Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
2. Sīhanāda Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
I. The First Fifty Discourses
2. The Division of the Lion's Roar

Sutta 13

Mahā Dukkhakkhandha Suttaɱ

Greater Discourse on the Stems Of Anguish

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][than][ntbb][upal] THUS have I heard:

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

Then several[1] monks, having dressed in the morning, taking their bowls and [111] robes, entered Sāvatthī for almsfood.

Then it occurred to these monks;

"It is too early to walk for almsfood in Sāvatthī.

Suppose we were to approach the park[2] of the wanderers belonging to other sects?"

Then these monks approached the park of the wanderers belonging to other sects;
having approached,
they exchanged greetings with the wanderers belonging to other sects,
and having exchanged greetings of courtesy and friendliness,
they sat down at a respectful distance.

As these monks were sitting down at a respectful distance,
these wanderers belonging to other sects spoke thus to them:

"Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding[3] of sense-pleasures;
we too lay down the full understanding of sense-pleasures.

Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding of material shapes;[4]
we too lay down the full understanding of material shapes.

Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding of feelings;
we too lay down the full understanding of feelings.

So, your reverences, herein what is the divergence,
what the discrepancy,
what the difference between the recluse Gotama and us,
that is to say in dhamma-teaching as against dhamma-teaching,
in instruction as against instruction?"

Then those monks neither rejoiced in nor scoffed at what the wanderers belonging to other sects had said.

Rising from their seats they departed,
not rejoicing,
not scoffing,
but thinking:

"We shall learn the meaning of what has been said in the Lord's presence."

Then these monks having walked for almsfood in Sāvatthī, returning from the alms-gathering after the meal,
approached the Lord;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
they sat down at a respectful distance.

As they were sitting down at a respectful distance,
these monks spoke thus to the Lord:

"Now we, Lord, having dressed in the morning,
taking our bowls and robes,
entered Sāvatthī for almsfood.

It occurred to us, Lord:

'It is too early to walk for almsfood in Sāvatthī.

Suppose [112] we were to approach the park of the wanderers belonging to other sects?'

So we, Lord, approached the park of the wanderers belonging to other sects and exchanged greetings with the wanderers belonging to other sects,
and having exchanged greetings of courtesy and friendliness,
we sat down at a respectful distance.

As we were sitting down at a respectful distance,
these wanderers belonging to other sects spoke thus to us:

"Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding of sense-pleasures;
we too lay down the full understanding of sense-pleasures.

Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding of material shapes;
we too lay down the full understanding of material shapes.

Your reverences, the recluse Gotama lays down the full understanding of feelings;
we too lay down the full understanding of feelings.

So, your reverences, herein what is the divergence,
what the discrepancy,
what the difference between the recluse Gotama and us,
that is to say in dhamma-teaching as against dhamma-teaching,
in instruction as against instruction?"

Then we neither rejoiced in nor scoffed at what the wanderers belonging to other sects had said.

Rising from our seats we departed,
not rejoicing,
not scoffing,
but thinking:

'We shall learn the meaning of what has been said in the Lord's presence.'

 


 

"Monks, wanderers belonging to other sects who speak thus should be spoken to thus:

'But what, your reverences,
is the satisfaction in pleasures of the senses,
what the peril,
what the escape (from them)?

Monks, when wanderers belonging to other sects are questioned in this way,
they will not be able to explain,
and moreover they will get into further difficulties.[5]

What is the reason for this?

It is that it is not within their scope.

I, monks, do not see anyone in the world with its devas,
Maras and Brahmas,
in creation
with its recluses and brahmans,
its devas and men,
who could win approbation with his answers to these questions except a Tathāgata
or a Tathāgata's disciple
or one who has heard (the teaching) from them.

 

§

 

And what, monks, is the satisfaction in pleasures of the senses?[6]

These five, monks, are the strands of sense-pleasures.[7]

What five?

