Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
3. Tatiya Vagga

Sutta 23

Vammika Suttaɱ

The Anthill

Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds

 


 

[1][chlm][pts][upal][swe] I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time Bhagava, Sāvatthī-town residing, Anāthapiṇḍika's Jeta Grove.

At this time, then, the Ancient Kumāra Kassapa resided in Dark Woods.

Then towards the passing of night a certain diety of surpassing color drew near to Kumāra Kassapa and illuminating the while that Dark Woods,
having drawn near, stood to one side,
Standing to one side that diety said this to Kumāra Kassapa:

[2][pts][upal][swe] 'Beggar! Beggar! This anthill smokes by night, by day blazes up.

The Brahmin says this:
"Use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it up."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw an obstruction
and said: "An obstruction, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the obstruction,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a puffed up croaker[1]
and said: "A puffed up croaker, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the puffed up croaker,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a diverging path[2]
and said: "A diverging path, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
[143] "Get rid of the diverging path,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a screen[3].
and said: "A screen, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the screen,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a turtle[4].
and said: "A turtle, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the turtle,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a slaughter-house,
and said: "A slaughter-house, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the slaughter-house,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a piece of flesh.
and said: "A piece of flesh, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Get rid of the piece of flesh,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out."

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a serpent.
and said: "A serpent, venerable."

The Brahmin says this:
"Let stand the serpent.
Do not upset the serpent.
Give homage to the serpent."

[3][pts][upal][swe] Now then, bhikkhu, approach the Bhagava questioning him about this,
in such way as the Bhagava explains, so you should retain it.

Beggar! I see in this world with it's dieties, with it's Māras, Brahmas; — this generation together with shamans and brhamins, with its dieties and men, no one who if questioned about this, could explain it to the satisfaction of mind other than a Tathagata or a Tathagata's apprentice, or one who had heard it from such a one.'

Thus spoke that diety and having spoken, he vanished on the spot.

[4][pts][upal][swe] Then, towards the end of the night the Ancient, Kumāra Kassapa, drew near to the Bhagava, having drawn near he sat to one side.
Sitting to one side the Ancient, Kumāra Kassapa, said this to the Bhagava:

'Towards the passing of night, bhante, a certain diety of surpassing color drew near and illuminating Dark Woods the while,
having drawn near, stood to one side,
Standing to one side that diety said this to me:

"Beggar! Beggar! This anthill smokes by night, by day blazes up.

The Brahmin says this:
'Use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it up.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw an obstruction
and said: 'An obstruction, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the obstruction,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a puffed up croaker
and said: 'A puffed up croaker, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the puffed up croaker,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a diverging path
and said: 'A diverging path, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the diverging path,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a screen.
and said: 'A screen, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the screen,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a turtle.
and said: 'A turtle, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the turtle,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a slaughter-house,
and said: 'A slaughter-house, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the slaughter-house,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a piece of flesh.
and said: 'A piece of flesh, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Get rid of the piece of flesh,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out.'

Using the sword, Goodly-wise, digging, saw a serpent.
and said: 'A serpent, venerable.'

The Brahmin says this:
'Let stand the serpent.
Do not upset the serpent.
Give homage to the serpent.'

Now then, bhikkhu, approach the Bhagava questioning him about this,
in such way as the Bhagava explains, so you should retain it.

Beggar! I see in this world with it's dieties, with it's Māras, Brahmas; — this generation together with shamans and brhamins, with its dieties and men, no one who if questioned about this, could explain it to the satisfaction of mind other than a Tathagata or a Tathagata's apprentice, or one who had heard it from such a one."

Thus spoke that diety and having spoken, he vanished on the spot.'

[5][pts][upal][swe] 'What now, bhante, is "the anthill"?
What is "smoking by night"?
What is "blazing up by day"?
Who is "the Brahmin"?
Who is "Goodly-wise"?
What is "the sword"?
What "digging out"?
What "the obstruction"?
What "the puffed up croaker"?
What "the divergent path"?
What "the screen"?
What "the turtle"?
What "the slaughter-house"?
What "the piece of flesh"?
What "the serpent"?'

[144][6][pts][upal][swe] '"Anthill," bhikkhu, such is an expression for this four-great-elements-made body, brought into being by mother and father, dependant on gruel and yogurt, given to instability, erosion, and dissolution; given to breaking-up and breaking-down.

In the night, beggar, what one rethinks and thinks about of the day's works, that is an expression for "smoking at night".

In the day, beggar, whatever followed from that rethinking and whatever followed from that thinking about in the works of body, speech or mind, that is an expression for "blazing up by day".

"Brahman," bhikkhu, such is an expression for The Tathagata, Aristocrat, #1-Highest-Self-Awakened-One.

