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The Four Types of Practitioners

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Writer Jogye Date16 Sep 2015 Read7,195 Comment0


The Four Types of Practitioners

Punda, the son of a blacksmith, once asked, “Dear great wise sage, the awakened one, the master of wisdom, the one who is free of attachments, the supreme being of humanity, and the superior wagoner, I want to know what kinds of practitioners are in the world.” Buddha replied, “Dear Punda, there are only four types of practitioners and there is no fifth. I will tell you about them now. These are ‘masters of Do (paramita in Pali)’, ‘those who can talk about Do’, ‘those who live by Do’, and ‘those who disgrace Do’.” 

Then, the Blacksmith Punda said, “Who are you referring to, an awakened one? Why do you call him, ‘a master of Do’? Why can’t ‘the person who can talk about Do’ be compared with other people? What do you mean by ‘live by Do’? Can you elaborate more? Also, could you explain about ‘the person who disgraces Do’?

Buddha responded, “First, when I say ‘master of Do’, I mean that this kind of person can overcome their doubts, go beyond their afflictions, enjoy nirvana, renounce their greed, and also become a leader of worlds, including the world of Gods. These are the awakened ones, and they are called ‘the masters of Do’. The second is a person who understands the best in the world is the best in the world; a person who can talk about and recognize dharma; and a person who can stand firm in the midst of doubts. Out of many practitioners, this type of sage is called, ‘the person who can talk about Do’. The third are those who live by the words of Do, which is well-articulated wisdom, have excellent self-control over their words, and are careful not to engage in improper words. This kind of practitioner is called, ‘a person who lives by Do.’ Finally, the last type ‘the one who disgraces Do’ refers to people who pretend to observe the precepts (Sila, or Vinaya in Sanskrit), but are stubborn and arrogant. They disgrace their family name without any proper self-discipline, and like to talk and boast a lot. This type of person is ‘one who disgraces Do’. Lay practitioners who possess scholarly wisdom and bright intellect are aware of these four types of practitioners. Their insight doesn’t allow their firm belief to be stirred even if they appear to be different. This is because they do not worry about getting confused. They have the ability to distinguish the pure from the impure, and the tainted from the untainted.”

- Ven. Beopjung's Essay


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