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 108

Gopaka-Moggallāna Suttaɱ

Gotama's Successor


[7] [159]

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

Once when, soon after the passing of the Lord,
the reverendĀnanda was staying at Rājagaha,
in the Bamboo-grove
where the squirrels were fed,
Ajātasattu, King of Magadha,
son of the Videha princess,
was putting Rājagaha's defences in repair,
out of suspicions of King Pajjota.

Early in the morning, Ānanda,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
went into Rājagaha for alms,
but, bethinking him that the hour was too early yet,
decided to go to the works
which the brahmin Gopaka-Moggallāna had in charge;
and thither he betook himself.

Seeing him coming some way off,
the brahmin invited him to approach as a welcome visitor
after so long an absence
and put out for him a seat
on whichĀnanda seated himself,
[8] while the brahmin sat down on a lower seat and said: -

Is there a single Almsman
who in every respect
and in every particular
possesses all the qualities
that were possessed by the reverend Gotama,
the arahat all-enlightened?

No, Brahmin.

For the Lord made a Path
where path there was none,
traced out a Path
where path there was none,
and revealed a Path
till then unrevealed;
he knew and saw the Path;
master of the Path was he.

To-day his disciples follow him
in the Path which has come to them from him.

Their talk was cut short
by the arrival of the brahmin Vassakāra,
a minister of the Magadha court,
who came,
in the course of an inspection of the works at Rājagaha,
to the works which Gopaka-Moggallāna had in charge.

Seating himself
after courteous greetings to Ānanda,
Vassakāra asked
what had been the topic of their interrupted conversation.

And [160] Ānanda repeated Gopaka-Moggallāna's question
and [9] his own answer,
which had been followed by Vassakāra's arrival.

Is there any particular Almsman, Ānanda,
who was designated by the reverend Gotama
to be at his decease your alternative refuge,
and to whom,
in his place,
you might have recourse to-day?


Is there any such Almsman
chosen for this purpose by the Confraternity
and designated as such by Elders and Almsmen?


Having no such alternative refuge,
how come you to be in such unison?

We lack not an alternative refuge, brahmin;
we have one in the Doctrine.

I note your several answers
to my several questions [10]
and can only ask what your words mean.

The Lord who knew and saw,
the arahat all-enlightened,
prescribed a rule of life
and laid down a canon law.

Every sabbath all of us who live in the precincts of a village -
meet as a body
and in meeting
enquire what each is doing.

If, when this is being told us,
an offence or a transgression by an Almsman is disclosed,
we make him act according to the Doctrine
and according to book.

It is not by us, we hold,
but by the Doctrine
that he is constrained.

Is there any one particular Almsman
whom to-day you respect and revere,
to whom you show honour and worship
and to whom you look up with respect and reverence?


In answer to my previous questions,
you have already told me
that Gotama designated no Almsman
as an alternative to himself
as your refuge at his death,
and that [11] the Confraternity
has designated no one since;
but now you tell me
there is an Almsman whom you revere
and in dependence on whom
you live in respect and reverence.

What can your words mean?

The Lord indicated ten blissful qualities,
the [161] presence of which impels us to respect and revere a man,
to honour and worship him,
and to look up to him
with respect and reverence.

What are these ten qualities? -

Take an Almsman who is virtuous,
who lives conformably to the canon law,
who behaves aright,
who is fearful of little faults
and undertakes a training
according to the precepts.

He learns much,
remembers much,
stores and treasures much.

All doctrines that are fair at the outset,
fair in the middle and fair in their close,
which set forth with text and meaning the higher life
in all its perfection and purity,
- all these are heard,
learned by heart,
garnered by recital,
turned over and over in his mind
and penetrated by vision.

He is content with his raiment and other requisites.

At will and readily
he joys in the Four Ecstasies
in all their pellucidity
and with all their comfort here and now.

He develops in turn each several psychic power; -
from being one he becomes manifold,
from being manifold he becomes one,
is visible or invisible,
passes at will through wall or fence or hill
as if in air,
passes in and out of the solid earth
as if it were water,
walks on the water's unbroken surface
as if it were the solid earth,
[12] sitting in state
glides through the air
like a bird on the wing,
touches and handles the sun and moon in their power and might,
and extends the sovereignty of his body
right up to the Brahmā world.

By the ear Celestial
which is pure
and far surpasses the human ear,
he hears sounds celestial and sounds human,
both far and near.

