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 26

Ariya-Pariyesana Suttaɱ

The Noble Quest

 


 

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

Once, when staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce, the Lord,
early in the morning,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
went into the city for alms.

To the reverend Ãnanda
there came a number of Almsmen
to represent that it was a long time
since they had heard a discourse on the Doctrine from the Lord
and that they would like to listen to one from his own lips.

In reply, Ānanda told them to repair to the hermitage of the brahmin Rammaka,
where their wishes might perhaps be gratified;
and to this they assente'd.

Having gone his round for alms in Sāvatthī,
the Lord, on his return after his meal,
said to Ãnanda that they would go to the Eastern pleasaunce
and the mansion of (Visakha) the Mother of Migara.

Yes, sir, said Ānanda in assent.

So thither the Lord went with ḍnanda
to pass the noontide.

Rising towards evening from his meditations,
the Lord told Ānanda
they would now go to the Eastern bath to bathe.

ḍnanda assenting,
they went there;
and, after bathing,
the Lord came out of the water
and stood in a single garment
to dry himself.

Then said Ānanda:

The hermitage of the brahmin Rammaka is [114] hard by;
and a pleasant, agreeable place it is.

Pray, sir, be pleased to proceed thither.

Silently consenting,
the Lord went to the hermitage,
in which a number of Almsmen were then seated,
discoursing of the Doctrine.

Standing outside the door
till he knew their discourse was at an end,
the Lord coughed and tapped on the bar of the door.

They opened unto him,
and he went in,
seating himself on the seat set for him.

Being seated,
he asked them what had been their theme
and what was the topic of their previous talk.

They answered that it was on the Lord himself
that their discourse about the Doctrine had centred, -
when he arrived in person.

Quite right, Almsmen, said he;
it is meet that you young men
who have gone forth
on Pilgrimage from home to homelessness for faith's sake
should sit talking of the Doctrine.

When you meet together,
you have the choice of two things, -
either to talk about the Doctrine
or else to preserve a noble silence.|| ||

There are two quests, Almsmen, -
the noble and the ignoble.

First, what is the ignoble quest?

Take the case of a man who,
being in himself subject to rebirth,
pursues what is no less subject thereto;
who being in himself subject to decay,
pursues what is no less subject thereto;
who, being himself subject thereto,
pursues what is subject to disease - death - sorrow - and impurity.

What, you ask, is subject to the round of rebirth?

Why, wives and children,
bondmen and bondwomen,
goats and sheep,
fowls and swine,
elephants,
cattle,
horses and mares,
together with gold and coins of silver.

Although subjection to birth marks all these ties,
yet a man - himself subject to birth -
pursues these things with blind and avid appetite.

[The same applies
(i), in full, to decay and impurity and also
(ii) to disease, death and sorrow,
with the exception of inanimate gold and coins of silver.]

Secondly, what is the noble quest?

Take the case of a man who,
being himself subject to the round of rebirth - decay - disease - death - sorrow - and impurity, [115]
sees peril in what is subject thereto,
and so pursues after the consummate peace of Nirvana,
which knows neither rebirth nor decay,
neither disease nor death,
neither sorrow nor impurity.

This is the Noble Quest.

Yes, I myself too,
in the days before my full enlightenment,
when I was but a Bodhisatta,
and not yet fully enlightened, -
I too, being subject in myself to rebirth, decay and the rest of it,
pursued what was no less subject thereto.

But the thought came to me:

Why do I pursue what, like myself,
is subject to rebirth and the rest?

Why, being myself subject thereto,
should I not,
with my eyes open to the perils which these things entail,
pursue instead the consummate peace of Nirvana, -
which knows neither rebirth nor decay,
neither disease nor death,
neither sorrow nor impurity? [1]There came a time when I,
being quite young,
with a wealth of coal-black hair
untouched by grey
and in all the beauty of my early prime -
despite the wishes of my parents,
who wept and lamented -
cut off my hair and beard,
donned the yellow robes
and went forth from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage.

A pilgrim now,
in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road to peace beyond compare,
I came to Āḷāra Kālāma and said:

It is my wish, reverend Kālāma,
to lead the higher life in this your Doctrine and Rule.

