Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
3. Paribbājaka 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 72

Aggi-Vacchagotta Suttaɱ

Of Fuel

 


[483] [341]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
there came to him the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta, who, [484] after salutations, took his seat to one side and thus began:

"Do you hold, Gotama,
that the world is eternal,
and [342] that this is the only true view,
all other views being false?

No, Vaccha.

Well then, do you hold that the world is non-eternal,
and that that is the only true view,
all other views being false?

No, Vaccha.

Do you hold that the world is finite,
and that this is the only true view,
all other views being false?

No, Vaccha.

Do you hold, then, that the world is non-finite,
and that that is the only true view,
all other views being false?

No, Vaccha.

[Similar questions and answers follow about -
Life and the body are identical,
Life and the body are distinct;
The truth-finder passes to another existence after death here,
The truth-finder does not pass to another existence after death here,
The truth-finder both does and does not pass to another existence after his death here,
[485] The truth-finder neither passes nor does not pass to another existence after his death here.]

To each and all of my questions, Gotama,
you have answered in the negative.

Scout. Of Scandanavian origin. ON: skuta, shute (a taunt). To reject with scorn (a proposition) to treat as absurd (an idea) to dismiss scornfuly the pretensions (or a person). — O.E.D. Not related to scout: < to listen; to spy out. This is not an idea found in the Pali. There is no rejecting these ideas. To reject them would be to be holding another, contrary idea. Gotama follows not after, or turns away from [anupaghāta] or does not deal with these ideas.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

What, pray, is the danger you discern in these views
which makes you scout them all?

To hold that the world is eternal -
or to hold that it is not,
or to agree to any other [486] of the propositions you adduce, Vaccha, -
is the thicket of theorizing,
the wilderness of theorizing,
the tangle of theorizing,
the bondage and the shackles of theorizing,
attended by Ill,
distress,
perturbation
and fever;
it conduces not to aversion,
passionlessness,
tranquillity,
peace,
illumination
and Nirvana.

This is the danger I discern in these views,
which makes me scout them all.

Is there any view which you have adopted, Gotama?

The adoption of views
is a term discarded for the truth-finder,
who has had actual vision
of the nature,
orgin
and cessation
of things material -
of feelings -
of [343] perception -
of plastic forces -
and of consciousness.

Therefore it is that,
by destroying,
stilling,
suppressing,
discarding
and renouncing all supposings,
all imaginings,
and all tendencies to the pride
of saying I or mine,
the truth-finder is Delivered
because no fuel is left
to keep such things going.

When his heart is thus Delivered, Gotama,
where is an Almsman[1] reborn hereafter?

Reborn does not apply to him.

Then he is not reborn.

Not reborn does not apply.

Then he is both reborn and not reborn.

Reborn and not reborn does not apply.

Then he is neither reborn nor not-reborn.

Neither reborn nor not-reborn does not apply to him.

To each and all of my questions, Gotama,
you have replied in the negative.

[487] I am at a loss and bewildered;
the measure of confidence you inspired by our former talk
has disappeared.

You ought to be at a loss and bewildered, Vaccha.

For, this Doctrine is profound,
recondite,
hard to comprehend,
rare,
excellent,
beyond dialectic,
subtle,
only to be understanded of the wise.

To you it is difficult, -
who hold other views
and belong to another faith and objective,
with a different allegiance
and a different master.

So I in turn will question you,
for such
answer as you see fit to give.

What think you, Vaccha?

If there were a fire blazing in front of you,
would you know it?

Yes.

If you were asked what made that fire blaze,
could you give an answer?

I should answer that what made it blaze
was the fuel
consisting of bracken and sticks.

If the fire went out,
would you know it had gone out?

Yes.

[344] If now you were asked
in what direction the fire had gone,
whether to east, west, north or south,
could you give an answer?

The question does not apply.

Since the fire was kept alight
by bracken and sticks,
and since it had consumed its supply of fuel
and had received no fresh supplies,
it is said to have gone out
for lack of fuel to sustain it.

Just in the same way, Vaccha,
all things material [488] -
all feelings -
all perception -
all plastic forces -
all consciousness -
everything by which the truth-finder might be denoted
has passed away for him, -
grubbed and stubbed,
leaving only the bare cleared site
where once a palm-tree towered, -
a thing that once has been
and now can be no more.

Profound,
measureless,
unfathomable,
is the truth-finder
even as the mighty ocean;
reborn does not apply to him
nor not-reborn
nor any combination of such terms;
everything by which the truth-finder might be denoted,
has passed away for him,
utterly and for ever.

At the close of these words,
the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta said to the Lord:

It is like a giant Sal-tree
on the outskirts of a village or township
which, by the course of change,
loses its leaves and foliage,
sheds its bark and rotten stuff and poorer wood,
so that in time,
when all that is gone,
it stands in the clean strength of its choice timber alone.

Wonderful, Gotama;
quite wonderful!

Just as a man might set upright again
what had been cast down,
or reveal what had been hidden away,
or tell a man who had gone astray
which was his way,
or [489] 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 Gotama made his Doctrine clear.

To the reverend Gotama I come as my refuge,
and to his Doctrine
and to his Confraternity.

I ask him to accept me as a disciple
from this day forth while life lasts.

 


[1] The interlocutor, it will be noted, assumes that, here, tathāgata means not the Buddha but a Saint, or Arahat in general.


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