Merits from offering food to the monks

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[ Sep 17th, 2011 ] - [ read : 14974 ]
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Merits from offering food to the monks
 


Meditation is our primary mission, and every human in the world may raise the quality of his mind by celebrating meditation. If we can rest our mind at the centre of our body and keep practicing that until it reaches the Dhammakaya, the interior existence of our body which is a living replica of the Buddha or Buddha Nature, but with a clarity and brightness more effulgent than a 100 million suns, will purify. It is our main objective to accumulate merit; we must focus to commit ourselves to attain the Dhammakaya, be diligent in practicing meditation and practice well in order to accumulate merit.   


The Buddha words in Khuddaka Nikāya, Therigatha says:

     "Sick, putrid, unclean:
Look, Nanda, at this physical heap.
Through contemplation of the foul,
develop your mind,
make it one, well-centered.

    As this [your body], so that.
    As that, so this.
It gives off a foul stench,
the delight of fools."

Considering it thus,
untiring, both day & night,
I, with my own discernment
    dissecting it,
        saw.

And as I, heedful,
    examined it aptly,
this body -- as it actually is --
was seen inside & out.

Then was I disenchanted with the body
    & dispassionate within:
Heedful, detached,
    calmed was I.

        Unbound.

The Lord Buddha spoke of this to a Sawika (woman disciple) to tell her the truth about the uncertain persistence body in order to unbound her dependence to strengthen her meditation, purify her, and become a fair and true Arahant. When one reaches this, then one has completed one’s greatest fulfilment in life. One will be without desire and firmly released from dependence to the body. It is the entrance to disengagement.

The spoken words above were directed to the Supreme Nun (bhikkhuni1) called Nanda who was very beautiful. She was born in the kings’ family, eventually ordained and became enlightened. Her biography is a very interesting one. She cultivated good deeds of long standing prestige during the reign of the previous Lord Buddha, due to her fear of sins. This story takes place during the reign of the Lord Buddha in the name of Vipassī Buddha2.
 
*At that time, Dhamma3 was widely spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and the public who heard Dhamma understood about the cycle of life (reincarnation). Thus they did not hesitate to do many good deeds. At that time Nanda was born as the king's wife called Arunrajracha. When she heard the name and the fame of the Lord Buddha, she became faithful to him. She desired to hear the Lord Buddha’s teaching. She decided to travel to pay respect to the Lord Buddha. After hearing his teachings, she was afraid of committing bad deeds and thought to herself:

I am the king's wife and have many times been involved in judging criminals and have sentenced some to the death penalty. I committed Kamma is a Pāṇātipātā (killing). I have listened to the great Dhamma today, which has made me realised that life after death is long and scary.  As the king’s wife, despite the respect I have received, the only factor that would indicate my path are the good and bad deeds I did before I passed away. Therefore, I should not live life carelessly. From now on, I shall do only good deeds.

She then went on to see her husband, the king and spoke to him, “Your highness, I’d like to do a great merit by offering food to the monks. Please allow me to do so, even if only to one monk. I wish to offer food.”  Her husband understood her will and agreed to it.
 
She was very happy about this. She hurriedly prepared the best food. She offered a pair of very neat and valuable robes for the monk to wear. She carried on offering alms to the monks ever since. When the Lord Buddha passed on to Nirvana, she dedicated a pagoda, decorated with jewelled golden parasol. She carried on doing good deeds until the last day of her life.
 
She was reborn in the Tavatimsa Heaven (heaven level 2) 1000 times as a wife to the highest rank angel because of the good deeds she did when she was human. Once reborn again in the human realm; she was a wife to emperors for 1,000 lifetimes then a wife to kings for uncountable lifetimes after that. She never suffered in any hell realms. These are the special benefits of daily alms offering to monks, which also gave her as beautiful a complexion as a lotus which made her a stunning woman.
 
Through the reign of the current Lord Buddha, she was born as a daughter of King Kemmaga in Kapilavastu4. She was named Nanda and possessed such great beauty that she was well known to everyone as Nanda the Beauty. When she was grown, her promised fiancé passed away on the engagement day. Her parents then sent her off to ordain as a bhikkhuni. She did not want to become a bhikkhuni but could not disobey her parents.
 
Even though she ordained, she could not give up her attachment to the beauty. She refused to meet the Lord Buddha as she knew that he would teach preach of the uncertainty of the beauty of the living body, and she fears to know it. The Lord Buddha knew that she has been avoiding him so he waited until her inner experience has improved and ordered all bhikkuni to come and see him. Nanda did not do so and sent someone else in her place.
 
The Lord Buddha emphasised once again, “When the time comes, bhikkunis must attend herself, not send another in her place.”  Bhikkuni Nanda could not disobey this time, so she did went to pay respect to the Lord Buddha. Once she arrived together with the other bhikkunis; she tried to stay unnoticed, sitting in the back, fearing him of criticising her of her dependent love for beauty.
 
The Lord Buddha was fully aware of bhikkuni Nanda’s thoughts. He magically summoned a pretty, young lady, who possessed greater beauty than anyone of the bhikkuni herself. The beauty transformed from a young age through middle age and then into old age. Bhikkuni Nanda watched the trasformation and finally understood that outer beauty is uncertain; even her own body will deteriorate and perish someday.
 
The merits that she has accumulated from previous lifetimes now come into effect; her mind became more peaceful and she could then let go of all attachment to outer beauty. Then the Lord Buddha then gave the following teaching :-

"Sick, putrid, unclean:
look, Nanda, at this physical heap.
Through contemplation of the foul,
develop your mind,
make it one, well-centered.

    As this [your body], so that.
    As that, so this.
It gives off a foul stench,
the delight of fools."
 
Considering it thus,
untiring, both day & night,
I, with my own discernment
    dissecting it,
        saw.
 
And as I, heedful,
    examined it aptly,
this body -- as it actually is --
was seen inside & out.
 
Then was I disenchanted with the body
    & dispassionate within:
Heedful, detached,
    calmed was I.

        Unbound.
Bhikkuni Nanda attained Arahantship after that.
  
As you can see from this, we have learned that good deeds in the past can support us in any following lifetime, no matter where you are. Bhikkuni Nanda received the same effect as those who succed in life, which is supported by merits. For those who have accumulated merit, we rejoice in that merit with them. For those of you who have not, let’s all start offering alms without delay in order to open our path to earning merit.

By the Most Venerable Phrarajbhavanavisudh (Dhammajayo Bhikkhu)

---------------
1 A bhikkhuni (Pāli) or bhikṣuṇī (Sanskrit) is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic.
2 Vipassī was one of the Twenty-Eight Buddhas.
3 The teachings of the Buddha.
4 Kapilavastu is the capital of the region Sak Ka.

* From Tripitaka (Mahamakut Buddhist University edition) Volume 54 page 43.
 
 
Translated by Jeab Krachangchit
 
Edited by View Riddell
 


 

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