"Goodly-wise," bhikkhu, such is an expression for the beggar who is a seeker.

"The Sword," beggar, such is an expression for wisdom that is aristocratic.

"Digging out," beggar, such is an expression for energetic resolve.

"Obstruction," beggar, such is an expression for blindness; Get rid of the obstruction, let go of blindness, use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

"The puffed-up croaker," beggar, such is an expression for angry mudslinging;
Get rid of the puffed-up croaker, let go of angry mudslinging,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

"The divergent path," beggar, such is an expression for doubt;
Get rid of the divergent path, let go of doubt,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

"The screen," beggar, such is an expression for the five bindups:

the bindup of wanting pleasure,
the bindup of angry ways,
the bindup of lazy ways and inertia,
the bindup of fear and trembling,
the bindup of doubt.

'Get rid of the screen, let go of the five bindups,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

"The turtle," beggar, such is an expression for the five bound up stockpiles,
that is to say:

the pile bound up in thingness,
the pile bound up in sense experience,
the pile bound up in perception,
the pile bound up in conjuration,
the pile bound up in re-knowing-knowing.

'Get rid of the turtle let go of the five bound up stockpiles,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

"The slaughter-house," beggar, such is an expression for the five cords of sense-pleasure:

things known by way of the eye;
wished for, enjoyable, pleasing, attractive, useful in attaining pleasure, exciting,
sounds known by way of the ear;
wished for, enjoyable, pleasing, attractive, useful in attaining pleasure, exciting,
scents known by way of the nose;
wished for, enjoyable, pleasing, attractive, useful in attaining pleasure, exciting,
tastes known by way of the tongue;
wished for, enjoyable, pleasing, attractive, useful in attaining pleasure, [145] exciting,
touches known by way of the body;
wished for, enjoyable, pleasing, attractive, useful in attaining pleasure, exciting.

'Get rid of the slaughter-house, let go of the five cords of sense-pleasure,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point.

'The piece of flesh,' beggar, such is an expression for delighting in lust;
Get rid of the piece of flesh, let go of delighting in lust,
use the sword, Goodly-wise, dig it out, this is the point..

'Serpent,' beggar, such is an expression for the beggar who has abandoned the no good.

'Let stand the serpent.
Do not upset the serpent.
Give homage to the serpent.'
this is the point.

Thus spoke Bhagava.

And at that time the Ancient Kumāra Kassapa was greatly delighted, so we hear.

 


[1] Uddhumāyikaɱ. Bhk. Bodhi and Horner have 'Frog' and 'Toad' referencing commentary. Likely so, but here I think the idiom has internal meaning which is better left in it's raw state.

[2] Dvidhāpathaɱ. PED has forked path, divided path or crossroads. This is a simile for doubt. Uncertainty as to which path to take. One get's rid of doubt but one does not get rid of a forked path, or a crossroads, one takes one or the other fork or direction; one gets rid of a divergent path...or, maybe, thinking of 'duality' and dualistic thinking, one does get rid of both choices. If it says go this way or go that way, we can say; 'I'll not go either way.' Abstaining from either self-indulgence or self-punishment, I'll take the Middle Path. So my translation means 'Taking the Middle path, I will get rid of any divergent path that presents itself — whether forked or a crossroads.

[3] Caŋgavāraɱ [cangavāraɱ]. An empty vessel or box. Horner has 'strainer' and Bhk. Bodhi has 'seive'; both rely on the commentary. If this is a strainer or sieve, it is likely something like the sifting tool gardners use to filter out rocks, etc; a box that acts as a funnel, with a screen at one end. The PED points to a possible etymology in: Tamil canguvaḍa a dhoney, Anglo-Ind. ḍoni, a canoe hollowed from a log. This would work as a simile for the kkhandhas (trunk) which is often enough referred to as an empty vessel; and 'strainer' or 'seive' would work as a simile for the six senses: The eye comes into contact with an object of sense arising from the contact is sense impression; sense impression is then used as the raw data for the mind sense and the visual component of the composite consciousness of the world of the individual. If there is no eye, and there is an object of sense present, there is no resultant object consciousness; if there is eye, but no object, there is no resultant object consciousness. So in effect the senses act as a filter (seive) through which the world is perceived. If this is not an error, we need to go with 'sieve', seeing the hindrances as filtering out higher states of consciousness, insight, and letting go. If the reader has doubt, using a sword, dig it out, get rid of all three.

[4] Kummo. Horner and Bhk. Bodhi: 'tortoise.' When this animal is used as a simile it is most often the variety that inhabits water; this variety is now more commonly known as a turtle.


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