Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikaaya
II. Majjhima-Pa.n.naasa
1. Gahapati Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
1. The Division on Householders

Sutta 53

Sekha Sutta.m

Discourse for Learners

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[1] was staying among the Sakyans near Kapilavatthu in Nigrodha's monastery.

Now at that time a new conference hall had not long been built for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu,and had never (yet) been occupied by a recluse or brahman or any human being.

Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu approached the Lord; hving approached, having greeted the Lord, they sat down at a respectful distance.

As they were sitting down at a respectful distance, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu spoke thus to the Lord:

"Lord, there is a new conference hall here, built not long ago for theSakyans of Kapilavatthu, which has never (yet) been occupied by a recluse or brahman or any human being.

Lord, let the Lord be the first to use it.

When the Lord has used it first, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu will use it afterwards, and for a long time that will be for the welfare and happiness of the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu."[2]

The Lord consented by becoming silent.

Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu, having understood the Lord's consent, rising from their seats, having greeted the Lord, approached the conference hall keeping their right sides towards him.

Having approached, having spread the conference hall with all the spreadings,[3] having got seats ready, having set out a water vessel, having hung up an oil lamp, they approached the Lord; having approached and greeted the Lord, they stood at a respectful distance.

As they were standing at a respectful distance, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu spoke thus to the Lord:

"Lord, the conference hall has been spread with all the spreadings, seats have been got ready, a water vessel set out, an oil lamp hung up.

Let the Lord now do that for which he thinks it is the right time."

When the Lord had dressed, taking his bowl and robe, he approached the conference hall together with an Order of monks; having approached, he washed his feet, entered the conference hall and sat down against the middle pillar, facing the east.

The Order of monks also washed their feet, entered the conference hall and sat down against the western wall, facing the east with the Lord in front of them.

The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu also washed their feet, entered the conference hall and sat down against the eastern wall, facing the west with the Lord in front of them.

Then the Lord, having gladdened, roused, incited, delighted the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu with reasoned talk far into the night, addressed the venerable Aananda,[4] saying:

"Aananda, let there occur to you a learner's course[5] for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu; my back is aching, I will stretch it."

"Yes, revered sir," the venerable Aananda answered the Lord in assent.

Then the Lord, having folded his outer robe into four, lay down on his right side in the lion posture, foot resting on foot, mindful, clearly conscious, reflecting on the thought of getting up again.

Then the venerable Aananda addressed Mahaanaama the Sakyan[6], saying:

"Now, Mahaanaama, a disciple of the ariyans
is possessed of moral habit,
he is one who guards the doors of the sense-organs,
he is moderate in eating,
intent on vigilance,
possessed of the seven excellent things,[7]
one who acquires at will,[8] without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations[ed2] which are of the purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now.[9]

And how, Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple possessed of moral habit?[10]

As to this, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple is moral;[11] he lives controlled by the control of the Obligations[ed3], possessed of (right) behaviour and resort, seeing danger in the slightest faults; undertaking them rightly, he trains in the rules of training.

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is possessed of moral habit.

And how, Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple one who guards the doors of the sense-organs?[12]

As to this, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple, having seen a material shape with the eye, is not entranced by the general appearance, is not entranced by the detail.

For is he dwell with the organ of sight uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it, he guards the organ of sight; he achieves control over the organ of sight.

Having heard a sound with the ear ...

Having smelt a smell with the nose ...

Having savoured a taste with the tongue ...

Having felt a touch with the body ...

Having cognised a mental state with the mind, he is not entranced by the general appearance, is not entranced by the detail.

If he dwell with the organ of mind uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states, might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it, he guards the organ of mind; he achieves control over the organ of mind.

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is one who guards the doors of the sense-organs.

