Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata 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 121

Cūḷa Suññata Suttaɱ

True Solitude I

 


[104] [214]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in the Old Pleasaunce
in the palace of Migāra's mother,
the reverend Ānanda,
rising towards evening from his meditations,
went to the Lord
and after salutations
took his seat to one side,
saying: -

Once while you were staying among the Sakyans,
in their township of Nagaraka,
I heard with my own ears
from your own lips
your remark that you were then
'living with the Void' a great deal.

Did 1 rightly hear,
receive,
apprehend,
and comprehend your remark, sir?

Yes, quite rightly, Ānanda.

In bygone days as now,
I have lived a great deal with the Void.

Just as this whilom palace
is emptied of elephants,
oxen,
horses
and mares,
is emptied of gold and coins of silver,
and is emptied of its male and female establishment,
and yet,
because of the presence of the Confraternity,
is not an empty solitude; -
just in the same way,
by ignoring ideas of village or of inhabitants,
an Almsman envisages solitude
through the idea of a forest.

To this idea his heart goes forth,
finding therein satisfaction
and a foothold and Deliverance.

He is clear that
the agitation which would attend ideas of a village,
or of people,
is absent in this conception,
but yet there abides some agitation
in the solitude which attends the idea of a forest.

Consequently, he realizes that,
though his conception is emptied
of all ideas of village or inhabitants,
yet non-emptiness still persists
in the conception of solitude
which attends the idea of a forest.

So he discerns emptiness
in what is absent therefrom
and concludes that
[105] peace abides in this residuum.

Thus it is that there arises in him
a true changeless and pure conception of emptiness.

Again, by ignoring ideas
both of people and of forests,
he conceives of solitude
through the idea of earth,
to which idea his heart goes forth,
finding therein satisfaction
and a foothold and Deliverance.

By dismissing all thoughts
of earth's heights and valleys,
of its rivers and rugged ground,
and of its snags and brakes,
and towering mountains,
and by viewing earth
as a bull's hide
with a hundred pegs to stretch out flat
its unmarred and featureless expanse,
he discerns of solitude
through the idea of earth.

To this idea
his heart goes forth,
finding therein satisfaction
and a foothold and Deliverance.

He realizes that,
although he is now quit of the agitation
which attends ideas of people and of forests,
yet in this earth idea
there still survives some distress
in the solitude which accompanies that idea;
for, therein non-emptiness persists.

So he discerns emptiness
in what is absent therefrom,
and concludes that it is in the residuum
that peace abides.

Thus too it is
that there arises in him
a true changeless and pure conception of emptiness.|| ||

(And the same happens to him with the successive ideas of Infinite Space
[106],
of Infinite Mind,
and of [107] Neither-perception-nor-Non-perception.)

Dismissing in turn
all these ideas,
and envisaging solitude
through concentration of heart beyond attributes,
he finds nevertheless
that therein there still survives
some residual agitation,
namely through this body of his
with its senses
[108] as a consequence of being alive;
for therein non-emptiness persists.

So he [216] discovers emptiness
in what is absent therefrom,
and concludes that it is in this residuum
that peace abides.

Thus too it is
that there arises in him
a true changeless and pure conception of emptiness.

Again, still envisaging solitude
through concentration of heart beyond attributes,
he realizes that even this absolute concentration of heart
is but an effect
and a mental product,
and consequently is transient
and has its cessation.

When he knows and sees this,
his heart is delivered from the Cankers of lust,
of continuing existence
and of ignorance.

The knowledge of his Deliverance
comes to him in the thought that
birth is no more,
that he has lived the highest life,
that his task is done,
and that now for him
there is no more of what he has been.

He realizes that,
although he is now quit of the agitation
which attends those three Cankers respectively,
yet there still survives
some residual distress,
namely through this body of his
with its senses as a consequence of being alive;
for, therein non-emptiness persists.

So he discovers emptiness
in what is absent there,
and concludes that it is in this residuum
that peace abides.

Thus too it is
that there arises in him
a true [109] changeless pure and ultimate conception of emptiness.

Yes, Ānanda;
this was the form of pure and ultimate emptiness
that all recluses and brahmins of bygone times
developed and dwelt in;
this will be the pure and ultimate emptiness
that future recluses and brahmins
will develop and dwell in;
and this is the pure and ultimate emptiness
that to-day is developed
by all those recluses and brahmins
who develop and dwell in pure and ultimate emptiness. -

Therefore, Ānanda,
you should train yourselves
to develop and dwell
in pure and ultimate emptiness.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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


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