Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara-Nikāya
III. Tikanipāta
XII. Āpāyika Vagga

The Numbers Bag
The Book of Threes

Sutta 114

The Difference

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][pts] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time Bhagava, Savatthi-town residing,
Anathapindika's Jeta Grove.

There he said this to the beggars gathered round:

"Three, me beggars, are men to be seen in the world.

"What three?

"Here, beggars, one man,
by entirely transcending perception of forms,
retiring perception of reaction
to diversity of perception
forming in mind the thought:
'Endless Space!'
rises up into and abides in the Sphere of Space.

"He takes satisfaction in,
sets up desire for and
indulges enjoyment thereof.

"Taking that stand,
obsessed with that,
living making a big thing of that,
not falling back,
having done his time,
he goes on to join those divinities
come to rebirth having gained the Sphere of Space[1].

"Of those divinities, beggars,
that have gained the Sphere of Space
20,000 kalpas[2] is the span of life.

"There the common folk stay
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there,
and then, cast from there,
all such go to Niraya,
go to the animal womb
go to the ghostly garb.

"But the student of the Lucky Man stays there
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there
and then, cast from there,
all such become all-round-unbound.

"This, beggars is the distinction,
the difference,
the variance in this case
between the well-read student of the Aristocrats
and the unread common folk,
that is to say,
in the manner of their goings and rebirths."

[2][pts] "Again, beggars, one man here,
by entirely transcending the Sphere of Space,
thinking:
'Endless consciousness!'
rises up into and abides in the Sphere of Consciousness.

"He takes satisfaction in,
sets up desire for and
indulges enjoyment thereof.

"Taking that stand,
obsessed with that,
living making a big thing of that,
not falling back,
having done his time,
he goes on to join those divinities
come to rebirth having gained the Sphere of Consciousness[3].

"Of those divinities, beggars,
that have gained the Sphere of Consciousness
40,000 kalpas is the span of life.

"There the common folk stay
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there,
and then, cast from there,
all such go to Niraya,
go to the animal womb
go to the ghostly garb.

"But the student of the Lucky Man stays there
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there
and then, cast from there,
all such become all-round-unbound.

"This, beggars is the distinction,
the difference,
the variance in this case
between the well-read student of the Aristocrats
and the unread common folk,
that is to say,
in the manner of their goings and rebirths."

[3][pts] "Again, beggars, one man here,
by entirely transcending the Sphere of Consciousness,
thinking:
'There is no anything!'
rises up into and abides in the Sphere of No Anything.

"He takes satisfaction in,
sets up desire for and
indulges enjoyment thereof.

"Taking that stand,
obsessed with that,
living making a big thing of that,
not falling back,
having done his time,
he goes on to join those divinities
come to rebirth having gained the Sphere of No Anything.

"Of those divinities, beggars,
that have gained the Sphere of No Anything
60,000 kalpas is the span of life.

"There the common folk stay
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there,
and then, cast from there,
all such go to Niraya,
go to the animal womb
go to the ghostly garb.

"But the student of the Lucky Man stays there
for a lifetime lasting as long as
the life-span of those deities there
and then, cast from there,
all such become all-round-unbound.

"This, beggars is the distinction,
the difference,
the variance in this case
between the well-read student of the Aristocrats
and the unread common folk,
that is to say,
in the manner of their goings and rebirths."

These, beggars, are the three men to be seen in the world.

 


[1] 'Ananto ākāso' — ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ. 'Endless space' is the thought he concentrates on; the sphere itself is not named 'Endless', but simply 'space-sphere'.

[2] On the length of a kappa, see Subdivisions of Hell

[3] As per n.1.

 


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