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 [Dhamma Talk]


MN 79

In an encounter with the wanderer Sakuludayi, the Buddha explains what it is in his system that constitutes perfection and which is the state beyond bliss that his followers attain.

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Index to available translations: MN 79



Ms. Horner has messed up in this translation a few of the most essential points, and better solutions have been noted.

The wanderer Sakuludāyin is visited by Gotama. He first asks for an explanation as to why Nātaputta the Jain faltered when asked a question. Gotama answers with the statement that those who know and see the past and the future would not falter and then he teaches Udāyin the paṭicca samuppāda in brief:

If this is,
that comes to be;
from the arising of this,
that arises;
if this is not,
that does not come to be;
from the stopping of this,
that is stopped.

This is not understood by Sakuludāyin, who states that he would be better able to discuss a teaching of his own teachers, namely:

'This is the highest luster,
this is the highest luster.'

Gotama points out that this does not reveal much, and when Sakuludāyin, does finally get around to explaining what 'this' is, he does so with a simile.

Gotama then in a towering series of comparisons forces Sakuludāyin, to realize that he has, as well as having said that this 'this' he is speaking of has less luster than a glow worm, has still not actually pointed out what that 'this' is. And Sakuludāyin, admits to being completely defeated.

Again when questioned about another doctrine of his teachers' — that of a world exclusively pleasurable and a path for attaining that world — his teacher's doctrine is shown to be incapable of realizing that world.

Then, shown the real path to that world, and asking if this is the goal for which people follow him, Gotama explains the real goal for which people follow him. A condition beyond sense pleasures.

[It is interesting to note here that Sakuludāyin's followers raise a ruckus at the point where this path is given. This path consists of the first three of the four jhānas, and Sakuludāyin's followers say that they do not have any experience of anything beyond this. Since what is being spoken of is their ancient tradition, the implication is that at least these three jhānas were known prior to the Buddha's enlightenment. But apparently the commentary goes even further and suggests that at one time the attainment of this world (which is via the fourth jhāna) was once known by this group but had been forgotten. So all four jhānas were apparently known before Gotama. One wonders then what it was that was special about the use of jhāna by Gotama that lead him to awakening.]

Sakuludāyin, is convinced, but is dissuaded from entering the order by his followers.

See also: MN 80.

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