Anguttara Nikaya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
Chakkanipata
VI. Mahā Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Sixes
Chapter VI: The Great Chapter

Sutta 55

Soṇa suttaɱ

Sona

Translated from the Pali by E.M. Hare.

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[1][than] Thus have I heard:

Once, when the Exalted One was dwelling near Rājagaha,,
on Mount Vulture Peak,
the venerable Sona[1] dwelt on Cool Wood[2]
near Rājagaha.

Now the venerable Sona,
in solitude apart,
communed thus in his heart:
'The Exalted one's disciples live in active energy
and I am one of them;
yet my heart is not detached
and free of the cankers.
My family is rich
and I can enjoy riches and do good;
what if I were to forsake the training
and turn to low things,
enjoy riches and do good!'

And the Exalted One,
knowing in his own heart
the venerable Sona's thoughts
— as a strong man might stretch his bent arm
or bend his stretched arm —
left Mount Vulture Peak
and appeared in Cool Wood
before the venerable Sona.

And when his seat was ready,
the Exalted One sat down;
and the venerable Sona,
after saluting,
also sat down — at one side.

And the Exalted One said to him, so seated:

'Sona, did you not thus commune in your heart: [as before]

'Yes, lord.'

'Bethink you, Sona,
were you not, in the old days at home,
clever at the lute's stringed music?'[3]

'Yes, lord.'

'And bethink you, Sona,
when your lute's strings were over-strung,
was your lute then tuneful and playable?'

'No, indeed, lord.'

'And bethink you, Sona,
when your lute's strings were over-lax,
was your lute then tuneful and playable?'

'No, indeed, lord.'

'But when, Sona,
your lute's strings were neither over-strung
nor over-lax,
but keyed to the middle pitch,[4]
was your lute then tuneful and playable?'

'Surely, lord'

'Even so, Sona,
energy, when over-strung,
ends in flurry,
when over-lax,
in idleness.

Wherefore, Sona,
stand fast in the mean[5] of energy;
pierce the mean (in the use) of the faculties;
and therein grasp the real worth.'[6]

'Yes, lord.'

And the Exalted One,
after charging the venerable Sona with this counsel
— as a strong man might bend his arm to and fro —
left Cool Wood
and appeared on Mount Vulture Peak.

And presently[7] the venerable Sona stood fast in the mean of energy;
pierced the mean in the faculties;
and grasped therein the mark;
and living alone, secluded,
earnest, ardent, resolute,
entered and abode, not long after,
here amid things seen,
by his own power,
in the realization of that end above all
of the godly life,
for the sake of which
clansmen rightly go forth
from the home to the homeless life;
and he knew:
'Birth is ended,
the godly life lived,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of this.'

And the venerable Sona
was numbered among the arahants.

Then, having won to arahantship,
the venerable Sona thought:
'Suppose I visit the Exalted One
and declare gnosis[8] near him!'
And he went to the Exalted One,
saluted him, and sat down at one side;
and so seated, he said:

'Lord, the arahant monk
who has destroyed the cankers,
lived the life,
done what was to be done,
set down the burden,
won self-weal,
shattered life's fetter
and is freed by perfect gnosis[9]
has applied himself to six things:
to dispassion,
detachment,
harmlessness,
destroying craving,
destroying grasping
and to non-delusion.

Perhaps, lord, some venerable person may think:
"Could it be that this venerable man
has applied himself to dispassion
relying on mere faith alone?"

Let him not think so.

Lord, the canker-freed monk,
who has lived the life,
done what was to be done,
who sees naught in himself to be done,
naught to be added to what has been done,[10]
— by the fact of being passionless,
has applied himself to dispassion
by destroying passion;
by the fact of being without hatred,
has applied himself to dispassion
by destroying hatred;
by the fact of being without delusion,
has applied himself to dispassion
by destroying delusion.

Or he may think:
"Could it be that this venerable man
has applied himself to detachment
while hankering after gains, favors and flattery ... ;
to harmlessness while backsliding from the true,
holding rule and rite (as sufficient) ... ;
to destroying craving ...;
to destroying grasping ...;
to non-delusion,
holding rule and rite as sufficient?"

Let him not think so.

Lord, the canker-freed monk,
who has lived the life,
done what was to be done,
who sees naught in himself to be done,
naught to be added to what has been done,
by the fact of being without passion, hatred, delusion,
has applied himself to detachment, harmlessness,
destroying craving, destroying grasping,
non-delusion,
by destroying passion, hatred and delusion.

Lord[11], if objects cognizable by the eye
come very strongly into the range of vision
of a monk, wholly freed in mind,
they obsess not his mind
and his mind is untroubled, firm,
having won to composure;
and he marks their set.

So, too, sounds cognizable by the ear ... smells by the nose ... tastes by the tongue . . . contacts by the touch ... and ideas by the mind ..., he marks their set.

Imagine, lord, a mountain crag,
cleftless, chasmless, massive;
and a squall to come very strongly from the east:
it would not shake, nor rock, nor stir that crag.
Or were a squall to come from the west ...
from the north ...
from the south,
it would not shake, nor rock, nor stir it.

Even so, lord,
if objects cognizable by the eye
come very strongly into the range of a monk's vision
— one wholly freed in mind —
they obsess not his mind
and his mind is untroubled, firm,
having won to composure;
and he marks their set;
so, too, of sounds, smells, tastes, touches and ideas ...

Dispassion, mind's detachment, harmlessness,
Grasping's and craving's end, mind undeluded:
Who hath applied himself to these, hath seen
Sensations' rise[12] — his mind is wholly freed;
And in that monk, calmed, wholly freed, naught need
Be added to what's done, naught due is found.
As massive crag by wind is never moved,[13]
So sights, tastes, sounds, smells, touches, yea, the things
Longed for and loathed, stir[14] not a man like that;
His mind stands firm, released; he marks their set."

 


[1] This is Soṇa-Ko'ivisa; See Brethr. 275 ff.; the whole sutta recurs at Vin. i, 179-185, where a fuller version is given; VinA. offers no comment on our part. Our Comy. explains that these thoughts arose owing to his having walked up and down (till his feet bled), without avail.

[2] Sītavana. Comy. says it was a cemetery.

[3] Comy. quots the following:

Satta sarā, tayo gāmā, mucchanā ekavīsati,||
Ṭhānā ekūnapaññāsaŋ, icc'ete sara-maṇḍalaɱ.|| ||

(Seven notes, three scales and one and twenty tones,
Forty-nine stops, — such is the scope of music.)

P.E.D. generally omits these terms, but see Childers s.v. sara, quoting Abhidhāna-ppadīpikā.

[4] Same guṇe patiṭṭhitā.

[5] Vin. and S.e. read viriya-samataŋ with text, but Comy. -samathaŋ, explaining so; but see Vism. 129 (trsl. 150), indriya-samatta-; our Comy. refers to this passage. See note, Brethr. 277.

[6] Nimittaŋ the salient feature in anything. This has nothing to do with the term in later Jhāna technique.

[7] Aparena samayena.

[8] Aññā, but cf. Thag. 632 ff.

[9] Read sammadaññā-vimutto.

[10] Cf. Vin. ii, 74; iii, 158; S. iii, 168; A. iv, 355.

[11] Cf. A. iv, 404, with a different simile.

[12] Āyatan'uppādaŋ. Comy. āyatanānaŋ uppādañ ca vayañ ca, the rise and set.

[13] Cf. Dhp. 81; Th. i, 643 f.; Mil. 386 (quoting).

[14] ppavedhenti, in the simile above, sampavedheyya.


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