Ví như người mù sờ voi, tuy họ mô tả đúng thật như chỗ sờ biết, nhưng ta thật không thể nhờ đó mà biết rõ hình thể con voi.Kinh Đại Bát Niết-bàn
Người ta trói buộc với vợ con, nhà cửa còn hơn cả sự giam cầm nơi lao ngục. Lao ngục còn có hạn kỳ được thả ra, vợ con chẳng thể có lấy một chốc lát xa lìa.Kinh Bốn mươi hai chương
Nếu chuyên cần tinh tấn thì không có việc chi là khó. Ví như dòng nước nhỏ mà chảy mãi thì cũng làm mòn được hòn đá.Kinh Lời dạy cuối cùng
Những người hay khuyên dạy, ngăn người khác làm ác, được người hiền kính yêu, bị kẻ ác không thích.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 77)
Người biết xấu hổ thì mới làm được điều lành. Kẻ không biết xấu hổ chẳng khác chi loài cầm thú.Kinh Lời dạy cuối cùng
Rời bỏ uế trược, khéo nghiêm trì giới luật, sống khắc kỷ và chân thật, người như thế mới xứng đáng mặc áo cà-sa.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 10)
Thường tự xét lỗi mình, đừng nói lỗi người khác. Kinh Đại Bát Niết-bàn
Do ái sinh sầu ưu,do ái sinh sợ hãi; ai thoát khỏi tham ái, không sầu, đâu sợ hãi?Kinh Pháp Cú (Kệ số 212)
Như bông hoa tươi đẹp, có sắc lại thêm hương; cũng vậy, lời khéo nói, có làm, có kết quả.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 52)
Người cầu đạo ví như kẻ mặc áo bằng cỏ khô, khi lửa đến gần phải lo tránh. Người học đạo thấy sự tham dục phải lo tránh xa.Kinh Bốn mươi hai chương

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Sutta Nipata

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4. Atthaka Vagga — The Octet Chapter
I. Kama Sutta: Sensual Pleasure
If one, longing for sensual pleasure,
achieves it, yes,
he's enraptured at heart.
The mortal gets what he wants.
But if for that person
— longing, desiring —
the pleasures diminish,
he's shattered,
as if shot with an arrow.
Whoever avoids sensual desires
— as he would, with his foot,
the head of a snake —
goes beyond, mindful,
this attachment in the world.
A man who is greedy
for fields, land, gold,
cattle, horses,
servants, employees,
women, relatives,
many sensual pleasures,
is overpowered with weakness
and trampled by trouble,
for pain invades him
as water, a cracked boat.
So one, always mindful,
should avoid sensual desires.
Letting them go,
he'd cross over the flood
like one who, having bailed out the boat,
has reached the far shore.
II. Guhatthaka Sutta: The Cave of the Body
Staying attached to the cave,
covered heavily over,[1]
a person sunk in confusion
is far from seclusion —
for sensual pleasures
sensual desires[2]
in the world
are not lightly let go.
Those chained by desire,
bound by becoming's allure,
aren't easily released
for there's no liberation by others.
Intent, in front or behind,[3]
on hunger for sensual pleasures
here or before —
for sensual pleasures,
busy, deluded, ungenerous,
entrenched in the out-of-tune way,[4]
they — impelled into pain — lament:
"What will we be
when we pass on from here?"
So a person should train
right here & now.
Whatever you know
as out-of-tune in the world,
don't, for its sake, act out-of-tune,
for that life, the enlightened say,
is short.
I see them,
in the world, floundering around,
people immersed in craving
for states of becoming.
Base people moan in the mouth of death,
their craving, for states of becoming & not-,[5]
See them,
floundering in their sense of mine,
like fish in the puddles
of a dried-up stream —
and, seeing this,
live with no mine,
not forming attachment
for states of becoming.
Subdue desire
for both sides,[6]
comprehending[7] sensory contact,
with no greed.
Doing nothing for which
he himself
would rebuke himself,
the enlightened person doesn't adhere
to what's seen,
to what's heard.
Comprehending perception,
he'd cross over the flood —
the sage not stuck
on possessions.
Then, with arrow removed,
living heedfully, he longs for neither —
this world,
the next.
Nd.I: "Covered heavily over" with defilements and unskillful mental qualities.
"Sensual desires/sensual pleasures": two possible meanings of kama. According to Nd.I, both meanings are intended here.
Nd.I: "In front" means experienced in the past (as does "before" two lines down); "behind" means to-be-experienced in the future.
Nd.I: "The out-of-tune way" means the ten types of unskillful action (see AN 10.176).
States of not-becoming are oblivious states of becoming that people can get themselves into through a desire for annihilation, either after death or as a goal of their religious striving (see Iti 49). As with all states of becoming, these states are impermanent and stressful.
According to Nd.I, "both sides" here has several possible meanings: sensory contact and the origination of sensory contact; past and future; name and form; internal and external sense media; self-identity and the origination of self-identity. It also might mean states of becoming and not-becoming, mentioned in the previous verse and below, in Sn 4.5.
Nd.I: Comprehending sensory contact has three aspects: being able to identify and distinguish types of sensory contact; contemplating the true nature of sensory contact (e.g., inconstant, stressful, and not-self); and abandoning attachment to sensory contact. The same three aspects would apply to comprehending perception, as mentioned in the following verse.
III. Dutthatthaka Sutta: Corrupted
There are some who dispute
corrupted at heart,
and those who dispute
their hearts set on truth,
but a sage doesn't enter
a dispute that's arisen,
which is why he is
nowhere constrained.
Now, how would one
led on by desire,
entrenched in his likes,
forming his own conclusions,
overcome his own views?
He'd dispute in line
with the way that he knows.
Whoever boasts to others, unasked,
of his practices, precepts,
is, say the skilled,
ignoble by nature —
he who speaks of himself
of his own accord.
But a monk at peace,
fully unbound in himself,
who doesn't boast of his precepts
— "That's how I am" —
he, say the skilled,
is noble by nature —
he with no vanity
with regard to the world.
One whose doctrines aren't clean —
fabricated, formed, given preference
when he sees it to his own advantage —
relies on a peace
on what can be shaken.
Because entrenchments[1] in views
aren't easily overcome
when considering what's grasped
among doctrines,
that's why
a person embraces or rejects a doctrine —
in light of these very
Now, one who is cleansed[2]
has no preconceived view
about states of becoming
or not-
anywhere in the world.
Having abandoned conceit[3] & illusion,
by what means would he go?[4]
He isn't involved.
For one who's involved
gets into disputes
over doctrines,
but how — in connection with what — [5]
would you argue
with one uninvolved?
He has nothing
embraced or rejected,[6]
has sloughed off every view
right here — every one.
Entrenchments: a rendering of the Pali term, nivesana, which can also be rendered as abode, situation, home, or establishment.
Nd.I: Cleansed through discernment.
Nd.I explains a variety of ways of understanding the word "conceit," the most comprehensive being a list of nine kinds of conceit: viewing people better than oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself; viewing people on a par with oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself; viewing people worse than oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself. In other words, the truth of the view is not the issue here; the issue is the tendency to compare oneself with others.
Nd.I: "By what means would he go" to any destination in any state of becoming.
In connection with what: a rendering of the instrumental case that attempts to cover several of its meanings, in particular "by what means" and "in terms of what." For a discussion of the use of the instrumental case in the Atthaka Vagga, see note 1 to Sn 4.9.
This reading follows the Thai, Sri Lankan, and PTS editions: atta,m niratta,m. The Burmese edition reads, attaa nirattaa: "He has no self, nor what's opposed to self." As K. R. Norman points out in the notes to his translation of this verse, the first reading is probably the correct one, as it relates to the poem's earlier reference to the unawakened person embracing or rejecting a doctrine. The fact that an awakened person is free from both embracing and rejecting is a recurring theme in this vagga and the next; the confusion in the various recensions as to whether similar lines should read atta,m/niratta,m or attaa/nirattaa is a recurring theme as well. (See Sn 4.4, note 4; Sn 4.10, note 7; Sn 4.14, note 2.)
IV. Suddhatthaka Sutta: Pure
"I see the pure, the supreme,
free from disease.
It's in connection
with what's seen
that a person's purity
Understanding thus,
having known the "supreme,"
& remaining focused
on purity,
one falls back on that knowledge.
If it's in connection
with what is seen
that a person's purity is,
or if stress is abandoned
in connection with knowledge,
then a person with acquisitions
is purified
in connection with something else,[2]
for his view betrays that
in the way he asserts it.
No brahman[3]
says purity
comes in connection
with anything else.
Unsmeared with regard
to what's seen, heard, sensed,
precepts or practices,
merit or evil,
not creating
anything here,
he's let go
of what he had embraced.[4]
Abandoning what's first,
they depend on what's next.[5]
Following distraction,
they don't cross over attachment.
They embrace & reject
— like a monkey releasing a branch
to seize at another[6] —
a person undertaking practices on his own,
goes high & low,
latched onto perception.
