Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
2. Sīhanāda Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers
G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1926
Public Domain

Sutta 13

Mahā Dukkhakkhandha Suttaɱ

The Longer Story of Ill

 


 

[1][pts][ntbb][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
a number of Almsmen,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
went early in the day into the city for alms.

But, thinking it somewhat early for this,
they thought they would go to the (neighbouring) pleasaunce
assigned to the Wanderers of other creeds.

Arrived there
and seating themselves after due exchange of civil greetings,
they were addressed as follows by these sectaries:

Reverend sirs, the recluse Gotama teaches how to transcend pleasures of sense; -
so do we.

He teaches how to transcend visible forms; -
so do we.

He teaches how to transcend feelings; -
so do we.

Where then is the distinction,
divergence
or difference
between him and us
in tenets or teaching?

The Almsmen who had listened to this,
neither applauded nor objected,
but simply rose up without a word
and departed,
to hear the truth on the matter
from the Lord's lips.

So, when they had gone their rounds for alms
and had got back after their meal,
they went to him
and, seating themselves after due salutations,
related what had passed.

Sectaries who say that
should be asked what satisfaction,
what perils,
and what Deliverance
attend pleasures of sense,
or visible forms,
or feelings,
respectively.

To this they will not succeed in replying,
and will be annoyed to boot.

And why?

Because it is beyond their scope.

I see no one in the whole universe -
with all its gods,
Māras,
Brahmās,
recluses and brahmins,
gods and men -
who can win hearts with his answer to these questions,
save only a Truth-finder,
or a disciple of the Truth-finder,
or one who has been told by them.

What is the satisfaction
that attends pleasures of sense?

Fivefold are pleasures of sense:

(i.) forms [60] perceived by the eye,
(ii.) sounds perceived by the ear,
(iii.) odours perceived by the nose,
(iv.) tastes perceived by the tongue, and
(v.) touch perceived by the body, -

all of them desirable,
agreeable,
pleasant,
and attractive,
all of them pleasurable and exciting to passion.

The satisfaction that attends pleasures of sense
is the gratification and contentment
which arises from these fivefold pleasures.

What are the perils
which attend pleasures of sense?

Take the case of a respectable young man
who makes his living by being clerk of the signet,
clerk of accompt,
computer,
estate-agent,
purveyor,
herd-manager,
archer,
member of the royal household,
or in some other calling, -
therein braving heat and cold,
harassed by gnats,
mosquitoes,
wind,
blazing sun,
and contact with snakes,
and tormented to death by hunger and thirst.

These are among the perils
that attend pleasures of sense,
here and now,
with all that makes up the sum of Ill, -
all because of pleasure,
from pleasure,
by reason of pleasure,
verily with pleasure,
and pleasure only,
as the cause.

If, now, active,
energetic
and pushing though he be,
this respectable young man fails to make his fortune,
he grieves
and laments
and weeps,
beats his breast
and is distracted
that his efforts have been in vain
and his activities fruitless.

These are among the perils that attend ... the cause.

If on the other hand
success attends his efforts
and he does make his fortune,
he is beset by anxiety
and tribulation
to retain it, -
always wondering whether kings
or thieves
will despoil him,
or whether he will be stripped
by fire
or flood
or by heirs he detests.

And if, despite all his watch and ward,
one or other of these calamities befalls him,
then he grieves and laments ... the cause.

It is equally because of pleasure -
from pleasure,
by reason of pleasure;
verily with pleasure,
and pleasure only,
as the originating cause -
that kings contend with kings,
nobles with nobles,
brahmins with brahmins,
citizens with citizens,
mother with son,
son with mother,
[6l] father with son,
son with father,
brother with brother,
brother with sister,
sister with brother,
friend with friend,
till, in their quarrels,
contentions
and strife,
they fall on one another with fists,
clods,
cudgels,
and knives,
whereby they come by their death
or deadly hurt.

These are among the perils that attend ... the cause.

It is equally because of pleasure
that, girding on sword and buckler,
bow and sheaf of arrows,
men charge in battle array,
while arrows and javelins hurtle through the air
and swords flash and hack;
with arrows and spear
they deal wounds,
with their swords
they hew off heads,
so that men come by their deaths
or deadly hurt.

These are among the perils that attend ... the cause.

It is equally because of pleasure
that, girding on sword and buckler,
bow and sheaf of arrows,
men charge up slippery bastions,
while arrows and javelins
hurtle through the air
and swords flash and hack;
with arrows and spear
they deal wounds;
(the besieged) pour down blazing embers
(on their besiegers)
and crush them with the falling portcullis;
heads are hewn off by swords;
so that men come by their deaths
or deadly hurt.

These are among the perils ... the cause.

It is equally because of pleasure
that men turn into burglars,
robbers,
brigands,
highwaymen,
or adulterers.

