Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion

To me—
     my mind resolute in exertion
     near the river Nerañjarā,
     making a great effort,
     doing jhāna
     to attain rest from the yoke—

Nāmuci came,
     speaking words of compassion:
“You are ashen, thin.
     Death is in
     your presence.
Death
has 1,000 parts of you.
Only one part
is your life.
Live, good sir!
Life is better.
          Alive,
     you can do
     acts of merit.
Your living the holy life
and performing the fire sacrifice
will heap up much merit.
     What use is exertion to you?
Hard to follow
—the path of exertion—
hard to do, hard
to sustain.”

Saying these verses,
Māra stood in the Awakened One’s presence.
And to that Māra, speaking thus,
the Blessed One
said this:

“Kinsman of the heedless,
     Evil One,
come here for whatever purpose:
I haven’t, for merit,
even the least bit of need.
Those who have need of merit:
Those are the ones
Māra’s fit to address.

In me are
          conviction
          austerity,
          persistence,
          discernment.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
do you petition me
     to live?
This wind could burn up
     even river currents.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
shouldn’t my blood dry away?
As my blood dries up,
gall & phlegm dry up,
as muscles waste away,
the mind grows clearer;
mindfulness, discernment,
concentration stand
     more firm.
Staying in this way,
attaining the ultimate feeling,
the mind has no interest
in sensuality.
     See:
     a being’s
     purity!

Sensual passions are your first army.
Your second     is called Discontent.
Your third     is Hunger & Thirst.
Your fourth     is called Craving.
Fifth     is Sloth & Torpor.
Sixth     is called Cowardice.
Your seventh     is Uncertainty.
Hypocrisy & Stubbornness, your eighth.
Gains, Offerings, Fame, & Status
     wrongly gained,
and whoever would praise self
& disparage others:

That, Nāmuci, is your army,
the Dark One’s commando force.
A coward can’t defeat it,
but one having defeated it
     gains bliss.
Do I carry muñja grass?
I spit on my life.
Death in battle would be better for me
     than that I, defeated,
          survive.

Sinking here, they don’t appear,
     some brahmans & contemplatives.
They don’t know the path
by which those with good practices
          go.

Seeing the bannered force
     on all sides—
the troops, Māra
along with his mount—
I go into battle.
May they not budge me
     from
     my spot.
That army of yours,
that the world with its devas
     can’t overcome,
I will smash          with discernment—
as an unfired pot     with a stone.

Making my     resolve mastered,
               mindfulness well-established,
I will go about, from kingdom to kingdom,
training many disciples.
They—heedful, resolute in mind,
doing my bidding—
despite your wishes, will go
     where, having gone,
     there’s no grief.”

Māra:
“For seven years, I’ve dogged
the Blessed One’s steps,
but haven’t gained an opening
in the One Self-Awakened
     & glorious.
A crow circled a stone
the color of fat
     —’Maybe I’ve found
     something tender here.
     Maybe there’s something delicious’—
but not getting anything delicious there,
the crow went away.
Like the crow attacking the rock,
I weary myself with Gotama.”

As he was overcome with sorrow,
his lute fell from under his arm.
Then he, the despondent spirit,
          right there
     disappeared.


Read this translation of Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.

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