Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
2. Bhikkhu 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 63

Cūḷa-Māluŋkya Suttaɱ

Of the Irrelevant

 


[426] [304]

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

Once the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce.

To the reverend Māluŋkya-putta, in the course of his private meditations,
there came the following reflection:

The Lord does not expound to me the views -
which he has left unexpounded,
omitted
and dismissed without answer -
such as:

The world is eternal, -
The world is not eternal -
The world is finite -
The world is infinite -
Life and the body are one and the same thing -
Life and the body are distinct entities -
A truth-finder[1] passes to another existence after death -
A truth-finder passes to no further existence after death -
A truth-finder both passes and does not pass to a further existence after death -
A truth-finder neither passes nor does not pass to a further existence after death.

I do not like his not expounding these things to me;
I resent it;
I will go to him and [305] question him hereon.

If he definitely either accepts or rejects any of these propositions,
I will follow the higher life under the Lord;
but if he fails to expound,
then I will throw up my training as an Almsman
and will revert to the lower plane of a layman.

[427] Rising up towards evening from his meditations,
the reverend Māluŋkya-putta betook him to the Lord,
saluted him,
seated himself,
related his reflections
and the decision he had reached,
ending up by saying:

"If the Lord knows that the world is eternal,
let him tell me so.

If the Lord knows that the world is not eternal,
let him tell me so.

If the Lord does not know whether the world is eternal or not,
then the only straightforward thing for one who knows not nor discerns
is to avow that he knows not nor discerns.

(And he dealt similarly with each of the other problems above enumerated.)

[428] Did I ever promise you, Māluŋkya-putta, that,
if you followed the higher life under me,
I would tell you whether the world was eternal,
and all the rest of it?

No, sir.

Or did you on your part stipulate that,
if you followed the higher life under me,
then I should tell you all this?

No, sir.

It comes to this then
that I never promised,
nor did you stipulate,
that, as a condition of your following the higher life under me,
I should expound these matters to you.

This being so,
who are you-to reject whom?

If, Māluŋkya-putta, a man were to say
he would not follow the higher life under the Lord
until the Lord had answered all the questions you enumerate,
[429] he would get no answer from the Truth-finder
before death overtook him.

Leech. A healer. Only later applied to the parasite and still later to the quack-docter.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

It is just as if a man were transfixed by an arrow
heavily coated with poison,
and his friends and kinsfolk were to get him a leech
expert in dealing with arrow-wounds,
but the man were to declare
he would not have the arrow taken out
until he knew whether the archer who had shot him
was a Noble
or [306] a brahmin
or a middle-class man
or a peasant, -
what the archers name and lineage was -
whether he was tall or short or of medium height -
whether he was black or dark or fair -
what particular village or township or city he hailed from -
whether his bow was a long-bow or a cross-bow -
whether his bow-string was made from swallow-wort or bamboo or sinew or hemp or the leaves of Calotropis gigantea -
whether the shaft of the arrow was a wild reed or a planted shoot -
whether the shaft was feathered with the plumage of a vulture or a heron or a falcon or a peacock or other fowl -
whether the gut binding that shaft came from an ox or a buffalo or a hart or a monkey -
whether the arrow was a plain arrow or was barbed with horn or iron or a calfs tooth or with an oleander thorn.

[430] The man would never get to know all this
before death overtook him.

And just in the same way,
if a man were to say he would not follow the higher life under the Lord
until the Lord had answered this pack of questions,
he would get no answer from the Truth-finder
before death overtook him.

The higher life is not contingent on the truth of any thesis
that the world either is or is not eternal.

In either case,
as in each of the other theses you adduce,
there still abides the fact of birth, decay and death;
there still abide the facts of grief and tribulation,
of ill, sorrow and distraction; -
of all of which I proclaim the extirpation here and now.

[431] Take therefore what I have not taught
as being left untaught by me,
and take as my teaching
what I have specifically taught.

What have I left untaught?

I have not taught that the world either is or is not eternal;
that it is finite or infinite;
that life and the body are either identical or distinct;
that after death a truth-finder either passes or does not pass to a further existence,
or does both or neither.

And why have I left these things untaught?

Because they are unprofitable
and not fundamental to the higher life;
because they do not conduce to weariness with mundane things,
to passionlessness,
to purga- [307] tion,
to tranquillity,
to insight,
to full enlightenment,
and to Nirvana.

What have I specifically taught?

I have taught of Ill,
of its Origin,
of its cessation,
and of the path that leads to its cessation.

And why have I taught this?

Because this is profitable
and fundamental to the higher life;
because this does conduce to weariness with mundane things ...
Nirvana.

Wherefore, Māluŋkya-putta, [432] take what I have not taught
as being left untaught by me,
and take as my teaching
what I have specifically taught.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
the reverend Māluŋkya-putta rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

 


[1] Tathāgato ti satto, says Bu.; i.e. here 'tathāgata means simply creature.' I have however retained my ordinary translation of the word, to connote all Arahats, whether Buddhas or not.


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