Majjhima Nikaya


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
1. Devadaha Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
III. The Final Fifty Discourses
1. The Devadaha Division

Sutta 105

Sunakkhatta Suttaɱ

Discourse Sunakkhatta

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][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Vesālī
in the Great Grove in the hall of the Gabled House.

Now at that time a number of monks declared
in the Lord's presence
that they had profound knowledge,
saying:

"We comprehend that destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is [38] what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so."

Sunakkhatta the son of a Licchavi[1] heard
that a number of monks declared
in the Lord's presence
that they had profound knowledge,
saying:

"We comprehend that destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so."

Then Sunakkhatta the son of a Licchavi approached the Lord;
having approached
and greeted the Lord,
he sat down at a respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance,
Sunakkhatta the son of a Licchavi spoke thus to the Lord:

"I have heard, revered sir,
that a number of monks declared
in the Lord's presence
that they had profound knowledge,
saying:

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

Revered sir, did those monks
who declared in the Lord's presence
that they had profound knowledge, saying:

'We comprehend that destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so' -
did they declare properly
that they had profound knowledge,
or were there perhaps some monks there
who, out of over-conceit,[2] declared that they had profound knowledge?"

"Sunakkhatta, among the monks
who in my presence
declared that they had profound knowledge,
saying:

'We comprehend that destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so,'
there were some monks there
who declared properly
that they had profound knowledge,
but there were also some monks there
who, out of over-conceit,
declared that they had profound knowledge.

As to this, Sunakkhatta,
those monks who declared properly
that they had profound knowledge,
for them it is so.

But as to those monks, Sunakkhatta,
who, out of over-conceit,
declared that they had profound knowledge,
it occurs to the Tathagata:

'I should teach these dhamma.'

And so it is in this case, Sunakkhatta,
that it occurs to the Tathāāgata:

'I should teach these dhamma.'

But there are moreover
some foolish persons here
who, having constructed a question,
approach the Tathāāgata
and ask (him).

In this case, Sunakkhatta,
this too occurs to the Tathagata:

'I should teach these dhamma,'

and it does not occur to him (to think) otherwise."

"It is the right time for this, Lord,
it is the right time for this, Well-farer.

The monks, having heard from the Lord whatever dhamma
the Lord may teach,
will remember it."

"Well then, Sunakkhatta, listen,
attend carefully
and I will speak."

"Yes, revered sir,"
Sunakkhatta the son of a Licchavi answered the Lord in assent.

The Lord spoke thus: [39]

"These five, Sunakkhatta, are the strands of sense-pleasure.[3]

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, Ānanda, are the five strands of sense-pleasures.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when some individual here
may be set on tlie material things of the world,[4]
and the talk of the individual
who is set on the material things of the world
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders,
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk[5] connected with imperturbability
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,[6]
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

Sunakkhatta, it is like a man
who may have been absent a long time
from his own village or market town
and may see a man recently come from that village or market town;
he would ask him about the safety of that village or market town
and about the plentifulness of the food and absence of sickness;
that man might speak to him about the safety of that village or market town
and about the plentifulness of the food and absence of sickness.

What do you think about this, Sunakkhatta?

Would not that man listen,
lend ear,
arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and would he not associate with that man
under whom he found felicity?"

"Yes, revered sir."

"Even so, Sunakkhatta, the situation exists
when some individual here may be set on the material things of the world,
and the talk of the individual
who is set on the material things of the world
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders,
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk connected with imperturbability
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

He should be spoken of as an individual who is set on the material things of the world.

[40] But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when some individual here
may be set on imperturbability,
and the talk of the individual, Sunakkhatta,
who is set on imperturbability
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders,
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk connected with the material things of the world
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

Sunakkhatta, as a sere leaf,
loosened from its stalk,
cannot become green again,[7]
even so, Sunakkhatta,
when the fetter of the material things of the world
is loosened by that individual
who is set on imperturbability
he should be spoken of
as an individual who is set on imperturbability
for he is released from the material things of the world.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when some individual here
may be set on no-thing,
and the talk of the individual, Sunakkhatta,
who is set on the plane of no-thing
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders,
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk connected with imperturbability
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

Sunakkhatta, as a rock
that is broken in two
cannot become whole again,[8]
even so, Sunakkhatta, when the fetter of imperturbability
is broken by that individual
who is set on the plane of no-thing,
he should be spoken of
as an individual who is set on the plane of no-thing
for he is released from the fetter of imperturbability.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when some individual here
may be set on the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception,
and the talk of the individual, Sunakkhatta,
who is set on the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders,
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk connected with the plane of no-thing
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

It is like a man, Sunakkhatta,
who after eating a meal of dainties
might throw away (the remains).

