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 6

Vatthūpama Suttaɱ[1]

Discourse On the Simile of the Cloth

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][chlm][ntbb][than][mnl] 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 [46] one," these monks answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus:

"Monks, as a cloth is a defilement of the mind,
that is stained and dirty is a defilement of the mind,
and which a dyer might dip into this and that dye - is a defilement of the mind,
be it dark green or yellow or red or crimson - is a defilement of the mind,
would be dyed a bad colour; is a defilement of the mind,
it would not be clear in colour.

What is the reason for this?

Monks, it is because the cloth was not clean.

Even so, monks, a bad bourn[2] is to be expected is a defilement of the mind,
when the mind is stained.

Monks, as a cloth is a defilement of the mind,
that is quite clean, is a defilement of the mind,
quite pure, is a defilement of the mind,
and which a dyer might dip into this or that dye - is a defilement of the mind,
be it dark green or yellow or red or crimson - is a defilement of the mind,
would be dyed a good colour; is a defilement of the mind,
it would be clear in colour.

What is the reason for this?

Monks, it is because the cloth was clean.

Even so, monks, a good bourn[3] is to be expected is a defilement of the mind,
when the mind is not stained.

And what, monks, are the defilements of the mind?

Greed and covetousness[4] is a defilement of the mind,
malevolence is a defilement of the mind,
anger is a defilement of the mind,
malice is a defilement of the mind,
hypocrisy is a defilement of the mind,
spite is a defilement of the mind,
envy is a defilement of the mind,
stinginess is a defilement of the mind,
deceit is a defilement of the mind,
treachery is a defilement of the mind,
obstinacy is a defilement of the mind,
impetuosity is a defilement of the mind,
arrogance is a defilement of the mind,
pride is a defilement of the mind,
conceit is a defilement of the mind,
indolence is a defilement of the mind.

 


 

Monks, a monk thinks that greed and covetousness
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is greed and covetousness;

a monk thinks that malevolence
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is malevolence,

a monk thinks that anger
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is anger,

a monk thinks that malice
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is malice,

a monk thinks that hypocrisy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is hypocrisy,

a monk thinks that spite
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is spite,

a monk thinks that envy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is envy,

a monk thinks that stinginess
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is stinginess,

a monk thinks that deceit
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is deceit,

a monk thinks that treachery
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is treachery,

a monk thinks that obstinacy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is obstinacy,

a monk thinks that impetuosity
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is impetuosity,

a monk thinks that arrogance
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is arrogance,

a monk thinks that pride
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is pride,

a monk thinks that conceit
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is conceit,

a monk thinks that indolence
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
he gets rid of the defilement of the mind
that is indolence.

 


 

When, monks, the monk thinks that greed and covetousness is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is greed and covetousness is got rid of;

thinks that malevolence
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is malevolence is got rid of,

thinks that anger
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is anger is got rid of,

thinks that malice
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is malice is got rid of,

thinks that hypocrisy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is hypocrisy is got rid of,

thinks that spite
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is spite is got rid of,

thinks that envy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is envy is got rid of,

thinks that stinginess
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is stinginess is got rid of,

thinks that deceit
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is deceit is got rid of,

thinks that treachery
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is treachery is got rid of,

thinks that obstinacy
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is obstinacy is got rid of,

thinks that impetuosity
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is impetuosity is got rid of,

thinks that arrogance
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is arrogance is got rid of,

thinks that pride
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is pride is got rid of,

thinks that conceit
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is conceit is got rid of,

thinks that indolence
is a defilement of the mind,
and having known it thus,
the defilement of the mind
that is indolence is got rid of,

he becomes possessed of unwavering confidence in the Awakened One and thinks:

'Thus indeed is he the Lord,
perfected,
wholly self-awakened,
endowed with knowledge and right conduct,
well-farer,
knower of the world(s),
incomparable charioteer of men to be tamed,
teacher of devas and mankind,
the Awakened One,
the Lord.'

He becomes [47] possessed of unwavering confidence in dhamma and thinks;

'Dhamma is well taught by the Lord,
it is self-realised,
it is timeless,[5]
it is a come-and-see thing,
leading onwards,[6] to be understood individually by the wise.'

