MN 61 From… Ambalaṭṭhikā Rāhulovāda Sutta: The Exhortation to Rāhula at Mango Stone

“…Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: ‘This verbal action I want to do—would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction… it would be a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

“While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: ‘This verbal action I am doing—is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to affliction of others, or both… you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not… you may continue with it.

“Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: ‘This verbal action I have done—did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to an observant companion in the holy life. Having confessed it… you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction… it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful qualities.…


Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 61 Ambalaṭṭhikā Rāhulovāda Sutta. The Exhortation to Rāhula at Mango Stone by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 6.37 Dāna Sutta: Giving

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. And on that occasion the female lay follower Veḷukaṇṭakin Nandamātar, had established a donation endowed with six factors for the Saṅgha of monks headed by Sāriputta & Moggallāna. The Blessed One saw with his divine eye, surpassing the human, that the laywoman Veḷukaṇḍakī, Nanda’s mother, had established a donation endowed with six factors for the Saṅgha of monks headed by Sāriputta & Moggallāna. On seeing this, he addressed the monks: “Monks, the female lay follower Veḷukaṇṭakin Nandamātar, has established a donation endowed with six factors for the Saṅgha of monks headed by Sāriputta & Moggallāna.

“And how is a donation endowed with six factors? There is the case where there are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients.

“And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is bright & clear; and after giving is gratified. These are the three factors of the donor.

“And which are the three factors of the recipients? There is the case where the recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.

“Such are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients. And this is how a donation is endowed with six factors.

“And it’s not easy to take the measure of the merit of a donation thus endowed with six factors as ‘just this much a bonanza of merit, a bonanza of what is skillful—a nutriment of bliss, heavenly, resulting in bliss, leading to heaven—that leads to what is desirable, pleasing, charming, beneficial, pleasant.’ It is simply reckoned as a great mass of merit, incalculable, immeasurable.

“Just as it’s not easy to take the measure of the great ocean as ‘just this many buckets of water, just this many hundreds of buckets of water, just this many thousands of buckets of water, or just this many hundreds of thousands of buckets of water.’ It’s simply reckoned as a great mass of water, incalculable, immeasurable. In the same way, it’s not easy to take the measure of the merit of a donation thus endowed with six factors as ‘just this much a bonanza of merit, a bonanza of what is skillful—a nutriment of bliss, heavenly, resulting in bliss, leading to heaven—that leads to what is desirable, pleasing, charming, beneficial, pleasant.’ It is simply reckoned as a great mass of merit, incalculable, immeasurable.”

Before giving, glad;
while giving, the mind is bright & clear;
having given, one is gratified:
          This is the consummation of the sacrifice.
Free of passion, free of aversion,
free of delusion, without effluent:
          the consummation of the field of the sacrifice,
          one restrained, leading the holy life.
Having rinsed oneself,
having given with one’s own hands,
          then—because of oneself,
          because of the other—
that is a sacrifice yielding great fruit.
Having given thus
          —intelligent—
a person of conviction,
with awareness released,
          reappears
          —wise—
in a world of bliss
          unalloyed.



Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 6.37 Dāna Sutta. Giving by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

SN 42.9 Kula Sutta: Families

On one occasion the Blessed One, while wandering on tour among the Kosalans together with a large Saṅgha of monks, arrived at Nāḷandā. There he stayed at Nāḷandā in Pāvārika’s Mango Grove.

Now at that time Nāḷandā was in the midst of famine, a time of scarcity, the crops white with blight and turned to straw. And at that time Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta was staying in Nāḷandā together with a large following of nigaṇṭhas. Then Asibandhakaputta the headman, a disciple of the nigaṇṭhas, went to Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta said to him, “Come, now, headman. Refute the words of the contemplative Gotama, and this admirable report about you will spread afar: ‘The words of the contemplative Gotama—so mighty, so powerful—were refuted by Asibandhakaputta the headman!’”

“But how, lord, will I refute the words of the contemplative Gotama—so mighty, so powerful?”

“Come now, headman. Go to the contemplative Gotama and on arrival say this: ‘Lord, doesn’t the Blessed One in many ways praise kindness, protection, & sympathy for families?’ If the contemplative Gotama, thus asked, answers, ‘Yes, headman, the Tathāgata in many ways praises kindness, protection, & sympathy for families,’ then you should say, ‘Then why, lord, is the Blessed One, together with a large Saṅgha of monks, wandering on tour around Nāḷandā in the midst of famine, a time of scarcity, when the crops are white with blight and turned to straw? The Blessed One is practicing for the ruin of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the demise of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the downfall of families.’ When the contemplative Gotama is asked this two-pronged question by you, he won’t be able to swallow it down or spit it up.”

