Greetings fellow pilgrims,
I am happy to be able to share with you one more talk in the Pilgrimage series (now just two more to go!) This reading and commentary was given at the historical site of the Jetavana monastery in Savathi, where Lord Buddha spent 18 rainy season retreats and offered thousands of enlightening teachings.
When thinking of ways to try and describe or illustrate the wonderful qualities and abilities of the Buddha, it is difficult to know where to start. So on this occasion we are going to start towards the end of Lord Buddha's life. When King Pasenadi of the Kosalan Kingdom was 80 years old, so was Lord Buddha. In this sutta that I am reading, the King has gone out of his way to pay special obeisance and demonstrates great affection for the Buddha. When the Buddha asks why such a great King should feel so much affection and respect, King Pasenadi relays the many things that he has observed that have given rise to feelings of deep respect and conviction in the goodness of the Buddha and his order. The Jetavana, Lord Buddha's main monastery was situated on the outskirts of the capital city of the Kingdom, so the king had been able to observe many wonderful phenomena over the course of several decades.
This sutta, 'The Monuments to the Dhamma' is touching in many ways. It offers great cultural insight and it also gives us a glimpse into the breadth of the Buddha's teaching and executive skills, which made such a huge impact upon society in his day, and which had so impressed the King. The 'monuments' are actually beautiful qualities and modes of behaviour, rather than physical things, which is yet another wonderful angle to reflect upon in our current materialistic age.
I hope that some of the inspiration, faith and love that the king felt then, and that myself and my fellow pilgrims felt in Savathi while considering these things, may be a source of inspiration to you too, wherever you find yourself now.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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