Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
3. Tatiya 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 25

Nivāpa Suttaɱ

Gins and Snares

 


 

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce, the Lord addressed the Almsmen, as follows:

It is with no idea of providing deer
with a crop grown solely to keep them in good condition for many a long day,
that the trapper sows his crop;
no, it is with the quite different object
that, with an infatuated inrush on the crop,
the deer will browse on the fodder,
and that, as they browse,
they will lose their heads
and thereby get off their guard,
so that being off their guard,
they can be dealt with
as he pleases amid the crop.

And this is just what a first herd of deer did,
so that they escaped not
from the trapper's mastery of craft.

Realizing precisely how the first herd
had met their doom,
a second herd concluded to keep quite clear of the crop
and to retire to the depths of the jungle,
leaving that fearsome pasturage untouched.

This they did,
until, with the coming of the last month of the hot season,
grass and water gave out
and their bodies grew emaciated in the extreme,
so that their hearts and spirits failed them, -
and back they came
to the crop the trapper had sown.

With an infatuated inrush,
they fell to browsing on the fodder,
and, as they browsed,
lost their heads
and got off their guard,
so that, being off their guard,
they could be dealt with by the trapper
as he pleased amid the crop.

That is how the second herd too
escaped not from the trappers mastery of craft.

Realizing precisely how the first and second herds
had come to their doom,
a third herd of deer resolved [109] instead to take up their abode
hard by the standing crop,
but, making no mad rush in,
to browse on it with circumspection
and without losing their heads
and without getting off their guard, -
so as not to be at the trappers mercy amid the crop.

And this they did,
thereby escaping him.

Hereupon, the trapper and his people
thought to themselves: -

This third herd is guileful and wily,
diabolically clever
and outlandish;
they graze on our crop,
but we know nothing of their comings
or of their goings;
it would be well to put high stake-nets round the whole crop,
to see if we can find out what lair they disappear to.

So they staked in the whole crop all round about,
till they discovered the lair the deer disappeared to.

And that is how the third herd too
escaped not from the trapper's mastery of craft.

Realizing precisely how the first three herds
had respectively come to their doom,
a fourth herd resolved to make their lair
where the trapper and his people could not penetrate,
and, from this security,
making no mad rush in,
to browse on the crop with circumspection
and without losing their heads
and without getting off their guard,
and so not to be at the trapper's mercy amid the crop.

And this they did, thereby escaping him.

Hereupon, the trapper and his people thought to themselves:

This fourth herd is guileful and wily,
diabolically clever
and outlandish;
they graze on our crop,
but we know nothing of their comings
or of their goings;
it would be well to put high stake nets
round the whole crop,
to see if we can find out what lair they disappear to.

So they staked in the whole crop all round about, -
but failed to discover the lair
the deer disappeared to.

Then the trapper and his people thought to themselves: -

If we upset this fourth herd,
they in turn will upset their neighbours
and so on all alpng the line,
so that no deer at all
will ever come near our crop;
we had better take no notice of them at all.

So they took no notice of that fourth herd, -
which thus succeeded in escaping
the trapper's mastery in craft.

[110] This is an allegory, Almsmen,
framed by me to illustrate my meaning,
which is as follows:

The crop
typifies the five pleasures of sense;
the trapper
stands for Māra, the Evil One;
the trapper's people
are Māra's train; and
the deer
represent recluses and brahmins.

Here, a first set of recluses and brahmins,
wildly rushing in on the crop Māra had sown
and on what the world can bestow,
have taken their fill thereof,
thereby losing their heads
and thus getting off their guard,
so that, being off their guard,
they can be dealt with by Māra
as he pleases amid the crop he has sown
and amid what the world can bestow.

And this is how the first set of recluses and brahmins
failed to escape from Māra's mastery of craft; -
they, say I, are like the first herd of deer.

Realizing precisely how the first set of recluses and brahmins
came by their fate,
a second set resolved to keep quite clear
of the lure of what the world could bestow,
leaving untouched so fearsome a diet,
and to retire to the forest,
there to subsist on green herbs,
the grain of wild millets and paddy,
snippets of hides,
water-plants,
the red dust that lines the rice husk,
the discarded scum of boiling rice,
the flour of oil-seeds,
grass,
cowdung,
wild roots and fruits,
or on windfalls alone.

