Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
4. Mahā Yamaka 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 36

Mahā-Saccaka Suttaɱ

Saccaka Again

 


[170]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Vesālī
in the Gabled Hall in Great Wood,
he had dressed himself early and was minded to go,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
into the city for alms,
when Saccaka, son of the Jain (woman), came,
in the course of his wanderings,
to the Gabled Hall in Great Wood.

Having seen him coming some way off,
the venerable Ānanda had said to the Lord:

Sir, here comes Saccaka, son of the Jain (woman),
that great controversialist,
who gives himself out as learned
and is held in high popular repute;
his aim is to discredit the Buddha
and the Doctrine
and the Confraternity.

Pray, sir, be so good as to be seated awhile.

The Lord sat down on the seat set for him,
and up came Saccaka,
who, after civil greetings,
took his seat to one side,
saying to the Lord:

There are some recluses and brahmins, Gotama,
who are always schooling their bodies,
but not their minds, -
experiencing feelings of bodily pain,
which may paralyse the legs,
or burst the heart,
or make warm blood gush from the mouth,
or render men demented and distraught.

Here we have the mind conforming to the body
and being dominated by the body.

And why?

Because the mind is left unschooled.

Or again there are some recluses and brahmins
who are always schooling their minds,
but not their bodies, -
experiencing feelings of mental pain,
which may paralyse ...
and distraught.

Here we have the body conforming to the mind
and being dominated by the mind.

And why?

Because the body is left unschooled.

My belief is that the reverend Gotama's disciples
are always schooling their minds,
but not their bodies.

What have you heard about schooling the body?

For example, Nanda Vaccha, Kisa Sankicca, and Makkhali Gosāla; -
all the three of them go naked,
flout life's decencies,
lick their hands after meals,
never [171] heed when folk call to them to come or to stop,
never accept food brought to them before their rounds
or cooked expressly for them,
never accept an invitation,
never receive food direct from pot or pan
or within the threshold
or among the faggots or pestles,
never from (one only) of two people messing together,
never from a pregnant woman
or a nursing mother
or a woman in coitu,
never from gleanings (in time of famine)
nor from where a dog is ready at hand
or where (hungry) flies congregate,
never touch flesh
or fish
or spirits
or strong drink
or brews of grain;
or they either visit only one house a day
and there take only one morsel;
or they visit but two
or (up to not more than) seven houses a day,
and take at each only two
or (up to not more than) seven morsels;
or they live on a single saucer of food a day,
or on two,
or on (up to not more than) seven saucers;
or they have but one meal a day,
or one every two days,
or (so on, up to) every seven days,
or only once a fortnight, -
on a rigid scale of rationing.

And do they get along on it, Aggivessana?

No, Gotama.

At times they partake of very good food
both hard and soft,
with very good curries
and very good drinks,
which strengthen their bodies
and build them up and put fat on them.

So they revert subsequently
to what they had eschewed before,
and so there is this ebb and flow in bulk.

What have you heard about schooling the mind?

But concerning schooling of the mind
Saccaka did not succeed in answering the Lord's question.

Then said the Lord to Saccaka:

The schooling of the body to which you referred just now,
is no schooling of the body
according to doctrine in the Rule of the Noble.

You did not understand the schooling of the body;
much less can you know the schooling of the mind.

Hear now how body and mind, respectively,
either go unschooled,
or are schooled.

Pay attention and I will speak.

Then to the assenting Saccaka the Lord spoke as follows:

[172] First, as to the unschooled body and mind.

Take an ordinary uninstructed man
who has a pleasant feeling,
so that he gets a passion for things pleasant
and is passionately attached to them.

Later, that pleasant feeling passes;
and with its passing
there arises an unpleasant feeling,
at the advent of which he grieves,
mourns,
laments,
beats his breast
and gets distraught.

The pleasant feeling takes possession of his mind,
because his body is not schooled;
it is because his mind is not schooled
that the unpleasant feeling
takes possession of it; -
and the man to whom both these things happen
is neither schooled in body
nor schooled in mind.

Next, as to the schooled body and mind.

Take an instructed disciple of the Noble
who has a pleasant feeling
but gets therefrom no passion for things pleasant
nor is passionately attached to them.

Later, that pleasant feeling passes;
and with its passing there arises an unpleasant feeling,
but at its advent he does not grieve,
mourn,
lament,
beat his breast,
or get distraught.

