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MN 101 From… Devadaha Sutta: At Devadaha

[Note: Today’s selection is the first half of a much longer sutta. It deals directly with misunderstandings about actions and their results, so try to read as much as you can.]

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Sakyans. Now the Sakyans have a city named Devadaha, and there the Blessed One addressed the monks: “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “Monks, there are some contemplatives & brahmans who teach in this way, who have this view: ‘Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.’ Such is the teaching of the Nigaṇṭhas.

“Going to Nigaṇṭhas who teach in this way, I have asked them, ‘Is it true, friend Nigaṇṭhas, that you teach in this way, that you have this view: “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted”?’

“Having been asked this by me, the Nigaṇṭhas admitted it, ‘Yes.’

“So I said to them, ‘But friends, do you know that you existed in the past, and that you did not not exist?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘And do you know that you did evil actions in the past, and that you did not not do them?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘And do you know that you did such-and-such evil actions in the past?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘And do you know that so-and-so much stress has been exhausted, or that so-and-so much stress remains to be exhausted, or that with the exhaustion of so-and-so much stress all stress will be exhausted?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘But do you know what is the abandoning of unskillful qualities and the attainment of skillful qualities in the here & now?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘So, friends, it seems that you don’t know that you existed in the past, and that you did not not exist… you don’t know what is the abandoning of unskillful qualities and the attainment of skillful qualities in the here & now. That being the case, it is not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.”

“‘If, however, you knew that you existed in the past, and that you did not not exist; if you knew that you did evil actions in the past, and that you did not not do them; if you knew that you did such-and-such evil actions in the past; you don’t know that so-and-so much stress has been exhausted, or that so-and-so much stress remains to be exhausted, or that with the exhaustion of so-and-so much stress all stress will be exhausted; if you knew what is the abandoning of unskillful qualities and the attainment of skillful qualities in the here & now, then—that being the case—it would be proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.”

“‘Friend Nigaṇṭhas, it’s as if a man were shot with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. As a result of being shot with the arrow, he would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon. The surgeon would cut around the opening of the wound with a knife. As a result of the surgeon’s cutting around the opening of the wound with a knife, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would probe for the arrow with a probe. As a result of the surgeon’s probing for the arrow with a probe, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would then pull out the arrow. As a result of the surgeon’s pulling out the arrow, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. The surgeon would then apply a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound. As a result of the surgeon’s applying a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound, the man would feel fierce, sharp, racking pains. But then at a later time, when the wound had healed and was covered with skin, he would be well & happy, free, master of himself, able to go wherever he liked. The thought would occur to him, “Before, I was shot with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. As a result of being shot with the arrow, I felt fierce, sharp, racking pains. My friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives provided me with a surgeon… The surgeon cut around the opening of the wound with a knife… probed for the arrow with a probe… pulled out the arrow… applied a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound. As a result of his applying a burning medicine to the mouth of the wound, I felt fierce, sharp, racking pains. But now that the wound is healed and covered with skin, I am well & happy, free, master of myself, able to go wherever I like.”

“‘In the same way, friend Nigaṇṭhas, if you knew that you existed in the past, and that you did not not exist… if you knew what is the abandoning of unskillful qualities and the attainment of skillful qualities in the here & now, then—that being the case—it would be proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.” But because you do not know that you existed in the past… you do not know what is the abandoning of unskillful qualities and the attainment of skillful qualities in the here & now, then—that being the case—it is not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.”

“When this was said, the Nigaṇṭhas said to me, ‘Friend, the Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta [the leader of the Nigaṇṭhas] is all-knowing, all-seeing, and claims total knowledge & vision thus: “Whether I am walking or standing, sleeping or awake, knowledge & vision are continuously & continually established in me.” He has told us, “Nigaṇṭhas, there are evil actions that you have done in the past. Exhaust them with these painful austerities. When in the present you are restrained in body, restrained in speech, and restrained in mind, that is the non-doing of evil action for the future. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.” We approve of that (teaching), prefer it, and are gratified by it.’

“When this was said, I said to the Nigaṇṭhas, ‘Friend Nigaṇṭhas, there are five things that can turn out in two ways in the here & now. Which five? Conviction, liking, unbroken tradition, reasoning by analogy, & an agreement through pondering views. These are the five things that can turn out in two ways in the here & now. That being the case, what kind of conviction do you have for your teacher with regard to the past? What kind of liking? What kind of unbroken tradition? What kind of reasoning by analogy? What kind of agreement through pondering views?’ But when I said this, I did not see that the Nigaṇṭhas had any legitimate defense of their teaching.

“So I asked them further, ‘Friend Nigaṇṭhas, what do you think? When there is fierce striving, fierce exertion, do you feel fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment? And when there is no fierce striving, no fierce exertion, do you feel no fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment?’

“‘Yes, friend…’

“‘… Then it’s not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.”

“‘If it were the case that when there was fierce striving, fierce exertion, you felt fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment; and when there was no fierce striving, no fierce exertion, you still felt fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment, then—that being the case—it would be proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.” But because when there is fierce striving, fierce exertion, you feel fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment; and when there was no fierce striving, no fierce exertion, you feel no fierce, sharp, racking pains from harsh treatment, then—that being the case—it is not proper for you to assert that, “Whatever a person experiences—pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain—all is caused by what was done in the past. Thus, with the destruction of old actions through asceticism, and with the non-doing of new actions, there will be no flow into the future. With no flow into the future, there is the ending of action. With the ending of action, the ending of stress. With the ending of stress, the ending of feeling. With the ending of feeling, all suffering & stress will be exhausted.”’ But when I said this, I did not see that the Nigaṇṭhas had any legitimate defense of their teaching.

“So I asked them further, ‘Friend Nigaṇṭhas, what do you think? Can an action to be experienced in the here & now be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced in the future life?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘Can an action to be experienced in the future life be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced in the here & now?’

“‘No, friend.’

“What do you think? Can an action to be experienced as pleasure be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced as pain?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘Can an action to be experienced as pain be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced as pleasure?’

“‘No, friend.’

“What do you think? Can an action ripe to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action not ripe to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘Can an action not ripe to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action ripe to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“What do you think? Can an action greatly to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action barely to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘Can an action barely to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action greatly to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“What do you think? Can an action to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action not to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘Can an action not to be experienced be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced?’

“‘No, friend.’

“‘So, friends, it seems that an action to be experienced in the here & now cannot be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced in the future life. An action to be experienced in the future life cannot be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced in the here & now.… An action to be experienced cannot be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action not to be experienced. An action not to be experienced cannot be turned, through striving & exertion, into an action to be experienced. That being the case, the striving of the Nigaṇṭhas is fruitless, their exertion is fruitless.’

“Such is the teaching of the Nigaṇṭhas. And, such being the teaching of the Nigaṇṭhas, ten legitimate deductions can be drawn that give grounds for censuring them.

“[1] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on what was done in the past, then obviously the Nigaṇṭhas have done bad things in the past, which is why they now feel such fierce, sharp, racking pains.

“[2] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on the creative act of a supreme god, then obviously the Nigaṇṭhas have been created by an evil supreme god, which is why they now feel such fierce, sharp, racking pains.

“[3] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on sheer luck, then obviously the Nigaṇṭhas have evil luck, which is why they now feel such fierce, sharp, racking pains.

“[4] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on birth, then obviously the Nigaṇṭhas have had an evil birth, which is why they now feel such fierce, sharp, racking pains.

“[5] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on efforts in the here & now, then obviously the Nigaṇṭhas have evil efforts in the here & now, which is why they now feel such fierce, sharp, racking pains.

“[6] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on what was done in the past, the Nigaṇṭhas deserve censure. Even if not, they still deserve censure.

“[7] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on the creative act of a supreme god, the Nigaṇṭhas deserve censure. Even if not, they still deserve censure.

“[8] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on sheer luck, the Nigaṇṭhas deserve censure. Even if not, they still deserve censure.

“[9] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on birth, the Nigaṇṭhas deserve censure. Even if not, they still deserve censure.

“[10] If beings experience pleasure & pain based on efforts in the here & now, the Nigaṇṭhas deserve censure. Even if not, they still deserve censure.

“Such is the teaching of the Nigaṇṭhas, monks. And, such being the teaching of the Nigaṇṭhas, these ten legitimate deductions can be drawn that give grounds for censuring them. This is how striving is fruitless, how exertion is fruitless.

“And how is striving fruitful, how is exertion fruitful? There is the case where a monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated on that pleasure. He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the fabrication of exertion is exhausted, and the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the development of equanimity is exhausted.

