The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 16. Kassapasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses with Kassapa

1 Content
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, this Kassapa is content with any kind of robe, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of robe, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of a robe. If he does not get a robe he is not agitated, and if he gets one he uses it without being tied to it, uninfatuated with it, not blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it, understanding the escape.
    “Bhikkhus, this Kassapa is content with any kind of almsfood … with any kind of lodging … with any kind of medicinal requisites … and if he gets them he uses them without being tied to them, uninfatuated with them, not blindly absorbed in them, seeing the danger in them, understanding the escape.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will be content with any kind of robe, and we will speak in praise of contentment with any kind of robe, [195] and we will not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of a robe. If we do not get a robe we will not be agitated, and if we get one we will use it without being tied to it, uninfatuated with it, not blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it, understanding the escape.
    “‘We will be content with any kind of almsfood … with any kind of lodging … with any kind of medicinal requisites … and if we get them we will use them without being tied to them, uninfatuated with them, not blindly absorbed in them, seeing the danger in them, understanding the escape.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    “Bhikkhus, I will exhort you by the example of Kassapa or one who is similar to Kassapa. Being exhorted, you should practise accordingly.”

2 Unafraid of Wrongdoing
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Venerable Mahākassapa and the Venerable Sāriputta were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Mahākassapa. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Mahākassapa and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “Friend, it is said that one who is not ardent and who is unafraid of wrongdoing is incapable of enlightenment, incapable of Nibbāna, incapable of achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage; but one who is ardent [196] and afraid of wrongdoing is capable of enlightenment, capable of Nibbāna, capable of achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage. In what way is this so, friend?”
    “Here, friend, a bhikkhu does not arouse ardour by thinking: ‘If unarisen evil unwholesome states arise in me, this may lead to my harm’; nor by thinking: ‘If evil unwholesome states that have arisen in me are not abandoned, this may lead to my harm’; nor by thinking: ‘If unarisen wholesome states do not arise in me, this may lead to my harm’; nor by thinking: ‘If wholesome states that have arisen in me cease, this may lead to my harm.’ Thus he is not ardent.
    “And how, friend, is he unafraid of wrongdoing? Here, friend, a bhikkhu does not become afraid at the thought: ‘If unarisen evil unwholesome states arise in me, this may lead to my harm’ … nor at the thought: ‘If wholesome states that have arisen in me cease, this may lead to my harm.’ Thus he is unafraid of wrongdoing.
    “It is in this way, friend, that one who is not ardent and who is unafraid of wrongdoing is incapable of enlightenment, incapable of Nibbāna, incapable of achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage.
    “And how, friend, is one ardent? Here, friend, a bhikkhu arouses ardour by thinking: ‘If unarisen evil unwholesome states arise in me, this may lead to my harm’ … and by thinking: ‘If wholesome states that have arisen in me cease, this may lead to my harm.’ Thus he is ardent.
    “And how, friend, is he afraid of wrongdoing? Here, friend, a bhikkhu becomes afraid at the thought: ‘If unarisen evil unwholesome states arise in me, this may lead to my harm’; … and at the thought: ‘If wholesome states that have arisen in me cease, this may lead to my harm.’ [197] Thus he is afraid of wrongdoing.
    “It is in this way, friend, that one who is ardent and afraid of wrongdoing is capable of enlightenment, capable of Nibbāna, capable of achieving the unsurpassed security from bondage.”