He becomes possessed of unwavering confidence in the Order and thinks:

'The Lord's Order of disciples
is of good conduct,
the Lord's Order of disciples
is upright,
the Lord's Order of disciples
is of wise conduct,
the Lord's Order of disciples
is of dutiful conduct,
that is to say
the four pairs of men,
the eight individuals.[7]

This Order of the Lord's disciples
is worthy of alms,
worthy of hospitality,
worthy of offerings,
worthy of reverence,
it is a matchless field of merit for the world.'[8]

 


 

At this stage[9]
there is for him giving up,
renouncing,
rejecting,
getting rid of,
forsaking.

He, thinking:

'Possessed of unwavering confidence in the Awakened One am I,'

acquires knowledge of the goal,[10]
acquires knowledge of dhamma,'[11]
acquires the delight
that is connected with dhamma;
rapture is born from that delight,
being rapturous,
his body is impassible,
with the body impassible,
joy[12] is felt,
because of joy
the mind is (well) concentrated.[13]

Thinking:

'Possessed of unwavering confidence in dhamma am I,'

he acquires knowledge of the goal,
acquires knowledge of dhamma,'
acquires the delight
that is connected with dhamma;
rapture is born from that delight,
being rapturous,
his body is impassible,
with the body impassible,
joy is felt,
because of joy
the mind is (well) concentrated.

Thinking:

'Possessed of unwavering confidence in the Order am I,'

he acquires knowledge of the goal,
acquires knowledge of dhamma,'
acquires the delight
that is connected with dhamma;
rapture is born from that delight,
being rapturous,
his body is impassible,
with the body impassible,
joy is felt,
because of joy
the mind is (well) concentrated.

Thinking:

'At this stage
there comes to be for me
giving up,
renouncing,
rejecting,
getting rid of,
forsaking,'

he acquires knowledge of the goal,
acquires knowledge of dhamma,'
acquires the delight
that is connected with dhamma;
rapture is born from that delight,
being rapturous,
his body is impassible,
with the body impassible,
joy is felt,
because of joy
the mind is (well) concentrated.

 


 

[48] A monk, monks, of such moral habit,[14]
of such dhamma,
a of such wisdom -
even if he eat fine almsfood,
the black grains removed,
with various curries,
various vegetables,[15]
that will not be a stumbling-block for him.

Monks, even as a stained and dirty cloth,
if put in clear water
becomes pure and clean,
or as gold
put into a smelting-pot
becomes pure and clean,
in like manner, monks,
a monk of such moral habit,
of such dhamma,
of such wisdom,
even if he eat fine almsfood,
the black grains removed,
with various curries,
various vegetables,
that will not be a stumbling-block for him.

 


 

He dwells, having suffused the first quarter
with a mind of friendliness,
likewise the second,
likewise the third,
likewise the fourth;
just so above,
below,
across;
he dwells having suffused the whole world
everywhere,
in every way,
with a mind of friendliness
that is far-reaching,
wide-spread,
immeasurable,
without enmity,
without malevolence.

He dwells having suffused the first quarter
with a mind of compassion,
likewise the second,
likewise the third,
likewise the fourth;
just so above,
below,
across;
he dwells having suffused the whole world
everywhere,
in every way,
with a mind of compassion
that is far-reaching,
wide-spread,
immeasurable,
without enmity,
without malevolence.

He dwells having suffused the first quarter
with a mind of sympathetic joy,
likewise the second,
likewise the third,
likewise the fourth;
just so above,
below,
across;
he dwells having suffused the whole world
everywhere,
in every way,
with a mind of sympathetic joy
that is far-reaching,
wide-spread,
immeasurable,
without enmity,
without malevolence.

He dwells having suffused the first quarter
with a mind of equanimity,
likewise the second,
likewise the third,
likewise the fourth;
just so above,
below,
across;
he dwells having suffused the whole world
everywhere,
in every way,
with a mind of equanimity
that is far-reaching,
wide-spread,
immeasurable,
without enmity,
without malevolence.

 


 

He comprehends:

'There is this,[16]
there is a low,[17]
there is the excellent,[18]
there is a further escape from perceptions.'[19]

For one thus knowing,
thus seeing,
the mind is freed
from the canker of sense-pleasures
and the mind is freed
from the canker of becoming
and the mind is freed
from the canker of ignorance.

In freedom
the knowledge comes to be
that he is freed,
and he comprehends:

'Destroyed is birth,
brought to a close is the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or such.'

Monks, this is called a monk
who is washed
with an inner washing."[20]

 

§

 

[49] Now at that time the brahman Sundarika-Bhāradvājai[21] was sitting not far from the Lord.

