Discourse on the Lion’s Roar
“The lion, monks, the king of the jungle, comes out of his lair in the morning. Having come out of his lair, he rouses himself, and having roused himself, he surveys the four directions. Having surveyed the four directions, he roars the lion’s roar in assemblies three times. Having roared the lion’s roar three times, he goes out to his hunting ground. What is the reason?  ‘Let me cause no harm to small creatures that might cross my path!’”
“The lion, monks, is a metaphor for the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened Buddha. When the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma to an audience, this is his lion’s roar.
“These are the ten powers of a Tathāgata, monks, endowed with which he claims the place of the leading bull, roars the lion’s roar in assemblies, and sets in motion the Brahma wheel.¹ What ten?
“These are the ten powers of a Tathāgata, monks, endowed with which he claims the place of the leading bull, roars the lion’s roar in assemblies, and sets in motion the Brahma wheel.”
1. Not the Wheel of the Dhamma (Dhammacakka). The Commentary glosses that Brahma here means the chief, the ultimate, and most excellent wheel, and “cakka” is the Wheel of the Dhamma.
2. The repetitions from the following paragraphs have been removed for easier reading.
3. The law of kamma is not a doctrine of predetermination or fatalism. The Vibhaṅga (§810, Vbh 338) explains that some wholesome kammas bear no fruit due to an unfavourable rebirth while some unwholesome kammas bear no fruit due to a favourable rebirth. See, for example, the Loṇakapalla Sutta. Some unwholesome kamma gives an inevitable result, e.g. the Buddha did not intervene when Mahāmoggallāna was murdered, but some unwholesome kamma can be averted by later wholesome kamma, e.g. the Buddha intervened to prevent Aṅgulimāla from killing his own mother, and thus enabled him to gain Arahantship.
4. For example, the Buddha knew the destiny of the ascetic Korakkhatiya and tried to salvage the faith of Sunakkhatta by predicting it. Nevertheless, Sunakkhatta left the Saṅgha and lost faith in the Buddha. This story is told in the Mahāsīhanāda Sutta (M.i.168), where the Buddha again utters this lion’s roar.
5. The term element (dhātu) includes both physical and mental faculties, the five aggregates, etc.
6. As in the saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together,” living beings have a natural tendency to follow what they like, and to associate with other like-minded individuals. Some have inferior inclinations and tend to ignoble thoughts, words, and deeds while others have superior inclinations and tend to noble thoughts, words, and deeds.
7. The spiritual faculties such as faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom in different individuals varies enormously. Some are strong in faith, but weak in wisdom; others may be energetic, but lacking in concentration, etc. The Buddha understands as it really is the maturity or immaturity of any individual’s spiritual faculties, thus he knows exactly what will be the most effective teaching for them, and when to teach it. See, for example, how he made Bāhiya Dārucīriya wait until the third time of asking before teaching him as his spiritual faculties needed to come to full maturity.
8. Whereas disciples who have the power to recollect previous existences are only able to remember a limited number, the Buddha is able to remember them without any limitations if he so wishes.
9. Note, however, that it is not a hard and fast rule that all evil doers are reborn in the lower realms, or that all good doers are reborn in heaven. Refer to the Greater Discourse on the Analysis of Kamma — the Mahākammavibhaṅga Sutta. For example, Queen Mallikā did many wholesome deeds during her life, but was reborn in the lower realms after death. Aṅgulimāla did many evil deeds, but attained Arahantship and was not reborn anywhere. The passage says that evil thoughts, words, and deeds lead to rebirth in lower realms, and wholesome thoughts, words, and deeds lead to heavenly realms. Living beings generally do a great variety of wholesome and evil deeds during one life.