Nyanaponika Thera

Advice to Rahula: Four Discourses of the Buddha

Advice to Rahula: Four Discourses of the Buddha

This book contains a collection of teachings the Buddha gave to his son Rahula. The first of the texts translated here, the Exhortation to Rāhula given at Ambalaṭṭhikā (Ambalaṭṭhikā-Rāhulovāda Sutta), was spoken by the Buddha when Rāhula was seven years old.

The discourse has two main subjects, truthfulness and mindfulness, which are indeed the corner stones for building a character and for developing the faculties of mind. 

Our second text, the Great Discourse of Exhortation to Rāhula (Mahā-Rāhulovāda-Sutta), spoken to him when he was eighteen years, chiefly contains instructions on meditation. In his 21st year, before he had completed a full year after his Higher Ordination, the Venerable Rāhula attained to the highest goal of a recluse’s life, to Sainthood (arahatta).

This occurred after the enunciation of the third text in our collection, the Shorter Discourse of exhortation (Cūḷa-Rāhulovada-Sutta) This discourse applies the three characteristics of all conditioned existence (impermanency, suffering, and not-self) to the entire realm of six-fold sense perception and all mental processes relating to it.

Our fourth text, the verses from the Sutta-Nipāta, called “Rāhula-Sutta” circumscribes in brief the life of a monk, and the thoughts and the ideals that should be foremost in a monk’s mind. These verses are, as it were, the monk’s version of the Mahā-Maṅgala-Sutta (“Blessings”).

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About Nyanaponika Thera

Nyanaponika Thera (Siegmund Feniger) was born on 21 July 1901 in Hanau, Germany. He came into contact with Buddhism early in his youth and left for Sri Lanka in 1936, where he was ordained as a novice and a year later as a monk by the famous German monk Nyanatiloka.

Interned in camps like Dehra Dun's in India, he worked intensively during the war years on translations of Pali texts. Not only as author of the now classic The Heart of Buddhist Meditation and of many other books and translations, but also as co-founder in 1958, editor and president of the Buddhist Publication Society he made a great contribution to the international dissemination of the Theravāda teachings. He died on October 19, 1994 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276