Responding, “As you say, lord,” Asibandhakaputta the headman got up from his seat, bowed down to Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta, circumambulated him, and then went to the Blessed One. On arrival, he bowed down to the Blessed One and sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, doesn’t the Blessed One in many ways praise kindness, protection, & sympathy for families?”

“Yes, headman, the Tathāgata in many ways praises kindness, protection, & sympathy for families.”

“Then why, lord, is the Blessed One, together with a large Saṅgha of monks, wandering on tour around Nāḷandā in the midst of famine, a time of scarcity, when the crops are white with blight and turned to straw? The Blessed One is practicing for the ruin of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the demise of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the downfall of families.”

“Headman, recollecting back over 91 eons, I do not know any family to have been brought to downfall through the giving of cooked alms. On the contrary: Whatever families are rich, with much wealth, with many possessions, with a great deal of money, a great many accoutrements of wealth, a great many commodities, all have become so from giving, from truth, from restraint.

“Headman, there are eight causes, eight reasons for the downfall of families.

  1. Families go to their downfall because of kings,
  2. or families go to their downfall because of thieves,
  3. or families go to their downfall because of fire, or
  4. families go to their downfall because of floods, or
  5. their stored-up treasure disappears, or
  6. their mismanaged undertakings go wrong, or
  7. in the family a wastrel is born who squanders, scatters, & shatters its wealth, and
  8. inconstancy itself is the eighth.

These are the eight causes, the eight reasons for the downfall of families. Now, when these eight causes, these eight reasons are to be found, if anyone should say of me, ‘The Blessed One is practicing for the ruin of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the demise of families. The Blessed One is practicing for the downfall of families’—without abandoning that statement, without abandoning that intent, without relinquishing that view—then as if he were to be carried off, he would thus be placed in hell.”

When this was said, Asibandhakaputta the headman said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, lord! 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 the Blessed One—through many lines of reasoning—made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the Saṅgha of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 42.9 Kula Sutta. Families by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral. or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 5.34 Sīha Sutta: To General Sīha (On Giving)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. Then General Sīha 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: “Is it possible, lord, to point out a fruit of giving visible in the here & now?”

“It is possible, Sīha. One who is generous, a master of giving, is dear & charming to people at large. And the fact that who is generous, a master of giving, is dear & charming to people at large: This is a fruit of giving visible in the here & now.

“And further, good people, people of integrity, admire one who is generous, a master of giving. And the fact that good people, people of integrity, admire one who is generous, a master of giving: This, too, is a fruit of giving visible in the here & now.

“And further, the fine reputation of one who is generous, a master of giving, is spread far & wide. And the fact that the fine reputation of one who is generous, a master of giving, is spread far & wide: This, too, is a fruit of giving visible in the here & now.

“And further, when one who is generous, a master of giving, approaches any assembly of people—noble warriors, brahmans, householders, or contemplatives—he/she does so confidently & without embarrassment. And the fact that when one who is generous, a master of giving, approaches any assembly of people—noble warriors, brahmans, householders, or contemplatives—he/she does so confidently & without embarrassment: This, too, is a fruit of giving visible in the here & now.

“And further, at the break-up of the body, after death, one who is generous, a master of giving, reappears in a good destination, a heavenly world. And the fact that at the break-up of the body, after death, one who is generous, a master of giving, reappears in a good destination, a heavenly world: This is a fruit of giving in the next life.”

When this was said, General Sīha said to the Blessed One: “As for the four fruits of giving visible in the here & now that have been pointed out by the Blessed One, it’s not the case that I go by conviction in the Blessed One with regard to them. I know them, too.

  • I am generous, a master of giving, dear & charming to people at large.
  • I am generous, a master of giving; good people, people of integrity, admire me.
  • I am generous, a master of giving, and my fine reputation is spread far & wide: ‘Sīha is generous, a doer, a supporter of the Saṅgha.’
  • I am generous, a master of giving, and when I approach any assembly of people—noble warriors, brahmans, householders, or contemplatives—I do so confidently & without embarrassment.