Material shapes cognisable by the eye,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Sounds cognisable by the ear,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Smells cognisable by the nose,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Tastes cognisable by the tongue,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Touches cognisable by the body,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

These, monks, are the five strands of sense-pleasures.

Whatever pleasure,
whatever happiness arises in consequence of these five strands of sense-pleasures,
this is the satisfaction in sense-pleasures.

 


 

And what, monks, is the peril in sense-pleasures?

In this case, monks,
a young man of family earns his living by some craft,
such as reckoning on the fingers,[8] such as calculation,[9] such as [113] computing,[10]
such as agriculture,[11]
such as being in a rajah's service,[12]
such as by another craft.[13]

He is afflicted by the cold,[14]
he is afflicted by the heat,
suffering from the touch of gadflies,
mosquitoes,
wind,
sun,
creeping things,
dying of hunger and thirst.

This, monks, is a peril in pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,[15]
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

If, monks, this young man of family rouses himself,
exerts himself,
strives thus,
but if these possessions do not come to his hand,
he grieves,
mourns,
laments,
beating his breast
and wailing,
he falls into disillusionment,[16] and thinks:

'Indeed my exertion is vain,
indeed my striving is fruitless.'

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

If, monks, this young man of family rouses himself,
exerts himself,
strives thus,
and these possessions come to his hand,
he experiences suffering and sorrow in consequence of looking after them,
and thinks:

'Now by what means may neither kings nor thieves take away my possessions,
nor fire burn them,
nor water carry them away,
nor heirs whom I do not like take them away?'[17]

Although he looks after these possessions and guards them,
kings do take them away
or thieves take them away,
or fire burns them
or water carries them away,
or heirs whom he does not like take them away.

He grieves,
mourns,
laments,
beating his breast and wailing,
he falls into disillusionment,
and thinks:

'I do not even have that which was mine.'

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause,
sense-pleasures the provenance,
sense-pleasures the consequence,
the very [114] cause of sense-pleasures,
kings dispute with kings,
nobles dispute with nobles,
brahmans dispute with brahmans,
householders dispute with householders,
a mother disputes with her son,
a son disputes with his mother,
a father disputes with his son,
a son disputes with his father,
a brother disputes with a brother,
a brother disputes with a sister,
a sister disputes with a brother,
a friend disputes with a friend.

Those who enter into quarrel,
contention,
dispute and attack one another with their hands
and with stones[18]
and with sticks
and with weapons,[19]
these suffer dying then
and pain like unto dying.

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause,
sense-pleasures the provenance,
sense-pleasures the consequence,
the very cause of sense-pleasures,
having taken sword and shield,
having girded on bow and quiver,
both sides mass for battle
and arrows are hurled
and knives are hurled
and swords are flashing.

These who wound with arrows
and wound with knives
and decapitate with their swords,
these suffer dying then
and pain like unto dying.

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause,
sense-pleasures the provenance,
sense-pleasures the consequence,
the very cause of sense-pleasures,
having taken sword and shield,
having girded on bow and quiver,
they leap on to the newly daubed[20] ramparts,
and arrows are hurled
and knives are hurled
and swords are flashing.

Those who wound with arrows
and wound with knives
and pour boiling cow-dung[21] over them
and crush them with the (falling) portcullis
and decapitate them with their swords,
these suffer dying then
and pain like unto dying.