It is because his body is schooled
that the pleasant feeling does not take possession of his mind;
it is because his mind is schooled
that the unpleasant feeling does not take possession of it; -
and the man to whom these two things happen
is both schooled in body
and schooled in mind.

The reverend Gotama, I feel sure,
is schooled both in body and in mind.

Offensive though your insinuation undoubtedly is, Aggivessana,
nevertheless I will give you an answer.

From the day I cut off my hair and beard
and donned the yellow robes
to pass from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim,
it is simply not the fact
that either any pleasant or any unpleasant feeling
could take possession of my mind.

Could it perhaps be
that you have never had feelings,
either pleasant or unpleasant,
which were such as to take possession of your mind?

How could there be no such feelings?

In the days before my Enlightenment,
when as yet I was but a [173] Bodhisatta
without fullest Enlightenment,
I bethought me that -
A hole-and-corner life
is all a home can give,
whereas Pilgrimage is in the open;
it is hard for a home-keeping man
to live the higher life
in all its full completeness
and full purity and perfection;
what if I were to cut off hair and beard,
don the yellow robes,
and go forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim?

Then 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 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
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.

Howbeit, there flashed in on me spontaneously
three allegories,
unknown till then:

It is just as if there were a green sappy stick in the water,
and a man came along with his drill-stick,
set on lighting a fire and making a blaze.

Do you think he could succeed
by rubbing with his drill-stick
that green sappy stick from the water?

Toil and moil as he may, he couldn't; -
because the stick is green and sappy in itself,
and moreover had been in the water.

It is just the same with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is not lived aloof from pleasures of sense
in the matter of their bodies,
and who have not inwardly discarded
and rightly quelled the appetite,
taste,
infatuation,
thirst,
and feverish longing for pleasures of sense; -
they are alike incapable of understanding,
vision,
and the plenitude of Enlightenment,
whether or not paroxysms of unpleasant,
acute,
and painful feelings assail them.

This was the first allegory,
unknown till then,
which flashed in on me.

The second allegory
was of a green sappy stick
lying on dry land.

Do you think the man could light his fire with that?

Toil and moil as he may, he couldn't; -
because, though the stick had been thrown
not into the water but on dry land,
yet it is green and sappy in itself.

It is just the same
with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is not lived aloof ...
painful feelings assail [174] them.

This was the second allegory,
till then unknown,
which flashed in on me.

The third allegory
was of a dry stick,
with the sap out of it,
lying on dry ground,
with a man coming along with his drill-stick,
bent on lighting a fire
and making a blaze.

Do you think he could light his fire
with that dry stick?

Yes, he could; -
because the stick is dry and sapless in itself
and moreover had not been in the water
but was lying on dry ground.

It is just the same with all recluses or brahmins
whose life is lived aloof from pleasures of sense
in the matter of their bodies,
and who have inwardly discarded
and rightly quelled the appetite,
taste,
infatuation,
thirst,
and feverish longing for pleasures of sense; -
they are alike capable of understanding,
vision,
and the plenitude of Enlightenment,
whether or not paroxysms of unpleasant,
acute
and painful feelings assail them.

This was the third and last of the three allegories,
till then unknown,
which flashed in on me.

Thought I then to myself:

Come, let me,
with teeth clenched
and with tongue pressed against my palate,
by sheer force of mind
restrain,
coerce,
and dominate my heart.

And this I did,
till the sweat streamed from my armpits.

Just as a strong man,
taking a weaker man by the head or shoulders,
restrains and coerces and dominates him,
even so did I,
with teeth clenched
and with tongue pressed against my palate,
by sheer force of mind
restrain,
coerce,
and dominate my heart,
till the sweat streamed from my armpits.

Resolute grew my perseverance
which never quailed;
there was established in me
a mindfulness which knew no distraction, -
though my body was sore distressed and afflicted,
because I was harassed by these struggles
as I painfully struggled on.

Yet even such unpleasant feelings as then arose
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought 1 to myself:

Come, let me pursue the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I stopped breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose;
and [175] then great was the noise of the air
as it passed through my ear-holes,
like the blast from a smith's bellows.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me pursue further
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I stopped breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent winds wracked my head,
as though a strong man were boring into my skull with the point of a sword.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me pursue still further
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping all breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent pains attacked my head,
as though a strong man had twisted a leather thong round my head.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me go on pursuing the Ecstasy
that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then violent winds pierced my inwards through and through, -
as though an expert butcher
or his man
were hacking my inwards with sharp cleavers.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me still go on pursuing
the Ecstasy that comes from not breathing.