3 Like the Moon
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, you should approach families like the moon—[198] drawing back the body and mind, always acting like newcomers, without impudence towards families. Just as a man looking down an old well, a precipice, or a steep riverbank would draw back the body and mind, so too, bhikkhus, should you approach families.
    “Bhikkhus, Kassapa approaches families like the moon—drawing back the body and mind, always acting like a newcomer, without impudence towards families. What do you think, bhikkhus, what kind of bhikkhu is worthy to approach families?”
    “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”
    Then the Blessed One waved his hand in space and said: “Bhikkhus, just as this hand does not get caught in space, is not held fast by it, is not bound by it, so when a bhikkhu approaches families his mind does not get caught, held fast, and bound amidst families, thinking: ‘May those desiring gains acquire gains, may those desiring merits make merits!’ He is as elated and happy over the gains of others as he is over his own gains. Such a bhikkhu is worthy to approach families.
    “Bhikkhus, when Kassapa approaches families his mind does not get caught, held fast, or bound amidst families, thinking: ‘May those desiring gains acquire gains, may those desiring merits make merits!’ He is as elated and happy over the gains of others as he is over his own gains. [199]
    “What do you think, bhikkhus, how is a bhikkhu’s teaching of the Dhamma impure, and how is his teaching of the Dhamma pure?”
    “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One….”
    “Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “A bhikkhu teaches the Dhamma to others with the thought: ‘Oh, may they listen to the Dhamma from me! Having listened, may they gain confidence in the Dhamma! Being confident, may they show their confidence to me!’ Such a bhikkhu’s teaching of the Dhamma is impure.
    “But a bhikkhu teaches the Dhamma to others with the thought: ‘The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise. Oh, may they listen to the Dhamma from me! Having listened, may they understand the Dhamma! Having understood, may they practise accordingly!’ Thus he teaches the Dhamma to others because of the intrinsic excellence of the Dhamma; he teaches the Dhamma to others from compassion and sympathy, out of tender concern. Such a bhikkhu’s teaching of the Dhamma is pure.
    “Bhikkhus, Kassapa teaches the Dhamma to others with the thought: ‘The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One…. Oh, [200] may they listen to the Dhamma from me! Having listened, may they understand the Dhamma! Having understood, may they practise accordingly!’ He teaches the Dhamma to others because of the intrinsic excellence of the Dhamma; he teaches the Dhamma to others from compassion and sympathy, out of tender concern.
    “Bhikkhus, I will exhort you by the example of Kassapa or one who is similar to Kassapa. Being exhorted, you should practise accordingly.”

4 A Visitor of Families
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, what do you think, what kind of bhikkhu is worthy to be a visitor of families, and what kind of bhikkhu is not worthy to be a visitor of families?”
    “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One….”
    The Blessed One said this: “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might approach families with the thought: ‘May they give to me, not hold back! May they give me much, not a little! May they give me fine things, not shabby things! May they give me promptly, not slowly! May they give me considerately, not casually!’ When a bhikkhu approaches families with such a thought, if they do not give, he thereby becomes hurt; on that account he experiences pain and displeasure. If they give little rather than much … If they give shabby things rather than fine things … If they give slowly rather than promptly … If they give casually rather than considerately, he thereby becomes hurt; [201] on that account he experiences pain and displeasure. Such a bhikkhu is not worthy to be a visitor of families.
    “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might approach families with the thought: ‘When among others’ families, how could I possibly think: “May they give to me, not hold back!… May they give me respectfully, not casually!”?’ When a bhikkhu approaches families with such a thought, if they do not give … if they give casually rather than considerately, he does not thereby become hurt; he does not on that account experience pain and displeasure. Such a bhikkhu is worthy to be a visitor of families.
    “Bhikkhus, Kassapa approaches families with such a thought…. Thus if they do not give … if they give casually rather than considerately, he does not thereby become hurt; [202] he does not on that account experience pain and displeasure.
    “Bhikkhus, I will exhort you by the example of Kassapa or one who is similar to Kassapa. Being exhorted, you should practise accordingly.”

5 Old
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Then the Venerable Mahākassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him: “You are old now, Kassapa, and those worn-out hempen rag-robes must be burdensome for you. Therefore you should wear robes offered by householders, Kassapa, accept meals given on invitation, and dwell close to me.”
    “For a long time, venerable sir, I have been a forest dweller and have spoken in praise of forest dwelling; I have been an almsfood eater and have spoken in praise of eating almsfood; I have been a rag-robe wearer and have spoken in praise of wearing rag-robes; I have been a triple-robe user and have spoken in praise of using the triple robe; I have been of few wishes and have spoken in praise of fewness of wishes; I have been content and have spoken in praise of contentment; I have been secluded and have spoken in praise of solitude; I have been aloof from society and have spoken in praise of aloofness from society; I have been energetic and have spoken in praise of arousing energy.”
    “Considering what benefit, Kassapa, have you long been a forest dweller … and spoken in praise of arousing energy?”
    “Considering two benefits, venerable sir. [203] For myself I see a pleasant dwelling in this very life, and I have compassion for later generations, thinking, ‘May those of later generations follow my example!’ For when they hear, ‘The enlightened disciples of the Buddha were for a long time forest dwellers and spoke in praise of forest dwelling … were energetic and spoke in praise of arousing energy,’ then they will practise accordingly, and that will lead to their welfare and happiness for a long time. Considering these two benefits, venerable sir, I have long been a forest dweller … and have spoken in praise of arousing energy.”
    “Good, good, Kassapa! You are practising for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the good, welfare, and happiness of devas and humans. Therefore, Kassapa, wear worn-out hempen rag-robes, walk for alms, and dwell in the forest.”

