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SN 47.12 Nālandasutta: Nalanda

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Nalanda in Pavarika’s Mango Grove. Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment.”

“Lofty indeed is this bellowing utterance of yours, Sāriputta, you have roared a definitive, categorical lion’s roar: ‘Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment.’ Have you now, Sāriputta, encompassed with your mind the minds of all the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, arisen in the past and known thus: ‘Those Blessed Ones were of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“Then, Sāriputta, have you encompassed with your mind the minds of all the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, who will arise in the future and known thus: ‘Those Blessed Ones will be of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“Then, Sāriputta, have you encompassed with your mind my own mind—I being at present the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One—and known thus: ‘The Blessed One is of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“Sāriputta, when you do not have any knowledge encompassing the minds of the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of the past, the future, and the present, why do you utter this lofty, bellowing utterance and roar this definitive, categorical lion’s roar: ‘Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment’?”

“I do not have, venerable sir, any knowledge encompassing the minds of the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of the past, the future, and the present, but still I have understood this by inference from the Dhamma. Suppose, venerable sir, a king had a frontier city with strong ramparts, walls, and arches, and with a single gate. The gatekeeper posted there would be wise, competent, and intelligent; one who keeps out strangers and admits acquaintances. While he is walking along the path that encircles the city he would not see a cleft or an opening in the walls even big enough for a cat to slip through. He might think: ‘Whatever large creatures enter or leave this city, all enter and leave through this one gate.’

“So too, venerable sir, I have understood this by inference from the Dhamma: Whatever Arahants, Perfectly Enlightened Ones arose in the past, all those Blessed Ones had first abandoned the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with their minds well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, they had developed correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby they had awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. And, venerable sir, whatever Arahants, Perfectly Enlightened Ones will arise in the future, all those Blessed Ones will first abandon the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with their minds well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, they will develop correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby they will awaken to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. And, venerable sir, the Blessed One, who is at present the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, first abandoned the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with his mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, he developed correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby he has awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! Therefore, Sāriputta, you should repeat this Dhamma exposition frequently to the bhikkhus and the bhikkhunis, to the male lay followers and the female lay followers. Even though some foolish people may have perplexity or uncertainty regarding the Tathagata, when they hear this Dhamma exposition their perplexity or uncertainty regarding the Tathagata will be abandoned.”


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SN 47.13 Cundasutta: With Cunda

At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. At that time Venerable Sāriputta was staying in the Magadhan lands near the little village of Nālaka, and he was sick, suffering, gravely ill. And the novice Cunda was his carer.

Then Venerable Sāriputta became fully extinguished because of that sickness. Then Cunda took Sāriputta’s bowl and robes and set out for Sāvatthī. He went to see Venerable Ānanda at Jeta’s grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, Venerable Sāriputta has become fully extinguished. This is his bowl and robe.”

“Reverend Cunda, we should see the Buddha about this matter. Come, let’s go to the Buddha and inform him about this.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Cunda.

Then Ānanda and Cunda went to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, this novice Cunda says that Venerable Sāriputta has become fully extinguished. This is his bowl and robe. Since I heard this, my body feels like it’s drugged. I’m disorientated, and the teachings don’t spring to mind.”

“Well, Ānanda, when Sāriputta became fully extinguished, did he take away your entire spectrum of ethical conduct, of immersion, of wisdom, of freedom, or of the knowledge and vision of freedom?”

“No, sir, he did not. But Venerable Sāriputta was my adviser and counselor. He educated, encouraged, fired up, and inspired me. He never tired of teaching the Dhamma, and he supported his spiritual companions. I remember the nectar of the teaching, the riches of the teaching, the support of the teaching given by Venerable Sāriputta.”

“Ānanda, did I not prepare for this when I explained that we must be parted and separated from all we hold dear and beloved? How could it possibly be so that what is born, created, conditioned, and liable to wear out should not wear out? That is not possible.

Suppose there was a large tree standing with heartwood, and the largest branch fell off. In the same way, in the great Saṅgha that stands with heartwood, Sāriputta has become fully extinguished.

How could it possibly be so that what is born, created, conditioned, and liable to wear out should not wear out? That is not possible.

So Ānanda, live as your own island, your own refuge, with no other refuge. Let the teaching be your island and your refuge, with no other refuge.

And how does a mendicant do this? It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of covetousness and displeasure for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of feelings … mind … principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of covetousness and displeasure for the world.

That’s how a mendicant lives as their own island, their own refuge, with no other refuge. That’s how the teaching is their island and their refuge, with no other refuge.

Whether now or after I have passed, any who shall live as their own island, their own refuge, with no other refuge; with the teaching as their island and their refuge, with no other refuge—those mendicants of mine who want to train shall be among the best of the best.”


For a similar sutta, see SN 47. 14.

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SN 2.29 Susimasutta: With Susīma

At Sāvatthī.

Then Venerable Ānanda went up to the Buddha, bowed, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to him, “Ānanda, do you endorse Sāriputta?”

“Sir, who on earth would not endorse Venerable Sāriputta unless they’re a fool, a hater, delusional, or mentally deranged? Venerable Sāriputta is astute, he has great wisdom, widespread wisdom, laughing wisdom, swift wisdom, sharp wisdom, and penetrating wisdom. He has few wishes, he’s content, secluded, aloof, and energetic. He gives advice and accepts advice; he accuses and criticizes wickedness. Who on earth would not endorse Venerable Sāriputta unless they’re a fool, a hater, delusional, or mentally deranged?”

“That’s so true, Ānanda! That’s so true! Who on earth would not endorse Venerable Sāriputta unless they’re a fool, a hater, delusional, or mentally deranged?” And the Buddha repeated all of Ānanda’s terms of praise.

