Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
3. Suññata Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
III. The Final Fifty Discourses
3. The Division on Emptiness

Sutta 123

Acchariya-Bhuta-Dhamma Suttaɱ

Discourse On Wonderful and Marvellous Qualities

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][upal] THUS HAVE I HEARD:

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

Then this conversation arose among a number of monks
who, having returned from the alms-gathering after the meal,
were seated gathered together in an assembly hall:

"Wonderful,[1] your reverences,
marvellous, your reverences,
are the great psychic power
and the great majesty
of the Tathāāgata
inasmuch as he should know[2]
of former Awakened Ones[3]
who have attained nibbāna
with the impediments[4] cut off,
the whirligig cut through,[5]
the rolling on finished[6]
and all anguish spent,[7]
that these Lords were of such a family
and that these Lords were of such a name
and that these Lords were of such a clan
and that these Lords were of such moral habit
and that these Lords were of such mental habits[8]
and that these Lords were of such intuitive wisdom
and that these Lords were of such an abiding[9]
and that these Lords were of such freedom."[10]

[164] When this had been said,
the venerable Ānanda spoke thus to these monks:

"Indeed, your reverences, Tathāgatas are wonderful
and possessed of wonderful qualities;
indeed, your reverences, Tathāgatas are marvellous
and possessed of marvellous qualities."

And this was the conversation of these monks
that was interrupted.

Then the Lord,
emerging from solitary meditation towards evening,
approached the assembly hall;
having approached,
he sat down on the appointed seat.

As he was sitting down,
the Lord addressed the monks,
saying:

"What, monks, were you talking about just now?

What was your conversation that was interrupted?"

"Revered sir, when we had returned from the alms-gathering after the meal
and were seated gathered together in the assembly hall,
this conversation arose among us:

"Wonderful, your reverences,
marvellous, your reverences,
are the great psychic power
and the great majesty
of the Tathāāgata
inasmuch as he should know
of former Awakened Ones
who have attained nibbāna
with the impediments cut off,
the whirligig cut through,
the rolling on finished
and all anguish spent,
that these Lords were of such a family
and that these Lords were of such a name
and that these Lords were of such a clan
and that these Lords were of such moral habit
and that these Lords were of such mental habits
and that these Lords were of such intuitive wisdom
and that these Lords were of such an abiding
and that these Lords were of such freedom."

When this had been said,
the venerable Ānanda spoke thus to these monks:

"Indeed, your reverences, Tathāgatas are wonderful
and possessed of wonderful qualities;
indeed, your reverences, Tathāgatas are marvellous
and possessed of marvellous qualities."

This was our conversation, revered sir, that was interrupted.

And then the Lord arrived."

Then the Lord addressed the venerable Ānanda, saying:

"Wherefore, Ānanda, deliver[11] at greater length
the Tathāāgata's wonderful and marvellous qualities."

 


 

"Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'The Bodhisatta arose in the Tusita group[12]
mindful and clearly conscious, Ānanda.'

And inasmuch, revered sir,
as the Bodhisatta arose in the Tusita group
mindful and clearly conscious,
I regard this as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'The Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita group
mindful and clearly conscious, Ānanda.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as the Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita group
mindful and clearly conscious,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

[165] Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'The Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita group
for as long as his life-span lasted,[13] Ānanda.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as the Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita group
for as long as his life-span lasted,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'The Bodhisatta, deceasing from the Tusita group
mindful and clearly conscious,
entered his mother's womb, Ānanda.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as the Bodhisatta, deceasing from the Tusita group
mindful and clearly conscious,
entered his mother's womb,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta,
having deceased from the Tusita group,
entered his mother's womb,
then an illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
appeared in the world
with its devas,
its Māras,
its Brahmās,
among the generations
with recluses and brahmans,
devas and men.

And even in those spaces between the worlds,[14]
gloomy,[15]
baseless,[16]
regions of blackness
plunged in blackness,
where the moon and the sun,
powerful and majestic though they are,
cannot make their light prevail[17] -
even there
there appeared the illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.

And those beings who had uprisen there[18]
recognised one another
by means of this radiance,
and they thought:

"Indeed there are other beings
who are uprising here."

And this ten-thousand-world-system quaked,
trembled
and shook,
and there appeared there
the illimitable glorious radiance [166] surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as the Bodhisatta,
having deceased from the Tusita group,
entered his mother's womb,
then an illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
appeared in the world
with its devas,
its Māras,
its Brahmās,
among the generations
with recluses and brahmans,
devas and men.

