DN 26 Cakkavatti-Sihanada Sutta:The Lion's roar on the turning of the wheel
The sutta literally translates to mean " The Lion's roar on the turning of the wheel". It is also known as "The wheel turning emperor sutta".
Thus have i heard. Buddha was staying at the Matula with the Magadhans when he told the monks " Monks, be islands unto yourselves, be a refuge unto yourselves with no other refuge. Let the Dhamma be your island, let the dhamma be your refuge, with no other refuge. How does a monk do so? A monk shall be mindful and contemplate the body as body, contemplate feelings as feelings, contemplate the mind as mind and contemplates the mind-objects as mind-objects. He should not have desire, ill-will and delusion but stay focused and mindful. Monks, keep to your own preserves, to your ancestral haunts. If you do so, then Mara (the evil one) will find no lodgement, no foothold. It is just by the building-up of wholesome states that this merit increases. (In the absence of temptations, good states and merit increase)"
Then buddha went on to tell them an illustration of a wheel-turning monarch called Dalhanemi. He had seven treasures : the Wheel treasure, the horse treasure, the elephant treasure, the woman treasure, the jewel treasure, the Counselor treasure and the householder treasure. He was a righteous and successful ruler.
The monarch told his man should the sacred wheel-treasure slipped from its position, he should report this matter to him. After many hundreds and thousands of years, this happened. Then King Dalhanemi told his crown prince that it was time for him to renounce the world and go into the homelessness life and instructed the crown prince to do so in future should the wheel-treasure slipped in future.
7 days after the king renounced, the sacred wheel-treasure dissapeared. Then the king told his crown prince that he must become an Ariyan wheel turner for the wheel treasure to reappear. He can do so by learning the dhamma, practice the dhamma and seek refuge in the dhamma ( Let the Dhamma be your island, let the dhamma be your refuge, with no other refuge). He told him to guard and protect his countrymen & animals, let no crime prevail and to help those in poverty. He also told him to consult the ascetics on what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, what to follow and what not to follow and follow the path to end of suffering. That he told his son is the duty of an Ariyan wheel-turning monarch.
The newly crowned king followed the wheel-treasure wherever it turned and conquer many lands with dhamma. He instructed his people on the 5 precepts : Not to steal, not to tell lies, not to kill, not to commit sexual misconduct and not to take intoxicants. The following 7 kings followed the instructions of a wheel-turning monarch and ruled with dhamma. All the 7 kings ruled over a large area of lands and people were happy as they followed the path of Ariyan wheel-turning monarchs preceding themselves.
The 8th king however did not follow the duties of a wheel-turning monarch and ruled according to his own ideas. Hence his country did not prosper and his countrymen suffered. He then seek advice from his ministers, after which he established guard and protection to his country but he did not help the poor hence poverty rife.
Because of poverty, theft rises as people start to take what was not given. After questioning the man who steal, the king gave him property in the hope to stop his stealing when he gets out from poverty. He also gave property to a second man who stole thinking if that will get them out of poverty and reduce thefts. However when his people heard that the king will give away poverty, they follow suit. This made the king think if he were to give everybody poverty, theft will increase as people will steal to get property from him so he decided to end the life of people who steal instead to punish them for their crimes. The king instructed the capital penalty and killed the criminal out in the capital streets.
This horrendous act had a vicious effect as the villagers followed the king's footsteps and used weapons to conduct more crimes like thefts and killing. Hence from not solving the poverty situation, the problem doubled up, social decline began as crimes like thefts, telling lies, harsh speech/slander/gossip, adultery, lack of respect for parents/siblings/ascetics and murders increase. The sutta continued to say that due to breaking the five precepts, social decline rapidly, there's rampant increase in crime rates; thus as a result the beauty and lifespan decreases gradually from 80,000 to 10 years. Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a "sword-interval," in which swords appear in the hands of all human beings, and they hunt one another like game. Immorality,deviant practices, greed, hatred, jealousy, envy, promiscuity and delusion prevailed hence the beauty of people and their lifespan decreases.
