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 73

Mahā-Vacchagotta Suttaɱ

The Meed[ed1] Of Service

 


[489] [345]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Rājagaha
in the Bamboo grove where the squirrels were fed,
the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta came to him
and after salutations
took his seat to one side, saying:

It is a long time since I have had a talk with the reverend Gotama.

Kusalākusalaɱ. Kusala: PED: "clever, skilful, expert; good, right, meritorious." Most frequently 'skillful'. The translation of "Kusalākusalaɱ" should make use of one root term so that the image created is of going in one direction and not going in that direction: "skillful and not-skillful", rather than going in one direction or it's opposite: "right and wrong". A thing that is not kusala may not be 'wrong'; but can just be less than optimal.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

I should like him briefly
to expound right and wrong to me.

I could expound them either in brief or at large, Vaccha,
but will confine myself here
to an exposition in brief.

Hearken and pay attention,
and I will speak.

Then to the attentive Wanderer the Lord began:

Greed is wrong;
freedom from greed is right.

Hatred is wrong;
not to hate is right.

Delusion is wrong;
to be free from delusion is right.

The one triad is wrong,
the other right.

To take life is wrong;
to refrain from taking life is right.

Theft is wrong;
to shun theft is right.

Indulgence in pleasures of sense is wrong;
to refrain from such indulgence is right.

Lying is wrong;
to refrain from lies is right.

Slander [490] is wrong;
to refrain from slandering is right.

Reviling is wrong;
not to revile is right.

Idle chatter is wrong;
to refrain therefrom is right.

To covet is wrong;
not to covet is right.

To be malevolent is wrong;
not to be male-völent is right.

Erroneous views are wrong;
sound views are right.

The one set of ten is right,
the other set is wrong.

So soon as Craving is eliminated -
grubbed up by the roots,
leaving only the bare cleared site
where once a palm-tree towered,
a thing that once has been
and now can be no more -
then that Almsman becomes an Arahat,
in whom the Cankers are dead,
who has greatly lived,
whose task is done,
who has shed his burthen,
who has won his weal,
whose bonds to [346] life are no more,
who by utter Knowledge
has won Deliverance.

Apart from the reverend Gotama, -
is there a single Almsman in his following
who has entered on
and dwells here and now
in that Deliverance of heart and mind
which is without Cankers
because Cankers are eradicated,
a Deliverance which of and by himself
he has apprehended and realized?

Not a mere hundred of my followers,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred,
but many more than that have achieved this.

Apart from the reverend Gotama
and the Almsmen, -
is there a single Almswoman in his following
who has achieved this?

Not a mere hundred of my women followers,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred of them,
but many more than that have achieved this.

Apart from the reverend Gotama
and the Almsmen
and the Almswomen, -
is there a single white-robed layman
of his following in the higher life
who, by destruction of the Five Fetters
that bind people to this world,
has been translated to higher realms,
never to revert thence to this world?

Not a mere hundred of my laymen,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred of them,
but many more than that have [491] achieved this.

Apart from the reverend Gotama
and the Almsmen
and the Almswomen
and the laymen of the higher life, -
is there a single layman
who, though not denying himself pleasures of sense,
conforms and practises what he is taught,
without any doubtings or searchings of heart,
and in absolute confidence
and personal conviction
lives by his Master's teaching?

Not a mere hundred such laymen,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred Of them,
but many more than that have achieved this.

Apart from the reverend Gotama
and the Almsmen
and the Almswomen
and the laymen
whether of the higher life
or of the world still,
can you say as much of lay-women
both in the higher life
and in the world?

[347] Not a mere hundred lay-women,
not two
or three
or four
or five hundred of them,
but many more than that have achieved these results.

Had the reverend Gotama alone achieved success in the Doctrine,
without the Almsmen,
[492] this higher life of his founding
would have been incomplete by this constituent.

Inasmuch, however, as not only he
but the Almsmen too have succeeded,
this constituent is not lacking.

Had success come only to him
and the Almsmen,
without the Almswomen,
the latter constituent would have been wanting, -
as it is not.

Had success come only to him
and the Almsmen
and the Almswomen,
without laymen of the higher life -
or laymen of the world still -
or lay-wOmen of the higher life -
or lay-women of the world still -,
in each case this higher life of his founding
would have been incomplete by that particular constituent.

[493] Inasmuch, however, as success has come
to each and all of these classes,
not a single one of these constituents of completeness is lacking.

