THE LIFE OF SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA
25. The Mirror of the Dharma
From Rajagaha the Buddha, accompanied by Venerable Ananda and a large number of his disciples, started the journey to the north. They would stop a while at every city and village, and the Buddha would teach the Dharma.
They stopped at a place called the Brick Hall in a little village called Nadika. It happened that some monks and lay devotees had passed away at this village, and Venerable Ananda wanted to know the future states of those who had passed away.
The Buddha revealed that as they had been practising what he had taught, all of them had attained at least one of the stages of sainthood. He continued, “Now, it is natural for human beings to die; but if you ask this question each time a person dies, it wearies me. So I will give you a discourse called ‘The Mirror of the Dharma or Truth’. With this, a noble disciple can predict for himself, ‘There is no more suffering for me, no more evil and low states. I am a sotapanna and I am not subject to falling back to the lower states. I shall be assured of final enlightenment.’
“What, O Ananda, is the Mirror of the Dharma? Herein a noble disciple has absolute confidence in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Because of his confidence, he spends much time to reflect or think about the great qualities of the Triple Gem. These reflections will help him develop the great qualities within himself and the power to concentrate the mind. These results will help him attain the first stage of sainthood (sotapanna).
“Possessing this Mirror of Dharma, a noble disciple shall be able to predict for himself that he shall not fall back to lower states like hell, the animal world, the ghost world and other sorrowful and unhappy states.”
After delivering this discourse at Nadika, the Buddha and his disciples then proceeded to Vesali.
EXERCISE 25. The Mirror of the Dharma
1. Why were the monks and lay devotees who had passed away sotapannas?
2. Who is not going to be reborn in the lower worlds?
3. How does a person attain sainthood?
4. Where and to whom was the discourse “The Mirror of the Dharma” given?