Tonight is Asalha Puja. We’re paying homage (puja) in the full moon in the month of Asalha to remember the day when the Buddha first set forth the Dhamma as a teaching. The Dhamma as the truth of the world, of course, exists all the time. But to have it put into words so people can practice it: That’s a rare opportunity. That’s what the Buddha did on this night.
…he gave a sketch of right view, and the important point was his stating that suffering is clinging that comes from craving. That’s all he really explained, but that was enough for one of the five brethren, Añña- Kondañña, the head of the five brethren, to get the Dhamma eye. In other words, he became at least a stream enterer, seeing that all things that are subject to origination are subject to cessation. Now to see that he had to see something that was not subject to origination or cessation. That was the deathless.
That’s when we say the Noble Sangha arose in the world. The devas made note of the fact all the way up to the Brahma world. After that Añña- Kondañña asked for ordination and that’s how the conventional Sangha began.
So notice, the Buddha didn’t explain everything. He explained the connection between clinging, craving, and suffering; but that was enough for Añña- Kondañña. That’s all the Buddha taught that night, at least as far as is recorded. There may have been more, but this was what was remembered and passed on.
Of course for us, we hear that and we’re still here without anything new happening. We’re the type of people who have to listen to the Dhamma and then put it into practice over and over again. It was for us that the Buddha later explained all these truths and all the different factors of the path in great detail. We can listen to the explanations and, even then, we still need to practice more.
So that’s what we’re doing right now: practicing more. We’ve practiced before, but we have to keep practicing more because there’s something in our minds that still is resisting, something that still doesn’t understand. But we keep at it. We keep being persistent because we have the conviction that this might be the way to true happiness. We’re inspired by the example of the Buddha and the Noble Sangha. We find the Dhamma inspiring. And so we sit here and practice.
At the very least, we’re paying homage to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. We recollect that this was the night in which all three of the refuges—all three of the gems—became complete as a set. After all, if the Buddha hadn’t taught, he would have been a private Buddha. But the fact is that he was able to give this teaching and that someone was able to gain awakening. It’s the existence of the Dhamma as a teaching and the existence of the Sangha that make the Buddha a complete Buddha. So the Triple Gem became complete. And we’re trying to make that Triple Gem complete in ourselves as well, just as we’re trying to make that Dhamma wheel complete in ourselves.
This reflection by Ajahn Geoff is adapted from the talk, Asalha Puja, July 22, 2013.