But having clearly known
through vedas,[7] having encountered
the Dhamma,
one of profound discernment
doesn't go
high & low.
He's enemy-free[8]
with regard to all things
seen, heard, or sensed.
By whom, with what,[9]
should he
be pigeonholed
here in the world?
— one who has seen in this way,
who goes around
They don't conjure, don't yearn,
don't proclaim "utter purity."
Untying the tied-up knot of grasping,
they don't form a desire for
at all in the world.
The brahman
gone beyond territories,[11]
has nothing that
— on knowing or seeing —
he's grasped.
Unimpassionate for passion,
not impassioned for dis-,[12]
he has nothing here
that he's grasped as supreme.
An ancient Indian belief, dating back to the Vedas, was that the sight of certain things or beings was believed to purify. Thus "in connection with what's seen" here means both that purity is brought about by means of seeing such a sight, and that one's purity is measured in terms of having such a sight. This belief survives today in the practice of darshan.
In other words, if purity were simply a matter of seeing or knowing something, a person could be pure in this sense and yet still have acquisitions (= defilements), which would not be true purity.
"Brahman" in the Buddhist sense, i.e., a person born in any caste who has become an arahant.
Lines such as this may have been the source of the confusion in the different recensions of the Canon — and in Nd.I — as to whether the poems in this vagga are concerned with letting go of views that have been embraced (atta) or of self (attaa). The compound here, attañjaho, read on its own, could be read either as "he's let go of what has been embraced" or "he's let go of self." However, the following image of a monkey seizing and releasing branches as it moves from tree to tree reinforces the interpretation that the first interpretation is the correct one.
Nd.I: Leaving one teacher and going to another; leaving one teaching and going to another. This phrase may also refer to the mind's tendency to leave one craving to go to another.
"Like a monkey releasing a branch to seize at another" — an interesting example of a whole phrase that functions as a "lamp," i.e., modifying both the phrase before it and the phrase after it.
Vedas — Just as the word "brahman" is used in a Buddhist sense above, here the word veda is given a Buddhist sense. According to the Commentary, in this context it means the knowledge accompanying four transcendent paths: the paths to stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arahantship.
Nd.I: The enemies here are the armies of Mara — all unskillful mental qualities. For a detailed inventory of the armies of Mara, see Sn 3.2.
By whom, with what — two meanings of the one Pali word, kena.
Nd.I: "Open" means having a mind not covered or concealed by craving, defilement, or ignorance. This image is used in Ud 5.5. It is in contrast to the image discussed in note 1 to Sn 4.2. An alternative meaning here might be having one's eyes open.
Nd.I: "Territories" = the ten fetters (samyojana) and seven obsessions (anusaya).
Nd.I: "Passion" = sensuality; "dispassion" = the jhana states that bring about dispassion for sensuality.
V. Paramatthaka Sutta: Supreme
When dwelling on views
as "supreme,"
a person makes them
the utmost thing
in the world,
&, from that, calls
all others inferior
and so he's not free
from disputes.
When he sees his advantage
in what's seen, heard, sensed,
or in precepts & practices,
seizing it there
he sees all else
as inferior.
That, too, say the skilled,
is a binding knot: that
in dependence on which
you regard another
as inferior.
So a monk shouldn't be dependent
on what's seen, heard, or sensed,
or on precepts & practices;
nor should he conjure a view in the world
in connection with knowledge
or precepts & practices;
shouldn't take himself
to be "equal";
shouldn't think himself
inferior or superlative.
Abandoning what he had embraced,
abandoning self,[1]
not clinging,
he doesn't make himself dependent
even in connection with knowledge;
doesn't follow a faction
among those who are split;
doesn't fall back
on any view whatsoever.
One who isn't inclined
toward either side
— becoming or not-,
here or beyond —
who has no entrenchment
when considering what's grasped among doctrines,
hasn't the least
preconceived perception
with regard to what's seen, heard, or sensed.
By whom, with what,
should he be pigeonholed
here in the world?
— this brahman
who hasn't adopted views.
They don't conjure, don't yearn,
don't adhere even to doctrines.
A brahman not led
by precepts or practices,
gone to the beyond
— Such —
doesn't fall back.
Self... what he had embraced: two meanings of the Pali word, attam.
VI. Jara Sutta: Old Age
How short this life!
You die this side of a century,
but even if you live past,
you die of old age.
People grieve
for what they see as mine,
for nothing possessed is constant,
nothing is constantly possessed.[1]
Seeing this separation
simply as it is,
one shouldn't follow the household life.
At death a person abandons
what he construes as mine.
Realizing this, the wise
shouldn't incline
to be devoted to mine.
Just as a man doesn't see,
on awakening,
what he met in a dream,
even so he doesn't see,
when they are dead
— their time done —
those he held dear.
When they are seen & heard,
people are called by this name or that,
but only the name remains
to be pointed to
when they are dead.
Grief, lamentation, & selfishness
are not let go
by those greedy for mine,
so sages
letting go of possessions,
seeing the Secure,
go wandering forth.
A monk, living withdrawn,
enjoying a dwelling secluded:
they say it's congenial for him
he who wouldn't, in any realm,
display self.
the sage
holds nothing dear or undear.
In him
lamentation & selfishness,
like water on a white lotus,
do not adhere.
As a water bead on a lotus leaf,
as water on a red lily,
does not adhere,
so the sage
does not adhere
to the seen, the heard, or the sensed;
for, cleansed,
he doesn't construe
in connection
with the seen, the heard, or the sensed.
In no other way
does he wish for purity,
for he neither takes on passion
nor puts it away.[2]
"Nothing possessed is constant, nothing is constantly possessed" — two readings of the phrase, na hi santi nicca pariggaha.
Nd.I: An arahant has put passion totally away once and for all, and so has no need to do it ever again. An alternative explanation is that, as Sn 5.6 points out, the arahant has gone beyond all dhammas, dispassion included.
VII. Tissa Metteyya Sutta: Tissa Metteyya
"Tell the danger, dear sir,
for one given over
to sexual intercourse.
Having heard your teaching,
we'll train in seclusion."
The Buddha:
"In one given over
to sexual intercourse,
the teaching's confused
and he practices wrongly:
this is ignoble
in him.
Whoever once went alone,
but then resorts
to sexual intercourse
— like a carriage out of control —
is called vile in the world,
a person run-of-the-mill.
His earlier honor & dignity:
Seeing this,
he should train himself
to abandon sexual intercourse.
Overcome by resolves,
he broods
like a miserable wretch.
Hearing the scorn of others,
he's chagrined.
He makes weapons,
attacked by the words of others.
This, for him, is a great entanglement.
into lies.
They thought him wise
when he committed himself
to the life alone,
but now that he's given
to sexual intercourse
they declare him a fool.
Seeing these drawbacks, the sage
here — before & after —
stays firm in the life alone;
doesn't resort to sexual intercourse;
would train himself
in seclusion —
this, for the noble ones, is
He wouldn't, because of that,
think himself
better than others:
He's on the verge
of Unbinding.
People enmeshed
in sensual pleasures,
envy him: free,
a sage
leading his life
unconcerned for sensual pleasures
— one who's crossed over the flood."
VIII. Pasura Sutta: To Pasura
"Only here is there purity"
— that's what they say —
"No other doctrines are pure"
— so they say.
Insisting that what they depend on is good,
they are deeply entrenched in their personal truths.
Seeking controversy, they plunge into an assembly,
regarding one another as fools.
Relying on others' authority,
they speak in debate.
Desiring praise, they claim to be skilled.
Engaged in disputes in the midst of the assembly,
— anxious, desiring praise —
the one defeated is
Shaken with criticism, he seeks for an opening.
He whose doctrine is [judged as] demolished,
defeated, by those judging the issue:
He laments, he grieves — the inferior exponent.
"He beat me," he mourns.
These disputes have arisen among contemplatives.
In them are elation,
Seeing this, one should abstain from disputes,
for they have no other goal
than the gaining of praise.
He who is praised there
for expounding his doctrine
in the midst of the assembly,
laughs on that account & grows haughty,
attaining his heart's desire.
That haughtiness will be his grounds for vexation,
for he'll speak in pride & conceit.
Seeing this, one should abstain from debates.
No purity is attained by them, say the skilled.
Like a strong man nourished on royal food,
you go about, roaring, searching out an opponent.
Wherever the battle is,
go there, strong man.
As before, there's none here.
Those who dispute, taking hold of a view,
saying, "This, and this only, is true,"
those you can talk to.
Here there is nothing —
no confrontation
at the birth of disputes.
Among those who live above confrontation
not pitting view against view,
whom would you gain as opponent, Pasura,
among those here
who are grasping no more?
So here you come,
your mind conjuring
You're paired off with a pure one
and so cannot proceed.
IX. Magandiya Sutta: To Magandiya
[Magandiya offers his daughter to the Buddha, who replies:]
On seeing [the daughters of Mara]
— Discontent, Craving, & Passion —
there wasn't even the desire for sex.
So what would I want with this,
filled with urine & excrement?
I wouldn't want to touch it
even with my foot.