6 Exhortation (1)
At Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove. Then the Venerable Mahākassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him: “Exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, give them a Dhamma talk. Either I [204] should exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, or you should. Either I should give them a Dhamma talk or you should.”
    “Venerable sir, the bhikkhus are difficult to admonish now, and they have qualities which make them difficult to admonish. They are impatient and do not accept instruction respectfully. Here, venerable sir, I saw a bhikkhu named Bhaṇḍa, a pupil of Ānanda, and a bhikkhu named Abhiñjika, a pupil of Anuruddha, competing with each other in regard to their learning, saying: ‘Come, bhikkhu, who can speak more? Who can speak better? Who can speak longer?’”
    Then the Blessed One addressed a certain bhikkhu thus: “Come, bhikkhu, tell the bhikkhu Bhaṇḍa and the bhikkhu Abhiñjika in my name that the Teacher calls them.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu replied, and he went to those bhikkhus and told them: “The Teacher calls the venerable ones.”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied, and they approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to them: “Is it true, bhikkhus, that you have been competing with each other in regard to your learning, as to who can speak more, who can speak better, who can speak longer?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “Have you ever known me to teach the Dhamma thus: ‘Come, bhikkhus, compete with each other in regard to your learning, and see who can speak more, who can speak better, who can speak longer’?” [205]
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Then if you have never known me to teach the Dhamma thus, what do you senseless men know and see that, having gone forth in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline, you compete with each other in regard to your learning, as to who can speak more, who can speak better, who can speak longer?”
    Then those bhikkhus prostrated themselves with their heads at the Blessed One’s feet and said: “Venerable sir, we have committed a transgression—so foolish, so confused, so inept were we—in that, having gone forth in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline, we competed with each other in regard to our learning, as to who can speak more, who can speak better, who can speak longer. Venerable sir, may the Blessed One pardon us for our transgression seen as a transgression for the sake of future restraint.”
    “Surely, bhikkhus, you have committed a transgression—so foolish, so confused, so inept were you—in that, having gone forth in such a well-expounded Dhamma and Discipline, you competed with each other in regard to your learning…. But since you see your transgression as a transgression and make amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, we pardon you for it. For it is growth in the Noble One’s Discipline when one sees one’s transgression as a transgression, makes amends for it in accordance with the Dhamma, and undertakes future restraint.”

7 Exhortation (2)
At Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove. Then the Venerable Mahākassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him: “Exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, give them a Dhamma talk. Either I should exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, [206] or you should. Either I should give them a Dhamma talk or you should.”
    “Venerable sir, the bhikkhus are difficult to admonish now, and they have qualities which make them difficult to admonish. They are impatient and do not accept instruction respectfully. Venerable sir, for one who has no faith in regard to wholesome states, no sense of shame, no fear of wrongdoing, no energy, and no wisdom, whether day or night comes only decline is to be expected in regard to wholesome states, not growth. Just as, during the dark fortnight, whether day or night comes the moon declines in colour, circularity, and luminosity, in diameter and circumference, so too, venerable sir, for one who has no faith in wholesome states, no sense of shame, no fear of wrongdoing, no energy, and no wisdom, whether day or night comes only decline is to be expected in regard to wholesome states, not growth.
    “A person without faith, venerable sir: this is a case of decline. A person without a sense of shame … who is unafraid of wrongdoing … who is lazy … unwise … angry … malicious: this is a case of decline. When there are no bhikkhus who are exhorters: this is a case of decline.
    “Venerable sir, for one who has faith in regard to wholesome states, a sense of shame, fear of wrongdoing, energy, and wisdom, whether day or night comes only growth is to be expected in regard to wholesome states, not decline. Just as, during the bright fortnight, whether day or night comes the moon grows in colour, circularity, [207] and luminosity, in diameter and circumference, so too, venerable sir, for one who has faith in wholesome states, a sense of shame, fear of wrongdoing, energy, and wisdom, whether day or night comes only growth is to be expected in regard to wholesome states, not decline.
    “A person with faith, venerable sir: this is a case of nondecline. A person with a sense of shame … who is afraid of wrongdoing … energetic … wise … without anger … without malice: this is a case of nondecline. When there are bhikkhus who are exhorters: this is a case of nondecline.”
    “Good, good, Kassapa!”
    (The Buddha then repeats the entire statement of the Venerable Mahākassapa.) [208]

