SN 6.1 Ayācana Sutta The Discourse on Brahmā’s Request

This is how I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying in the province of Uruvelā on the Nerañjarā river bank at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan tree, just after the Blessed One had become fully enlightened. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in meditation, a thought occurred in his mind thus:

“This Dhamma that I have realized is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, cannot be realized by reasoning, subtle, and to be experienced by the wise. But this generation is stuck in desire, delights in desire, and rejoices in desire. For a generation that is stuck in desire, delights in desire, and rejoices in desire, realizing this Dhamma that is about the law of causality and the law of dependent arising will be very hard to understand. Nibbāna is the state of dispassion, cessation, stilling in all formations, complete removal of all defilements, and the destruction of craving. Attaining this Nibbāna is very hard for such a generation.

“Therefore if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, and that would be troublesome for me.”

Thereupon these astounding verses, not heard before in the past, occurred to the Blessed One:

“I realized this Dhamma with so much hardship.
It is of no use teaching this to others.
These beings who are burdened
by lust and hate wouldn’t easily
understand this Dhamma.

“This Dhamma practice
is like going upstream.
It is deep, subtle, and hard to see.
These beings that are fired by lust
and covered by darkness of ignorance
will never see this very refined Dhamma.”

As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to living at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma. Then Brahmā Sahampati, having known the reflection in the Blessed One’s mind, thought: “Alas, the world is lost! The world will perish! The mind of the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Supremely Enlightened One has inclined to living at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.”

Then, just as quickly as a strong man extends his drawn-in arm or draws in his extended arm, Brahmā Sahampati disappeared from the brahmā world and reappeared in front of the Blessed One. Brahmā Sahampati arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, knelt down with his right knee on the ground, worshipping respectfully, he said to the Blessed One: “Bhante, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the Fortunate One teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little defilement. If they do not get to hear the Dhamma they will deteriorate. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma if they get to hear it.”

Having said this, Brahmā Sahampati further said this verse:

“In the past
among the people in the province of Magadha,
many impure views appeared
that were introduced by defiled people.
Therefore please open the door
to the Deathless, Nibbāna!
Let all beings hear the Supreme Dhamma
discovered by the Supreme Buddha
who has stainless wisdom.

“Just as one standing on a mountain peak
might see below the people all around,
so too, oh wise one,
the sage who sees everything,
please, ascend the palace made of the Dhamma.
Look at the people
disturbed by sorrow
and burdened by birth and decay!

“Rise up, oh hero,
victor in battle with Māra!
Oh caravan leader, debt-free sage,
wander in the world.
Oh Blessed One,
please teach the Supreme Dhamma!
There will be those who will definitely understand.”

Then the Blessed One, having understood brahmā’s request, surveyed the world out of great compassion for beings, with the eye of a Buddha. As the Blessed One surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha, the Blessed One saw some beings with little defilement, and some with much defilement, some with the potential for keen wisdom, some with less potential for wisdom, some with easy access for understanding things clearly, some with weak access for understanding things clearly, some easy to teach, and some difficult to teach, some live seeing fear in wrongdoing and fear about the next world, some live without fear of wrongdoing and without fear about the next world.

Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses having been born in the water, grown in the water, and submerged in the water do not rise up from the water. Some lotuses having been born in the water and grown in the water, stand at an even level with the water. Some lotuses having been born in the water and grown in the water, rise up from the water and stand without being soiled by the water. So too, surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, the Blessed One saw some beings with little defilement, and some with much defilement, some with the potential for keen wisdom, some with less potential for wisdom, some with easy access for understanding things clearly, some weak access for understanding things clearly, some easy to teach, and some difficult to teach, some live seeing fear in wrong doing and fear about the next world, some live without fear of wrong doing and no fear about the next world.

Having seeing the world in this way, The Blessed One answered Brahmā Sahampati in verse:

“I opened the doors to the Deathless,
Nibbāna.
Let those who have ears
come with confidence.
Oh brahmā, foreseeing trouble,
I didn’t teach people the Dhamma
which has been well realized by me.”

Then Brahmā Sahampati, thinking, “The Blessed One has accepted my request for teaching the Dhamma,” paid homage to the Blessed One and disappeared right there.

Read this translation of SN 6.1 Ayācana Sutta: The Discourse on Brahmā’s Request on ReadingFaithfully.org or on SuttaCentral.net and DhammaTalks.org.

SN 12.15 Kaccānagottasutta: Kaccānagotta

At Sāvatthī.

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

“Sir, they speak of this thing called ‘right view’. How is right view defined?”

“Kaccāna, this world mostly relies on the dual notions of existence and non-existence.

“But when you truly see the origin of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of non-existence regarding the world. And when you truly see the cessation of the world with right understanding, you won’t have the notion of existence regarding the world.

“The world is for the most part shackled by attraction, grasping, and insisting.

“But if—when it comes to this attraction, grasping, mental fixation, insistence, and underlying tendency—you don’t get attracted, grasp, and commit to the notion ‘my self’, you’ll have no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is just suffering arising, and what ceases is just suffering ceasing. Your knowledge about this is independent of others.

“This is how right view is defined.

“‘All exists’: this is one extreme. ‘All doesn’t exist’: this is the second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Realized One teaches by the middle way:

“‘Ignorance is a condition for choices. Choices are a condition for consciousness. Consciousness is a condition for name and form. Name and form are conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are conditions for contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. Feeling is a condition for craving. Craving is a condition for grasping. Grasping is a condition for continued existence. Continued existence is a condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a condition for old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress to come to be. That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.