If you don't want
this gem of a woman, coveted
by many kings,
then for what sort of viewpoint,
precept, practice, life,
attainment of [further] becoming
do you argue?
The Buddha:
'I argue for this'
doesn't occur to one
when considering what's grasped
among doctrines.
Looking for what is ungrasped
with regard to views,
and detecting inner peace,
I saw.
Sage, you speak
without grasping
at any preconceived judgments.
This 'inner peace':
what does it mean?
How is it,
by an enlightened person,
The Buddha:
He doesn't speak of purity
in connection with view,
precept or practice.
Nor is it found by a person
through lack of view,
of learning,
of knowledge,
of precept or practice.[1]
Letting these go, without grasping,
at peace,
one wouldn't long for becoming.
If he doesn't speak of purity
in connection with view,
precept or practice.
and it isn't found by a person
through lack of view,
of learning,
of knowledge,
of precept or practice,
it seems to me that this teaching's
for some assume a purity
in terms of
— by means of —
a view.
The Buddha:
Asking questions
dependent on view,
you're confused
by what you have grasped.
And so you don't glimpse
the slightest
[of what I am saying].
That's why you think
it's confused.
Whoever construes
'superior,' or
by that he'd dispute;
whereas to one unaffected
by these three,
do not occur.
Of what would the brahman say 'true'
or 'false,'
disputing with whom:
he in whom 'equal,' 'unequal' are not.
Having abandoned home,
living free from society,
the sage
in villages
creates no intimacies.
Rid of sensual passions, free
from yearning,
he wouldn't engage with people
in quarrelsome debate.[2]
Those things
aloof from which
he should go about in the world:
the great one
wouldn't take them up
& argue for them.
As the prickly lotus
is unsmeared by water & mud,
so the sage,
an exponent of peace,
without greed,
is unsmeared by sensuality &
the world.
An attainer-of-wisdom isn't measured
made proud[3]
by views or what's thought,
for he isn't fashioned of them.
He wouldn't be led
by action,[4] learning;
doesn't reach a conclusion
in any entrenchments.
For one dispassionate toward perception
there are no ties;
for one released by discernment,
Those who grasp at perceptions & views
go about butting their heads
in the world.
The Pali of the first sentence puts the words for "view, learning, knowledge, precept, & practice" in the instrumental case. This case stands for the relationship "by means of" or "because of" but it also has an idiomatic meaning: "in terms of." (To keep the translation neutral on this point, I have translated with the idiom, "in connection with," which can carry both possibilities.) The second sentence puts the words for lack of view, etc., in the ablative case, which carries the meaning "because of" or "from."
If we assume that the instrumental case in the first sentence is meant in the sense of "by means of," then we are dealing — as Magandiya asserts — with plain nonsense: the first sentence would say that a person cannot achieve purity by means of views, etc., while the second sentence would be saying that he cannot achieve purity by means of no view, etc. The fact that the two sentences place the relevant terms in different grammatical cases, though, suggests that they are talking about two different kinds of relationships. If we take the instrumental in the first sentence in the sense of "in terms of," then the stanza not only makes sense but also fits in with teachings of the rest of the Pali discourses: a person cannot be said to be pure simply because he/she holds to a particular view, body of learning, etc. Purity is not defined in those terms. The second sentence goes on to say that a person doesn't arrive at purity from a lack of view, etc. Putting the two sentences together with the third, the message is this: One uses right views, learning, knowledge, precepts, & practices as a path, a means for arriving at purity. Once one arrives, one lets go of the path, for the purity of inner peace, in its ultimate sense, is something transcending the means by which it is reached.
In the stanza immediately following this one, it's obvious that Magandiya has not caught this distinction.
For further illustrations of the role of Right View in taking one to a dimension beyond all views, see AN 10.93, AN 10.96, and MN 24. (The analogy of the relay coaches in MN 24 actually seems more tailored to the issues raised by the Buddha's remarks in this discourse than it does to the question it addresses in that discourse.) See also sections III/H and III/H/i in The Wings to Awakening.
An explanation of this stanza, attributed to Ven. Maha Kaccana, is contained in SN 22.3.
"Measured... made proud" — two meanings of the Pali word manameti.
"Action" here can mean either kamma in its general sense — i.e., the attainer-of-wisdom has gone beyond creating kamma — or in a more restricted sense, as ritual action. According to Nd.I, it refers to the factor of "fabrication" (sankhara) in the analysis of dependent co-arising (see SN 12.2).
X. Purabheda Sutta: Before the Break-up of the Body
"Seeing how,
behaving how,
is one said to be
at peace?
Gotama, tell me about
— when asked about —
the ultimate person."
The Buddha:
"Free from craving
before the break-up
[of the body],
of before
& the end,[1]
not classified in between,[2]
no yearning is his.
Un- angered,
un- startled,
un- boastful,
un- anxious,
giving counsel unruffled,
he is a sage,
his speech
under control.
Free from attachment
with regard to the future,
not sorrowing
over the past,
he sees seclusion
in the midst of sensory contacts.[3]
He can't be led
in terms of views.[4]
Withdrawn, un-
deceitful, not
stingy, not
miserly, not
insolent, in-
he doesn't engage in
divisive speech.
Not intoxicated with enticements,
nor given to pride,
he's gentle, quick-witted,
beyond conviction & dispassion.[5]
Not in hopes of material gain
does he take on the training;
when without material gain
he isn't upset.
Unobstructed by craving,
he doesn't through craving[6]
hunger for flavors.
Equanimous — always — mindful,
he doesn't conceive himself as
in the world.
No swellings of pride
are his.
Whose dependencies
don't exist
when, on knowing the Dhamma,
he's in-
in whom no craving is found
for becoming or not-:
he is said
to be at peace,
on sensual pleasures,
with nothing at all
to tie him down:
one who's crossed over attachment.
He has no children
In him you can't pin down
what's embraced
or rejected.[7]
He has no yearning
for that which people run-of-the-mill
or brahmans & contemplatives
might blame —
which is why
he is unperturbed
with regard to their words.
His greed gone,
not miserly,
the sage
doesn't speak of himself
as among those who are higher,
or lower.
doesn't submit
to conjuring,
to the cycling of time.[8]
For whom
nothing in the world
is his own,
who doesn't grieve
over what is not,
who doesn't enter into
he is said
to be
at peace."
Nd.I: "Independent of before & the end" = no craving or view with regard to past or future.
For discussions of how the awakened one cannot be classified even in the present, see MN 72 and SN 22.85-86.
Nd.I: "He sees seclusion in the midst of sensory contacts" = he sees contact as empty of self. This passage may also refer to the fact that the awakened person experiences sensory contact as if disjoined from it. On this point, see MN 140 and MN 146, quoted in The Mind Like Fire Unbound, pp. 116 and 113.
See AN 10.93.
Beyond conviction & dispassion — The Pali here can also mean, "A person of no conviction, he does not put away passion." This is an example of the kind of pun occasionally used in Pali poetry for its shock value. Other examples are at Dhp 97 and the end of Sn 4.13. For an explanation of what is meant by being beyond dispassion, see note 2 to Sn 4.6.
The Pali word tanhaya — by/through craving — here is a "lamp," i.e., a single word that functions in two separate phrases.
This reading follows the Thai and PTS editions: atta,m vaa-pi niratta,m vaa. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions read, attaa vaa-pi nirattaa vaa: "self or what's opposed to self." The first reading seems preferable for two reasons: First, it follows the theme established in Sn 4.3 and Sn 4.4 (and also followed in Sn 4.15 and Sn 5.11) that the awakened person has gone beyond embracing or rejecting views. Second, the word nirattaa is found nowhere else in the Canon aside from the two other verses in the Sutta Nipata (Sn 4.3 and Sn 4.14) where it is offered as a possible alternative for niratta (released, rejected). As niratta is clearly the preferable alternative in Sn 4.3, I have adopted it here and in Sn 4.14 as well.
"Conjuring, the cycling of time" — two meanings of the Pali word, kappam.
"Doctrines, phenomena" — two meanings of the Pali word, dhamma.
XI. Kalaha-vivada Sutta: Quarrels & Disputes
"From where have there arisen
quarrels, disputes,
lamentation, sorrows, along with selfishness,
conceit & pride, along with divisiveness?
From where have they arisen?
Please tell me."
"From what is dear
there have arisen
quarrels, disputes,
lamentation, sorrows, along with selfishness,
conceit & pride, along with divisiveness.
Tied up with selfishness
are quarrels & disputes.
In the arising of disputes
is divisiveness."
"Where is the cause
of things dear in the world,
along with the greeds that go about in the world?
And where is the cause
of the hopes & fulfillments
for the sake of a person's next life?"
"Desires are the cause
of things dear in the world,
along with the greeds that go about in the world.
And it too is the cause
of the hopes & fulfillments
for the sake of a person's next life."
"Now where is the cause
of desire in the world?
And from where have there arisen
decisions, anger, lies, & perplexity,
and all the qualities
described by the Contemplative?"