Suppose that a man is in love with a woman, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. He sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks? As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise in him?”

“Yes, lord. Why is that? Because he is in love with her, his mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion.…”

“Now suppose the thought were to occur to him, ‘I am in love with this woman, my mind ensnared with fierce desire, fierce passion. When I see her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, then sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise within me. Why don’t I abandon my desire & passion for that woman?’ So he abandons his desire & passion for that woman, and afterwards sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks? As he sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair arise in him?”

“No, lord. Why is that? He is dispassionate toward that woman.…”

“In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that ‘When I exert a [physical, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the fabrication of exertion is exhausted, and the stress coming from the cause of stress where there is dispassion from the development of equanimity is exhausted.

“And further, the monk notices this: ‘When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don’t I exert myself with stress & pain?’ So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain. That is why, at a later time, he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain.

“Suppose a fletcher were to heat & warm an arrow shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Then at a later time he would no longer heat & warm the shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was heating & warming the shaft. That is why at a later time he would no longer heat & warm the shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable.

“In the same way, the monk notices this: ‘When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don’t I exert myself with stress & pain?’ So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain. That is why, at a later time, he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain.

“This is how striving is fruitful, how exertion is fruitful.…


Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 101 Devadaha Sutta. At Devadahaby Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

Ud 4.8 Sundarī Sutta: Sundarī

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time the Blessed One was worshipped, revered, honored, venerated, and given homage–a recipient of robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick. The community of monks was also worshipped, revered, honored, venerated, and given homage–a recipient of robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick. But the wanderers of other sects were not worshipped, revered, honored, venerated, or given homage; nor were they recipients of robes, alms food, lodgings, or medicinal requisites for the sick.

So the wanderers of other sects–unable to stand the veneration given to the Blessed One and the community of monks–went to Sundarī the female wanderer and, on arrival, said to her, “Sundarī, would you dare to do something for the benefit of your kinsmen?”

“What shall I do, masters? What can I not do? I have given up even my life for the benefit of my kinsmen!”

“In that case, sister, go often to Jeta’s Grove.”

Responding, “As you say, masters,” to those wanderers of other sects, Sundarī the female wanderer went often to Jeta’s Grove. When the wanderers of other sects knew that many people had seen Sundarī the female wanderer going often to Jeta’s Grove, then–having murdered her and buried her right there in the moat-ditch surrounding Jeta’s Grove–they went to King Pasenadi Kosala and, on arrival, said to him, “Great king, we can’t find Sundarī the female wanderer.”

“But where do you suspect she is?”

“At Jeta’s Grove, great king.”

“Then in that case, search Jeta’s Grove.”

Then those wanderers of other sects, having searched Jeta’s Grove, having dug up what they had buried in the surrounding moat-ditch, having mounted it on a litter, took it into Sāvatthī and went from street to street, crossroad to crossroad, stirring up people’s indignation: “See, masters, the handiwork of the Sakyan-son contemplatives. They’re shameless, these Sakyan-son contemplatives: unvirtuous, evil-natured, liars, unholy, though they claim to be practicing the Dhamma, practicing what is harmonious, practicing the holy life, speakers of the truth, virtuous, fine-natured. They have no quality of a contemplative, no holy quality. Destroyed is their quality of a contemplative! Destroyed is their holy quality! From where is their quality of a contemplative? From where, their holy quality? Gone are they from any quality of a contemplative! Gone from any holy quality! How can a man, having done a man’s business with a woman, take her life?”

So on that occasion, people seeing monks in Sāvatthī would insult, revile, irritate, & harass them with discourteous, abusive language: “They’re shameless, these Sakyan-son contemplatives: unvirtuous, evil-natured, liars, unholy, though they claim to be practicing the Dhamma, practicing what is harmonious, practicing the holy life, speakers of the truth, virtuous, fine-natured. They have no quality of a contemplative, no holy quality. Destroyed is their quality of a contemplative! Destroyed is their holy quality! From where is their quality of a contemplative? From where, their holy quality? Gone are they from any quality of a contemplative! Gone from any holy quality! How can a man, having done a man’s business with a woman, take her life?”

Then, early in the morning, a large number of monks adjusted their under robes and–carrying their bowls & robes–went into Sāvatthī for alms. Then, having gone for alms in Sāvatthī, after the meal, returning from their alms round, they went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there they said to the Blessed One, “At present, lord, people seeing monks in Sāvatthī insult, revile, irritate, & harass them with discourteous, abusive language: ‘They’re shameless, these Sakyan-son contemplatives: unvirtuous, evil-natured, liars, unholy…. How can a man, having done a man’s business with a woman, take her life?’”

“Monks, this noise will not last long. It will last only seven days. With the passing of seven days, it will disappear. So in that case, when those people, on seeing monks, insult, revile, irritate, & harass them with discourteous, abusive language, counter their accusation with this verse:

“He goes to hell,
the one who asserts
what didn’t take place,
as does the one
who, having done,
says, ‘I didn’t.’
Both–low-acting people–
there become equal:
after death, in the world beyond.”

So, having learned this verse in the Blessed One’s presence, the monks–whenever people, on seeing monks in Sāvatthī, insulted, reviled, irritated, & harassed them with discourteous, abusive language–countered the accusation with this verse:

“He goes to hell,
the one who asserts
what didn’t take place,
as does the one
who, having done,
says, ‘I didn’t.’
Both–low-acting people–
there become equal:
after death, in the world beyond.”

The thought occurred to those people, “They’re innocent, these Sakyan-son contemplatives. It wasn’t done by them. They’re taking an oath, these Sakyan-son contemplatives.” And so that noise didn’t last long. It lasted only seven days. With the passing of seven days, it disappeared.

Then a large number of monks went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to him, “It’s amazing, lord. It’s astounding–how well-said that was by the Blessed One: ‘Monks, this noise will not last long. It will last only seven days. With the passing of seven days, it will disappear.’ Lord, that noise has disappeared.”

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

They stab with their words
–people unrestrained–
as they do, with arrows,
a tusker gone into battle.
Hearing abusive words spoken,
one should endure them:
a monk with unbothered mind.


Read this translation of Udāna 4.8 Sundarī Sutta. Sundarī by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, or Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Srpski, Español, Bahasa Indonesia, Italiano, 日本語, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Nederlands, Norsk, Português, Русский, or සිංහල. Learn how to find your language.

Ud 8.7 Dvidhapatha Sutta: A Fork in the Path

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was journeying along a road in the Kosalan country with Ven. Nāgasamāla as his junior companion. Ven. Nāgasamāla, while going along the road, saw a fork in the path. On seeing it, he said to the Blessed One, “That, lord Blessed One, is the route. We go that way.” When this was said, the Blessed One said, “This, Nāgasamāla, is the route. We go this way.”

A second time… A third time, Ven. Nāgasamāla said to the Blessed One, “That, lord Blessed One, is the route. We go that way.” And for a third time, the Blessed One said, “This, Nāgasamāla, is the route. We go this way.”

Then Ven. Nāgasamāla, placing the Blessed One’s bowl & robes right there on the ground, left, saying, “This, lord Blessed One, is the bowl & robes.”

Then as Ven. Nāgasamāla was going along that route, thieves–jumping out in the middle of the road–pummeled him with their fists & feet, broke his bowl, and ripped his outer robe to shreds.

So Ven. Nāgasamāla–with his bowl broken, his outer robe ripped to shreds–went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “Just now, lord, as I was going along that route, thieves jumped out in the middle of the road, pummeled me with their fists & feet, broke my bowl, and ripped my outer robe to shreds.”

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

When traveling together,
mixed together
with a person who doesn’t know,
an attainer-of-wisdom,
on realizing that the person is evil,
abandons him
as a milk-feeding heron,
a bog.


Read this translation of Udāna 8.7 Dvidhapatha Sutta. A Fork in the Path by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, or Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Srpski, Español, Bahasa Indonesia, Italiano, 日本語, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Nederlands, Norsk, Português, Русский, or සිංහල. Learn how to find your language.

AN 9.41 Tapussa Sutta: To Tapussa (On Renunciation)

[Note: Some of the weekend selections this month will be much longer than usual so that we can learn more about the Buddha and his path to enlightenment. In this sutta the Buddha talks about his own experience with meditation before his enlightenment. There is a lot of repetition, so if you are short of time skimming is better than not reading at all.]