On arrest, these are punished by the authorities
in divers ways, -
by flogging,
by bastinado,
by bludgeoning;
by cutting off hands or feet,
hands and feet,
ears or nose,
ears and nose;
or they are subjected to the tortures of the saucepan,[1]
the chank-shave,
or the lanthorn,[2]
the wreath of fire,[3]
the fiery hand,
the hay- [62] band,[4]
the bark-robe,
the black hart,[5]
the meat-hooks,[6]
the pennies,[7]
the pickle,[8]
bolting the door,[9]
or the palliasse;[10]
or they are sprayed with boiling oil,
or are given to starved dogs to devour,
or are impaled alive,
or have their heads chopped off;
so that men come by their deaths
or deadly hurt.

These are among the perils ... the cause.

Lastly, it is equally because of pleasure -
from pleasure,
by reason of pleasure,
verily with pleasure,
and pleasure only,
as the cause -
that men go astray
in act
word
and thought;
and thereby, at the body's dissolution after death,
they pass to states of suffering,
woe
and tribulation
and to purgatory.

These are the perils that -
in the hereafter -
dog pleasures of sense
with all that makes up Ill, -
all because of pleasure,
from pleasure,
by reason of pleasure,
verily with pleasure,
and pleasure only,
as the cause.

Next, what is the deliverance
from pleasures of sense?

To subdue
and to shed
all desire and appetite for them,
this is deliverance
from pleasures of sense.

Almsmen, if recluses or brahmins
lack this real knowledge
of the true nature
of the satisfaction and perils of,
and of deliverance from,
pleasures of sense,
they cannot possibly either comprehend such pleasures [63] for themselves
or instruct another
by what course
to comprehend the truth about them.

Only those can possibly do this
who know pleasures of sense
for what they truly are.

Take (the particular case of) visible forms.

What is the satisfaction they give?

It is as if there were a maiden
of a noble
or brahmin
or citizen family,
between fifteen and sixteen years old,
not too tall
and not too short,
not too plump
and not too thin,
not too dark
and not too pale; -
is she then in the flower of her charm and beauty?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, anything agreeable and pleasurable
that arises from charm and beauty
is the satisfaction that visible forms give.

Next, what are the perils of visible forms?

Suppose that, later on,
one saw that same lady
when she was eighty
or ninety
or a hundred years old,
a crone bent double
and propping her bowed frame
with a staff
as she totters along,
decrepit,
with her youth gone
and her teeth broken,
with hair grey
or scanty
or none,
all wrinkly or blotchy; -
what think you?

Has the flower of her charm and beauty gone
and calamity set in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, this is among the perils
which dog visible forms.

Now suppose one saw that same lady
sick
and suffering
and very ill,
lying in her own ordure and urine,
dependent on others
to lift and dress her; -
what think you, Brethren?

Has the flower of her charm and beauty gone
and calamity set in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, this too is among the perils
which dog visible forms.

Lastly, suppose that,
after that same lady's body
has been cast into the charnel-ground,
one saw it either lying there
bloated
and black
and festering
after one to three days' exposure there, -
or being devoured by crows
or hawks
or vultures
or dogs
or jackals
or divers worms -
or showing as a chain [64] of bones,
either still with flesh and blood and sinews
to hold them together,
or with only smears of flesh and blood left
with the bones and sinews,
or with sinews gone
and only the bare bones left
scattered about,
here a hand
and there a foot,
here a leg
and there an arm,
here the pelvis,
there the spine,
and there the skull -
or with the bones whitening like sea-shells,
or piled in a heap
as years roll by,
or crumbled to dust; -
what think you?

Has the flower of her charm and beauty gone
and calamity set in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, these things too
are among the perils
which dog visible forms.

Next, what is the deliverance
from visible forms?

To subdue
and shed
all desire
and appetite
for them, -
this is deliverance
from visible forms.

Almsmen, if recluses or brahmins
lack this real knowledge
of the true nature
of the satisfactions
and perils of,
and deliverance from,
visible forms,
they cannot possibly either comprehend visible forms for themselves
or instruct another
by what course
to comprehend the truth about them.

Only those can possibly do this
who know visible forms
for what they truly are.

What are the satisfactions
that feelings bring?

Take the case of an Almsman
who, divested of pleasures of sense,
divested of wrong states of consciousness,
has entered on
and abides in
the First Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction,
a state bred of inward aloofness
but not divorced from observation and reflection.

When it is thus with him,
harm is not in his heart,
either towards himself
or to others
or towards both together;
he experiences the feeling
of harbouring no harm at all.

This perfect innocence of harm
I count as the true satisfaction
which feelings bring.

When he has risen above reasoning and reflection,
he enters into
and abides in
the Second Ecstasy,
with all its zest and satisfaction,
a state bred of rapt concentration,
above all reasoning and reflection,
a state whereby the heart is focussed
and tranquillity reigns [65] within.

And so he passes to the Third and the Fourth Ecstasy;
and when,
by putting from him
both satisfaction and dissatisfaction,
and by shedding the joys and sorrows he used to feel,
that Almsman enters into
and abides in
that Fourth Ecstasy -
the state that knows neither the pleasant nor the unpleasant,
the clarity that comes of poised equanimity
and alert mindfulness, -
harm is not in his heart,
either towards himself
or to others
or to both together;
he experiences the feeling
of harbouring no harm at all.

