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 46

Mahā Dhamma-Samādāna Suttaɱ

Greater 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
Commercial Rights Reserved
Creative Commons Licence
For details see Terms of Use.

 


 

[1][chlm][ntbb][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:

"For the most part, monks,
beings wish like this,
desire hke this,
intend like this:

'0 may unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things
dwindle away,

0 may pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things
grow much,'

Monks, unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things
grow much
in those beings of such wishes,
such desires,
such intentions;

pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things
dwindle away.

As to this, what do you, monks,
take to be the cause?"

"Things for us,[1] Lord,
are rooted in the Lord,
have the Lord for conduit,
the Lord for arbiter.[2]

It were good indeed, Lord,
if the meaning of this speech of the Lord's
were explained;
having heard the Lord,
monks would remember."

"Well then, monks, listen,
attend carefully,
I will speak."

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

The Lord spoke thus:

"In this case, monks,
the uninstructed average person,
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 know what things should be followed,
does not know what things should not be followed,
does not know what things should be associated with,
does not know what things should not be associated with.

Not knowing what things should be followed,
not knowing what things should not be followed,
not knowing what things should be associated with,
not knowing what things should not be associated with,
he follows things that should not be followed,
he does not follow things that should be followed,
he associates with things that should not be associated with,
he does not associate with [373] things that should be associated with.

While he is following things that should not be followed,
not following things that should be followed,
associating with things that should not be associated with,
not associating with things that should be associated with,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable
things grow much,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable
things dwindle away.

What is the reason for this?

This is so, monks,
for one who is unintelhgent[3] about this.

But, monks, the instructed disciple of the pure ones,
taking count of the dhamma of the pure ones,
skilled in the dhamma of the pure ones,
well trained in the dhamma of the pure ones,
taking count of the true men,
skilled in the dhamma of the true men,
well trained in the dhamma of the true men,
knows what things should be followed,
knows what things should not be followed,
knows what things should be associated with,
knows what things should not be associated with.

Knowing what things should be followed,
knowing what things should not be followed,
knowing what things should be associated with,
knowing what things should not be associated with,
he follows things that should be followed,
does not follow things that should not be followed,
does not associate with things that should not be associated with,
associates with things that should be associated with.

While he is not following things that should not be followed,
following things that should be followed,
not associating with things that should not be associated with,
associating with things that should be associated with,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable
things dwindle away,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things grow much.

What is the cause of this?

This is so, monks,
for one who is intelligent about this.

 


 

Monks, there are four (ways of) undertaking dhamma.[4]

What are the four?

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 happiness in the present
but results 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.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma[5]
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the [374] future:
if anyone is unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
he does not comprehend as it really is:

'This undertaking of dhamma
is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future.

Unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
not comprehending it
as it really is,
he follows it,
he does not avoid it.

While he is following it,
not avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable
things grow much,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable
things dwindle away.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is unintelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
that is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future:
if anyone is unintelhgent about this,
ignorant,
he does not comprehend as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future.

Unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
not comprehending it
as it really is,
he follows it,
he does not avoid it.

While he is following it,
not avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable
things grow much,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable
things dwindle away.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is unintelligent about this.

As to this, monks, that undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future;
if anyone is unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
he does not comprehend as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future.

Unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
not comprehending it as it really is,
he does not follow it,
he avoids it.

While he is not following it,
avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things grow much,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things dwindle away.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is unintelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future;
if anyone is unintelhgent about this,
ignorant,
he does not comprehend as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

Unintelligent about this,
ignorant,
not comprehending it as it really is,
he does not follow it,
he avoids it.

While he is not following it,
avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things grow much,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things dwindle away.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is unintelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future;
if anyone is intelligent about this,
wise,
he comprehends as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future.

Intelligent [375] about this,
wise,
comprehending it as it really is,
he does not follow it,
he avoids it.

While he is not following it,
avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things dwindle away,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things grow much.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is intelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
which is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future;
if anyone is intelligent about this,
wise,
he comprehends as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future.

Intelligent about this,
wise,
comprehending it as it really is,
he does not follow it,
he avoids it.