8 Exhortation (3)
At Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove. Then the Venerable Mahākassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him: “Exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, give them a Dhamma talk. Either I should exhort the bhikkhus, Kassapa, or you should. Either I should give them a Dhamma talk or you should.”
    “Venerable sir, the bhikkhus are difficult to admonish now, and they have qualities which make them difficult to admonish. They are impatient and do not accept instruction respectfully.”
    “Just so, Kassapa, in the past the elder bhikkhus were forest dwellers and spoke in praise of forest dwelling; they were almsfood eaters and spoke in praise of eating almsfood; they were rag-robe wearers and spoke in praise of wearing rag-robes; they were triple-robe users and spoke in praise of using the triple robe; they were of few wishes and spoke in praise of fewness of wishes; they were content and spoke in praise of contentment; they were secluded and spoke in praise of solitude; they were aloof from society and spoke in praise of aloofness from society; they were energetic and spoke in praise of arousing energy.
    “Then, when a bhikkhu was a forest dweller and spoke in praise of forest dwelling … [209] … when he was energetic and spoke in praise of arousing energy, the elder bhikkhus would invite him to a seat, saying: ‘Come, bhikkhu. What is this bhikkhu’s name? This is an excellent bhikkhu. This bhikkhu is keen on training. Come, bhikkhu, here’s a seat, sit down.’ Then it would occur to the newly ordained bhikkhus: ‘It seems that when a bhikkhu is a forest dweller and speaks in praise of forest dwelling … when he is energetic and speaks in praise of arousing energy, the elder bhikkhus invite him to a seat….’ They would practise accordingly, and that would lead to their welfare and happiness for a long time.
    “But now, Kassapa, the elder bhikkhus are no longer forest dwellers and do not speak in praise of forest dwelling … [210] … they are no longer energetic and do not speak in praise of arousing energy. Now it is the bhikkhu who is well known and famous, one who gains robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicinal requisites, that the elder bhikkhus invite to a seat, saying: ‘Come, bhikkhu. What is this bhikkhu’s name? This is an excellent bhikkhu. This bhikkhu is keen on the company of his brothers in the holy life. Come, bhikkhu, here’s a seat, sit down.’ Then it occurs to the newly ordained bhikkhus: ‘It seems that when a bhikkhu is well known and famous, one who gains robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicinal requisites, the elder bhikkhus invite him to a seat….’ They practise accordingly, and that leads to their harm and suffering for a long time.
    “If, Kassapa, one speaking rightly could say: ‘Those leading the holy life have been ruined by the ruination of those who lead the holy life; those leading the holy life have been vanquished by the vanquishing of those who lead the holy life,’ it is just thus that one could rightly say this.”