So I kept on stopping all breathing, in or out,
through mouth and nose and ears;
and then there was a violent burning within me, -
as though two strong men,
taking a weaker man by both arms,
were to roast and burn him up in a fiery furnace.

Resolute grew my perseverance ...
did not take possession of my mind.

At the sight of me,
some gods said I was dead;
others said I was not dead but dying;
while others again said that I was an Arahat
and that Arahats[1] lived like that!

[176] Thought I to myself:

Come, let me proceed to cut off food altogether.

Hereupon, gods came to me
begging me not so to do,
or else they would feed me through the pores
with heavenly essences
which would keep me alive.

If, thought I to myself,
while I profess to be dispensing with all food whatsoever,
these gods should feed me all the time through the pores
with heavenly essences which keep me alive,
that would be imposture on my part.

So I rejected their offers, peremptorily.

Thought I to myself:

Come, let me restrict myself to little tiny morsels of food at a time,
namely the liquor in which beans or vetches,
peas or pulse,
have been boiled.

I rationed myself accordingly,
and my body grew emaciated in the extreme.

My members, great and small,
grew like the knotted joints of withered creepers;
like a buffalo's hoof
were my shrunken buttocks;
like the twists in a rope
were my spinal vertebrae;
like the crazy rafters
of a tumbledown roof,
that start askew and aslant,
were my gaunt ribs;
like the starry gleams on water
deep down and afar
in the depths of a well,
shone my gleaming eyes
deep down and afar
in the depths of their sockets;
and as the rind of a cut gourd
shrinks and shrivels in the heat,
so shrank and shrivelled
the scalp of my head, -
and all because I ate so little.

If I sought to feel my belly,
it was my backbone
which I found in my grasp;
if I sought to feel my backbone,
I found myself grasping my belly,
so closely did my belly cleave to my backbone; -
and all because I ate so little.

When I wanted to retire
for the calls of nature,
down I fell on my face; -
and all because I ate so little.

If for ease of body
I chafed my limbs,
the hairs of my body
fell away under my hand,
rotted at their roots; -
and all because I ate so little.

At the sight of me,
some men said I was black;
others said I was brown;
while others again said I was neither black nor brown,
but dusky like a fish.

To such a sorry pass
had my pure clear complexion been reduced, -
all because I ate so little.

Thought I to myself:

Of all the spasms of acute and severe pain
that have been undergone through the ages past -
or will be undergone through the ages to come -
or are now being undergone -
by recluses or brahmins,
mine are pre-eminent;
nor is there aught worse beyond.

Yet, with all these severe austerities,
I fail to transcend ordinary human limits
and to rise to the heights
of noblest understanding and vision.

Could there be another path to Enlightenment?

A memory came to me
of how once,
seated in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree
on the lands of my father the Sakyan,[2]
I, divested of pleasures of sense
[177]
and of wrong states of mind,
entered upon,
and abode in,
the First Ecstasy,
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of inward aloofness
but not divorced from observation and reflection.

Could this be the path to Enlightenment?

In prompt response to this memory,
my consciousness told me
that here lay the true path to Enlightenment.

Thought I to myself:

Am I afraid of a bliss
which eschews pleasures of sense and wrong states of mind?

And my heart told me I was not afraid.

Thought I to myself:

It is no easy matter to attain that bliss
with a body so emaciated.

Come, let me take some solid food,
rice and junket;
and this I ate accordingly.

With me at the time
there were the Five Almsmen,
looking for me to announce to them
what truth I attained;
but when I took the rice and junket,
they left me in disgust,
saying that luxuriousness had claimed me
and that, abandoning the struggle,
I had reverted to luxuriousness.[3]

Having thus eaten solid food and regained strength,
I entered on, and abode in, the First Ecstasy.

Yet, such pleasant feelings as then arose in me
did not take possession of my mind;
nor did they
as I successively entered on,
and abode in,
the Second,
Third,
and Fourth Ecstasies.

With heart thus stedfast,
thus clarified and purified,
clean and cleansed of things impure,
tempered and apt to serve,
stedfast and immutable, -
it was thus that I applied my heart
to the knowledge which recalled my earlier existences.

