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

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 125

Danta-Bhūmi Suttaɱ



[128] [229]

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

Once while the Lord was staying at Rājagaha
in the Bamboo grove
where the squirrels were fed,
there was living in the Forest Hut there
the novice Aciravata, -
to whom in the course of a stroll
came Prince Jayasena.

Sitting down after greetings,
the prince observed that he had heard
that, in this faith,
an Almsman whose life was strenuous ardent and purged of self
could find peace for his heart.

Quite right prince,
quite right;
that is what he does find here.

Would the reverend Aggivessana be so good
as to teach me the Doctrine
as he has heard it preached
and as he has learned it?

No, prince, I cannot.

Were I to teach you,
you would not understand the meaning of what I said;
and that would be a trouble
and an annoyance for me.

[129] I hope you will teach it me;
I may prove capable of understanding
what your reverence says.

Very good, I will teach it you.

If you understand it,
so well and good.

If you do not understand it,
remain as you are
and ask me no further questions.

So be it then, said the prince.

[230] Thereupon Aciravata taught the Doctrine
as he had heard it preached
and as he had learned it; -
but at the close of his exposition
Prince Jayasena said it was impossible
and inconceivable
that an Almsman whose life was strenuous ardent and purged of self
could find peace for his heart in the faith;
and with this protestation
he rose and withdrew.

Not long after the prince had gone,
Aciravata went to the Lord
to whom, after seating himself after salutations,
he related the talk he had had with Jayasena.

Said the Lord:

Where was the good of that?

It is wholly impossible for Prince Jayasena -
who lives in the lap of enjoyment and pleasure,
who is devoured by thoughts of pleasure,
consumed by the fevers of pleasure
and is all eagerness [130] in pursuit of pleasure -
to know or see or realize
what is to be known by renouncing worldliness,
and what is to be seen and attained thereby.

It is just like two young elephants or colts or steers
who have been schooled and trained,
and another pair who have not been schooled or trained.

Would the pair that have been schooled and trained aright,
thereby accomplish their schooling
and thereby be trained to perfection?

And would the other untrained pair do the same?

No, sir.

It is just the same here.

It is wholly impossible for Prince Jayasena ... and attained thereby.

It is just like a great mountain
hard by a village or township
to which come two friends
hand in hand together,
of whom the first climbs to the top
while the other,
still standing at the bottom,
asks the first what he can see up there.

The first says he can see from the top
delightful pleasaunces and groves,
delightful country and lakes.

But his friend at the bottom
says it is impossible [131] and inconceivable he can do so.

Hereupon the climber
comes down to the bottom
and, taking his friend up by the arm to the top,
first lets him recover his wind
and then asks him what he can see from the summit.

The answer is that he [132] can see delightful pleasaunces and groves,
delightful country and lakes,
and that, whereas he had begun by saying it was impossible and inconceivable,
he now knew it was all as reported, -
though the great mountain had blocked his view
of what could be seen.

Just in the same way, Aggivessana,
Prince Jayasena is blocked,
cribbed and cabined
by a mass of ignorance.

It is wholly impossible for Prince Jayasena ... and attained thereby.

If, Aggivessana, these two comparisons of the prince had occurred to you,
he would have been converted straightaway
and, being converted,
would have acted accordingly.

How, sir, could these two comparisons occur to me,
as they have to the Lord,
seeing that they are spontaneous
and have never before been heard by man?

[132] It is just like a Noble anointed King,
who tells his elephant-catcher
to mount the royal elephant
and go into the elephant-forests
and there find a wild elephant
which he is to tie up to the neck of the royal elephant;
and the elephant-catcher does as he is ordered
and in the result
the royal elephant brings the wild one
out of the forest into the open;
into the open he has been brought thus far;
but still that wild elephant pines for one thing, -
the elephant-forest.