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause,
sense-pleasures the provenance,
sense-pleasures the consequence,
the very cause of sense-pleasures,
they break into a house
and carry off the booty
and behave as a thief
and wait in ambush
and go to other [115] men's wives.[22]

Kings, having arrested such a one,
deal out various punishments:[23]|| ||

They lash him with whips
and they lash him with canes
and they lash him with (birch) rods,
and they cut off his hand,
and they cut off his foot,
and they cut off his hand and foot,
and they cut off his ear,
and they cut off his nose,
and they cut off his ear and nose,
and they give him the 'gruel-pot'[24] punishment,
and they give him the 'shell-tonsure' punishment,
and they give him the 'Rahu's mouth,' punishment,
and they give him the 'fire-garland' punishment,
and they give him the 'flaming hand' punishment,
and they give him the 'hay-twist' punishment,
and they give him the 'bark-dress' punishment,
and they give him the 'antelope' punishment,
and they give him the 'flesh-hooking' punishment,
and they give him the 'disc-slice' punishment,
and they give him the 'pickling process' punishment,
and they give him the 'circling the pin,' punishment,
and they give him the 'straw mattress,' punishment,
and they spray him with boiling oil,
give him as food to the dogs,
impale him alive on stakes
and decapitate him with a sword.

This too, monks, is a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause,
sense-pleasures the provenance,
sense-pleasures the consequence,
the very cause of sense-pleasures,
they behave wrongly in body,
they behave wrongly in speech,
they behave wrongly in thought.

These, having behaved wrongly in body,
in speech,
in thought,
at the breaking up of the body after dying,
arise in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

This, monks, is a peril in pleasures of the senses that is of the future,
a stem of ill,
having pleasures of the senses as the cause,
having pleasures of the senses as the provenance,
being a consequence of pleasures of the senses,
the very cause of pleasures of the senses.

 


 

And what, monks, is the escape from pleasures of the senses?

Whatever, monks, is the control of desire for and attachment to pleasures of the senses,
the getting rid of the desire and attachment,
this is the escape from pleasures of the senses.[25]

 


 

Monks, whatever recluses or brahmans[26] do not thus comprehend
the satisfaction in pleasures of the senses as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed will neither know their own sense-pleasures accurately,
nor will they arouse another to a similar condition[27]
so that, as he fares along,
he will know sense-pleasures accurately -
this situation does not exist.

[116] But, monks, whatever recluses or brahmans comprehend thus
the satisfaction in pleasures of the senses as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed either know their own sense-pleasures accurately,
or they will arouse another to a similar condition,
so that, as he fares along,
he will know sense-pleasures accurately -
this situation exists.

 

§

 

And what, monks, is the satisfaction in material shapes?

Monks, it is like a girl in a noble's family
or a brahman's family
or a householder's family
who at the age of fifteen or sixteen
is not too tall,
not too short,
not too thin,
not too fat,
not too dark,
not too fair -
is she, monks,
at the height of her beauty and loveliness at that time?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Monks, whatever happiness and pleasure arise
because of beauty and loveliness,
this is satisfaction in material shapes.[28]

 


 

And what, monks, is peril in material shapes?

As to this, monks, one might see that same lady[29]
after a time,
eighty
or ninety
or a hundred years old,
aged,
crooked as a rafter,
bent,
leaning on a stick,
going along palsied,
miserable,
youth gone,
teeth broken,
hair thinned,
skin wrinkled,
stumbling along,
the limbs discoloured.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady
diseased,
suffering,
sorely ill,
lying in her own excrement,
having to be lifted up by others,
having to be laid down by others.[30]

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
dead for one,
two
or three days,
swollen,
discoloured,
decomposing.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see this same lady,
her body thrown aside in [117] a cemetery,
being devoured by crows
or ravens
or vultures
or wild dogs
or jackals
or by a variety of animals.[31]

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
a skeleton with (some) flesh and blood,
sinew-bound.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
a fleshless skeleton with a smear of blood, sinew-bound.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
a skeleton without flesh or blood, sinew-bound.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
the bones no longer held together,
scattered in this direction and that:
here a hand-bone,
there a foot-bone,
here a leg-bone,
there a rib,
here a hip-bone,
there a back-bone,
here the skull.[32]

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
the bones white
and something like sea-shells.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
a heap of dried-up bones more than a year old.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

And again, monks, one might see that same lady,
her body thrown aside in a cemetery,
the bones gone rotten and reduced to powder.