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Mallans near a Mallan town named Uruvelakappa. Then early in the morning the Blessed One—having adjusted his lower robe and carrying his bowl & outer robe—went into Uruvelakappa for alms. Having gone into Uruvelakappa for alms, after his meal, on his return from his alms round, he said to Ven. Ānanda, “Stay right here, Ānanda, while I go into the Great Forest for the day’s abiding.”

“As you say, lord,” Ven. Ānanda responded to him.

Then the Blessed One went into the Great Forest and sat down at the root of a certain tree for the day’s abiding.

Then Tapussa the householder went to Ven. Ānanda and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. Ānanda: “Venerable Ānanda, sir, we are householders who indulge in sensuality, delight in sensuality, enjoy sensuality, rejoice in sensuality. For us—indulging in sensuality, delighting in sensuality, enjoying sensuality, rejoicing in sensuality—renunciation seems like a sheer drop-off. Yet I’ve heard that in this Dhamma & Vinaya the hearts of the very young monks leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. So right here is where this Dhamma & Vinaya is contrary to the great mass of people: i.e., (this issue of) renunciation.”

“This calls for a talk, householder. Let’s go see the Blessed One. Let’s approach him and, on arrival, tell him this matter. However he explains it to us, we will bear it in mind.”

“As you say, sir,” Tapussa the householder responded to Ven. Ānanda.

Then Ven. Ānanda, together with Tapussa the householder, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there Ven. Ānanda said to the Blessed One: “Tapussa the householder, here, has said to me, ‘Venerable Ānanda, sir, we are householders who indulge in sensuality, delight in sensuality, enjoy sensuality, rejoice in sensuality. For us—indulging in sensuality, delighting in sensuality, enjoying sensuality, rejoicing in sensuality—renunciation seems like a sheer drop-off. Yet I’ve heard that in this Dhamma & Vinaya the hearts of the very young monks leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. So right here is where this Dhamma & Vinaya is contrary to the great mass of people: i.e., (this issue of) renunciation.’”

“So it is, Ānanda. So it is. Even I myself, before my self-awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, thought: ‘Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.’ But my heart didn’t leap up at renunciation, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn’t leap up at renunciation, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘I haven’t seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven’t pursued (that theme). I haven’t understood the reward of renunciation; I haven’t familiarized myself with it. That’s why my heart doesn’t leap up at renunciation, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.’

[1] “Then the thought occurred to me: ‘If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation, I were to familiarize myself with it, there’s the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace.’

“So at a later time, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. Then, quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with sensuality that beset me was an affliction for me.

[2] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I were to enter & remain in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.’ But my heart didn’t leap up at being without directed thought, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn’t leap up at being without directed thought, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘I haven’t seen the drawback of directed thought; I haven’t pursued that theme. I haven’t understood the reward of being without directed thought; I haven’t familiarized myself with it. That’s why my heart doesn’t leap up at being without directed thought, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.’

“Then the thought occurred to me: ‘If, having seen the drawback of directed thought, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of being without directed thought, I were to familiarize myself with it, there’s the possibility that my heart would leap up at being without directed thought, grow confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace.’

“So at a later time, having seen the drawback of directed thought, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of being without directed thought, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at being without directed thought, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with directed thought. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with directed thought that beset me was an affliction for me.

[3] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the fading of rapture, I were to remain equanimous, mindful, & alert, to sense pleasure with the body, and to enter & remain in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, “Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding”?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at being without rapture, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of rapture, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of being without rapture, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at being without rapture, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the fading of rapture, I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, sensed pleasure with the body, and entered & remained in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with rapture. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with rapture that beset me was an affliction for me.

[4] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—I were to enter & remain in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at being without the pleasure of equanimity, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the pleasure of equanimity, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at neither-pleasure-nor-pain, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—I entered & remained in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with equanimity that beset me was an affliction for me.

[5] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the complete transcending of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not attending to perceptions of multiplicity, (perceiving,) “Infinite space,” I were to enter & remain in the dimension of the infinitude of space?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at the dimension of the infinitude of space, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of forms, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of the dimension of the infinitude of space, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at the dimension of the infinitude of space, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the complete transcending of perceptions of (physical) form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not attending to perceptions of multiplicity, (perceiving,) ‘Infinite space,’ I entered & remained in the dimension of the infinitude of space.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with forms. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with forms that beset me was an affliction for me.

[6] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, (perceiving,) “Infinite consciousness,” I were to enter & remain in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the dimension of the infinitude of space, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, (perceiving,) ‘Infinite consciousness,’ I entered & remained in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of space. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of space that beset me was an affliction for me.

[7] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, (perceiving,) “There is nothing,” I were to enter & remain in the dimension of nothingness?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at the dimension of nothingness, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of the dimension of nothingness, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at the dimension of nothingness, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, (perceiving,) ‘There is nothing,’ I entered & remained in the dimension of nothingness.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness that beset me was an affliction for me.

[8] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if I, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, were to enter & remain in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.… So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the dimension of nothingness, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, I entered & remained in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

As I remained there, I was beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of nothingness. That was an affliction for me. Just as pain arises as an affliction for a healthy person, even so the attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of nothingness that beset me was an affliction for me.

[9] “The thought occurred to me: ‘What if I, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, were to enter & remain in the cessation of perception & feeling?’ But my heart didn’t leap up at the cessation of perception & feeling, didn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn’t leap up at the cessation of perception & feeling, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘I haven’t seen the drawback of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; I haven’t pursued that theme. I haven’t understood the reward of the cessation of perception & feeling; I haven’t familiarized myself with it. That’s why my heart doesn’t leap up at the cessation of perception & feeling, doesn’t grow confident, steadfast, or released, seeing it as peace.’

“Then the thought occurred to me: ‘If, having seen the drawback of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of the cessation of perception & feeling, I were to familiarize myself with it, there’s the possibility that my heart would leap up at the cessation of perception & feeling, grow confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace.’

“So at a later time, having seen the drawback of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of the cessation of perception & feeling, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at the cessation of perception & feeling, grew confident, steadfast, & released, seeing it as peace. With the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, I entered & remained in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as I saw (that) with discernment, effluents were completely ended.

“Ānanda, as long as I had not attained & emerged from these nine step-by-step dwelling-attainments in forward & backward order in this way, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, in this generation with its contemplatives & brahmans, its royalty & commonfolk. But as soon as I had attained & emerged from these nine step-by-step dwelling-attainments in forward & backward order in this way, then I did claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, in this generation with its contemplatives & brahmans, its royalty & commonfolk. Knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 9.41 Tapussa Sutta. To Tapussa (On Renunciation) by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Ud 4.4 Juñha Sutta: Moonlit

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rājagaha at the Bamboo Forest, the Squirrels’ Sanctuary. And on that occasion Ven. Sāriputta and Ven. Mahā Moggallāna were staying in Pigeon Cave. Then, on a moonlit night, Ven. Sāriputta–his head newly shaven–was sitting in the open air, having attained a certain level of concentration.

And on that occasion two yakkhas who were companions were flying from north to south on some business or other. They saw Ven. Sāriputta–his head newly shaven–sitting in the open air. Seeing him, the first yakkha said to the second, “I’m inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head.”

When this was said, the second yakkha said to the first, “Enough of that, my good friend. Don’t lay a hand on the contemplative. He’s an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might.”

A second time, the first yakkha said to the second, “I’m inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head.”

A second time, the second yakkha said to the first, “Enough of that, my good friend. Don’t lay a hand on the contemplative. He’s an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might.”

A third time, the first yakkha said to the second, “I’m inspired to give this contemplative a blow on the head.”

A third time, the second yakkha said to the first, “Enough of that, my good friend. Don’t lay a hand on the contemplative. He’s an outstanding contemplative, of great power & great might.”

Then the first yakkha, ignoring the second yakkha, gave Ven. Sāriputta a blow on the head. And with that blow he might have knocked over an elephant seven or eight cubits tall, or split a great rocky crag. But right there the yakkha–yelling, “I’m burning!”–fell into the Great Hell.

Now, Ven. Moggallāna–with his divine eye, pure and surpassing the human–saw the yakkha give Ven. Sāriputta a blow on the head. Seeing this, he went to Ven. Sāriputta and, on arrival, said to him, “I hope you are well, friend Sāriputta. I hope you are comfortable. I hope you are feeling no pain.”

“I am well, friend Moggallāna. I am comfortable. But I do have a slight headache.”

“How amazing, friend Sāriputta! How astounding! How great your power & might! Just now a yakkha gave you a blow on the head. So great was that blow that he might have knocked over an elephant seven or eight cubits tall, or split a great rocky crag. But all you say is this: ‘I am well, friend Moggallāna. I am comfortable. But I do have a slight headache’!”

