Anguttara Nikaya


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Anguttara Nikāya
Pañcaka Nipāta
13. Gilāna Vaggo

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Fives

Chapter XIII: The Sick

Sutta 123

Dūpaṭṭhāka-gilāna Suttaɱ

On Helping[1] (a)

Translated by E. M. Hare

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[1] Thus have I heard:

Once the Exalted One dwelt near Sāvatthī;
and there he addressed the monks, saying:

'Monks.'

'Yes, lord,' they replied;
and the Exalted One said:

'Monks, possessing five qualities
a sick man is an ill help to himself.

What five?

He treats not himself with physic;[2]
knows no measure[3] in his treatment;
applies not medicaments;
sets not out the extent of his illness
to one who tends him in goodness of heart,
saying:

"In going
it goes thus,
when it returns
it comes so,
while it is with me
it is just thus";

nor is he the kind of man
who endures the onset of bodily aches and pains,
racking,
shooting,
stabbing,
bitter,
galling,
life-taking.[4]

Monks, possessing these five qualities a sick man is an ill help to himself.'

 


 

'Monks, possessing five qualities
a sick man is a help to himself.

What five?

He treats himself with physic;
knows measure in his treatment;
applies medicaments;
sets out the extent of his illness
to one who tends him in goodness of heart,
saying:

"In going
it goes thus,
when it returns
it comes so,
while it is with me
it is just thus";

and he is the kind of man
who endures the onset of bodily aches and pains,
racking,
shooting,
stabbing,
bitter,
galling,
life-taking.

Monks, possessing these five qualities
a sick man is a help to himself.'

 


[1] Uddānaɱ has dve paṭṭhānā; these two suttas recur at Vin. i, 302-3, but the 'five' are called aŋgā, for our dhammā.

Physic: Medical treatment, fig. a healthy practice or habit; a mental, moral, or spiritual remedy.
Simple. B.3. Originallly a medicine made from only one constituent, esp. from one plant.
—O.E.D. Shorter

What was considered medicine for the bhikkhus at the time was warm water, cow urine (amonia), honey and clarified butter. It is likely that any plant known to have medicinal properties would not have been allowed as its use would require injury of the plant. An exception could have been made for a medicine prepared from materials not harvested specifically for the bhikkhu.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] Sappāya, what makes for good; Cf. Mil. 215, trsl. tonic; P.E.D. drug (? simple).

[3] Sappāya mattaɱ; Cf. D. i, 205, where Ānanda cannot pay a visit owing to bhesajja-mattā pītā.

[4] Cf. below V, Ī 140 and references there.


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