This they did
until, with the coming of the last month of the hot season,
when grass and water gave out
and their bodies grew emaciated in the extreme,
their heart's Deliverance failed,
and back they came to the crop Māra had sown
and what the world can bestow.

With an infatuated inrush,
they took their fill,
thereby losing their heads
and getting off their guard,
so that, being off their guard,
they could be dealt with by Māra
as he pleased amid the crop he had sown
and amid what the world had to bestow.

That is how the second set of recluses and brahmins
failed to escape
from Māra's mastery of craft; -
they, say I, are like the second herd of deer.

Realizing precisely how the first and second sets of [111] recluses and brahmins
had come by their fate,
a third set resolved instead
to take up their abode hard by the crop Māra had sown
and what the world could bestow,
but, making no mad rush in,
to partake thereof with circumspection
and without losing their heads
and without getting off their guard,
so as not to be at Māra's mercy
amid the crop he had sown
and amid what the world could bestow.

This they did.

But they came to entertain
such speculative views as the following: -
The world is everlasting, -
the world is not everlasting -
the world is finite, -
the world is infinite,
the body is the life (jīva), -
the body is one thing and the life another, -
a truth-finder exists after death, -
a truth-finder does not exist after death, -
he both exists and does not exist after death, -
he neither exists nor does not exist after death.

That is how the third set of recluses and brahmins
failed to escape from Māra's mastery of craft; -
they, say I, are like the third herd of deer.

Realizing precisely how the first three sets of recluses and brahmins
had respectively come by their fate,
a fourth set resolved instead
to take up their abode
where Māra and his train could not penetrate,
and, from this security,
making no mad rush in,
to partake of Māra's crop
and what the world could bestow,
but with circumspection
and without losing their heads
and without getting off their guard,
so as not to be at Māra's mercy amid the crop he had sown
and what the world had to bestow.

This they did.

And that is how the fourth set of recluses and brahmins
succeeded in escaping Māra's mastery of craft; -
they, say I, are like the fourth herd of deer.

But, how find a retreat
where Māra and his train cannot penetrate?

Take an Almsman who,
divested of pleasures of sense,
divested of wrong states of mind,
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.

Such a Brother is said to have hoodwinked Māra
and to have [112] put Māra's sight out of gear,
so as to have passed out of range of vision of the Evil One.

Further, by rising above observation and reflection
the Almsman enters on,
and abides in,
the Second Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of rapt concentration,
above all observation and reflection,
a state whereby the heart is focussed
and tranquillity reigns within.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by shedding the emotions of zest and satisfaction,
the Almsman enters on,
and abides in,
the Third Ecstasy
with its poised equanimity,
mindful and alive to everything,
feeling in his frame
the satisfaction of which the Noble say
that poise and mindfulness
bring abiding satisfaction.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by putting from him
both satisfaction and dissatisfaction,
and by shedding the joys and sorrows he used to feel,
the Almsman enters on,
and abides in,
the Fourth Ecstasy, -
the state that knows neither the pleasant nor the unpleasant,
the clarity that comes of poised equanimity
and alert mindfulness.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by passing altogether beyond perception of visible forms,
by ceasing from perception of sense-reactions,
by not heeding perception of diversified impressions,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the plane of infinity of space.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by passing altogether beyond the plane of infinity of space,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the plane of infinity of consciousness.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by passing altogether beyond the plane of infinity of consciousness,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the plane of Naught.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by passing altogether beyond the plane of Naught,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the plane of neither perception nor non-perception.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked ... the Evil One.

Further, by [113] passing altogether beyond the plane of neither perception nor non-perception,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the plane where feeling and perception cease,
and where, because wisdom gives him vision,
the Cankers become eradicated.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked Māra
and to have put Māra's sight out of gear,
so as to have passed out of range of vision of the Evil One
and to have passed - here and now - beyond desires.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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


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