“When ignorance fades away and ceases with nothing left over, choices cease. When choices cease, consciousness ceases. When consciousness ceases, name and form cease. When name and form cease, the six sense fields cease. When the six sense fields cease, contact ceases. When contact ceases, feeling ceases. When feeling ceases, craving ceases. When craving ceases, grasping ceases. When grasping ceases, continued existence ceases. When continued existence ceases, rebirth ceases. When rebirth ceases, old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress cease. That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.’”


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 12.15 Kaccānagottasutta: Kaccānagotta by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, or DhammaTalks.org.

SN 22.1 Nakulapitusutta: Nakulapita

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṁsumaragira in the Bhesakaḷa Grove, the Deer Park. Then the householder Nakulapita approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“I am old, venerable sir, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage, afflicted in body, often ill. I rarely get to see the Blessed One and the bhikkhus worthy of esteem. Let the Blessed One exhort me, venerable sir, let him instruct me, since that would lead to my welfare and happiness for a long time.”

“So it is, householder, so it is! This body of yours is afflicted, weighed down, encumbered. If anyone carrying around this body were to claim to be healthy even for a moment, what is that due to other than foolishness? Therefore, householder, you should train yourself thus: ‘Even though I am afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.’ Thus should you train yourself.”

Then the householder Nakulapita, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement, rose from his seat and, having paid homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on his right, he approached the Venerable Sāriputta. Having paid homage to the Venerable Sāriputta, he sat down to one side, and the Venerable Sāriputta then said to him:

“Householder, your faculties are serene, your facial complexion is pure and bright. Did you get to hear a Dhamma talk today in the presence of the Blessed One?”

“Why not, venerable sir? Just now I was anointed by the Blessed One with the ambrosia of a Dhamma talk.”

“With what kind of ambrosia of a Dhamma talk did the Blessed One anoint you, householder?”

“Here, venerable sir, I approached the Blessed One….

The householder Nakulapita repeats his entire conversation with the Buddha.

“It was with the ambrosia of such a Dhamma talk, venerable sir, that the Blessed One anointed me.”

“Didn’t it occur to you, householder, to question the Blessed One further as to how one is afflicted in body and afflicted in mind, and how one is afflicted in body but not afflicted in mind?”

“We would come from far away, venerable sir, to learn the meaning of this statement from the Venerable Sāriputta. It would be good indeed if the Venerable Sāriputta would clear up the meaning of this statement.”

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

“Yes, venerable sir,” the householder Nakulapita replied. The Venerable Sāriputta said this:

“How, householder, is one afflicted in body and afflicted in mind? Here, householder, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He lives obsessed by the notions: ‘I am form, form is mine.’ As he lives obsessed by these notions, that form of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of form, there arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He regards feeling as self, or self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling. He lives obsessed by the notions: ‘I am feeling, feeling is mine.’ As he lives obsessed by these notions, that feeling of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of feeling, there arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He regards perception as self, or self as possessing perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception. He lives obsessed by the notions: ‘I am perception, perception is mine.’ As he lives obsessed by these notions, that perception of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of perception, there arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He regards volitional formations as self, or self as possessing volitional formations, or volitional formations as in self, or self as in volitional formations. He lives obsessed by the notions: ‘I am volitional formations, volitional formations are mine.’ As he lives obsessed by these notions, those volitional formations of his change and alter. With the change and alteration of volitional formations, there arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He regards consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. He lives obsessed by the notions: ‘I am consciousness, consciousness is mine.’ As he lives obsessed by these notions, that consciousness of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of consciousness, there arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“It is in such a way, householder, that one is afflicted in body and afflicted in mind.

“And how, householder, is one afflicted in body but not afflicted in mind? Here, householder, the instructed noble disciple, who is a seer of the noble ones and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, who is a seer of superior persons and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, does not regard form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He does not live obsessed by the notions: ‘I am form, form is mine.’ As he lives unobsessed by these notions, that form of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of form, there do not arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He does not regard feeling as self, or self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling. He does not live obsessed by the notions: ‘I am feeling, feeling is mine.’ As he lives unobsessed by these notions, that feeling of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of feeling, there do not arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He does not regard perception as self, or self as possessing perception, or perception as in self, or self as in perception. He does not live obsessed by the notions: ‘I am perception, perception is mine.’ As he lives unobsessed by these notions, that perception of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of perception, there do not arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He does not regard volitional formations as self, or self as possessing volitional formations, or volitional formations as in self, or self as in volitional formations. He does not live obsessed by the notions: ‘I am volitional formations, volitional formations are mine.’ As he lives unobsessed by these notions, those volitional formations of his change and alter. With the change and alteration of volitional formations, there do not arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“He does not regard consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. He does not live obsessed by the notions: ‘I am consciousness, consciousness is mine.’ As he lives unobsessed by these notions, that consciousness of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of consciousness, there do not arise in him sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair.

“It is in such a way, householder, that one is afflicted in body but not afflicted in mind.”

This is what the Venerable Sāriputta said. Elated, the householder Nakulapita delighted in the Venerable Sāriputta’s statement.



Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 22.1 Nakulapitusutta: Nakulapita by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, or DhammaTalks.org.