Slow is the arising of Mindfulness

 

        ‘Four blessings, Bhikkhus, may be looked for as resulting from lending an ear to, from reciting with the lips, from pondering with the mind, from penetrating by insight the teachings of the Buddha Dhamma.  What are the four?

        Herein, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu masters the Dhamma [in its wholeness], the Master’s sayings, the Master’s teachings. He listens to them, repeats them, ponders over them, and thoroughly penetrates them by his insight.  Then he passes away with mindfulness confused and is reborn in a certain company of devas.  There the blissful ones recite to him the stanzas of the Dhamma. Slow, Bhikkhus, is mindfulness to arise, but that being quickly attains pre-eminence therein.

        This is the first blessing to be looked for by so doing.

        Then again, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu masters the Dhamma [in its wholeness], the Master’s sayings, the Master’s teachings. He listens to them, repeats them, ponders over them, and thoroughly penetrates them by his insight. Then he passes away with mindfulness confused and is reborn in a company of devas.  There the blissful ones do not recite to him the stanzas of the Dhamma, but maybe some brother of higher iddhi,* who has mastered his will, expounds the Dhamma in that company of devas. Then that Bhikkhu thinks, ‘Why, this is the life, this is the very Dhamma-Vinaya according to which in my former birth I lived the life of righteousness!’  Slow indeed, Bhikkhus, is the arising of mindfulness, but that Bhikkhu quickly attains pre-eminence therein.

        Just as a man who is skilled in distinguishing the sounds of drums – he may be travelling along the highroad, and he hears the sound of a certain drum, and has no manner of doubt as to its being the sound of a drum, but at once comes to the conclusion, ‘That’s the sound of a drum.’  Even so, Bhikkhus, does a Bhikkhu master the Dhamma and quickly attains pre-eminence therein.

        This is the second blessing to be looked for by so doing.

        Then again, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu masters the Dhamma [in its wholeness], the Master’s sayings, the Master’s teachings.  He listens to them, repeats them, ponders over them, and thoroughly penetrates them by his insight. Then he passes away with mindfulness confused and is reborn among a certain company of devas.  Then the blissful ones do not recite the stanzas of the Dhamma to him, nor does a brother of higher iddhi who has mastered his will expound the Dhamma in that company of devas; but some son of a deva himself expounds the Dhamma to the company of devas.  Then that Bhikkhu thinks:  ‘Why, this is the life, this is the very Dhamma-Vinaya according to which I lived the life of righteousness in my former birth.’  Slow indeed, Bhikkhus, is the establishing of mindfulness, but that brother quickly attains pre-eminence therein.

        Just as one who is skilled in the sounds of chanks – he may be travelling along the highroad, and hears the sound of chanks, and has no manner of doubt as to its being the sound of a chank, but at once concludes,  ‘That is the sound of a chank’, even so, Bhikkhus, does a Bhikkhu master the Dhamma.  Slow indeed, Bhikkhus, is the establishing of mindfulness, but that Bhikkhu quickly attains pre-eminence therein.  This is the third blessing to be looked for by so doing.

        Then again, Bhikkhus, a Bhikkhu masters the Dhamma [in its wholeness], the Master’s sayings, the Master’s teachings. He listens to them, repeats them, ponders over them, and thoroughly penetrates them by his insight. Then he passes away with mindfulness confused and is reborn in the company of certain devas.  Then the blissful ones do not recite to him the stanzas of the Dhamma; nor does a certain brother of higher iddhi, who has mastered his will, expound the Dhamma to that company of devas; nor does a son of a deva expound the Dhamma to that company of devas; but some being born as an apparition[1] reminds another similarly born, thus: ‘Do you remember, good sir? Do you remember, good sir, how in our former birth we led the life of righteousness?’  And the other replies, ‘Yes, good sir, I do  indeed remember, I do remember it.’  Slow indeed, Bhikkhus, is the arising of mindfulness, but quickly does that Bhikkhu attain pre-eminence therein.

        Just as when two who once were playmates, making mud-pies together, meet, and one says to the other: ‘Friend, do you recall this? Do you recall that?’  And the other answers, ‘Yes, friend, I do indeed remember. I do indeed remember.’  Even so, Bhikkhus, does a Bhikkhu master the Dhamma. Slow indeed, Bhikkhus, is the establishing of mindfulness, but that Bhikkhu quickly attains pre-eminence therein.

        This is the fourth blessing to be looked for by one who has so done – who has listened to it, recited it, pondered over it, penetrated it by his insight. And these are the four blessings so to be looked for.’      [Anguttara Nikaya, ii. 185-6]

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Foot Notes

(*) N.E. – Magic powers.

[1] – Opapatiko, by apparitional birth, without parents. Such an one ‘just comes to be’ or ‘appears’ in a heaven-world.

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[‘Some Sayings of the Buddha – According to the Pali Canon’, translated by F.L.Woodward, Oxford University Press, London/Madras, 1925].

 

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