While this praise of Sāriputta was being spoken, the god Susīma approached the Buddha, escorted by a large assembly of gods. He bowed, stood to one side, and said to him:

“That’s so true, Blessed One! That’s so true, Holy One! Who on earth would not endorse Venerable Sāriputta unless they’re a fool, a hater, delusional, or mentally deranged?” And he too repeated all the terms of praise of Sāriputta, adding, “For I too, sir, whenever I go to an assembly of gods, frequently hear the same terms of praise.”

While this praise of Sāriputta was being spoken, the gods of Susīma’s assembly—uplifted and overjoyed, full of rapture and happiness—generated a rainbow of bright colors.

Suppose there was a beryl gem that was naturally beautiful, eight-faceted, well-worked. When placed on a cream rug it would shine and glow and radiate. In the same way, the gods of Susīma’s assembly generated a rainbow of bright colors.

Suppose there was a pendant of river gold, fashioned by a deft smith, well wrought in the forge. When placed on a cream rug it would shine and glow and radiate. In the same way, the gods of Susīma’s assembly generated a rainbow of bright colors.

Suppose that after the rainy season the sky was clear and cloudless. At the crack of dawn, the Morning Star shines and glows and radiates. In the same way, the gods of Susīma’s assembly generated a rainbow of bright colors.

Suppose that after the rainy season the sky was clear and cloudless. As the sun rises, it would dispel all the darkness from the sky as it shines and glows and radiates. In the same way, the gods of Susīma’s assembly generated a rainbow of bright colors.

Then the god Susīma recited this verse about Venerable Sāriputta in the Buddha’s presence:

“He’s considered astute,
Sāriputta, free of anger.
Few in wishes, sweet, tamed,
the seer shines in the Teacher’s praise!”

Then the Buddha replied to Susīma with this verse about Venerable Sāriputta:

“He’s considered astute,
Sāriputta, free of anger.
Few in wishes, sweet, tamed;
developed and well-tamed, he bides his time.”


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SN 17.23 Ekaputtakasutta: An Only Son

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Possessions, honor, and popularity are brutal, bitter, and harsh. They’re an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

A faithful laywoman with a dear and beloved only son would rightly appeal to him, ‘My darling, please be like the householder Citta and Hatthaka of Ãḷavī.’

These are a standard and a measure for my male lay disciples, that is, the householder Citta and Hatthaka of Ãḷavī.

‘But my darling, if you go forth from the lay life to homelessness, please be like Sāriputta and Moggallāna.’

These are a standard and a measure for my monk disciples, that is, Sāriputta and Moggallāna.

‘And my darling, may you not come into possessions, honor, and popularity while you’re still a trainee and haven’t achieved your heart’s desire.’

If a trainee who hasn’t achieved their heart’s desire comes into possessions, honor, and popularity it’s an obstacle for them.

So brutal are possessions, honor, and popularity—bitter and harsh, an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

So you should train like this: ‘We will give up arisen possessions, honor, and popularity, and we won’t let them occupy our minds.’ That’s how you should train.”


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SN 39.16 Dukkarasutta: Hard to Do

At one time Venerable Sāriputta was staying in the land of the Vajjis near Ukkacelā on the bank of the Ganges river. Then the wanderer Sāmaṇḍaka went up to Venerable Sāriputta and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to Sāriputta:

“Reverend Sāriputta, in this teaching and training, what is hard to do?”

“Going forth, reverend, is hard to do in this teaching and training.”

“But what’s hard to do for someone who has gone forth?”

“When you’ve gone forth it’s hard to be satisfied.”

“But what’s hard to do for someone who is satisfied?”

“When you’re satisfied, it’s hard to practice in line with the teaching.”

“But if a mendicant practices in line with the teaching, will it take them long to become a perfected one?”

“Not long, reverend.”


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SN 45.3 Sāriputtasutta: Sāriputta

[Note: In this sutta, we see that the Arahant Sāriputta already knew the importance of good friends that had to be taught to Ven. Ānanda in a similar sutta. Arahant Sāriputta was well known for his care and appreciation of the community.]

At Sāvatthī.

Then Sāriputta went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life. A mendicant with good friends, companions, and associates can expect to develop and cultivate the noble eightfold path. And how does a mendicant with good friends develop and cultivate the noble eightfold path?

It’s when a mendicant develops right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. That’s how a mendicant with good friends develops and cultivates the noble eightfold path.

And here’s another way to understand how good friends are the whole of the spiritual life. For, by relying on me as a good friend, sentient beings who are liable to rebirth, old age, and death, to sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress are freed from all these things. This is another way to understand how good friends are the whole of the spiritual life.”



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SN 46.4 Vatthasutta: Clothes

[Note: One of the reasons for learning about great disciples like Arahant Sāriputta is to deepen our faith in the Saṅgha. Suttas like this one remind us of the great mental powers these monastics were able to develop by following the Buddha’s instructions.]

At one time Venerable Sāriputta was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There Sāriputta addressed the mendicants: “Reverends, mendicants!”

“Reverend,” they replied. Sāriputta said this:

“There are these seven awakening factors. What seven? The awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation of principles, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion, and equanimity. These are the seven awakening factors.

In the morning, I meditate on whichever of these seven awakening factors I want. At midday, and in the evening, I meditate on whichever of these seven awakening factors I want. If it’s the awakening factor of mindfulness, I know that it’s limitless and that it’s properly implemented. While it remains I understand that it remains. And if it subsides in me I understand the specific reason it subsides. … If it’s the awakening factor of equanimity, I know that it’s limitless and that it’s properly implemented. While it remains I understand that it remains. And if it subsides I understand the specific reason it subsides.