Even as the river Ganges
streams and flows to the ocean as its bourne
and finds repose only in the ocean,
so does Gotama's whole congregation,
laity as well as Pilgrims,
stream and flow to Nirvana as its bourne,
finding repose only in Nirvana.

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 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 reverend Gotama made his Doctrine clear.

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

I ask to be admitted as a Pilgrim under him,
with confirmation therein.

[494] Vaccha, a former adherent of another sect
who desires admission to,
and confirmation in,
this Doctrine and Rule,
has first to reside for four months,
at the end of which period
discreet Almsmen admit and confirm [348] him as a member of the Confraternity.

This is the qualification I have recognized.

If this is so, sir,
I will reside for the probationary four months accordingly
with a view to membership of the Confraternity.

In due course, the Wanderer Vaccha-gotta
was admitted and confirmed of the Lord's following.

Soon after his confirmation,
indeed within a fortnight's time,
the reverend Vaccha-gotta came to the Lord
and after salutations
took his seat to one side, saying:

I have attained all that is to be attained
by a non-Arahat's understanding
and a non-Arahat's knowledge.

I ask the Lord to expound the Doctrine to me further.

Then, Vaccha, develop further
two frames of mind,
calm and insight,
the development of which
will help you to fathom
various elements of sense-consciousness.

To the full of your desire to have at command
the divers types of psychic power -
from being one to become manifold,
from being manifold to become one,
to pass at will through wall or fence or hill
as if it were air,
to pass in and out of the solid earth
as if it were water,
to walk on the water's unbroken surface
as if it were the solid earth,
to glide, as you sit serene,
through the air,
like a winged bird,
to touch and to handle the sun and moon
in their power and might,
and to extend the sway of your body
right up to the heavens of Brahma -
each and all of these manifestations of psychic power
shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

To the full of your desire to hear,
with the Ear Celestial,
[495] which is pure
and far surpasses the human ear,
twofold sounds -
both the celestial and the human,
sounds both far and near, -
all this shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

To the full of your desire,
that your heart should read the hearts of others, -
knowing the heart where passion dwells as passionate,
and the passionless heart as passionless,
the unkind heart as unkind,
and the kind heart as kind,
the deluded heart as deluded,
and [349] the undeluded heart as undeluded,
the focussed heart as focussed,
and the unfocussed heart as unfocussed,
the great heart as great,
and the little heart as little,
the inferior heart as inferior,
and the superior heart as superior,
the stedfast heart as stedfast,
and the un-stedfast heart as unstedfast,
the heart Delivered as Delivered,
and the heart undelivered as undelivered -
all this shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

To the full of your desire to recall
your divers existences in the past -
a single birth,
then two ...
right up to your rebirth here, -
all this shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

[496] To the full of your desire to see,
with the Eye Celestial
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
creatures in act to pass hence,
in act to reappear elsewhere,
creatures either lowly or debonair ...
in states of bliss and in heaven, -
all this shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

To the full of your desire -
here and now,
and of and by yourself -
to know,
realize,
enter on,
and abide in
Deliverance of heart and mind
which is without Cankers
because Cankers have been eradicated, -
all this shall be yours to experience
as your mind shall dictate.

Thereupon the venerable Vaccha-gotta,
glad and grateful to the Lord for his words,
arose and with salutations
and deep reverence
withdrew.

Nor was it long before he,
dwelling alone and aloof,
strenuous,
ardent
and purged of self,
won the prize
in quest of which young men go forth from home
to homelessness as Pilgrims,
that prize of prizes
which crowns the highest life; -
even this did he think out
and realize of and by himself,
entering on it
and dwelling therein
here and now;
and to him came the knowledge clear
that for him rebirth was no more;
that he had lived the highest life;
that his task was done;
and that now for him
there was no more of what he had been.

The reverend Vaccha-gotta was numbered among the Arahats.

At that time a large number of Almsmen were on [350] their way to visit the Lord.

Seeing them some way off,
Vaccha-gotta went up to them,
[497] and,
on learning their intention to visit the Lord,
asked them to bow down at the Lord's feet on his behalf
and in his name to say:

The Lord has been served;
the Blessed One has been served.

Accordingly those Almsmen conveyed his message faithfully to the Lord,
who remarked that already his own heart
had read Vaccha-gotta's heart
and that this Almsman had won the threefold lore
and had come to great powers and might.

Also, deities (he added)
had brought him the same tidings.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

 


[ed1] Meed. That which is bestowed in requital of labour or service, or in consideration of (good or ill) desert; mūla, wages, hire; recompense, reward. — O.E.D. Bears no relation to the Pali title.


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