Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
1. Devadaha 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 105

Sunakkhatta Suttaɱ

Leechcraft

 


[252] [145]

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

Once when the Lord was staying in Vesālī,
in the Hall of many Storeys,
a host of Almsmen in the Lord's presence
declared their progress in the words: -

Rebirth is no more;
we have lived the highest life;
our task is done;
for us there is now no more of what we have been.

This came to the ears of Sunakkhatta the Licchavi,
who came to the Lord
and after salutations
sat down to one side,
saying he had heard of these numerous Almsmen's declaration of progress,
and asking the Lord whether they had really won all they professed
or whether some of the Almsmen were extravagant in their professions.

Some of them have really won what they profess,
whilst others are extravagant in their professions.

As regards the latter,
the Truth-finder decides to instruct them in the Doctrine
and deals with them accordingly,
- as, moreover, he does with foolish persons
who frame questions
with which [253] they trouble him.

Now is the time for that. Lord;
now is the time for that, Blessed One.

The lesson the Lord teaches
will be listened to
and treasured up in the Almsmen's memories.

Then listen and pay attention, Sunakkhatta;
and I will speak.

Yes, sir,
said Sunakkhatta the Licchavi,
to whom the Lord thus began: -

Five strands make up pleasures of sense, -
visible shapes to be discerned by the eye,
sounds to be discerned by the ear,
odours to be discerned by the nostrils,
tastes to be discerned by the tongue,
and touch to be discerned by the body at large, -
all of them delightful pleasant agreeable and attractive,
all of them pleasurable and fraught with lusts.

It may be that an individual's heart
is set on material things.

[146] As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices in him.

When talk turns on Permanence,
he does not listen or give ear,
nor yearn to learn about it,
nor does he look up to
or rejoice in the man who does.

It is just as if a man
long absent from his village or township
were to meet another
just come from there
and were by enquiry of him
to be assured that the place was going on well
with plenty of food and little sickness about.

[254] What think you, Sunakkhatta?

Would the man listen
and give ear
and yearn to learn?

Would he look up to
and rejoice in the other?

Yes, sir.

Even so, an individual's heart
may be set on worldly things.

As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices in him.

When talk turns on Permanence,
he does not listen or give ear,
nor yearn to learn about it,
nor does he look up to
or rejoice in the man who does.

He is to be known as a worldling.

It may be that an individual's heart
is set on Permanence.

As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices in him.

When talk turns on worldly things,
he does not listen or give ear,
nor yearn to learn about them,
nor does he look up to
and rejoice in the man who does.

Just as a sere and yellow leaf
loosed from its stalk
can never be green again,
even so is one whose heart
is set on Permanence
and who is loosed from the pursuit of worldly things.

He is to be known
as the man from worldly bondage free,
whose heart is set on Permanence.

It may be that an individual's heart
is set on the Realm of Naught.

As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices [255] in him.

When talk turns on Permanence,
he does not listen or give ear,
nor does he yearn to learn about it,
nor does he look up to
and rejoice in the man who does.

Just as a rock
that is broken in twain
can never be put together again,
even so is it with the man
who has broken the bonds of Permanence,
and cleaves to the [147] Realm of Naught.

He is to be known
as the man from Permanence free,
whose heart is set on the Realm of Naught.

It may be that an individual's heart
is set on Neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices in him.

When talk turns on the Realm of Naught,
he does not listen or give ear,
nor does he yearn to learn about it,
nor does he look up to
and rejoice in the man who does.

It is like a man who,
after a dainty meal,
throws away the scraps.

Think you he would long to return thereto?

No, sir,
because it is thought nasty.

Just in the same way
the man whose heart is set on Neither-perception-nor-non-perception
has thrown away the bonds
of the Realm of Naught
and is to be known as the man free from the Realm of Naught,
whose heart is set on Neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

It may be that an individual's heart
is set on supreme Nirvana.

As he is,
so is his conversation;
to this pattern
his thoughts and ideas conform;
he looks up to a kindred soul
and rejoices in him.

When talk turns on Neither-perception-nor-non perception,
[256] he does not listen or give ear,
nor does he yearn to learn about it,
nor does he look up to
and rejoice in the man who does.

As a palm-tree with its crown lopped off
which can never grow again,
so is the man whose heart is set on supreme Nirvana
and who has lopped off the bonds
of Neither-per-ception-nor-non-perception, -
a thing without roots,
a bare site,
a thing tnat once has been
and now can be no more.

He is to be known
as the man free from Neither-perception-nor-non-perception,
whose heart is set on supreme Nirvana.

It may be that an individual reflects that: -

The Recluse has said
that Craving is an arrow,
and that the virus of ignorance
racks a man with lustful desires and spite.

For me Craving's arrows are no more;
the [148] virus of ignorance is gone;
my heart is set on supreme Nirvana!

If he is thus puffed up
with his achievements,
he will take to what is not good
for one whose heart is set on supreme Nirvana; -
he will take to sights and sounds,
odours and tastes,
things of touch
and mental objects which are not good for him;
and in the end
passion will debase his heart
and his debasement of heart
will bring him either to death
or to deadly woe.

It is just like a man
wounded by an arrow
thickly smeared with poison,
to whom his friends and kinsfolk bring a leech
versed in arrow-wounds;
and the leech opens up the orifice of the wound,
probes it,
[257] extracts the barb,
and, in the mistaken belief
that there is nothing poisonous left behind -
though there is, -
tells his patient that he has got the barb out
and that there is nothing poisonous left behind.

But you are not out of danger,
he adds;
so diet yourself properly
and do not inflame the wound with improper food.

