Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
1. Gahapati 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 53

Sekha Suttaɱ

How to Become an Adept

 


[353] [254]

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

Once when the Lord was staying among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu
in the Banyan pleasaunce,
the Sakyans of that city,
who had got a new hall,
never occupied so far by recluse
or brahmin
or any human being,
came to the Lord,
and, after salutations,
took their seats to one side,
telling him of their brand-new hall
and inviting him to use it first,
and then they would use it afterwards themselves;
if he would only consent,
that would long enure to their [354] weal and welfare.

By silence the Lord consented;
and, on his consenting,
those Sakyans rose
and with deep obeisance
withdrew to complete preparing the hall for occupation, -
setting out seats,
planting tubs of water about,
and getting lamps and oil ready.

When they had finished,
they came and stood by him
to tell the Lord they awaited his pleasure.

Duly robed and bowl in hand,
the Lord, with the Confraternity,
proceeded to the hall,
bathed his feet,
went in,
and took his seat by the centre-post
with his face towards the East.

He was followed by the Confraternity
who, entering the hall after bathing their feet,
seated themselves by the western wall,
facing east
and with the Lord in front of them.

Then came the Sakyans
who, entering the hall after bathing their feet,
seated themselves by the eastern wall,
facing west
and with the Lord in front of them.

Far into the night
the Lord by homily instructed,
informed,
helped onward,
and cheered forward
those Sakyans of Kapilavatthu,
till at last he said to Ãnanda:

Tell them, please,
about him who is in training to become an adept,
and the path he treads.

Ānanda assenting,
the Lord had his robe folded in four
and lay down on it on his [255] right side
in the lion-posture,
foot resting on foot,
mindful and self-possessed,
awaiting the moment appointed for his arising.

 


 

Addressing Mahānāma the Sakyan,
Ānanda said:

Take the case of a disciple of the Noble,
who is virtuous,
who keeps watch and ward over the portals of sense,
is temperate in eating,
vigilant,
established in the seven virtuous qualities,
and is able at will -
without difficulty or trouble -
to induce the Four Ecstasies
which transcend thought
and confer wellbeing here and now.

 


 

How, Mahānāma, [355] does the disciple of the Noble become virtuous?

Why, by following virtue's code,
by controlling himself
by the control of the public confession of transgressions,
by keeping to the plane of right behaviour,
by viewing even trifling offences as perilous,
and by embracing and training himself in the (ten) moral precepts.

That is how he becomes virtuous.

How, Mahānāma, does the disciple of the Noble
keep watch and ward over the portals of sense?

Why, by refusing,
when he sees with the eye a visible shape,
to be led away by its general appearance
or particular marks,
inasmuch as lack of control over sight
might let in appetites and frets,
with evil and wrong states of consciousness;
and therefore he schools himself
to keep the sense of sight under control
and under guard,
and develops his control of it.

And he does the like with the five other senses.

That is how he keeps watch and ward
over the portals of sense.

How is he temperate in eating?

Why, by taking his food duly and advisedly,
not for pleasure or delight,
nor for ostentation or display,
but only to the extent necessary
to support and sustain his physical frame,
in order to shield it from hurt
and to further the higher life,
resolving to put from him
the old feelings
and not to let any new feelings arise,
to the end that the blameless lot may be his
and well-being.

That is how he is temperate in eating.

How is he vigilant?

Chalmers here omits the last watch of the night which is practiced as is the day and the first watch.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Why, by purging his heart of [256] besetting tendencies, -
whether by day
as he paces to and fro or sits down,
or during the first watch of the night
as he paces to and fro or sits down,
or during the middle watch of the night
as he lies couched lion-like
on his right side,
foot resting on foot,
mindful and self-possessed,
awaiting the moment appointed for his arising.

How is he [356] established in the seven virtuous qualities?

Why,
(i) by faith, by that faith in the Truth-finder's enlightenment whereby he avers that this is indeed the Lord,
Arahat all-enlightened,
walking by knowledge,
blessed,
understanding all worlds,
the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of gods and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment!

(ii) Shamefaced is he, -
inwardly ashamed of wrongful acts or words or thoughts,
inwardly ashamed of harbouring evil and wrong states of consciousness,

(iii) Sensitive is he to reproach from without, -
dreading reproach for wrongful acts or words or thoughts
or for harbouring evil and wrong states of consciousness,

(iv) Well-informed is he,
a repository and a treasury of all he hears;
all doctrines -
beginning aright,
proceeding aright,
and ending aright -
which in letter and in spirit
proclaim the higher life
in all its perfection and purity,
all these he learns and knows by heart;
his lips repeat them;
his mind examines them;
his gaze penetrates them through and through,

(v) Strenuous is he
to put away wrong states of consciousness
and to develop such states as are right, -
always striving,
always sturdy in endeavour,
always resolute in states of consciousness which are right.

