Khuddaka Nikaya

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Chapter XIII — The Thirteens


Soṇa Koḷivisa

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Sourced from the edition at
For free distribution only.



Who once was highly exalted in the state,
having gone into the service of the king of Aṅga,[1]
today is exalted in qualities:
Soṇa, gone beyond suffering.

Five should be cut, five abandoned,
and five above all developed.
Having gone past five bonds,[2]
a monk is said to be
one who's crossed over.

For a monk who is insolent, heedless,
wishing for what's outside,
virtue, concentration, and discernment
don't go to completion,
because what should be done is cast        aside,
what shouldn't be done        is done.
For those who are insolent, heedless,
their effluents increase.

But those whose mindfulness immersed in the body
is constantly well-undertaken,
— who don't engage in what shouldn't be done,
who persevere in what should be done,
mindful, alert —
their effluents go to their end.

Go by the straight path pointed out,
don't turn back.
You yourself should reprove yourself[3]
should advance to unbinding.

When I overexerted my effort,
the Teacher unexcelled in the world,
the One with Eyes,
making the lute simile,
taught me the Dhamma.
I, having heard his words,
dwelled delighting in his bidding.
I practiced in tune,[4]
attaining the foremost goal.
The three knowledges are attained.
The Buddha's bidding, done.

When one's awareness is dedicated[5]
to renunciation, seclusion,
non-afflictiveness, the ending of clinging,
the ending of craving, and non-deludedness,
seeing the arising of the sense media,
the mind is rightly released.
For that monk, rightly released,
his heart at peace.
There's nothing to be done,
nothing to add
to what's done.

As a single mass of rock isn't moved by the wind,
even so all
forms, flavors, sounds,
aromas, contacts,
ideas desirable and not,
have no effect on one who is Such.
The mind
— still, totally released —
focuses on
their passing away.


[1] Ven. Soṇa's story is told in AN 6:55 and Mv V.1. The Mahāvagga version states that he was a native of Aṅga, but says nothing about his having been in the service of the king.

[2] According to the Commentary, the five that should be cut are the five lower fetters; the five that should be abandoned are the five higher fetters (see AN 10:13); the five that should be developed are the five faculties: conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment (see SN 48:10). The five bonds are passion, aversion, delusion, conceit, and views.

[3] This line also appears in Dhp 379.

[4] The Thai, Burmese, and Sri Lankan editions here read samathaṃ, "tranquility." However, I have chosen to follow the PTS edition in reading samataṃ, "in tune," which seems to fit better with the message of the simile. Throughout ancient cultures, the terminology of music was used to describe the moral quality of people and actions. Discordant intervals or poorly-tuned musical instruments were metaphors for evil; harmonious intervals and well-tuned instruments, metaphors for good. For more on this point, see MN 61, note 2, and The Wings to Awakening, I.A.

[5] From this line to the end is the poem that, according to AN 6:55 and Mv V.1.27, was part of Ven. Soṇa's declaration of arahantship to the Buddha.


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