The Sutta Study Class made its debut on August 14th 2013 is now in its sixth consecutive year commenced class on February 24th 2018. It is one of the courses, the other being Buddhism in Daily Life, Abhidhamma in Daily Life and Nykaya Sharing, organised by the Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship under the education programme for those who wish to learn and practise the Dhamma without the loathsome or fervent fear of sitting for examinations. There were 126 participants who attended the class clearly signified the popularity of the course.
Practice above theory
The aim of the class is to teach the discourses or teachings of the Buddha from the Sutta Pitaka gears towards putting the Dhamma into practice in daily life rather than a par excellence academic pursuit.
“Though much he recites the Sacred Texts, but acts not accordingly, that heedless man is like a cowherd who counts others’ kine. He has no share in the fruits of the Holy Life.” (Dhp. 19)
“Though little he recites the Sacred Texts, but acts in accordance with the teachings, forsaking lust, hatred and ignorance, truly knowing, with mind well freed, clinging on naught here and hereafter, he shares the fruits of the Holy Life.” (Dhp. 20)
A Competent Teacher
Under the tutelage of an able teacher in Bhante Cakkapala who is fluent in Burmese, Pali and English as well as conversant in the Suttas Pitaka is able to elucidate salient points by making references from the commentaries and sub-commentaries. These commentaries and sub-commentaries are available in Burmese, Pali, Singha and Thai language and currently no similar English translated version available in the market. Hence, it is very difficult to understand the profound subtleties in the Buddhist scriptures without the guidance of a competent teacher.
There are, however, some Suttas translated in the English language that come with commentaries, but few in between. The only English translated commentaries that I am aware of are The Udana Commentary and The Commentary on the Itivuttaka by Peter Masefield published by The Pali Text Society. The Suttanipata together with its commentaries translated from Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi published by Wisdom Publications released in September 2017 is the latest reference manual available.
Unique Teaching Method
There are 11,813 suttas contained in the five Nikayas from the Sutta Pitaka and less than 4% or about 400 suttas are for the laypeople. (Source: The Buddha’s Teachings to Lay People. John Kelly, Equinox Publishing Ltd, UK). However, many of the suttas relevant to the monks are also applicable to the lay people. During the forty-five years of the Buddha ministry He preached His doctrines to suit the occasions and for various people with different abilities and temperament. (The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, The Supreme Buddha by Venerable Weragoda Sarada Maha Thero). Thus a single subject or topic was expounded in many ways to suit the audience, and all these pertinent and ancillary suttas are found in the five different Nikayas.
Likewise in the Sutta Study Class a pertinent sutta on the selected subject or topic is supplemented with ancillary suttas from the other Nikayas. The explanation and elaboration are further supplemented from commentaries and sub-commentaries to give a precise definition and meaning on any moot point to reflect the true teachings. The unique feature of the teaching method of the class is the inclusion of Abhidhamma as concomitant to the suttas. “Abhidhamma is interpreted as an Exception and special teaching as it is more significant than Sutta Pitaka as far as the method of treatment is concerned. It shouldn’t be understood as higher than Sutta Pitaka”, in the considered opinion of Bhante Cakkapala that will further enhance the elucidations.
New Milestone of the Sutta Study Class – Video Recording
During the preceding years MS PowerPoint slides were used during the class and the audio tracks were recorded during the presentation. Subsequently the files were uploaded to Dropbox for the attendees to download.
The collaboration with Bhante Cakkkapla to video record his lessons for the global arena was mooted almost two years ago and was he not ready then. With experience and confidence gained over the years he is now comfortable and ready to face the camera and we were glad to capitalise on the opportunity amidst favourable conditions with the debut recording of the first lesson on February 22nd 2018.
Thus, the year 2018 marked a significant milestone of the Sutta Study Class with a video recording of the first lesson of the year uploaded to YouTube and then embedded and linked to the MVDF webpage, thanks to the inventor of the “world wide web” (www), Tim Berners-Lee and the internet.
Reaching out to the global arena is imperative and it is indeed a noble deed to follow the footstep of the Buddha in spreading Buddhism for the benefit of mankind, albeit, in the modern era vide the digital platform.
“Bhikkhus, go out in all the eight directions for the mundane and supramundane welfare, prosperity and happiness of the many beings, such devas, humans and Brahmas. Let not two of you travel together for each journey, ………………………..
“Bhikkhus, teach the Dhamma that is full of virtuous qualities in all its three phases, namely, the beginning, the middle and the end; and endowed with the spirit and the letter. ……………………..
“Bhikkhus, there are many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmas, who have little dust of impurity in their eyes of wisdom. Through not hearing the Dhamma, they will suffer a great loss of the extraordinary Dhamma which is the Path and the Fruition.” (Maha Vegga, 19-20; Dii,48).
Readers may view the first recording from the hyperlink: 01. Sutta Study Class (Batch 2)
Token of Appreciation
The video recording was made possible with the effort and contributions of the dedicated crew in Brother Chan Tuck Sing who sourced and donated the webcam, Brother Yeap Cheow Soon who downloaded the driver and tested the webcam and successfully recorded the session with his laptop on loan and Brother Chin Kee Thou who mooted the idea and orchestrated it and contributed a tripod and thumb drive.
The Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship would like to accord a token of appreciation to the video recording crew.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: 26th February 2018.
The Photo Gallery is opened for your viewing pleasure.
Text and photos by Chin Kee Thou
Video recording by Brother Yeap Cheow Soon
(The contributors jointly ad severally take responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise).