Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
5. Brāhmaṇa Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume VI
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part V

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1927
Public Domain

Sutta 99

Subha Suttaɱ

Real Union with Brahma

 


[196] [112]

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

[Page 112, the opening of this sutta is missing from our copy of the FD. To put the remainder of this fragment in context, the following, from the Horner translation, which was fully unabridged, is provided here:

 


 

At one time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī
in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

Now at that time the brahman youth Subha, Todeyya's son
was residing in Sāvatthī
in a householder's dwelling
on some business or other.

Then the brahman youth Subha, Todeyya's son,
who was staying in that householder's dwelling,
spoke thus to that householder:

"I have heard, householder,
that Sāvatthī is not unfrequented
by perfected ones.

Could we today
pay our respects to a recluse or brahman?"

"Revered sir, this Lord is staying near Sāvatthī
in the Jeta Grove
in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

You could pay respects to this Lord, revered sir."

When the brahman youth Subha, Todeyya's son,
had answered that householder in assent,
he approached the Lord;
having approached,
he exchanged greetings with the Lord;
having conversed in a friendly and courteous way,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance,
the brahman youth Subha, Todeyya's son,
spoke thus to the Lord:

"Good Gotama, brahmans speak thus:

'A householder is accomplishing the right path,
dhamma,
what is skilled;
one who has gone forth
is not accomplishing the right path,
dhamma,
what is skilled.'

What does the good Gotama say to this?"

"On this point I, brahman youth, discriminate,
on this point I do not speak definitely.

I, brahman youth,
do not praise a wrong course
in either a householder
or one who has gone forth.

If, brahman youth,
either a householder
or one who has gone forth
is faring along wrongly,
then as a result
and consequence
of his wrong course
he is not accomplishing the right path,
dhamma, what is skilled.

But I, brahman youth,
praise a right course
both for a householder
and for one who has gone forth.

If, brahman youth,
either a householder
or one who has gone forth
is faring along rightly,
then as a result
and consequence
of his right course
he is accomplishing the right path,
dhamma,
what is skilled."

"Good Gotama, brahmans speak thus:

'Having a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
this occupation of householders
is of great fruit.

Not having a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
this occupation of those who have gone forth
is of small fruit.'

What does the good Gotama say to this?"

"On this point too I, brahman youth, discriminate,
on this point I do not speak definitely.

There is, brahman youth, an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit.

There is, brahman youth, an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit.

There is, brahman youth, an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit.

There is, brahman youth, an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit.

And what, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit?

Agriculture, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit.

And what, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit?

Agriculture, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is a great deal to do:
many duties,
a large administration,
great problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit.

And what, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit?

Trading, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if failed of
is of small fruit.

And what, brahman youth, is an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit?

Trading, brahman youth is an occupation
where there is not a great deal to do:
few duties,
a small administration,
small problems -
which if succeeded in
is of great fruit.

 


 

[...] pursued without bustle,
may either fail and bear but little fruit;
or again it may succeed and bear much fruit.|| ||

Just as agriculture,
however busily pursued,
may prove a failure,
so may the life of the busy man with house and home
fail and bear little fruit,
or, again like agriculture,
it may succeed and bear much fruit.

Just too as commerce,
if pursued without bustle,
may either fail or succeed,
so too the Pilgrim's life,
pursued without bustle,
may either fail or succeed,
- may bear either little or [199] much fruit.

Brahmmins, Gotama, specify five qualities
for the attainment of merit
and the achievement of what is right.

"If it is agreeable to you,
would you please state these five to the company?

It is quite agreeable, Gotama,
where I address your reverence
and your like.

Then state these five qualities.

First, they rank truth,
next austerities,
then chastity,
followed next by study
and lastly by munificence.

These are the Brahmins' five,
and what do you say thereto?

Tell me; - is there one single brahmin
who avers that he has discerned and realized the five
so that he can affirm their outcome?

No.

Is there one single teacher,
or teacher of teachers,
of brahmins for seven generations back
who can aver it?

No.

[200] Is it averred by Aṭṭhaka,
Vāmaka,
Vāmadeva,
Vessāmitta,
Yamataggi,
Angirasa,
Bhāradvāja,
Vāseṭṭha,
Kassapa
or Bhagu, -
those sages of yore
who were the authors and utterers of those runes
which are chanted and repeated and rehearsed
by the brahmins of to-day?

No.

Then it is averred
by not one single brahmin of to-day,
by not a single teacher of brahmins
for seven generations back,
and not by a single one of the sages [115] of yore
who were the authors of the runes.

So the brahmins' pronouncement, methinks,
resembles a string of blind men,
of whom the leader sees not
nor the middle one
nor the last of the line.

These words mightily angered and incensed the young brahmin,
who-actually daring to flout and scoff at the Lord in person
and to say it to the Lord's own face -
said to the Lord,
in a belief that the recluse Gotama would be annoyed:

The brahmin Pokkharasāti,
of the Upamañña sept
and lord of Subhaga-vana (at Ukkaṭṭhā),
maintains that, as for those recluses and brahmins
who profess to transcend ordinary human bounds
and to rise to the heights of truly Noble Knowledge,
their claims [201] prove ridiculous, -
mere words,
empty and vain;
for how could a human being
possibly transcend human limits
and rise to the heights of this truly Noble Knowledge?

Tell me;
does Pokkharasāti's heart and mind
read the hearts and minds
of each and every brahmin that exists?

Why he cannot do that
as regards his own maidservant Puṇṇikā,
much less can he read the hearts
of all recluses and brahmins as a body!

It is just like a man
blind from birth
who could not see black or white,
blue or yellow,
or red or pink things,
who could not see level or rough ground,
the stars,
or the sun and moon,
and who should affirm
that there were no such things
and that no one could see them, -
on the ground forsooth that,
as he himself had no knowledge or vision of them,
therefore they were non-existent.

In so saying,
would he say aright?

No, Gotama.

These things do exist
and there are those who can see them;
and consequently he would be wrong
in saying [202] they were non-existent
merely because he could not see them.

Just as blind
and as lacking eyes to see
is the brahmin Pokkharasāti,
of the Upamañña sept
and lord of Subhaga-vana;
he cannot possibly know or see or realize
the Noble Knowledge which transcends all human bounds.

[116] What think you, Subha?

Among the wealthy brahmins of Kosala,
such as Cankī,
or Tārukkha,
or Pokkharasāti,
or Jānussoṇi,
or your own father Todeyya,
- which of their utterances do you prefer?

The utterance which is the accepted truth
or that which is not universally accepted?

The accepted.

- The utterance which is weighed
or that which is not?

The utterance which is weighed.

- The utterance which embodies thought
or that which does not?

That which embodies thought.

- The utterance which is profitable
or that which is unprofitable?

The utterance which is profitable.

What think you?

On this showing,
has the brahmin Pokkharasāti,
of the Upamañña sept
and lord of Subhaga-vana
delivered an accepted utterance
or one which is not universally accepted?

One which is not universally accepted.

- A weighed utterance or one which is not weighed?

One which is not weighed.

- An utterance which embodies thought
or one which does not?

One which does not embody thought.

- A profitable or an unprofitable utterance?

An unprofitable utterance.

[203] Young brahmin, there are five Hindrances, - to wit,
sensuality,
malevolence,
sluggishness,
flurry and worry,
and a wavering mind;
and by these five Hindrances is Pokkharasāti cribbed,
cabined,
pent
and shrouded,
so that he can never possibly know or see or realize
that Noble Knowledge
which transcends all human bounds.

Five strands, too,
make up pleasures of sense, - to wit,
visible shapes,
sounds,
odours,
tastes and touch,
all of them pleasant and agreeable and delightful,
all of them bound up with passion and lusts.

These [117] fivefold pleasures of sense
the brahmin Pokkharasāti enjoys,
being enslaved by avid infatuation,
and neither seeing their danger
nor understanding how treacherous they all are, -
so that he can never possibly know or see or realize
this Noble Knowledge
which transcends all human bounds.

If there be a fire kindled,
with bracken and wood to feed it,
and if another fire be kindled with nothing to feed it,
which fire will burn up and blaze?

If it be possible, Gotama,
to kindle a fire
without the bracken and wood to feed it,
the fire would burn up and blaze.

It is out of the question and impossible
to get a fire to blaze up without fuel,
except by a magician's art.

The fire that is kindled with fuel,
symbolizes the satisfaction which [204] arises
from pleasures of sense;
while the fire without fuel
symbolizes the satisfaction which arises
when pleasures of sense
and wrong dispositions
are not.

Now, what is the nature
of this latter satisfaction?

Take an Almsman who,
divested of pleasures of sense
and divested of wrong dispositions
develops and dwells in the First Ecstasy; -
this is a satisfaction
wholly remote from pleasures of sense
and wrong dispositions.

Or, take an Almsman who
develops and dwells in the Second Ecstasy; -
this too is a satisfaction
in which pleasure and wrong dispositions
find no place.

Tell me now;
which of the five qualities,
as specified by brahmins
for the achievement of merit
and the attainment of what is right,
do they specify
as more effectual than the rest?

Munificence, Gotama.

What think you?

Suppose that a brahmin prepares a great sacrifice
and that two brahmins come to take part,
of whom the first looks to have the best rice,
the best seat,
the best water
and the best piece of meat,
in preference to any other brahmin.

Suppose, however,
that, in his stead,
the second brahmin is preferred,
[205] to the indignation and mortification of the first brahmin. -

What, according to brahmins,
will be the outcome of the disappointed man?

[118] When brahmins distribute gifts, Gotama,
they do not do so
in such a way as to excite indignation and mortification;
their giving is prompted by compassion.

On this showing,
brahmins have a sixth way of achieving merit,
namely by compassion.

Yes, on this showing.

Do you observe that the brahmins'
five qualities for achieving merit
and attaining what is right
thrive better in men with homes or in Pilgrims?

Best in Pilgrims
and but little in men with houses and homes, Gotama.

For such a man's life is so full and busy
with questions to solve
and difficulties to overcome,
that he is not so uniformly and consistently truthful
as the Pilgrim is
who is immune from business cares.

And the same applies
to the four other qualities too;
for a man with a home
is not uniformly and consistently ascetic,
chaste,
regular in repeating the mantras,
and munificent, -
whereas a Pilgrim is.

So, according to my observation,
these five qualities thrive best in the Pilgrim.

In my view,
the whole of the five
do but implement the heart
[206] to free a man from wrath and malevolence.

Take an Almsman who professes the Truth
and, in the assurance thereon,
takes in import and doctrine
and the satisfaction which attends the doctrine,
that satisfaction which attends the right; -
all this, in my view,
does but implement the heart
to raise it to freedom from wrath and malevolence.

Or, if a like assurance
of each of the other four qualities within himself
ensures the same result,
all this, in my view,
does but implement the heart
to free it from wrath and malevolence.

The whole of the five qualities
do but implement the heart so as to free it.

At this point the young brahmin Subha said: -

I have heard that you know
the way to union with Brahmā.

Tell me this.

Is Naḷakāra-gāma near here,
not very far away?

That is so.

Suppose, now, a man,
who had been born there,
[119] had grown up there
and had always lived there,
were asked the way thither, -
would he be at a loss or perplexed?

No, Gotama;
for, having been born and bred there,
he would have full knowledge of every road to the place.

Whether the man born and bred in the place
would be at a loss or perplexed
by an enquiry concerning the road thither,
assuredly the Truth-finder would be at no loss
and in no perplexity
[207] at a question concerning the heaven of Brahmā
or the way thither.

For well do I know Brahmā and his heaven
and the way thither;
well too do I know
what path he has trodden
who is reborn in the heaven of Brahmā.

I have heard that you teach the way to union with Brahmā;
and I would ask you to teach me it.

Then listen and pay attention;
I will speak.

Subha readily assenting,
the Lord spoke as follows: -

What is the way to union with Brahmā?

Take the case of an Almsman
who dwells with radiant thoughts of love
pervading one quarter of the world -
a second quarter -
a third quarter -
the fourth quarter of the world;
who dwells with radiant thoughts of love
pervading the whole length and breadth of the world,
above,
below,
around,
everywhere,
- with radiant thought of love
all-embracing and vast,
beyond measure,
untinged by hatred or malice.

It is with such infinite love,
and with a heart so enfranchised,
that he transcends the finite
and neither abides therein
nor halts there.

Just as a mighty conch-blower
can with ease
make his blast heard north,
south,
east
and west, -
so does the Almsman transcend the finite
and neither abides therein
nor halts there.

This is a way to union with Brahmā.

And as with love,
so it is also with pity,
compassion
and poise;
[208] all these are ways to union with Brahmā.

At this close,
the young brahmin Subha,
son of Todeyya,
said to the Lord:

Wonderful, Gotama; wonderful!

It is just as if a man should 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 reverend Gotama made his Doctrine clear.

I come to Gotama as my refuge
and to his Doctrine
and to his Confraternity;
I ask him to accept me as a disciple
who has found an abiding refuge,
from this day forth while life shall last.

[120] And now, Gotama,
I must be going,
for I am busy and have much to do.

At your pleasure,
answered the Lord,
from whom,
with grateful thanks,
Subha now took his leave,
with deep reverence.

At this time the brahmin Jāṇussoṇī
was driving out of Sāvatthī at noon
in a carriage which was all white
and was drawn by milk-white mares,
when at a distance he espied Subha returning to that city
and asked where he was coming from
so early in the day;
and was told he had been with the recluse Gotama.

And what is your view of him,
Bhāradvāja?

Has he got depth of thought?

Is he learned,
do you think?

[209] Who am I to comprehend the depth
of the reduse Gotama's thought?

Only his peer could do that.

It is lofty praise indeed
that you accord him.

Who, who am I to praise him?

Naught but praise upon praise is his,
that foremost among gods and men;
and as for the five qualities
whicn brahmins specify for the achievement of merit
and the attainment of the right, -
why the recluse Gotama says
they do nothing but implement the heart
to free it from wrath and malevolence.

Hereon the brahmin Jāṇussoṇī
alighted from his carriage so white,
and with right shoulder respectfully bared
and with folded palms stretched out towards the Lord,
burst forth with this heartfelt utterance: -

How good it is,
how very good,
for King Pasenadi of Kosala
that in his realm there is dwelling the Truth-finder,
the arahat all-enlightened!


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