The term “shravaka“ can be translated as “disciple“. The word implies “one who hears or heeds“ and also “one who speaks, expresses“. So, from this we can see what is the role of the disciple. The disciple is one who
- hears the Dharma,
- receives the Dharma,
- teaches the Dharma,
- transmits the Dharma.
These four aspects of living the life of the disciple are worth reflecting upon.
The disciple hears the Dharma. Shravaka can simply mean “one who listens “, one who listens attentively, who receives the Dharma. If you are the disciple of a teacher, then you listen to the teachings given by that teacher. You receive the Dharma in the form that that teacher imparts it. Although the Dharma itself is immutable, eternal, and so on, it has to find a form in order to be transmitted and each teacher will have his or her style and way of presentation.
So, the shravaka receives that; and when we say “receive”, to receive is more that just hearing. So, first there is hearing, but then truly receiving, because to truly receive that teaching is to then put it into practice. When one is putting the Dharma into practice then one has received it in a true sense.
If one has received it, one is putting it into practice, it is part of one’s life. It is one’s life. It becomes the core of one’s life. Then naturally, it is being expressed. It is being expressed formally when one gives a lecture or a talk, but it is being expressed in everything else, in one’s …. even in one’s casual conversation or in one’s daily work or the activities of the day, then that Dharma is being expressed. Of course, the actual form that it then takes in the life of the shravaka will be somewhat different from the form that it had in the life of the teacher. That is due to difference of personality, circumstance and so on. In this way the form transmutes, even though the essence remains the same. If one has received the essence, then it expresses itself naturally in the life; and when it expresses itself naturally in the life, this is also a communication.
So, the disciple, the shravaka, hears the Dharma, receives the Dharma and expresses, teaches, passes on the Dharma, and when there is the opportunity to teach in a more formal sense, then the shravaka does so, but, in any case, shravakas are bringing people to the Dharma simply by the way they live, simply by the alacrity of their life, by the light that is now in their life, that has been put there by this process.
And, when the shravaka has expressed the Dharma and thereby brought others to the Dharma, and those others then receive the Dharma and put it into practice in their lives, then we can talk about the Dharma having been transmitted.
So, we have these four stages:
- to hear the Dharma
- to receive the Dharma
- to express the Dharma and
- to transmit the Dharma
And this is what is meant by a shravaka. A shravaka is one who does these four things; and this is not really so much a contrivance as just a description of a natural process of something that happens quite automatically when one’s heart is touched by the Dharma.
This is the life of the disciple.
Namo Amida Bu
Thank you very much