"What they call
'appealing' &
in the world:
in dependence on that
desire arises.
Having seen becoming & not-
with regard to forms,
a person gives rise to decisions in the world;
anger, lies, & perplexity:
these qualities, too, when that pair exists.
A person perplexed
should train for the path of knowledge,
for it's in having known
that the Contemplative has spoken
of qualities/dhammas."[1]
"Where is the cause
of appealing & un-?
When what isn't
do they not exist?
And whatever is meant
by becoming & not- :
tell me,
Where is its cause?"
"Contact is the cause
of appealing & un-.
When contact isn't
they do not exist.
And whatever is meant
by becoming & not- :
this too is its cause."
"Now where is the cause
of contact in the world,
and from where have graspings,
possessions, arisen?
When what isn't
does mine-ness not exist.
When what has disappeared
do contacts not touch?"
"Conditioned by name & form
is contact.
In longing do graspings,
possessions have their cause.
When longing isn't
mine-ness does not exist.
When forms have disappeared
contacts don't touch."
"For one arriving at what
does form disappear?
How do pleasure & pain disappear?
Tell me this.
My heart is set
on knowing how
they disappear."
"One not percipient of perceptions
not percipient of aberrant perceptions,
not unpercipient,
nor percipient of what's disappeared:[2]
for one arriving at this,
form disappears —
for objectification-classifications[3]
have their cause in perception."
"What we have asked, you have told us.
We ask one more thing.
Please tell it.
Do some of the wise
say that just this much is the utmost,
the purity of the spirit[4] is here?
Or do they say
that it's other than this?"
"Some of the wise
say that just this much is the utmost,
the purity of the spirit is here.
But some of them,
who say they are skilled,
say it's the moment
with no clinging remaining.
'Having known, they still are dependent,'[5]
the sage, ponders dependencies.
On knowing them, released,
he doesn't get into disputes,
doesn't meet with becoming & not-
: he's enlightened."
As other passages in this poem indicate (see note 5, below), the goal is not measured in terms of knowledge, but as this passage points out, knowledge is a necessary part of the path to the goal.
According to Nd.I, this passage is describing the four formless jhanas, but as the first three of the formless jhanas involve perception (of infinite space, infinite consciousness, and nothingness), only the fourth of the formless jhanas — the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception — would fit this description. On this point, see AN 10.29.
Objectification-classifications (papañca-sankha): The mind's tendency to read distinctions and differentiations even into the simplest experience of the present, thus giving rise to views that can issue in conflict. As Sn 4.14 points out, the root of these classifications is the perception, "I am the thinker." For further discussion of this point, see note 1 to that discourse and the introduction to MN 18.
"Spirit" is the usual rendering of the Pali word, yakkha. According to Nd.I, however, in this context the word yakkha means person, individual, human being, or living being.
In other words, the sage knows that both groups in the previous stanza fall back on their knowledge as a measure of the goal, without comprehending the dependency still latent in their knowledge. The sages in the first group are mistaking the experience of neither perception nor non-perception as the goal, and so they are still dependent on that state of concentration. The sages in the second group, by the fact that they claim to be skilled, show that there is still a latent conceit in their awakening-like experience, and thus it is not totally independent of clinging. (For more on this point, see MN 102, quoted in The Mind Like Fire Unbound, pp. 81-82.) Both groups still maintain the concept of a "spirit" that is purified in the realization of purity. Once these dependencies are comprehended, one gains release from disputes and from states of becoming and not-becoming. It is in this way that knowledge is a means to the goal, but the goal itself is not measured or defined in terms of knowledge.
XII. Cula-viyuha Sutta: The Lesser Array
"Dwelling on
their own views,
different skilled people say:
'Whoever knows this, understands Dhamma.
Whoever rejects this, is
Thus quarreling, they dispute:
'My opponent's a fool & unskilled.'
Which of these statements is true
when all of them say they are skilled?"
"If, in not accepting
an opponent's doctrine,
one's a fool, a beast of inferior discernment,
then all are fools
of inferior discernment —
all of these
who dwell on their views.
But if, in siding with a view,
one's cleansed,
with discernment made pure,
intelligent, skilled,
then none of them
are of inferior discernment,
for all of them
have their own views.
I don't say, 'That's how it is,'
the way fools say to one another.
They each make out their views to be true
and so regard their opponents as fools."
"What some say is true
— 'That's how it is' —
others say is 'falsehood, a lie.'
Thus quarreling, they dispute.
Why can't contemplatives
say one thing & the same?"
"The truth is one,[1]
there is no second
about which a person who knows it
would argue with one who knows.
Contemplatives promote
their various personal truths,
that's why they don't say
one thing & the same."
"But why do they say
various truths,
those who say they are skilled?
Have they learned many various truths
or do they follow conjecture?"
"Apart from their perception
there are no
constant truths
in the world.[2]
Preconceiving conjecture
with regard to views,
they speak of a pair: true
& false.
Dependent on what's seen,
& sensed,
dependent on precepts & practices,
one shows disdain [for others].
Taking a stance on his decisions,
praising himself, he says,
'My opponent's a fool & unskilled.'
That by which
he regards his opponents as fools
is that by which
he says he is skilled.
Calling himself skilled
he despises another
who speaks the same way.
Agreeing on a view gone out of bounds,
drunk with conceit, thinking himself perfect,
he has consecrated, with his own mind,
as well as his view.
If, by an opponent's word,
one's inferior,
the opponent's
of inferior discernment as well.
But if, by one's own word
one's an attainer-of-wisdom, enlightened,
no one
among contemplative's
a fool.
'Those who teach a doctrine other than this
are lacking in purity,
That's what the many sectarians say,
for they're smitten with passion
for their own views.
'Only here is there purity,'
that's what they say.
'In no other doctrine
is purity,' they say.
That's how the many sectarians
are entrenched,
speaking firmly there
concerning their own path.
Speaking firmly concerning your own path,
what opponent here would you take as a fool?
You'd simply bring quarrels on yourself
if you said your opponent's a fool
with an impure doctrine.
Taking a stance on your decisions,
& yourself as your measure,
you dispute further down
into the world.
But one who's abandoned
all decisions
creates in the world
quarrels no more."
"The truth is one": This statement should be kept in mind throughout the following verses, as it forms the background to the discussion of how people who preconceive their conjectures speak of the pair, true and false. The Buddha is not denying that there is such a thing as true and false. Rather, he is saying that all entrenched views, regardless of how true or false their content might be, when considered as events in a causal chain behave in line with the truth of conditioned phenomena as explained in the preceding discourse. If held to, they lead to conceit, conflict, and states of becoming. When they are viewed in this way — as events rather than as true or false depictions of other events (or as events rather than signs) — the tendency to hold to or become entrenched in them is diminished.
On the role of perception in leading to conflicting views, see the preceding discourse.
XIII. Maha-viyuha Sutta: The Great Array
"Those who, dwelling on views,
dispute, saying, 'Only this is true':
do they all incur blame,
or also earn praise there?"
"[The praise:] It's such a little thing,
not at all appeasing.[1]
I speak of two fruits of dispute;
and seeing this, you shouldn't dispute —
seeing the state
where there's no dispute
as secure.
One who knows
doesn't get involved
in whatever are
One who is uninvolved:
when he's forming no preference
for what's seen, for what's heard,
why would he get
Those for whom precepts
are ultimate
say that purity's
a matter of self-restraint.
Undertaking a practice,
they devote themselves to it:
'Let's train just in this,
and then there would be purity.'
Those who say they are skilled
are [thus] led on to becoming.
But if one of them falls
from his precepts or practice,
he trembles,
having failed in his actions.
He hopes for, longs for, purity,
like a lost caravan leader
far from home.
But one who's abandoned
precepts & practices[2]
— all —
things that are blamable, blameless,[3]
not hoping for 'pure or impure,'[4]
would live in compassion & peace,
without taking up peace,[5]
on taboos, austerities,
or what's seen, heard, or sensed,
they speak of purity
through wandering further on
through becoming & not-,
their craving not gone
for becoming & not-.[6]
For one who aspires has longings
& trembling with regard to preconceptions.
But one who here
has no passing away & arising:
Why would he tremble?
For what would he long?"
"The teaching some say is 'supreme,'
is the very one others call 'lowly.'
Which statement is true
when all of these claim to be skilled?"
"They say their own teaching is perfect
while the doctrine of others is lowly.
Thus quarreling, they dispute,
each saying his agreed-on opinion
is true.
If something, because of an opponent's say-so,
were lowly,
then none among teachings would be
for many say
that another's teaching's inferior
when firmly asserting their own.
If their worship of their teaching were true,
in line with the way they praise their own path,
then all doctrines
would be true —
for purity's theirs, according to each.
The brahman has nothing
led by another,
when considering what's grasped
among doctrines.
Thus he has gone
beyond disputes,
for he doesn't regard as best
the knowledge of a teaching,
any other mental state.[7]
'I know. I see. That's just how it is!' —
Some believe purity's in terms of view.
But even if a person has seen,
what good does it do him?
