Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
1. Mūlapariyāya Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
I. The First Fifty Discourses
1. The Division of the Synopsis of Fundamentals

Sutta 2

Sabbāsava Suttaɱ

Discourse on All the Cankers

Translated from the Pali by I.B. Horner, M.A.
Associate of Newham College, Cambridge
First Published in 1954

Copyright The Pali Text Society
Commercial Rights Reserved
Creative Commons Licence
For details see Terms of Use.

 


 

[1][rhyt][chlm][ntbb][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery.

While he was there the Lord addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Revered One," these monks answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus:

"I will discourse to you, monks, on the means[1] of controlling all the cankers.[2]

Listen and attend carefully,
and I will speak."

"Yes, Lord," these monks answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus:

Jānato and passato. This means Gotama is speaking about Streamwinners and above. Why the distinction? He explains, contrasting the way the commoner sees things to the way the Aristocrat sees things. See n.4

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] "I, monks, am speaking of the destruction of the cankers in one who knows,
in one who sees,
not in one who does not know,
does not see.

And what, monks, is the destruction of the cankers
in one who knows,
in one who sees?

The translation of yoniso manasikāraɱ, as 'wise-attention' is unjustified by the word and causes the awkward case of the commoner 'wisely-attending' to what the wise would not attend and other awkward constructions. Sikāra, being 'to study' would point to a better translation as 'studious'. Bhk. Thanissaro: appropriate attention; Bhk. Ñamoli: wise attention and unwise attention.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

There is wise attention[3]
and unwise attention.

Monks, from unwise attention cankers arise that had not arisen,
and also cankers that have arisen increase.

But, monks, from wise attention
cankers that had not arisen do not arise,
and also cankers that have arisen decline.

There are, monks,
cankers that should be got rid of by vision,[4]
there are cankers that should be got rid of by control,
there are cankers that should be got rid of by use,
there are cankers that should be got rid of by endurance,
there are cankers that should be got rid of by avoidance,
there are cankers that should be got rid of by elimination,
there are cankers that should be got rid of by development.[5]

 


 

[5][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by vision?

Herein, monks, an uninstructed ordinary person,[6]
taking no count of the pure ones,
unskilled in the dhamma of the pure ones,
untrained in the dhamma of the pure ones;
taking no count of the true men,
unskilled in the dhamma of the true men,
untrained in the dhamma of the true men,
does not comprehend the things which should be wisely attended to,
does not comprehend the things which should not be wisely attended to.

He, not comprehending the things that should be wisely attended to,
not comprehending the things that should not be wisely attended to,
wisely attends to those things which should not be wisely attended to,
does not wisely attend to those things which should be wisely attended to.

And what, monks, are the things that should not be wisely attended to,
but to which he wisely attends?

From his wisely attending to these things, monks,
the canker of sense-pleasure arises
which had not arisen before
or the canker of sense-pleasure, arisen, increases;
or the canker of becoming arises
which had not arisen before
or the canker of becoming, arisen, increases;
or the canker of ignorance[7] arises which had not arisen before
or the canker of ignorance, arisen, increases.

These are the things to which he wisely attends
but which should not be wisely attended to.

And what, monks, are the things that should be wisely attended to,
but to which he does not wisely attend?

From his wisely attending to these things, monks,
either the canker of sense-pleasure which had not arisen does not arise,
or if the canker of sense-pleasure has arisen it declines;
or if the canker of becoming has not arisen it does not arise,
or if the canker of becoming has arisen it declines;
or if the canker of ignorance has not arisen it does not arise,
or if the canker of ignorance has arisen it declines.

These are things that should be wisely attended to, but to which he does not wisely attend.

If he wisely attends to things which should not be wisely attended to,
if he does not wisely attend to things which should be wisely attended to,
cankers arise which had not arisen before
and also the cankers, arisen, increase.

In these ways he is not wisely attending:
if he thinks,
'Now, was I in a past period?[8]
Now, was I not in a past period?
Now, what was I in a past period?
Now, how was I[9] in a past period?
Now, having been what, what did I become in a past period?
Now, will I come to be in a future period?
Now, will I not come to be in a future period?
Now, what will I come to be in a future period?
Now, how will I come to be in a future period?
Having become what, what will I come to be in a future period?'

