Onward leading



Posted on September 10, 2010 at 1:12 AM









         The Buddha’s discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness – The Maha Sattipatthana sutta- is remarkable in that it opens with an initial assurance and concludes with a final guarantee. The assurance is that they constitute a Path that goes  One Way – and One Way Only – and that is to the purification of  beings, to the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, to the disappearance of pain and grief , to the attainment of the true way,  to the realization of Nibbana . The guarantee is that if anyone were to develop them at most, for seven years or at least for seven days, one of the two fruits could be expected for him : either Final Knowledge here and now or , if  there is a trace of clinging left, Non – return .


          Unlike in the heyday of Buddhism , the significance of these two striking features of the discourse are not fully appreciated by many who take up this  practice of Satipatthana today. For them, it is only a half – hearted pre-school training for attainments in some Buddha Sasana to come – a mere preference to be credited to some future account .Hence if someone rediscovered the relevance of the Buddha’s assurance and guarantee even to the present day by treading the Path in earnest , it will indeed serve as some heartening news to many.


         The ' Upasika' whose devotion to the practice if Satipatthana forms – as it were – the central theme of this work, is one such rare witness to the validity of the Buddha’s assurance and guarantee. Though born in a non –Buddhist family, she developed such a profound interest in meditation that she found the need to re-assess her convictions in the light of Buddhist scriptures.She discovered her first 'Kalyanamitta' in her own household assistant who gave her the first lessons  in Anapanasati. It was in her early seventies that she found her next 'kalyanamitta' and guide, in the Meditation Master of Mitirigala Nissarana  Vanaya. From then onwards, it was for her a fully devoted and whole – hearted endeavour to attain the Highest. As to how she attained what she attained in seven years of striving amidst household chores, maternal duties and infirmities of old age, her letters themselves will bear testimony.


         inspiring as her letters are, we have some hesitation in placing them before the public at large- and this for two reasons. Firstly, there is a section of public opinion which looks down on such publications ,casting serious imputations upon the persons concerned. This attitude is very often prompted by either puritanism or obscurantism. Secondly,  there are the risks involved in publicity, in the case if a meditator. Charlatans as well as the over- enthusiastic will flock in , in their hundreds out of cheap curiosity , with little or no regard for a meditator’s love  for solitude.



         It might be disappointing for some readers, therefore, to find that we have kept her identity anonymous. But they are at  full liberty to discover the secrets of her success   through her own writings and for that, we may offer some clues too – perseverance,humility, obedience, and gratitude.



Mitirigala Nisarana Vanaya


 September 1986



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