Then the brahman Sundarika-Bhāradvājai spoke thus to the Lord:

"Does the revered Gotama go down to wash in the river Bāhukā?"[22]

"Brahman, what is there to the river Bāhukā?

Of what use is the river Bāhuka?"

"But, good Gotama, the river Bāhukā
is considered by the many-folk
as a means of purification,[23]
the river Bāhukā is considered by the manyfolk
to be for merit.

For in the river Bāhukā
the many-folk wash away
the evil deeds that have been done."

Then the Lord addressed the brahman Sundarika-Bhāradvājai in verses:

"In the Bāhukā, and at Adhikakkā,[24]
At Gayā,[24] and in the Sundarikā,
In the Sarassatī, and at Payāga,[25]
Then in the river Bāhumatī,[26]
The fool, though entering constantly,
Does not cleanse his dark deed.[27]

What can the Sundarikā, do?
What Payāga,, what the Bāhukā river?
They do not cleanse that hostile guilty man
Intent on evil deeds.
For the pure every day is auspicious,
for the pure every day is holy,[28]
[50] For the pure of bright deeds[29]
there is ever the practice of (good) custom.
Bathe in this only,[30] brahman,
Make all creatures secure,[31]

If you do not speak a lie,[32]
if you harm no living thing,[33]
If you take not the ungiven,[34]
are believing, not stingy —
What can you do by going to Gayā,
when Gayā is only a well[35] for you?"

When this had been said,
the brahman Sundarika-Bhāradvājai spoke thus to the Lord:

"It is excellent, good Gotama;
it is excellent, good Gotama.

It is as if, good Gotama,
one might set upright
what had been upset,
or disclose what had been covered,
or show the way
to one who had gone astray,
or bring an oil lamp into the darkness
so that those with vision might see material shapes;
even so
in many a figure
has dhamma been made clear by the good Gotama,
I,
even I,
am going to the revered Gotama for refuge,
and to dhamma,
and to the Order of monks.

May I receive the going forth[36]
in the presence of the good Gotama,
may I receive ordination."[37]

Then the brahman Sundarika-Bhāradvājai received the going forth
in the Lord's presence,
he received ordination.

Soon after he had been ordained
the venerable Bhāradvājai,
abiding alone,[38]
aloof,[39]
diligent,
ardent,[40]
self-resolute,[41]
not long afterwards,
by his own super-knowledge,
having precisely here-now[42] realised
[51] that matchless culmination of the Brahma-faring[43]
for the sake of which
young men of family[44]
rightly go forth from home
into homelessness,
abided in it.

He comprehended:

Destroyed is birth,
brought to a close is the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or such.

So the venerable Bhāradvājai
became one of the perfected ones.

Discourse on the Simile of the Cloth: the Seventh

 


[1] Called at MA. i. 165 Vatthasutta. It states that there are four ways of presenting a similitude or parable in relation to its meaning; here the simile is given first, then the meaning.

The 'bad bourn' for a bad bhikkhu is not the same as the bad born of a layman committing the same offense; the bhikkhu always carries the extra weight of being a representative of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] Niraya Hell, animal birth or the realm of the departed (petavisaya). These bad bourns are alike for householders and the homeless (recluses) if their conduct is bad in the ways specified at MA. i. 167-168.

This distinction is meaningless or perniciously misleading. With the exception of 'the three great families' which is not mentioned at all in the suttas, which is not a timeless phenomena, and which is likely an invention of the commentator or a common myth, there are examples of laymen attaining all of these rebirths and they are, in any case, all subsumed under the heading of 'greatness as a deva'. The point of making a commentary is to open up the meaning of a sutta not cloud it over with superstition and rumor.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[3] A householder arises to greatness as a man and greatness as a deva (manussamahattam pi devamahattam pi). A homeless one, if he has certain qualifications, arises in the three great families in the human world or among the six Kāmāvacara devas, or among the ten Brahma-abodes, or in the five Pure Abodes, or in the four formless (realms), MA. i. 168.

[4] Greed is the passion of delight for one's own possessions, covetousness that for another's possessions, MA. i. 169.

Akālika. It means this and it also means that the Dhamma is applicable accross time (not restricted to a time or place), and, in it's sense as a synonym of Nibbāna mean that the state attained is not bound to or subject to Time.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[5] akālika, not belonging to time. The meaning is: of immediate fruit. The fruit is immediately followed by the Way (without any interval of time). On these terms see Vism. 198-221.

[6] I.e. to nibbāna.