And even in those spaces between the worlds,
gloomy,
baseless,
regions of blackness
plunged in blackness,
where the moon and the sun,
powerful and majestic though they are,
cannot make their light prevail -
even there
there appeared the illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.

And those beings who had uprisen there
recognised one another
by means of this radiance,
and they thought:

"Indeed there are other beings
who are uprising here."

And this ten-thousand-world-system quaked,
trembled
and shook,
and there appeared there
the illimitable glorious radiance surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
four devas[19] approach so as to guard the four quarters, saying:

"Do not let a human being
or a non-human being
or anyone whatever
annoy the Bodhisatta
or the Bodhisatta's mother."'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
four devas approach so as to guard the four quarters, saying:

"Do not let a human being
or a non-human being
or anyone whatever
annoy the Bodhisatta
or the Bodhisatta's mother",
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta's mother is virtuous through her own nature,
restrained from onslaught on creatures,
restrained from taking what has not been given,
restrained from wrong enjoyment of pleasures of the senses,
restrained from lying speech,
restrained from the occasions of slothfulness
resulting from (drinking) strong intoxicants.'[20]

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta's mother is virtuous through her own nature,
restrained from onslaught on creatures,
restrained from taking what has not been given,
restrained from wrong enjoyment of pleasures of the senses,
restrained from lying speech,
restrained from the occasions of slothfulness
resulting from (drinking) strong intoxicants,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
no desire connected with the strands of sensual pleasures
arises in the Bodhisatta's mother towards men,
and the Bodhisatta's mother
is not to be transgressed against
by any man of infatuated thoughts.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
no desire connected with the strands of sensual pleasures
arises in the Bodhisatta's mother towards men,
and the Bodhisatta's mother
is not to be transgressed against
by any man of infatuated thoughts,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta's mother is enjoying the five strands of sensual pleasures
and she diverts herself,
endowed with and possessed of the five strands of sensual pleasures.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta's mother is enjoying the five strands of sensual pleasures
and she diverts herself,
endowed with and possessed of the five strands of sensual pleasures,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
no ailment whatever arises in the Bodhisatta's mother;
the Bodhisatta's mother is at ease,
her body not tired;
and within her [167] womb the Bodhisatta's mother sees the Bodhisatta,
complete in all his limbs,
his sense-organs perfect.[21]

As, Ānanda, an emerald jewel[22]
of lovely water
and well cut into eight facets
might be strung on a thread -
a deep green
or yellow
or red
or white
or an orange-coloured thread,
and as a man with vision,
having taken it in his hand,
might reflect:

"This is an emerald jewel
of lovely water,
it is well cut into eight facets
and strung on a thread -
a deep green
or yellow
or red
or white
or an orange-coloured thread,";

even so, Ānanda, when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb
no ailment whatever arises in the Bodhisatta's mother;
the Bodhisatta's mother is at ease,
her body not tired;
and within her womb the Bodhisatta's mother sees the Bodhisatta,
complete in all his limbs,
his sense-organs perfect.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is entering his mother's womb,
no ailment whatever arises in the Bodhisatta's mother;
the Bodhisatta's mother is at ease,
her body not tired;
and within her womb the Bodhisatta's mother sees the Bodhisatta,
complete in all his limbs,
his sense-organs perfect.

As, an emerald jewel
of lovely water
and well cut into eight facets
might be strung on a thread -
a deep green
or yellow
or red
or white
or an orange-coloured thread,
and as a man with vision,
having taken it in his hand,
might reflect:

"This is an emerald jewel
of lovely water,
it is well cut into eight facets
and strung on a thread -
a deep green
or yellow
or red
or white
or an orange-coloured thread
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'Ānanda, the Bodhisatta's mother dies
seven days after the Bodhisatta is born
and arises in the Tusita group.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as the Bodhisatta's mother dies
seven days after the Bodhisatta is born
and arises in the Tusita group,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'While, Ānanda, other women carry the child in their womb
for nine or ten months[23]
before they give birth,
the Bodhisatta's mother
does not give birth to the Bodhisatta in this way.

The Bodhisatta's mother carries the Bodhisatta in her womb
for exactly ten months
before she gives birth.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as other women carry the child in their womb
for nine or ten months
before they give birth,
the Bodhisatta's mother
does not give birth to the Bodhisatta in this way.