What do you think about this, Sunakkhatta?

Would that man have any further desire for that meal?"

[41] "No, revered sir.

What is the reason for this?

That meal, revered sir, is considered to be objectionable."

"Even so Sunakkhatta,
when that fetter of the plane of no-thing
is laid aside by the individual
who is set on the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception,
he should be spoken of
as an individual who is set on the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception
for he is released from the fetter
of the plane of no-thing.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when some individual here
may be set on perfect nibbāna,[9]
and the talk of the individual, Sunakkhatta,
who is set on perfect nibbāna
follows a pattern
in accordance with which he reflects and ponders;
and he associates with that man
under whom he finds felicity;
but when there is talk connected with the plane of neither-perception-rior-non-perception
he does not listen,
does not lend ear,
does not arouse his mind to profound knowledge,
and he does not associate with that man
under whom he does not find felicity.

Sunakkhatta, as a palm-tree
whose crown has been cut off
cannot grow again,
even so, Sunakkhatta,
when the plane of neithcr-perccption-nor-non-perception
is cut off for an individual who is set on perfect nibbāna,
cut off at the root,
made like a palm-tree
that, eradicated, is not liable to rise up again in the future,
he should be spoken of as an individual
who is set on perfect nibbāna for he is released from the fetter
of the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when it occurs to somo monk here that:

'Craving has been called a dart[10] by the Recluse[11]
the virus of ignorance
wracks (a man) with desire,
attachment
and ill will.

The dart of craving
has been got rid of by me,
drained off is the virus of ignorance,
I am set on perfect nibbāna' -

he may be thus proud of his existing goal.

He may give himself up
to such things as are deleterious
to one who is set on perfect nibbāna:
he may give himself up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
he may give himself up to deleterious sounds through the ear
he may give himself up to deleterious smells through the nose
he may give himself up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
he may give himself up to deleterious touches through the body
he may give himself up [42] to deleterious mental states through the mind.

While he is given up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
while he is given up to deleterious sounds through the ear
while he is given up to deleterious smells through the nose
while he is given up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
while he is given up to deleterious touches through the body
while he is given up to deleterious mental states through the mind,
attachment may assail his thought;
with his thought assailed by attachment
he may come to death
or to pain like unto death.

It is as if, Sunakkhatta,
a man were pierced by an arrow[12] that was thickly smeared with poison;
his friends and acquaintances,
kith and kin,
might procure a physician and surgeon;
that physician and surgeon
might cut round the opening of his wound with a knife;
having cut round the opening of the wound with the knife,
he might probe for the arrow with a (surgeon's) probe;
having probed for the arrow with the (surgeon's) probe,
he might extract the arrow,
he might drain off the virus
leaving some behind
but thinking none remained,
and he might speak thus:

'My good man,
the arrow has been extracted from you,
the virus drained off
so that none is left,
there is no[13] danger for you,
but you should eat only beneficial foods
and take care
lest, eating deleterious foods,
your wound discharges.

And from time to time
you should bathe the wound,
from time to time
you should anoint the opening of the wound,
but take care
lest, bathing the wound from time to time,
anointing the opening of the wound from time to time,
the old blood cakes on the wound.

And take care
if you are anxious to go out
into the wind and the heat of the sun,
for unless you are careful
when you go out into the wind and the heat of the sun,
dust and dirt[14]
may assail the opening of the wound.

But if you, my good man,
take care of the wound,
the wound will heal.'

It may occur to him:

'The arrow has been extracted,
the virus drained off so that none remains,
and there is no danger for me,'

and so he may eat only deleterious foods,
and while doing so his wound may discharge;
and he may not bathe the wound from time to time
nor anoint the opening of the wound from time to time;
not bathing the wound from time to time
nor anointing the opening of the wound from time to time,
the old blood may cake on the opening of the wound;
and if he is anxious to go out
into the wind and the heat of the sun,
dust and dirt may assail the opening of the wound;
and if he should not take care of the opening of the wound
the wound does not heal.

Both because he does precisely the deleterious things [43]
and because,
although when the noisome virus was drained off
some remained,
the wound may increase in size.[15]

With the wound increased in size
he may come to death
or to pain like unto death -
even so, Sunakkhatta, the situation exists
when it might occur to some monk here that

'Craving has been called a dart by the Recluse;
the virus of ignorance wracks (a man) with desire,
attachment
and ill-will.