“How amazing, friend Moggallāna! How astounding! How great your power & might! Where you saw a yakkha just now, I didn’t even see a dust devil!”

The Blessed One–with the divine ear-property, pure and surpassing the human–heard those two great beings conversing in this way. Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Whose mind, standing like rock,
doesn’t shake,
dispassionate for things that spark passion,
unprovoked by things that spark provocation:
When one’s mind is developed like this,
from where can there come to him
suffering & stress?


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Ud 3.4 Sāriputta Sutta: Sāriputta

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. And on that occasion Ven. Sāriputta was sitting not far from the Blessed One, his legs crossed, his body held erect, having set mindfulness to the fore. The Blessed One saw Ven. Sāriputta sitting not far away, his legs crossed, his body held erect, having set mindfulness to the fore.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

As a mountain of rock
is unwavering, well-settled,
so a monk whose delusion is ended
doesn’t quiver–
just like a mountain.


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AN 3.88 Sekhin Sutta (2): One in Training

“Monks, this recitation of more than 150 training rules comes every fortnight, in reference to which sons of good families desiring the goal train themselves. There are these three trainings under which all that is gathered. Which three? The training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened mind, the training in heightened discernment. These are the three trainings under which all that is gathered.

“There is the case where a monk is wholly accomplished in virtue, moderately accomplished in concentration, and moderately accomplished in discernment. With reference to the lesser and minor training rules, he falls into offenses and rehabilitates himself. Why is that? Because I have not declared that to be a disqualification in these circumstances. But as for the training rules that are basic to the holy life and proper to the holy life, he is one of permanent virtue, one of steadfast virtue. Having undertaken them, he trains in reference to the training rules.

“With the ending of (the first) three fetters, he is one who has seven more times at most. Having transmigrated and wandered on among devas and human beings, he will put an end to stress.

“(Or) he is one going from good family to good family [i.e., rebirth in the human realm or any of the deva realms]. Having transmigrated and wandered on among two or three good families, he will put an end to stress.

“(Or) he is one with one seed. Having arisen only once more in the human realm, he will put an end to stress.

“(Or), with the ending of (the first) three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, & delusion, he is a once-returner who—on returning only once more to this world—will put an end to stress.

“There is the case where a monk is wholly accomplished in virtue, wholly accomplished in concentration, and moderately accomplished in discernment. With reference to the lesser and minor training rules, he falls into offenses and rehabilitates himself. Why is that? Because I have not declared that to be a disqualification in these circumstances. But as for the training rules that are basic to the holy life and proper to the holy life, he is one of permanent virtue, one of steadfast virtue. Having undertaken them, he trains in reference to the training rules.

“With the ending of the five lower fetters, he is one going upstream to the Peerless [the Akaniṭṭha heaven, the highest of the Pure Abodes].

“(Or), with the ending of the five lower fetters, he is one unbound with fabrication (of exertion).

“(Or), with the ending of the five lower fetters, he is one unbound without fabrication (of exertion).

“(Or), with the ending of the five lower fetters, he is one unbound on arrival (in a Pure Abode).

“(Or), with the ending of the five lower fetters, he is one unbound in between.

“There is the case where a monk is wholly accomplished in virtue, wholly accomplished in concentration, wholly accomplished in discernment. With reference to the lesser and minor training rules, he falls into offenses and rehabilitates himself. Why is that? Because I have not declared that to be a disqualification in these circumstances. But as for the training rules that are basic to the holy life and proper to the holy life, he is one of permanent virtue, one of steadfast virtue. Having undertaken them, he trains in reference to the training rules. With the ending of effluents, he dwells in the effluent-free awareness-release and discernment-release, having directly known and realized them for himself right in the here-and-now.

“Those who are partially accomplished attain a part; those who are wholly accomplished, the whole. The training rules, I tell you, are not in vain.”


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Dhp 54–56 From… Pupphavagga: Blossoms

No flower’s scent
goes against the wind–
     not sandalwood,
          jasmine,
          tagara.

But the scent of the good
does go against the wind.
The person of integrity
wafts a scent
in every direction.

Sandalwood, tagara,
lotus, & jasmine:
     among these scents,
     the scent of virtue
     is unsurpassed.

Next to nothing, this scent
–sandalwood, tagara–
while the scent of virtuous conduct
wafts to the devas,
     supreme.


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AN 8.39 Abhisanda Sutta: Bonanzas

“Monks, there are these eight bonanzas of merit, rewards of skillfulness, nourishments of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing, to welfare & happiness. Which eight?

“There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones has gone to the Buddha for refuge. This is the first bonanza of merit, bonanza of skillfulness, nourishment of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing; to welfare & to happiness.

“And further, the disciple of the noble ones has gone to the Dhamma for refuge. This is the second bonanza of merit.…

“And further, the disciple of the noble ones has gone to the Saṅgha for refuge. This is the third bonanza of merit.…

“Now, there are these five gifts, five great gifts—original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning—that are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. Which five?

“There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the first gift, the first great gift—original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning—that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. And this is the fourth bonanza of merit.…

“And further, abandoning taking what is not given [stealing], the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking what is not given. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the second gift, the second great gift… and this is the fifth bonanza of merit.…

“And further, abandoning sexual misconduct, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from sexual misconduct. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the third gift, the third great gift… and this is the sixth bonanza of merit.…

“And further, abandoning the telling of lie, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from telling lies. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fourth gift, the fourth great gift… and this is the seventh bonanza of merit.…

“And further, abandoning the use of intoxicants, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking intoxicants. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the fifth gift, the fifth great gift—original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning—that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. And this is the eighth bonanza of merit, bonanza of skillfulness, nourishment of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing; to welfare & to happiness.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 8.39 Abhisanda Sutta. Bonanzas by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 320–333 Nāgavagga: Elephants

I–like an elephant in battle,
enduring an arrow shot from a bow–
will endure a false accusation,
for the mass of people
have no     principles.


320
The tamed is the one
they take into assemblies.
The tamed is the one
the king mounts.
The tamed who endures
a false accusation
is, among human beings,
     the best.
321

Excellent are tamed mules,
     tamed thoroughbreds,
     tamed horses from Sindh.
Excellent, tamed tuskers,
great elephants.
But even more excellent
are those     self-tamed.

For not by these mounts could you go
to the land unreached,
as the tamed one goes
by taming, well-taming, himself.
322-323

The tusker, Dhanapalaka,
deep in rut, is hard to control.
Bound, he won’t eat a morsel:
the tusker misses
the elephant wood.
324

When torpid & over-fed,
a sleepy-head lolling about
like a stout hog, fattened on fodder:
a dullard enters the womb
     over &
     over again.

325
Before, this mind went wandering
     however it pleased,
     wherever it wanted,
     by whatever way that it liked.
Today I will hold it aptly in check–
as one wielding a goad, an elephant in rut.
326

Delight in heedfulness.
Watch over your own mind.
Lift yourself up
from the hard-going way,
like a tusker sunk in the mud.
327

If you gain a mature companion–
a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–
overcoming all dangers
     go with him, gratified,
     mindful.

If you don’t gain a mature companion–
a fellow traveler, right-living, enlightened–
go alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

Going alone is better.
There’s no companionship with a fool.
     Go alone,
doing no evil, at peace,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds.
328-330

A blessing:   friends when the need arises.
A blessing:   contentment with whatever there is.
Merit at the ending of life is a blessing.
A blessing:   the abandoning of all suffering
          & stress.

A blessing in the world:   reverence to your mother.
A blessing:   reverence to your father as well.
A blessing in the world:   reverence to a contemplative.
A blessing:   reverence for a brahman, too.

A blessing into old age is virtue.
A blessing:   conviction established.
A blessing:   discernment attained.
The non-doing of evil things is
     a blessing.
331-333


Read this translation of Dhammapada XXIII . Elephants by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 256–272 Dhammaṭṭhavagga: The Judge


To pass judgment hurriedly
doesn’t mean you’re a judge.
The wise one, weighing both
the right judgment & wrong,
judges others impartially–
unhurriedly, in line with the Dhamma,
     guarding the Dhamma,
     guarded by Dhamma,
     intelligent:
he’s called a judge.
256-257

Simply talking a lot
doesn’t mean one is wise.
Whoever’s secure–
     no
          hostility,
          fear–
is said to be wise.

Simply talking a lot
doesn’t maintain the Dhamma.
Whoever
–although he’s heard next to nothing–
     sees Dhamma through his body,
     is not heedless of Dhamma:
he’s one who maintains the Dhamma.
258-259

A head of gray hairs
doesn’t mean one’s an elder.
Advanced in years,
one’s called an old fool.