This sense of perfect innocence of harm
I count as the true satisfaction
which feelings bring.

What are the perils
which feelings entail?

Inasmuch as feelings are transitory,
fraught with Ill,
and the creatures of change, -
these are the perils which dog them.

What is the deliverance
from feelings?

To subdue
and to shed
all desire and appetite for them, -
this is deliverance
from feelings.

Almsmen, if recluses or brahmins
lack this real knowledge
of the true nature of
the satisfactions
and perils of,
and deliverance from,
feelings,
they cannot possibly either comprehend feelings for themselves
or instruct another
by what course
to comprehend the truth about them.

Only those can possibly do this
who know feelings for what they really are.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
those Almsmen rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

 


[1] The skull was first trepanned and then a red-hot ball of iron was dropped in, so that the brains boiled over like porridge. For this and other tortures see S.B.E., XXXV, 276.

SBE XXXV, Pg. 276 ff.: Painful is the fear produced by despots, or by robbers, or by enemies, or by famine, or by fire, or by flood, or by the tidal wave, or by earthquake, or by crocodiles or alligators. Painful is the fear of possible blame attaching to oneself, or to others, the fear of punishment, the fear of misfortune. Painful is the fear arising from shyness in the presence of assemblies of one's fellows, painful is anxiety as to one's means of livelihood, painful the foreboding of death. [197] Painful are (the punishments inflicted on criminals), such as being flogged with whips, or with sticks, or with split rods, having one's hands cut off, or one's feet, or one's hands and feet, or one's ears, or one's nose, or one's ears and nose. Painful are (the tortures inflicted on traitors)--being subjected to the Gruel Pot (that is, having boiling gruel poured into one's head from the top of which the skull bone has been removed 1)--or to the Chank Crown 2 (that is, having the scalp rubbed with gravel till it becomes smooth like a polished shell)--or to the Râhu's Mouth 3 (that is, having one's mouth held open by iron pins, and oil put in it, and a wick lighted therein)--or to the Fire Garland 4 or to the Hand Torch 5, (that is, being made a living torch, the whole body, or the arms only, being wrapped up in oily cloths, and set on fire)--or to the Snake Strips 6 (that is, being skinned in strips from the neck to the hips, so that the skin falls in strips round the legs)or to the Bark Dress 7 (that is, being skinned alive from the neck downwards, and having each strip of [p. 277] skin as soon as removed tied to the hair, so that these strips form a veil around one)--or to the Spotted Antelope 1 (that is, having one's knees and elbows tied together, and being made to squat on a plate of iron under which a fire is lit)--or to the Flesh-hooks 2 (that is, being hung up on a row of iron hooks)--or to the Pennies 3 (that is, having bits cut out of the flesh, all over the body, of the size of pennies)--or to the Brine Slits 4 (that is, having cuts made all over one's body by means of knives or sharp points, and then having salt and caustic liquids poured over the wounds)--or to the Bar Turn 5 (that is, being transfixed to the ground by a bar of iron passing through the root of the ear, and then being dragged round and round by the leg)--or to the Straw Seat 6 (that is, being so beaten with clubs that [p. 278] the bones are broken, and the body becomes like a heap of straw)--or to be anointed with boiling oil, or to be eaten by dogs, or to be impaled alive, or to be beheaded. Such and such, O king, are the manifold and various pains which a being caught in the whirlpool of births and rebirths has to endure. just, O king, as the water rained down upon the Himâlaya mountain flows, in its course along the Ganges, through and over rocks and pebbles and gravel, whirlpools and eddies and rapids 1, and the stumps and branches of trees which obstruct and oppose its passage,--just so has each being caught in the succession of births and rebirths to endure such and such manifold and various pains. Full of pain, then, is the continual succession of rebirths, a joy is it when that succession ends. And it was in pointing out the advantage of that end, the disaster involved in that succession, that the Blessed One, great king, instigated us to get beyond birth, and old age, and disease, and death by the realisation of the final end of that succession of rebirths.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] The mouth was fixed open with a skewer and a lighted lamp put inside. This torture was called the mouth of Rahu because Rahu, the Asura, was supposed, at an eclipse, to swallow the sun.

[3] Bu. says that the whole body was oiled before ignition; but mālī suggests a coronal of flames, just as the next torture is localized to the hands.

[4] From the neck downwards, the skin was flayed into strips not severed at the ankles but there plaited like a hay-band to suspend him till he fell by his own weight. In the next torture the strips formed a kilt.

[5] The victim was skewered to the ground through elbows and knees, with a fire lighted all round him so as to char his flesh.

[6] The victims were slung up by double hooks through flesh and tendons.

[7] With a razor little discs of flesh were shaved off all over the body.

[8] Into gashes salt or alkali was rubbed, - with combs.

[9] The head was nailed to the ground by a skewer through both ear-holes.

[10] The skin being left intact, the bones and inwards were pounded till the whole frame was as soft as a straw mattress.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page