Gem of Wisdom for Daily Reflection: 

The Meaning And Benefits Of Ordination

Khenchen Pema Sherab conducted ordination for novice monks at Namdroling Monastery in India Khenchen Pema Sherab conducted ordination for novice monks at Namdroling Monastery in India Newly ordained novice monks circumambulated the Golden Temple after the ordination ceremony

Seven years after Shakymuni Buddha attained enlightenment, the Blessed One returned to Kapilavastu, the ancient city state of the Sakya clan, where as Siddhartha Gautama, he lived until the age of twenty-nine before he renounced worldly life and departed from home. Upon his return, many members of the royal family such as his cousins Ananda and even his son Rahula joined the ordained saṅgha in Kapilavastu.

One day, the Blessed One visited the home of his younger half-brother Nanda and asked him why he has not yet joined the ordained sangha. Nanda then requested the Buddha to explain the reasons behind renouncing the worldly life of a householder. After hearing the many advantages of becoming an ordained, Nanda still felt reluctant to abandon the worldly life of a lay person. Instead he preferred to make various offerings to the Buddha and his sangha.

The Blessed One then used two analogies to illustrate the rarity of having a precious human birth and the even more rare auspicious conditions to have met the Buddha. The resulting discourse is preserved in the Nandapravrajya Sutra - The Sutra Of Nanda Renouncing Worldly Life. The following is the concise text of the Nandapravrajya Sutra:

In Sanskrit: Nandapravrajya Sutra

In Tibetan: Gawo Rabtu Jungwé Do

Homage to the Omniscient One!

Thus have I heard:

At one time, the Blessed One was staying at the Banyan Grove near Kapilavastu. One morning, accompanied by Ananda, the Blessed One went to Kapilavastu on his alms round and approached the home of Nanda. When Nanda saw from a distance that the Blessed One was approaching, he quickly prepared his house and invited the Buddha inside.

The Blessed One sat down. After prostrated at the feet of the Buddha, the noble son Nanda sat down before him.

The Blessed One asked Nanda, “Nanda, why have you not renounced worldly life?”

Nanda replied, “Blessed One, please explain to me what is meant by renouncing worldly life?”

The Blessed One then explained as follows:

“It is the absolute rejection of all non-virtues.
It is the skilful removal of attachment, aversion and ignorance.
It is the purifying of all negative emotions that converge due to the obscuration of karma that cause the arising of strife, fighting, accusations, arguing, altercation, deceit and frauds.
It is the foundation of all virtues, just as fertile earth supports the growth of crops.
It is the origin of all invaluable things.
It is the wish-granting jewel of all happiness.
It is the lofty abode of all virtues.
It is what gives support to all beings.
It is what gives reassurance to all beings.
It is what gives fearlessness to all beings.
It is the vase of inexhaustible treasures for the poor.
It is the protection for those who are defenceless.
It is the place to recuperate for those who are weary of senseless pining.
It is the distinguishing qualities of all buddhas.
It is the object of reverence of all beings.
It is the qualities praised by the sages.
It is the path of progressing towards liberation.
It is what the sages of pure conducts revered.
It is what is comply with by those beings who are suitable vessel to receive teaching.
It is what shuts the door leading to rebirth in the lower realms.
It is what opens the door leading to rebirth in the higher realms and liberation.
It is what populates the realms of the devas.
It is the remover of all sufferings.
It is the saviour of those who are shackled by the bondage of desire.
Nanda, that is what we refer to the renouncing of the worldly life.”

“It is the abode of those with the right view.
It is the true pledge to liberation.
It is the path to nirvana.
It is the dissolution of the mental continuum.
It is what eliminates the defilements of disturbing emotions.
It is what eliminates the unwholesome mental states that leads to existence of suffering.
It is what obliterates the mesh of unwholesome views.
It is what brings down the victory banner of mara.
It is what raises the victory banner of the teacher of great fortitude.
It is what turns back the wheel of samsara.
It is what exhausts the ocean of milk from the countless rebirth in samsara.
It is what demolishes the mountain of bones from the countless rebirth in samsara.
It is the termination of birth, aging, sickness and death.
It is what removes our clinging to the aggregates of mental phenomena.
It is the saviour of those who are bogged down in the mire of disturbing emotions.
It is what liberates those who are shackled by the bondage of domestic life.
It is what purifies negative feelings.
It is what annihilates doubts and the ingrained defilement of disturbing emotions.
It is what removes the dread of approaching aging and death.
It is what brings an end to the suffering of separation from our love ones.
It is the riverside of joys and intrepidity for those suffered from the torment of samsara.
It is what supports our quest of liberation from the desire realms.
It is what supports our quest of liberation from the form realms.
It is what supports our quest of liberation from the formless realms.
It is what ultimately helps us attain the supreme nirvana.
Nanda, that is what we refer to the renouncing of the worldly life.”

