Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
1. Mūla-Paṇṇāsa
2. Sīhanāda Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume V
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part IV

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume I

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 14

Cūḷa Dukkha-k-Khandha Suttaɱ

The Brief Story of Ill



[1][pts][ntbb][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu in the Banyan pleasaunce,
there came to him (his elder cousin) Mahānāma the Sakyan
who, after salutations,
seated himself to one side
and spoke as follows:

Though I have long understood the Lords teaching
that greed,
and illusion
were vices that beset the heart,
yet at times each of these vices
invades my heart
and takes up its abode there,
so that I wonder
what undiscarded state of consciousness it is
that causes this invasion.

Yes, Mahānāma,
it is an undiscarded state of consciousness
which causes the trouble;
and this would be dislodged from within you,
if you were to quit house and home
and renounce all pleasures of sense.

It is because this state of mind persists in you,
that you keep living on at home in comfort.

If, though a disciple of the Noble
has a sound and true grasp
and comprehension of the truth
that pleasures of the sense,
while yielding little satisfaction
but much Ill
and much tribulation,
are dogged by perils greater still,
he yet fails to find zest and satisfaction -
or something Higher than that -
without pleasures of sense
and without wrong states of consciousness, -
then he is in pleasure's snares.

But if to that grasp
and comprehension
he adds this zest and satisfaction -
or something Higher -
without pleasures of sense
and without wrong states,
then he is not ensnared by pleasure.

I myself, Mahānāma,
in the days before my Enlightenment,
when I was still but a Bodhisatta
not yet fully enlightened,
although I had a sound and true grasp
and comprehension of the truth
about pleasures of [67] sense,
yet I failed to find zest and satisfaction,
or something Higher,
without pleasures of sense
and wrong dispositions;
and I was conscious
that I was still in pleasure's snares.

But when to grasp and comprehension
I added a zest and satisfaction,
and something Higher,
into which pleasure
and wrong dispositions
did not enter,
then I became conscious
of being no longer ensnared by pleasure.

What is the satisfaction
that attends pleasures of sense?

Fivefold ...
(etc. as in preceding Sutta) ...

Verily with pleasure,
and pleasure only,
as the cause.

Once on a time,
when I was staying at Rājagaha
on the Vultures' Peak,
there were a number of Nigaṇṭhas at Blackrock
on the slopes of Mt. Isigili, -
upright men who would never sit down,
and were undergoing paroxysms of acute pain and agony.

Arising towards evening from my meditations,
I went to Blackrock
and asked those Nigaṇṭhas why it was
they subjected themselves to all these pains
by maintaining the upright posture
and never sitting down.

Their answer to me was that Nātaputta the Nigaṇṭha -
who was all-knowing and all-seeing,
with nothing beyond his ken and vision,
and who claimed that,
whether he was walking or standing still,
sleeping or awake,
continuous and unruffled ken and vision
were always his
had taught them as follows:

you have done evil in the past; -
extirpate it by these severe austerities.

Every present restraint on body,
and mind
will hereafter undo the evildoings of the past.

Hence, by expelling through penance
all past misdeeds,
and by not committing fresh misdeeds,
the future becomes cleared;
with the future cleared,
the past is wiped out;
with the past wiped out,
Ill is no more;
with Ill no more,
(painful) feelings are no more;
and, with painful feelings now no more,
all Ill will be outworn."

'This teaching commends and approves itself to us,
and we rejoice in it.'

Thereupon, I said to those Nigaṇṭhas:

'Do you know, reverend sirs,
whether you had an existence before this
and were not non-existent?'

[68] 'No, sir.'

'Do you know that,
in a former existence,
you were guilty,
and not guiltless,
of misdeeds?'


'Do you know that
(in that former existence)
you were guilty,
and not guiltless,
of this or that specific misdeed?'


'Do you know that a precise amount of Ill
has already been outworn,
or that a precise amount of Ill
has to be outworn,
or that, when a precise amount of Ill has been outworn,
all Ill has become outworn?'


'Do you know how,
here and now,
to shed wrong dispositions
and to acquire right dispositions?'


'So I gather, sirs,
that you Nigaṇṭhas have no knowledge
whether you had an existence before this;
whether you were guilty of misdeeds,
either generally or specifically;
how much Ill is already outworn
or how much has still to be outworn
or how much has to be outworn
before all Ill has become outworn;
nor how, here and now,
to shed wrong dispositions
and to acquire right dispositions.

This being so, pray,
do those who,
having been reborn as men,
are hunters
or have hands stained with blood or cruelty,
flock to be Pilgrims with the Nigaṇṭhas?'

'True weal, Gotama,
must be won
not by weal and comfort
but by woe.

If weal were the means to win weal,
then the King of Magadha, Seniya Bimbisara,
would win weal,
for there is more weal in his life
than in the reverend Gotama's.'

'Surely this is a somewhat hasty remark.'

'It is I who ought to be asked
which of the two of us
enjoys the greater weal, -
the King or I.'

'Yes, it was somewhat hasty;
but let that pass,
and let us now put to you the question
whether it is the King or you
who enjoys the greater weal in his life.'

'Then, sirs, I will ask you a question in return,
to be answered by you as you see fit:

Can the King [69] rest motionless
and not utter a word
for seven days and nights on end,
and yet abide in Weal beyond compare?'


'Can he do so for six days and nights, -
or for five,
two days and nights,
or for just one single night and day?'


Well, sirs, I can rest motionless
and not speak a word
for a night and a day
and yet abide all the time
in Weal beyond compare.

I can do so for two nights and days, -
for three,
six and seven nights and days on end.

What think you, Nigaṇṭhas?

On this shewing,
who enjoys the greater Weal in his life,
King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha, or I?'

'On this showing,
it is the reverend Gotama
who enjoys greater Weal in his life
than the King does.'"

So spoke the Lord. Glad at heart,
Mahānāma the Sakyan rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

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