And how Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple one who is moderate in eating?[13]

As to this, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple takes food reflecting carefully, not for fun or indulgence or personal charm or beautification, but just enough for maintaining this body and keeping it going, for keeping it unharmed, for furthering the Brahma-faring, with the thought:

'Thus will I crush out an old feeling, and I will not allow a new feeling to arise, and then there will be for me subsistence and blamelessness and abiding in comfort.'

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is moderate in eating.

And how Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple intent on vigilance?[14]

As to this, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple during the day, while pacing up and down and while sitting down, cleanses his mind of obstructive mental states;
during the first watch of the night, pacing up and down, sitting down, he cleanses his mind of obstructive mental states;
during the middle watch of the night, he lies down on his right side in the lion posture, foot resting on foot, mindful, clearly conscious, reflecting on the thought of getting up again;
during the last watch of the night, when he has risen, while pacing up and down, while sitting down, he cleanses his mind of obstructive mental states.

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is intent on vigilance.

And how, Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple possessed of the seven excellent things?[15]

As to this, Mahaanaama, the ariyan disciple is of faith;[16] he has faith in the awakening of the Tathaagata, and thinks: He is indeed Lord, perfected one, fully Self-Awakened One, endowed with right knowledge and confuct, well-farer, knower of the world(s), matchless charioteer of men to be tamed, teacher of devas and men, the Awakened One, the Lord.

He comes to have shame; he is ashamed of wrong conduct in body, of wrong conduct in speech, of wrong conduct in thought, he is ashamed to fall into evil unskilled mental states.

He has fear of blame; he fears blame for wrong conduct in body ...

speech ...

thought, he fears blame for falling into evil unskilled mental states.

He is one who has heard much, who remembers what he has heard, who stores up what he has heard.

Those things, lovely in the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely at the ending which, with the meaning and the spirit, declare the Brahma-faring wholly fulfilled, perfectly purified, such things are much heard by him, borne in mind, familiarised by speech, pondered over in the mind, well penetrated by right view.[17]

He dwells with stirred up energy[18] for getting rid of unskilled mental states, for acquiring skilled mental states, steadfast, firm in advance, perservering amid skilled mental states.

He is mindful,[19] possessed of the highest mindfulness and discrimination,[20] remembering, recollecting[21] what he has done and said long ago.

He is one of wisdom,[22] endowed with wisdom leading to (the cutting off of) rise and fall, with the ariyan penetration leading to the complete destruction of anguish.

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is possessed of the seven excellent things.

And how, Mahaanaama, is an ariyan disciple one who acquires at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations which are of the purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now?[23]

As to this, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple, aloof from pleasure of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind, enteres and abides in the first meditation, which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought, is born of aloofness and is rapturous and joyful.

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

the fourth meditation.

It is thus, Mahaanaama, that an ariyan disciple is one who acquires at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations which are of the purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now.

When, Mahaanaama, an ariyan disciple is endowed with moral habit thus,
is one who guards the doors of his sense-organs thus,
is moderate in eating thus,
is intent on vigilance thus,
is endowed with the seven excellent things thus,
is one who acquires thus at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations which are of purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now,
then he, Mahaanaama, is called an ariyan disciple who is on a learner's course, possessed of (mental) soundness, he becomes one for successful breaking through,[24] he becomes one for self-awakening, he becomes one for winning the matchless security from the bonds.

Mahaanaama, it is as if there were eight or ten or a dozen hen's eggs, properly sat on, properly incubated, properly hatched by that hen; such a wish as this would not arise in that hen:

'O may my chicks, having pierced through the egg-shell with the point of the claw on their feet or with their beaks, break forth safely,'

for these chicks were ones who were able to break forth safely having pierced the egg-shells with the point of the claw on their feet or with their beaks.

Even so, Mahaanaama, when an ariyan disciple is endowed with moral habit thus,
is one who guards the doors of his sense-organs thus,
is moderate in eating thus,
is intent on vigilance thus,
is endowed with the seven excellent things thus,
is one who acquires thus at will, without trouble, without difficulty the four meditations which are of the purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now,
then he, Mahaanaama, is called an ariyan disciple who is on a leearner's course, possessed of (mental) soundness, he becomes one for successful breaking through, he becomes one for self-awakening, he becoes one for winning the matchless security from the bonds.

