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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 Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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