Bathe and dress the wound
from time to time,
and by doing so
prevent the old blood from caking over the orifice.

Don't be out in the wind and sun
so as to let the dust and dirt get in,
but tend your wound with care
so as to get it healed up.

Says the patient to himself: -

The barb is out
and there is nothing poisonous left behind,
and I am in no danger.

So he sets to work
to diet himself improperly,
with the result that his wound is inflamed;
he does not bathe or dress his wound
from time to time,
with the result
that the old blood cakes round the orifice;
he is out and about in wind and sun,
with the result that the dust and dirt get in;
nor does he nurse and tend his wound
to heal it up.

The joint consequence
of improper diet
and of the noisome effects of the poison left behind,
is to make his wound swell up
and bring him to death or deadly woe.

Precisely in the same way
an Almsman may reflect that: -

The Recluse has said
that Craving is an arrow
and that the virus of ignorance
racks a man with lustful desires and spite.

For me Craving's arrows are no more;
the virus of ignorance is gone;
my heart is set on supreme Nirvana!

If he is thus puffed up
with his achievements,
he will take to what is not good
for one whose heart is set on supreme Nirvana; -
he will take to sights and sounds,
odours and tastes,
things of touch
and mental objects which are not good for him;
and in the end
passion will debase his heart
and his debasement of heart
will bring him either to death
or to deadly woe.

For death [258] it is, Sunakkhatta,
in the Rule [149] of the Noble One,
if an Almsman abandons his vocation
and reverts to the lower state (of the laity);
deadly woe it is
if an Almsman is guilty of depravity.

Or an Almsman may reflect that: -

The Recluse has said
that Craving is an arrow
and that the poisonous effects of ignorance
rack a man with lustful desires and spite.

For me Craving's arrows are no more;
the poisonous effects of ignorance are gone;
and my heart is set on supreme Nirvana!

With his heart thus set on Nirvana,
he eschews what is not good
for one whose heart is so set; -
he eschews sights and sounds,
odours and tastes,
things of touch and mental objects
which are not good for him;
and in the end [259] passion will fail to debase his heart
and there is no debasement of heart
to bring him either to death or deadly woe.

It is just like a man
wounded by an arrow
thickly smeared with poison,
to whom his friends and kinsfolk bring a leech
versed in arrow-wounds;
and the leech opens up the orifice of the wound,
probes it,
extracts the barb,
and, knowing there is nothing poisonous left behind,
tells his patient that he has got the barb out
and that there is nothing poisonous left behind.

You are in no danger, he adds;
but diet yourself properly
and do not inflame the wound
with improper food.

Bathe and dress the wound
from time to time,
and by doing so
prevent the old blood from caking over the orifice.

Don't be out in the wind and sun
so as to let the dust and dirt get in,
but nurse and tend your wound with care.

Says this patient to himself: -
The barb is out;
there is nothing poisonous left behind;
and I am in no danger.

Nevertheless, he restricts himself to a diet
that is good for him,
and his wound does not get inflamed;
he bathes and dresses his wound
and carries out all the several directions of the leech, -
with the joint consequence
of careful diet
and of no poison being left behind,
that, with the closing up and healing of his wound,
he neither dies nor comes to deadly woe.

Precisely in the same way
an Almsman may reflect that:

The Recluse has said
that Craving is an arrow
[260] and that the virus of ignorance
rack a man with lustful desires and spite.

For me Craving's arrows are no more;
the poisonous effects of ignorance are gone;
and my heart is set on supreme Nirvana!

With his heart thus set on Nirvana,
he eschews what is not good
for one whose heart is so set; -
he eschews sights and sounds,
odours and tastes,
things of touch and mental objects
which are not good for him;
and in the end passion will fail to debase his heart
and [150] there is no debasement of heart
to bring him either to death or deadly woe.

I have used this illustration
to explain what I mean, Sunakkhatta;
and my meaning is this: -

The wound signifies the six sense-organs within;
ignorance is the poison;
Craving is the arrow;
the probe is mindfulness;
the surgeon's knife is Noble Understanding;
the leech is the Truth-finder,
arahat all-enlightened.

An Almsman who is in such full control of his six sense-organs
as to see in attachments the root of Ill,
and therefore to detach himself
and to find Deliverance in eradicating attachments, -
such an Almsman cannot possibly
either surrender his body
or devote his thought
to attachments.

Suppose there were a goblet,
fragrant and fair to view,
which was charged with poison;
and suppose there came along a man
fond of life and anxious to avoid death,
fond of pleasure and averse from pain; -
do you think he would drink of the goblet
if he knew it would bring him,
should he drink of it,
to death or deadly woe?

No, sir.

[261] Just in the same way, Sunakkhatta,
an Almsman who is in such full control of his six sense-organs
as to see in attachments the root of Ill,
and therefore to detach himself
and to find Deliverance in eradicating attachments, -
such an Almsman cannot possibly
either surrender his body
or devote his thought
to attachments.

Suppose there were a venomous viper,
and suppose there came a man
fond of life and anxious to avoid death,
fond of pleasure and averse from pain;
do you think he would
with hand or toe
touch the viper
which he knew would bring him,
if it bit him,
to death or deadly woe?

No, sir.

Precisely in the same way,
if an Almsman is in such full control of his six sense-organs
as to see in attachments the root of Ill,
and therefore to detach himself
and to find Deliverance in eradicating attachments, -
such an Almsman cannot possibly
either surrender his body
or devote his thought
to attachments.

Thus spoke the Lord.|| ||

Glad at heart,
Sunakkhatta the Licchavi rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


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