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Dhajagga Sutta – True Refuge – The Highest Standard

by

Introduction

For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked inline and at the end of this article. ([x]) Inline links will open in a new window.

Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the single path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [3]  Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

The Dhajagga Sutta is similar to the Ratana Sutta in teaching the true and practical refuge of a human Buddha, his Dhamma, and a well-informed and well-focused Sangha.  [4]

The Buddha begins this teaching using disturbed and corrupted mind-states as metaphor for minds rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. [5]  Mara And Metaphor

The Buddha used metaphor when appropriate to describe fabricated mind-states. He uses metaphor and simile consistently throughout his forty-five-year teaching career.

Using metaphor to describe corrupted qualities of mind relates directly to the common human compulsion to fabricate a view of self in relation to the people and events of the world. Metaphor, though fabricated, provides a common point of reference and a clear path away from fabricated views to understanding .

Those in attendance understand context and focus of the Buddha’s teaching methods and know that the Buddha is referring to troubled mind states in his use of metaphor. The use of metaphor in teaching his Dhamma is common and  prevalent throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma, though commonly misunderstood and over-emphasizing fabricated and speculative “realities.”. This is not always apparent when studying individual sutta or when developing a “Buddhist practice” that ignores Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths as the framework for authentic Dhamma practice.

Modern Buddhism-By-Common-Agreement compulsively encourages a cobbled-together practice of picking and choosing “dharmas” that allow for continuing ignorance of Four Noble Truths.  [6[  Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views

My comments below are in italics.

Dhajagga Sutta – True Refuge -The Highest Standard

Samyutta Nikaya 11:3

On one occasion, the Buddha was staying near  Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. He addressed those gathered:

“Friends, once the devas and asuras were prepared for war with each other. Sakka, lord of the Devas addressed those of the Thirty-Three (fabled “Thirty-Three realms”): ‘If fear or terror should arise when going to battle, be mindful of the standard (of understanding) established ny me. When you are mindful of my standard, all fear and terror are abandoned.’

As stated previously, references to non-physical realms, and the speculated inhabitants of “higher realms” was constantly and directly taught to be recognized and quickly abandoned.  [7]  Right Mindfulness And Authentic Dhamma

‘If you are not mindful of my standard then look at Pajapati’s standard of understanding. When you are mindful of Pajapati’s standard, all fear and terror are abandoned.’

Sakka’s fabricated view may occasionally provide distraction from what is occurring by establishing the mind in fabricated realities given authenticity simply by common agrreement. [6]

‘In this same manner, If you are not mindful of Pajapati’s standard of understanding, then look at Varuna’s standard of understanding. When you are mindful of Varuna’s standard, all fear and terror are abandoned.’

‘In this same manner, If you are not mindful of Varuna’s standard of understanding, then look at Isana’s standard of understanding. When you are mindful of Isana’s standard, all fear and terror are abandoned.’

The Buddha continuers: “Friends, look at the standards of understanding established by Sakka, or Pajapati, or Varuna, or Isana. Becoming mindful of their standard(s), all fear and terror might be abandoned, or it might not.

“Why this uncertainty? Because Sakka, Lord Of The Devas, despite his standard (of practice) Sakka is not free of greed, aversion, or fire of deluded thinking. He can be cowardly, frightened, and quick to flee. The others as well.

No matter the standard used to authenticate a “teacher”, if the “standard” is not established by the Human Buddha, his authentic Dhamma, and a well-focused and well-informed Sangha the results will be disjointing at best and continually distracting in practice. [6]

“Friends, listen carefully: When you have established seclusion at the root of a tree or an empty hut, and fear and terror arise, be mindful that I, the Rightly-Self-Awakened One, am consumate in knowledge and understanding, pure in behavior, unexcelled in teaching those fit to be taught. When you understand my standard, all fear and terror are abandoned.

When telling his disciples it is time to meditate, the Buddha would say “go find the root of a tree or an empty hut, and do Jhana. Jhana means concentration. hana is the sole meditation method taught by the Buddha. It is a well-concentrated mind that is able to develop the refined mindfulness necessary hold in mind the entire Eightfold Path as the framework and guidance for authentic Dhamma practice. [7]  Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas

“Also, you can be mindful of the standard of my Dhamma. The Dhamma is a complete and timeless path. My Dhamma is inviting and verified by direct experience. When you understand the standard established through my Dhamma, all fear and terror are abandoned.

“Also, you can be mindful of the standard of a (well-focused and well-informed) Sangha. My Sangha is established in Four Noble Truths and practiced authentically, straightforwardly, and methodically.

“This Sangha of Dhamma Disciples is worthy of gifts, hospitality. And appropriate offerings. This Sangha is deserving of respect. Through their understanding of my Dhamma, they will bring much good-will to the world. When you understand the standard established through (a well-focused and well-informed) Sangha, all fear and terror are abandoned.

“Why is this true? Because the Buddha is free of greed, aversion, and fire of deluded thinking. He can not be cowardly, frightened, or quick to flee.

“In seclusion, friends, at the rot of a tree or an empty hut, established in Jhana, be mindful and take refuge in the Buddha, be mindful and take refuge in the my Dhamma, and be mindful and take refuge in a well-focused and well informed Sangha.

“Those wise disciples, practicing in this manner, are free of greed, aversion, and fire of deluded thinking. They can not be cowardly, frightened, or quick to flee.

Thise gathered were delighted in informed by the Buddha’s words.

End Of Sutta

The closing of this sutta shows the emphasis the Buddha maintained on developing and practicing his Dhamma free of the adaptations, accommodations, and widespread embellishment of his authentic Dhamma. This compulsive need to substitute a corrupt and fabricated dharma in favor of the Buddha’s Dhamma was just as common during the Buddha’s time as today. The solution is the same as well: Study and practice what a Buddha actually taught in order to become released from all troubled mind-states.

Linked Articles For Further Study

  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. True Refuge – The Ratana Sutta
  5. Mara And Metaphor
  6. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views
  7. Right Mindfulness And Authentic Dhamma

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Sources

My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.


Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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