“But when the Blessed One says to me, ‘At the break-up of the body, after death, one who is generous, a master of giving, reappears in a good destination, a heavenly world,’ that I do not know. That is where I go by conviction in the Blessed One.”

“So it is, Sīha. So it is. At the break-up of the body, after death, one who is generous, a master of giving, reappears in a good destination, a heavenly world.”

One who gives is dear.
People at large admire him.
He gains honor. His status grows.
He enters an assembly unembarrassed.
He is confident—the unmiserly man.

Therefore the wise give gifts.
Seeking bliss, they would subdue the stain of miserliness.
Established in the three-fold heavenly world,
they enjoy themselves long
in fellowship with the devas.

Having made the opportunity for themselves,
having done what is skillful,
then when they fall from here
they fare on, self-radiant, in Nandana [the garden of the devas].

There they delight, enjoy, are joyful,
replete with the five sensuality strands.
Having followed the words of the sage who is Such,
they enjoy themselves in heaven—
disciples of the One Well-Gone.


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.34 Sīha Sutta. To General Sīha (On Giving) by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 7.52 Dāna Sutta: Giving

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Campā on the shore of Gaggarā Lake. Then a large number of lay followers from Campā went to Ven. Sāriputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there they said to Ven. Sāriputta: “It has been a long time, venerable sir, since we have had a chance to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One’s presence. It would be good if we could get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One’s presence.”

“Then in that case, my friends, come again on the next uposatha day, and perhaps you’ll get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One’s presence.”

“As you say, venerable sir,” the lay followers from Campā said to Ven. Sāriputta. Rising from their seats, bowing down to him, and then circling him—keeping him on their right—they left.

Then, on the following uposatha day, the lay followers from Campā went to Ven. Sāriputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. Then Ven. Sāriputta, together with the lay followers from Campā, 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: “Might there be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?”

“Yes, Sāriputta, there would be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit.”

“Lord, what is the cause, what is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?”

“Sāriputta, there is the case where a person gives a gift seeking his own profit, with a mind attached (to the reward), seeking to store up for himself (with the thought), ‘I’ll enjoy this after death.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a contemplative or a brahman. What do you think, Sāriputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this gift seeking his own profit—with a mind attached (to the reward), seeking to store up for himself, (with the thought), ‘I’ll enjoy this after death’—on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Then there is the case of a person who gives a gift not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached (to the reward), not seeking to store up for himself, nor (with the thought), ‘I’ll enjoy this after death.’ Instead, he gives a gift with the thought, ‘Giving is good.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a contemplative or a brahman. What do you think, Sāriputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this gift with the thought, ‘Giving is good,’ on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead of thinking, ‘Giving is good,’ he gives a gift with the thought, ‘This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued’… on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off’ … on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past—Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamadaggi, Aṇgīrasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, & Bhagu—in the same way will this be my distribution of gifts’ … on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas who Delight in Creation. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise’ … on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas Wielding power over the creations of others. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead of thinking, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,’ he gives a gift with the thought, ‘This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a contemplative or a brahman. What do you think, Sāriputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this, not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached (to the reward), not seeking to store up for himself, nor (with the thought), ‘I’ll enjoy this after death,’

—nor with the thought, ‘Giving is good,’

—nor with the thought, ‘This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued,’

—nor with the thought, ‘I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off,’

—nor with the thought, ‘Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past—Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamadaggi, Aṇgīrasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, & Bhagu—in the same way this will be my distribution of gifts,’

—nor with the thought, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,’

—but with the thought, ‘This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind’—on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahmā’s Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.

“This, Sāriputta, is the cause, this is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 7.52 Dāna Sutta. Giving by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 4.79 Vaṇijja Sutta: Trade

Then Ven. Sāriputta 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, “What is the reason, lord, what is the cause why a certain trade, when engaged in by some people, turns out a failure? What is the reason, what is the cause why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out not as intended? What is the reason, what is the cause why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out as intended? What is the reason, what is the cause why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out better than intended?”

“There is the case, Sāriputta, where a certain person, having gone to a contemplative or brahman, makes him an offer: ‘Tell me, sir, what you need in terms of the four requisites.’ But he doesn’t give what he offered. If he passes away from there and comes here, then whatever trade he engages in, it turns out a failure.

“Then there is the case where a certain person, having gone to a contemplative or brahman, makes him an offer: ‘Tell me, sir, what you need in terms of the four requisites.’ But he gives him something other than what he intended by his offer. If he passes away from there and comes here, then whatever trade he engages in, it turns out not as intended.