9 Jhānas and Direct Knowledges
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. [211] Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and dwells in the first jhāna.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the subsiding of thought and examination, I enter and dwell in the second jhāna, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, with the subsiding of thought and examination, enters and dwells in the second jhāna.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the fading away as well of rapture, I dwell equanimous, and mindful and clearly comprehending, I experience happiness with the body; I enter and dwell in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the third jhāna.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, I enter and dwell in the fourth jhāna, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the complete transcendence of perceptions of forms, with the passing away of perceptions of sensory impingement, with nonattention to perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite,’ I enter and dwell in the base of the infinity of space. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the base of the infinity of space.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, by completely transcending the base of the infinity of space, aware that ‘consciousness is infinite,’ I enter and dwell in the base of the infinity of consciousness. [212] Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the base of the infinity of consciousness.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, by completely transcending the base of the infinity of consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing,’ I enter and dwell in the base of nothingness. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the base of nothingness.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, by completely transcending the base of nothingness, I enter and dwell in the base of neither-perception-nor-nonperception. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the base of neither-perception-nor-nonperception.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, by completely transcending the base of neither-perception-nor-nonperception, I enter and dwell in the cessation of perception and feeling. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the cessation of perception and feeling.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, I wield the various kinds of spiritual power: having been one, I become many; having been many, I become one; I appear and vanish; I go unhindered through a wall, through a rampart, through a mountain as though through space; I dive in and out of the earth as though it were water; I walk on water without sinking as though it were earth; seated cross-legged, I travel in space like a bird; with my hand I touch and stroke the moon and sun so powerful and mighty; I exercise mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, wields the various kinds of spiritual power.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the divine ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, I hear both kinds of sounds, the divine and human, those that are far as well as near. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, with the divine ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, hears both kinds of sounds. [213]
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, I understand the minds of other beings and persons, having encompassed them with my own mind. I understand a mind with lust as a mind with lust; a mind without lust as a mind without lust; a mind with hatred as a mind with hatred; a mind without hatred as a mind without hatred; a mind with delusion as a mind with delusion; a mind without delusion as a mind without delusion; a contracted mind as contracted and a distracted mind as distracted; an exalted mind as exalted and an unexalted mind as unexalted; a surpassable mind as surpassable and an unsurpassable mind as unsurpassable; a concentrated mind as concentrated and an unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated; a liberated mind as liberated and an unliberated mind as unliberated. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, understands the minds of other beings and persons, having encompassed them with his own mind.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, I recollect my manifold past abodes, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion thus: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life span; passing away from there, I was reborn elsewhere, and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life span; passing away from there, I was reborn here.’ Thus I recollect my manifold past abodes with their modes and details. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, recollects his manifold past abodes with their modes and details.
    “Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I see beings [214] passing away and being reborn, inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understand how beings fare on according to their kamma thus: ‘These beings who engaged in misconduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong view, and undertook actions based on wrong view, with the breakup of the body, after death, have been reborn in a state of misery, in a bad destination, in the nether world, in hell; but these beings who engaged in good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right view, and undertook action based on right view, with the breakup of the body, after death, have been reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’ Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I see beings passing away and being reborn, inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understand how beings fare on according to their kamma. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, sees beings passing away and being reborn, inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and he understands how beings fare on according to their kamma.
    “Bhikkhus, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge. Kassapa too, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life enters and dwells in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for himself with direct knowledge.”

10 The Bhikkhunīs’ Quarters
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Venerable Mahākassapa was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then, in the morning, the Venerable Ānanda dressed and, [215] taking bowl and robe, he approached the Venerable Mahākassapa and said: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.”
    “You go, friend Ānanda, you’re the busy one with many duties.”
    A second time the Venerable Ānanda said to the Venerable Mahākassapa: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.”
    “You go, friend Ānanda, you’re the busy one with many duties.”
    A third time the Venerable Ānanda said to the Venerable Mahākassapa: “Come, Venerable Kassapa, let us go to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters.”
    Then, in the morning, the Venerable Mahākassapa dressed and, taking bowl and robe, went to the bhikkhunīs’ quarters with the Venerable Ānanda as his companion. When he arrived he sat down on the appointed seat. Then a number of bhikkhunīs approached the Venerable Mahākassapa, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. As they were sitting there, the Venerable Mahākassapa instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened those bhikkhunīs with a Dhamma talk, after which he rose from his seat and departed.
    Then the bhikkhunī Thullatissā, being displeased, expressed her displeasure thus: “How can Master Mahākassapa think of speaking on the Dhamma in the presence of Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage? For Master Mahākassapa to think of speaking on the Dhamma in the presence of Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage—this is just as if a needle-peddler [216] would think he could sell a needle to a needle-maker!”
    The Venerable Mahākassapa overheard the bhikkhunī Thullatissā making this statement and said to the Venerable Ānanda: “How is it, friend Ānanda, am I the needle-peddler and you the needle-maker, or am I the needle-maker and you the needle-peddler?”
    “Be patient, Venerable Kassapa, women are foolish.”
    “Hold it, friend Ānanda! Don’t give the Saṅgha occasion to investigate you further. What do you think, friend Ānanda, was it you that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. Ānanda too, to whatever extent he wishes, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, enters and dwells in the first jhāna’?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “I was the one, friend, that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, to whatever extent I wish, … I enter and dwell in the first jhāna…. Kassapa too, to whatever extent he wishes, enters and dwells in the first jhāna.’
    (The same exchange is repeated for the remaining meditative attainments and the six direct knowledges, all as in the preceding sutta.) [217]
    “I was the one, friend, that the Blessed One brought forward in the presence of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha, saying: ‘Bhikkhus, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge. Kassapa too, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life enters and dwells in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for himself with direct knowledge.’
    “Friend, one might just as well think that a bull elephant seven or seven and a half cubits high could be concealed by a palm leaf as think that my six direct knowledges could be concealed.”
    But the bhikkhunī Thullatissā fell away from the holy life.