Stay with us, venerable sir,
was his answer;
my Doctrine is such
that ere long an intelligent man
can for himself discern,
realize,
enter on,
and abide in,
the full scope of his master's teaching.

Before long,
indeed very soon,
I had his Doctrine by heart.

So far as regards mere lip-recital
and oral repetition,
I could say off the (founder's) original message
and the elders' exposition of it,
and [116] could profess,
with others,
that I knew and saw it to the full.

Then it struck me
that it was no Doctrine merely accepted by him on trust
that Āḷāra Kālāma, preached,
but one which he professed to have entered on
and to abide in
after having discerned and realized it for himself;
and assuredly he had real knowledge and vision thereof.

So I went to him
and asked him
up to what point
he had for himself discerned and realized the Doctrine
he had entered on
and now abode in.

Up to the plane of Naught,
answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Āḷāra Kālāma was not alone in possessing faith,
perseverance,
mindfulness,
rapt concentration,
and intellectual insight;
for, all these were mine too.

Why, I asked myself,
should not I strive to realize the Doctrine
which he claims to have entered on
and to abide in
after discerning and realizing it for himself?

Before long,
indeed very soon,
I had discerned
and realized his Doctrine for myself
and had entered on it
and abode therein.

Then I went to him
and asked him whether this was the point
up to which he had discerned and realized for himself
the Doctrine which he professed.

He said yes;
and I said that I had reached the same point for myself.

It is a great thing, said he,
a very great thing for us,
that in you, reverend sir,
we find such a fellow in the higher life.

That same Doctrine which I for myself have discerned,
realized,
entered on,
and profess, -
that have you for yourself discerned,
realized,
entered on
and abide in;
and that same Doctrine
which you have for yourself discerned,
realized,
entered on
and profess, -
that have I for myself discerned,
realized,
entered on,
and profess.

The Doctrine which I know,
you too know;
and the Doctrine which you know,
I too know.

As I am,
so are you;
and as you are,
so am I.

Pray, sir,
let us be joint wardens of this company!

In such wise did Āḷāra Kālāma,
being my master,
set me, his pupil,
on precisely the same footing as himself
and show me great worship.

But, as I bethought me
that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of Naught
[117]
and not to Renunciation,
passionlessness,
cessation,
peace,
discernment,
enlightenment
and Nirvana, -
I was not taken with his Doctrine
but turned away from it
to go my way.

Still in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road
to peace beyond compare,
I came to Uddaka Rāmaputta and said:

It is my wish, reverend sir,
to lead the higher life
in this your Doctrine and Rule.

Stay with us, ... vision thereof.

So I went to Uddaka Rāmaputta
and asked him up to what point
he had for himself discerned and realized
the Doctrine he had entered on and now abode in.

Up to the plane of neither perception nor nonperception, answered he.

Hereupon, I reflected that Uddaka Rāmaputta was not alone
in possessing faith ... show me great worship.

But, as I bethought me
that his Doctrine merely led to attaining the plane of neither perception nor non-perception,
and not to Renunciation,
passionlessness,
cessation,
peace,
discernment,
enlightenment
and Nirvana, -
I was not taken with his Doctrine
but turned away from it to go my way.

Still in search of the right,
and in quest of the excellent road
to peace beyond compare,
I came, in the course of an alms-pilgrimage through Magadha,
to the Camp township at Uruvela
and there took up my abode.

Said I to myself on surveying the place: -

Truly a delightful spot,
with its goodly groves
and clear flowing river
with ghats and amenities,
hard by a village for sustenance.

What more for his striving
can a young man need
whose heart is set on striving?

So there I sat me down,
needing nothing further for my striving.

Subject in myself to rebirth
- decay - disease - death - sorrow - and impurity,
and seeing peril
in what is subject thereto,
I sought after the consummate peace of Nirvana,
which knows neither rebirth nor decay,
neither disease nor death,
neither sorrow nor impurity; -
this I pursued,
and this I won;
and there arose within me the conviction,
the insight,
that now [118] my Deliverance was assured,
that this was my last birth,
nor should I ever be reborn again.