Or, if he is now subjectively[10] doubtful about the present period, and thinks:
'Now, am I?
Now, am I not?
Now, what am I?
Now, how am I?
Now, whence has this being come?
Where-going will it come to be?'

To one who does not pay wise attention in these ways,
one of six (wrong) views arises:

'There is for me a self'[11] -
the view arises to him as though it were true,
as though it were real.[12]

Or, 'There is not for me a self.'[13] - the view arises to him as though it were true, as though it were real.

Or, 'Simply by self am I aware of self.' - the view arises to him as though it were true, as though it were real.

Or, 'Simply by self am I aware of not-self.' - the view arises to him as though it were true, as though it were real.

Or, 'Simply by not-self am I aware of self' - the view arises to him as though it were true, as though it were real.

Or a wrong view occurs to him thus:
'Whatever is this self for me that speaks,
that experiences and knows,[14] that experiences now here,
now there,
the fruition of deeds
that are lovely and that are depraved,[15]
it is this self for me that is permanent,
stable,
eternal,
not subject to change,
that will stand firm like unto the eternal.'[16]

This, monks, is called going to wrong views,[17]
holding wrong views,
the wilds of wrong views,
the wriggling of wrong views,
the scuffling of wrong views,
the fetter of wrong views.

Fettered with the fetter of wrong views, monks,
the uninstrueted ordinary person is not set free from birth,
from old age and dying,
from griefs,
from sorrows,
from ills,
from tribulations,
from miseries,
he is not set free from anguish, I say.

But the instructed disciple of the pure ones
who takes count of the pure ones,
who is skilled in the dhamma of the pure ones,
well trained in the dhamma of the pure ones,
who takes count of the true men,
who is skilled in the dhamma of the true men,
well trained in the dhamma of the true men -
he comprehends the things that should be wisely attended to,
he comprehends the things that should not be wisely attended to;
he, comprehending the things that should be wisely attended to,
comprehending the things that should not be wisely attended to,
does not wisely attend to those things which should not be wisely attended to,
he wisely attends to those things which should be wisely attended to.

And which, monks, are those things which he does not wisely attend to
because they should not be wisely attended to?

Those things, monks,
by wisely attending to which
there arises the canker of sense-pleasure
which had not arisen before,
or the canker of sense-pleasure which,
arisen before,
increases.

Or there arises the canker of becoming
which had not arisen before,
or the canker of becoming which,
arisen before,
increases.

Or there arises the canker of ignorance
which had not arisen before,
or the canker of ignorance which,
arisen before,
increases.

These are the things to which he does not wisely attend
because they should not be wisely attended to.

And which, monks, are the things
to which he wisely attends
because they should be wisely attended to?

Those things, monks,
by wisely attending to which
there does not arise the canker of sense-pleasure
which had not arisen before
or the canker of sense-pleasure which,
arisen before,
declines;

those things, monks,
by wisely attending to which
there does not arise the canker of becoming
which had not arisen before
or the canker of becoming which,
arisen before,
declines;

those things, monks,
by wisely attending to which
there does not arise the canker of ignorance
which had not arisen before
or the canker of ignorance which,
arisen before,
declines.

These are the things to which he wisely attends
because they should be wisely attended to.

If he is one who does not wisely attend
to things that should not be wisely attended to,
if he is one who wisely attends
to things that should be wisely attended to,
both the cankers which have not arisen do not arise,
and the cankers which have arisen decline.

He, thinking:
'This is anguish,'
wisely attends.

He, thinking:
'This is the origin of anguish,'
wisely attends.

He, thinking:
'This is the stopping of anguish,'
wisely attends.

He, thinking:
'This is the course leading to the stopping of anguish,'
wisely attends.

This has just described the path to Stream Entry.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Because he wisely attends thus,
the three fetters decline:
wrong view as to one's own body,[18]
doubt,
adherence to (wrongful) rites and ceremonies.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by vision.

 


 

[12][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by control?[19]

In this teaching,[20] monks, a monk,
wisely reflective,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the eye,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the ear,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the nose,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the tongue,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the body,
lives controlled with control over the sense-organ of the mind.