Having slipped past,
they speak of purity
in connection with something
or somebody else.
A person, in seeing,
sees name & form.
Having seen, he'll know
only these things.
No matter if he's seen little, a lot,
the skilled don't say purity's
in connection with that.
A person entrenched in his teachings,
honoring a preconceived view,
isn't easy to discipline.
Whatever he depends on
he describes it as lovely,
says that it's purity,
that there he saw truth.
The brahman, evaluating,
isn't involved with conjurings,
doesn't follow views,
isn't tied even to knowledge.[8]
And on knowing
whatever's conventional, commonplace,
he remains equanimous:
'That's what others hold onto.'
Having released the knots
that tie him down,
the sage here in the world
doesn't follow a faction
when disputes have arisen.
At peace among those not at peace,
he's equanimous, doesn't hold on:
'That's what others hold onto.'
Giving up old fermentations,
not forming new,
neither pursuing desire,
nor entrenched in his teachings,
he's totally released
from viewpoints,
He doesn't adhere to the world,
is without self-rebuke;
is enemy-free[9]
with regard to all things
seen, heard, or sensed.
His burden laid down,
the sage totally released
is improper / is free from conjuring
hasn't stopped / isn't impassioned
isn't worth wanting / doesn't
the Blessed One said.
Or: Not enough to appease (the defilements, says Nd.I).
Nd.I: Abandoning precepts & practices in the sense of no longer believing that purity is measured in terms of them, the view discussed in the preceding verse.
Nd.I: "Blamable, blameless" = black and white kamma (see AN 4.232, 234, 237-238, quoted in The Wings to Awakening, section I/B).
Nd.I: Having abandoned impure mental qualities, and having fully attained the goal, the arahant has no need to hope for anything at all.
"In compassion & peace, without taking up peace" — a pun on the word, santimanuggahaya.
The word bhavabhavesu — through/for becoming & not- becoming — here is a lamp, i.e., a single word functioning in two phrases.
"The knowledge of a teaching, any other mental state" — a pun on the word, dhammamaññam.
According to Nd.I, this compound — ñana-bandhu — should be translated as "tied by means of knowledge," in that the arahant doesn't use the knowledge that comes with the mastery of concentration, the five mundane forms of psychic power (abhiñña), or any wrong knowledge to create the bonds of craving or views. However, the compound may also refer to the fact that the arahant isn't tied even to the knowledge that forms part of the path to arahantship (see MN 117).
See note 7 under Sn 4.4.
"Is improper / is free from conjuring, hasn't stopped / isn't impassioned, isn't worth wanting / doesn't desire" — a series of puns — na kappiyo, nuparato, na patthiyo — each with a strongly positive and a strongly negative meaning, probably meant for their shock value. For a similar set of puns, see Dhp 97.
XIV. Tuvataka Sutta: Quickly
"I ask the kinsman of the Sun, the great seer,
about seclusion & the state of peace.
Seeing in what way is a monk unbound,
clinging to nothing in the world?"
"He should put an entire stop
to the root of objectification-classifications:
'I am the thinker.'[1]
He should train, always mindful,
to subdue any craving inside him.
Whatever truth he may know,
within or without,
he shouldn't get entrenched
in connection with it,
for that isn't called
Unbinding by the good.
He shouldn't, because of it, think himself
lower, or
Touched by contact in various ways,
he shouldn't keep conjuring self.
Stilled right within,
a monk shouldn't seek peace from another
from anything else.
For one stilled right within,
there's nothing embraced,
so how rejected?[2]
As in the middle of the sea
it is still,
with no waves upwelling,
so the monk — unperturbed, still —
should not swell himself
"He whose eyes are open has described
the Dhamma he's witnessed,
subduing danger.
Now tell us, sir, the practice:
the code of discipline & concentration."
"One shouldn't be careless with his eyes,
should close his ears to village-talk,
shouldn't hunger for flavors,
or view anything in the world
as mine.
When touched by contact
he shouldn't lament,
shouldn't covet anywhere any
states of becoming,
or tremble at terrors.
When gaining food & drink,
staples & cloth,
he should not make a hoard.
Nor should he be upset
when receiving no gains.
Absorbed, not foot-loose,
he should refrain from restlessness,
shouldn't be heedless,
should live in a noise-less abode.
Not making much of sleep,
ardent, given to wakefulness,
he should abandon sloth, deception,
laughter, sports,
fornication, & all that goes with it;
should not practice charms,
interpret physical marks, dreams,
the stars, animal cries;
should not be devoted to
practicing medicine or inducing fertility.
A monk shouldn't tremble at blame
or grow haughty with praise;
should thrust aside selfishness, greed,
divisive speech, anger;
shouldn't buy or sell
or revile anyone anywhere;
shouldn't linger in villages,
or flatter people in hopes of gains.
A monk shouldn't boast
or speak with ulterior motive,
shouldn't train in insolence
or speak quarrelsome words;
shouldn't engage in deception
or knowingly cheat;
shouldn't despise others for their
or practices.
Provoked with many words
from contemplatives
or ordinary people,
he shouldn't respond harshly,
for those who retaliate
aren't calm.
Knowing this teaching,
a monk inquiring
should always
train in it mindfully.
Knowing Unbinding as peace,
he shouldn't be heedless
of Gotama's message —
for he, the Conqueror unconquered,
witnessed the Dhamma,
not by hearsay,
but directly, himself.
So, heedful, you
should always train
in line with that Blessed One's message,"
the Blessed One said.
On objectification-classifications and their role in leading to conflict, see Sn 4.11 and the introduction to MN 18. The perception, "I am the thinker" lies at the root of these classifications in that it reads into the immediate present a set of distinctions — I/not-I; being/not-being; thinker/thought; identity/non-identity — that then can proliferate into mental and physical conflict. The conceit inherent in this perception thus forms a fetter on the mind. To become unbound, one must learn to examine these distinctions — which we all take for granted — to see that they are simply assumptions that are not inherent in experience, and that we would be better off to be able to drop them.
This reading follows the version of the verse given in the Thai edition of Nd.I, as well as an alternative reading given as a footnote to the Sri Lankan edition of Sn 4.14: n'atthi atta,m kuto niratta,m vaa. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions of this verse read, n'atthi attaa kuto nirattaa vaa: "There is no self, so how what's opposed to self?" The Thai edition reads, n'atthi attaa kuto niratta,m vaa: "There is no self, so how what's rejected?" This last reading makes no sense; the Burmese and Sri Lankan readings depend on the notion that nirattaa is an actual word, although it appears nowhere in the Canon except in two other verses of the Atthaka Vagga, where it appears as a possible alternative to niratta (Sn 4.3 and Sn 4.10). Because the Buddha in SN 44.10 refuses to take the position that there is no self, all of the readings of this verse that say n'atthi attaa would appear to be wrong. Thus I have adopted the reading given here.
XV. Attadanda Sutta: The Rod Embraced
"When embraced,
the rod of violence[1]
breeds danger & fear:
Look at people quarreling.
I will tell of how
I experienced
Seeing people floundering
like fish in small puddles,
competing with one another —
as I saw this,
fear came into me.
The world was entirely
without substance.
All the directions
were knocked out of line.
Wanting a haven for myself,
I saw nothing that wasn't laid claim to.
Seeing nothing in the end
but competition,
I felt discontent.
And then I saw
an arrow here,
so very hard to see,
embedded in the heart.
Overcome by this arrow
you run in all directions.
But simply on pulling it out
you don't run,
you don't sink.[2]
[Here the trainings are recited.] [3]
Whatever things are tied down in the world,
you shouldn't be set on them.
Having totally penetrated
sensual pleasures,
sensual passions,[4]
you should train for your own
Be truthful, not insolent,
not deceptive, rid
of divisiveness.
Without anger, the sage
should cross over the evil
of greed & avarice.
He should conquer laziness,
shouldn't consort with heedlessness,
shouldn't stand firm in his pride —
the man with his heart set
on Unbinding.
He shouldn't engage in lying,
shouldn't create a sense of allure in form,
should fully fathom conceit,
and live refraining from impulsiveness;
shouldn't delight in what's old,
prefer what's new,[5]
grieve over decline,
get entangled in
what's dazzling & bright.[6]
I call greed
a 'great flood';
hunger, a swift current.
Preoccupations are ripples;
sensuality, a bog
hard to cross over.
Not deviating from truth,
a sage stands on high ground
: a brahman.
Having renounced All,[7]
he is said to be at peace;
having clearly known, he
is an attainer-of-wisdom;
knowing the Dhamma, he's
Moving rightly through the world,
he doesn't envy
anyone here.
Whoever here has gone over & beyond
sensual passions —
an attachment hard
to transcend in the world,
doesn't sorrow,
doesn't fret.
He, his stream cut, is free
from bonds.
Burn up what's before,
and have nothing for after.
If you don't grasp
at what's in between,[8]
you will go about, calm.