But one in whom there is
truth, restraint,
rectitude, gentleness,
self-control–
he’s called an elder,
his impurities disgorged,
enlightened.
260-261

Not by suave conversation
or lotus-like coloring
does an envious, miserly cheat
become an exemplary man.

But one in whom this is
     cut through
     up-rooted
     wiped out–
he’s called exemplary,
     his aversion disgorged,
          intelligent.
262-263

A shaven head
doesn’t mean a contemplative.
The liar observing no duties,
filled with greed & desire:
what kind of contemplative’s he?

But whoever tunes out
the dissonance
of his evil qualities
–large or small–
in every way
by bringing evil to consonance:
     he’s called a contemplative.
264-265

Begging from others
doesn’t mean one’s a monk.
As long as one follows
householders’ ways,
one is no monk at all.

But whoever puts aside
both merit & evil and,
living the chaste life,
     judiciously
goes through the world:
     he’s called a monk.
266-267

Not by silence
does someone confused
     & unknowing
turn into a sage.

But whoever–wise,
as if holding the scales,
     taking the excellent–
     rejects evil deeds:
he is a sage,
that’s how he’s a sage.
Whoever can weigh
both sides of the world:
     that’s how he’s called
     a sage.
268-269

Not by harming life
does one become noble.
One is termed
          noble
     for being
          gentle
to all living things.
270

     Monk,
don’t
on account of
     your habits & practices,
     great erudition,
     concentration attainments,
     secluded dwelling,
     or the thought, ‘I touch
     the renunciate ease
     that run-of-the-mill people
     don’t know’:
ever let yourself get complacent
     when the ending of effluents
     is still unattained.
271-272


Read this translation of Dhp 256–272 Dhammaṭṭhavagga: The Judge by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 197–208 Sukhavagga: Happy

How very happily we live,
free from hostility
among those who are hostile.
Among hostile people,
free from hostility we dwell.

How very happily we live,
free from misery
among those who are miserable.
Among miserable people,
free from misery we dwell.

How very happily we live,
free from busyness
among those who are busy.
Among busy people,
free from busyness we dwell.

How very happily we live,
we who have nothing.
We will feed on rapture
like the Radiant gods.
197-200

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
     having set
     winning & losing
          aside.
201

There’s no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

Hunger: the foremost illness.
Fabrications: the foremost pain.
For one knowing this truth
as it has come to be,
     Unbinding
is the foremost ease.

Freedom from illness: the foremost good fortune.
Contentment: the foremost wealth.
Trust: the foremost kinship.
Unbinding: the foremost ease.
202–204

Drinking the nourishment,
          the flavor,
of seclusion & calm,
one is freed from evil, devoid
     of distress,
refreshed with the nourishment
of rapture in the Dhamma.
205

It’s good to see Noble Ones.
Happy their company–always.
Through not seeing fools
constantly, constantly
     one would be happy.

For, living with a fool,
one grieves a long time.
Painful is communion with fools,
as with an enemy–
     always.
Happy is communion
with the enlightened,
as with a gathering of kin.

     So:
the enlightened man–
discerning, learned,
enduring, dutiful, noble,
intelligent, a man of integrity:
     follow him
     –one of this sort–
     as the moon, the path
     of the zodiac stars.
206–208


Read this translation of Dhp 197–208 Sukhavagga: Happy by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 146-156 Jarāvagga: Aging

What laughter, why joy,
when constantly aflame?
     Enveloped in darkness,
don’t you look for a lamp?
146

Look at the beautified image,
a heap of festering wounds, shored up:
ill, but the object
     of many resolves,
where there is nothing
     lasting or sure.
147

Worn out is this body,
a nest of diseases, dissolving.
This putrid conglomeration
is bound to break up,
for life is hemmed in with death.
148

On seeing these bones
     discarded
like gourds in the fall,
     pigeon-gray:
          what delight?
149

A city made of bones,
plastered over with flesh & blood,
whose hidden treasures are:
     pride & contempt,
     aging & death.
150

Even royal chariots
well-embellished
get run down,
and so does the body
succumb to old age.
But the Dhamma of the good
doesn’t succumb to old age:
the good let the civilized know.
151

This unlistening man
matures like an ox.
His muscles develop,
his discernment      not.
152

Through the round of many births I roamed
     without reward,
     without rest,
seeking the house-builder.
     Painful is birth again
          & again.

House-builder, you’re seen!
You will not build a house again.
All your rafters broken,
the ridge pole dismantled,
immersed in dismantling, the mind
has attained to the end of craving.
153-154

Neither living the chaste life
nor gaining wealth in their youth,
they waste away like old herons
in a dried-up lake
depleted of fish.

Neither living the chaste life
nor gaining wealth in their youth,
they lie around,
misfired from the bow,
sighing over old times.
155-156


Read this translation of Dhp 146-156 Jarāvagga: Aging by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 90–99 Arahantavagga: Arahants

    In one who
has gone the full distance,
is free from sorrow,
is everywhere
    fully released,
has abandoned all bonds:
    no fever is found.
90

The mindful keep active,
don’t delight in settling back.
They renounce every home,
        every home,
like swans taking off from a lake.
91

Not hoarding,
having comprehended food,
their pasture–emptiness
& freedom without sign:
    their course,
like that of birds through space,
    can’t be traced.

Effluents ended,
independent of nutriment,
their pasture–emptiness
& freedom without sign:
    their trail,
like that of birds through space,
    can’t be traced.
92-93

He whose senses are steadied
    like stallions
well-trained by the charioteer,
his conceit abandoned,
    free of effluent,
    Such:
even devas adore him.

Like the earth, he doesn’t react–
    cultured,
    Such,
like Indra’s pillar,
like a lake free of mud.
For him
    –Such–
there’s no traveling on.
Calm is his mind,
calm his speech
     & his deed:
one who’s released through right knowing,
    pacified,
    Such.
94-96

        The man
faithless / beyond conviction
ungrateful / knowing the Unmade
a burglar / who has severed connections
    who’s destroyed
his chances / conditions
who eats vomit: / has disgorged expectations:
    the ultimate person.
97

In village or wilds,
valley, plateau:
that place is delightful
where arahants dwell.
98

Delightful wilds
where the crowds don’t delight,
those free from passion
    delight,
for they’re not searching
for sensual pleasures.
99


Read this translation of Dhammapada VII . Arahants by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, DhammaTalks.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 33–43 Cittavagga: The Mind

Quivering, wavering,
hard to guard,
to hold in check:
     the mind.
The sage makes it straight–
like a fletcher,
the shaft of an arrow.

Like a fish
pulled from its home in the water
& thrown on land:
this mind flips & flaps about
     to escape Mara’s sway.

Hard to hold down,
     nimble,
alighting wherever it likes:
     the mind.
Its taming is good.
The mind well-tamed
     brings ease.

So hard to see,
so very, very subtle,
alighting wherever it likes:
     the mind.
The wise should guard it.
The mind protected
     brings ease.

Wandering far,
going alone,
bodiless,
lying in a cave:
     the mind.
Those who restrain it:
     from Mara’s bonds
     they’ll be freed.
33-37

For a person of unsteady mind,
not knowing true Dhamma,
     serenity
     set     adrift:
discernment doesn’t grow full.
38

For a person of unsoddened mind,
          unassaulted awareness,
abandoning merit & evil,
     wakeful,
there is
     no danger
     no fear.
39

Knowing this body
     is like a clay jar,
securing this mind
     like a fort,
          attack Mara
     with the spear of discernment,
then guard what’s won
     without settling there,
     without laying claim.
40

All too soon, this body
will lie on the ground
     cast off,
bereft of consciousness,
like a useless scrap
     of wood.
41

Whatever an enemy might do
to an enemy,
or a foe to a foe,
the ill-directed mind
can do to you
     even worse.

Whatever a mother, father
or other kinsman
might do for you,
the well-directed mind
can do for you
     even better.
42-43


Read this translation of Dhammapada III . The Mind by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or listen on Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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AN 5.29 Caṅkama Sutta: Walking

“Monks, these are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation. Which five?

  1. “He can endure traveling by foot;
  2. he can endure exertion;
  3. he becomes free from disease;
  4. whatever he has eaten & drunk, chewed & savored, becomes well-digested;
  5. the concentration he wins while doing walking meditation lasts for a long time.

“These are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.29 Caṅkama Sutta. Walking by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 12.63 Puttamaṁsa Sutta: A Son’s Flesh

Near Sāvatthī. “There are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.