While he is not following it,
avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things dwindle away,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things grow much.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is intelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future;
if anyone is intelligent about this,
wise,
he comprehends as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future.

Intelhgent about this,
wise,
comprehending it as it really is,
he follows it,
he does not avoid it.

While he is following it,
not avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things dwindle away,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things grow much.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is intelligent about this.

As to this, monks,
that undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future;
if anyone is intelligent about this,
wise,
he comprehends as it really is:

This undertaking of dhamma
is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

Intelhgent about this,
wise,
comprehending it as it really is,
he follows it,
he does not avoid it.

While he is following it,
not avoiding it,
unpleasant,
unenjoyable,
disagreeable things dwindle away,
pleasant,
enjoyable,
agreeable things grow much.

What is the cause of this?

It is so, monks,
for one who is intelligent about this.

 


 

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

In this case, monks, someone,
even with suffering,
even with grief,
becomes one to make onslaught on creatures;
and because of his onslaught on creatures
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes one who takes what was not given
and because of his taking what was not given
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes one to behave wrongly in regard to senseṁpleasures
and because of his behaving wrongly in regard to senseṁpleasures
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes a liar
and because of his lying
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes a slanderer
and because of his slandering
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes a harsh speaker
and because of his harsh speech
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes a frivolous talker
and because of his frivolous talk
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes covetous
and because of his covetousness
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes malevolent in thought
and because of his malevolence in thought
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes [376] of wrong view;
and because of his wrong view
he experiences suffering and grief.

He, at the breaking up of the body after dying
uprises 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 happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future?

In this case, monks, someone,
even with happiness,
even with pleasure
becomes one to make onslaught on creatures;
and because of his onslaught on creatures
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes one who takes what was not given
and because of his taking what was not given
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes one to behave wrongly in regard to senseṁpleasures
and because of his behaving wrongly in regard to senseṁpleasures
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes a liar
and because of his lying
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes a slanderer
and because of his slandering
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he becomes a harsh speaker
and because of his harsh speech
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes a frivolous talker
and because of his frivolous talk
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes covetous
and because of his covetousness
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes malevolent in thought
and because of his malevolence in thought
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he becomes of wrong view;
and because of his wrong view
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

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

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 suffering in the present
but results in happiness in the future?

In this case, monks, someone,
even with suffering,
even with grief,
abstains from onslaught on creatures;
and because of his abstaining from onslaught on creatures
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from taking what was not given;
and because of his abstaining from taking what was not given
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from wrong behaviour in regard to sense-pleasures;
and because of his abstaining from wrong behaviour in regard to sense-pleasures
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from lying;
and because of his abstaining from lying
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from slander;
and because of his abstaining from slander
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from harsh speech;
and because of his abstaining from harsh speech
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from frivolous talk;
and because of his abstaining from frivolous talk
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from covetousness;
and because of his abstaining from covetousness
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from malevolence in thought;
and because of his abstaining from malevolence in thought
he experiences suffering and grief.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who who is of right view;
and because of his right view
he experiences suffering and grief.

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?

In this case, monks, someone,
even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
is one to abstain from onslaught on creatures;
and because of his abstaining from onslaught on creatures
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure, [377]
he abstains from taking what was not given
and because of his abstaining from taking what was not given
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with happiness,
even with pleasure,
he is one who abstains from taking what was not given;
and because of his abstaining from taking what was not given
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from wrong behaviour in regard to sense-pleasures;
and because of his abstaining from wrong behaviour in regard to sense-pleasures
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from lying;
and because of his abstaining from lying
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from slander;
and because of his abstaining from slander
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from harsh speech;
and because of his abstaining from harsh speech
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from frivolous talk;
and because of his abstaining from frivolous talk
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from covetousness;
and because of his abstaining from covetousness
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who abstains from malevolence in thought;
and because of his abstaining from malevolence in thought
he experiences happiness and pleasure.

Even with suffering,
even with grief,
he is one who who is of right view;
and because of his right view
he experiences suffering and grief.

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 both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

These, monks, are the four undertakings of dhamma.

Monks, it is as if there were a bitter gourd
infused with poison.