That dart of craving has been got rid of by me,
drained off is the virus of ignorance,
I am set on perfect nibbāna' -

he may be thus proud of his existing goal.

He may give himself up
to such things as are deleterious
to one who is set on perfect nibbāna:
he may give himself up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
he may give himself up to deleterious sounds through the ear
he may give himself up to deleterious smells through the nose
he may give himself up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
he may give himself up to deleterious touches through the body
he may give himself up to deleterious mental states through the mind.

While he is given up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
while he is given up to deleterious sounds through the ear
while he is given up to deleterious smells through the nose
while he is given up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
while he is given up to deleterious touches through the body
while he is given up to deleterious mental states through the mind,
attachment may assail his thought;
with his thought assailed by attachment
he may come to death
or to pain like unto death.

For this, Sunakkhatta, is death in the discipline for an ariyan:
when, disavowing the training,
he returns to the secular life;
and this, Sunakkhatta, is pain like unto death:
when he falls into a grievous[16] offence.

But this situation exists, Sunakkhatta,
when it may occur to some monk here:

'Craving has been called a dart by the Recluse;
the virus of ignorance wracks (a man) with desire,
attachment
and ill-will.

That dart of craving has been got rid of by me,
drained off is the virus of ignorance,
I am set on perfect nibbāna' -

Precisely because lie is set on perfect nibbāna
he may not give himself up to those things
which are deleterious to one set on perfect nibbāna:
he may not give himself up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
he may not give himself up to deleterious sounds through the ear
he may not give himself up to deleterious smells through the nose
he may not give himself up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
he may not give himself up to deleterious touches through the body
he may not give himself up to deleterious mental states through the mind.

Attachment may not assail the thought
of one not given up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye of one not given up to deleterious sounds through the ear
of one not given up to deleterious smells through the nose
of one not given up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
of one not given up to deleterious touches through the body
of one not given up to deleterious mental states through the mind;
while his thought is not assailed by attachment,
he may not come to death
or to pain like unto death.

It is as if Sunakkhatta,
a man were pierced by an arrow
that was thickly smeared with poison;
his friends and acquaintances,
his kith aɱd kin
might procure a physician and surgeon;
that physician and surgeon
might cut round the opening of his wound with a knife;
having cut round the opening of the wound with the knife,
he might probe for the arrow with a (surgeon's) probe;
having probed for the arrow with the (surgeon's) probe,
he might extract the arrow,
he might drain off the virus
with none remaining,
and he might speak thus:

'My good man,
the arrow has been extracted from you,
the virus drained off
so that none is left,
there is no danger for you,
but you should eat only beneficial foods
and take care
lest, eating deleterious foods,
your wound discharges.

And from time to time
you should bathe the wound,
from time to time
you should anoint the opening of the wound,
but take care
lest, bathing the wound from time to time,
anointing the opening of the wound from time to time,
the old blood cakes on the wound.

And take care
if you are anxious to go out
into the wind and the heat of the sun,
for unless you are careful
when you go out into the wind and the heat of the sun,
dust and dirt
may assail the opening of the wound.

But if you, my good man,
take care of the wound,
the wound will heal.'

It may occur to him:

The arrow has been extracted,
the virus drained off
so that none remains,
and there is no danger for me,'

but he may eat only beneficial foods,
and while doing so
his wound may not discharge;
and he may bathe the wound from time to time
and anoint the opening of the wound from time [44] to time;
since he bathes the wound from time to time
and anoints the opening of the wound from time to time,
the old blood will not cake on the opening of the wound;
and if he is not anxious to go out into the wind and the heat of the sun,
dust and dirt will not assail the opening of the wound;
and if he should take care of the opening of the wound,
the wound heals.

Both because he does only the beneficial things
and because the noisome virus is drained off with none remaining,
the wound will close up;
when the wound is closed by the skin
he will not come to death
or to pain like unto death -
even so, Sunakkhatta, the situation exists
when it might occur to some monk here:

'Craving has been called a dart by the Recluse;
the virus of ignorance wracks (a man) with desire,
attachment
and ill-will.

That dart of craving has been got rid of by me,
drained off is the virus of ignorance,
I am set on perfect nibbāna' -

Precisely because lie is set on perfect nibbāna
he may not give himself up to those things
which are deleterious to one set on perfect nibbāna:
he may not give himself up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye,
he may not give himself up to deleterious sounds through the ear
he may not give himself up to deleterious smells through the nose
he may not give himself up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
he may not give himself up to deleterious touches through the body
he may not give himself up to deleterious mental states through the mind.

