hopes. This explains why such people have often been intolerant of outside views.

But because the principle of kamma is a teaching of full personal responsibility, no one who believes in kamma will feel threatened by people who teach shortcuts around kamma. Buddhists who have yet to attain stream-entry may waver in their conviction-as the path can seem long and arduous, and the results slow in coming-and this is one reason why they are encouraged not to associate with anyone who rejects the principle of kamma. But those who have had their first taste of Awakening can in no way be persuaded to doubt the principle, for they have seen that the Deathless can be touched only through a process that requires the utmost skill in mindfulness and discernment applied to the processes of one's own mind. Their attitude toward other teachings is that of a skilled artisan toward those with lesser skills, or of a woman who has learned how to extract sesame oil from sesame seeds toward those who are still trying to extract it from gravel: She will want to teach them the right way if they are willing to listen, but if they are unwilling, she will tolerate their ignorance and hope that someday they will be ready to learn.

To attain this level of unshakable conviction requires that one put the Dhamma into practice. This shows the intimate relationship between the intellectual and practical aspects of conviction: one must have a certain level of intellectual understanding of the doctrinal Dhamma before one can practice it, and one must practice it to the point of touching the Dhamma of Deathlessness as an attainment before one's conviction in the teaching of the Dhamma can become unshakably firm. The commentaries bring out this relationship by applying the term Dhamma to all three of these levels: doctrine, practice, and attainment, or in other words, Dhamma as an object of awareness (on the intellectual level), as a means of releasing awareness from bondage to its objects (on the practical level), and as the awareness released (at the point of Awakening).

The practical aspect of conviction, prior to stream-entry, is indicated by the factor of stream-entry called "practicing in accordance with the Dhamma." What this factor means is that one must be willing to put the Dhamma ahead of one's preferences, so that one is not practicing simply in line with one's likes and dislikes. This is the true test of one's conviction. It is all too easy to pick and choose from the teachings on the basis of other standards-here in the West it is common to judge the Dhamma against Western psychology or other social sciences, and to pick and choose accordingly-but one must ask oneself the same question that Prince Siddhartha posed for himself: Which is a more worthwhile use of one's time, the pursuit of objects and ideals subject to change and death, or the pursuit of the Deathless? Although there is a long-standing recognition in the Buddhist tradition that people benefit even if they follow only part of the teaching, the Dhamma can give its full results only if one commits oneself fully to developing the skill of release in one's thoughts, words, and deeds. This training is similar to following a doctor's regimen: One will benefit even from following the regimen only occasionally, but a full cure requires sticking to the regimen consistently and putting the goal of recovery ahead of one's other preferences. The skill of release requires that one order one's priorities, taking the teachings and example of those who have attained that skill as one's primary guide, and regarding everything else as secondary.

With the attainment of stream-entry, one's conviction in the principle of kamma and its skillful mastery becomes so firm that one would not intentionally break any of the basic precepts that comprise right speech, right action, or right livelihood. This is the import of the factor of stream-entry called "virtues that are appealing to the noble ones." In addition to virtue, streamwinners have also begun to develop the other two aggregates in the noble path-concentration and discernment-but those two aggregates are not yet fully matured [II/A; MFU, pp. 103-04]. As 74 and 75 make clear, conviction cannot become firm until the remaining four faculties, including concentration and discernment, have been strengthened to at least some extent. Once conviction does becomes firm, it can then function to strengthen those faculties even further. The streamwinner realizes, from the experience of stream-entry, not only that he/she attained that experience through mastery of the processes of kamma, but also that his/her Awakening is not yet complete because there are gaps in that mastery. This realization is what gives impetus for the further development of all five faculties until they issue in the full realization of the Deathless.


115. As he was seated to one side, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, 'This is half of the holy life, lord: having admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues.'

'Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Having admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, he can be expected to develop and pursue the noble eightfold path.

'And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, develop and pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops right resolve...right speech...right action...right livelihood...right effort...right mindfulness...right concentration dependent on seclusion... dispassion...cessation, resulting in letting go. This is how a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues, develops and pursues the noble eightfold path.