Suppose that a ruler or their minister had a chest full of garments of different colors. In the morning, they’d don whatever pair of garments they wanted. At midday, and in the evening, they’d don whatever pair of garments they wanted.

In the same way, in the morning, at midday, and in the evening, I meditate on whichever of these seven awakening factors I want. If it’s the awakening factor of mindfulness, I know that it’s limitless and that it’s properly implemented. While it remains I understand that it remains. And if it subsides I understand the specific reason it subsides. … If it’s the awakening factor of equanimity, I know that it’s limitless and that it’s properly implemented. While it remains I understand that it remains. And if it subsides I understand the specific reason it subsides.”


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SN 8.6 Sāriputtasutta: With Sāriputta

At one time Venerable Sāriputta was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

Now at that time Venerable Sāriputta was educating, encouraging, firing up, and inspiring the mendicants in the assembly hall with a Dhamma talk. His words were polished, clear, articulate, and expressed the meaning. And those mendicants were paying attention, applying the mind, concentrating wholeheartedly, and actively listening.

Then Venerable Vaṅgīsa thought, “This Venerable Sāriputta is educating the mendicants. … And those mendicants are paying attention, applying the mind, concentrating wholeheartedly, and actively listening. Why don’t I extoll him in his presence with fitting verses?”

Then Venerable Vaṅgīsa got up from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, raised his joined palms toward Sāriputta, and said, “I feel inspired to speak, Reverend Sāriputta! I feel inspired to speak, Reverend Sāriputta!”

“Then speak as you feel inspired,” said Sāriputta.

Then Vaṅgīsa extolled Sāriputta in his presence with fitting verses:

“Deep in wisdom, intelligent,
expert in what is the pathand what is not the path;
Sāriputta, so greatly wise,
teaches Dhamma to the mendicants.

He teaches in brief,
or he speaks at length.
His call, like a myna bird,
overflows with inspiration.

While he teaches
the mendicants listen to his sweet voice,
sounding attractive,
clear and graceful.
They listen joyfully,
their hearts elated.”


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SN 46.1 Himavantasutta: The Himalayas

[Note: Nāgas are powerful non-human beings that resemble large snakes or dragons.]

At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, based upon the Himalayas, the king of mountains, the nagas nurture their bodies and acquire strength. When they have nurtured their bodies and acquired strength, they then enter the pools. From the pools they enter the lakes, then the streams, then the rivers, and finally they enter the ocean. There they achieve greatness and expansiveness of body. So too, bhikkhus, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the seven factors of enlightenment, and thereby he achieves greatness and expansiveness in wholesome states.

“And how does a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develop the seven factors of enlightenment? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. He develops the enlightenment factor of discrimination of states … the enlightenment factor of energy … the enlightenment factor of rapture … the enlightenment factor of tranquillity … the enlightenment factor of concentration … the enlightenment factor of equanimity, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develops the seven factors of enlightenment, and thereby achieves greatness and expansiveness in wholesome states.”


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SN 47.15 Bāhiyasutta: Bahiya

At Savatthi. Then the Venerable Bahiya approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute.”

“Well then, Bahiya, purify the very starting point of wholesome states. And what is the starting point of wholesome states? Virtue that is well purified and view that is straight. Then, Bahiya, when your virtue is well purified and your view is straight, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness.

“What four? Here, Bahiya, dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. Dwell contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

“When, Bahiya, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you develop these four establishments of mindfulness in such a way, then whether night or day comes, you may expect only growth in wholesome states, not decline.”

Then the Venerable Bahiya, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s words, rose from his seat, and, after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on his right, he departed. Then, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Bahiya, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life entered and dwelt in that unsurpassed goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness. He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.” And the Venerable Bahiya became one of the arahants.


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SN 45.149 Balasutta: Strenuous

At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, just as whatever strenuous deeds are done, are all done based upon the earth, established upon the earth, so too, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path.

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path.”



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SN 11.18 Gahaṭṭhavandanāsutta: Who Sakka Worships

At Sāvatthī.

“Once upon a time, mendicants, Sakka, lord of gods, addressed his charioteer Mātali, ‘My dear Mātali, harness the chariot with its team of a thousand thoroughbreds. We will go to a park and see the scenery.’

‘Yes, lord,’ replied Mātali. He harnessed the chariot and informed Sakka, ‘Good sir, the chariot with its team of a thousand thoroughbreds has been harnessed. Please go at your convenience.’

Then Sakka descended from the Palace of Victory, raised his joined palms, and revered the different quarters.

So Mātali the charioteer addressed Sakka in verse:

‘Those proficient in the three Vedas worship you,
as do all the aristocrats on earth,
the Four Great Kings,
and the glorious Thirty.
So what’s the name of the spirit
that you worship, Sakka?’

‘Those proficient in the three Vedas worship me,
as do all the aristocrats on earth,
the Four Great Kings,
and the glorious Thirty.

But I revere those accomplished in ethics,
who have long trained in immersion,
who have rightly gone forth
committed to the spiritual life.

I also worship those householders,
the ethical lay followers
who make merit, Mātali,
supporting a partner in a principled manner.’

‘Those who you worship
seem to be the best in the world, Sakka.
I too will worship
those who you worship, Sakka.’

After saying this, Maghavā the chief,
king of gods, Sujā’s husband,
having worshipped the quarters
climbed into his chariot.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 11.18 Gahaṭṭhavandanāsutta: Who Sakka Worships by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 54.11 Icchānaṅgalasutta: Icchānaṅgala

[Note: To see all the steps of mindfulness of breathing, see SN 54.1 Ekadhamma]

At one time the Buddha was staying in a forest near Icchānaṅgala. There he addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants, I wish to go on retreat for three months. No-one should approach me, except for the one who brings my almsfood.”

