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 29

Mahā-Sāropama Suttaɱ

Timber: Or Discoveries

 


 

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Rājagaha on the heights of the Vulture's Peak,
not long after Devadatta's secession,[1]
he addressed the Almsmen on the subject of Devadatta:

[139] Take the case, Almsmen,
of a young man who for faith's sake
goes forth from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage, -
feeling himself beset by birth
and decay
and death,
by sorrow and lamentation,
by ills of body and of mind,
and by tribulation;
feeling himself beset by ills,
spent with ills;
and asking to be shewn
how to make an end of all that makes up Ill.

A Pilgrim now,
he finds himself the recipient of presents,
esteem,
and repute,
all of which things so rejoice him
and so satisfy his aspirations
that thereby he becomes puffed-up
and disparages others.

It is I, says he to himself,
who get things given to me
and who am thought so much of,
while these other Almsmen
are little known
and rank nobodies.

Intoxicated,
very much intoxicated,
with the presents,
esteem,
and repute
which he enjoys,
he grows remiss
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

It is just as if a man
who was in need, search, and quest
of the best of wood,
were to come on just the fine upstanding tree for his purpose,
but were to disregard not only the best
but also the poorer timber
and the bark
and the wood that had fallen to the ground,
and were to cut the leafy foliage
and go off with that
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood.

At the sight,
an observer with eyes to see
would say this good man understood nothing
about grades of wood
and had gone off with the twiggage
to the disregard of all the rest, -
in the vain belief that he had got the pick of the wood; -
nor would what he had got
ever be any good to him
where the best of wood was needed.

Just the same is it
with our Pilgrim
who finds himself the recipient ....
a prey to Ill.

Of such an Almsman it is said
that he has got the twiggage of the higher life
and has ended there.

Take now the case of a young man
who for faiths sake
goes forth ... that makes up Ill.

A Pilgrim now,
he finds himself the recipient of presents,
esteem,
and repute,
none of which things
either rejoices his heart
or satisfies his aspirations,
or makes him puffed-up
to the disparagement of others;
nor is he so intoxicated therewith
as to grow remiss;
with unremitting zeal he [140] succeeds
in living the life of virtue.

This success in living the life of virtue
so rejoices him
and so satisfies his aspirations
that thereby he becomes puffed-up
and disparages others, saying -
I am the man of virtue,
I am the man of fine character,
while these other Almsmen lack virtue
and are of evil character.

Intoxicated,
very much intoxicated,
with his success in the life of virtue,
he grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

It is just as if a man who was in need, search, and quest ...
and the bark,
and were to cut up the wood that had fallen to the ground
and were to go off with this
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood.

At the sight,
an observer with eyes to see
would say that the good man knew nothing
about grades of wood
and had gone off with the fallen wood
to the disregard of all the rest,
in the vain belief that he had got the pick of the wood; -
nor would what he had got
ever be of any good to him
where the best of wood was needed.

Just the same is it with our second Pilgrim
who for faith's sake ...
intoxicated with his success in the life of virtue,
he grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

Of such an Almsman it is said
that he has got the windfalls of the higher life
and has ended there.

Take next the case of a young man
who for faith's sake goes forth ...
succeeds in living the life of virtue.

This success in living the life of virtue
does not so rejoice him
and so satisfy his aspirations
as to make him puffed-up
to the disparagement of others,
nor is he so intoxicated therewith
as to grow remiss;
with unremitting zeal
he succeeds in winning rapt concentration.

This success so rejoices him
and so satisfies his aspirations
that thereby he becomes puffed-up
and disparages others, saying -
I am the man of sted-fastness,
I am the man with focussed heart,
while these other Almsmen are not stedfast
but all in a whirl.

Intoxicated,
very much intoxicated,
with winning rapt concentration,
he grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

[141] It is just as if a man who was in need, search, and quest ...
but also the poorer timber,
and were to cut off the bark
and go off with this
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood.

At the sight,
an observer with eyes to see
would say the good man knew nothing
about grades of wood
and had gone off with the bark
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood;
nor would what he had got
ever be any good to him
where the best of wood was needed.

Just the same is it
with our third Pilgrim
who for faith's sake ...
intoxicated with winning rapt concentration,
he grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

Of such an Almsman it is said
that he has got the bark of the higher life
and has ended there.

Take next the case
of a young man who for faiths sake ...
succeeds in winning rapt concentration.

This success rejoices him
but does not so satisfy his aspirations
as to make him puffed-up
to the disparagement of others,
nor is he so intoxicated therewith
as to grow remiss;
with unremitting zeal
he succeeds in winning Mystic Insight.[2]

This success so rejoices his heart
and so satisfies his aspirations
that thereby he becomes puffed-up
and disparages others, saying -
I know and see,
while these other Brethren neither know nor see.

