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AN 7.67 Nagaropamasutta: The Simile of the Citadel

[Sometimes the Buddha gave very complex similes to explain an important topic. We will have some of these as longer suttas on the weekends.]

“Mendicants, when a king’s frontier citadel is well provided with seven essentials and gets four kinds of sustenance when needed, without trouble or difficulty, it is then called a king’s frontier citadel that cannot be overrun by external foes and enemies.

With what seven essentials is a citadel well provided?

Firstly, a citadel has a pillar with deep foundations, firmly embedded, imperturbable and unshakable. This is the first essential with which a king’s frontier citadel is well provided, to defend those within and repel those outside.

Furthermore, a citadel has a moat that is deep and wide. This is the second essential …

Furthermore, a citadel has a patrol path that is high and wide. This is the third essential …

Furthermore, a citadel has stores of many weapons, both projectile and hand-held. This is the fourth essential …

Furthermore, many kinds of armed forces reside in a citadel, such as elephant riders, cavalry, charioteers, archers, bannermen, adjutants, food servers, warrior-chiefs, princes, chargers, great warriors, heroes, leather-clad soldiers, and sons of bondservants. This is the fifth essential …

Furthermore, a citadel has a gatekeeper who is astute, competent, and intelligent. He keeps strangers out and lets known people in. This is the sixth essential …

Furthermore, a citadel has a wall that’s high and wide, covered with plaster. This is the seventh essential with which a king’s frontier citadel is well provided, to defend those within and repel those outside.

With these seven essentials a citadel is well provided.

What are the four kinds of sustenance it gets when needed, without trouble or difficulty?

Firstly, a king’s frontier citadel has much hay, wood, and water stored up for the enjoyment, relief, and comfort of those within and to repel those outside.

Furthermore, a king’s frontier citadel has much rice and barley stored up for those within.

Furthermore, a king’s frontier citadel has much food such as sesame, green gram, and black gram stored up for those within.

Furthermore, a king’s frontier citadel has much medicine—ghee, butter, oil, honey, molasses, and salt—stored up for the enjoyment, relief, and comfort of those within and to repel those outside.

These are the four kinds of sustenance it gets when needed, without trouble or difficulty.

When a king’s frontier citadel is well provided with seven essentials and gets four kinds of sustenance when needed, without trouble or difficulty, it is then called a king’s frontier citadel that cannot be overrun by external foes and enemies.

In the same way, when a noble disciple has seven good qualities, and they get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty, they are then called a noble disciple who cannot be overrun by Māra, who cannot be overrun by the Wicked One. What are the seven good qualities that they have?

Just as a king’s frontier citadel has a pillar with deep foundations, firmly embedded, imperturbable and unshakable, to defend those within and repel those outside, in the same way a noble disciple has faith in the Realized One’s awakening: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ A noble disciple with faith as their pillar gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the first good quality they have.

Just as a citadel has a moat that is deep and wide, in the same way a noble disciple has a conscience. They’re conscientious about bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and conscientious about having any bad, unskillful qualities. A noble disciple with a conscience as their moat gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the second good quality they have.

Just as a citadel has a patrol path that is high and wide, in the same way a noble disciple is prudent. They’re prudent when it comes to bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and prudent when it comes to acquiring any bad, unskillful qualities. A noble disciple with prudence as their patrol path gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the third good quality they have.

Just as a citadel has stores of many weapons, both projectile and hand-held, in the same way a noble disciple is very learned. They remember and keep what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reciting them, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically. A noble disciple with learning as their weapon gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the fourth good quality they have.

Just as many kinds of armed forces reside in a citadel … in the same way a noble disciple is energetic. They live with energy roused up for giving up unskillful qualities and embracing skillful qualities. They are strong, staunchly vigorous, not slacking off when it comes to developing skillful qualities. A noble disciple with energy as their armed forces gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the fifth good quality they have.

Just as a citadel has a gatekeeper who is astute, competent, and intelligent, who keeps strangers out and lets known people in, in the same way a noble disciple is mindful. They have utmost mindfulness and alertness, and can remember and recall what was said and done long ago. A noble disciple with mindfulness as their gatekeeper gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the sixth good quality they have.

Just as a citadel has a wall that’s high and wide, covered with plaster, to defend those within and repel those outside, in the same way a noble disciple is wise. They have the wisdom of arising and passing away which is noble, penetrative, and leads to the complete ending of suffering. A noble disciple with wisdom as their wall gives up the unskillful and develops the skillful, they give up the blameworthy and develop the blameless, and they keep themselves pure. This is the seventh good quality they have. These are the seven good qualities that they have.

