Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
I. Mūlapaṇṇāsa
5. Cūḷa Yamaka Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
I. The First Fifty Discourses
5. The Lesser Division of the Pairs

Sutta 45

Cūḷa Dhamma-Samādāna Suttaɱ

Lesser Discourse on the (Ways of) Undertaking Dhamma

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

Copyright The Pali Text Society
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[1][chlm][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:

"These four, monks,
are (ways of) undertaking dhamma.[1]

What four?

There is, monks, the undertaking of dhamma
that is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future.

There is, monks, the undertaking of dhamma
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future.

There is, monks, the undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future.

There is, monks, the undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

 


 

And what, monks, is the undertaking of dhamma
that is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future?

There are, monks, some recluses and brahmans
who speak like this
and are [369] of these views:

'There is no fault in pleasures of the senses.'[2]

These come to indulgence[3] in pleasures of the senses;
these gratify themselves
with girl-wanderers
who tie their hair into top-knots;
these speak thus:

'How can these worthy recluses and brahmans,
seeing future peril among sense-pleasures,
speak of getting rid of sense-pleasures,
lay down a full knowledge of sense-pleasures?'

Saying:

'Happiness is in the young,
soft
and downy arms
of this girl-wanderer,'

these come to indulgence in pleasures of the senses.

These, having come to indulgence in sense-pleasures,
at the breaking up of the body after dying
arise in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

Here they experience feelings that are painful,
sharp,
acute.

They speak thus:

'These worthy recluses and brahmans,
seeing future peril in sense-pleasures,
speak of getting rid of sense-pleasures
and lay down a full knowledge of sense-pleasures.

But we, because of sense-pleasures,
are experiencing these feelings that are painful,
sharp,
acute,
their provenance being sense-pleasures.'

It is as if, monks,
in the last month of the hot weather,
a creeper's seed-pod should burst
and a seed of the creeper, monks,
should fall at the root of a sal-tree.

Then, monks, the devatā residing in that sal-tree,
afraid,
agitated,
might fall a-treinbling.[1]

Then, monks, the friends and acquaintances,
the kith and kin
of that devatā who resides in that sal-tree -
devatās of parks,
devatās of groves,
devatās of trees,
devatās residing in medicinal herbs,
grasses
and woods -
gathering together and assembhng
might give comfort thus:

'Do not be afraid, revered one,
do not be afraid, revered one.

For a peacock might swallow this creeper's seed
or a deer might consume it
or a forest-fire might burn it
or workers in the wood might remove it
or white ants might eat it,
or it might not germinate.'

But, monks, if neither a peacock
should swallow this creeper's seed
nor a deer consume it
nor a forest-fire might burn it
nor workers in the wood might remove it
nor white ants might eat it,
it might germinate.

Rained on heavily by the monsoon clouds,
it might grow apace,
and a young,
soft
and downy creeper,
clinging to it
might fasten on to that sal-tree.

Then, [370] monks, it might occur to the devatā
residing in that sāl-tree:

'Why then, did these worthy friends and acquaintances,
kith and kin:
devatās of parks
devatās of parks,
devatās of groves,
devatās of trees,
devatās residing in medicinal herbs,
grasses
and woods,
seeing future peril in this creeper's seed,
gathering together and assembling,
give comfort thus:

'Do not be afraid, revered one,
do not be afraid, revered one.

For a peacock might swallow this creeper's seed
or a deer might consume it
or a forest-fire might burn it
or workers in the wood might remove it
or white ants might eat it,
or it might not germinate?'

Pleasant is the touch
of this young,
soft,
downy
and clinging creeper.'

It might cover that sāl-tree;
when it had covered that sāl-tree,
it might form a canopy above it,
it might produce dense undergrowth;[5]
when it had produced a dense undergrowth
it might strangle
every great branch of that sāl-tree.

Then, monks, it might occur to the devatā
residing in that sāl-tree:

'It was because of seeing this future peril
in the creeper's seed
that those worthy friends and acquaintances,
kith and kin:
devatās of parks
devatās of parks,
devatās of groves,
devatās of trees,
devatās residing in medicinal herbs,
grasses
and woods,
seeing future peril in this creeper's seed,
gathering together and assembling,
give comfort thus:

'Do not be afraid, revered one,
do not be afraid, revered one.

For a peacock might swallow this creeper's seed
or a deer might consume it
or a forest-fire might burn it
or workers in the wood might remove it
or white ants might eat it,
or it might not germinate.'

For I, because of this creeper's seed,
am experiencing painful,
sharp,
acute feelings.'

Even so, monks,
there are some worthy recluses and brahmans
who speak thus
and are of these views:

' There is no fault in pleasures of the senses.'

These, come to indulgence in sense-pleasures,
at the breaking up of the body after dying
arise in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

Here they experience feelings that are painful,
sharp,
acute.

They speak thus:

'These worthy recluses and brahmans,
seeing future peril in sense-pleasures,
speak of getting rid of sense-pleasures
and lay down a full knowledge of sense-pleasures.

