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 54

Potaliya Suttaɱ

True Retirement

 


[359] [259]

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

Once when the Lord was staying Anga country across the river where there is a township named Āpaṇa,
he went early in the day,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
into town for alms;
and, after his meal,
on his way back from his round,
went into a wood to rest under a tree
during the heat of the day.

Thither too, in the course of his walk,
came the householder Potaliya,
in full attire of long tunic and long cloak,
with umbrella and sandals;
and after courteous greetings
stood to one side.

As he stood there,
the Lord said to him: -

There is sitting room, householder;
be seated, if you will.

Indignant and angry at being styled a householder,
Potaliya made no answer;
nor did he answer when the Lord repeated his invitation.

But when so invited by the Lord for the third time,
the indignant and angry Potaliya
rejoined that [360] it was neither seemly nor proper
to address him thus.

Well, householder,
you have all the indications
and characteristics
and marks
of a householder.

But, Gotama, I have retired
and given over.

How have you managed that, householder?

Why, I have handed over to my sons
as their inheritance
all my wealth and substance,
all my gold and coins of silver, -
in connexion with which
I no longer issue orders
what to do
and what not to do,
but get just my food and clothing.

That is how I have retired
and given over.

There is a difference, householder,
between what [260] you call giving over
and the giving-up
under the Law of the Noble.

What, pray, is that giving-up?

Will the Lord be so good as to expound it to me?

Hearken, then, householder,
and pay attention;
and I will tell you,
said the Lord,
who then spoke as follows
to the listening Potaliya:

In the Law of the Noble,
there are eight states of consciousness
which conduce to giving up
according to the Law of the Noble;
and these are the eight:

All killing should be banned
by holding life sacred;
theft should be banned
by never taking what is not a free gift;
lying should be banned
by strict adherence to truthfulness;
calumny should be banned
by never stooping to calumniate;
covetise should be banned
by uncovetousness;
taunts should be banned
by never taunting;
angry rage should be banned
by placidity;
and arrogance should be banned
by humility.

Such, briefly
and without detailed exposition,
are the eight states
conducing to this giving up.

Would you, sir, be so good as to expound these in detail?

Hearken then, householder,
and pay attention;
and I will tell you,
said the Lord,
who then spoke as follows
to the listening Potaliya:

[361] When I said that all killing should be banned
by holding life sacred,
I meant this, namely
that the disciple of the Noble
reflects that, as his life now aims at
putting from him
and renouncing those Fetters
which might lead him to take away life,
he would - were he now to take life -
not only stand selfcondemned
but would be censured by men of intelligence,
and must also,
at the body's dissolution after death,
look to pass hereafter
to a state of woe for his guilt.

Killing is a Fetter;
killing is an Obstacle;
but he whose hands are innocent of blood,
thereby escapes all the destroying and consuming Cankers
which blood-guilt would entail.

That is what I meant by saying
all killing should be banned
by holding life sacred.

And what is true of innocence of blood
is likewise true [261] in all respects
of the other seven states of consciousness [362/3]. [364] These then, householder,
are, in detailed exposition,
the eight states of consciousness,
at first only briefly indicated by me,
which, in the Law of the Noble,
conduce to giving up.

But, in themselves alone
they do not make up the plenitude of universal giving-up,
according to the Law of the Noble.

What does make up that plenitude of universal giving-up
according to the Law of the Noble?

Would the Lord please explain this?

Hearken then, householder,
and pay attention;
and I will tell you,
said the Lord,
who then spoke as follows
to the listening Potaliya:

1. It is just as if a famished, starveling dog
were to make his way to a slaughter-house
and the butcher were there to fling him a bare bone, -
scraped and scraped
till it was quite clean,
without a scrap of meat on it
and with only the merest trace of blood left.

Would that dog be able therewith
to allay the pangs of his hunger?

No, sir; not with a bare bone like that,
toil and moil as he may.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble reflects
that to a bare bone
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense
with all their present discomforts
and tribulation
and with worse to follow.

When he has seen and realized this
in its full truth,
then he sheds any equanimity
which is scattered and diffused
and develops only that real poise
which is one-centred and concentrated,
wherein all attachments to material things of the world
cease for ever
and none remain.

2. It is just as if a vulture
or heron
or kite
were to fly up with a lump of meat
and other vultures
and herons
and kites
were to keep on attacking it
to tear and rend it.

How think you, householder?

If the bird does not promptly let go the meat,
will it not be the death of him
or deadly hurt to him?

Yes, sir.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble reflects
that to a lump of meat
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
[365] and none remain.

[262] 3. It is just as if a man were to carry
a blazing hay-torch against the wind.

How think you, householder?

If he does not very quickly drop it,
will the flame not burn
either his hand
or his arm
or one of his members
and so bring him death
or deadly hurt?

Yes, sir.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble
reflects that to a hay-torch
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
and none remain.

two stalwart men: nāma/rūpa. Name and Form result in the Six-Sense-Realms.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

4. It is just as if there were a pit,
a man's height deep,
filled with white-hot embers
showing neither flame nor smoke;
and a man came along
who was fond of life
and did not want to die,
being fond of pleasure
and averse from pain;
and as if two stalwart men
each took him by an arm
and dragged him towards the embers.

How think you, householder?

Would not the man
twist and turn his body
now this way,
now that?

Yes, sir;
because he would realize
he would be cast into the pit of embers
and there would come by his death
or deadly hurt.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble
reflects that to a pit of embers
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
and none remain.

5. It is just as if in a dream
a man were to behold delightful pleasaunces,
delightful woodlands,
delightful prospects,
and delightful lakes,
none of which he could see when he awoke.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble
reflects that to a dream
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
and none remain.

6. It is just as if,
having besought the loan of other people's wealth -
[366] a smart carriage
and rare jewels and ear-rings -
a man were to appear
in all this borrowed splendour and bravery
in the bazaar,
making folk say
he must be a wealthy man,
for wealthy men employ their wealth like that;
and then the veritable owners
were to take back their property from him
when and where they met him.

How think you, householder?

Would the fellow have had enough
of change of state?

Yes, sir;
for the owners would have taken their property away from him.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble reflects
that to a loan
his [263] Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
and none remain.

7. It is just as if there were a wood
near a village or township
and in it a tree
laden with ripe and ripening fruit
but with no fallen fruit
on the ground beneath;
and a man came along
who, being in need,
search,
and quest of fruit,
should enter the wood,
and see that loaded tree
with no fruit on the ground beneath,
and bethink him
that he could climb trees
and so might eat his fill
and also stuff his pouch;
and if, when he had done so,
a second man,
coming on a like errand
to the same tree
with a sharp axe,
were to bethink him that,
though he could not climb,
he might fell the tree
and so eat his fill
and also stuff his pouch.

How think you, householder?

Would the man up the tree
climb down very quickly
lest in its fall
the tree should crush his hand
or foot
or other member,
with [367] consequent death to him
or deadly hurt?

Yes, sir.

Just in the same way
the disciple of the Noble reflects
that to fruit hanging on a tree
his Lord has likened pleasures of sense ...
and none remain.

Arrived now at this perfection
of mindfulness and poise,
the disciple of the Noble
recalls to mind
his divers existences in the past, -
a single birth,
then two ...
(etc. as in Sutta No. 4)
... in all their details and features.

Arrived now at this perfection of mindfulness and poise,
the disciple of the Noble,
with the Eye Celestial
which 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.

Arrived now at this perfection of mindfulness and poise,
the disciple of the Noble,
by eradicating the Cankers,
here and now, enters into,
and abides in,
the Deliverance of heart and mind,
which knows no Cankers,
and which, for and by himself,
he has discerned and realized.

And thus, householder,
there comes about the plenitude of universal giving-up,
according to the Law of the Noble.

Do you detect this in your own case?

[264] Who am I, sir,
by the side of this plenitude of universal giving-up,
according to the Law of the Noble?

Far, far am I from that!

Hitherto, sir, I had imagined that the Wanderers of other creeds,
inferior though they are,
were superior;
I fed them,
inferior though they are,
on superior food;
and set them,
inferior though they are,
in the superior place.

Hitherto, I had imagined
that the superiors were inferior;
fed them,
superior though they are,
on inferior food;
and set them,
superior though they are,
in the inferior place.

But now, sir, I shall recognize [368] that the Wanderers of other creeds
are the inferiors which they are;
I will feed them,
as being inferiors,
on inferior food;
and I will set them,
as being inferiors,
in the inferior place.

The Almsmen, on the other hand,
I shall now recognize
as the superiors which they are;
I will feed them,
as superiors,
on superior food;
and I will set them,
as superiors,
in the superior place.

The Lord has inspired me
with love for the Recluses,
with belief in the Recluses,
and with reverence for the Recluses.

Excellent, sir; excellent!

Just as a man might 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 Lord made his Doctrine clear.

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

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


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