“Yes, sir,” replied those mendicants. And no-one approached him, except for the one who brought the almsfood.

Then after three months had passed, the Buddha came out of retreat and addressed the mendicants:

“Mendicants, if wanderers who follow another religion were to ask you: ‘Reverends, what was the ascetic Gotama’s usual meditation during the rainy season residence?’ You should answer them like this. ‘Reverends, the ascetic Gotama’s usual meditation during the rainy season residence was immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.’

In this regard: mindful, I breathe in. Mindful, I breathe out.

Breathing in heavily I know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ Breathing out heavily I know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’ When breathing in lightly I know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ Breathing out lightly I know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’ I know: ‘I’ll breathe in experiencing the whole body.’ …

I know: ‘I’ll breathe in observing letting go.’ I know: ‘I’ll breathe out observing letting go.’

For if anything should be rightly called ‘a noble meditation’, or else ‘a divine meditation’, or else ‘a realized one’s meditation’, it’s immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.

For those mendicants who are trainees—who haven’t achieved their heart’s desire, but live aspiring to the supreme sanctuary from the yoke—the development and cultivation of immersion due to mindfulness of breathing leads to the ending of defilements.

For those mendicants who are perfected—who have ended the defilements, completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and are rightly freed through enlightenment—the development and cultivation of immersion due to mindfulness of breathing leads to blissful meditation in the present life, and to mindfulness and awareness.

For if anything should be rightly called ‘a noble meditation’, or else ‘a divine meditation’, or else ‘a realized one’s meditation’, it’s immersion due to mindfulness of breathing.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 54.11 Icchānaṅgalasutta: Icchānaṅgala by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 35.120 Sāriputtasaddhivihārikasutta: Sāriputta and the Pupil

At one time Venerable Sāriputta was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then a certain mendicant went up to Venerable Sāriputta, and exchanged greetings with him.

When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side, and said to him, “Reverend Sāriputta, a mendicant pupil of mine has resigned the training and returned to a lesser life.”

“That’s how it is, reverend, when someone doesn’t guard the sense doors, eats too much, and is not committed to wakefulness. It’s quite impossible for such a mendicant to maintain the full and pure spiritual life for the rest of their life. But it is quite possible for a mendicant to maintain the full and pure spiritual life for the rest of their life if they guard the sense doors, eat in moderation, and are committed to wakefulness.

And how does someone guard the sense doors? When a mendicant sees a sight with the eyes, they don’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of sight were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of covetousness and displeasure would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of sight, and achieving its restraint. When they hear a sound with their ears … When they smell an odor with their nose … When they taste a flavor with their tongue … When they feel a touch with their body … When they know an idea with their mind, they don’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of mind were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of covetousness and displeasure would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of mind, and achieving its restraint. That’s how someone guards the sense doors.

And how does someone eat in moderation? It’s when a mendicant reflects rationally on the food that they eat: ‘Not for fun, indulgence, adornment, or decoration, but only to sustain this body, to avoid harm, and to support spiritual practice. In this way, I shall put an end to old discomfort and not give rise to new discomfort, and I will live blamelessly and at ease.’ That’s how someone eats in moderation.

And how is someone committed to wakefulness? It’s when a mendicant practices walking and sitting meditation by day, purifying their mind from obstacles. In the evening, they continue to practice walking and sitting meditation. In the middle of the night, they lie down in the lion’s posture—on the right side, placing one foot on top of the other—mindful and aware, and focused on the time of getting up. In the last part of the night, they get up and continue to practice walking and sitting meditation, purifying their mind from obstacles. That’s how someone is committed to wakefulness.

So you should train like this: ‘We will guard the sense doors, eat in moderation, and be committed to wakefulness.’ That’s how you should train.”


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SN 47.10 Bhikkhunupassayasutta: The Bhikkhunis’ Quarter

Then in the morning the Venerable Ānanda dressed and, taking bowl and robe, he approached the bhikkhunis’ quarters and sat down in the appointed seat. Then a number of bhikkhunis approached the Venerable Ānanda, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Here, Venerable Ānanda, a number of bhikkhunis, dwelling with their minds well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, perceive successively loftier stages of distinction.”

“So it is, sisters, so it is! It may be expected of anyone, sisters—whether bhikkhu or bhikkhuni—who dwells with a mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, that such a one will perceive successively loftier stages of distinction.”

Then the Venerable Ānanda instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened those bhikkhunis with a Dhamma talk, after which he rose from his seat and left. Then the Venerable Ānanda walked for alms in Savatthi. When he had returned from the alms round, after his meal he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported all that had happened. The Blessed One said:

“So it is, Ānanda, so it is! It may be expected of anyone, Ānanda—whether bhikkhu or bhikkhuni—who dwells with a mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, that such a one will perceive successively loftier stages of distinction.

“What four? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he is contemplating the body in the body, there arises in him, based on the body, either a fever in the body or sluggishness of mind, or the mind is distracted outwardly. That bhikkhu should then direct his mind towards some inspiring sign. When he directs his mind towards some inspiring sign, gladness is born. When he is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil. One tranquil in body experiences happiness. The mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. He reflects thus: ‘The purpose for the sake of which I directed my mind has been achieved. Let me now withdraw it.’ So he withdraws the mind and does not think or examine. He understands: ‘Without thought and examination, internally mindful, I am happy.’

