Concepts III - The best of carriages I

If someone does not know the characteristics of the realities that appear, as they are, and if he does not understand which cause leads to which effect, there will be wrong understanding. He will cling to wrong view; he will search for a way of practice that is the wrong path. There will be ignorance while he sees different colours and perceives different things.
We read in the Kindred Sayings (V, Maha-Vagga, Book I, XLV, Kindred Sayings on the Way, Ch. 1, §4, The Brahmin):

Savatthi was the location for this discourse…

Then the Venerable Ananda, 

robing himself in the forenoon and taking bowl and outer robe,

entered Savatthí on his begging round.

Now, the Venerable Ananda saw Janussoni, the brahmin,

driving out of Savatthí in his carriage,

drawn by pure white mares.

White were the steeds harnessed thereto and white the trappings,

white the carriage.

White were the fittings,

white the reins, the goad, the canopy,

his turban, his clothes and sandals,

and by a white fan was he fanned.

And when the people saw it they cried out,

“Ah! There is the best of carriages!

There is the best of carriages for beauty!”
Someone may just see white colour and then there can be wrong understanding if he does not know realities, and if he does not know the way to realise the truth of not self. He may look for another way to know the truth. He may have the wrong understanding that a white carriage is the best. We read further on that the Venerable Ananda, after going on his begging round, came back, ate his meal and visited the Exalted One. He told him that he had seen Janussoni in his white carriage and that the people had cried out that it was the best of carriages. Ananda asked the Buddha whether he could point out the best of carriages in the Dhamma and Discipline. The Buddha explained that the defilements could be eradicated through the development of the Eightfold Path, not by seeing a white carriage with white trappings. The best of carriages is the ariyan Eightfold Path. The Dhamma carriage is unsurpassed for its conquest in the fight. The Buddha then said the following verse:

Who so has confidence (saddha) and wisdom, these two states,

Forever yoked together lead him on:

Conscience (hiri) the pole, and mind the yoke thereof,

And heedfulness (sati) his watchful charioteer.

The carriage is furnished with righteousness (sila),

Rapture its axle, energy its wheels,

And calm, yoke fellow of the balanced mind,

Desirelessness the drapery thereof,

Goodwill and harmlessness his weapons are,

Together with detachment of the mind.

Endurance is his leathern coat of mail:

And to attain the peace this carriage rolls on.

(It is) built by oneself, (and thus it becomes)

The best of carriages, unconquerable in battle.

Seated therein the sages leave the world,

And verily they win the victory.
We can see that the white carriage and all the white paraphernalia, believed to be an auspicious sign, have nothing to do with the 'carriage' (yana) which is ariyan wisdom (nana), although it is used as an analogy.

Topic 290