“Then there is the case where a certain person, having gone to a contemplative or brahman, makes him an offer: ‘Tell me, sir, what you need in terms of the four requisites.’ He gives him what he intended by his offer. If he passes away from there and comes here, then whatever trade he engages in, it turns out as intended.

“Then there is the case where a certain person, having gone to a contemplative or brahman, makes him an offer: ‘Tell me, sir, what you need in terms of the four requisites.’ He gives him more than what he intended by his offer. If he passes away from there and comes here, then whatever trade he engages in, it turns out better than intended.

“This is the reason, Sāriputta, this is the cause why a certain trade, when engaged in by some people, turns out a failure; why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out not as intended; why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out as intended; why the same sort of trade, when engaged in by other people, turns out better than intended.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 4.79 Vaṇijja Sutta. Trade by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 7.49 From… Saññā Sutta: Perceptions

“‘…The perception of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final end’: Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said?

“When a monk’s awareness often remains steeped in the perception of death, his mind shrinks away from fervor for life, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance. Just as a cock’s feather or a piece of tendon, when thrown into a fire, shrinks away, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in; in the same way, when a monk’s awareness often remains steeped in the perception of death, his mind shrinks away from fervor for life, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance. If, when a monk’s awareness often remains steeped in the perception of death, his mind inclines to fervor for life, or if non-loathing takes a stance, then he should realize, ‘I have not developed the perception of death; there is no step-by-step distinction in me; I have not arrived at the fruit of (mental) development.’ In that way he is alert there. But if, when a monk’s awareness often remains steeped in the perception of death, his mind shrinks away from fervor for life, bends away, pulls back, and is not drawn in, and either equanimity or loathing take a stance, then he should realize, ‘I have developed the perception of death; there is a step-by-step distinction in me; I have arrived at the fruit of (mental) development.’ In that way he is alert there.

“‘The perception of death, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. It gains a footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final end’: Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.…


Read the entire translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 7.49 Saññā Sutta. Perceptions by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 7.74 Arakenānusasani Sutta: Araka’s Instructions

“Once, monks, there was a teacher named Araka, a sectarian leader who was free of passion for sensuality. He had many hundreds of students and he taught them the Dhamma in this way: ‘Next to nothing, brahmans, is the life of human beings—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a dewdrop on the tip of a blade of grass quickly vanishes with the rising of the sun and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a dewdrop—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as when the rain-devas send rain in fat drops, and a bubble on the water quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a water bubble—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a line drawn in the water with a stick quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a line drawn in the water with a stick—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a river flowing down from the mountains, going far, its current swift, carrying everything with it, so that there is not a moment, an instant, a second where it stands still, but instead it goes & rushes & flows, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a river flowing down from the mountains—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a strong man forming a drop of spit on the tip of his tongue would spit it out with little effort, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a drop of spit—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a sliver of meat thrown into an iron pan heated all day quickly vanishes and does not stay long, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a sliver of meat—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.

“‘Just as a cow to be slaughtered being led to the slaughterhouse, with every step of its foot closer to its slaughtering, closer to death, in the same way, brahmans, the life of human beings is like a cow to be slaughtered—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.’

“Now at that time, monks, the human life span was 60,000 years, with girls marriageable at 500. And at that time there were (only) six afflictions: cold, heat, hunger, thirst, defecation, & urination. Yet even though people were so long-lived, long-lasting, with so few afflictions, that teacher Araka taught the Dhamma to his disciples in this way: ‘Next to nothing, brahmans, is the life of human beings—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.’

“At present, monks, one speaking rightly would say, ‘Next to nothing is the life of human beings—limited, trifling, of much stress & many despairs. One should touch this (truth) like a sage, do what is skillful, follow the holy life. For one who is born there is no freedom from death.’ At present, monks, one who lives a long time is 100 years old or a little bit more. Living 100 years, one lives for 300 seasons: 100 seasons of cold, 100 seasons of heat, 100 seasons of rain. Living for 300 seasons, one lives for 1,200 months: 400 months of cold, 400 months of heat, 400 months of rain. Living for 1,200 months, one lives for 2,400 fortnights: 800 fortnights of cold, 800 fortnights of heat, 800 fortnights of rain. Living for 2,400 fortnights, one lives for 36,000 days: 12,000 days of cold, 12,000 days of heat, 12,000 days of rain. Living for 36,000 days, one eats 72,000 meals: 24,000 meals in the cold, 24,000 meals in the heat, 24,000 meals in the rain—counting the taking of mother’s milk and obstacles to eating. These are the obstacles to eating: when one doesn’t eat while angered, when one doesn’t eat while suffering or stressed, when one doesn’t eat while sick, when one doesn’t eat on the observance [uposatha] day, when one doesn’t eat while poor.