“Again, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he is contemplating phenomena in phenomena, there arises in him, based on phenomena, either a fever in the body or sluggishness of mind, or the mind is distracted outwardly. That bhikkhu should then direct his mind towards some inspiring sign. When he directs his mind towards some inspiring sign … He understands: ‘Without thought and examination, internally mindful, I am happy.’

“It is in such a way, Ānanda, that there is development by direction.

“And how, Ānanda, is there development without direction? Not directing his mind outwardly, a bhikkhu understands: ‘My mind is not directed outwardly.’ Then he understands: ‘It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.’ Then he further understands: ‘I dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful; I am happy.’

“Not directing his mind outwardly, a bhikkhu understands: ‘My mind is not directed outwardly.’ Then he understands: ‘It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.’ Then he further understands: ‘I dwell contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful; I am happy.’

“Not directing his mind outwardly, a bhikkhu understands: ‘My mind is not directed outwardly.’ Then he understands: ‘It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.’ Then he further understands: ‘I dwell contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful; I am happy.’

“Not directing his mind outwardly, a bhikkhu understands: ‘My mind is not directed outwardly.’ Then he understands: ‘It is unconstricted after and before, liberated, undirected.’ Then he further understands: ‘I dwell contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful; I am happy.’

“It is in this way, Ānanda, that there is development without direction.

“Thus, Ānanda, I have taught development by direction, I have taught development without direction. Whatever should be done, Ānanda, by a compassionate teacher out of compassion for his disciples, desiring their welfare, that I have done for you. These are the feet of trees, Ānanda, these are empty huts. Meditate, Ānanda, do not be negligent, lest you regret it later. This is our instruction to you.”

This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the Venerable Ānanda delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 47.10 Bhikkhunupassayasutta: The Bhikkhunis’ Quarter by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 35.100 Paṭisallānasutta: Retreat

“Mendicants, meditate in retreat. A mendicant in retreat truly understands. What do they truly understand?

They truly understand that the eye is impermanent. They truly understand that sights … eye consciousness … eye contact … the pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by eye contact is impermanent. …

They truly understand that the eye is impermanent.… ear… nose… tongue… body…

They truly understand that the mind is impermanent. They truly understand that ideas … mind consciousness … mind contact … the pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by mind contact is impermanent.

Mendicants, meditate in retreat. A mendicant in retreat truly understands.”


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SN 34.2 Samadhimulakathitisutta: Remaining in Immersion

[Note: “Immersion” is Bhante Sujato’s usual translation for samadhi.]

At Sāvatthī.

“Mendicants, there are these four meditators. What four?

One meditator is skilled in immersion but not in remaining in it.

One meditator is skilled in remaining in immersion but is not skilled in immersion.

One meditator is skilled neither in immersion nor in remaining in it.

One meditator is skilled both in immersion and in remaining in it.

Of these, the meditator skilled in immersion and in remaining in it is the foremost, best, leading, highest, and finest of the four.

From a cow comes milk, from milk comes curds, from curds come butter, from butter comes ghee, and from ghee comes cream of ghee. And the cream of ghee is said to be the best of these.

In the same way, the meditator skilled in immersion and remaining in it is the foremost, best, leading, highest, and finest of the four.”


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SN 21.1 Kolitasutta: Kolita

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. There the Venerable Mahamoggallana addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Friends, bhikkhus!”

“Friend!” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Mahamoggallana said this:

“Here, friends, while I was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in my mind thus: ‘It is said, “noble silence, noble silence.” What now is noble silence?’

“Then, friends, it occurred to me: ‘Here, with the subsiding of thought and examination, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. This is called noble silence.’

“Then, friends, with the subsiding of thought and examination, I entered and dwelt in the second jhana, which … has rapture and happiness born of concentration. While I dwelt therein, perception and attention accompanied by thought assailed me.

“Then, friends, the Blessed One came to me by means of spiritual power and said this: ‘Moggallana, Moggallana, do not be negligent regarding noble silence, brahmin. Steady your mind in noble silence, unify your mind in noble silence, concentrate your mind on noble silence.’ Then, friends, on a later occasion, with the subsiding of thought and examination, I entered and dwelt in the second jhana, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration.

“If, friends, one speaking rightly could say of anyone: ‘He is a disciple who attained to greatness of direct knowledge with the assistance of the Teacher,’ it is of me that one could rightly say this.”


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SN 35.238 Āsīvisopamasutta: The Simile of the Vipers

“Mendicants, suppose there were four lethal poisonous vipers. Then a person would come along who wants to live and doesn’t want to die, who wants to be happy and recoils from pain.

They’d say to him, ‘Mister, here are four lethal poisonous vipers. They must be periodically picked up, washed, fed, and put to sleep. But when one or other of these four poisonous vipers gets angry with you, you’ll meet with death or deadly pain. So then, mister, do what has to be done.’

Then that man, terrified of those four poisonous vipers, would flee this way or that.

They’d say to him, ‘Mister, there are five deadly enemies chasing you, thinking: “When we catch sight of him, we’ll murder him right there!” So then, mister, do what has to be done.’

Then that man, terrified of those four poisonous vipers and those five deadly enemies, would flee this way or that.

They’d say to him, ‘Mister, there’s a sixth hidden killer chasing you with a drawn sword, thinking: “When I catch sight of him, I’ll chop off his head right there!” So then, mister, do what has to be done.’

Then that man, terrified of those four poisonous vipers and those five deadly enemies and the hidden killer, would flee this way or that.

He’d see an empty village. But whatever house he enters is vacant, deserted, and empty. And whatever vessel he touches is vacant, hollow, and empty.

They’d say to him, ‘Mister, there are bandits who raid villages, and they’re striking now. So then, mister, do what has to be done.’

Then that man, terrified of those four poisonous vipers and those five deadly enemies and the hidden killer and the bandits, would flee this way or that.