“And how is physical food to be regarded? Suppose a couple, husband & wife, taking meager provisions, were to travel through a desert. With them would be their only baby son, dear & appealing. Then the meager provisions of the couple going through the desert would be used up & depleted while there was still a stretch of the desert yet to be crossed. The thought would occur to them, ‘Our meager provisions are used up & depleted while there is still a stretch of this desert yet to be crossed. What if we were to kill this only baby son of ours, dear & appealing, and make dried meat & jerky. That way—chewing on the flesh of our son—at least the two of us would make it through this desert. Otherwise, all three of us would perish.’ So they would kill their only baby son, loved & endearing, and make dried meat & jerky. Chewing on the flesh of their son, they would make it through the desert. While eating the flesh of their only son, they would beat their breasts, (crying,) ‘Where have you gone, our only baby son? Where have you gone, our only baby son?’ Now what do you think, monks? Would that couple eat that food playfully or for intoxication, or for putting on bulk, or for beautification?”

“No, lord.”

“Wouldn’t they eat that food simply for the sake of making it through that desert?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of physical food to be regarded. When physical food is comprehended, passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended. When passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended, there is no fetter bound by which a disciple of the noble ones would come back again to this world.

“And how is the nutriment of contact to be regarded? Suppose a flayed cow were to stand leaning against a wall. The creatures living in the wall would chew on it. If it were to stand leaning against a tree, the creatures living in the tree would chew on it. If it were to stand exposed to water, the creatures living in the water would chew on it. If it were to stand exposed to the air, the creatures living in the air would chew on it. For wherever the flayed cow were to stand exposed, the creatures living there would chew on it. In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of contact to be regarded. When the nutriment of contact is comprehended, the three feelings [pleasure, pain, neither pleasure nor pain] are comprehended. When the three feelings are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.

“And how is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded? Suppose there were a pit of glowing embers, deeper than a man’s height, full of embers that were neither flaming nor smoking, and a man were to come along—loving life, hating death, loving pleasure, abhorring pain—and two strong men, having grabbed him by the arms, were to drag him to the pit of embers. To get far away would be that man’s intention, far away would be his wish, far away would be his aspiration. Why is that? Because he would realize, ‘If I fall into this pit of glowing embers, I will meet with death from that cause, or with death-like pain.’ In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded. When the nutriment of intellectual intention is comprehended, the three forms of craving [for sensuality, for becoming, and for non-becoming] are comprehended. When the three forms of craving are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.

“And how is the nutriment of consciousness to be regarded? Suppose that, having arrested a thief, a criminal, they were to show him to the king: ‘This is a thief, a criminal for you, your majesty. Impose on him whatever punishment you like.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and stab him in the morning with a hundred spears.’ So they would stab him in the morning with a hundred spears. Then the king would say at noon, ‘Men, how is that man?’ ‘Still alive, your majesty.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and stab him at noon with a hundred spears.’ So they would stab him at noon with a hundred spears. Then the king would say in the evening, ‘Men, how is that man?’ ‘Still alive, your majesty.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and stab him in the evening with a hundred spears.’ So they would stab him in the evening with a hundred spears. Now what do you think, monks? Would that man, being stabbed with three hundred spears a day, experience pain & distress from that cause?”

“Even if he were to be stabbed with only one spear, lord, he would experience pain & distress from that cause, to say nothing of three hundred spears.”

“In the same way, I tell you, monks, is the nutriment of consciousness to be regarded. When the nutriment of consciousness is comprehended, name-&-form is comprehended. When name-&-form is comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 12.63 Puttamaṁsa Sutta. A Son’s Flesh by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, or AccessToInsight.org. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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MN 63 Cūḷa Māluṅkyovāda Sutta: The Shorter Exhortation to Māluṅkya

[Note: Today’s selection is a complete sutta from the MN, so it is a bit longer than usual. However the simile is very famous and it’s good to see it in its full context. The simile itself is in bold below if you like to skip to that.]

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then, as Ven. Māluṅkyaputta was alone in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in his awareness: “These positions that are undisclosed, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One—‘The cosmos is eternal,’ ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ ‘The cosmos is finite,’ ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ ‘After death a Tathāgata exists,’ ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist,’ ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist,’ ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist’—I don’t approve, I don’t accept that the Blessed One has not disclosed them to me. I’ll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he discloses to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ that ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ that ‘The cosmos is finite,’ that ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ that ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ that ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ that ‘After death a Tathāgata exists,’ that ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist,’ that ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist,’ or that ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,’ then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not disclose to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ … or that ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,’ then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life.”

Then, emerging from his seclusion in the evening, Ven. Māluṅkyaputta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, just now, as I was alone in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in my awareness: ‘These positions that are undisclosed, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One… I don’t approve, I don’t accept that the Blessed One has not disclosed them to me. I’ll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he discloses to me that “The cosmos is eternal,” … or that “After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,” then I will live the holy life under him. If he does not disclose to me that “The cosmos is eternal,” … or that “After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,” then I will renounce the training and return to the lower life.’

“Lord, if the Blessed One knows that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ then may he disclose to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal.’ If he knows that ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ then may he disclose to me that ‘The cosmos is not eternal.’ But if he doesn’t know or see whether the cosmos is eternal or not eternal, then, in one who is unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward thing is to admit, ‘I don’t know. I don’t see.’ … If he doesn’t know or see whether after death a Tathāgata exists… does not exist… both exists & does not exist… neither exists nor does not exist,’ then, in one who is unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward thing is to admit, ‘I don’t know. I don’t see.’”

“Māluṅkyaputta, did I ever say to you, ‘Come, Māluṅkyaputta, live the holy life under me, and I will disclose to you that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ or ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ or ‘The cosmos is finite,’ or ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ or ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ or ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata exists,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist’?”

“No, lord.”

“And did you ever say to me, ‘Lord, I will live the holy life under the Blessed One and (in return) he will disclose to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ or ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ or ‘The cosmos is finite,’ or ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ or ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ or ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata exists,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist,’ or ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist’?”

“No, lord.”

“Then that being the case, foolish man, who are you to be claiming grievances/making demands of anyone?

“Māluṅkyaputta, if anyone were to say, ‘I won’t live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not disclose to me that “The cosmos is eternal,” … or that “After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,”’ the man would die and those things would still remain undisclosed by the Tathāgata.

“It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

“In the same way, if anyone were to say, ‘I won’t live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not disclose to me that “The cosmos is eternal,” … or that “After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,”’ the man would die and those things would still remain undisclosed by the Tathāgata.

“Māluṅkyaputta, it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ and when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

“It’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is finite,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, ‘The cosmos is finite,’ and when there is the view, ‘The cosmos is infinite,’ there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

“It’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, ‘The soul & the body are the same,’ and when there is the view, ‘The soul is one thing and the body another,’ there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

“It’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘After death a Tathāgata exists,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist’ there is the living of the holy life. When there is the view, ‘After death a Tathāgata exists’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,’ there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.

“So, Māluṅkyaputta, remember what is undisclosed by me as undisclosed, and what is disclosed by me as disclosed. And what is undisclosed by me? ‘The cosmos is eternal,’ is undisclosed by me. ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ is undisclosed by me. ‘The cosmos is finite’ … ‘The cosmos is infinite’ … ‘The soul & the body are the same’ … ‘The soul is one thing and the body another’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata exists’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata does not exist’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata both exists & does not exist’ … ‘After death a Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist,’ is undisclosed by me.

“And why are they undisclosed by me? Because they are not connected with the goal, are not fundamental to the holy life. They do not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, unbinding. That’s why they are undisclosed by me.

“And what is disclosed by me? ‘This is stress,’ is disclosed by me. ‘This is the origination of stress,’ is disclosed by me. ‘This is the cessation of stress,’ is disclosed by me. ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress,’ is disclosed by me. And why are they disclosed by me? Because they are connected with the goal, are fundamental to the holy life. They lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calming, direct knowledge, self-awakening, unbinding. That’s why they are disclosed by me.

“So, Māluṅkyaputta, remember what is undisclosed by me as undisclosed, and what is disclosed by me as disclosed.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Māluṅkyaputta delighted in the Blessed One’s words.


Read this translation of Majjhima Nikāya 63 Cūḷa Māluṅkyovāda Sutta. The Shorter Exhortation to Māluṅkya by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 20.7 Āṇi Sutta: The Peg

Staying near Sāvatthī. “Monks, there once was a time when the Dasārahas had a large drum called ‘Summoner.’ Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasārahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner’s original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained.

