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The Teachings of the Buddha: Approaching the Dhamma and “With Cankī”

by Bhikkhu Bodhi
October 11, 2013
Fri, 10/11/2013 - 10:30 -- bbodhi

Today selection comes from the Cankī Sutta.  Here, the Buddha explains that a person who has faith in something “preserves truth” when he says “this is my faith.” He “preserves truth” because he merely states what he believes without jumping to the conclusion that what he believes is definitely true and anything else contrary to it false. The Buddha contrasts the “preservation of truth” with the “discovery of truth”,which begins by placing faith in a teacher who has proved himself worthy of trust. Having gained faith in such a teacher, one then approaches him for instruction, learns the Dhamma, practices it (according to a series of steps more finely calibrated than in the  preceding text), and finally sees the supreme truth for oneself.

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering in the Kosalan country with a large Sangha of bhikkhus, and eventually he arrived at a Kosalan brahmin village named Opasāda. There the Blessed One stayed in the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove to the north of Opasāda.

Now on that occasion the brahmin Cankī was ruling over Opasāda, a crown property abounding in living beings, rich in grasslands, woodlands, waterways, and grain, a royal endowment, a sacred grant given to him by King Pasenadi of Kosala.

The brahmin householders of Opasāda heard: “The recluse Gotama … Now it is good see such arahants.”

Then the brahmin householders of Opasāda set forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and headed northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove.

Now on that occasion the brahmin Cankī had retired to the upper storey of his palace for his midday rest. Then he saw the brahmin householders of Opasāda setting forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and heading northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove. When he saw them, he asked his minister: “Good minister, why are the brahmin householders of Opasāda setting forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and heading northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove?”

“Sir, there is the recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from a Sakyan clan, who has been wandering in the Kosalan country … They are going to see that Master Gotama.”

“Then, good minister, go to the brahmin householders of Opasāda and tell them: ‘Sirs, the brahmin Cankī says this: “Please wait, sirs. The brahmin Cankī will also go to see the recluse Gotama.”’”

“Yes, sir,” the minister replied, and he went to the brahmin householders of Opasāda and gave them the message.

Now on that occasion five hundred brahmins from various states were staying at Opasāda for some business or other. They heard: “The brahmin Cankī, it is said, is going to see the recluse Gotama.” Then they went to the brahmin Cankī and asked him: “Sir, is it true that you are going to see the recluse Gotama?”

“So it is, sirs. I am going to see the recluse Gotama.”

“Sir, do not go to see the recluse Gotama. It is not proper, Master Cankī, for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you. For you, sir, are well born on both sides, of pure maternal and paternal descent seven generations back, unassailable and impeccable in respect of birth. Since that is so, Master Cankī, it is not proper for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you. You, sir, are rich, with great wealth and great possessions. You, sir, are a master of the Three Vedas with their vocabularies, liturgy, phonology, and etymology, and the histories as a fifth; skilled in philology and grammar, you are fully versed in natural philosophy and in the marks of a Great Man. You, sir, are handsome, comely, and graceful, possessing supreme beauty of complexion, with sublime beauty and sublime presence, remarkable to behold. You, sir, are virtuous, mature in virtue, possessing mature virtue. You, sir, are a good speaker with a good delivery; you speak words that are courteous, distinct, flawless, and communicate the meaning. You, sir, teach the teachers of many, and you teach the recitation of the hymns to three hundred brahmin students. You, sir, are honoured, respected, revered, venerated, and esteemed by King Pasenadi of Kosala. You, sir, are honoured, respected, revered, venerated, and esteemed by the brahmin Pokkharasāti. You, sir, rule over Opasāda, a crown property abounding in living beings … a sacred grant given to you by King Pasenadi of Kosala. Since this is so, Master Cankī, it is not proper for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you.”

From ML 95

To continue reading the Cankī Sutta, click here.

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