Then a man might come along,
anxious to live,
anxious not to die,
anxious for happiness,
averse from suffering,
and someone might speak thus to him:

'This bitter gourd
is infused with poison;
if you like,
drink;
but while you are drinking,
it will please you
neither with its colour,
scent,
nor taste,
and when you have drunk
you will come to death
or to suffering like unto death.'

He might drink without heeding him,
he might not give it up.

While he was drinking,
he might not be pleased
either with the colour,
scent
or taste,
and when he had drunk
he might come to death
or to suffering like unto death.

I, monks, say that this undertaking of dhamma is similar,
that is to say the undertaking of dhamma
that is both suffering in the present
as well as resulting in suffering in the future.

Monks, it is as if there were
in a drinking-bowl[6]
a beverage that has colour,
scent
and taste,
but into which poison has been infused.|| ||

Then a man might come along,
anxious to live,
anxious not to die,
anxious for happiness,
averse from suffering,[7]
and someone might speak thus to him:

'My good man, in this drinking-bowl
is a beverage that has colour,
scent
and taste,
but poison has been infused into it.

If you like,
drink,
and while you are drinking
you will be pleased with the colour,
scent
and taste,
but when you have drunk
you will come to death
or to suffering like unto death.'

He might drink without heeding him,
he might not give it up.

While he was drinking
he might be pleased with the colour,
scent
and taste,
but when he had drunk
he would come to death
or to suffering hke unto death.

I, monks, say that this undertaking of dhamma is similar,
that is to say
the undertaking of dhamma
that is happiness in the present
but results in suffering in the future.

[378] Monks, it is as if ammonia
were infused into various medicines.[8]

Then a man might come along
suffering from jaundice,
and someone might say to him:

'My good man, this is ammonia
infused into various medicines.

If you like,
drink,
but while you are drinking it
you will be pleased
neither with the colour,
scent
nor taste,
but when you have drunk
you will become eased.'

He might drink,
heeding him,
he might not give it up.

While he was drinking
he might not be pleased
either with the colour
or scent
or taste,
but when he had drunk
he might become eased.

I, monks, say
that this undertaking of dhamma is similar,
that is to say
the undertaking of dhamma
that is suffering in the present,
but results in happiness in the future.

Monks, it is as if milk
and honey
and oil
and sugar
were mixed together.

Then a man might come along
suffering from dysentery,
and someone might say to him:

'My good man, this is milk
and honey
and oil
and sugar
mixed together.

If you like,
drink;
while you are drinking
you will be pleased
with the colour,
scent
and taste;
and when you have drunk
you will become eased.'

He might drink,
heeding him,
he might not give it up.

While he was drinking,
he might be pleased
with the colour,
scent
and taste,
and when he had drunk
he would become eased.

I, monks, say
that this undertaking of dhamma is similar,
that is to say
the undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future.

Monks, as in[9] the last month of the rains,
at harvest time
when the sky is clear,
without a cloud,
and the sun,
ascending in the firmament
and driving away the darkness
from all the sky,
shines forth,
and is bright
and brilhant -
even so, monks, is this undertaking of dhamma
that is both happiness in the present
as well as resulting in happiness in the future,
because,
having driven away the opposing tenets
of the ordinary recluses and brahmans,
it shines forth
and is bright
and brilhant."

Thus spoke the Lord.

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

Greater Discourse on the (Ways of) Undertaking Dhamma:
the Sixth

 


[1] As at M. i. 317, 465, iii. 115; A. i. 199, iv. 158, 351, v. 355.

[2] Bhagavanpaṭisaraṇā; cf. M. iii. 9 dhammapaṭisaraṇā, and M. i. 295 mano paṭisaraṇa.

[3] A foolish, blind worldling, MA. ii. 375.

[4] Cf. above, p. 368.

[5] Not obeying the five precepts; MA. ii. 375, based on text p. 313 below.

[6] Cf. S. ii. 110.

[7] As at M. ii. 261; S. v. 170.

[8] Vin. i, 58, 96; It. p. 103.

[9] S. iii. 156, v. 44; It. p. 20.

 


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