Whereas, monks, if he lived uncontrolled
in regard to control over these sense-organs,
cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise.

But if he lives controlled
with control over these organs,
then the cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by control.

 


 

[13][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by use?

In this teaching, monks, a monk,[21]
wisely reflective,
uses a robe simply for warding off the cold,
for warding off the heat,
for warding off the touch of gadfly,
mosquito,
wind and sun,
creeping things,
simply for the sake of covering his nakedness.

Wisely reflective,
he uses almsfood not for sport,[22]
not for indulgence,
not for personal charm,
not for beautification,
but just enough for the support
and sustenance of the body,
for keeping it unharmed,[23]
for furthering the Brahma-faring,[24] thinking:
'Thus do I crush out former feeling
and do not set going new feeling;
and there will be for me
faultlessness and living in comfort.'

Wisely reflective,
he uses lodgings only for warding off the cold,
for warding off the heat,
for warding off the touch of gadfly,
mosquito,
wind,
sun
and creeping things,
only for dispelling the dangers of the seasons,
for the purpose of enjoying seclusion.

Wisely reflective,
he uses the requisite of medicines for the sick
for warding off injurious feelings that have arisen,
for the maximum of well-being.

Whereas, monks, if he does not use (the requisites),
the cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise,
but because he does use (them),
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by use.

 


 

[18][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by endurance?

In this teaching, monks, a monk, wisely reflective,
is one who bears cold,
heat,
hunger,
thirst,
the touch of gadfly,
mosquito,
wind and sun,
creeping things,
ways of speech that are irksome,
unwelcome;
he is of a character to bear bodily feelings which, arising,
are painful,
acute,
sharp,
shooting,
disagreeable,
miserable,
deadly.[25]

Whereas, monks, if he lacked endurance,
the cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise.

But because he endures,
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by endurance.

 


 

[19][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by avoidance?

In this teaching, monks, a monk, wisely reflective,
avoids a fierce elephant,
avoids a fierce horse,
avoids a fierce bull,
avoids a fierce dog,
a snake,
the stump of a tree,
a thorny brake,
a deep hole,
a mountain slope,
a refuse pool,[26] a rubbish pit.[26]

Wisely reflecting,
he avoids that which is not an (allowable) seat,[27]
and that which is not a (lawful) resort (for alms),[28]
and those who are depraved friends.

For if he were sitting on what is not an (allowable) seat like that,
if he were walking in what is not a (lawful) resort (for alms) like that,
if he were associating with depraved friends Hke that,
his intelligent fellow Brahma-farers
would suspect him of depraved qualities.

Whereas, monks,
if he does not avoid (these occasions),
the cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise,
but if he avoids (them),
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by avoidance.

 


 

[20][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by elimination?

In this teaching, monks, a monk, wisely reflective,
does not give in to thought about sense-pleasures[29] that has arisen,
he gets rid of it,
he eliminates it,
makes an end of it,
sends it to its ceasing;

he does not give in to malevolent thought that has arisen
he gets rid of it,
he eliminates it,
he makes an end of it,
sends it to its ceasing;

he does not give in to thought of harming that has arisen,
he gets rid of it,
he eliminates it,
he makes an end of it,
sends it to its ceasing;

he does not give in to evil unskilled mental objects that have constantly arisen,
he gets rid of them,
eliminates them,
makes an end of them,
sends them to their ceasing.

Whereas, monks, if he does not eliminate (these thoughts),
the cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise,
but if he eliminates (them),
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by elimination.

 


 

[21][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] And what, monks, are the cankers to be got rid of by (mental) development?

These are the seven Sambojjhaṇgaɱ. Self-awakening-[angle, limb, branch]. Ñanamoli: Englightenment Factor; Bhk. Thanissaro: Factor for Awakening. Also translated Seven Limbs of Wisdom, I prefer 'Seven Dimensions of Self-Awakening'.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

In this teaching, monks, a monk, wisely reflective,
develops mindfulness as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,[30]
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.[31]

Wisely reflective, he develops investigation of dhamma[32] as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.

Wisely reflective, he develops energy as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.

Wisely reflective, he develops rapture as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.