[2]I have attained, thought I,
to this Doctrine
profound,
recondite,
hard to comprehend,
serene,
excellent,
beyond dialectic,
abstruse,
and only to be perceived by the learned.

But mankind delights,
takes delight,
and is happy in what it clings on to,
so that for it,
being thus minded,
it is hard to understand casual relations
and the chain of causation, -
hard to understand the stilling of all plastic forces,
or the renunciation of all worldly ties,
the extirpation of craving,
passionlessness,
peace,
and Nirvana.

Were I to preach the Doctrine,
and were others not to understand it,
that would be labour and annoyance to me!

Yes, and on the instant
there flashed across my mind these verses,
which no man had heard before:

Must I now preach what I so hardly won?
Men sunk in sin and lusts would find it hard
to plumb this Doctrine, - up stream all the way,
abstruse, profound, most subtle, hard to grasp.
Dear lusts will blind them that they shall not see,
- in densest mists of ignorance befogged.

As thus I pondered,
my heart inclined to rest quiet
and not to preach my Doctrine.

But, Brahma Sahampati's[3] mind
came to know what thoughts were passing within my mind,
and he thought to himself: -

The world is undone,
quite undone,
inasmuch[4] as the heart of the Truth-finder[5]
inclines to rest quiet
and not [119] to preach his Doctrine!

Hereupon, as swiftly as a strong man might stretch out his arm
or might drawback his outstretched arm,
Brahmā Sahampati vanished from the Brahmā-world
and appeared before me.

Towards me he came with his right shoulder bared,
and with his clasped hands stretched out to me in reverence,
saying:

May it please the Lord,
may it please the Blessed One,
to preach his doctrine!

Beings there are
whose vision is but little dimmed,
who are perishing because they do not hear the Doctrine; -
these will understand it!

And Brahma Sahampati went on to say:

[6]An unclean Doctrine reigns in Magadha,
by impure man devised. Ope thou the door
of Deathless truth. Let all the Doctrine hear
from his pure lips who first conceived its thought.
As from a mountains rocky pinnacle
the folk around are clear to view, so, Sage,
from thy truth!s palace, from its topmost height,
survey with eye all-seeing folk beneath,
- poor thralls of birth and swift decay, whose doom
is that same sorrow thou no more wilt know.
So up, great hero, victor in the fight!
Thy debt is paid. Lead on thy Pilgrim train
through all the world. Thy Doctrine preach;
- among thy hearers some will understand.

Thereupon, Almsmen, heeding Brahmas entreaties
and moved by compassion for all beings,
I surveyed the world with the eye of Enlightenment
and therewith saw beings with vision dimmed little or much,
beings with acute or dull faculties,
beings of dispositions good or bad,
beings docile or indocile,
with some among [120] them alive to the terrors hereafter,
of present wrongdoing.

As in a pond of lotuses,
blue or red or white,
some lotuses of each kind
are born and grow in the water,
never rising above the surface
but flourishing underneath;
while others, born and growing in the water,
either rise level with the surface
or stand right out of the water
and are not wetted by it; -
even so with the eye of Enlightenment
did I see beings with vision dimmed ...
wrong-doing now.

Thereon, I made answer to Brahma Sahampati in these verses;

Nirvana!s doors stand open wide to all
with ears to hear. Discard your outworn creeds!
The weary task ahead made me forbear
to preach to men my Doctrines virtues rare.

Mine has it been to secure from the Lord the preaching of the Doctrine!

said Brahma Sahampati,
and, so saying,
with due obeisance
and reverently keeping his right side towards me as he passed,
he vanished there and then.

I now asked myself
to whom first I should preach the Doctrine,
and who would understand it quickly.

The thought came to me
that there was Āḷāra Kālāma,
who was learned, able, and intelligent,
whose vision had long been but little dimmed;
suppose I chose him to be my first hearer,
for he would be quick to understand?

Word, however, was brought to me by deities
that he had died seven days before,
and insight assured me this was so.

Great nobility, thought I, was his!

Had he heard my Doctrine,
he would have understood it quickly.

Again I asked myself
to whom first I should preach the Doctrine,
and who would understand it quickly.

The thought came to me
that there was Uddaka Rāmaputta, who was learned ...