What would you think, monks?

That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished,
a peril has appeared?"

"Yes, Lord."

"This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes.

 


 

And what, monks, is the escape from material shapes?

Whatever, monks, is the control of desire and attachment,
the getting rid of desire and attachment to material shapes,
this is the escape from material shapes.[33]

 


 

Monks, whatever recluses or brahmans do not thus comprehend
the satisfaction in material shapes as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed will neither know material shapes accurately themselves
nor will they arouse another to a similar condition,
so that, as he fares along,
he will know material shapes accurately -
this situation does not exist.

But, monks, whatever recluses or brahmans comprehend thus
the satisfaction in material shapes as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed either know material shapes [118] accurately themselves
or they will arouse another to a similar condition,
so that, as he fares along,
he will know material shapes accurately -
this situation exists.

 

§

 

And what, monks, is the satisfaction of feelings?

As to this, monks, a monk
aloof from pleasures of the senses,
aloof from unskilled states of mind,
enters into
and abides in
the first meditation
which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought,
is born of aloofness,
and is rapturous and joyful.

Monks, at the time in which the monk
aloof from pleasures of the senses,
aloof from unskilled states of mind,
enters into
and abides in
the first meditation
which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought,
is born of aloofness,
and is rapturous and joyful,
if at that time he does not strive for his own hurt,
if he does not strive for the hurt of others,
if he does not strive for the hurt of both,
at that very time he experiences a feeling that is not hurtful.

I, monks, say that not-hurtfulness
is the highest satisfaction among feelings.

And again, monks, a monk,
by allaying initial thought and discursive thought,
with the mind subjectively tranquillised
and fixed on one point,
enters into
and abides in
the second meditation
which is devoid of initial and discursive thought,
is born of concentration,
and is rapturous and joyful.

Monks, at the time in which the monk,
by allaying initial thought and discursive thought,
with the mind subjectively tranquillised
and fixed on one point,
enters into
and abides in
the second meditation
which is devoid of initial and discursive thought,
is born of concentration,
and is rapturous and joyful,
if at that time he does not strive for his own hurt,
if he does not strive for the hurt of others,
if he does not strive for the hurt of both,
at that very time he experiences a feeling that is not hurtful.

I, monks, say that not-hurtfulness
is the highest satisfaction among feelings.

And again, monks, a monk,
by the fading out of rapture,
abiding with equanimity,
attentive,
and clearly conscious
experiencing in his person that joy
of which the ariyans say:
'Joyful lives he who has equanimity and is mindful,'
enters into
and abides in
the third meditation.

Monks, at the time in which the monk,
by the fading out of rapture,
abiding with equanimity,
attentive,
and clearly conscious
experiencing in his person that joy
of which the ariyans say:
'Joyful lives he who has equanimity and is mindful,'
enters into
and abides in
the third meditation,
if at that time he does not strive for his own hurt,
if he does not strive for the hurt of others,
if he does not strive for the hurt of both,
at that very time he experiences a feeling that is not hurtful.

I, monks, say that not-hurtfulness
is the highest satisfaction among feelings.

And again, monks, a monk,
by getting rid of joy
and by getting rid of anguish,
and by the going down of his former pleasures and sorrows,
enters into
and abides in
the fourth meditation,
which has neither anguish nor joy
and which is entirely purified by equanimity and mindfulness.

Monks, at the time in which the monk,
by getting rid of joy
and by getting rid of anguish,
and by the going down of his former pleasures and sorrows,
enters into
and abides in
the fourth meditation,
which has neither anguish nor joy
and which is entirely purified by equanimity and mindfulness,
if at that time he does not strive for his own hurt,
if he does not strive for the hurt of others,
if he does not strive for the hurt of both,
at that very time he experiences a feeling that is not hurtful.

I, monks, say that not-hurtfulness
is the highest satisfaction among feelings.