'And through this line of reasoning one may know how having admirable people as friends, companions, and colleagues is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair.'
S.XLV.2

116. Mahanama, to the Buddha: There may be the case where a Dhamma disagreement arises, with the Blessed One on one side and the community of monks on the other. I would be on the same side as the Blessed One. May the Blessed One remember this as my confidence in him.

There may be the case where a Dhamma disagreement arises, with the Blessed One on one side and the community of monks and the community of nuns on the other. I would be on the same side as the Blessed One. May the Blessed One remember this as my confidence in him....

There may be the case where a Dhamma disagreement arises, with the Blessed One on one side and the community of monks and the community of nuns and the male lay followers and the female lay followers and the world with its devas, maras, brahmas, its generations with their priests and contemplatives, their royalty and common folk on the other. I would be on the same side as the Blessed One. May the Blessed One remember this as my confidence in him.

The Buddha [turning to Mahanama's companion, Godha]: Now Godha, what do you have to say about Mahanama when he speaks in such a way?

Godha: I have nothing to say about Mahanama when he speaks in such a way, except that he is admirable and skillful.
S.LV.23


117. Advice to a lay person. Now what, Tiger Paw (Byagghapajja), is meant by having admirable people as friends? There is the case where a lay person, in whatever town or village he may dwell, spends time with householders or householders' sons, young or old, who are advanced in virtue. He talks with them, engages them in discussions. He emulates consummate conviction in those who are consummate in conviction, consummate virtue in those who are consummate in virtue, consummate generosity in those who are consummate in generosity, and consummate discernment in those who are consummate in discernment. This is called having admirable people as friends.
A.VIII.54

118. A friend endowed with these three qualities is worth associating with. Which three? He gives what is hard to give, he does what is hard to do, he endures what is hard to endure. A friend endowed with these three qualities is worth associating with.
A.III.133

119. These three things have been promulgated by wise people, by people who are truly good. Which three? Generosity...going-forth [from the home life]...and service to one's mother and father. These three things have been promulgated by wise people, by people who are truly good.
A.III.45

120. And what, monks, is the treasure of generosity? There is the case of a noble disciple, his awareness cleansed of the stain of stinginess, living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution of alms. This is called the treasure of generosity.
A.VII.6

121. If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without have given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were someone to receive their gift. But because beings do not know, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they eat without having given. The stain of miserliness overcomes their minds.
ITI.26

122. Monks, brahmins and householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, alms food, lodgings, and medical requisites for the sick. And you, monks, are very helpful to brahmins and householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, and admirable in the end, as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a right end to stress.

Householders and the homeless
in dependence on one another
both accomplish the true Dhamma-
the unsurpassed security from bondage.

From householders, the homeless
receive requisites-robes, lodgings,
protection from inclemencies.

While in dependence on those well-gone,
home-loving householders
have conviction in Arahants
of noble discernment,
absorbed in jhana.

Here practicing the Dhamma,
the path leading to good destinations,
those wishing for pleasure rejoice
in delight in the heavenly world.
ITI.107

123. Now what is the level of a person who is not truly good? A person who is not truly good is ungrateful, does not acknowledge the help given to him. This ingratitude, this lack of acknowledgment is second nature among rude people. It is entirely on the level of people who are not truly good. A person who is truly good is grateful and acknowledges the help given to him. This gratitude, this acknowledgment is second nature among fine people. It is entirely on the level of people who are truly good.

I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother and father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder and your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, and rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate and urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother and father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother and father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother and father, settles and establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother and father, settles and establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother and father, settles and establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother and father, settles and establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays and repays one's mother and father.
A.II 31-32

124. Living with Brahma are those families where, in the home, mother and father are revered by the children. Living with the first devas are those families where, in the home, mother and father are revered by the children. Living with the first teachers are those families where, in the home, mother and father are revered by the children. Living with those worthy of gifts are those families where, in the home, mother and father are revered by the children. 'Brahma' is a designation for mother and father. 'The first devas'...'the first teachers'...'those worthy of gifts' is a designation for mother and father. Why is that? Mother and father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world.