Word, however, was brought me by deities
that he had died yesterday at midnight,
and insight ... understood it quickly.

Again I asked myself
to whom first I should preach the Doctrine
and who would understand it quickly.

The thought came to me
that there were the five [121] Almsmen
who had served me so well
in my struggles to purge myself of self;
suppose I chose them to be my first hearers?

Wondering where they were dwelling now,
I saw with the Eye Celestial -
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye -
those Five Almsmen
dwelling at Benares
in the Isipatana deer-park.

So, when I had stayed as long as pleased me at Uruvela,
I set out on an alms-pilgrimage for Benares.

On the highway from the Bo-tree to Gaya,
Upaka the Mendicant (ājīvika) saw me and said:

Reverend sir, your faculties are under control,
and your complexion is clear and bright.

To follow whom
have you gone forth on pilgrimage?

Or who is your teacher?

Or whose Doctrine do you profess?

Him I answered in these verses:

All-vanquishing, all-knowing, lo! am I,
from all wrong thinking wholly purged and free.
All things discarded' cravings rooted out,
- whom should I follow? - I have found out all.
No teacher's mine, no equal. Counterpart
to me there's none throughout the whole wide world.
The Arahat am I, teacher supreme,
utter Enlightenment is mine alone;
unfever'd calm is mine, Nirvāna's peace.
I seek the Kāsis' city, there to start
my Doctrine's wheel, a world purblind to save,
sounding the tocsin's call to Deathlessness.

According to your claim, sir, said Upaka,
you should be the Universal Conqueror.

Like me, those conquer who the Cankers quell;
- by conquering bad thoughts, I'm Conqueror.

When I had thus answered, Upaka
the Mendicant said:

Mebbe,[7] sir,
and, shaking his head,
took a different road
and went his way.

In the course of my alms-pilgrimage,
I came at last [122] to Benares
and the deerpark of Isipatana,
in which were the Five Almsmen.

From afar the five saw me coming
and agreed among themselves as follows:

Here come the recluse Gotama,
the man of surfeits,
who has abandoned the struggle
and reverted to surfeiting.

We must not welcome him,
nor rise to receive him,
nor relieve him of bowl and robes.

Yet let us put out a seat;
he can sit on it if he wants to.

But, as I drew nearer and nearer,
those Five Almsmen proved less and less able
to abide by their compact; -
some came forward to relieve me of my bowl and robes;
others indicated my seat;
while others brought water
for me to wash my feet.

But they addressed me by my name
and by the style of reverend.

So I said to the Five Almsmen: Almsmen,
do not address the Truth-finder by his name
or by the style of reverend.

Arahat all enlightened is the Truth-finder.

Hearken to me, Almsmen.

The Deathless has been won;
I teach it;
I preach the Doctrine.

Live up to what I enjoin,
and in no long time
you will come - of yourselves,
here and now -
to discern and realize,
to enter on and to abide in,
that supreme goal of the higher life,
for the sake of which young men go forth
from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage.

Said the Five Almsmen: -
Reverend Gotama,
the life you led,
the path you trod,
and the austerities you practised, -
all failed to make you transcend ordinary human scope
and rise to special heights
of discernment of the truly Noble Knowledge.

How now shall you rise to those heights
when you surfeit,
abandon the struggle,
and revert to surfeiting?

To which I made answer:

Arahat all enlightened is the Truth-finder.

Hearken to me, Almsmen.

The Deathless has been won;
I teach it;
I preach the Doctrine.

Live up to what I enjoin,
and in no long time you will come -
of yourselves, here and now -
to discern and realize,
to enter on and to abide in,
that supreme goal of the higher life,
for the sake of which young men go forth
from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage.

A second time did the Five Brethren
repeat their [123] words to me;
and a second time did I return them the same answer.

But when they repeated their words yet a third time,
I asked these Five
whether they agreed
that I had never heretofore spoken like that;
and they admitted that I had not.

Arahat all enlightened -
repeated I -
is the Truth-finder.

Hearken ... homelessness on Pilgrimage.

I succeeded in convincing the Five.

I instructed two of their number,
while the three others went abroad for alms;
and what those three brought back from their round,
maintained all six of us.

