Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
1. Devadaha Vagga

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

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

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

Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
Public Domain

Sutta 107

Gaṇaka-Moggallāna Suttaɱ

Step by Step


[1] [154]

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

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī
in the Old Pleasaunce
in the Palace which Migara's mother gave,
there, came to him the brahmin Gaṇaka-Moggallāna,
who, after exchange of greetings,
seated himself to one side,
saying: -

Just, Gotama, as this palace gives evidence of skill,
execution and progress
developing right up to the final stair, -
so brahmins show a like
gradual growth of skill,
execution and progress
both in learning the scriptures
and in skill at arms
and also in the mathematics
of those of us who are accountants
and make our living by accountancy.

For when we take pupils to teach,
we begin by making them count like this, -
four times;
five times;
six times;
seven times;
eight times;
nine times;
ten times;
and we take them to a hundred.

Can this Doctrine and Rule of yours, Gotama,
show a like gradual growth in skill,
execution and progress?

[2] Yes,
it can, brahmin.

Just as a skilful horse-breaker
when a fine thoroughbred colt is put in his hands,
begins by schooling it to the bit
and then proceeds to further stages, -
so does the Truth-finder begin
his schooling of the human novice in his charge
by telling the Almsman to be virtuous,
to control his life by the canon law,
to behave aright,
to be fearful of little faults
and to live by the precepts.

This done, the Truthfinder proceeds with further schooling
by telling him to guard the portals of sense
and, when his eye sees a thing,
not to be carried away
either by its general presentment
or by its detailed features;
and - inasmuch as, without control,
the eye might overwhelm a man
with appetites and dejection
and with bad and wrong dispositions -
so to live as to control the eye,
to guard it,
and to establish control over it.

And as with the eye,
so with the ear
and the other five organs of sense,
he should live to establish control over each of them.

When the Almsman can guard the portals of sense,
the Truth-finder proceeds with a further schooling
by telling him to be temperate in eating
and to take food purposely and philosophically,
not for pleasure
or for delight
or for ostentation
or for display,
but only to support and maintain his body,
to save [156] it from harm,
and to aid the higher life -
his object herein being
to put from him the old feelings
and not to allow any new feelings to arise,
to the end that the blameless lot may be his
and well-being.

When [3] the Almsman is temperate in his eating,
the Truth-nnder proceeds with a further schooling
by telling him to live the vigilant life,
purging his heart at all seasons
of rebellious thoughts,
whether - by day
or in the first watch of the night -
he paces to and fro or sits down,
or whether - in the middle watch of the night -
he lies on his right side
in the lion posture
with foot on foot,
mindful and purposeful,
having appointed when he will arise.

When the Almsman is vigilant,
the Truth-finder proceeds with his further schooling
by telling him to be always mindful and purposeful,
acting mindfully and purposefully
whether in going forward or back,
in looking before or behind,
in drawing in or stretching out his limbs,
in conduct of cloak bowl and robes,
in eating and drinking,
in chewing and tasting,
in attending to the needs of nature,
in walking or standing still,
in sitting or lying down,
asleep or awake,
speaking or silent.

When the Almsman is mindful and purposeful,
the Truth-finder proceeds with his further schooling
by telling him to choose for himself a lonely lodging, -
in the forest under a tree,
in the wilds in cave or grot,
in a charnel-ground,
in a thicket or on bracken in the open.

When he is back from his round for alms,
he seats himself after his meal
cross-legged and with body erect,
with his heart set on mindfulness.

His life is without appetite
for things of the world,
for he has purged away all appetite.

He has put away all spite
and is inspired by no spiteful thought
but only with lovingkindness
and compassion for all that lives.

All torpor he has put from him;
all torpor has gone out of his life;
by insight,
by mindfulness,
and by self-collectedness
he has purged his heart of torpor.

Worry is his no longer,
for he has put worry out of his life;
his heart within him is tranquil and quit of all worry.

Misgivings he has shed
and outgrown;
no questions [157] harass him;
by right dispositions
he has purged his heart of all misgivings.

[4] When he has put from him these five Hindrances
and has understood how the heart's shortcomings weaken it,
then, divested of pleasures of sense
and divested of wrong dispositions,
the Almsman enters on,
and abides in,
the First Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of inward aloofness but not divorced from observation and reflection.