That ariyan disciple, Mahaanaama, having come to this matchless purification through equanimity and mindfulness,[25] recollects a variety of former habitations, that is to say one birth, two births ...

Thus in all their mode and detail he recollects a variety of former habitations.

This is his first breaking through as a chick's from the egg-shell.

Then this ariyan disciple, Mahaanaama, having come to this matchless purification through equanimity and mindfulness, with the purified deva-vision surpassing that of men, sees beings as they are passing hence and uprising, mean, excellent, comely, ugly, well-going, ill-going ...

he comprehends beings according to the consequences of deeds.

This is his second breaking through as a chick's from the egg-shell.

Then this ariyan disciple, Mahaanaama, having come to this matchless purification through equanimity and mindfullness, by the destruction of the cankers having here-now realised by his own super-knowledge the freedom of mind and the freedom through intuitive wisdom that are cankerless, enters and abides therin.

This is his third breaking through as a chick's from the egg-shell.

Whatever ariyan disciple, Mahaanaama, is possessed of moral habit, this is so of him in regard to conduct.[26]

And, Mahaanaama, whatever ariyan disciple is guarded as to the doors of his sense-organs, this too is so of him in regard to conduct.

And, Mahaanaama, whatever ariyan disciple is moderate in eating ...

is intent on vigilance ...

is possessed of the seven excellent things ...

acquires at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations that are of the purest mentality, abidings in ease here and now, this to is so of him in regard to conduct.

But, Mahaanaama, whatever ariyan disciple in many a figure recollects his former habitations, that is to say one birth, two births ...
that is so of him in regard to knowledge.[27]

And, Mahaanaama, whatever ariyan disciple, by the purified deva-vision surpassing that of men, sees beings as they are passing hence and uprising, mean, excellent, comely ugly, well-going, ill-going ...
who comprehends beings according to the consequences of deeds, this too is so of him in regard to knowledge.

And, Mahaanaama, whatever ariyan disciple, by the destruction of the cankers, having realised here and now by his own super-knowledge the freedom of mind and the freedom through wisdom that are cankerless, enters and abides therein, this too is so of him in regard toknowledge.[28]

Mahaanaama, this ariyan disciple is said to be possessed of knowledge and to be possessed of (right) conduct and to be possessed of knowledge and (right) conduct.

And, Mahaanaama, this verse was spoken by Brahmaa Ever-Young:[29]

'The noble warrior is best among those people who value clan;
He who is possessed of knowledge and (right) conduct is the best of devas and men.'[30]

Mahaanaama, this verse was rightly sung, not wrongly sung by Brahmaa Ever-Young; it was rightly spoken, not wrongly spoken; it is connected with the goal, not connected with what is not the goal.

It is approved by the Lord."

Then the Lord, having risen, addressed the venerable Aananda, saying:

"It is good, it is good, Aananda; it is good that you, Aananda, spoke on a learner's course to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu."

Thus spoke the venerable Aananda, the Teacher approving.

Delighted, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu rejoiced in what the venerable Aananda had said.

 


[1] S. iv. 182-3. At D. iii. 207 ff. the scene is laid among the Mallas of Paavaa.

[2] Cf. RV VIII. 17. 14, "Strong pillar thou, Lord of the home!"

[3] sabbasanthari.m santhaagaara.m santharitvaa. On santhata, p.p. of santharati, see B.D. ii. p. xxi ff.; and on v.11. of santharitvaa in this connection see D. iii, 208, n. 5. The reading should probably be santharaapetvaa as in D.

p.p. explains it all [ed1] This is taking the comentary at it's word, but The Abhidhamma was not even existant at this point. No mention is made of 'The Abhidhamma' in this sutta! That higher Dhamma is spoken of does not say that there is a pitaka called 'The Abhidhamma' in existance. Higher Dhamma is that Dhamma that involves understanding the Four Truths.