“It is the eye that beholds all the worlds.
It is the lamp that dispels the darkness of ignorance.
It is what cleanses the latent propensities of the mental continuum.
It is the medicine to rid the diseases caused by disturbing emotions that bind us to samsara.
It is the path of liberation to those who are deluded by the allures of samsara.
It is what makes visible the essential nature of all phenomena.
It is what unfetters us from all bondages.
It is what removes all the obscurations of ignorance.
It is what removes the unawared hindrances of craving, malice, laziness, anxiety and doubt.
It is what motivates the idler to gives rise to exertion.
It is what causes disillusion visible to those in breach of moral ethics.
It is what enchants those who have impeccable moral ethics.
It is what enchants those who are diligent in applying themselves.
It is what enchants those who enjoy remain in seclusion.
It is what enchants those who enjoy meditation.
It is the prescription for subduing disturbing emotions that bind us to samsara.
It is the cause of victory for the non-returners.
It is the abode for those who have gain freedom from the bondage of worldly life.
It is the champion for those who have no protector.
It is the source of courage for those who are easily petrified.
It is the refuge for those without the support of refuge.
It is the path to attain happiness for the victims of sufferings.
It is the path of liberation for those who are shackled to the bondage of samsara.
Nanda, that is what we refer to the renouncing of the worldly life.”

“It is revered by both gods and humans.
It is honoured by the monarchs.
It is the aspirations of all the buddhas.
It is the relinquishing of link to a domestic abode.
It is the guide to assist one’s quest to attain nirvana.
It is the shaving that removes one’s attachment to hair.
It is the saffron robe which signifies one is free from the allures of desires.
It is the behaviour of virtues which gives rise to a field of merits.
It is the victory banner of the wises.
It is the triumph which annihilates the conceits of maras.
It is what enchants both gods and humans.
Hence, Nanda, with so many advantages that come with the renouncing of the worldly life, why would you not want to do so?”

“Nanda, the blissful experience that arises from the renouncing of the worldly life is far superior to the happiness enjoyed by a universal monarch. Furthermore, favourable conditions are extremely rare to find even in a period that spans over one billion aeons, and it is even more rare to come upon the appearance of a buddha. Nanda, the sages of royal lineage, the universal monarchs, together with their retinues of queens, ministers, generals, in addition to lay people and brahmins, have all chosen the path of renunciation from the worldly life.”

The noble son Nanda replied to the Blessed One, “World-Honoured One, I prefer to remain a lay person and give offerings and venerate the Blessed One and the ordained sangha. I will provide the sangha with robes, alms, cushions, medicine and other necessities.”

The Blessed One then replied:

“If the noble sons and noble daughters were to make offerings of robes, alms, cushions, medicine and other necessities for one hundred years to as many tathagatas that would fill the three realms of the entire universe, Nanda, the resulting merits would not even equal to a sixteenth faction of merits that arise from the intention to renounce the worldly life.”

“Nanda, such favourable supporting conditions for renouncing worldly life is not easy to find. Nanda, the teacher has appeared right in front of you. Do not be a disappointment and fail to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Nanda, lets assume this entire world is one great ocean in which lived a single blind turtle, and there was a single yoke being tossed about in the waves. Nanda, what are the odds for the blind turtle to surface through the hole of the yoke even in a hundred years? Likewise, Nanda, this human birth and the favourable supporting conditions may never be found.”

“Nanda, you now have this human birth which is difficult to find, and you are blessed with the favourable conditions to free yourself from the worldly life. Nanda, the teacher has appeared right in front of you. Do not be a disappointment and fail to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Nanda, lets assume someone tosses some white mustard seeds at the eye of an upright-standing needle.  Nanda, what are the odds for a single white mustard seed to pass through the eye of the needle even in a hundred years. Likewise, Nanda, this human birth and the favourable supporting conditions may never be found.”

“Nanda, you now have this human birth which is difficult to find, and you are blessed with the favourable conditions to free yourself from worldly life. Nanda, the teacher has appeared right in front of you. Do not be a disappointment and fail to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Why is this so? If the word buddha was not even heard in ten billion aeons, in ten trillion aeons, how would it be possible to see a buddha?”

“Liken to the udumbara flower that are rare to find, a buddha is also very difficult to find. Yet you have found me!”

“Nanda, it is very difficult to find such favourable supporting conditions of renouncing the worldly life. Nanda, the teacher has appeared right in front of you. Do not be a disappointment and fail to take advantage of this opportunity.”

There and then, Nanda, the noble son, shaved off his hair and beard, donned the saffron robe, and with strong faith in the teachings of the Great Conquerer, embarked upon a journey of renouncing the worldly life.

After the Blessed One had proclaimed in this way, Venerable Ananda and the noble son Nanda, praised the words of the Blessed One.

This concluded the Nandapravrajya Sutra.

This teaching entitled ‘The Meaning And Benefits Of Ordination’ is presented here by Tenzin Gyalpo Drakpa Gyaltsen Dondrup Dorje as his homage to all the Buddhas of the three times in ten directions.