His heart knows the heart
of other creatures
and other men,
knows them for what they are, -
the heart where passion dwells as passionate,
the passionless heart as passionless,
the unkind heart as unkind,
the kindly heart as kindly,
the deluded heart as deluded,
the undeluded heart as undeluded,
the concentrated heart as concentrated,
the unconcentrated heart as unconcentrated,
the great heart as great
and the little heart as little,
the inferior heart as inferior
and the superior heart as superior,
the stedfast heart as stedfast
and the unstedfast heart as unstedfast, [162] the heart Delivered as Delivered,
and the heart undelivered as undelivered.

He recalls his own divers existences in the past, -
a single birth,
then two ... [and so on to] ... a hundred thousand births,
many an aeon of disintegration of the world,
many an aeon of its redintegration,
and again many an aeon both of its disintegration
and of its redintegration.

In this or that former existence,
he remembers,
'Such and such was my name,
my sept,
my class,
my diet,
my joys and sorrows,
and my term of life.

When I passed thence,
I came by such and such subsequent existence,
wherein such and such was my name and so forth.

Thence I passed to my life here.

Thus does he call to mind his divers existences of the past
in all their details and features.

With the Eye Celestial,
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
he sees beings in the act of passing hence
and of re-appearing elsewhere, -
beings high and low,
fair or foul to view,
in bliss or woe;
he sees them all faring according to their past.

With the Eye Celestial,
which is pure
and far surpasses the human eye,
he sees creatures in act to pass hence
and to appear elsewhere,
creatures lowly or debonair,
fair or foul to view,
all passing to fare according to their deserts.

By the eradication of the Cankers,
he - here and now,
and of himself -
and dwells
in that Deliverance of heart and mind
in which the Cankers are no more.

These, brahmin, are the ten blissful qualities
indicated by the Lord,
the presence of which
impels us to respect and revere a man,
to honour and worship him,
and to look up to him with respect and reverence.

[18] At this point the brahmin Vassakāra,
minister of the Magadha court,
said to Upānanda,
the Commander in Chief: -

What think you?

If it be thus
that these reverend men
respect the man worthy of respect,
revere the man worthy of reverence,
honour the man worthy of honour
and worship the man worthy of worship, -
surely they are right herein.

If they did not give to such a man
their respect and reverence,
their honour and worship, -
to what could they possibly give it?

Turning to Ānanda,
the brahmin next asked
where he was living
and was told it was in the Bamboo-grove;
he also asked whether the grove was pleasant
and free from voices and noise,
sheltered from winds,
and favourable to meditation.

Yes, indeed, brahmin, -
as befits rangers and wardens (Gopaka) like yourself.

Yes, indeed, Ānanda, -
as befits reverend men
who practise Ecstasies
and engage therein.

For, such men engage in Ecstasy and practise it.

Once when the reverend Gotama
was staying at the Gabled Hall
in the Great Wood of Vesāli,
I went to him
and heard him speak of Ecstasy in many a figure.

He Both [163] practised Ecstasy
and engaged in it.

He was an advocate of all Ecstasy.

The Lord, brahmin, did not advocate all Ecstasy
nor did he contemn all Ecstasy.

What kind [14] of Ecstasy did he contemn? -

Take the case of a man
whose heart is swayed and dominated by passion
and who has no real knowledge
of a true refuge from the passion within him.

Inside his heart he hugs passion,
as in Ecstasy he muses
and bemuses,
and de-bemuses.

And the same holds good
if his heart is swayed and dominated by spite,
flurry and worry,
or doubt.

It was this kind of Ecstasy
that the Lord contemned.

The kind of Ecstasy
which the Lord advocated was when,
divested of lusts and wrong dispositions,
an Almsman develops and dwells 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.

This goes to show
that he blamed blameworthy Ecstasy
and praised the praiseworthy.

And now, Ānanda,
I must be going;
for I am busy and have much to do.

At your own good time, brahmin.

[15] So with grateful thanks for whatĀnanda had said,
tne brahmin Vassakāra rose up
and went his way.

He had not been gone long
before the brahmin Gopaka-Moggallāna said; -

The reverend Ānanda has not however answered the question I put to him.

Did I not tell you, brahmin,
that there was no single Almsman
who in every respect
and in every particular
possessed all the qualities possessed by the Lord,
the arahat all-enlightened?

And that because the Lord made a Path
where Path there was none,
traced out a Path
till then unrevealed;
he knew and saw the Path;
master of the Path was he.

To-day his disciples follow him
in the Path which has come down to them from him.

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