I called to mind ...
(etc., as in Sutta 4)
... purged of Self.

Yet, such pleasant feelings as then arose within me
did not take possession of my mind.

That same stedfast heart
I now applied to knowledge of the passage hence
and re-appearance else- [178] where of other creatures.

With the Eye Celestial ...
(etc., as in Sutta 4)
... purged of Self.

Yet, such pleasant feelings as then arose within me
did not take possession of my mind.

That same stedfast heart I next applied to knowledge of the eradication of Cankers.

I comprehended ...
(etc., as in Sutta 4)
... purged of Self.

Yet, such pleasant feelings as then arose within me
did not take possession of my mind.

I am aware, Aggivessana, that,
when I preach the Doctrine to some hundreds of people,
each individual imagines I am preaching for his separate behoof.

But that is not the way to look at it,
when the Truth-finder is preaching the Doctrine
to people for general edification.

At the close of my discourse,
I still and compose my heart,
focus and concentrate it,
with all the marks
of that precedent rapture of concentration
in which I always dwell,
unceasingly.

That may be believed for the recluse Gotama,
as an Arahat all-enlightened.

But, does he admit
that he ever sleeps in the daytime?

I am aware that,
in the last month of the hot season,
before the rains set in,
when, after my meal,
I am back from my round for alms,
my robe is folded in four for me
and I, lying on my right side,
pass into slumber, -
but in full mindfulness,
and fully alive to what I am doing.

This is what some recluses and brahmins call stupor.

So far, Aggivessana,
stupor is neither present nor absent.

Now hear how there is,
and how there is not,
real stupor.

Give me your attention and I will speak.

Certainly, said Saccaka in assent.

The Lord said:

The man who has not put from him the Cankers -
which are of impurity,
lead to rebirth,
entail suffering,
ripen unto sorrow,
and leave a heritage of birth,
decay,
and death, -
this is the man who is in a real stupor;
for his stupor comes from not being quit of the Cankers.

But the man who is quit of them,
is in no stupor,
because he is beyond stupor [179] by being quit of the Cankers.

In the Truth-finder, Aggivessana,
all these Cankers have been put away,
have been grubbed up by the roots,
like a bare cleared site
where once a palm-tree grew,
things that once have been
and now can be no more.

Just as a palm
with its head chopped off
is incapable of growing,
so in the Truth-finder
all the Cankers -
which are of impurity,
lead to re-birth,
entail suffering,
ripen unto sorrow,
and leave a heritage of birth,
decay,
and death -
have been grubbed up by the roots,
like a bare cleared site
where once a palm-tree grew,
things that once have been
and now can be no more.

After these words, Saccaka, son of the Jain (woman),
said to the Lord:

It is wonderful,
it is marvellous,
how, while you were being spoken to so offensively
and with such insinuations,
you have not changed colour
nor has your countenance altered; -
quite like an Arahat all-enlightened.

I am aware, Gotama, that I have taken in hand,
point by point,
Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesambala, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhi-putta, and Nāta-putta the Jain;
and each in turn,
being taken in hand by me
point by point,
wandered off from one thing to another,
switching the discussion on to something else,
exhibiting annoyance,
bad temper,
and resentment.

But the reverend Gotama,
while he was being spoken to so offensively
and with such insinuations,
never changed colour
nor did his countenance alter; -
quite like an Arahat all-enlightened.

And now, he added,
I ought to go;
for, I have much to do and attend to.

At your good pleasure, Aggivessana.

Having expressed his gratification and thanks
for what he had heard,
Saccaka got up and went his way.

 


[1] See p. 2 (n.) and Dial. III, 3-6 for the history and use of this pre-Buddhist term, adopted with changed connotation by Gotama (cf. Suttas 26 and 27). The passage here is a significant instance of the vogue of the term, before Buddhism, to indicate a man of worth, and therefore an ascetic Saint.

[2] The amplified legend of the infant Gotama's Ecstasy will be found at Jātaka I, 57.

These two suttas are not in conflict. This one simply reveals the point where the five departed company from Gotama (something that is usually omitted from the story).

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3] Here, as against Sutta 26, the Five Brethren pass their stricture on Gotama (and indeed here actually quit him in disgust), not after his attainment of Buddhahood, but before the Four Ecstasies.


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