He’d see a large deluge, whose near shore is dubious and perilous, while the far shore is a sanctuary free of peril. But there’s no ferryboat or bridge for crossing over.

Then that man thought, ‘Why don’t I gather grass, sticks, branches, and leaves and make a raft? Riding on the raft, and paddling with my hands and feet, I can safely reach the far shore.’

And so that man did exactly that. Having crossed over and gone beyond, the brahmin stands on the far shore.

I’ve made up this simile to make a point. And this is the point.

‘Four lethal poisonous vipers’ is a term for the four primary elements: the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.

‘Five deadly enemies’ is a term for the five grasping aggregates, that is: form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness.

‘The sixth hidden killer with a drawn sword’ is a term for relishing and greed.

‘Empty village’ is a term for the six interior sense fields. If an astute, competent, clever person investigates this in relation to the eye, it appears vacant, hollow, and empty. If an astute, competent, clever person investigates this in relation to the ear … nose … tongue … body … mind, it appears vacant, hollow, and empty.

‘Bandits who raid villages’ is a term for the six exterior sense fields. The eye is struck by both agreeable and disagreeable sights. The ear … nose … tongue … body … mind is struck by both agreeable and disagreeable ideas.

‘Large deluge’ is a term for the four floods: the floods of sensual pleasures, desire to be reborn, views, and ignorance.

‘The near shore that’s dubious and perilous’ is a term for substantial reality.

‘The far shore, a sanctuary free of peril’ is a term for extinguishment.

‘The raft’ is a term for the noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.

‘Paddling with hands and feet’ is a term for rousing energy.

‘Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on the shore’ is a term for a perfected one.”


Note: “Perfected one” is the translation for arahant.

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SN 47.6 Sakuṇagghisutta: The Hawk

“Bhikkhus, once in the past a hawk suddenly swooped down and seized a quail. Then, while the quail was being carried off by the hawk, he lamented: ‘We were so unlucky, of so little merit! We strayed out of our own resort into the domain of others. If we had stayed in our own resort today, in our own ancestral domain, this hawk wouldn’t have stood a chance against me in a fight.’—‘But what is your own resort, quail, what is your own ancestral domain?’—‘The freshly ploughed field covered with clods of soil.’

“Then the hawk, confident of her own strength, not boasting of her own strength, released the quail, saying: ‘Go now, quail, but even there you won’t escape me.’

“Then, bhikkhus, the quail went to a freshly ploughed field covered with clods of soil. Having climbed up on a large clod, he stood there and addressed the hawk: ‘Come get me now, hawk! Come get me now, hawk!’

“Then the hawk, confident of her own strength, not boasting of her own strength, folded up both her wings and suddenly swooped down on the quail. But when the quail knew, ‘That hawk has come close,’ he slipped inside that clod, and the hawk shattered her breast right on the spot. So it is, bhikkhus, when one strays outside one’s own resort into the domain of others.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, do not stray outside your own resort into the domain of others. Mara will gain access to those who stray outside their own resort into the domain of others; Mara will get a hold on them.

“And what is not a bhikkhu’s own resort but the domain of others? It is the five cords of sensual pleasure. What five? Forms cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. Sounds cognizable by the ear … Odours cognizable by the nose … Tastes cognizable by the tongue … Tactile objects cognizable by the body that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. These are the five cords of sensual pleasure. This is what is not a bhikkhu’s own resort but the domain of others.

“Move in your own resort, bhikkhus, in your own ancestral domain. Mara will not gain access to those who move in their own resort, in their own ancestral domain; Mara will not get a hold on them.

“And what is a bhikkhu’s resort, his own ancestral domain? It is the four establishments of mindfulness. What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is a bhikkhu’s resort, his own ancestral domain.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 47.6 Sakuṇagghisutta: The Hawk by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net.

SN 23.2 Sattasutta: Sentient Beings

At Sāvatthī.

Seated to one side, Venerable Rādha said to the Buddha:

“Sir, they speak of this thing called a ‘sentient being’. How is a sentient being defined?”

“Rādha, when you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for form, then a being is spoken of. When you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, then a being is spoken of.

Suppose some boys or girls were playing with sandcastles. As long as they’re not rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those sandcastles, they cherish them, fancy them, treasure them, and treat them as their own. But when they are rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those sandcastles, they scatter, destroy, and demolish them with their hands and feet, making them unplayable.

In the same way, you should scatter, destroy, and demolish form, making it unplayable. And you should practice for the ending of craving. You should scatter, destroy, and demolish feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, making it unplayable. And you should practice for the ending of craving. For the ending of craving is extinguishment.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 23.2 Sattasutta: Sentient Beings by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

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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SN 35.246 Vīṇopamasutta: The Simile of the Lute

“Bhikkhus, if in any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī desire or lust or hatred or delusion or aversion of mind should arise in regard to forms cognizable by the eye, such a one should rein in the mind from them thus: ‘This path is fearful, dangerous, strewn with thorns, covered by jungle, a deviant path, an evil path, a way beset by scarcity. This is a path followed by inferior people; it is not the path followed by superior people. This is not for you.’ In this way the mind should be reined in from these states regarding forms cognizable by the eye. So too regarding sounds cognizable by the ear … regarding mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, that the barley has ripened and the watchman is negligent. If a bull fond of barley enters the barley field, he might indulge himself as much as he likes. So too, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling who does not exercise restraint over the six bases for contact indulges himself as much as he likes in the five cords of sensual pleasure.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, that the barley has ripened and the watchman is vigilant. If a bull fond of barley enters the barley field, the watchman would catch hold of him firmly by the muzzle. While holding him firmly by the muzzle, he would get a secure grip on the locks between his horns and, keeping him in check there, would give him a sound beating with his staff. After giving him that beating, he would drive the bull away. This might happen a second time and a third time. Thus that bull fond of barley, whether he has gone to the village or the forest, whether he is accustomed to standing or to sitting, remembering the previous beating he got from the staff, would not enter that barley field again.

