Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttaranikāyo
Catukkanipāto
XI: Valāhaka Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Fours Chapter XI: Rain-Cloud

Sutta 103

Kumbha Suttaɱ

The Pot[1]

Translated from the Pali by F. L. Woodward, M.A.

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[1] Thus have I heard:

On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's Park.

Then the Exalted One addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Yes, lord," replied those monks to the Exalted ONe.

The Exalted One said this:

"Monks, there are these four pots.

What four?

The closed and empty,
the open and full,
the open and empty,
the closed and full.

In like manner, monks, there are these four persons resembling pots to be found existing in the world.

What four?[ed1]

The closed and empty,
the open and full,
the open and empty,
the closed and full.

Now, monks, how is a person closed and empty?

In this case the mien[2] of a certain person
is charming,
whether he be departing or approaching,
looking forward or backward,
bending or unbending (his arm),
or bearing outer robe,
bowl
and (ordinary) robe.

Yet he understands not,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is Ill.'

He understands not,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the arising of Ill.'

He understands not,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the ending of Ill.'

He understands not,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the practice going to the ending of Ill.'

Thus, monks, a person
is closed and empty.

As is that pot which is closed and empty,
even so using this figure
do I speak of this person.

And how, monks, is a person
open and full? [112]

In this case the mien of a certain person is not charming,
whether he be departing or approaching,
looking forward or backward,
bending or unbending (his arm),
or bearing outer robe,
bowl
and (ordinary) robe.

Yet he does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the arising of Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the ending of Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the practice going to the ending of Ill.'

Thus a person is open and full.

As is that pot which is open and full,
even so using this figure
do I speak of this person.

And how, monks, is a person open and empty? In this case the mien of a certain person is not charming,
whether he be departing or approaching,
looking forward or backward,
bending or unbending (his arm),
or bearing outer robe,
bowl
and (ordinary) robe.

And he does not understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is Ill.'

He does not understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the arising of Ill.'

He does not understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the ending of Ill.'

He does not understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the practice going to the ending of Ill.'

Thus is a person open and empty.

As is that pot which is open and empty,
even so using this figure
do I speak of this person.

And how, monks, is a person closed and full?

In this case the mien of a certain person is charming,
whether he be departing or approaching,
looking forward or backward,
bending or unbending (his arm),
or bearing outer robe,
bowl
and (ordinary) robe.

And he does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the arising of Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the ending of Ill.'

He does understand,
as it really is,
the meaning of:

'This is the practice going to the ending of Ill.'

Thus, monks, is a person closed and full.

Just as that pot is closed and full,
even so using this figure
do I speak of this person.

So these, monks, are the four persons found existing in the world.'

 


[1] Cf. Pugg. 44, 45.

[2] Cf. infra, Ī 122.

 


[ed1] I have chosen to change the order in the headings from first full, second covered, to first covered and second full (using Woodwards terms 'closed' and 'open', 'full' and 'empty').
The Pali has:
Tuccho pihito,||
pūro vivaṭo,||
tuccho vivaṭo,||
pūro pihito.|| ||

empty and covered
full and uncovered
empty and uncovered
full and covered,
which is followed by Woodward and Bhk. Bodhi.
In the first case the person is charming but has no knowledge,
in the second case he is not charming but has knowledge,
in the third case he has neither charm nor knowledge
and in the fourth case he has both charm and knowledge.
But the two good qualities are (according to the order of the details as we find them in the Pali): 'full' of water which stands for charming comportment; and 'covered' which stands for comprehension of the Four Truths.
In the case of water-pots, 'empty' and 'uncovered' are not good things.
So following the details as they are presented, the order should have been:
Pūro vivaṭo,||
tuccho pihito,||
tuccho vivaṭo,||
puro pihito,
||
full and uncovered,
empty and covered,
empty and uncovered,
and full and covered.
If we take it that the headings as they are found are correct and the details have been reversed, we would have comportment standing for 'covered' and knowledge standing for 'full'. This would more closely parallel the thinking in the previous two suttas where 'thunder' stands for speech in the one case and superficial book knowledge in the second, and rain (which, do I need to point out? is water) stands for understanding. This would also better satisfy the mind as indicating that 'full' points to the more significant aspect and 'covered' to the more superficial aspect.
But there is a further complication: The pattern in the previous suttas is that the first person's first quality is a positive one. The second person has the deeper quality but lacks the quality of lesser importance. And considering that, we cannot put understanding of the Four Truths in the place of the second place.
One way or the other the Pali is incorrect and Woodward and Bhk. Bodhi follow and to make the sutta make sense either the headings need to change or the order of the details needs to change. What to do? I have chosen to change the order in the headings:
Pihito tuccho,||
vivaṭo pūro,||
vivaṭo tuccho,||
pihito pūro.|| ||

covered and empty
uncovered and full
uncovered and empty
covered and full,
This allows the details to remain in their current order and puts The Four Truths in the position given most respect.


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