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Saɱyutta Nikāya
II.Nidāna Vagga
XII.Nidāna Saŋyutta
II.Āhāra Vagga

Sutta 17

Acela Sutta

To the Clothless Ascetic

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][pts][bodh] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then early in the morning the Blessed One, having put on his robes and carrying his bowl and outer robe, went into Rajagaha for alms. Kassapa-the-clothless[1] ascetic saw him coming from afar. On seeing him, he went to him and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies, he stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to the Blessed One, "We would like to question Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would take the time to answer our question."

"This is not the time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among houses."

A second time ... A third time Kassapa the clothless ascetic said to him, "We would like to question Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would take the time to answer our question."

"This is not the time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among houses."

When this was said, Kassapa the clothless ascetic said, "What we want to ask isn't much."

"Then ask as you like."

"Master Gotama, is stress self-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it both self-made and other-made?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then is it the case that stress, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?"

"Don't say that, Kassapa."

"Then does stress not exist?"

"It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist."

"Well, in that case, does Master Gotama not know or see stress?"

"Kassapa, it's not the case that I don't know or see stress. I know stress. I see stress."

"Now, when asked, 'Is stress self-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it other-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it both self-made and other-made?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then is it the case that stress, being neither self-made nor other-made, arises spontaneously?' you say, 'Don't say that, Kassapa.' When asked, 'Then does stress not exist?' you say, 'It's not the case, Kassapa, that stress does not exist. Stress does exist.' When asked, 'Well, in that case, does Master Gotama not know or see stress?' you say, 'Kassapa, it's not the case that I don't know or see stress. I know stress. I see stress.' Then explain stress to me, lord Blessed One. Teach me about stress, lord Blessed One!"

"'The one who acts is the one who experiences [the result of the act]' amounts to the eternalist statement, 'Existing from the very beginning, stress is self-made.' 'The one who acts is someone other than the one who experiences'[2] amounts to the annihilationist statement, 'For one existing harassed by feeling, stress is other-made.' Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle:

From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.
From name-and-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.
From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.
From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.
From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.
From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
From birth as a requisite condition, then aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress and suffering.

"Now from the remainderless fading and cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-and-form. From the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/ sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering."

When this was said, Kassapa the clothless ascetic said, "Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the community of monks. Let me obtain the going forth in the Blessed One's presence, let me obtain admission."

"Anyone, Kassapa, who has previously belonged to another sect and who desires the going forth and admission in this doctrine and discipline, must first undergo probation for four months. If, at the end of four months, the monks feel so moved, they give him the going forth and admit him to the monk's state. But I know distinctions among individuals in this matter."

"Lord, if that is so, I am willing to undergo probation for four years. If, at the end of four years, the monks feel so moved, let them give me the going forth and admit me to the monk's state."

Then Kassapa the clothless ascetic obtained the going forth in the Blessed One's presence, he obtained admission. And not long after his admission — dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute — he in no long time reached and remained in the supreme goal of the holy life, for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing and realizing it for himself in the here and now. He knew: "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." And thus Ven. Kassapa became another one of the arahants."

 


[1]Acela: "One without cloth." Often translated as "naked," but as MN 45 shows, such a person might wear garments made of something other than cloth.

[2]This statement is annihilationist in implying that personal identity is simply a series of radically different persons, one disappearing to be replaced by another repeatedly throughout time. In other words, the X who did the action whose fruit X is now experiencing is a radically different X from the X who is now experiencing it. That first X has disappeared and has been replaced by a different one. The Buddha avoids this error — and the eternalist error of self-causation — by refusing to get entangled in questions of personal identity. See MN 109, SN XII.12, and SN XII.35.

 


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