And what are the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—that they get when they want, without trouble or difficulty? Just as a king’s frontier citadel has much hay, wood, and water stored up for the enjoyment, relief, and comfort of those within and to repel those outside, in the same way a noble disciple, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. This is for their own enjoyment, relief, and comfort, and for alighting upon extinguishment.

Just as a king’s frontier citadel has much rice and barley stored up, in the same way, as the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled, a noble disciple enters and remains in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and mind at one, without placing the mind and keeping it connected. This is for their own enjoyment, relief, and comfort, and for alighting upon extinguishment.

Just as a king’s frontier citadel has much food such as sesame, green gram, and black gram stored up, in the same way with the fading away of rapture, a noble disciple enters and remains in the third absorption, where they meditate with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’ This is for their own enjoyment, relief, and comfort, and for alighting upon extinguishment.

Just as a king’s frontier citadel has much medicine—ghee, butter, oil, honey, molasses, and salt—stored up for the enjoyment, relief, and comfort of those within and to repel those outside, in the same way, giving up pleasure and pain, and ending former happiness and sadness, a noble disciple enters and remains in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness. This is for their own enjoyment, relief, and comfort, and for alighting upon extinguishment. These are the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—which they get when they want, without trouble or difficulty.

When a noble disciple has seven good qualities, and they get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty, they are then called a noble disciple who cannot be overrun by Māra, who cannot be overrun by the Wicked One.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 7.67 Nagaropamasutta: The Simile of the Citadel by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on DhammaTalks.org or SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Bengali, Español, Indonesian, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Norsk, Português, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, ไทย, Tiếng Việt, or 汉语. Learn how to find your language.

AN 10.17 Nātha Sutta: Protectors (1)

[Note: “Discerning” is Ajahn Thianssaro’s usual translation for pañña.]

“Live with a protector, monks, and not without a protector. He suffers, one who lives without a protector. And these ten are qualities creating a protector. Which ten?

“There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults. And the fact that he is virtuous… seeing danger in the slightest faults is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk has heard much, has retained what he has heard, has stored what he has heard. Whatever teachings are admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end, that—in their meaning and expression—proclaim the holy life that is entirely perfect, surpassingly pure: Those he has listened to often, retained, discussed, accumulated, examined with his mind, & well-penetrated in terms of his views. And the fact that he has heard much… well-penetrated in terms of his views is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk has admirable friends, admirable comrades, admirable companions. And the fact that he has admirable friends, admirable comrades, admirable companions is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is easy to speak to, endowed with qualities that make him easy to speak to, patient, respectful to instruction. And the fact that he is easy to speak to… respectful to instruction is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is adept at the various affairs involving his companions in the holy life; is vigorous, quick-witted in the techniques involved in them, is up to doing them or arranging to get them done. And the fact that he is adept at… doing them or arranging to get them done is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is one who desires the Dhamma, endearing in his conversation, greatly rejoicing in the higher Dhamma & higher Vinaya. And the fact that he is one who desires the Dhamma, endearing in his conversation, greatly rejoicing in the higher Dhamma & higher Vinaya is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful qualities and for taking on skillful qualities. He is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities. And the fact that he keeps his persistence aroused… not shirking his duties with regard to skillful qualities is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is content with any old robe cloth at all, any old alms food, any old lodging, any old medicinal requisites for curing sickness at all. And the fact that he is content with any old robe cloth at all, any old alms food, any old lodging, any old medicinal requisites for curing sickness at all is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & recollecting what was done and said a long time ago. And the fact that he is mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & recollecting what was done and said a long time ago is a quality creating a protector.

“Then again, the monk is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away—noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. And the fact that the monk is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away—noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress is a quality creating a protector.

“Live with a protector, monks, and not without a protector. He suffers, one who lives without a protector. These are the ten qualities creating a protector.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 10.17 Nātha Sutta. Protectors (1) by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

Or read a translation in Deutsch, Français, Bengali, Indonesian, Italiano, မြန်မာဘာသာ, Português, ру́сский язы́к, සිංහල, ไทย, Tiếng Việt, or 汉语. Learn how to find your language.