Rising above reasoning and reflection,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the Second Ecstasy
with all its zest and satisfaction, -
a state bred of rapt concentration,
above all observation and reflection,
a state whereby the heart is focussed
and tranquillity reigns within.

By shedding the emotion of zest,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the Third Ecstasy,
with its poised equanimity,
mindful and self-possessed,
feeling in his frame
the satisfaction of which the Noble say
that poise and mindfulness bring abiding satisfaction.

By putting from him both satisfaction and dissatisfaction,
and by shedding the joys and sorrows he used to feel,
he enters on,
and abides in,
the Fourth Ecstasy, -
the state that,
knowing neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction,
is the consummate purity
of poised equanimity and mindfulness.

Such, brahmin, is my schooling
of those who are still under training
and are not yet emancipate,
but are in quest of union with utter Peace.

As for those who are arahats,
in whom the Cankers are no more,
who have lived the highest life,
whose task is done,
who have won their weal
and outworn the Fetters that bind man to existence,
who are Delivered by the plenitude of Knowing, -
for such, these qualities conduce
both to well-being here and now
and also to mindfulness and self-collectedness.

At this point the brahmin asked the Lord whether,
with this guidance and instruction by him,
all his disciples
or only some of them
won the ultimate goal of Nirvana.

Some do, brahmin,
and some do not.

What, Gotama,
is the cause and condition why,
though Nirvana exists
and the road to it exists
and you show the way,
it is only some
and not all disciples who,
with this guidance and instruction,
succeed in winning the ultimate goal of Nirvana?

That leads me to ask you, brahmin,
a counter-question,
which please answer as you deem fit.

Do you think you know the road to Rājagaha?

[5] Yes, I do.

What think you, brahmin?

Suppose there came to you
a man who wanted to go to Rājagaha
and asked you to tell him the way thither;
and suppose you told him where his road lay
and that, if he went a little way along it,
he would first see a certain village,
then a certain township a little further on,
and still a little further on
he would see Rājagaha
with all its lovely pleasaunces
and lovely woods
and lovely spaces [158] and lovely lakes;
and suppose further that,
with this guidance and instruction from you,
that man took a cross-road and went west.

Suppose now a second man came to you
who wanted to go to Rājagaha
and was by you told the route
exactly as you had told the first man;
and suppose that,
with this guidance and instruction from you,
he got safely to Rājagaha.

What, brahmin, is the cause and condition
why, while Rājagaha exists
and the road to it exists
and you tell them the way,
one man takes a cross-road and goes west,
while another gets safely to Rājagaha? [6] Where is my responsibility,
Gotama? -

I only indicate the way.

Just in the same way, brahmin,
while Nirvana exists
and the road to it exists
and I tell them the way,
some of my disciples do,
and others do not,
with this guidance and instruction,
in winning the ultimate goal of Nirvana.

Where is my responsibility, brahmin?

The Truth-finder only indicates the way.

Hereupon the brahmin said to the Lord: -

The reverend Gotama dwells not with those whom
not faith but search for a livelihood
impels to go forth as Pilgrims
from home to homelessness;
dwells not with cunning and deceitful tricksters,
vain and puffed-up,
raucous and babbling,
keeping no watch over the portals of sense,
intemperate in their eating,
devoid of vigilance,
taking no thought of their vocation
nor keen in its discipline,
acquisitive and crafty,
foremost in backsliding,
intolerant of the yoke,
indolent and slack,
bewildered and flustered,
unstable and wandering,
witless and drivelling.

Gotama dwells only with those young men
whom faith leads forth as Pilgrims
from home to homelessness,
in whom the aforesaid shortcomings find no place
but only their counterparts in virtue.

Just as black anusari
is accounted chief among fragrant roots
and red sandalwood chief among fragrant woods
and [7] jasmine chief among fragrant flowers, -
so is the teaching of the reverend Gotama
in the van of to-day's gospels.

Wonderful, Gotama;

It is just as if a man should set upright again
what had been cast down,
or reveal what was hidden away,
or tell a man who had gone astray
which was his way,
or bring a lamp into darkness
so that those with eyes to see
might see the things about them, -
even so, in many a figure, has the reverend Gotama made his Doctrine clear.

I come to Gotama as my refuge
and to his Doctrine
and to his Confraternity;
I ask him to accept me as a follower
who has found an abiding refuge
from this day onward while life shall last.

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