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 39

Mahā-Assapura Suttaɱ

The Ideal Recluse

 


[191]

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

Once when the Lord was staying in the Angas' country,
where they have a township named Assapura,
he addressed the listening Almsmen as follows:

"'Recluses! Recluses!' -
that is the name by which people know you
and by which you would describe yourselves,
if asked who you were.

Such being your vocation and profession as recluses,
you must train yourselves to embrace
and shew forth in your lives
the states of consciousness
which really make the recluse and brahmin -
so as to prove your vocation true
and your profession a reality,
and to see to it that the charity you enjoy
in the shape of clothing
and food
and other requisites
enures to fruit and profit in yourselves,
making your Pilgrimage not barren
but fruitful unto its harvest.

What are the states of consciousness
which really make the recluse and the brahmin?

Train yourselves to be conscientious and scrupulous.

It may be that,
feeling yourselves to be conscientious and scrupulous,
you may rest content in the idea that this is enough,
that you have done enough,
that you have realized the recluse's ideal,
and that you have nothing still ahead of you to accomplish.

But I say unto you, and rejoin,
that in your quest for recluse-ship,
you must not fall short of the recluses ideal,
while there is something still ahead.

What is ahead of you?

You must train yourselves in deed -
in word -
in thought -
and in mode of livelihood -
to be pure and frank and open,
without flaw
and without reserve,
yet not so as to be puffed up
[192] and to run down others.

It may be that,
feeling yourselves to be thus trained,
as well as conscientious and scrupulous
you may rest content in the idea
that each successive stage is enough,
that you have done enough, ...
something still ahead.

What is ahead?

You must train yourselves
to guard the portals of the senses.

When with the eye
you see a visible shape,
you must resolve not to be taken
with its detailed marks and signs,
since, uncontrolled,
the eye might lead to appetite and distress,
and to evil and wrong states of consciousness;
your resolve will be
to control the sense of sight,
to keep watch and ward over it,
and to bring the eye under control.

... And similarly with all the other senses. ...

It may be that,
with each fresh achievement in turn,
you may rest content, -
in the idea that each successive stage is enough,
that you have done enough, ...
something still ahead.

What is ahead?

You must train yourselves
to moderation in food,
taking food with deliberate purposefulness,
not for pleasure or delight,
not for ostentation or display,
but only to the extent required
to support and maintain the body,
to shield it from hurt,
and to foster the higher life, -
with the resolve on your part
to destroy the old feelings
and not to allow any new feelings to arise,
to the end that
the blameless lot may be yours
and well-being.

It may be that -
feeling you are conscientious and scrupulous,
pure in deed, word, thought and mode of livelihood,
and moderate in food, -
you may rest content in the idea that this is enough,
that you have done enough ...
something still ahead.

What is ahead?

You must train yourselves to vigilance.

Purge your hearts of besetting states of consciousness, -
by day as you either pace to and fro or are seated, -
in the first watch of the night
as you either pace to and fro or are seated;
in the middle watch of the night
as you lie couched lion-like on your right side,
foot resting on foot,
mindful and selfpossessed,
with your thoughts set on the appointed [193] time to get up;
or, again, during the last watch of the night
when you have risen
and either pace to and fro or are seated.

It may be that -
feeling you are conscientious and scrupulous,
pure in deed, word, thought, and mode of livelihood,
moderate in food,
and resolute in vigilance -
you may rest content in the idea that this is enough,
that you have done enough ...
something still ahead.

What is ahead?

You must train yourselves to be mindful and self-possessed, -
in going out or coming back,
in looking ahead or around you,
in stretching out your arm
or in drawing it back,
in wearing your robes
or carrying your bowls,
in eating or drinking,
in chewing or savouring,
in attending to nature's wants,
in walking or standing or sitting,
asleep or awake,
in speech or in silence.

It may be that -
feeling you are conscientious and scrupulous,
pure in deed, word, thought, and mode of livelihood,
moderate in food,
resolute in vigilance,
and also mindful and alert -
you may rest content in the idea that this is enough,
that you have done enough,
that you have realized the recluse's ideal,
and that you have nothing still ahead of you to accomplish.