“Thus, monks, I have reckoned the life of a person living for 100 years: I have reckoned the life span, reckoned the seasons, reckoned the years,1 reckoned the months, reckoned the fortnights, reckoned the nights, reckoned the days, reckoned the meals, reckoned the obstacles to eating. Whatever a teacher should do—seeking the welfare of his disciples, out of sympathy for them—that have I done for you. Over there are the roots of trees; over there, empty dwellings. Practice jhāna, monks. Don’t be heedless. Don’t later fall into regret. This is our message to you all.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 7.74 Arakenānusasani Sutta. Araka’s Instructions by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 6.20 Maraṇassati Sutta: Mindfulness of Death (2)

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying near Nādika in the Brick Hall.

There he addressed the monks, “Monks, mindfulness of death—when developed & pursued—is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final end. And how is mindfulness of death developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the deathless, and has the deathless as its final end?

“There is the case where a monk, as day departs and night returns, reflects: ‘Many are the possible causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces in the body might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’

“Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die in the night?’

“If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities.

“Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities.

“But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful qualities.

“Further, there is the case where a monk, as night departs and day returns, reflects: ’Many are the possible causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces in the body might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’ Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die during the day?’ If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful qualities.

“This, monks, is how mindfulness of death is developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the Deathless, and has the Deathless as its final end.”

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


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 6.20 Maraṇassati Sutta. Mindfulness of Death (2) by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

AN 4.184 Abhaya Sutta: Fearless

Then Jānussoṇi the brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: “I am of the view & opinion that there is no one who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.”

The Blessed One said: “Brahman, there are those who, subject to death, are afraid & in terror of death. And there are those who, subject to death, are not afraid or in terror of death.

“And who is the person who, subject to death, is afraid & in terror of death? There is the case of the person who has not abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, & craving for sensuality. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘O, those beloved sensual pleasures will be taken from me, and I will be taken from them!’ He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. This is a person who, subject to death, is afraid & in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has not abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, & craving for the body. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘O, my beloved body will be taken from me, and I will be taken from my body!’ He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is afraid & in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has not done what is good, has not done what is skillful, has not given protection to those in fear, and instead has done what is evil, savage, & cruel. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have not done what is good, have not done what is skillful, have not given protection to those in fear, and instead have done what is evil, savage, & cruel. To the extent that there is a destination for those who have not done what is good, have not done what is skillful, have not given protection to those in fear, and instead have done what is evil, savage, & cruel, that’s where I’m headed after death.’ He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is afraid & in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person in doubt & perplexity, who has not arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘How doubtful & perplexed I am! I have not arrived at any certainty with regard to the True Dhamma!’ He grieves & is tormented, weeps, beats his breast, & grows delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is afraid & in terror of death.

“These, brahman, are four people who, subject to death, are afraid & in terror of death.

“And who is the person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death?

“There is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, & craving for sensuality. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought doesn’t occur to him, ‘O, those beloved sensual pleasures will be taken from me, and I will be taken from them!’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, & craving for the body. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought doesn’t occur to him, ‘O, my beloved body will be taken from me, and I will be taken from my body!’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has done what is good, has done what is skillful, has given protection to those in fear, and has not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have done what is good, have done what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and I have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel. To the extent that there is a destination for those who have done what is good, what is skillful, have given protection to those in fear, and have not done what is evil, savage, or cruel, that’s where I’m headed after death.’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“Then there is the case of the person who has no doubt or perplexity, who has arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought occurs to him, ‘I have no doubt or perplexity. I have arrived at certainty with regard to the True Dhamma.’ He doesn’t grieve, isn’t tormented; doesn’t weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

“These, brahman, are four people who, subject to death, are not afraid or in terror of death.”

When this was said, Jānussoṇi the brahman 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, and to the Saṅgha of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 4.184 Abhaya Sutta. Fearless by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.