Khuddaka Nikaya


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Sutta Nipata
3
Sutta 2. Padhana Sutta

[pali] [faus]

Exertion

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

 


 

To me --
    resolute in exertion
    near the river Nerañjara,
    making a great effort,
    doing jhana
    to attain rest from the yoke --

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

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

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

In me are     conviction,
        austerity,
        persistence,
        discernment.
Why, when I'm so resolute
do you petition me
    to live?
This wind could burn up
    even river currents.
Why, when I'm resolute
shouldn't my blood dry away?
As my blood dries up
gall and phlegm dry up.
As muscles waste away,
the mind grows clearer;
mindfulness, discernment,
concentration stand
    more firm.
Staying in this way,
attaining the ultimate feeling,[2]
the mind has no interest
in sensual passions.
    See:
    a being's
    purity!

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

That, Namuci, is your army,
the Dark One's commando force.
A coward can't defeat it,
but one having defeated it
        gains bliss.
Do I carry muñja grass?[3]
I spit on my life.
Death in battle woud be better for me
    than that I, defeated,
        survive.

Sinking here, they don't appear,
    some priests and contemplatives.
They don't know the path
by which those with good practices
                go.

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

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

Mara:

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

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

 


[1] Mara.

[2] The highest equanimity that can be attained through jhana.

[3] Muñja grass was the ancient Indian equivalent of a white flag. A warrior expecting that he might have to surrender would take muñja grass into battle with him. If he did surrender, he would lie down with the muñja grass in his mouth. The Buddha, in asking this rhetorical question, is indicating that he is not the type of warrior who would carry muñja grass. If defeated, he would rather die than surrender.

 


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