Attachment may not assail the thought
of one not given up to deleterious vision of material shapes through the eye of one not given up to deleterious sounds through the ear
of one not given up to deleterious smells through the nose
of one not given up to deleterious tastes through the tongue
of one not given up to deleterious touches through the body
of one not given up to deleterious mental states through the mind;
while his thought is not assailed by attachment,
he may not come to death
or to pain like unto death.

I have made this simile, Sunakkhatta,
for the sake of clarifying the meaning.

Just this is the meaning here:

'The wound,' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for the six inner (sense-) fields.

'The virus,' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for ignorance.

'The arrow,' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for craving.

'The (surgeon's) probe,' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for mindfulness.

'The knife' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for the ariyan wisdom.

'The physician and surgeon,' Sunakkhatta,
is a synonym for the Tathāāgata,
perfected one,
fully Self-Awakened One.

Indeed, Sunakkhatta,
a monk who restrains himself
among the six fields of (sensory) impingement,
thinking:

'Clinging is the root of anguish,'

and having understood it so,
is without clinging,
freed by the destruction of clinging.[17]

That he should focus his body on clinging
or devote his thought to it,
this situation does not exist.

It is as if, Sunakkhatta,
there were a bronze goblet,
fair and [45] fragrant,
but charged with poison;
then a man might come along,
anxious to live,
anxious not to die,
anxious for happiness,
recoiling from pain.

What do you think about this, Sunakkhatta?

Would that man drink out of this bronze goblet if he knew:

'Having drunk from this,
I will come to death
or to pain like unto death'?"

"No, revered sir."

"Even so, Sunakkhatta,
that monk who restrains himself
among the six fields of (sensory) impingement,
thinking:

'Clinging is the root of anguish,'

having understood it so
is without clinging,
freed by the destruction of clinging.

That he should focus his body on clinging
or devote his thought to it -
this situation does not exist.

Sunakkhatta, it is like a deadly poisonous snake;
and a man might come along
anxious to live,[18]
anxious not to die,
anxious for happiness,
recoiling from pain.

What do you think about this, Sunakkhatta?

Would that man proffer[19] his hand or toe[20]
to that deadly poisonous snake
if he knew:

'If I am bitten by this,
I will come to death
or pain like unto death'?"

"No, revered sir."

"Even so, Sunakkhatta,
that monk who restrains himself
among the six fields of (sensory) impingement,
thinking:

'Clinging is the root of anguish,'

having understood it so
is without clinging,
freed by the destruction of clinging.

That he should focus his body on clinging
or devote his thought to it -
this situation does not exist."

Thus spoke the Lord.

Delighted, Sunakkhatta the son of a Licchavi rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Discourse to Sunakkhatta:
The Fifth

 


[1] See M. Sta. 12.

[2] Cf. A. v. 102 ff.

[3] As at M. i. 85, etc.

[4] loktāmisa; cf. M. i. 12, 155 f.

[5] kathāya kacchāmanāya, lit. when talk is being talked. Kacchamāna, pass. pres. part, of katheti, also at A. iii. 181.

[6] Cf. Vin. i. 10; D. i. 230-231.

[7] Cf. Vin. i. 96, iii. 47.

[8] Cf. Vin. i. 97.

[9] sammā-nibbāna, an unusual expression on which MA. iv. on the above passage makes no comment. It is by no means a foregone conclusion that the individual who is intent on it will win it, see below. It is possibly comparable to the final meditative stage: that where perceiving and feeling are stopped.

[10] Cf. S. i. 140.

[11] MA. iv. 55, Buddhasamana.

[12] salla is arrow as well as dart. For this simile, cf. M. ii. 216.

[13] Text reads alañ ca, but MA. iv. 65 reads analañ ca as does M. text nine lines lower down.

[14] rajosuka. MA. iv. 55 says rajo ca vīhisukādi ca sukaṁ. Has suka any connection with awns of barley or paddy?

[15] puṭhuttaṁ. MA. iv. 55 explains by mahantabhāvaṁ, greatness.

[16] saŋkiliṭṭha usually means tarnished, soiled, corrupt. MA. iv. 55 gives garuka, serious, weighty.

[17] Cf. M. i. 454, A. ii. 24.

[18] Cf. M. i. 315.

[19] dajjā.

aŋguṭṭha. "Thumb" to parallel "toe", better fits the mental image conjured by the simile.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[20] aŋguṭṭha is more correctly "thumb," but this is included under hattha, hand.


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page