Majjhima Nikaya

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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari-Paṇṇāsa
4. Vibhaṅga 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 140

Dhātu-Vibhaṅga Suttaɱ

The Six Elements


[237] [290]

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

Once when the Lord was on an alms-pilgrimage through Magadha,
he arrived at Rājagaha
and went to Bhaggava the potter,
to whom he said that,
if it was not inconvenient,
he would stay the night there.

Bhaggava answered:

Not at all inconvenient, sir;
there is a Pilgrim in residence already;
but, if he consents,
stay here as long as you like.

[238] Now at that time
there was a young man named Pukkusāti
who for faith's sake
had gone forth from home to homelessness as a Pilgrim
to follow the Lord;
and he it was
who was already in residence in the potter's dwelling
and to whom the Lord came
to say that, if it was not inconvenient,
he would stay the night there.

Pukkusāti answered:

The potter's dwelling is spacious;
stay as long as your reverence likes.

Entering the house,
the Lord spread a grass-mat
and sat down on it cross-legged,
with body erect,
and with mindfulness as the objective he set before himself.

For the great part of the night
the Lord remained thus sitting, -
as also did the reverend Pukkusāti.

Wondering whether the young man was agreeable,
and [291] deciding to question him,
the Lord asked:

Whom do you follow?

Who is your master?

Whose Doctrine have you embraced?

There is, sir, the recluse Gotama
the Sakyan who left a Sakyan family
to become a Pilgrim.

Of the Lord Gotama
is this high repute noised abroad,
that he is said to be the Lord,
the arahat all-enlightened,
walking by knowledge,
understanding all worlds,
the matchless tamer of the human heart,
teacher of deities and men,
the Lord of Enlightenment.

That Lord do I follow in my pilgrimage;
the Lord is my master;
it is that Lord's Doctrine which I have embraced.

Where at the present time, Almsman,
is the Lord,
the arahat all-enlightened?

In the countries to the North, sir,
there is a town named Sāvatthī,
and there at the present time dwells the Lord,
arahat all-enlightened.

Have you ever set eyes on the Lord, Almsman?

If you saw him,
would you recognize him?

[289] No, sir; I have never seen him,
nor should I recognize him.

Bethinking him that this young man was a Pilgrim in his own train,
and resolving to preach the Doctrine to him,
the Lord said: -

I will preach the Doctrine to you, Almsman.

Listen and pay attention
and I will speak.

Yes, sir, said the reverend Pukkusāti in assent.

Said the Lord: -

In a man there are six Elements,
six Contacts,
eighteen mental Researches,
four Resolves,
established in which
he has no outflow of imaginings and,
having it not,
is styled the tranquil Sage.

Let him hold fast to understanding;
safeguard truthfulness;
foster Renunciation;
and work for naught but tranquillity.

This is the synopsis
of the exposition of the six elements.

I said a man contained six elements;
and these are -
and consciousness.

I said a man had six spheres of contact;
and these are -
and mental objects.

I said there were mental researches;
and these [292] relate to 'agreeable,
to disagreeable
and to neutral research
into the objects of the six several senses.

[240] I said a man had four resolves;
and these are the resolves to understand,
to be truthful,
to renounce,
and to win tranquillity.

I said further that a man should
hold fast to understanding,
safeguard truthfulness,
foster Renunciation,
and work for naught but tranquillity.

Now, how does he hold fast to understanding? -

(To begin with,) there are the aforesaid six elements,
the nature of which is as follows: -

The earth-element may be internal or external.

Whatsoever, being internal and personal,
is solid and hard or derivative therefrom ...
(etc. as in Sutta No. 62) ...
[241-242] turns from the space-element in disgust
and with loathing of heart.

(Over and above these five elements),
consciousness will still remain,
purified and cleansed,
whereby a man knows anything
and can distinguish the pleasant and the unpleasant
both from one another
and from what is neither one nor the other.

By pleasurable coutact
arises a pleasant feeling.

While experiencing that pleasant feeling,
the man knows precisely that he is experiencing it,
as he knows also -
when the pleasurable contact passes away -
that the pleasant feeling
which arose from the particular pleasurable contact
is passing away and disappearing.

So too with what is unpleasant
and with what is neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

Just, Almsman, as, when two sticks are brought in contact and rubbed together,
heat and sparks arise,
but, when they are separated and parted,
the heat passes away and disappears, -
just in the same way [248] by pleasurable contact a pleasant feeling arises.

While experiencing that ... nor unpleasant.

Poised indifference will still remain,
which is purified and cleansed,
soft, workable and resplendent.

It is just like a skilled goldsmith
or his apprentice
who sets up his charcoal fire,
on which he heats his crucible,
placing therein with his tongs
a piece of gold.

Occasionally he uses his blowpipe,
occasionally he sprinkles [293] water on it,
and occasionally he looks to see how it is going on,
until at the last the gold melts
and is thoroughly melted and molten,
refined and pure of all dross,
so that it is soft,
workable and resplendent,
fit for any jewellery he wants -
be it a trinket
or earrings
or necklet
or wreath of gold -;
and the result is good. -

Just in the same way
poised indifference will remain,
purified and cleansed,
and resplendent.