AN 5.96 Sutadharasutta: Remembering What You’ve Learned

“Mendicants, a mendicant cultivating mindfulness of breathing who has five things will soon penetrate the unshakable. What five?

It’s when a mendicant has few requirements and duties, and is unburdensome and contented with life’s necessities.

They eat little, not devoted to filling their stomach.

They are rarely drowsy, and are dedicated to wakefulness.

They’re very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reinforcing them by recitation, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically.

They review the extent of their mind’s freedom.

A mendicant cultivating mindfulness of breathing who has these five things will soon penetrate the unshakable.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.96 Sutadharasutta: Remembering What You’ve Learned by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on DhammaTalks.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net.

AN 4.6 Appassutasutta: One of Little Learning

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of persons found existing in the world. What four? One of little learning who is not intent on what he has learned; one of little learning who is intent on what he has learned; one of much learning who is not intent on what he has learned; and one of much learning who is intent on what he has learned.

(1) “And how is a person one of little learning who is not intent on what he has learned? Here, someone has learned little—that is, of the discourses, mixed prose and verse, expositions, verses, inspired utterances, quotations, birth stories, amazing accounts, and questions-and-answers—but he does not understand the meaning of what he has learned; he does not understand the Dhamma; and he does not practice in accordance with the Dhamma. In such a way, a person is one of little learning who is not intent on what he has learned.

(2) “And how is a person one of little learning who is intent on what he has learned? Here, someone has learned little—that is, of the discourses … questions-and-answers—but having understood the meaning of what he has learned, and having understood the Dhamma, he practices in accordance with the Dhamma. In such a way, a person is one of little learning who is intent on what he has learned.

(3) “And how is a person one of much learning who is not intent on what he has learned? Here, someone has learned much—that is, of the discourses … questions-and-answers—but he does not understand the meaning of what he has learned; he does not understand the Dhamma; and he does not practice in accordance with the Dhamma. In such a way, a person is one of much learning who is not intent on what he has learned.

(4) “And how is a person one of much learning who is intent on what he has learned? Here, someone has learned much—that is, of the discourses … questions-and-answers—and having understood the meaning of what he has learned, and having understood the Dhamma, he practices in accordance with the Dhamma. In such a way, a person is one of much learning who is intent on what he has learned.

“These, bhikkhus, are the four kinds of persons found existing in the world.”

If one has little learning
and is not settled in the virtues,
they criticize him on both counts,
virtuous behavior and learning.

If one has little learning
but is well settled in the virtues,
they praise him for his virtuous behavior;
his learning has succeeded.

If one is highly learned
but is not settled in the virtues,
they criticize him for his lack of virtue;
his learning has not succeeded.

If one is highly learned
and is settled in the virtues,
they praise him on both counts,
virtuous behavior and learning.

When a disciple of the Buddha is highly learned,
an expert on the Dhamma, endowed with wisdom,
like a coin of refined mountain gold,
who is fit to blame him?
Even the devas praise such a one;
by Brahmā too he is praised.


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 4.6 Appassutasutta: One of Little Learning by Bhikkhu Bodhi on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com or Voice.SuttaCentral.net.

Thag 17.3 From Ānandattheragāthā: Ānanda

“82,000 from the Buddha,
and 2,000 more from the monks:
84,000 teachings I’ve learned,
and these are what I promulgate.”

“A person of little learning
ages like an ox—
their flesh grows,
but not their wisdom.

A learned person who, on account of their learning,
looks down on someone of little learning,
seems to me like
a blind man holding a lamp.

You should stay close to a learned person—
don’t lose what you’ve learned.
It is the root of the spiritual life,
which is why you should memorize the teaching.

Knowing the sequence and meaning of the teaching,
expert in the interpretation of terms,
they make sure it is well memorized,
and then examine the meaning.

Accepting the teachings, they become enthusiastic;
making an effort, they weigh up the teaching.
When it’s time, they strive
serene inside themselves.

If you want to understand the teaching,
you should befriend the sort of person
who is learned and has memorized the teachings,
a wise disciple of the Buddha.

One who is learned and has memorized the teaching,
a keeper of the great hermit’s treasury,
is a visionary for the whole world,
learned and honorable.

Delighting in the teaching, enjoying the teaching,
contemplating the teaching,
a mendicant who recollects the teaching
doesn’t decline in the true teaching.”


Read the entire translation of Theragāthā 17.3 Ānandattheragāthā: Ānanda 17.3. Ānandattheragāthā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net.