But I say unto you, and rejoin, that,
in your quest for recluse-ship,
you must not fall short of the recluse's ideal,
while there is something still ahead.

What is still ahead?

Take the case of an Almsman
who chooses him a lonely lodging -
in the forest under a tree,
in the wilds in cave or grot,
in a charnel-ground,
in a thicket or on bracken in the open.

When he is back from his round for alms,
he seats himself, after his meal,
cross-legged and with body erect,
alert in mindfulness.

Putting appetite from him,
he lives without appetite for things of the world
and purges his heart of appetite.

Putting from him all malice,
he lives without a thought of malice,
purging himself of malice
by good-will and compassion for all that lives.

All torpor has he put from him;
all torpor has gone out of his life;
by clarity of vision,
mindfulness,
and self-possession,
he purges his heart of torpor.

[194] Worry is his no longer,
for he has put worry out of his life
and his heart within is serene,
with all worry purged away.

Doubt he has shed and outgrown;
no question arises now
as to what are right states of consciousness;
he has purged his heart of all doubt.

It is like a man who borrows money to start a business, -
in which he is so successful
that he can not only wipe out the original debt
but have enough over to keep a wife.

Reviewing his success,
he would rejoice and be glad of heart.

Or, it is like a man who falls sick
and becomes very ill
and in grievous pain,
taking no pleasure in his food,
and with no strength left in his body;
but who subsequently gets over his illness,
takes pleasure in his food
and regains his strength.

He too, reviewing his recovery,
would rejoice and be glad of heart.

Or, it is like a man who is in bonds in prison
but is subsequently set at liberty,
safe and sound
and unmulcted in estate.

He too, reviewing his release from durance,
would rejoice and be glad of heart.

Or, again, it is like a slave,
not independent
but dependent on a master,
and with no liberty to go where he liked,
who should subsequently be set free
and become his own master
with full liberty now
to go wherever he liked.

He too, reviewing his gain of freedom,
would rejoice and be glad of heart.

Or, again, it is like a rich and wealthy man
on a long journey through the wilds
who should eventually emerge safe and sound,
without loss of goods.

He too, reviewing his safe passage,
would rejoice and be glad of heart.

Just in the selfsame way
an Almsman Views the foregoing Five Hindrances,
while they persist in him,
as tantamount to the debt,
the disease,
the prison,
the slavery,
and the journey through the wilds.

But, when he has put from him those Five Hindrances,
he views them as tantamount to freedom from debt,
disease,
prison,
slavery,
and as tantamount to the traveller's bourne.

When he has put from him
the Five Hindrances [195] which defile the heart
and weaken insight,
then, divested of pleasures of sense
and of wrong states of consciousness,
he 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.

His very body does he so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
with the zest and satisfaction bred of aloofness,
that there is no part of his body
which is not suffused thereby.

Just as an expert bath-attendant
or his apprentice
will sprinkle soap-powder on a metal slab
and knead it up
with the water which he keeps on sprinkling over it,
until the whole of the soap-powder is one mass of lather,
permeated by the lather
both in and out,
with not a trickle of moisture left; -
in just the same way
does the Almsman so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
his very body
with the zest and satisfaction bred of aloofness,
that there is no part of his body
which is not suffused thereby.

Further, rising above observation and reflection,
he 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.

His very body does he so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
with the zest and satisfaction
bred of rapt concentration,
that there is no part of his body
which is not suffused thereby.

It is like a lake
fed from below by a spring,
with no other influx of water from east
or west
or north
or south,
a lake on which the heavens should send no showers from time to time;
yet from the spring below
there would well up cool waters into the lake,
so sluicing
and drenching
and permeating
and suffusing that lake
that there is no part of that lake
which is not suffused thereby; -
in just the same way does this Almsman so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
his very body with the zest and satisfaction
bred of rapt concentration,
that there is no part of his body
which js not suffused thereby.