[ed2] Note that the jhanas here are expected to be developed by laymen: "...acquires at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations ...

[ed3] Paatimokkha The Patimokkha, which is not binding on laymen! This must be a later insert. [Edit: I think I am wrong here. I think this sutta is being delivered to laymen but is meant to be describing the next step, that is the training that the new initiate undergoes.]

- p.p.

[4] Aananda was a learned expert in thge three Pi.takas, and was able to speak of the three (parts of the) training by means of them: the Vinaya spoken for speaking of the higher morality, the Sutta-pi.taka for speaking of the higher thought, and the Abhidhamma-pitaka for speaking of the higher wisdom, MA. ii9i. 28. These three branches of the whole training are all mentioned in this Discourse.[ed1]

[5] Sekho paa.tipado. Cf. A. ii. 86 (bhikkhu sekkho hoti pa.tipado, and where it would seem that paa.ti- is "the more correct," G.S. ii. 96, n. 2), and Iti. p. 80, (saavako ... pi sekho).

[6] MA. iii. 29 says he was chief and head of the company at that time.

[7] saddhammehi; MA. iii. 29 reads sundaradhammehi sata.m vaa sappurisa.m dhammehi. AA. iv. explains saddhammehi by suddhammehi. With this paragraph cf. A. iv. 108f.

[8] See M. i. 33.

[9] This phrase also at A. ii. 23, 36, etc. See P.T.C., s.v. abhicetasika.

[10] MA. iii. 29 refers to the aaka'nkheyya Sutta (M. Sta. 6), etc. See also M. Sta. 107.

[11] siilavant. Cf. Saama~n~naphalasuttanta, §§ 43-62, each of which ends by saying: ida'm pi 'ssa hot siilasmi'm, a phrase to be compared with ida'm pi 'ssa hoti cara.nasmi'm ... vijjaaya, "this is so of him in regard to conduct ... knowledge" on p. 24 below.

[12] Cf. M. i. 180 (M.L.S. i. 226)

[13] As at M. i. 273

[14] As at M. i. 273.

[15] Cf. M. iii. 23; D. iii. 252, 282; A. iv. 108 ff.

[16] Cf. S. v. 196.

[17] Cf. M. iii. 11.

[18] Cf. M. ii. 95, S. v. 197, A. iii. 11, iv. 3, Ud. 37.

[19] Cf. S. v. 197, A. iii. 11.

[20] nepakka, see Vbh. 249.

[21] MA. iii. 30 distinguishes saying that saritaa (remembering) is remembering once, anussaritaa (recollecting) is remembering again and again.

[22] Cf. M. ii, 95.

[23] Cf. A. ii. 22f., iii. 131, iv. 108 ff.

[24] I.e. from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. Cf. M. i. 104.

[25] In the fourth meditation. See also below, p. 31. [MN 54].

[26] cara.na.

[27] vijjaa. On vijjaacara.na see A. ii. 163, v. 326 f.; and Vism. 202.

[28] Cf. the fifteen things (dhammaa) given at Vism. 202 in its definition of cara.na, "conduct," The implied idea of movement in the word cara.na is also made explicit at Vism. 202: "these very fifteen things are those by which an ariyan disciple walks (carati, fares, moves) and goes to the deathless quarter." Cf. also the fifteen factors (a'nga) at M. i. 303, 304. The three knowledges are meant here according to MA. iii. 33, and also, as Vism. 202 notices, in the Bhayabheravasutta (M. Sta. 4), but eitght are spoken of in the Amba.t.thasutta (D. i. 100.)

[29] Sana'nkumaara. See Chaand. Up. Ch. VII.

[30] D. i. 99; iii. 97; S. i. 153, ii. 284; A. v. 327.


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