Khuddaka Nikaya


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Udāna
V.5: Uposatha Suttaṃ

The Observance

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

 


 

[V-5.1][irel] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother. Now at that time, the Blessed One -- it being the observance day -- was sitting surrounded by the community of monks. Then Ven. Ananda -- when the night was far advanced, at the end of the first watch -- arose from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, stood facing the Blessed One with his hands placed palm-to-palm over his heart, and said to him: "The night, lord, is far advanced. The first watch has ended. The community of monks has been sitting here long. Let the Blessed One recite the Patimokkha to them." When this was said, the Blessed One remained silent.

Then a second time, when the night was far advanced, at the end of the second watch, Ven. Ananda arose from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, stood facing the Blessed One with his hands placed palm-to-palm over his heart, and said to him: "The night, lord, is far advanced. The second watch has ended. The community of monks has been sitting here long. Let the Blessed One recite the Patimokkha to them." When this was said, the Blessed One remained silent.

Then a third time, when the night was far advanced, at the end of the third watch, as dawn was approaching and the face of the night was beaming, Ven. Ananda arose from his seat, arranged his robe over one shoulder, stood facing the Blessed One with his hands placed palm-to-palm over his heart, and said to him: "The night, lord, is far advanced. The third watch has ended. Dawn is approaching and the face of the night is beaming. The community of monks has been sitting here long. Let the Blessed One recite the Patimokkha to the community of monks."

"Ananda, the gathering isn't pure."

Then the thought occurred to Ven. Maha Moggallana: "In reference to which individual did the Blessed One just now say, 'Ananda, the gathering isn't pure'?" So he directed his mind, encompassing with his awareness the awareness of the entire community of monks. He saw that individual -- unprincipled, evil, unclean and suspect in his undertakings, hidden in his actions, not a contemplative though claiming to be one, not leading the holy life though claiming to do so, inwardly rotten, oozing with desire, filthy by nature -- sitting in the midst of the community of monks. On seeing him, he got up, went over to that individual, and on reaching him said, "Get up, my friend. You have been seen by the Blessed One. You have no communion with the community of monks." Then the individual remained silent. A second time... A third time, Ven. Maha Moggallana said, "Get up, my friend. You have been seen by the Blessed One. You have no communion with the community of monks." And for a third time the individual remained silent.

Then Ven. Maha Moggallana, grabbing that individual by the arm, having expelled him through the outside door of the porch and locking the bolt, approached the Blessed One and on arrival said, "I have expelled that individual, lord. The gathering is now pure. Let the Blessed One recite the Patimokkha to the community of monks."

"Isn't it amazing, Moggallana. Isn't it astounding, how that individual waited until he was grabbed by the arm." Then the Blessed One addressed the monks: "From now on I will no longer perform the observance or recite the Patimokkha. You alone, monks, will perform the observance and recite the Patimokkha. It is impossible, it cannot happen, that a Tathagata would perform the observance or recite the Patimokkha with an impure gathering.

"Monks, there are these eight amazing and astounding facts about the ocean that, as they see them again and again, have the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean. Which eight?

"[1] The ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch. The fact that the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch: This is the first amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[2] And furthermore, the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline... This is the second amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras pleased with the ocean.

"[3] And furthermore, the ocean does not tolerate a dead body. Any dead body in the ocean gets washed to the shore and thrown up on dry land... This is the third amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[4] And furthermore, whatever great rivers there are -- such as the Ganges, the Yamuna, the Aciravati, the Sarabhu, the Mahi -- on reaching the ocean, give up their former names and are classed simply as 'ocean'... This is the fourth amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[5] And furthermore, though the rivers of the world pour into the ocean, and rain falls from the sky, no swelling or diminishing in the ocean for that reason can be discerned... This is the fifth amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[6] And furthermore, the ocean has a single taste: that of salt... This is the sixth amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[7] And furthermore, the ocean has these many treasures of various kinds: pearls, sapphires, lapis lazuli, shells, quartz, coral, silver, gold, rubies, and cat's eyes... This is the seventh amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"[8] And furthermore, the ocean is the abode of such mighty beings as whales, whale-eaters, and whale-eater-eaters; asuras, nagas, and gandhabbas. There are in the ocean beings one hundred leagues long, two hundred... three hundred... four hundred... five hundred leagues long. The fact that the ocean is the abode of such mighty beings as whales, whale-eaters, and whale-eater-eaters; asuras, nagas, and gandhabbas; and there are in the ocean beings one hundred leagues long, two hundred... three hundred... four hundred... five hundred leagues long: This is the eighth amazing and astounding fact about the ocean that, as they see it again and again, has the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"These are the eight amazing and astounding facts about the ocean that, as they see them again and again, have the Asuras greatly pleased with the ocean.