[7] Those on the four stages of the Way, and those who have attained the fruits of the four stages of the Way.

[8] For this formula of "confidence" see also D. iii. 227; S. ii. 69, iv. 271; A. i. 222, etc.

[9] yathodi, i.e. he is now a non-returner, MA. i. 172.

[10] atthaveda. MA. i. 173 gives three kinds of veda: (1) (literary) composition, gantha; (2) knowledge, ñāṇa; (3) mental ease or happiness, somanassa; and says here mental ease and the knowledge attached to it is meant. Cf. M. i. 221, 325; A. iii. 285, v. 349.

[11] dhamrnaveda.

[12] Mental joy is meant, MA. i. 174

[13] cittaɱ samādhiyati, the mind is rightly synthesised, it remains unmoving as though fastened. With this passage, cf. Vin. i. 294; D. i. 73; Miln. 84, etc.

[14] MA. i. 174, the body (or mass) of moral habit connected with the way of no-retum.

[15] Ibid., the body of concentration also connected, as is the body of wisdom, with the way of non-returners. Sīla samādhi paññā form the three main branches of the Teaching. Here, dhamma takes the place, but only in name, of samādhi, which also is sometimes called citta in this connection.

[16] As at M. i. 31.

[17] MA. i. 176, the attainment of arahantship.

[18] Ibid., anguish and its uprising.

[19] Ibid., the means of ejecting anguish.

[20] saññāgata. According to MA. i. 176 nibbāna is this farther escape for one who has perception of the four brahmavihāras (referred to just above). It is the truth of "stopping," i.e. the third truth. Traditionally the development of the brahmavihāras leads to companionship with Brahmā. Here, MA. takes the result of such development to be nibbāna.

[21] sināta. Cf. Sn. 521, nhātaka. See also S. i. 169; M. i. 280.

[22] Mentioned at S. i. 167; Sn. p. 79 as performing fire-worship on the banks of the river Sundarika.

[23] At Jā. v. 387, 388 bahuka does not seem to be the name of a river. Cf. also Mhvu. ii. 51.

[24] M. text reads mokkhasammatā. MA. i. 177 lokhyasammatā ti lūkhabhā-vasammatā. Cokkhabhāvaɱ visuddhibhāvaɱ detī ti. See also M. i. 530 (Trenckner's notes) and MA. i. 177, n. 3, 4.

[25] Both are fords, MA. i. 178.

[26] A ford across the Ganges, MA. i. 178.

[27] MA. i: 178 says that these four are rivers; Bāhukā, Sundarikā, Sarassatī, Bāhumatī.

[28] On kaṇhakamma (and light, or bright, i.e. good deeds) see M. i. 389.

[29] Quoted at DA. i. 139. Phaggu is an auspicious constellation, and so the word has here been translated "auspicious." MA. i. 179 explains by saying that the brahman view is that whoever bathes in the month of Phagguna on the day after the full moon is cleansed of evil done during the year. Uposatha, here translated "holy," has no good English equivalent. Ordinarily there are four uposatha days a month when people observe the higher sīla or fast. But for the pure every day, not necessarily only the four prescribed days, is uposatha, an "observance" day when all the observances and rules of discipline are observed.

[30] sucikamma, pure deeds, cf. Dhp. 24.

[31] In this teaching of mine, MA. i. 179.

[32] security, khemata; MA. i. 179 says abhaya hitabhāva mettā, lack of fear, welfare, friendliness. This is purity by way of mind.

[33] Purity by way of speech.

[34] Purity by way of gesture or body.

[35] udapāna.

[36] pabbajjā, the initial entry or lesser ordination into the Order. [Ed.: See also: Buddhism in Translations § 81]

[37] upasampadā, the subsequent or higher ordination, not necessarily "final," as it was possible to return to "the low life of the layman." On the ordination ceremony and the regulations for carrying it out in the prescribed way, see Vin. Mahavagga I.

[38] MA. i. 179, as to the body.

[39] MA. i. 180, as to mind.

[40] MA. i. 180, with ardour in physical and mental energy.

[41] MA. i. 180 says "by absence of longing as to the body and the life-principle."

[42] In this very individuality, attabhāva, MA. i. 180 and at MA. i. 165.

[43] MA. i. 180 calls this culmination of the Brahma-faring or the Way the "fruit of arahantship." At M. i. 197, 205 freedom of mind is said to be the goal and culmination.

[44] Those by birth and those by habits: both meant here, MA. i, 180 as at MA. i. 111.


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