“So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu’s mind has been subdued, well subdued, regarding the six bases for contact, it then becomes inwardly steady, settled, unified, and concentrated.

“Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a king or a royal minister who had never before heard the sound of a lute. He might hear the sound of a lute and say: ‘Good man, what is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling?’ They would say to him: ‘Sire, it is a lute that is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ He would reply: ‘Go, man, bring me that lute.’

“They would bring him the lute and tell him: ‘Sire, this is that lute, the sound of which was so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ The king would say: ‘I’ve had enough with this lute, man. Bring me just that sound.’ The men would reply: ‘This lute, sire, consists of numerous components, of a great many components, and it gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components; that is, in dependence on the parchment sounding board, the belly, the arm, the head, the strings, the plectrum, and the appropriate effort of the musician. So it is, sire, that this lute consisting of numerous components, of a great many components, gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components.’

“The king would split the lute into ten or a hundred pieces, then he would reduce these to splinters. Having reduced them to splinters, he would burn them in a fire and reduce them to ashes, and he would winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by the swift current of a river. Then he would say: ‘A poor thing, indeed sir, is this so-called lute, as well as anything else called a lute. How the multitude are utterly heedless about it, utterly taken in by it!’

“So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form, he investigates feeling to the extent that there is a range for feeling, he investigates perception to the extent that there is a range for perception, he investigates volitional formations to the extent that there is a range for volitional formations, he investigates consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness. As he investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form … consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness, whatever notions of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am’ had occurred to him before no longer occur to him.”



Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 35.246 Vīṇopamasutta: The Simile of the Lute by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net.

SN 17.3 Kummasutta: A Turtle

At Sāvatthī.

“Possessions, honor, and popularity are brutal, bitter, and harsh. They’re an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

Once upon a time in a certain lake there was a large family of turtles that had lived there for a long time. Then one of the turtles said to another, ‘My dear turtle, don’t you go to that place.’

But that turtle did go to that place, and a hunter pierced her with a harpoon.

Then that turtle went back to the other turtle. When the other turtle saw her coming off in the distance, he said, ‘My dear turtle, I hope you didn’t go to that place!’

‘I did.’

‘But my dear turtle, I hope you’re not hurt or injured!’

‘I’m not hurt or injured. But this cord keeps dragging behind me.’

‘Indeed, my dear turtle, you’re hurt and injured! Your father and grandfather met with tragedy and disaster because of such a cord. Go now, you are no longer one of us.’

‘Hunter’ is a term for Māra the Wicked.

‘Harpoon’ is a term for possessions, honor, and popularity.

‘Cord’ is a term for greed and relishing.

Whoever enjoys and likes arisen possessions, honor, and popularity is called a mendicant who has been pierced with a harpoon. They’ve met with tragedy and disaster, and the Wicked One can do with them what he wants.

So brutal are possessions, honor, and popularity—bitter and harsh, an obstacle to reaching the supreme sanctuary from the yoke.

So you should train like this: ‘We will give up arisen possessions, honor, and popularity, and we won’t let them occupy our minds.’ That’s how you should train.”


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SN 45.152 Rukkhasutta: Trees

“Mendicants, suppose a tree slants, slopes, and inclines to the east. If it was cut off at the root, where would it fall?”

“Sir, it would fall in the direction that it slants, slopes, and inclines.”

“In the same way, a mendicant who develops and cultivates the noble eightfold path slants, slopes, and inclines to extinguishment.

And how does a mendicant who develops the noble eightfold path slant, slope, and incline to extinguishment? It’s when a mendicant develops right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. That’s how a mendicant who develops and cultivates the noble eightfold path slants, slopes, and inclines to extinguishment.”


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SN 36.6 Sallasutta: The Dart

“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling feels a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. The instructed noble disciple too feels a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Therein, bhikkhus, what is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed worldling?”

“Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”

“Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, when the uninstructed worldling is being contacted by a painful feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and laments; he weeps beating his breast and becomes distraught. He feels two feelings—a bodily one and a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, and then they would strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by two darts. So too, when the uninstructed worldling is being contacted by a painful feeling … he feels two feelings—a bodily one and a mental one.

“Being contacted by that same painful feeling, he harbours aversion towards it. When he harbours aversion towards painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling lies behind this. Being contacted by painful feeling, he seeks delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the uninstructed worldling does not know of any escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure. When he seeks delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling lies behind this. He does not understand as it really is the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. When he does not understand these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling lies behind this.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it attached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. This, bhikkhus, is called an uninstructed worldling who is attached to birth, aging, and death; who is attached to sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is attached to suffering, I say.

“Bhikkhus, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament; he does not weep beating his breast and become distraught. He feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, but they would not strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by one dart only. So too, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling … he feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one.

“Being contacted by that same painful feeling, he harbours no aversion towards it. Since he harbours no aversion towards painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling does not lie behind this. Being contacted by painful feeling, he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the instructed noble disciple knows of an escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure. Since he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling does not lie behind this. He understands as it really is the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. Since he understands these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling does not lie behind this.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. This, bhikkhus, is called a noble disciple who is detached from birth, aging, and death; who is detached from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is detached from suffering, I say.

“This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed worldling.”

The wise one, learned, does not feel
The pleasant and painful mental feeling.
This is the great difference between
The wise one and the worldling.

