The Righteous Reign How King Asoka Institutionalized — страница 3

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brothers and sisters, and among my other relatives. They are occupied everywhere. These Dhamma Mahamatras are occupied in my domain among people devoted to Dhamma to determine who is devoted to Dhamma, who is established in Dhamma, and who is generous.? This zeal was for neither personal nor political gain. The only glory he sought, according to Asoka, was for having led his people along the path of Dhamma. The Rock and Pillar edicts issued by Asoka were not randomly placed nor randomly ordered. They were set up to portray a particular message, with the placement and order reinforcing and strengthening this message. One edict in particular, the Bhabru Rock Edict, explains how Dhamma can be carried on throughout time. The edict, ?That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time,?

explains the idea nicely. The title of the first passage, the Vinaya samukase, explains that the principles of Buddhism are innate. They arise of their own accord, they are implicit. Moreover this means that whether or not a Buddah arises to ?rediscover? these virtues, they are valid in and of themselves. The second passage, ?The Traditions of the Noble Ones?, emphasizes the idea of time, a recurring theme throughout Asoka’s selections. It relies on the past to show how venerable, time-tested, and pure the traditions of the Dhamma are. The four discussions on ?Future Dangers? present a warning — it is imperative to practice the Dhamma as soon as one encounters it. By no means should the practice be put off because there is no guarantee that opportunities for practice will

exist in the future. These dangers can be broken down into two categories. The first set of dangers include ?death, aging, illness, famine, and social turmoil in one?s own life.? The second category of dangers centers around the ?religion? of Buddhism itself. Primarily, that Buddhism will decay or degenerate as a result of improper exercise by its practitioners. ?When those who are supposed to practice it ignore the noble traditions and teachings, and instead do many unseemly, inappropriate things simply for the sake of material comfort.? The point of these passages is to give a sense of urgency to the practice of Buddhism, so that an effort will be made to take advantage of the teachings while one can. The next passage, ?The Sage? is a poem which presents the ideal of inner

safety, ?an ideal already embodied in the lives of those who have practiced the religion in full.? It stresses that true happiness comes not from relationships, but from the peace gained in living a solitary life, existing off alms and free to meditate in the wilderness. The fifth passage, ?Sagacity? analyzes the ideal presented in ?The Sage? into three qualities; body, speech, and mind. ?Sariputta’s (Upatissa’s) Question,? the sixth passage, shows these ideals in action. Ven. Assaji ?simply by the graciousness of his manner, inspires Sariputta the wanderer to follow him; and with a few will-chosen words, he enables Sariputta to gain a glimpse of the Deathless. This is thus no empty ideal.? While the fifth passage best expresses the goal of training one?s actions in body,

speech and mind, the sixth passage contains what is considered to be the most succinct expression of the Four Noble Truths; suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. The last passage, ?Instructions to Rahula,? show how these goals may be realized by focusing on two main qualities – truthfulness and constant reflection. These qualities underlie every aspect of Buddhist practice. The idea of the passages combined is meant to inspire Asoka?s subjects. Although the early passages portray the monk as the ideal, the message as a whole show that practice in Dhamma builds upon the qualities in everyone — the lay follower and the monk; men, women and children. The message also emphasizes again the theme of time, or more appropriately, the timelessness of the

Dhamma. ?Whoever in the past, future or present develops purity — or sagacity — in thought, word or deed, will have to do it in this way, and this way only. There is no other.? Asoka?s edicts show something of the educational strategy Asoka recommended for the use of his Dhamma officials, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, to make the Dhamma a reality in their lives. Asoka?s edicts follow a pattern to impress on their listeners first that the ideals of the Dhamma are timeless and well-tested, and that there is a need to embrace them as quickly as possible. Then they analyze the ideal, present a picture of it in action, and end with the basic principles for putting it into practice. This approach matches Asoka?s three pronged approach to governing based on the Dhamma. III. The