Phần 1 – Editor’s Foreword và Preface
– Editor’s Foreword
A number of the late Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw’s discourses have been translated into English, and most of these have been reprinted before in Malaysia, but this new edition has been prepared for distribution in English speaking countries. Although many changes have been made to the original translation, they are only grammatical ones. The content of the Venerable Sayādaw’s discourse has been fully preserved and is now much easier to read than it was. I am indebted to the late Christine Fitzmaurice-Glendining for her meticulous work in correcting the grammar. She also checked the final proofs. If any errors have unwittingly been introduced into the translation then that responsibility is mine alone.
The Venerable Sayādaw’s discourses were addressed to meditators practising intensively at his meditation centre in Rangoon, so they contain many Pāḷi words that, though familiar to those who have heard regular discourses, may be unfamiliar to others. In preparing this edition of the Sakkapañha Sutta I have replaced the Pāḷi words with a translation wherever possible. However, since this book deals with advanced topics such as mental absorption (jhāna) and insight knowledge (vipassanā-ñāṇa), the use of Pāḷi terms is sometimes preferable.
In the footnotes, references are to the page numbers of the Pāḷi texts of the Pali Text Society, which in the translations are given [in square brackets] at the top of the page or sometimes in the body of the text. However, in the case of the Dhammapada or Suttanipāta, references are simply given to verse numbers.
The Sakkapañha Sutta is the twenty-first discourse of the Dīghanikāya, the long discourses.
This is the abridged translation of Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw’s discourse on the Sakkapañha Sutta. The discourse was given in December 1977 at the request of U Pwin Kaung, the President of the Buddha Sāsanānuggaha Organisation, on the occasion of the annual gathering of Buddhist devotees from all over Burma, who came to pay their respects to the Sayādaw and to hear his teaching.
The President requested the Venerable Sayādaw to give a Buddhist discourse that would be universally applicable, so Mahāsi Sayādaw chose to give a series of talks on the Sakkapañha Sutta, which was the subject of a manuscript that he had been preparing for publication. This discourse tells us about the Buddha’s dialogue with Sakka, the king of the gods, and of his penetrating analysis into the causes of conflicts, frustrations and suffering that beset all living beings. The Sayādaw rightly describes the discourse as the Buddha’s teaching on world peace, and indeed it has an important message for people all over the world.
The Venerable Sayādaw’s discourse on the sutta is very informative and illuminating. Many of his observations are essential to the proper understanding and practice of the Dhamma. Thus, according to the Sayādaw, the introduction to a sutta is not as important as its central teaching. It serves to establish the authenticity of the discourse but, as in the case of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, its absence does not necessarily cast doubt on the origin of a Buddhist teaching. Such practices as the melodious recitation of scriptures, which is customary among some Buddhist teachers, and the mass slaughter of animals for food at pagoda festivals are to be deprecated because they run counter to the Buddha’s teaching. No less incompatible with the spirit of the Dhamma is the fondness for lengthy prayers. This probably stems from the tendency to rely on external help rather than on making the effort to attain one’s objective.
As well as these passing remarks on matters of general interest to Buddhists, the Sayādaw’s discourse on the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in the Sakkapañha Sutta is superb. It is based on rational observations, anecdotes and the teachings in the texts and Commentaries. The Sayādaw’s clarification of wholesome sorrow, wholesome depression, etc., will inspire meditators who are discouraged by lack of spiritual progress. His other explanations will also enlighten those who do not have much knowledge of the Dhamma or much experience of insight meditation.
The importance of the Sakkapañha Sutta as expounded by Mahāsi Sayādaw is not confined to Buddhists, nor for that matter to a particular segment of the world’s population. It concerns the whole of humanity and also all other beings in the universe, and those who practise it diligently may rest well assured of an end to suffering.
Bhikkhu Indaka (Nyaung gan)