For the learned one who has comprehended Dhamma,
Who clearly sees this world and the next,
Desirable things do not provoke his mind,
Towards the undesired he has no aversion.

For him attraction and repulsion no more exist;
Both have been extinguished, brought to an end.
Having known the dust-free, sorrowless state,
The transcender of existence rightly understands.



Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 36.6 Sallasutta: The Dart by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, DhammaTalks.org or AccessToInsight.org. Or listen on SC-Voice.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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SN 47.19 Sedakasutta: Sedaka

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sumbhas, where there was a town of the Sumbhas named Sedaka. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:

“Bhikkhus, once in the past an acrobat set up his bamboo pole and addressed his apprentice Medakathalika thus: ‘Come, dear Medakathalika, climb the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.’ Having replied, ‘Yes, teacher,’ the apprentice Medakathalika climbed up the bamboo pole and stood on the teacher’s shoulders. The acrobat then said to the apprentice Medakathalika: ‘You protect me, dear Medakathalika, and I’ll protect you. Thus guarded by one another, protected by one another, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’ When this was said, the apprentice Medakathalika replied: ‘That’s not the way to do it, teacher. You protect yourself, teacher, and I’ll protect myself. Thus, each self-guarded and self-protected, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’

“That’s the method there,” the Blessed One said. “It’s just as the apprentice Medakathalika said to the teacher. ‘I will protect myself,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. ‘I will protect others,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. Protecting oneself, bhikkhus, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.

“And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

“And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, lovingkindness, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

“‘I will protect myself,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. ‘I will protect others,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. Protecting oneself, bhikkhus, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 47.19 Sedakasutta: Sedaka by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on 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


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 20.7 Āṇi Sutta. The Peg 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 48.54 Padasutta: Footprints

“The footprints of all creatures that walk can fit inside an elephant’s footprint, so an elephant’s footprint is said to be the biggest of them all. In the same way, the faculty of wisdom is said to be the best of the steps that lead to awakening in terms of becoming awakened.

And what are the steps that lead to awakening? The faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom are steps that lead to awakening, in that they lead to becoming awakened.

The footprints of all creatures that walk can fit inside an elephant’s footprint, so an elephant’s footprint is said to be the biggest of them all. In the same way, the faculty of wisdom is said to be the best of the steps that lead to awakening in terms of becoming awakened.”


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SN 10.12 Āḷavakasutta: With Āḷavaka

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Āḷavī in the haunt of the native spirit Āḷavaka.

Then the native spirit Āḷavaka went up to the Buddha, and said to him: “Get out, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went out.

“Get in, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went in.

And for a second time the native spirit Āḷavaka said to the Buddha, “Get out, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went out.

“Get in, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went in.

And for a third time the native spirit Āḷavaka said to the Buddha, “Get out, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went out.

“Get in, ascetic!”

Saying, “All right, sir,” the Buddha went in.

And for a fourth time the native spirit Āḷavaka said to the Buddha,

“Get out, ascetic!”

“No, sir, I won’t get out. Do what you must.”

“I will ask you a question, ascetic. If you don’t answer me, I’ll drive you insane, or explode your heart, or grab you by the feet and throw you to the far shore of the Ganges!”

“I don’t see anyone in this world with its gods, Māras, and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its gods and humans who could do that to me. But anyway, ask what you wish.”

“What’s a person’s best wealth?
What brings happiness when practiced well?
What’s the sweetest taste of all?
The one they say has the best life: how do they live?”

“Faith here is a person’s best wealth.
The teaching brings happiness when practiced well.
Truth is the sweetest taste of all.
The one they say has the best life lives by wisdom.”

“How do you cross the flood?
How do you cross the deluge?
How do you get over suffering?
How do you get purified?”

“By faith you cross the flood,
and by diligence the deluge.
By energy you get past suffering,
and you’re purified by wisdom.”

“How do you get wisdom?
How do you earn wealth?
How do you get a good reputation?
How do you hold on to friends?
How do the departed not grieve
when passing from this world to the next?”

“One who is diligent and discerning
gains wisdom by wanting to learn,
having faith in the perfected ones,
and the teaching for becoming extinguished.

Being responsible, acting appropriately,
and working hard you earn wealth.
Truthfulness wins you a good reputation.
You hold on to friends by giving.
That’s how the departed do not grieve
when passing from this world to the next.

A faithful householder
who has these four qualities
does not grieve after passing away:
truth, principle, steadfastness, and generosity.

Go ahead, ask others as well,
there are many ascetics and brahmins.
See whether anything better is found
than truth, self-control, generosity, and patience.”

“Why now would I question
the many ascetics and brahmins?
Today I understand
what’s good for the next life.

It was truly for my benefit
that the Buddha came to stay at Āḷavī.
Today I understand
where a gift is very fruitful.

I myself will journey
village to village, town to town,
paying homage to the Buddha,
and the natural excellence of the teaching!”


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SN 22.27 Dutiyaassādasutta: Gratification (2)

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the gratification in form. Whatever gratification there is in form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the gratification in form extends.

“Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the danger in form. Whatever danger there is in form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the danger in form extends.

“Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the escape from form. Whatever escape there is from form—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the escape from form extends.

“Bhikkhus, I set out seeking the gratification in … the danger in … the escape from feeling … from perception … from volitional formations … from consciousness. Whatever escape there is from consciousness—that I discovered. I have clearly seen with wisdom just how far the escape from consciousness extends.

“So long, bhikkhus, as I did not directly know as they really are the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these five aggregates subject to clinging, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Mara, and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.

“The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is my liberation of mind; this is my last birth; now there is no more renewed existence.’”



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