Great Disciples Of The Buddha – Nyanaponika Thera And Hellmuth Hecker (eng)


Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker

Edited with an Introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street
Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 USA

© Buddhist Publication Society 2003
All rights reserved.

Dai de tu phat



WHILE IN RECENT YEARS in the West oceans of ink have been expended on books dealing with the Buddha and his Teaching, the first two Jewels of Buddhism, the coverage given to the third Jewel, the Sangha, has been far from adequate. Even the meaning of the word “sangha” has been a matter of dispute, while for those without access to the original Pāli texts a dense cloud of obscurity still hangs over the Buddha’s original nucleus of disciples. This gap is all the more glaring because the very measure of the Buddha’s success as a spiritual teacher is to be determined by his skill in training his disciples.

The canonical verse of homage to the Buddha hails him as “the unsurpassed trainer of persons to be tamed,” and thus the acid test for the validity of this claim must be the mettle of the men and women who submitted to his guidance. Just as the sun is valued not only for its own intrinsic radiance but also for its ability to illuminate the world, so the brilliance of the Buddha as a spiritual master is determined not only by the clarity of his Teaching but by his ability to illuminate those who came to him for refuge and to make them luminaries in their own right. Without a community of disciples to testify to its transformative power, the Teaching, the Dhamma, would be merely a package of doctrines and formal practices, admirably lucid and intellectually rigorous, but remote from vital human concerns. The Dhamma comes to life only to the extent that it touches life, ennobling its followers and turning them into models of wisdom, compassion, and purity.