For whom, in name & form,
in every way,
there's no sense of mine,
and who doesn't grieve
over what is not:
he, in the world,
isn't defeated,
suffers no loss.[9]
To whom there doesn't occur
'This is mine,'
for whom 'nothing is others,'
feeling no sense of mine-ness,
doesn't grieve at the thought
'I have nothing.'
Not harsh,
not greedy, not
in tune:
this is the reward
— I say when asked —
for those who are free
from pre-
For one unperturbed
— who knows —
there's no accumulating.
Abstaining, unaroused,
he everywhere sees
The sage
doesn't speak of himself
as among those who are higher,
or lower.
At peace, free of selfishness,
he doesn't embrace, doesn't
the Blessed One said.
1. Nd. I: The rod of violence takes three forms: physical violence (the three forms of bodily misconduct), verbal violence (the four forms of verbal misconduct), and mental violence (the three forms of mental misconduct). See AN 10.176.
2. Nd. I: "One doesn't run" to any of the destinations of rebirth; "one doesn't sink" into any of the four floods of sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance (see SN 45.171 and AN 4.10).
3. This phrase, a kind of stage direction, seems to indicate that this poem had a ritual use, as part of a ceremony for giving the precepts.
4. "Sensual pleasure, sensual passions": two meanings of the word kama.
5. Nd. I: "Old" and "new" mean past and present aggregates.
6. Nd. I: "what's dazzling & bright" = craving and other defilements.
7. For the definition of All, see the discussion in The Mind Like Fire Unbound, pp. 31-32.
8. Nd. I: "Before," "after," and "in between" = past, future, and present.
9. "Isn't defeated, suffers no loss" — two meanings of the Pali phrase, na jiyyati.
10. See Ud. II.10.
XVI. Sariputta Sutta: To Sariputta
"Never before
have I seen or heard
from anyone
of a teacher with such lovely speech
come, together with his following
from Tusita heaven,[1]
as the One with Eyes
who appears to the world with its devas
having dispelled all darkness
having arrived at delight
all alone.
To that One Awakened —
unentangled, Such, un-
come with his following —
I have come with a question
on behalf of the many
here who are fettered.
For a monk disaffected,
frequenting a place that's remote —
the root of a tree,
a cemetery,
in mountain caves
various places to stay —
how many are the fears there
at which he shouldn't tremble
— there in his noiseless abode —
how many the dangers in the world
for the monk going the direction
he never has gone
that he should transcend
there in his isolated abode?
What should be
the ways of his speech?
What should be
his range there of action?
What should be
a resolute monk's
precepts & practices?[2]
Undertaking what training
— alone, astute, & mindful —
would he blow away
his own impurities
as a silver smith,
those in molten silver?"
The Buddha:
"I will tell you
as one who knows,
what is comfort
for one disaffected
resorting to a remote place,
desiring self-awakening
in line with the Dhamma.
An enlightened monk,
living circumscribed,
shouldn't fear the five fears:
of horseflies, mosquitoes, snakes,
human contact, four-footed beings;
shouldn't be disturbed
by those following another's teaching
even on seeing their manifold
should overcome still other
further dangers
as he seeks what is skillful.
by the touch
of discomforts, hunger,
he should endure cold
& inordinate heat.
He with no home,
in many ways touched by these things,
striving, should make firm his persistence.
He shouldn't commit a theft,
shouldn't speak a lie,
should touch with thoughts of good will
beings firm & infirm.
Conscious of when
his mind is stirred up & turbid,
he should dispel it:
'It's on the Dark One's side.'
He shouldn't come under the sway
of anger or pride.
Having dug up their root
he would stand firm.
Then, when prevailing
— yes —
he'd prevail over his sense of dear & undear.
Yearning for discernment
enraptured with what's admirable,
he should overcome these dangers,
should conquer discontent
in his isolated spot,
should conquer these four
thoughts of lament:
'What will I eat,
or where will I eat.
How badly I slept.
Tonight where will I sleep?'
These lamenting thoughts
he should subdue —
one under training,
wandering without home.
Receiving food & cloth
at appropriate times,
he should have a sense of enough
for the sake of contentment.[3]
Guarded in regard to these things
going restrained into a village,
even when harassed
he shouldn't say a harsh word.
With eyes downcast,
& not footloose,
committed to jhana,
he should be continually wakeful.[4]
Strengthening equanimity,
centered within,
he should cut off any penchant
to conjecture or worry.
When reprimanded,
he should — mindful —
should smash any stubbornness
toward his fellows in the holy life;
should utter skillful words
that are not untimely;
should give no mind
to the gossip people might say.
And then there are in the world
the five kinds of dust
for whose dispelling, mindful
he should train:
with regard to forms, sounds, tastes,
smells, & tactile sensations
he should conquer passion;
with regard to these things
he should subdue his desire.
A monk, mindful,
his mind well-released,
contemplating the right Dhamma
at the right times,
on coming
to oneness
should annihilate
the Blessed One said.
The Buddha spent his next-to-last lifetime in the Tusita heaven, one of the highest levels on the sensual plane.
The fact that the Buddha answers this question in a straightforward manner illustrates the point that abandoning precepts and practices does not mean having no precepts and practices. See note 2 to Sn 4.13.
See AN 4.37 and AN 7.64.
See AN 4.37.
See Dhp 76-77.
5. Parayanavagga — The Chapter on the Way to the Far Shore
I. Ajita-manava-puccha: Ajita's Questions
With what
is the world shrouded?
Because of what
doesn't it shine?
With what
is it smeared? Tell me.
is its great danger & fear?
[The Buddha:]
With ignorance
the world is shrouded.
Because of stinginess,
it doesn't shine.
With longing
it's smeared — I tell you.
its great danger & fear.
They flow every which way,
the streams.
What is their blocking,
what their restraint — tell me —
with what are they finally stopped?
[The Buddha:]
Whatever streams
there are in the world:
their blocking is
mindfulness, mindfulness
is their restraint — I tell you —
with discernment
they're finally stopped.
Discernment & mindfulness,
name & form, dear sir:
Tell me, when asked this,
where are they brought to a halt?
[The Buddha:]
This question you've asked, Ajita,
I'll answer it for you —
where name & form
are brought to a halt
without trace:
With the cessation of consciousness
they're brought
to a halt.
Those here who have fathomed the Dhamma,
those who are learners,
those who are run-of-the-mill:
When you, dear sir, astute,
are asked this,
tell me their manner of life.
[The Buddha:]
He should not hanker
for sensual pleasures,
should be limpid in mind.
Skilled in all mental qualities,
he, the monk, should live his life
According to the Culaniddesa (Nd.II), the streams that "flow every which way" are the streams of craving, views, conceit, defilement, corruption, and ignorance that flow out the six sense media. The first two lines in Ven. Ajita's second set of questions (the first half-line in the Pali) is identical to the first half-line in Dhp. 340.
For a more detailed answer to Ajita's last set of questions, see SN 12.31.
II. Tissa-metteyya-manava-puccha: Tissa-metteyya's Questions
here in the world
is contented?
has no agitations?
What thinker
knowing both sides,
doesn't adhere in between?
do you call a great person?
Who here
has gone past
the seamstress:
[The Buddha:]
He who
in the midst of sensualities,
follows the holy life,
always mindful, craving-free;
the monk who is
— through fathoming things —
he has no agitations. He,
the thinker
knowing both sides,
doesn't adhere in between. He
I call a great person. He
here has gone past
the seamstress:
AN 6.61 reports a discussion among several elder monks as to what is meant in this poem by "both sides" and "in between." Six of the elders express the following separate opinions:
Contact is the first side, the origination of contact the second side, and the cessation of contact is in between.
The past is the first side, the future the second, and the present is in between.
Pleasant feeling is the first side, painful feeling the second, and neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is in between.
Name (mental phenomena) is the first side, form (physical phenomena) the second, and consciousness is in between.
The six external sense media (sights, sounds, aromas, flavors, tactile sensations, ideas) are the first side, the six internal sense media (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, intellect) the second side, and consciousness is in between.
Self-identity is the first side, the origination of self-identity the second, and the cessation of self-identity is in between.
The issue is then taken to the Buddha, who states that all six interpretations are well-spoken, but the interpretation he had in mind when speaking the poem was the first.
III. Punnaka-manava-puccha: Punnaka's Questions
To the one unperturbed,
who has seen the root [of all things],
I have come with a question.
Because of what
have many human seers
— noble warriors, brahmans —
offered sacrifices to devas
here in the world?
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
[The Buddha:]
Those many human seers
— noble warriors, brahmans —
who have offered sacrifices to devas
here in the world, Punnaka,
hoping for more of this state of being,
offered their sacrifices
because of aging.
Those many human seers
— noble warriors, brahmans —
who have offered sacrifices to devas
here in the world:
Have they, O Blessed One,
heeding the path of sacrifice,
crossed over birth & aging?
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
[The Buddha:]
They hoped for, liked,
longed for,
so sacrificed —
they longed for sensuality,
dependent on gain.
I tell you:
those who take on the yoke
of sacrifice,
impassioned with
the passion for becoming,
have not crossed over birth & aging.
