Vestments of the Tenless
Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds
Once upon a time, Bhagava, Savatthi-town revisiting.
Seven, beggars, are the vestments of the tenless.
Here, beggars, a beggar has a strong desire to take on the training,
and going forward does not lose that affection for taking on the training;
has a strong desire to master Dhamma,
and going forward does not lose that affection for mastering Dhamma;
has a strong desire to discipline his wishes,
and going forward does not lose that affection for disciplining his wishes;
has a strong desire for seclusion,
and going forward does not lose that affection for seclusion;
has a strong desire to arouse energy,
and going forward does not lose that affection for arousing energy;
has a strong desire to refine his memory,
and going forward does not lose that affection for refining memory;
has a strongdesire to pierce the results of views,
and going forward does not lose that affection for piercing the results of views.
These then, beggars, are the seven vestments of the tenless.
 Bhk. Bodhi [which he probably more correctly numbers 7.20] in his Numerical Discourses, p 1009, footnotes (#1472 p 1774):
Niddasavatthūni. PED takes niddasa to be a wrong reading for nidesa and explains the compound to mean "object of distinction, or praise."
Hare, in his translation follows this. The note goes on:
SED sv nirda.sa gives "more than ten days old, happened more than ten days ago." The expression itself, howevr, has no necessary connection with days and could also be explained by taking ni to be a privative prefix and thus meaning "without ten." Thus as used here it might just as well mean "without ten years." Mp accepts the reading as given and offers an explanation, which I translate just below. It could be that the original meaning of the expression is irretrievably lost and in interpreting it we have nothing to rely on but conjecture. There are no identified Chinese parallels to this sutta or to and:42-43 below to serve as a check.
Here is Mp: The question ["How is one tenless?"] is said to have arisen among the outside sectarians. For they call a Nigaṇṭha [a Jain ascetic] niddaso ("ten-less") who has died at the time he is ten years of age [dasavassakāle; or: "at the time he has ten years' seniority" (as an ascetic)?] For, it is said, he does not become ten years of age again. And not only doesn't he become ten years of age again, [he doesn't become] nine years or age or even one year of age. In this way, they call a Nigaṇṭha who is deat at the age of twenty years, and so on, nibbīso (twenty-less), nittiɱso ('thirty-less'), niccattālīso ('forty-less'), nippaññāso ('fifty-less'). When Ānanda was wandering in the village, he heard this discussion and reported it to the Blessed One. The Blessed One said: 'This is not a designation for the sectarians, Ānanda, bur for the taint-destoyer [arahant] in my teaching.' For if the taint-destroyer attains final nibbāna when he is ten years of age [or: has ten years' seniority?], he does not become one of ten years again. Not only one of ten years, he doesn't become one of nine years ... of a single year. Not only one of a single year, he doesn't become one of eleleven months ... nor even one of a single moment. Why? Because he never again takes rebirth. The same method for one who is 'teenty-less' and so on. Thus the Blessed One begins this teaching to show the causes for becoming one who is 'ten-less.'"
I take this term to signify a form of rebirth wherein without transitioning through death and rebirth the mind of an individual reverts back to a previous point in this same life and starts over from there. Hence being 10-less would mean that his accomplishments to the point where he reverts are such that he has no need to go further back than his 11th year, and so forth. The Arahant would be the case where there is no need to revert at all.
 Paṭisallāne. To return to chambers.