Intoxicated,
very much intoxicated,
with winning this Insight,
he grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

It is just as if a man who was in need, search, and quest ...
were to disregard the best timber,
and were to cut out the poorer timber
and go off with this
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood.

At the sight,
an observer with eyes to see
would say the good man knew nothing
about grades of wood
and had gone off with the poorer timber
in the belief that he had got the pick [142] of the wood;
nor would what he had got
ever be any good to him
where the best of wood was wanted.

Just the same is it with our fourth Pilgrim
who for faith's sake ...
intoxicated with winning Mystic Insight,
grows remiss,
and, having become remiss,
lives a prey to Ill.

Of such an Almsman it is said
that he has got the poorer timber of the higher life
and has ended there.

Next, take the case of the young man who for faith's sake ...
succeeds in winning Mystic Insight.

This success rejoices him
but does not so satisfy his aspirations
as to make him puffed-up
to the disparagement of others,
nor is he so intoxicated therewith
as to grow remiss;
with unremitting zeal
he succeeds in attaining Temporary[3] Deliverance.

But it is possible
he may fall from this Temporary Deliverance.

It is just as if a man who was in need, search, and quest
of the best of timber
were to come on just the fine upstanding tree for his purpose
and were to cut out the heart of the timber
and to go off with this
in the sure knowledge that he had got the heart of the timber.

At the sight,
an observer with eyes to see
would say that this good man knew quite well
what was the heart of the timber,
what was the poorer timber,
what was the bark,
what was fallen wood,
and what was leafy foliage;
that, being in need, search, and quest of the heart of timber,
he had cut out only the choicest timber
and had gone off with that,
in the full knowledge it was the really best;
and that what he had got
would be of good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

Just the same is it
with the young man who goes forth from home to homelessness on Pilgrimage, -
feeling himself beset by birth
and decay
and death,
by sorrow and lamentation,
by ills of body and of mind,
and by [143] tribulation;
feeling himself beset by ills
and spent with ills;
and asking to be shewn how to make an end of all that makes up Ill.

A Pilgrim now,
he finds himself the recipient of presents,
esteem,
and repute,
none of which so rejoices his heart
and so satisfies his aspirations
that thereby he becomes puffed-up
and disparages others.

Not intoxicated with his presents,
esteem,
and repute,
he grows not remiss
but with unremitting zeal
wins success first in the life of virtue,
next in rapt concentration,
and then in Mystic Insight;
but his success herein,
while it rejoices his heart,
does not satisfy his aspirations
or puff him up
or lead him to disparage others;
it does not intoxicate him
or make him remiss;
with unremitting zeal
he succeeds in winning the Deliverance which is Eternal.

Now it is wholly impossible
that he should fall from Eternal Deliverance.

Guerdon. Something that one has earned or gained; reward, recompense, requital. - Websters

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Therefore, Brethren, the guerdon of the higher life
is not to be found in presents,
esteem,
and repute,
nor in a life of virtue,
nor in rapt concentration,
nor in Mystic Insight.

It is immutable Deliverance
which is the prize
and the heart
and the goal of the higher life.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

 


[1] See Vināaya Texts III, 238 et seqq.

Ñāṇa-dassana. the insight of the Streamwinner (that all that which has come to be will come to an end). Though Ñāṇa-dassana could be said to be an aspect of the dibba cakkhu (the devine eye), as 'knowing and seeing' it is not yet at it's highest development (one of the 3 visions of the Arahant, the ability to see the outcome of deeds). Developed to a still lesser degree than Streamwinning, it is what we understand as far-seeing (the ability to see things outside the range of the physical eye, both far and near). Chalmers means to say that this was Devadatta's only power, not that he was alone in having it, but Devadatta did not possess this power at all (in fact we can easily see that he was particularly blind when it came to seeing the outcome of deeds) and he was not a stream-winner. At one point he is shown to possess the powers of shape-shifting and teleportation, when he turns into a child with a belt of snakes and transports himself magically to Prince Ajātasattu's lap.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] Bu. explains ñāṇa-dassana in this Sutta as meaning the Eye Celestial of Sutta 6, i.e. the highest of the five Psychic Powers, of which (alone) Devadatta was master. See Vinaya Texts III, 230 for the ignoble iddhi of Devadatta; and cf. Dialogues I, 56-64.

Temporary Deliverance. samaya-vimokha. The further difficulty here relative to the questions raised in footnotes in Horner and Bhks. Ñanamoli/Bodhi is the question as to whether the translation should be 'Temporary Deliverance' or 'Temporary Deliverance from the Temporary.'

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3] This, according to Bu., consists of the Four Ecstasies and the four (other) arūpa-samapattis of the next Sutta. The Four Noble Paths and the four fruits of the life of the recluse (see 2nd Dīgha Sutta), together with Nirvana, make the nine constituents of the timeless or Eternal Deliverance mentioned infra. See Dialogues I, 56-64.


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