If those who take on the yoke of sacrifice
haven't crossed over the flood, dear sir,
then who in the world
of beings divine & human
has crossed over birth & aging?
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
[The Buddha:]
He who has fathomed
the far & near in the world,
for whom there is nothing
perturbing in the world —
his vices evaporated,
undesiring, untroubled,
at peace —
he, I tell you, has crossed over birth
& aging.
AN 3.32 and AN 4.41 contain discussions of the last verse in this poem.
In AN 3.32, Ven. Ananda asks the Buddha, "Could it be that a monk could attain a concentration of such a sort such that, with regard to this conscious body, he would have no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit, such that with regard to all external themes [topics of concentration] he would have no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit, and that he would enter & remain in the awareness-release & discernment-release in which there is no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit?"
The Buddha answers that it is possible, and that such a concentration can be attained when one is percipient in this way: "This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all mental processes; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding." He then adds that it was in connection to this state of mind that he uttered the last verse in this poem.
In AN 4.41, the Buddha identifies four ways of developing concentration: "There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents." (For details, see AN 4.41) The Buddha then adds that he uttered the last verse of this poem in connection with these four ways of developing concentration.
IV. Mettagu-manava-puccha: Mettagu's Questions
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
I regard you as knowledgeable,
with your self developed.
From what have the many
forms of stress & suffering
arisen in the world?
[The Buddha:]
If you ask me
the coming-into-being
of stress & suffering,
I will tell it to you
as one who discerns.
From acquisition [1] as cause
the many forms of stress & suffering
come into being in the world.
Whoever, unknowing, makes acquisitions
— the fool —
comes to stress & suffering
& again.
So one who's discerning,
focused on the birth
of stress & suffering,
their coming-into-being,
should make no acquisitions.
What we asked, you've expounded.
Now we ask something else.
Please tell us.
How do the prudent
cross over the flood of
birth & aging,
lamentation & sorrow?
Please, sage, declare this to me
as this Dhamma has
been known by you.
[The Buddha:]
I will teach you the Dhamma
— in the here & now,
not quoted words —
knowing which, living mindfully,
you'll cross over beyond
entanglement in the world.
And I relish, Great Seer,
that Dhamma supreme,
knowing which, living mindfully,
I'll cross over beyond
entanglement in the world.
[The Buddha:]
Whatever you're alert to,
above, below,
across, in between:[2]
dispelling any delight,
any laying claim
to those things,
consciousness should not take a stance
in becoming.
The monk who dwells thus
— mindful, heedful —
letting go of his sense of mine,
knowing right here would abandon
birth & aging,
lamentation & sorrow,
stress & suffering.
I relish, Gotama, the Great Seer's words
well-expounded, without acquisition,
for yes, O Blessed One,
you've abandoned stress & suffering
as this Dhamma has
been known by you.
And they, too, would abandon stress & suffering
those whom you, sage,
would admonish unceasingly.
Having met you, I bow down to you,
Great One.
Perhaps you will admonish me
[The Buddha:]
Whoever you recognize
as a knowledgeable brahman,
possessing nothing,
in sensuality & becoming
yes, he has crossed over the flood.
Having crossed to the far shore,
he is without
harshness or doubt.
And any one who has realized,
who is knowledgeable here,
having unentangled the bond
to becoming and non-, [3]
free of craving,
undesiring — he,
I tell you, has crossed over birth
& aging.
The term "acquisition" (upadhi), in its everyday sense, denotes the possessions, baggage, and other paraphernalia that a nomadic family might carry around with it in its wanderings. On the psychological level, it denotes anything for which one might have a sense of "I" or "mine" and which, consequently, one would carry around as a kind of mental baggage.
Nd.II gives six different valid interpretations for "above, below, across, in between":
above = the future; below = the past; across and in between = the present
above = the deva world; below = hell; across and in between = the human world
above = skillfulness; below = unskillfulness; across and in between = indeterminate mental qualities
above = the property of formlessness; below = the property of sensuality; across and in between = the property of form
above = feelings of pleasure; below = feelings of pain; across and in between = feelings of neither pleasure nor pain
above = the body from the feet on up; below = the body from the crown of the head on down; across and in between = the middle of the body
Becoming and non-becoming (or dis-becoming) are the two most subtle objects of craving that lead on to continued existence — and suffering — in the round of birth & death.
V. Dhotaka-manava-puccha: Dhotaka's Questions
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
I hope for your words, Great Seer.
Having heard your pronouncement,
I'll train for my own
[The Buddha:]
In that case,
be ardent —
astute & mindful right here.
Then, having heard my pronouncement,
train for your own
I see in the world of beings
divine & human,
a brahman who lives
possessing nothing.
I pay homage to him
the All-around Eye.
From my doubts, O Sakyan, release me!
[The Buddha:]
No one in the world, Dhotaka,
can I release from doubting.
But knowing the most excellent Dhamma,
you will cross over the flood.
Teach with compassion, O brahman,
the Dhamma of seclusion
so that I may know —
so that I, unafflicted as space,
may live right here,
at peace.
[The Buddha:]
I will teach you peace
— in the here & now,
not quoted words —
knowing which, living mindfully,
you'll go beyond
entanglement in the world.
And I relish, Great Seer,
that peace supreme,
knowing which, living mindfully,
I'll go beyond
entanglement in the world.
[The Buddha:]
Whatever you're alert to,
above, below,
across, in between:
knowing it as a bond in the world,
don't create craving
for becoming or non-.
Craving for becoming and non-becoming (or dis-becoming) are the two most subtle forms of craving that lead to continued existence — and suffering — in the round of birth & death.
VI. Upasiva-manava-puccha: Upasiva's Questions
Alone, Sakyan, & with nothing to rely on,
I can't venture across
the great flood.
Tell me, All-around Eye,
the support to rely on
for crossing over this flood.
[The Buddha:]
Mindfully focused on nothingness, [1]
relying on 'There isn't,'
you should cross over the flood.
Abandoning sensual pleasures,
abstaining from conversations,
keep watch for the ending of
craving, night & day.
One free from passion
for all sensual pleasures
relying on nothingness, letting go of all else,
released in the highest emancipation of perception:
Does he stay there unaffected?
[The Buddha:]
One free from passion
for all sensual pleasures
relying on nothingness, letting go of all else,
released in the highest emancipation of perception:
He stays there unaffected.
If he stays there, O All-around Eye,
unaffected for many years,
right there
would he be cooled & released?
Would his consciousness be like that?
[The Buddha:]
As a flame overthrown by the force of the wind
goes to an end
that cannot be classified,[2]
so the sage free from naming activity
goes to an end
that cannot be classified.
He who has reached the end:
Does he not exist,
or is he for eternity
free from dis-ease?
Please, sage, declare this to me
as this phenomenon has been known by you.
[The Buddha:]
One who has reached the end
has no criterion [3]
by which anyone would say that —
for him it doesn't exist.
When all phenomena are done away with,[4]
all means of speaking
are done away with as well.
"Nothingness" here denotes the dimension of nothingness, one of the four levels of mental absorption on formless themes. One attains this level, after surmounting the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, by focusing on the perception, "There is nothing." MN 26 tells us that Alara Kalama, the Buddha's first teacher when the latter was still a Bodhisatta, had attained this level of mental absorption and had thought that it was the highest possible attainment. The Bodhisatta left him upon realizing that it was not true liberation from stress and suffering. Nevertheless, the dimension of nothingness can be used as a basis for the insight leading to that liberation. On this point, see Sn.V.14 and AN 9.36.
For a discussion of this passage in light of early Buddhist theories of fire, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 1.
For a discussion of the meaning of "criterion" in this passage, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 1.
Although Upasiva refers to the goal as a phenomenon (dhamma), the Buddha describes it as the transcending of all phenomena. For some of the implications of this statement, see AN 3.134.
VII. Nanda-manava-puccha: Nanda's Questions
There are in the world
sages, they say
— in what way?
Do they call one a sage
for possessing knowledge
or possessing a way of life?
[The Buddha:]
Not on account of his views,
or knowledge
do the skilled here, Nanda,
call one a sage.
Those who live
those, I say, are called sages.
Whatever brahmans & contemplatives
describe purity
in terms of views & learning,
describe purity
in terms of precepts & practices,
describe purity
in terms of manifold ways:
have they, dear sir, living there in that way,
crossed over birth & aging?
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
[The Buddha:]
Whatever brahmans & contemplatives
describe purity
in terms of views & learning,
describe purity
in terms of precepts & practices,
describe purity
in terms of manifold ways:
none of them, living there in that way,
I tell you, have crossed over birth & aging.
Whatever brahmans & contemplatives
describe purity
in terms of views & learning,
describe purity
in terms of precepts & practices,
describe purity
in terms of manifold ways:
if, sage, as you say,
they've not crossed over the flood,
then who in the world
of beings divine & human
has crossed over birth & aging?
I ask you, O Blessed One.
Please tell me.
[The Buddha:]
I don't say that all brahmans & contemplatives
are shrouded in birth & aging.