"In the same way, monks, there are eight amazing and astounding facts about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see them again and again, have the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline. Which eight?

"[1] Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch. The fact that this Doctrine and Discipline has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch: This is the first amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[2] And furthermore, just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline, in the same way my disciples do not -- even for the sake of their lives -- overstep the training rules I have formulated for them... This is the second amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[3] And furthermore, just as the ocean does not tolerate a dead body -- any dead body in the ocean getting washed to the shore and thrown up on dry land -- in the same way, if an individual is unprincipled, evil, unclean and suspect in his undertakings, hidden in his actions -- not a contemplative though claiming to be one, not leading the holy life though claiming to do so, inwardly rotten, oozing with desire, filthy by nature -- the community has no communion with him. Holding an immediate meeting, they banish him from the community. Even though he may be sitting in the midst of the community, he is far from the community, and the community far from him... This is the third amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[4] And furthermore, just as whatever great rivers there are -- such as the Ganges, the Yamuna, the Aciravati, the Sarabhu, the Mahi -- on reaching the ocean, give up their former names and are classed simply as 'ocean'; in the same way, when members of the four castes -- noble warriors, priests, merchants, and workers -- go forth from home to the homeless life in the Doctrine and Discipline declared by the Tathagata, they give up their former names and clans and are classed simply as 'contemplatives, sons of the Sakyan'... This is the fourth amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[5] And furthermore, just as the rivers of the world pour into the ocean, and rain falls from the sky, but no swelling or diminishing in the ocean for that reason can be discerned; in the same way, although many monks are totally unbound into the property of Unbinding with no fuel remaining, no swelling or diminishing in the property of Unbinding for that reason can be discerned... This is the fifth amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[6] And furthermore, just as the ocean has a single taste -- that of salt -- in the same way, this Doctrine and Discipline has a single taste: that of release... This is the sixth amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[7] And furthermore, just as the ocean has these many treasures of various kinds -- pearls, sapphires, lapis lazuli, shells, quartz, coral, silver, gold, rubies, and cat's eyes -- in the same way, this Doctrine and Discipline has these many treasures of various kinds: the four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path... This is the seventh amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"[8] And furthermore, just as the ocean is the abode of such mighty beings as whales, whale-eaters, and whale-eater-eaters; asuras, nagas, and gandhabbas, and there are in the ocean beings one hundred leagues long, two hundred... three hundred... four hundred... five hundred leagues long; in the same way, this Doctrine and Discipline is the abode of such mighty beings as stream-winners and those practicing to realize the fruit of stream-entry; once-returners and those practicing to realize the fruit of once-returning; non-returners and those practicing to realize the fruit of non-returning; Arahants and those practicing for Arahantship. The fact that this Doctrine and Discipline is the abode of such mighty beings as stream-winners and those practicing to realize the fruit of stream-entry; once-returners and those practicing to realize the fruit of once-returning; non-returners and those practicing to realize the fruit of non-returning; Arahants and those practicing for Arahantship: This is the eighth amazing and astounding fact about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see it again and again, has the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline.

"These are the eight amazing and astounding facts about this Doctrine and Discipline that, as they see them again and again, have the monks greatly pleased with the Doctrine and Discipline."

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

The rain soddens what's covered,
and doesn't sodden what's exposed.
So open up what's covered up,
so that it won't get soddened by the rain.


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