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 30

Cūḷa-Sāropama Suttaɱ

More about Timber

 


 

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
there came to him the brahmin Pingala-Koccha,
who, after exchange of courteous greetings,
took his seat to one side, saying:

As touching those recluses and brahmins with Confraternities and followings,
who are known and famous teachers of followers,
and are founders of sects[1] of wide- [144] spread renown, -
such as Pūraṇa Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesa-Kambali, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belatthi-putta and Nāta-putta the Nigaṇṭha, -
is it by reason of their own professed creed
that all of them have,
or have not,
discerned truth,
or that some have discerned it,
while others have not?

Let be, brahmin;
let that question pass.

I will expound the Doctrine to you.

Hearken and pay attention,
and I will speak.

Then to the listening brahmin
the Lord spoke as follows:

It is just as if a man 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
the 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.

And the observer with eyes to see
would pass the same judgment
if he saw the man going off either with fallen wood -
or with the bark -
or with the poorer timber, -
in the vain belief
that he had secured the pick of the wood; -
nor would the observer say
that what the man had got
could ever be any good to him
where the best of wood was needed.

But if the man were to go off
with the best of the wood,
in the knowledge that it was really the best,
then the observer with eyes to see
would say the good [145] man really understood about grades of wood
and had gone off with the choicest timber,
in the knowledge that it was really the best; -
and what he had got
would be of good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

Even so, brahmin, is the case of an individual
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 Brethren are little known
and rank as nobodies.

Consequently, he fails to develop
either desire for,
or effort to realize,
those other states of mind which are higher
and more excellent
than mere presents and esteem and repute; -
he grows reprobate and slack.

He is like the man who -
being in need, search, and quest
of the best of wood,
and coming on just the fine upstanding tree for his purpose -
disregarded not only the best
but also the poorer timber
and the bark
and the fallen wood,
but cut the leafy foliage
and went off with that
in the belief that he had got the pick of the wood,
though what he had got
could never be any good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

That, brahmin, is my similitude for this first individual.

Take next the case of an individual
who for faith's sake goes forth ...
presents, esteem, and repute,
none of which things either rejoices his heart
or satisfies his aspirations.

He develops desire for,
and effort to realize,
those other states of mind
which are higher and more excellent
than mere presents and esteem and repute; -
he does not grow reprobate or slack.

He succeeds in living the life of virtue,
and his success [146] therein
so rejoices his heart
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.

So here he fails to develop desire for,
and effort to realize,
those other states of mind
which are higher and more excellent
than a life of virtue; -
and here he grows reprobate and slack.

He is like the man
who went off with wood that had fallen down,
though what he had got
could never be any good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

That, brahmin, is my similitude for this second individual.

Now take the individual who,
though rejoiced at heart
by his success in the life of virtue,
is not thereby satisfied in his aspirations
but still presses onward
till he succeeds in attaining rapt concentration,
and his success therein so rejoices his heart
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 are all in a whirl.

So here he fails to develop desire for,
and effort to realize,
those other states of mind
which are higher and more excellent
than rapt concentration; -
and here he grows reprobate and slack.

He is like the man
who went off with the bark,
though what he had got
could never be any good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

That, brahmin, is my similitude for this third individual.

Take now the individual who,
though rejoiced at heart
by his success in rapt concentration,
is not thereby satisfied
but still presses onward
till he succeeds in winning Mystic Insight,
and his success therein 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 Almsmen
neither know nor see.

So here he fails to develop desire for,
and effort to realize,
those other states of mind which are higher
and more excellent than Mystic [147] Insight.

He is like the man
who went off with the poorer timber,
though what he had got
could never be any good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

That, brahmin, is my similitude for this fourth individual.

Lastly, take the individual
who, though rejoiced at heart
by his success in winning Mystic Insight,
is not thereby satisfied in his aspirations,
nor does it puff him up
and make him disparage others.

He develops desire for,
and effort to realize,
those other states of mind
which are higher and more excellent than Mystic Insight;
he is neither reprobate nor slack.

Now, what are the states of mind
which are higher and more excellent than Mystic Insight?

Take an Almsman who,
divested of pleasures of sense,
divested of wrong states of consciousness,
enters on,
and abides in,
the First Ecstasy -
and then the Second -
and then the Third -
and lastly the Fourth Ecstasy.

Each of these four states of mind
is higher and more excellent
than Mystic Insight.

Or, again, by passing altogether beyond perceptions of material objects,
and by ceasing from perceptions of sense-reactions,
and by withdrawing attention from multiplicity,
the Almsman enters on,
and abides in,
the plane of infinity of space,
or, successively,
the planes of infinity of mind -
or of Naught -
or of neither perception nor non-perception.

Each of these planes too
represents a state of mind
higher and more excellent than Mystic Insight.

Or, lastly,
by passing altogether beyond the plane of neither perception nor non-perception,
the Almsman enters on,
and dwells in,
the cessation of all perception of things felt.

Plenitude of knowledge
gives him vision,
and the Cankers within him are extirpated.

This too is a state of mind
higher and more excellent than Mystic Insight.

Such are the states of mind
which are higher and more excellent than Mystic Insight.

He is like the man who,
being in need,
search,
and quest of the best of timber,
came on just the fine up- [148] standing tree for his purpose
and cut out the heart of the timber,
going off with this
in the sure knowledge
that he had got the heart of the timber;
and what he had got
would be of good to him
where the best of timber was needed.

That, brahmin, is my similitude for this fifth individual.

Therefore, brahmin, 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.

Thereupon the brahmin Pingala-Koccha said to the Lord:

Excellent, Gotama;
most excellent!

Just as if a man should set upright again
what had been cast down,
or reveal what was hidden away,
or tell a man who had gone astray
which was his way,
or bring a lamp into darkness
so that those with eyes to see
might see the things about them, -
even so, in many a figure,
has the reverend Gotama made his Doctrine clear!

I come to Gotama as my refuge,
and to his Doctrine,
and to his Confraternity.

I ask the reverend Gotama to accept me as a follower
who has found an abiding refuge
from this day onward while life lasts.

 


[1] Tittha-karo (explained by Bu. here, as at Sum. Vil. I, 143, by 1addhi-karo or tenet-maker) literally means one who makes a ford across a stream; the figurative sense is set out in e.g. the 34th Sutta infra. To the Jain, tittha-kara is equivalent to tathāgata in Buddhism.
For these six contemporary teachers and their respective tenets, see the Introduction, and the second Sutta of the Dīgha at Dialogues I, 58-64. Here Bu. simply reproduces verbatim what he says about these six teachers at Sum. Vil. I, 142-4.


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