Then the elephant-catcher informs the monarch
that a wild elephant has been brought in from the forest;
and now his majesty orders his elephant-trainer to tame it, -
subduing all wild ways,
all wild tendencies to bolt away,
and all wild feverishness of distress and fretfulness,
making him feel at home in the village,
and used him to human ways.

Obedient to the King's command,
the trainer proceeds so to tame that wild elephant,
first tying it fast by the neck
to a massive post planted deep in the ground,
with a view both to subduing all wild ways,
all wild tendencies to bolt away
and all wild feverishness of distress and fretfulness
and also to making the elephant
feel quite at home in the village
and used to human ways.

Towards his charge
the trainer addresses words that are without [232] gall,
and welcome to all;
and the elephant,
[133] thus addressed,
hearkens and gives ear
and seeks to learn.

Next, the trainer offers him grass fodder and water;
and, as soon as the elephant takes it,
the trainer is satisfied it will live;
and he proceeds to teach it
to take up and put down.

When the elephant acts as it is told
and obeys the orders to take up and put down,
then he goes on to teach it,
at the proper word of command,
to advance or retire
and to stand up and sit down.

When this has been learned,
the trainer proceeds to teach the elephant
to stand his ground,
as it is called.

On to the great beast's trunk he ties a shield;
a man with a lance in his hand is seated on its neck;
all round stand men with lances in their hands,
while the trainer stands in front
with a very long-shafted spear.

When the elephant is standing his ground,
he never moves his front feet or his hind feet,
his forequarters or his hindquarters,
his head or his ears,
his tusks or his tail or his trunk.

It becomes the King's own elephant,
undismayed by stroke of javelin or sword or arrow or opposing foemen,
undismayed by sound of tom-tom or kettle-drum or conch or drum or music,
(like) gold purified and cleansed from all dross and impurity, -
an elephant for a king to ride,
a pride to his royal master,
and is styled part and parcel of the King.

[134] Just in the same way, Aggivessana,
there comes into the world here a Truth-finder,
arahat allenlightened,
walking by knowledge,
understanding all worlds,
the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of gods and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment.

This world - with its gods and Māras and Brahmās,
with its recluses and brahmins,
with its gods and men -
all this he has discerned and realised for himself
and reveals to others.

He preaches the Doctrine -
that is so fair at its outset,
in the middle and in its close -
with its text and its meaning;
he announces a higher life
that is wholly complete and pure.

This Doctrine is heard by a householder
or his son
or by one of lowly birth,
who, hearing, believes in [233] the Truth-finder,
and, believing, bethinks him that -
'A hole and corner life
is all that a home can give,
whereas the Pilgrim is free as the air of heaven.

It is hard for the home-keeping man
to follow the higher life
in all its completeness and purity and perfection.

Come, let me cut off hair and beard,
don the yellow robes
and go forth from home to homelessness.'

Thereafter, parting from his substance,
be it small or great,
parting too from his kith and kin,
be they few or many,
he cuts off hair and beard,
dons the yellow robes
and goes forth from home to homelessness.

Into the open
the disciple of the Noble One
has been brought thus far;
but still gods and men pine for one thing, -
pleasures of sense.

The Truth-finder proceeds with his training, saying: -

Come, Almsman; let your life be virtuous
and controlled by the canon law;
let your life be curbed
by the curb of the canon law;
keep to the plane of right behaviour;
observe scrupulously the precepts of Conduct,
seeing danger in small offendings.

When he has accomplished this,
the Truth-finder proceeds further with his training,
bidding him guard the portals of sense
and not be carried away
when his eye sees a thing,
either by its general presentment
... (etc. as in Sutta No. 107) ...
[135-136] purged his heart of all misgivings.

When he has put from him these five Hindrances
and has understood how the heart's shortcomings weaken it,
then he dwells ardent,
alive to everything,
and quit of all worldly wants and discontent,
contemplating the body as an aggregation,
feelings as aggregations,
the heart as an aggregation,
and mental objects as aggregations.