The sutta continues to emphasis on morality (sila), it mentioned that despite the social decline there are beings who are good and who continue to do wholesome actions and they observe the five precepts. By doing so, their lifespan increase and they maintain beauty. The five precepts are : Abstaining from taking life, abstain from stealing, abstain from harsh speech/lies, abstain from sexual misconduct and abstain from intoxicants. It further advice people to avoid the three evils: hatred, delusion and greed.
Buddha continue to say that there will be in future a King Sakya who is also wheel-turning monarch that will rule by dhamma, follow the precepts and conduct wholesome acts. Then there will come a time when an arahant, a fully enlightened buddha called Metteyya that will appear. The future buddha Metteyya will be endowed with wisdom and conduct, a Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, a teacher to gods and humans, enlightened and blessed. He will thoroughly know by his own super-knowledge, and proclaim, this universe with its devas and maras and Brahmas, its ascetics and Brahmins, and this generation with its princes and people, just as I do now. He will teach the dhamma that is lovely at the beginning, lovely in its middle and lovely in its end just as I do now, the holy life in its fullness and purity. He will also have a huge sangha and lay followers just like Buddha himself.
Then the king sakya will one day renounce, shave his heads, don on his robe and go forth from the household life into the homelessness under the supreme Buddha Metteyya. Having gone forth, he will remain alone, in seclusion, ardent, eager and resolute and before long he will attain in this very life, by his own super-knowledge and resolution, that unequaled goal of the holy life, for the sake of which young men of good family go forth from the household life into homelessness and will abide therein.
Then at this point Buddha repeated this "Monks, be islands unto yourselves, be a refuge unto yourselves with no other refuge. Let the Dhamma be your island, let the dhamma be your refuge, with no other refuge. A monk shall be mindful and contemplate the body as body, contemplate feelings as feelings, contemplate the mind as mind and contemplates the mind-objects as mind-objects. He should not have desire, ill-will and delusion but stay focused and mindful. " " If you keep to your own preserves, your own ancestral territory then you lifespan will increase, your beauty will increase, your happiness will increase, your wealth will increase and your power will increase".
Buddha: "What is the length of lifespan for a monk?". If a monk follows the noble eightfold, develops 4 roads of power which are samadhi (concentration) of intention , concentration of energy, concentration of consciousness and concentration of investigation accompanied by effort of will then he will live up to a century.
Buddha: "what is beauty for a monk?" Here, a monk practices right conduct, is restrained according to the discipline, is perfect in behaviour and habits, sees danger in the slightest fault and trains in the rules of training he has undertaken. That is beauty for a monk.
Buddha: " What is the happiness for a monk?" Over here a monk eliminates the five hindrances like sensual pleasures, ill-will, sleepiness and stupor, restlessness and skeptical doubts. He then enters into deep states of concentration at the same time developing mindfulness and insight. The monk attains 1st Jhana, second jhana, third jhana and 4th jhana. This is real happiness (bliss) for a monk.
Buddha: "What is wealth for a monk?" When a monk's heart is filled with loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity without any hatred/ill-will (the four immeasurable) . That is the wealth of a monk.
Buddha: "What is power for a monk?" When a monk destroys the corruptions or taints of craving namely craving of sensual pleasures, craving for existence and craving for non-existence, he is liberated from suffering and attain wisdom by his own super knowledge and realization. That is the power of a monk who has realized.
The Buddha then concluded with the statement that merit increases with the accumulation of wholesome actions meaning to observe the five precepts and to have sila (morality). He also mentioned that there is no power so hard to conquer as the power of Mara.
After hearing this discourse given by Buddha, the monks were delighted and rejoiced.
In summary, this sutta talks about how social decline will happen when a king does not rule virtuously. If the precepts of not to kill, no to lie, not to steal, not to conduct adultery and not to take intoxicants were not followed; then crimes will increase, lifespan and beauty of people will decrease as they are devoured by their greed, hatred, envy and delusion. But Buddha mentioned that should they be virtuous, follow what is moral, do more wholesome actions then the society will be peaceful, their merits will increase, their lifespan and beauty will improve. At the end of sutta, Buddha emphasized to the monks to let dhamma be their refuge and repeated to them the teachings and path to enlightenment through sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration/meditation) and Panna (wisdom/insight). By WHH
References: 1. www.accesstoinsight.org 2. https://suttacentral.net/ 3. The long discourses of the Buddha (Bhikkhu Bodhi)