The Bodhisatta's mother carries the Bodhisatta in her womb
for exactly ten months
before she gives birth,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'While, Ānanda, other women give birth
sitting or lying down,
the Bodhisatta's mother does not give birth to the Bodhisatta in this way:
the Bodhisatta's mother gives birth to the Bodhisatta
while she is standing.'[24]

And inasmuch, revered sir, as while other women give birth
sitting or lying down,
the Bodhisatta's mother does not give birth to the Bodhisatta in this way:
the Bodhisatta's mother gives birth to the Bodhisatta
while she is standing,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face [168] have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
devas receive him first,
men afterwards.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
devas receive him first,
men afterwards,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta does not at once touch the earth;
the four devas,
having received him,
place him in front of his mother,
saying:

"Rejoice, lady,
mighty is the son that is born to you."[25]

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
the Bodhisatta does not at once touch the earth;
the four devas,
having received him,
place him in front of his mother,
saying:

'Rejoice, lady,
mighty is the son that is born to you',
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
he issues quite stainless,
undefiled by watery matter,
undefiled by mucus,
undefiled by blood,
undefiled by any impurity,
pure and unstained.

Ānanda, it is as when a jewel is laid on Benares muslin,
neither does the jewel stain the Benares muslin
nor does the Benares muslin stain the jewel.

What is the reason for this?

It is due to the purity of both.

Even so, Ānanda, when the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
he issues quite stainless,
undefiled by watery matter,
undefiled by mucus,
undefiled by blood,
undefiled by any impurity,
pure and unstained.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
he issues quite stainless,
undefiled by watery matter,
undefiled by mucus,
undefiled by blood,
undefiled by any impurity,
pure and unstained,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
two streams of water appear from the sky,[26]
the one cool,
the other warm,
wherewith they perform a water-libation
for the Bodhisatta and his mother.'

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta is issuing from his mother's womb,
two streams of water appear from the sky,
the one cool,
the other warm,
wherewith they perform a water-libation
for the Bodhisatta and his mother,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'The moment, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta has come to birth,
standing on even feet
and facing north,
he takes seven strides,[27]
and while a white sunshade is being held over him,
he scans all the quarters[28]
and utters as with the voice of a bull:[29]

"I am chief in the world,
I am best in the world,
I am eldest in the world.

This is the last birth,

there is not now again-becoming."'

And inasmuch, [169] revered sir, as the moment the Bodhisatta has come to birth,
standing on even feet
and facing north,
he takes seven strides,
and while a white sunshade is being held over him,
he scans all the quarters
and utters as with the voice of a bull:

'I am chief in the world,
I am best in the world,
I am eldest in the world.

This is the last birth,

there is not now again-becoming,'
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's.

Face to face with the Lord, revered sir,
have I heard this,
face to face have I learnt:

'When, Ānanda, the Bodhisatta was issuing from his mother's womb,
then an illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
appeared in the world
with its devas,
its Māras,
its Brahmās,
among the generations
with recluses and brahmans,
devas and men.

And even in those spaces between the worlds,
gloomy,
baseless,
regions of blackness
plunged in blackness,
where the moon and the sun,
powerful and majestic though they are,
cannot make their light prevail -
even there
there appeared the illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.

And those beings who had uprisen there
recognised one another
by means of this radiance,
and they thought:

"Indeed there are other beings
who are uprising here."

And this ten-thousand-world-system quaked,
trembled
and shook,
and there appeared there
the illimitable glorious radiance surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.

And inasmuch, revered sir, as when the Bodhisatta was issuing from his mother's womb,
then an illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
appeared in the world
with its devas,
its Māras,
its Brahmās,
among the generations
with recluses and brahmans,
devas and men.

And even in those spaces between the worlds,
gloomy,
baseless,
regions of blackness
plunged in blackness,
where the moon and the sun,
powerful and majestic though they are,
cannot make their light prevail -
even there
there appeared the illimitable glorious radiance,
surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas.

And those beings who had uprisen there
recognised one another
by means of this radiance,
and they thought:

"Indeed there are other beings
who are uprising here."

And this ten-thousand-world-system quaked,
trembled
and shook,
and there appeared there
the illimitable glorious radiance surpassing even the deva-majesty of devas,
I regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's."

"Wherefore do you, Ānanda, regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Tathāāgata's:

As to this, Ānanda,
the feelings that arise in the Tathāgata are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction;
perceptions are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction;
the thoughts that arise are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction.

So do you, Ānanda, regard this too as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Tathāāgata's."

"Inasmuch, revered sir, as the feelings that arise in the Lord are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction;[30]
perceptions are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction;
the thoughts that arise are known;
known they persist;
known they go to destruction -
I regard this too, revered sir,
as a wonder,
a marvellous quality of the Lord's."

Thus spoke the venerable Ānanda.

The Teacher approved.

Delighted, these monks rejoiced
in what the venerable Ānanda, had said.