 


 

And what, monks, is the peril of feelings?|| ||

Inasmuch, monks, as feelings are impermanent,
ill,
liable to change,
this is the peril of feelings.[34]

 


 

And what, monks, is the escape from feelings?

Whatever, monks, is the control of desire and attachment,
the getting rid of desire and attachment to feelings,
this is the escape from feelings.

 


 

Monks, whatever recluses or brahmans do not thus comprehend the satisfaction in feelings as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed will neither know [119] feelings accurately themselves
nor will they arouse another to a similar condition,
so that, as he fares along,
he will know feelings accurately -
this situation does not exist.

But, monks, whatever recluses or brahmans comprehend thus
the satisfaction in feelings as satisfaction,
the peril as peril,
the escape as escape as it really is,
these indeed know feelings accurately themselves
or they will arouse another to a similar condition,
so that, as he fares along,
he will know feelings accurately -
this situation exists."

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

The Greater Discourse on the Stems of Anguish

The Third

 


[1] sambahulā; not a technical term here, as in Vin. where it means a "group." i.e. less than a saŋgha. It is noticed at MA. ii. 64 that in Vin. sambahulā is three people, but in the Suttas three is called just three, and (a number) higher than that is sambahulā.

[2] ārāma. Not here a "monastery" as wanderers were not monastically constituted. MA. ii. 54 says it was not far from the Jeta Grove.

[3] MA. ii. 54, the ejection and transcending of sense-pleasures and of material shapes and feelings.

[4] Cf. S. iv. 16.

[5] Cf. D. i. 26, S. iv. 15.

[6]From here to M. i. 87 = M. i. 92 = 398 = 454.

[7] M. i. 92, 398, 454; A. iii. 411, etc. quoted Kvu. 369.

[8] muddā. See B.D. ii. 176, n. 4 for further references, etc. MA. ii. 56 says, "having established awareness through the joints of the fingers, it is called hatthamuddā (hand-reckoning)."ganana See B.D. ii. 176, n. 5.

[9] ganaṇā See B.D. ii. 176, n. 5.

[10] sankhānaɱ. According to the Comy., computing how much rice there will be, how much fruit, how many birds in the sky, by looking at a field, at a tree, or at the sky respectively.

[11] See B.D. ii. 175.

[12] Perhaps a government official, rājaporisa. As at D. i. 135, A. iv. 281, 286.

[13] MA. ii. 56 instances elephant-craft and horse-craft.

[14] MA. ii. 56, "like an arrow's target, he stands before (purato) the cold." It (i.e. purakkhata) also means 'being oppressed.'"

[15] MA. ii. 57 says, a heap, rāsi.

[16] sammoha, or confusion, delusion.

[17] Cf. A. iv. 282.

[18] leḍḍu. See Vin. iii. 46, iv. 40.

[19] This sequence also found at M. i. 123, Ud. 71.

[20] addāvalepana. The word also occurs at S. iv. 187. MA. ii 58 renders by "hot mud."

[21] pakkaṭṭhī, explained by MA. ii. 58 as kuthita ( = kaṭh-) gomaya, while Nd. ii. 199 reads chakaṇtī.

[22] As at M. ii. 88, and cf. M. i. 404.

[23] As at M. iii. 163 f., A. i. 47, ii. 122, Miln. 197.

[24] These punishments are described in greater detail at G.S. i. 42, 43 in the notes.

[25] At other passages, e.g. A. iii. 245, It. p. 61, D. iii. 239, 275, renunciation of sense-pleasures is called the escape from them. MA. ii. 60 says it is nibbāna.

[26] Cf. S. iii. 191-92.

[27] tathattāya smmāapessanti.

[28] Cf. S. iv. 8.

[29] As at A. i. 139.

[30] tam eva bhaginī (literally, sister).

[31] As at M. i. 58.

[32] As at S. iii. 62.

[33] As at A. iii. 324.

[34] As at S. iii. 63.


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