(vi) Retentive of memory is he,
with a richly stored memory
that recollects and recalls
both the doings and the sayings of long ago.

(vii) Lore is his,
the lore which embraces life's ebb and flow,
the noble, penetrating lore
which leads on to the utter cessation of all Ill.

That is how he is established in the seven virtuous qualities.

And how is he able at will
to induce the Four Ecstasies?

Why, by divesting himself of pleasures of sense,
by divesting himself of wrong states of con- [257] sciousness,
so that 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;

by rising above observation and reflection,
so that 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 -
whereby the heart is focussed
and tranquillity reigns within.

And so on to the Third and Fourth Ecstasies.

That is how the disciple of the Noble
is able at will -
without difficulty or trouble -
to induce the Four Ecstasies
which transcend thought and confer well-being here and now.

The disciple of the Noble
who has achieved this much
[357] is said to be in training to become an adept
whose development is assured,
who is able to win forth,
able to reach enlightenment,
able to attain to the peace beyond compare.

It is just like a hen
with a clutch of eight,
ten,
or a dozen eggs,
on which she sits closely
to keep them warm
and hatch them out.

Even though no wish arises within her
that her chicks
with beak or claw
may break through the shell
and come out all right,
yet they are quite able to break through their shells
and win forth all right.

Even so the disciple of the Noble
who has achieved ...
peace beyond compare.

Having won that perfection of poise and mindfulness
(which the Fourth Ecstasy brings),
the disciple of the Noble
calls to mind his previous existences -
a single birth,
then two ...
(etc., as in Sutta No. 4) ...
in all their details and features.

This is the first way in which,
like the chick from the shell,
he wins forth.

Having won that perfection of poise and mindfulness
(which the Fourth Ecstasy brings),
the disciple of the Noble,
with the Eye Celestial
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
sees beings in the act of passing hence
and re-appearing elsewhere ...
(etc., as in Sutta No. 4) ...
in states of bliss in heaven.

This is the second way in which,
like the chick from the shell,
he wins forth.

[258] Having won that perfection of poise and mindfulness
(which the Fourth Ecstasy brings),
the disciple of the Noble,
by eradicating the Cankers,
comes to the Deliverance of heart and mind
in which no Cankers are;
here and now he enters on,
and abides in,
a Deliverance which of and by himself
he has discerned and realized.

358 This is the third way in which,
like the chick from the shell,
he wins forth.

His conduct shows
that the disciple of the Noble is virtuous,
keeps watch and ward over the portals of sense,
is temperate in eating,
is vigilant,
is established in the seven virtuous qualities,
and is able at will -
without difficulty or trouble -
to induce the Four Ecstasies
which transcend thought
and confer wellbeing here and now.

His lore shows
that the disciple of the Noble
can recall to mind his own previous existences,
can read with the Eye Celestial
the future destinies of beings
in act to pass hence
and re-appear elsewhere,
and has won for himself
Deliverance of heart and mind
by eradicating the Cankers.

A disciple of the Noble
who has achieved all this
is said to be endowed with lore,
with conduct,
and with the conduct that flows from lore.

It was a Brahma named the Ever-young[2]
who was the author of these lines -

With such as prize descent, the Nobleman
stands first; first place 'mong gods and men is his
who walks in virtue and excels in lore.

Now these lines, Mahānāma,
were rightly and not wrongly sung and uttered
by that Brahma the Ever-young;
full of meaning
and not empty are they;
and the Lord has approved them.

Here, the Lord rose
and commended what Ānanda [259] had told these Sakyans of Kapilavatthu concerning training.

[359] Thus spoke the reverend Ānanda with the Master's approval.

Glad at heart, those Sakyans of Kapilavatthu rejoiced in what Ānanda had said.

 


[1] The preamble of this Sutta occurs also verbatim at Samyutta IV, 182, - ending before Ãnanda's lecture to the Sakyans, and continuing instead with an address to the Almsmen by Moggallāna.

[2] For Sanankumāra (interpreted here by Bu. as porāṇaka, of old) see Dialogues I, 121 and III, 93. In the verses (which occur in each of the three other Nikāyas) the possible substitution of khattiyo for brāhmano would account for this reversion of normal brahminical doctrine and gāthās.


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