But we, because of sense-pleasures,
are experiencing these feelings that are painful,
sharp,
acute,
their provenance being sense-pleasures.'

This, monks, is called
the undertaking of dhamma
that is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future.

 


 

And what, monks, is the undertaking of dhamma
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future?

Here, monks, there is some unclothed (ascetic),
flouting life's decencies
licking his hands (after meals),
not one to come when asked to do so,
not one to stand still when asked to do so.

He does not consent (to accept food) offered to (me)
or specially prepared for (him)
nor to (accept) an invitation (to a meal).

He does not accept
(food) straight from a cooking pot or pan,
nor within the threshold,
nor among the faggots,
nor among the rice-pounders,
nor when two people were eating,
nor from a pregnant woman,
nor from one giving suck,
nor from one co-habiting with a man,
nor from gleanings,
nor near where a dog is standing,
nor where flies are swarming,
nor fish,
nor meat.

He drinks neither fermented liquor
nor spirits
nor rice-gruel.

He is a one-house-man,
a one-piece-man,
or a two-house-man,
a two-piece-man
or a three-house-man,
a three-piece-man
or a four-house-man,
a four-piece-man
or a five-house-man,
a five-piece-man
or a six-house-man,
a six-piece-man
or a seven-house-man,
a seven-piece-man.

He subsists on one little offering,
and he subsists on two little offerings
and he subsists on three little offerings
and he subsists on four little offerings
and he subsists on five little offerings
and he subsists on six little offerings
and he subsists on seven little offerings.

He takes food only once a day,
and once in two days
and once in three days
and once in four days
and once in five days
and once in six days
and once in seven days.

He lives intent on the practice
of eating rice at regular fort-nightly intervals.

He comes to be one feeding on potherbs
or feeding on millet
or on wild rice
or on snippets of skin
or on water-plants
or on the red powder of rice husks
or on the discarded scum of rice on the boil
or on the flour of oil-seeds
or grass
or cowdung.

He is one who subsisted
on forest roots and fruits,
eating the fruits that had fallen.

He wares coarse hempen cloths,
and he wares mixed cloths,
and he wares cerements,
and he wares rags taken from the dust heap,
and he wares tree-bark fibre,
and he wares antelope skins,
and he wares strips of antelope skin,
and he wares cloths of kusa-grass,
and he wares cloths of bark,
and he wares cloths of wood shavings,
and he wares a blanket of human hair,
and he wares a blanket of animal hair,
and he wares owls' feathers.

He is one who plucks out
the hair of his head and beard,
intent on the practice of plucking out
the hair of head and beard.

He becomes one who stands upright,
refusing a seat;
He becomes one who squats on his haunches,
intent on the practice of squatting.

He becomes one for covered thorns,
making his bed on covered thorns;
and he is intent on the practice
of going down to the water to bathe
up to three times in an evening.

He, at the breaking up of the body after dying,
arises in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

This, monks, is called
the undertaking of dhamma
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future.

 


 

And what, monks, is the undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future?

Here, monks, there is someone
who is full of attachment by nature
and who constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of attachment;

he [371] is full of hatred by nature
and who constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of hatred;

full of confusion by nature,
and constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of confusion.

With suffering and with grief,
his face covered with tears and crying,
he fares the Brahma-faring[6]
that is utterly fulfilled,
utterly pure.

He, at the breaking up of the body after dying
arises in a good bourn,
a heaven world.

This, monks, is called
the undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future.

 


 

And what, monks, is the undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future?

Here, monks, someone is not
full of attachment by nature
and who does not constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of attachment;

he is not full of hatred by nature
and does not constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of hatred;

he is not full of confusion by nature,
and does not constantly experiences
suffering and grief born of confusion.

He, aloof from the pleasures of the senses,
aloof from unskilled states of mind,
entering into the first meditation
which is accompanied by initial thought
and discursive thought,
is born of aloofness,
and is rapturous and joyful,
abides in it.

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

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

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

At the breaking up of the body after dying
he arises in a good bourn,
a heaven world.

This, monks, is called
the undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

These, monks, are the four (ways of) undertaking dhamma."

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

Lesser Discourse on the (Ways of) Undertaking Dhamma:
The Fifth

 


[1] Cf. below, p. 373; D. iii. 229.

[2] Cf. A.i. 266.

[3] pātabyataɱ, derived at MA. ii. 371 from pir, to drink. Cf. G.S., i. 244, n. 2. MA. says the pleasures of the senses are to be enjoyed according to one's likes.

[4] At the thought that the creeper, sprung from the seed, would cover the tree with its leaves, and because of the great weight the tree would fall to the ground in a gale or heavy rain, be broken, and the devatā destroyed, MA. ii. 372.

[5] oghanɱ janeyya, explained as keṭṭhā ghanaɱ janeyya at MA. ii. 372, "it might produce denseness below. Climbing aloft and encircling the whole tree, then falling downwards again, it might touch the earth,"

[6] MA. ii. 373 says his teachers and preceptors give commands for punishments which cause pain and grief, and further says it is due to kamma that one person is full of attachment and so on and another not.

 


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