The Glorious Sutta


Excerpt from the Maha Mangala Sutta – The Glorious Sutta

(translation and Commentary by Dr. R.L. Soni revised by Bhikkhu Khantipalo)

In life, one is plagued by desires; in Nibbana, all desires are extinguished and all clingings are nullified. In life, one lives in a forest of conflicting views and theories: in Nibbana all these vanish under the direct perception of truth, just as the dew vanishes with the direct touch of the sun’s rays.

The state of Nibbana which is supramundane (lokuttara) is beyond the power of language to describe, for words can only convey relatively true concepts. Therefore, it is beyond the power of anyone, even the Supreme Buddha to describe or define Nibbana except by using negation and occasionally more positive imagery. Hence, the Buddha has not described Nibbana at any length although he uses similes sometimes for effect.

The attainment of Nibbana is the most excellent achievement, needing a strong determination backed by strenuous endeavors in the right way. These endeavors must be patiently and perseveringly directed towards the eradication of the roots of evil bound up with life, namely lobha (greed), dosa (hatred) and moha (delusion). These evils, rooted in ignorance (avijja) generate strong fetters (samyojana) which tie beings to the painful circle of suffering, the wheel of existence, the round of birth, death and rebirth. The fetters are ten in number:

  1. belief in the permanence of personality;
  2. irrational doubts;
  3. clinging to rituals and superstitions;
  4. craving for sensual enjoyment;
  5. ill-will;
  6. craving for existence in fine-material worlds;
  7. craving for existence in worlds without material form;
  8. conceit;
  9. restlessness;
  10. ignorance.

Those possessed of all the ten fetters are termed ordinary people (puthujjana). We are those ordinary people who are in the stormy ocean of existence (samsara), feverishly twitching to the tune of sensual cravings while tightly bound to the wheel of suffering. We are prisoners in chains, chains riveted by our cravings.

The dissolution of these fetters is the highest aim of the Buddha’s teaching. Though the effort needed for this is very great, the resulting fruit is sweet beyond compare. Once the right course is found, further progress is assured. The right method is mental culture through reflection, meditation and concentration. The resulting insight (vipassana) is the solvent of all fetters, dissolving them away.

The dissolution of the first three fetters makes one a sotaapanna (stream-winner). This means success in shifting from the stormy ocean of life (samsara) to the cool and steady “stream” that unmistakably leads to Nibbana the release. This is the first stage of Nobility. With the attainment of it, one is known as an Ariya, a Noble One. In the next stage, the next two fetters are weakened and the Noble One becomes a sakadaagaamii (once-returner) to this world. The destruction of these two fetters makes the Noble One an anaagami (non-returner). Freedom from all the ten fetters makes one an arahant, a Perfect One, a Fully Liberated One. He has attained to the Highest, that is to Nibbana after death there is no more rebirth for him.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.