Or, I instructed three,
while two went abroad for alms;
and what those two brought back from their round,
maintained all six of us.

In the course of receiving
this teaching and instruction from me,
those Five Almsmen -
being themselves subject to rebirth,
decay,
disease,
death,
sorrow,
and impurity -
saw peril in what is thereto subject,
and so sought after the consummate peace of Nirvana,
which knows neither rebirth nor decay,
neither disease nor death,
neither sorrow nor impurity;
and there arose within them
the conviction,
the insight,
that their Deliverance was now assured,
that this was their last birth,
nor would they ever be reborn again.

Fivefold are the pleasures of sense, Almsmen,
namely,
visible shapes apparent to the eye,
sounds apparent to the ear,
odours apparent to the nostrils,
tastes apparent to the tongue,
touch apparent to the body; -
all of them pleasant,
agreeable,
and delightful,
all of them bound up with passion and lusts.

All recluses or brahmins
who partake of these pleasures
with avid greed
and blind appetite,
without seeing the perils which dog them
and without realizing that they afford no refuge, -
all such people are to be conceived of
as having fallen into misery
and into calamity,
and as being at the mercy of the Evil One.

Even as a deer of the forest
in the toils of the baited trap it has found,
would be conceived of
as having fallen into misery
and into calamity,
as being at the trapper's mercy,
and as being unable to escape at will
when the [124] trapper comes, -
even so are all recluses or brahmins
who ... mercy of the Evil One.

But all those other recluses or brahmins
who partake of the fivefold pleasures of sense
without avid greed and blind appetite,
but with discernment of the perils which dog them
and with a realization that these things afford no refuge, -
all these are to be conceived of
as not having fallen into misery
or into calamity
and as not being at the mercy of the Evil One.

Even as a deer of the forest
which is not in the toils of the baited trap it has found,
would be conceived of
as having fallen into no misery or calamity,
and as not being at the trapper's mercy,
but as being able to escape at will
when the trapper comes; -
even so all these other recluses or brahmins
who ... and as not being at the mercy of the Evil One.

Even as a deer of the forest
roaming the forests fastnesses
is confident and secure
as it walks or stands,
reclines or slumbers, -
because the trapper cannot get to it,
even so, divested of pleasures of sense,
divested of wrong states of mind,
an Almsman enters 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 an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked Māra ...
(etc., as at pp. 111-3 of Sutta 25) ...
the Cankers become eradicated.

Such an Almsman is said to have hoodwinked Māra
and to have put Māra's eyes 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.

He is confident and secure
as he walks or stands,
sits or slumbers, -
because the Evil One cannot get to him.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

 


[1] Cf. also Suttas Nos. 36, 85, and 100 for this biographical record, which - as is noted at page 118 infra - is in part repeated in the Vinaya and Dīgha. The austerities of our 12th Sutta presumably preceded his study under Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta; but they may be the austerities practised at Uruvelā with the Five Brethren (see infra, p. 122).

[2] Here the Vinaya (I, 4, translated at S.B.E. XIII, 84) and the Dīgha Nikāya (II, 36, translated at Dialogues II, 29) have versions practically identical with this. All agree, as do later compilations like the Introduction to the Jātakas, in recording the initial reluctance of Gotama to preach his new gospel to others.

[3] The Dīgha speaks merely of one of the Great Brahmās, - the specific reference to Sahampati being regarded as a later gloss by Rhys Davids (Dialogues II, 70) [?], though there is no justification for assigning seniority here to the Dīgha over the Majjhima and Vinaya versions.

[4] Bu. understands yatra hi nāma as yasmiɱ nāma 1oke.

[5] This, the first use of the term Tathāgata in the Buddha's life-history, follows immediately on his attaining Buddhahood and is designedly put into the mouth of Mahā-Brahmā himself, the supreme deity of the superseded cosmology.

[6] These verses are somewhat differently arranged in D. II, 39, and Vin. I, 5, - the Dīgha version omitting the first four lines. In the Dīgha and Vinaya versions, Brahmā thrice repeats his entreaties, in stereotyped fashion.

[7] Huveyya is a dialectical form for bhaveyya.


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