[196] Further, by shedding the emotion of zest,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the Third Ecstasy,
with its poised equanimity,
mindful and self-possessed,
feeling in his frame
that satisfaction of which the Noble say
that poise and mindfulness
bring abiding satisfaction.

His very body does he so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
with satisfaction,
without zest,
that there is no part of his body
which is not suffused
by this satisfaction without zest.

Just 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 beneath it;
and these from root to tip
are so sluiced
and drenched
and permeated
and suffused
by the cool waters
that there is not a lotus,
blue
or red
or white,
which is not suffused
from root to tip
by the cool waters: -
in just the same way
does the Almsman so sluice
and drench
and permeate
and suffuse
his very body
with satisfaction without zest,
that there is no part of his body
which is not suffused thereby.

Further, by putting from him
both satisfaction and dissatisfaction
and by shedding the joys and sorrows he used to feel,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the Fourth Ecstasy, -
the state that,
knowing neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction,
is the consummate purity
of poised equanimity and mindfulness.

His very body does he so suffuse
with a heart made pure and clean
that, as he sits,
there is no single part of his body
which is not suffused
by his pure and clean heart.

Just as if a man were sitting
wrapped head and all
in a garment of white,
with not a single part of his body
not wrapped in it, -
in just the same way
does the Almsman so suffuse his very body
with a heart made pure and clean
that, as he sits,
there is no single part of his body
which is not suffused
by his pure and clean heart.

With heart thus stedfast, thus clarified and purified,
... the Almsman ...
(etc., as in Sutta 4, down to)
... his divers existences of the past
in all their details and features.

Just as if a man
who had passed from his own village
to a second
and thence to a third
and finally back to his own village,
might think how in [197] his absence from home
he had visited these other villages
and how in each he had stood,
sat,
spoken,
been silent; -
in just the same way
does the Almsman call to mind his former existences ...
his divers existences of the past
in all their details and features.

That same stedfast heart
he now applies ...
(etc., as in Sutta 4, down to)
... in states of bliss and in heaven.

Just as if there were two houses with doors
and a man with eyes to see
were to stand between those two houses
and observe men going in and out
and passing to and fro; -
in just the same way,
with the Eye Celestial
which is pure and far surpasses the human eye,
does the Almsman see creatures
in act of passing hence
and re-appearing elsewhere,
creatures either lowly or debonair,
fair or foul to view,
happy or unhappy;
and he is aware
that they fare according to their deserts.

That same stedfast heart
he next applies to knowledge of the eradication of Cankers ...
(etc,, as in Sutta 4, down to)
... now for me there is no more of what I have been.

Just as if on the heights
there were a lake
with clear pellucid waters as of crystal,
and a man with eyes to see
should espy from the bank where he was standing
oysters and other shells,
gravel and pebbles,
together with shoals of fish swimming about
or lying up; -
just as such a man would recognize
all that was before his eyes,
in just the same manner
does the Almsman comprehend,
aright and to the full,
Ill,
the origin of Ill,
... no more of what I have been.

Such an Almsman is styled
(1) recluse,
(2) brahmin,
(3) washen (nahātaka),
(4) versed (vedagū),
(5) purged (sottiyo),
(6) noble (ariya), and
(7) saintly (arahant).

(i) How does an Almsman become a recluse?

By excluding evil and wrong states of consciousness
which are depraved
and tend to re-birth,
which are burthensome
and ripen unto Ill,
and which will hereafter entail birth,
decay,
and death.

That is how he becomes a recluse.

(ii) He becomes a brahmin
by precluding evil and wrong states.

[198] (iii) He becomes washen
by washing away evil and wrong states.

(iv) He becomes versed
by being versed in all about evil and wrong states.

(v) He becomes purged
because he is purged of evil and wrong states.

(vi) He becomes noble, and
(vii) saintly,
because he keeps at bay
evil and wrong states of consciousness
which are depraved
and tend to re-birth,
which are burthensome
and ripen unto Ill,
and which will hereafter entail birth,
decay,
and death.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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


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