Just as the trainer ties his elephant fast by the neck
to a massive post planted deep in the ground
with a view to subduing all its wild ways
and to making the animal feel quite at home in the village
and used to human ways, -
just in the same way
the fourfold mustering of mindfulness
serves to tie fast the heart of the disciple of the Noble One,
both for the subduing of worldly conduct,
worldly thoughts,
and worldly distress
[234] fevershness and fretfulness
and also for the attainment of Knowledge
and the realization of Nirvana.

Then the Truth-finder proceeds further with the training, saying: -

Come, Almsman, contemplate the body
but entertain no thought
which the body accompanies;
contemplate the heart
but entertain no thought which the heart accompanies;
contemplate mental objects
but entertain no thought which mental objects accompany.

By laying to rest observation and reflection,
the Almsman develops,
and dwells in,
inward serenity,
in focussing of heart,
in the joy of the Second Ecstasy
which is divorced from observation and reflection
and is bred of concentration, -
passing thence to the Third and Fourth Ecstasies.

With heart thus stedfast,
thus clarified and purified,
clean and cleansed of things impure,
tempered and apt to serve,
stablished and immutable, -
it is thus that he applies his heart
to the knowledge which recalls his former existences.

He calls to mind his divers existences in the past, - a single birth,
then two,
and ... [so on,
to] ... a hundred thousand births,
many an a:on of disintegration of the world,
many an eeon of its redintegration,
and again many an son both of its disintegration and of its redintegration. In this or that existence,
he remembers,
such and such was his name,
and caste,
the fare lived on,
the pleasure and pain he had in each,
and his term of life in each.

When he passed thence,
he came to such and such a new existence,
and there such and such was his name and so forth.

Passing thence, he came to life here.

In such wise does he call to mind his divers existences in the past in all their details and features.

The same stedfast mind
he now applies to the Knowledge of the passage hence
and re-appearance elsewhere
of other creatures.

With the Eye Celestial
that is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
he sees creatures in act to pass hence,
in act to re-appear elsewhere, -
creatures either lowly or debonair,
fair or foul to view,
happy or unhappy;
and he is aware that they fare according to their past.

Here are creatures given to evil
in act word and [235] thought,
who decried the Noble Ones,
held false views
and became what flows from such false views;
these at the body's dissolution after death
appear in states of suffering misery tribulation,
and in purgatory.

Here again are creatures given to good
in act word and thought,
who did not decry the Noble Ones,
who had a right outlook
and became what flows from such a right outlook; -
these at the body's dissolution after death
appear in states of bliss in heaven.

That same stedfast heart
he next applies to the knowledge
of the eradication of the Cankers.

Causally and utterly he comes to know Ill,
the origin of Ill,
the cessation of Ill,
and the course that leads to the cessation of Ill;
causally and utterly he comes to know
what the Cankers are, -
their origin,
their cessation,
and the course that leads to their cessation.

When he knows and sees this,
then his heart is delivered from the Canker of lusts,
from the Canker of continuing existence
and from the Canker of ignorance;
and to him thus delivered
comes the knowledge of his Deliverance
in the conviction -

Re-birth is no more;
I have lived the highest life;
my task is done;
and now for me there is no more of what I have been.

Such an Almsman endures cold and heat,
hunger and thirst,
scorching winds,
contact with creeping things,
abusive and hurtful language;
[137] he has grown to bear all bodily feelings that are painful,
or deadly.

Purged of all the dross and alloy
of passion wrath and folly,
he is worthy of oblations,
gifts and homage,
and is the richest field
in which to sow the seed of merit.

If, Aggivessana,
the King's elephant dies untamed and untrained,
whether in its old-age or in middle-age or in youth,
it is said to have died untamed;
and similarly,
if the Cankers are not extinct
in an Almsman old or young,
he at death is said to have died untamed.

But if the King's elephant,
be it old or be it young,
dies tamed and trained,
it is said to have died tamed;
and similarly,
be he old or be he young,
the Almsman in [236] whom the Cankers are extinct,
is said at death to have died tamed.

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

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