Wisely reflective, he develops serenity as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.

Wisely reflective, he develops concentration as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.

Wisely reflective, he develops even-mindedness as a link in awakening
and which is dependent on aloofness,
dependent on lack of attraction,
dependent on ceasing,
ending in renunciation.[33]

Whereas, monks, if he does not develop (these links in awakening),
the cankers which are destructive and consuming might arise.

But if he develops (them),
therefore these cankers which are destructive and consuming are not.

These, monks, are called the cankers to be got rid of by development.

 


 

[22][rhyt][wp][than][mnl] Monks, in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by vision
are got rid of by vision,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by control
are got rid of by control,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by use
are got rid of by use,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by endurance
are got rid of by endurance,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by avoidance
are got rid of by avoidance,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by elimination
are got rid of by elimination,

in whatever monk those cankers to be got rid of by mental
development are got rid of by mental development,

this monk is called, monks,
one who is controlled
with control over all the cankers.

He has cut off craving,[34]
done away with fetter,[35]
and by fully mastering[36] pride[37]
will make an end of anguish."

Thus spoke the Lord.

Delighted, these monks rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Discourse on All the Cankers: the Second.

 


[1] Here MA. i. 61 says pariyāya is karāna, means or method.

[2] āsava. There are four cankers, "influxes" or corruptions: kāmāsava, or attachment to the fivefold sensual realm; bhavāsava, attachment to bhava, literally "becoming," meaning attachment to the planes of form and formlessness; ditthāsava, the attachment to (false) views; and the āsava of avijjā, ignoring, nescience (here of the four Truths); see MA. i. 67 and cf. Nārada Mahāthera, Dhp., p. 16, n. 5.

[3] Yoniso manasikāraɱ, attention to the means, the Way; ayoniso mana-, is not attending to the means, or attending to (or, in) the wrong way, turning the mind against the truth so that you think permanence is in the impermanent, happiness in suffering, self in what is not-self, and the fair in the foul; and if there is ignorance, then "conditioned by ignorance are the saŋkhāras," and so on to the end of the "causal" chain: "the arising of this whole mass of anguish." See MA. i. 64-65.

[4] Cf. A. iii. 387-390, where, however, "vision," the first of the seven ways of riddance, is omitted; and see G.S. iii. 276, n. 1. Above "vision" refers to the vision pertaining to the first stage of arahantship or perfection, the sotāpattimagga, from its giving the first vision of Nibbāna, MA. i. 74. Hence saɱsāra, or vaṭṭa, the endless round of births, is grounded on unwise attention. But a man of rational attention will develop the eightfold Way, beginning with perfect view. This is knowledge (yā ca sammādiṭṭhi sā vijjā): from the arising of knowledge, from the stopping of ignorance is the stopping of the saŋkharas, and so on to the stopping of this whole mass of anguish. Thus Nibbāna (here called vivaṭṭa, being devoid of the round of births) is said to be grounded on wise attention; MA. i. 64 f.

[5] bhāvanā, meaning mind-development.

[6] As above, p. 3.

It would have been easier and less confusing to explain that the āsava of avijja, blindness [ignorance], being blindness to the Four Truths, (the four truths being sammā diṭṭhi, or high view,) that that encompassed 'false views'. Further, the āsava being spoken of when it occurs in the list, is not 'false views', 'miccha diṭṭhi' but 'views', 'diṭṭhi'.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[7] MA. i. 07 explains the absence of the canker of false views, which often appeara as the third of the four cankers, by saying: "the canker of sense-pleasure is the attraction connected with the five strands of sense-pleasure; the canker of becoming is the attachment to desire for the planes of form and formlessness; it is craving for the jhānas accompanied by the false views of eternalism and annihilationism. In this way the canker of fate views is included in the canker of becoming itself. The canker of ignorance is not knowing in regard to the four Truths."

[8] Cf, M. i. 265 for these questions.

[9] MA. i. 69: what was I like, tall or short, fair or dark?

[10] ajjhatta. He doubts his own components, khandhā, his own existence, atthibhāva, MA. i. 69.

[11] This is the view of the Etemalists. It holds that the self exists permanently through all time.