“In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won’t listen when discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—are being recited. They won’t lend ear, won’t set their hearts on knowing them, won’t regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works—the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples—are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

“In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—will come about.

“Thus you should train yourselves: ‘We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathāgata—deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness—are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”

See also: AN 5:79


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AN 10.17 Nātha Sutta: Protectors (1)

[Note: “Discerning” is Ajahn Thianssaro’s usual translation for pañña.]

“Live with a protector, monks, and not without a protector. He suffers, one who lives without a protector. And these ten are qualities creating a protector. Which ten?

“There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults. And the fact that he is virtuous… seeing danger in the slightest faults is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk has heard much, has retained what he has heard, has stored what he has heard. Whatever teachings are admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end, that—in their meaning and expression—proclaim the holy life that is entirely perfect, surpassingly pure: Those he has listened to often, retained, discussed, accumulated, examined with his mind, & well-penetrated in terms of his views. And the fact that he has heard much… well-penetrated in terms of his views is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk has admirable friends, admirable comrades, admirable companions. And the fact that he has admirable friends, admirable comrades, admirable companions is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is easy to speak to, endowed with qualities that make him easy to speak to, patient, respectful to instruction. And the fact that he is easy to speak to… respectful to instruction is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is adept at the various affairs involving his companions in the holy life; is vigorous, quick-witted in the techniques involved in them, is up to doing them or arranging to get them done. And the fact that he is adept at… doing them or arranging to get them done is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is one who desires the Dhamma, endearing in his conversation, greatly rejoicing in the higher Dhamma & higher Vinaya. And the fact that he is one who desires the Dhamma, endearing in his conversation, greatly rejoicing in the higher Dhamma & higher Vinaya is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful qualities and for taking on skillful qualities. He is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities. And the fact that he keeps his persistence aroused… not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is content with any old robe cloth at all, any old alms food, any old lodging, any old medicinal requisites for curing sickness at all. And the fact that he is content with any old robe cloth at all, any old alms food, any old lodging, any old medicinal requisites for curing sickness at all is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & recollecting what was done and said a long time ago. And the fact that he is mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & recollecting what was done and said a long time ago is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away—noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. And the fact that the monk is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away—noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress is a quality creating a protector.

“Live with a protector, monks, and not without a protector. He suffers, one who lives without a protector. These are the ten qualities creating a protector.”


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SN 56.102–113 Paṁsu Suttas: Dust

Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, “What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?”

“The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn’t even count. It’s no comparison. It’s not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

“In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell.

“Therefore your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress.’ Your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’”

Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, “What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?”

“The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It doesn’t even count. It’s no comparison. It’s not even a fraction, this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail, when compared with the great earth.

“In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

… “In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn among devas. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the human realm, are reborn in hell… in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

… “In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn among devas. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn in hell… in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

… “In the same way, monks, few are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn among human beings. Far more are the beings who, on passing away from the deva realm, are reborn in hell… in the animal womb… in the domain of the hungry ghosts.

“Therefore your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress.’ Your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’”


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AN 5.80 Anāgata-bhayāni Sutta: Future Dangers

“Monks, these five future dangers, unarisen at present, will arise in the future. Be alert to them and, being alert, work to get rid of them. Which five?

“There will be, in the course of the future, monks desirous of fine robes. They, desirous of fine robes, will neglect the practice of wearing cast-off cloth; will neglect isolated forest & wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, & royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of a robe they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the first future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“And further, in the course of the future there will be monks desirous of fine food. They, desirous of fine food, will neglect the practice of going for alms; will neglect isolated forest & wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, & royal capitals, taking up residence there and searching out the tip-top tastes with the tip of the tongue. For the sake of food they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the second future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“And further, in the course of the future there will be monks desirous of fine lodgings. They, desirous of fine lodgings, will neglect the practice of living in the wilds; will neglect isolated forest & wilderness dwellings; will move to towns, cities, & royal capitals, taking up residence there. For the sake of lodgings they will do many kinds of unseemly, inappropriate things.

“This, monks, is the third future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“And further, in the course of the future there will be monks who will live in close association with nuns, female trainees, & female novices. As they interact with nuns, female trainees, & female novices, they can be expected either to lead the holy life dissatisfied or to fall into one of the defiling offenses, leaving the training, returning to a lower way of life.

“This, monks, is the fourth future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“And further, in the course of the future there will be monks who will live in close association with monastery attendants & novices. As they interact with monastery attendants & novices, they can be expected to live committed to many kinds of stored-up possessions and to making large boundary posts for fields & crops.

“This, monks, is the fifth future danger, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to it and, being alert, work to get rid of it.

“These, monks, are the five future dangers, unarisen at present, that will arise in the future. Be alert to them and, being alert, work to get rid of them.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.80 Anāgata-bhayāni Sutta. Future Dangers (4) by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Dhp 311–314 From… Niriya Vagga: Hell

Just as sharp-bladed grass,
if wrongly held,
wounds the very hand that holds it–
the contemplative life, if wrongly grasped,
drags you down to hell.

Any slack act,
or defiled observance,
or fraudulent life of chastity
bears no great fruit.

If something’s to be done,
then work at it firmly,
for a slack going-forth
kicks up all the more dust.

It’s better to leave a misdeed
undone.
A misdeed burns you afterward.
Better that a good deed be done
that, after you’ve done it,
won’t make you burn.


Read the entire translation of Dhp Niriya Vagga: Hell by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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AN 10.48 Dasa Dhamma Sutta: Ten Things

[Note: This sutta is sometimes recited daily by monastics.]

“There are these ten things that a person gone forth should reflect on often. Which ten?

“‘I have become casteless’: A person gone forth should often reflect on this.

“‘My life is dependent on others’ …

“‘My behavior should be different (from that of householders)’ …

“‘Can I fault myself with regard to my virtue?’…

“‘Can my observant fellows in the holy life, on close examination, fault me with regard to my virtue?’ …

“‘I will grow different, separate from all that is dear & appealing to me’ …

“‘I am the owner of actions [kamma], heir to actions, born of actions, related through actions, and have actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir’ …

“‘What am I becoming as the days & nights fly past?’ …

“‘Do I delight in an empty dwelling?’ …

“‘Have I attained a superior human attainment, a truly noble distinction of knowledge & vision, such that—when my companions in the holy life question me in the last days of my life—I won’t feel abashed?’: A person gone forth should often reflect on this.

“These are the ten things that a person gone forth should reflect on often.”


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AN 5.114 Andhakavinda Sutta: At Andhakavinda

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Magadhans at Andhakavinda. Then Ven. Ānanda went to him and, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Ānanda, the new monks—those who have not long gone forth, who are newcomers in this Dhamma & Vinaya—should be encouraged, exhorted, and established in these five things. Which five?

“‘Come, friends, be virtuous. Dwell restrained in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha, consummate in your behavior & sphere of activity. Train yourselves, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults.’ Thus they should be encouraged, exhorted, & established in restraint in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha.

“‘Come, friends, dwell with your sense faculties guarded, with mindfulness as your protector, with mindfulness as your chief, with your intellect self-protected, endowed with an awareness protected by mindfulness.’ Thus they should be encouraged, exhorted, & established in restraint of the senses.

“‘Come, friends, speak only a little, place limits on your conversation.’ Thus they should be encouraged, exhorted, & established in limited conversation.

“‘Come, friends, dwell in the wilderness. Resort to remote wilderness & forest dwellings.’ Thus they should be encouraged, exhorted, & established in physical seclusion.

“Come, friends, develop right view. Be endowed with right vision.’ Thus they should be encouraged, exhorted, & established in right vision.

“New monks—those who have not long gone forth, who are newcomers in this Dhamma & Vinaya—should be encouraged, exhorted, and established in these five things.”


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SN 7.12 UdayaSutta: Udaya

Near Sāvatthī. Then early in the morning, the Blessed One, having adjusted his under robe and carrying his bowl & outer robe, went to the home of the brahman Udaya. The brahman Udaya filled the Blessed One’s bowl with rice.

Then a second time, [on the next day,] the Blessed One, having adjusted his under robe and carrying his bowl & outer robe, went to the home of the brahman Udaya. And a second time, the brahman Udaya filled the Blessed One’s bowl with rice.

Then a third time, [on the following day,] the Blessed One, having adjusted his under robe and carrying his bowl & outer robe, went to the home of the brahman Udaya. And a third time, the brahman Udaya, having filled the Blessed One’s bowl with rice, said to him, “This pesky Gotama contemplative keeps coming again & again.”

