THE GRADUAL PATH TO THE REALISATION OF DHAMMA
(Canki Sutta, Majjima Nikaya)
On one occasion, when the blessed one was residing at the kosalan country, in the God's Greove, the Sala-tree Grove, The blessed one arrived at a Kosalan brahmin village to the north of Opasada.
The ruler of that country, a brahmin, called Canki, went to the Buddha and asked, “Venerable Sir, would you kindly explain to me how one could achieve the realisation of the Dhamma?”
The Buddha explained thus:
If one wants to achieve complete understanding and realisation of the Dhamma:
1. First of all, one needs to develop faith in the Triple Gem. “Saddham niveseti saddha jata upasankamati.”)
2. Having rested on faith, one should come to a monk or anyone who knows the Dhamma well: “(upasankamanto pariupasati,’)
3. Having come to a teacher one must get familiar with the teacher. (“Payirupasanto sotan odahti dhamman sunati.”)
4. Then one should listen to the Dhamma with good attention (“sutva dhammamdareti,”)
5. Then one goes through it, again and again (“Dhtanan dhamman atthan upaparikkhati”)
6. Then one should test and verify the meaning of what he has listened to: (Attan upaparikkhato Dhamma nijjhanan khamanti”)
7. While listening to the Dhamma one should get a real understanding of what it meant; (“Nijjanakkhantia chando jayati.”)
8. As an immediate result desire may arise in him to practice Dhamma (Chando ussahati
9. Only by practising will he get the real understanding and he should make every effort to practise further: ("Ussahitva tulayati")
10. While making an effort, one should weigh them up and to compare and contrast them with one's day to day activities: (Tulahitva padahati.”)
11. While doing this one should strive hard to perform them without being lazy or neglectful: (“Pahitato paraman Dhamman sacchikaroti.”)
12. At the end one will realise the truth of the Dhamma then one would say, The Dhamma is well said by the Buddha, (“Svakkhato Bahagavata Dhammo”)
This is how the Buddha explained the step by step process of understanding and realisation of the Dhamma. This is a simple, gradual process for those who want to achieve spiritual advancement. This is called “Anupubbapatipada,” the gradual way of practice. Anyone who wants to achieve success in his/her final goal, whether spiritual or material, can succeed by following this step by step process. This is called “Anupubbapatipada,” the gradual way of practice. Perseverance and consistency are important. Breaking the steps at the beginning, middle or end, will result in failure to achieve one’s goal.
Developing faith/confidence or Sraddha is the most significant factor in the path to Nibbana and therefore, the Buddha Dhamma and the Sanga are the foundation of the Buddhist way of life. It is not a blind faith; it is a creative and active faith. There are four dominant factors, called “Four Spiritual Faculties” that are dormant in one’s mind which should be developed to achieve what you want as the final result in a spiritual or material way of life.
The Four Dominant Factors/The Four Roads to Power are (Irdipada):
1. Chanda: intention, wish to do, vision
2. CItta: the main thought about the final aim./purity of mind
3. Viriya: effort to carry on up to the final result, the resolution.
4. Vimansa: investigation about the result.
Whenever you want to attend to any spiritual matter, the first thing you need is Faith. (Saddha is: faith, confidence, belief, trustfulness). From belief or trust in what you want to do and achieve. We call it Saddha. Then a firm intention or wish to do what you want to do without breaking. We call it Chanda. The attention should be focused on the main aim or the purpose. We call it Citta. There should be great effort needed in order to arrive at one’s final aim. We call it Viriya. While trying to reach the last aim, one should have an inquiring mind, investigate and practice self-dialog as to path and direction and be focused on the aim. We call it Vimansa.
These four dominating factors of the mind are called “The Four Great Powers” in Buddhism. They help us to improve our spiritual or material way of life. If you read the biographies of the great inventers and scientists of the modern world you will find that they all applied, the “Five Great Powers’ to achieve their dreams.
To the questions asked by Brahmin Canki, the Buddha answered in a practical and sensible approach which even today this advice can be applied by a student of any subject and sure to get good results. Even the modern day teachers and educators preach the same thing: be committed, pay attention, perseverance, listen, understand, enquire, and practice.
During the time of the Buddha there were two ways by which one could understand the Dhamma and realise the path to Nibbana. One is called “paratoghosa paccaya.” Hearing the true Dhamma from others who know it. The other is called “sammasati” or practice of meditation.
1. Paratogosha paccaya:
This means, hearing the true Dhamma from others and illustrate the importance of listening in the gradual, step by step way of practicing the Dhamma. In the past there were no books and one could only get knowledge by listening, by means of “paratogosha paccaya.”
The other method is Sammasati or meditation with right mindfulness. The Buddhas have used this method for the enlightenment. Now we are living in a time of the Buddha and his teachings are readily available, thereby giving us other ways of realising the true meaning of the Dhamma. If we want to get good results, we must try methods of realising the Dhamma by listening, reading and putting that knowledge into our practise, while using meditation techniques on mindfulness taught by the Buddha in the Satara Satipattana Sutta/ The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This gradual path through step by step approach is a sure way to achieve a state of calm and peace of mind and get nearer to the path leading to Nibbana.
Please refer to the link "THE SEVEN STAGES OF PURITY - RATAVINITA SUTTA - Part 2"