[12] saccato thetato, as at e.g. S. iii. 112.

[13] This is the view of the Annihilationists, from their holding to the de-becoming (destruction, vibhava) here and there of the essential being, sato sattassa, MA. i. 70.

[14] As at M. i. 258. Vado vedeyyo, that speaks, that knows and feels, is explained at MA. i. 71 as "This is a conviction of those who hold etemalist views. Here 'that speaks' is vado. It is a mode of vocal act. 'That experiences (or, feels), vediyati, is vedeyyo. And it means 'that knows, that experiences' (amubhavati, partakes of, undergoes). What does it know-and-feel (vedeti)? It experiences (paṭisamvedeti) now here, now there, the fruits of deeds that are lovely and that are depraved. 'Now here, now there' means in this or that class of womb, bourn, station, abode." Cf. MA. ii. 305 on vado vedeyyo:" that which speaks, that knows-and-feels, and that which experiences now here, now there, the fruits of deeds that are lovely and depraved, this is that consciousness that I am speaking about."

[15] As at M. i. 258.

[16] As at D. i. 18 ff. "Like unto the Eternal" means what is usually taken to be eternal by the world: moon, sun, sea, great earth, mountains; MA. i. 71.

[17] As at M. i. 486; Dhs. 381.

[18] MA. i. 73 says this and adherence to rites and ceremonies are reckoned as Asavas - that of wrong views as well as fetters. But doubt is a fetter only.

[19] Cf. A. iii. 387 ff.

[20] idha, so explained at MA. i. 75.

[21] MA. i. 77 does not comment on the following terms, but refers to Vism. (pp. 30-36 = P. Purity, i. 35 ff.).

[22] Stock, as at M. i. 355; A. ii. 40, 145; Dhs. 1346; Pug. 21; Vbh. 249.

[23] vihiṁsūparatīya, or "for allaying the pangs of hunger" as at G.S. iii. 277, P. Purity, i. 38.

[24] Two kinds discriminated at Vism. 32, that of complete instruction, and that of the Way(s).

[25] A person under twenty years of age is not considered able to endure these hardships, and is therefore not to be ordained at such an early age; see Vin. iv. 130. See B.D. iii. 12 for further references to this stock description.

[26] Both words occur at M. i. 448; A. i. 161.

[27] anāsana. MA. i. 80 says what is not a proper seat is anāsana, and refers to the Aniyatas where monks are forbidden to sit down with a woman in a private place or on a secluded seat (Vin. iii. 188, where these terms are defined. See B.D. i. 332).agocara. Five kinds, referred to at MA. i. 80, are given at Vbh. 247.

[28] agocara. Five kinds, referred to at MA. i. 80, are given at Vbh. 247.

[29] This, and the two following "thoughts" are three evil modes of thought. Mentioned also at M. i. 114 (with their opposites); D. iii. 215, 226; A. i. 276, ii. 252, iii. 429, 446; Vbh. 362 (cited at MA. i. 81), etc.

[30] MA. i. 85 enumerates the five aspects of aloofness as at VbhA. 316; Pṭs. ii. 220.

[31] vossaggapariṇāmī. MA. i. 85 f. = VbhA. 316 = SA. i. 159 explain this as the abandonment of the depravities, kilesa, and the resulting leaping or springing forward to Nibbāna, and say that the Way itself is an ending in renunciation, maggo eva ca vossaggapariṇāmī. This and the three preceding terms are used at S. i. 88 in connection with developing each of the factors of the eightfold Way. Cf. Pṭs. i. 194, pariccāga- and pakkhandana-nissagga.

[32] MA. 1. 83, that is, into the four true things. Dhamtmvicaya might be "investigation of things," or "mental objects." Cf. below, p. 80.

[33] With the above passage cf. M. iii. 88.

[34] Cf. M. i. 122; A. i. 134, ii. 240, iii. 246, 445, iv. 8; S. i. 12, iv. 205; It. 47; Expositor, i. 77.

[35] MA. i. 87 says that this means a tenfold fetter.

[36] By vision and by getting rid of, M.A. i. 87.

[37] As at Sn. 342. A tenfold aspect given at Nd. i. 80 = Nd. ii. 505.


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