Mother and father
compassionate to their family
are called
Brahma,
the first teachers
those worthy of gifts from their children.

So the sage should pay them
homage
honor
with food and drink
clothing and bedding
anointing and bathing
and washing their feet.

Performing these services to their parents, the wise
are praised here and now
and after death
rejoice in heaven.
ITI.106

125. A beginning point for ignorance-[such that one might say], 'Before this, ignorance did not exist; then it came into play'-cannot be discerned. This has been said. Nevertheless, it can be discerned, 'Ignorance comes from this condition.' And I tell you, ignorance has its nutriment. It is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for ignorance? The five hindrances.... And what is the nutriment for the five hindrances? The three forms of misconduct....And what is the nutriment for the three forms of misconduct? Lack of restraint of the senses....And what is the nutriment for lack of restraint of the senses? Lack of mindfulness and alertness....And what is the nutriment for lack of mindfulness and alertness? Inappropriate attention....And what is the nutriment for inappropriate attention?

Lack of conviction....And what is the nutriment for lack of conviction? Not hearing the true Dhamma....And what is the nutriment for not hearing the true Dhamma? Associating with people who are not truly good, (or: not associating with people who are truly good)....

Just as when the gods pour rain in heavy drops and crash thunder on the upper mountains: The water, flowing down along the slopes, fills the mountain clefts and rifts and gullies. When the mountain clefts and rifts and gullies are full, they fill the little ponds. When the little ponds are full, they fill the big lakes...the little rivers...the big rivers. When the big rivers are full, they fill the great ocean, and thus is the great ocean fed, thus is it filled. In the same way, when not associating with truly good people is brought to fulfillment, it fulfills [the conditions for] not hearing the true Dhamma...lack of conviction...inappropriate attention...lack of mindfulness and alertness...lack of restraint of the senses...the three forms of misconduct...the five hindrances. When the five hindrances are brought to fulfillment, they fulfill [the conditions for] ignorance. Thus is ignorance fed, thus is it brought to fulfillment.

Now, I tell you, clear knowing and release have their nutriment. They are not without nutriment. And what is their nutriment? The seven factors of awakening....And what is the nutriment for the seven factors of awakening? The four frames of reference....And what is the nutriment for the four frames of reference? The three forms of right conduct....And what is the nutriment for the three forms of right conduct? Restraint of the senses....And what is the nutriment for restraint of the senses? Mindfulness and alertness....And what is the nutriment for mindfulness and alertness? Appropriate attention....And what is the nutriment for appropriate attention? Conviction....And what is the nutriment for conviction? Hearing the true Dhamma....And what is the nutriment for hearing the true Dhamma? Associating with people who are truly good....

Just as when the gods pour rain in heavy drops and crash thunder on the upper mountains: The water, flowing down along the slopes, fills the mountain clefts and rifts and gullies...the little ponds...the big lakes...the little rivers...the big rivers. When the big rivers are full, they fill the great ocean, and thus is the great ocean fed, thus is it filled. In the same way, when associating with truly good people is brought to fulfillment, it fulfills [the conditions for] hearing the true Dhamma...conviction...appropriate attention...mindfulness and alertness...restraint of the senses...the three forms of right conduct... the four frames of reference...the seven factors of awakening. When the seven factors of awakening are brought to fulfillment, they fulfill [the conditions for] clear knowing and release. Thus is clear knowing and release fed, thus is it brought to fulfillment.
A.X.61

126. These are eight causes, eight conditions, for the attainment of discernment basic to the holy life when it has not yet been attained, and for its growth, its increase, and for the culmination of its development when it has. Which eight?

There is the case where a monk dwells in dependence on the Master, or another fellow in the holy life worthy of being a teacher, under whom he becomes firmly established in a strong sense of conscience and concern, love and respect. This is the first cause, the first condition....

{And what is the treasure of conscience? There is the case where a noble disciple feels shame at [the thought of engaging in] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. This is called the treasure of conscience.