The Buddha:

“Again & again    they sow the seed.
Again & again     the deva-kings rain.
Again & again     farmers plow the fields.
Again & again     grain comes to the kingdom.
Again & again     beggars wander.
Again & again     lords of giving give.
Again & again     having given, the lords of giving
Again & again     go to a heavenly place.
Again & again     dairy farmers draw milk.
Again & again     the calf goes to its mother.
Again & again     one wearies & trembles.
Again & again     the dullard goes to the womb.
Again & again     you take birth & die.
Again & again     they carry you to the charnel ground.

But on gaining the path
to no again-becoming,
you, deep in discernment,
don’t take birth
   again & again.”

When this was said, the brahman Udaya said to the Blessed One, “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama—through many lines of reasoning—made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the Saṅgha of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 7.12 UdānaayaSutta. Udaya by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

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AN 5.176 Pīti Sutta: Rapture

Then Anāthapiṇḍika the householder, surrounded by about 500 lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, “Householder, you have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, ‘We have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.’ So you should train yourself, ‘Let’s periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.’ That’s how you should train yourself.”

When this was said, Ven. Sāriputta said to the Blessed One, “It’s amazing, lord. It’s astounding, how well put that was by the Blessed One: ‘Householder, you have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, “We have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.” So you should train yourself, “Let’s periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.” That’s how you should train yourself.’

“Lord, when a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, there are five possibilities that do not exist at that time: The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is skillful do not exist at that time. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, these five possibilities do not exist at that time.”

(The Blessed One said:) “Excellent, Sāriputta. Excellent. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, there are five possibilities that do not exist at that time: The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is skillful do not exist at that time. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, these five possibilities do not exist at that time.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.176 Pīti Sutta. Rapture by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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MN 66 From… Laḍukikopama Sutta: The Quail Simile

[Note: This is part of a larger sutta that begins with a discussion on the Buddha’s rule for the monastics to only eat in the morning time.]

“Suppose a quail were snared by a rotting creeper, by which it could expect injury, captivity, or death, and someone were to say, ‘This rotting creeper by which this quail is snared, and by which she could expect injury, captivity, or death, is for her a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. That rotting creeper… is for her a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some worthless men who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? This little, trifling thing? He’s too much of a stickler, this contemplative.’ They don’t abandon it. They’re rude to me and to the monks keen on training. For them that’s a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“Now there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.

“Suppose a royal elephant—immense, pedigreed, accustomed to battles, its tusks like chariot poles—were snared with thick leather snares, but by twisting its body a bit it could break & burst those snares and go off wherever it liked. And suppose someone were to say, ‘Those thick leather snares by which the royal elephant… was snared, but which—by twisting its body a bit— it could break & burst and go off wherever it liked: for him they were a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?’

“No, lord. Those thick leather snares… were for him a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.”

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.

“Suppose there were a poor person, penniless & indigent, with a single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; and a single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; and a single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and a single wife, not the best sort. He would go to a park and see a monk—his hands & feet washed, after a delightful meal, sitting in the cool shade, committed to the heightened mind. The thought would occur to him: How happy the contemplative state! How free of disease the contemplative state! O that I—shaving off my hair & beard and donning the ochre robe—might go forth from the household life into homelessness!’ But being unable to abandon his single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; to abandon his single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; to abandon his single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and to abandon his single wife, not the best sort, he wouldn’t be able to shave off his hair & beard, to don the ochre robe, or to go forth from the household life into homelessness. And suppose someone were to say, ‘That single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; that single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; that single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and that single wife, not the best sort by which that man was snared, which he was unable to abandon, and because of which he couldn’t shave off his hair & beard, don the ochre robe, and go forth from the household life into homelessness: for him they were a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. That single hut… that single bed… that single pot… that single wife… were for that man a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.”

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some worthless men who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? This little, trifling thing? He’s too much of a stickler, this contemplative.’ They don’t abandon it. They’re rude to me and to the monks keen on training. For them that’s a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“Now suppose, Udāyin, that there were a householder or householder’s son—rich, prosperous, & wealthy—with vast amounts of gold ingots, vast amounts of grain, a vast number of fields, a vast amount of land, a vast number of wives, and a vast number of male & female slaves. He would go to a park and see a monk—his hands & feet washed, after a delightful meal, sitting in the cool shade, committed to the heightened mind. The thought would occur to him: How happy the contemplative state! How free of disease the contemplative state! O that I—shaving off my hair & beard and donning the ochre robe—might go forth from the household life into homelessness!’ And being able to abandon his vast amounts of gold ingots, his vast amounts of grain, his vast number of fields, his vast amount of land, his vast number of wives, and his vast number of male & female slaves, he would be able to shave off his hair & beard, to don the ochre robe, and to go forth from the household life into homelessness. Now suppose someone were to say, ‘Those vast amounts of gold ingots… and a vast number of male & female slaves by which that householder or householder’s son was snared but which he was able to abandon so that he could shave off his hair & beard, don the ochre robe, and go forth from the household life into homelessness: for him they were a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. Those vast amounts of gold ingots… were for him a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.



Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 66 Laḍukikopama Sutta. The Quail Simile by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

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Thag 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla

[Note: We can find the context for these verses in the Middle Length Discourses sutta MN 82 On Raṭṭhapāla. If you have time, it is a wonderful story and helps to illuminate the verses.]

Look at the image beautified,
a heap of festering wounds, shored up:
ill, but the object
     of many resolves,
where there is nothing
     lasting or sure.

Look at the form beautified
with earrings & gems:
          a skeleton wrapped in skin,
          made attractive with clothes.

Feet reddened with henna,
a face smeared with powder:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Hair plaited in eight pleats,
eyes smeared with unguent:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Like a newly painted unguent pot—
a putrid body adorned:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

The hunter set out the snares,
but the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to weep.

The hunter’s snares are broken;
the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to grieve.

* * *


I see in the world
     people with wealth
who, from delusion,
     don’t make a gift
     of the treasure they’ve gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean’s near shore,
     longs for the ocean’s
     far shore as well.

Kings & others
     —plenty of people—
go to death with craving
     unabated. Unsated,
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world’s sensual pleasures.

One’s relatives weep
& pull out their hair.
‘Oh woe, our loved one is dead,’ they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
     on a pyre,
     then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died—
     not relatives,
     friends,
     or companions.

Heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one—
     not children, wives,
     dominion, or riches.

Long life
can’t be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing—
     impermanent,
     subject to change.

The rich & the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish & wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don’t tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth—
for those who haven’t reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
     out of delusion,
     doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
& to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
     —one thing
     after another—
while those of weak discernment,
     trusting in one,
also go to a womb
& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
     is destroyed
     by his own act,
so evil people
—after dying, in the next world—
     are destroyed
     by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures—
     variegated,
     enticing,
     sweet—
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that’s why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
     —young & old—
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
     I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
          for sure.

* * *

     Out of conviction,
     I went forth
equipped with the Victor’s message.
Blameless was my going-forth:
Debtless I eat my food.

Seeing sensuality as burning,
          gold as a knife,
     pain in the entry into the womb
     & great danger in hells—
seeing this peril, I was then dismayed—
pierced (with dismay),
then calmed
on attaining the end of the effluents.
The Teacher has been served by me;
the Awakened One’s bidding,
               done;
the heavy load,       laid down;
the guide to becoming,   uprooted.

And the goal for which I went forth
from home life into homelessness
I’ve reached:
               the end
               of all fetters.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

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Ud 7.4 Kāmesu Satta Sutta: Attached to Sensual Pleasures (2)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. And on that occasion, most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures. They lived infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures. Then early in the morning the Blessed One adjusted his under robe and–carrying his bowl & robes–went into Sāvatthī for alms. He saw that most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures, that they live infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Blinded by sensuality
covered by the net,
veiled with the veil of craving,
bound by the Kinsman of the heedless,
like fish in the mouth of a trap,
they go to aging & death,
like a milk-drinking calf to its mother.


Read this translation of Ud 7.4 Kāmesu Satta Sutta: Attached to Sensual Pleasures (2) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on Dhammatalks.org.

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Dhp 316-319 From… Chapter 22 Niraya Vagga: Hell

Ashamed of what’s not shameful,
not ashamed of what is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.

Seeing danger where there is none,
& no danger where there is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.

Imagining error where there is none,
and no error where there is,
beings adopting wrong views
go to a bad destination.

But knowing error as error,
and non-error as non-,
beings adopting right views
    go to a good
    destination.



Read the entire translation of Dhammapada XXII . Hell by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net or AccessToInsight.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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