Those here who've abandoned
what's seen, heard, & sensed,
precepts & practices [1]
— all —
who've abandoned their manifold ways
— again, all —
who, comprehending craving,
are effluent-free:
they are the ones, I tell you,
who've crossed over the flood.
I relish, Gotama, the Great Seer's words
well-expounded, without acquisition.
Those here who've abandoned
what's seen, heard, & sensed,
precepts & practices
— all —
who've abandoned their manifold ways
— again, all —
who, comprehending craving,
are effluent-free:
I, too, say they've crossed over the flood.
For a discussion of the abandoning of precepts and practices, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapters 3 and 4.
VIII. Hemaka-manava-puccha: Hemaka's Question
In the past,
before hearing Gotama's teaching,
when anyone explained 'It was,' 'It will be,'
all that was hearsay,
quoted words.
All that promoted conjecture
and gave me no pleasure.
Now, sage, teach me the Dhamma
demolishing craving,
knowing which, living mindfully,
one would cross over beyond
entanglement in the world.
[The Buddha:]
Here, Hemaka,
with regard to things that are dear
— seen, heard, sensed, & cognized —
there is: the dispelling of passion & desire,
the undying state of Unbinding.
Those knowing this, mindful,
fully unbound
in the here & now,
are forever calmed,
have crossed over beyond
entanglement in the world.
IX. Todeyya-manava-puccha: Todeyya's Questions
One in whom
there dwell no sensualities;
one in whom
no craving is found;
one who has crossed over perplexity —
his emancipation:
what is it like?
[The Buddha:]
One in whom
there dwell no sensualities;
one in whom
no craving is found;
one who has crossed over perplexity —
his emancipation
is not other than that.
Is he without desire,
or desiring?
Discerning or
still acquiring discernment?
Describe the sage to me, Sakyan
with the all-around eye,
so that I may recognize
what he is like.
[The Buddha:]
He's without desire,
not desiring;
not still acquiring discernment.
Recognize the sage, Todeyya,
as having nothing,
in sensuality
& becoming.
X. Kappa-manava-puccha: Kappa's Question
For one stranded in the middle of the lake,
in the flood of great danger — birth —
overwhelmed with aging & death:
Tell me the island, dear sir,
and show me the island
so that this may not happen again.
[The Buddha:]
For one stranded in the middle of the lake,
in the flood of great danger — birth —
overwhelmed with aging & death,
I will tell you the island, Kappa.
Having nothing,
clinging to no thing:
That is the island,
there is no other.
That's Unbinding, I tell you,
the total ending of aging & death.
Those knowing this, mindful,
fully unbound
in the here & now,
don't serve as Mara's servants,
don't come under Mara's sway.
XI. Jatukanni-manava-puccha: Jatukannin's Question
Hearing that there was a hero —
desiring no sensuality,
having crossed over the flood —
I've come with a question:
Tell me the state of peace,
O One with quick eyes. O Blessed One,
tell me
as it actually is.
For the Blessed One lives
having surpassed sensuality,
as the radiant sun, in its radiance,
the earth.
Limited my discernment,
O One whose discernment's profound.
Teach me to know the Dhamma,
the abandoning here
of birth
& aging.
[The Buddha:]
Subdue greed for sensual pleasures,
& see renunciation as rest.
Let there be nothing grasped
or rejected by you.
Burn up what's before,
and have nothing for after.
If you don't grasp
at what's in between, [1]
you will go about, calm.
One completely devoid of greed
for name & form, brahman,
no effluents
by which he would go
under Mara's sway.
According to Nd.II, "before" stands for defilements related to the past, "after" for defilements related to the future, and "in between" for the five aggregates — form, feeling, perception, thought-fabrications, sensory consciousness — in the present.
XII. Bhadravudha-manava-puccha: Bhadravudha's Questions
I entreat the one
who is very intelligent,
released, unperturbed —
who has abandoned home,
abandoned delight,
abandoned resemblances,
cut through craving,
crossed over the flood.
Having heard the Great One, they will leave —
the many gathered
from many lands, hero,
in hope of your words.
So tell them, please,
how this Dhamma has
been known to you.
[The Buddha:]
Subdue craving & clinging — all —
above, below,
across, in between. [1]
For whatever people cling to in the world,
it's through that
that Mara pursues them.
So a monk, mindful,
seeing these people
clinging to entanglement
as entangled in Death's realm,
should cling to nothing
in all the world,
every world.
For Nd.II's discussion of the various meanings of the objects of craving "above, below, across, in between," see Note 2 to Sn.V.4 (Mettagu's Question).
XIII. Udaya-manava-puccha: Udaya's Questions
To the one in jhana
seated dustless,
his task done,
gone to the beyond
of all phenomena,
I've come with a question.
Tell me the gnosis of emancipation,
the breaking open
of ignorance.
[The Buddha:]
The abandoning
both of sensual desires,
& of unhappiness,
the dispelling of sloth,
the warding off of anxieties,
equanimity-&-mindfulness purified,
with inspection of mental qualities
swift in the forefront:
That I call the gnosis of emancipation, [1]
the breaking open
of ignorance. [2]
With what
is the world fettered?
With what
is it examined?
Through the abandoning of what
is there said to be
[The Buddha:]
With delight
the world's fettered.
With directed thought
it's examined.
Through the abandoning of craving
is there said to be
Living mindful in what way
does one bring consciousness
to a halt?
We've come questioning
to the Blessed One.
Let us hear your words.
[The Buddha:]
Not relishing feeling,
inside or out:
One living mindful in this way
brings consciousness
to a halt. [3]
For a discussion of the "gnosis of emancipation" — the state of knowledge consisting of mental absorption coupled with an analysis of mental states, see AN 9.36 and Section III.F in The Wings to Awakening.
AN 3.32 contains a discussion of this verse. The Buddha tells Ven. Sariputta that one should train oneself such that "with regard to this conscious body, there will be no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit, such that with regard to all external themes [topics of concentration] there will be no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit, and that we will enter & remain in the awareness-release & discernment-release in which there is no 'I'-making or 'mine'-making or obsession of conceit." When one has trained in this way, he says, one is called a person who has cut through craving, unraveled the fetter, who has, through the right penetration of conceit, put an end to suffering & stress. He then states that it was in connection to this state that he uttered this verse.
For a discussion of "bringing consciousness to a halt" — showing that it is not an annihilation of consciousness, but rather the ending of its proliferating activity — see SN 22.53.
XIV. Posala-manava-puccha: Posala's Questions
To one who reveals the past
— unperturbed,
his doubts cut through —
who has gone to the beyond
of all phenomena,
I've come with a question.
I ask the Sakyan about the knowledge [1]
of one devoid of perception of forms,
who has abandoned all the body,
every body,
who sees, within & without,
'There is nothing':
How is he
to be led further on?
[The Buddha:]
The Tathagata, knowing directly
all stations of consciousness, [2]
knows for one stationed in them
& the steps leading there.
Knowing directly
the origin of nothingness
to be the fetter of delight,
one then sees there clearly.
That's his genuine knowledge —
the brahman who has lived
to fulfillment.
Posala's question concerning the knowledge of the person in the dimension of nothingness has a double meaning: He is asking about the Buddha's knowledge about that person, and also what a person in that dimension of attainment should do to develop his/her knowledge even further. The Buddha's answer deals with the question in both its senses.
On the seven stations of consciousness, see DN 15. The dimension of nothingness, discussed in this dialogue, is the seventh and most refined.
XV. Mogharaja-manava-puccha: Mogharaja's Question
Twice now, O Sakyan,
I've asked you,
but you, O One with Eyes,
haven't answered me.
"When asked the third time,
the divine seer answers":
so I have heard.
This world, the next world,
the Brahma world with its devas:
I don't know how they're viewed
by the glorious Gotama.
So to the one who has seen
to the far extreme,
I've come with a question:
One who regards the world in what way
isn't seen by Death's King?
[The Buddha:]
Always mindful, Mogharaja,
regard the world as
having removed any view
in terms of self.
This way
one is above and beyond death.
One who regards the world
in this way
isn't seen by Death's King.
On viewing the world as void, see S.XXXV.85.
XVI. Pingiya-manava-puccha: Pingiya's Question
I'm old & weak,
my complexion dull.
I've blurry eyes
and trouble hearing,
but may I not perish deluded,
Teach me the Dhamma
so that I may know
the abandoning here
of birth & aging.
[The Buddha:]
Seeing people suffering
on account of their bodies —
heedless people are oppressed
on account of their bodies —
then heedful, Pingiya,
let go of the body
for the sake of no further becoming.
In the four cardinal directions,
the four intermediate,
above & below
— the ten directions —
there is nothing in the world
unseen, unheard,
unsensed, uncognized by you.
Teach me the Dhamma
so that I may know
the abandoning here
of birth & aging.
[The Buddha:]
Seeing people,
victims of craving —
aflame, overwhelmed with aging —
then heedful, Pingiya,
let go of craving
for the sake of no further becoming.
Hết phần Kinh Tập (Chương 4 và chương 5) (Sutta Nipata)

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