And what is the treasure of concern? There is the case where a noble disciple feels concern for [the suffering that results from] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. This is called the treasure of concern.}

As he so lives, he periodically approaches his teacher to ask and inquire of him, 'How, venerable sir, does this happen? What is the meaning of this?' To him the teacher reveals what is hidden, clarifies what is obscure, and dispels any doubt he may have in the various things that give him reason to doubt. This is the second cause, the second condition....

When he has heard the Dhamma, he accomplishes twofold seclusion: seclusion of body and seclusion of mind. This is the third cause, the third condition....

He is virtuous and lives restrained by the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior and range of activity. Seeing danger in the slightest fault, he undertakes and trains himself in the training rules. This is the fourth cause, the fourth condition....

He is erudite, a keeper and storehouse of learning. He is erudite in the teachings-admirable in their beginning, admirable in their middle, admirable in their end-that affirm the holy life, entirely perfect and pure in its letter and meaning; he has resolved on them, has made them familiar to his speech, has pondered them over in his mind, and has penetrated them (attuned himself to them) in terms of his views. This is the fifth cause, the fifth condition....

He keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities. He is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. This is the sixth cause, the sixth condition....

When he joins the Community he is not talkative, nor does he discuss low topics. He either speaks Dhamma himself or asks someone else to, and he does not despise noble silence [the second jhana]. This is the seventh cause, the seventh condition....

Finally, he remains focused on the arising and passing away of the five aggregates of clinging: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance. Such is feeling...Such is perception...Such are fabrications...Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' This is the eighth cause, the eighth condition for the attainment of discernment basic to the holy life when it has not yet been attained, and for its growth, its increase, and for the culmination of its development when it has.
A.VIII.2 { + A.VII.6}

127. Regard him as one who
points out
treasure,
the wise man who
seeing your faults
rebukes you.

Stay with this sort of sage.
For the one who stays
with a sage of this sort,
things get better,
not worse.
DHP.76

128. These are the five rewards of conviction in a lay person. Which five?

When the truly good people in the world show compassion, they will first show compassion to people of conviction, and not to people without conviction. When visiting, they first visit people of conviction, and not people without conviction. When accepting gifts, they will first accept those from people with conviction, and not from people without conviction. When teaching the Dhamma, they will first teach those with conviction, and not those without conviction. A person of conviction, on the break-up of the body, after death, will arise in a good destination, the heavenly world. These are the five rewards of conviction in a lay person.

Just as a large banyan tree, on level ground where four roads meet, is a haven for the birds all around, even so a lay person of conviction is a haven for many people: monks, nuns, male lay followers, and female lay followers.

A massive tree
whose branches carry fruits and leaves,
with trunks and roots
and an abundance of fruits:

There the birds find rest.
In that delightful sphere
they make their home,
Those seeking shade
come to the shade,
those seeking fruit
find fruit to eat.

So with the person consummate
in virtue and conviction,
humble, sensitive, gentle,
delightful, and mild:

To him come those without effluent,
free from passion,
free from aversion,
free from delusion:
the field of merit for the world.

They teach him the Dhamma
that dispels all stress.
And when he understands,
he is freed from effluents,
totally unbound.
A.V.38

129. A female noble disciple who grows in terms of these five types of growth grows in the noble growth, grasps hold of what is essential, what is excellent in the body. Which five? She grows in terms of conviction, in terms of virtue, in terms of learning, in terms of generosity, in terms of discernment. Growing in terms of these five types of growth, the female noble disciple grows in the noble growth, grasps hold of what is essential, what is excellent in the body.

Growing in conviction and virtue,
discernment, generosity, and learning,
a virtuous female lay disciple
such as this
takes hold of the essence within herself.
S.XXXVII.34

130. For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message and lives to penetrate it, it is a principle that, 'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I.' For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message and lives to penetrate it, the Teacher's message is healing and nourishing. For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message and lives to penetrate it, it is a principle that, 'Gladly would I let the flesh and blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, and bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.' For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message and lives to penetrate it, one of two fruits can be expected: either gnosis here and now, or-if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance-non-return.
M.70


© Buddha Dharma Education Association > home > back