His is the clear knowledge that; -

If I focus this purified and cleansed indifference
on the sphere of Infinite Space -
or Mind -
or Neither-perception-nor-Non-perception -
and develop my heart in its analogues,
in that way this indifference of mine,
so resting and so supported,
will persist for a very long time indeed; -
[244] but still it is only a product
and a passing effect.

Inly. Inward, interior, internal, inwardly felt, heart-felt; within, in the heart, spirit, or inner nature; in a way that goes to the heart or inmost part; heartily, intemately, closely, fully, thoroughly, extremely. O.E.D.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Therefore, he neither toils at,
nor ponders on,
rises and falls of things;
and consequently he is dependent
on nothing whatever in the world
and, being independent,
is harried by no fears,
and, being not harried,
inly passes away,
sure that for him rebirth is no more,
that he has lived the highest life
and accomplished his task,
with no more now of what he has been!

If he feels a pleasant feeling -
or an unpleasant feeling -
or a feeling that is neither pleasant nor unpleasant -,
he knows well that such feelings are transitory,
are not to be swallowed whole,
and are not to be made into a joy;
he always maintains detachment
from any such feelings.

When he has a feeling of his bodily end,
he knows it as such;
he knows - as such - a feeling [245] of his life's ending;
he knows that,
at the body's dissolution after life's close,
all feelings and joys will there and then merge in calm.

It is just like an oil-lamp
which draws its light from oil and wick,
but, when oil and wick give out,
if it be not fed afresh
but goes unfed,
then it goes out.

Just the same is it
with him who has this understanding
of feelings of his bodily end
and of his life's end
and of the merging in calm thereafter
of all feelings and joys.

Therefore it is that an Almsman so endowed
is [294] endowed with the highest resolve to understand.

For the highest noble understanding
is to know the ending of all Ill.

Assured is the Deliverance
which rests on Truth.

For, falsehood is what is false in itself;
Truth is Nirvana where no falsehood dwells.

Therefore it is that an Almsman so endowed
is endowed with the highest Resolve for truth.

For, the highest noble truth is Nirvana
where no falsehood dwells.

In the days before his eyes were opened,
his ties to existence were strong and cherished;
now they are gone, -
grubbed up by the roots,
leaving only a bare cleared site,
a thing that once has been
and now can be no more;
and therefore it is that an Almsman so endowed
is endowed with the highest Resolve for renunciation.

For, the highest noble renunciation
is to be quit of all ties to existence.

In the days before his eyes were opened,
he was a prey to covetise lusts and passion;
now these are all gone, -
grubbed up by the roots,
leaving only a bare cleared site,
a thing that once has been
and now can be no more;
gone too for ever are spite,
and malice,
with ignorance and error, -
[246] grubbed up by the roots,
leaving only a bare cleared site,
a thing that once has been
and now can be no more.

Therefore it is that an Almsman so endowed
is endowed with the highest Resolve for tranquillity.

For the highest noble tranquillity
is to tranquillize lust hate and folly.

I said further that,
so established,
a man has no outflow of imaginings
and, having it not,
is styled the tranquil Sage.

This is what that means: -

There are the imaginings
that I am,
that I am this person,
May I be reborn,
May I not be reborn,
May I be reborn with form -
without form -
with perception -
without perception -
neither with nor without perception.

These are the imaginings of disease, -
and pangs.

It is by passing beyond all imaginings
that a man is called the tranquil Sage.

The tranquil Sage
knows neither rebirth nor decay,
neither hopes nor fears.

There is nothing to entail his rebirth
and so how should he decay?
or die?
or fear?
or hope?

[295] This synopsis
of the exposition
of the six elements, Almsman,
you should treasure up in your memory.

Realizing that the Master himself was there,
the Blessed One,
the All-enlightened,
the reverend Pukkusāti rose from his seat,
bared one shoulder respectfully,
bowed down his head at the Lord's feet,
saying: -

I have transgressed
in my folly and error and wrongfulness,
in that I presumed to address the Lord as 'your reverence.'

I ask the Lord to accept my confession,
for my avoidance of transgression in future.

[247] The Lord duly accepted the confession tendered,
concluding with the words:

It marks growth in the Rule of the Noble
when, recognizing his transgression as such,
a man makes amends
and keeps watch and ward against future lapses.

I ask to receive Confirmation at the Lord's hands.

Are you equipped, Almsman,
with bowl and robes?

No, sir.

Truth-finders, Almsman,
do not confirm one
who is unequipped with bowl and robes.

Rejoicing in what the Lord had said,
the reverend Pukkusāti expressed his gratitude.

Then, rising up,
with deep reverence
he departed to get bowl and robes.

But on his way a mad cow took his life.

Thereon, a number of Almsmen came to the Lord
with the news that the young man Pukkusāti
to whom he had given that concise instruction
was dead.

What, they asked, is he re-born to,
and what is his destiny?

Instructed was the young man Pukkusāti;
he embraced the Doctrine and its corollaries;
he gave me no trouble doctrinally.

By destroying the five Bonds of this lower sphere,
the young man Pukkusāti has been translated hence
to realms above,
never to return thence to earth.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
those Almsmen rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

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