Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Ye dharma (Formula)

Ye dharma Hetu (Formula) | Inscriptions, Backs of Paintings

Ye Dharma Hetu Formula:

“What does the venerable one’s master teach, what does he proclaim?”
Questioned thus, the Elder *Assaji thought to himself: “These wandering ascetics are opposed to the Buddha’s teaching. I shall show him how profound this teaching is.” So he said: “I am but new to the training, friend. It is not long since I went forth from home, and I came but recently to this doctrine and discipline. I cannot explain the Dhamma in detail to you.”

The wanderer replied: “I am called Upatissa (Shariputra), friend. Please tell me according to your ability, be it much or little. It will be my task to penetrate its meaning by way of a hundred or a thousand methods.” And he added:

Be it little or much that you can tell,
The meaning only, please proclaim to me!
To know the meaning is my sole desire;
Of no use to me are many words.

In response, the Elder Assaji uttered this stanza:

Of those things that arise from a cause,
The Tathagata has told the cause,
And also what their cessation is:
This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse.

(Ye dhamma hetuppabhava
Tesam hetum tathagato aha,
Tesan ca yo nirodho
Evamvadi mahasamano).

Upon hearing the first two lines, there arose in the wanderer Upatissa the dust-free, stainless vision of the Dhamma--the first glimpse of the Deathless, the path of stream entry--and to the ending of the last two lines he already listened as a stream-enterer.

At once he knew: “here the means of deliverance is to be found!” And he said to the elder: “do not enlarge upon this exposition of the Dhamma, venerable sir. This much will suffice.”

(Great Disciples of the Buddha, their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy. Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker. Edited with an Introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1997. Page 7-8).

*Assaji: one of the first five monks.

HAR Team [updated 12-2018]