Discourse on Wonderful and Marvellous Qualities:
The Third

 


[1] Cf. the whole of this Discourse with D. Sta. 14; and see Dial. ii. 8 ff. for notes.

Anussarissati. 'Will be recollecting'. We might say 'will go about recollecting'.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[2] jānissati. D. ii. 8 reads anussarissati, (will), should recollect.

[3] Cf. S. iv. 62.

[4] papañca, i.e. to progress along the Way. Given at MA. iv. 167, DA. ii. 425 as "craving, pride, false views: these three defilements (kīlesa)."

[5] chinnavaṭuma. Vaṭuma, from root v.rṭ, to revolve, turn round, referring to the cycle, circle, revolution (on, or of, the wheel of saṁsāra). MA. iv. 167,' DA. ii. 425 say, "here the whirligig is called the rolling on of skilled and unskilled deeds."

[6] A synonym for the former phrase, DA. ii. 425 adding that the rolling on of all deeds is finished.

[7] As to result or effects in the future.

[8] Here dhamma is the middle term of the triad usually appearing as sīla samādhi paññā. MA. iv. 107-108 says that here evaṁ-dhammā means the mental states, dhammā, that are allied to samādhi, concentration, a concentration concerned (both) with what is worldly and what is supermundane. DA. ii. 420 adds that the meaning is concentration on the Way(s) and concentration on the fruits.

"the stopping of knowing and feeling" in #113 she translates 'the stopping of perception and feeliing'.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

[9] MA. iv. 168 and DA. ii. 420 say that these Lords were abiders in the attainment of stopping, i.e, the stopping of knowing and feeling. This is the ninth and culminating plane of the meditative process.

[10] Five kinds of freedom given at MA. iv. 168, DA. ii. 426: freed by eliminating (the hindrances); freed for certain; freed by cutting off (the defilements); freed by the subsiding of the defilements; the freedom of escape (which is nibbāna). They are freed in respect of these five freedoms.

[11] MA. iv. 168, "Since you say that Tathāgatas are wonderful, so let there occur to you," paṭibhantu, i.e. deliver, speak forth, speak out.

[12] I.e. of devas.

[13] Owing to his having fulfilled all the pārami, excellences or "goings beyond," there being no gift he had not given, no sīla he had not observed, MA. iv. 170.

[14] lokaniarikā, which appear to be Niraya Hells, see MA. iv. 177, Jā. i. 76, VbhA. 4. With this passage cf. A. ii. 130, D. ii. 12, S. v. 464, and Mhvu. i. 35, and see notes at Mhvu. Transin. (J.J. Jones), vol. i. p. 36 which I have largely followed.

[15] aghā, meaning dark. MA. iv, 177 explains by niccavivaṭā perpetually concealed (i.e. from the light).

[16] asaṁvutā, explained at MA. iv. 177 as heṭṭhāpi appatiṭṭhā, "not supported from below."

[17] ābhāya nānubhonti. MA. iv. 178 says: attano pabhāya nappahonti, they are unable with their own light.

[18] In a great Niraya Hell, MA. iv. 178.

[19] devaputta: the four Great Kings (of the quarters), MA. iv. 179. They wanted to ward off pisācas and yakkhas and terrifying non-human beings in case they frightened the mother.

[20] Cf. Mhvu. i. 145.

[21] abhinindriya, see P.E.D. He was sitting cross-legged, facing East, like a teacher of dhamma on a dhamma-seat, MA. iv. 181. But cf. Mhvu. i. 144 where Bodhisattas are said to stand in their mothers' womb. It is interesting to find the following simile occurring there too, but in rather a different form.

[22] See also D. ii. 13, M. ii. 17.

[23] MA. iv. 182 says this is to be understood as meaning children born after seven or eight or eleven or twelve months. All live except the eight months' child (reading at MA. iv. 182 should be atthamāsajāto na jīvati as at DA. ii. 437), but the seven months' child cannot stand heat or cold.

[24] Cf. Mhvu. i. 217.

[25] Cf. Mhvu. i. 149-150.

[26] Cf. Mhvu. i. 220-222. According to MA. iv. 184 = DA. ii. 438, as these streams of water were not needed to wash away any defilements, the warm one was for playing in and the cool one for drinking.

[27] Cf. Mhvu. i. 221.

[28] See Jā. i 63.

[29] MA. iv. 185, DA. ii. 439 say āsabhin ti uttamaṁ.

[30] Buddhas have nothing not capable of (being known by) insight, therefore knowing the three marks, tilakkhaṇa, they get rid of them, MA. iv. 190.


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