11 The Robe
On one occasion the Venerable Mahākassapa was dwelling in Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Ānanda was wandering on tour in Dakkhiṇāgiri together with a large Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Now on that occasion thirty bhikkhus—pupils of the Venerable Ānanda—most of them youngsters, had given up the training and had returned to the lower life. [218]
    When the Venerable Ānanda had wandered on tour in Dakkhiṇāgiri as long as he wanted, he came back to Rājagaha, to the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. He approached the Venerable Mahākassapa, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side, and the Venerable Mahākassapa said to him: “Friend Ānanda, for how many reasons did the Blessed One lay down the rule that bhikkhus should not take meals among families in groups of more than three?”
    “The Blessed One laid down this rule for three reasons, Venerable Kassapa: for restraining ill-behaved persons and for the comfort of well-behaved bhikkhus, [with the intention,] ‘May those of evil wishes, by forming a faction, not create a schism in the Saṅgha!’; and out of sympathy towards families. It is for these three reasons, Venerable Kassapa, that the Blessed One laid down this rule.”
    “Then why, friend Ānanda, are you wandering about with these young bhikkhus who are unguarded in their sense faculties, immoderate in eating, and not devoted to wakefulness? One would think you were wandering about trampling on crops; one would think you were wandering about destroying families. Your retinue is breaking apart, friend Ānanda, your young followers are slipping away. But still this youngster does not know his measure!”
    “Grey hairs are growing on my head, Venerable Kassapa. Can’t we escape being called a youngster by the Venerable Mahākassapa?” [219]
    “Friend Ānanda, it is just because you wander around with these young bhikkhus who are unguarded in their sense faculties…. But still this youngster does not know his measure!”
    The bhikkhunī Thullanandā heard: “Master Mahākassapa has disparaged Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage, by calling him a youngster.” Then, being displeased at this, she expressed her displeasure thus: “How can Master Mahākassapa, who was formerly a member of another sect, think to disparage Master Ānanda, the Videhan sage, by calling him a youngster?”
    The Venerable Mahākassapa overheard the bhikkhunī Thullanandā making this statement and said to the Venerable Ānanda: “Surely, friend Ānanda, the bhikkhunī Thullanandā made that statement rashly, without consideration. For since I shaved off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and went forth from the home life into homelessness, I do not recall ever having acknowledged any other teacher except the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One.
    “In the past, friend, when I was still a householder, it occurred to me: ‘Household life is confinement, a path of dust, going forth is like the open air. It is not easy for one living at home to lead the perfectly complete, perfectly purified holy life, which is like polished conch. Let me then shave off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness.’ Some time later [220] I had an outer robe made from patches of cloth; then, acknowledging those who were arahants in the world [as models], I shaved off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and went forth from the household life into homelessness.
    “When I had thus gone forth, I was travelling along a road when I saw the Blessed One sitting by the Bahuputta Shrine between Rājagaha and Nālandā. Having seen him, I thought: ‘If I should ever see the Teacher, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see. If I should ever see the Fortunate One, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see. If I should ever see the Perfectly Enlightened One, it is the Blessed One himself that I would see.’ Then I prostrated myself right there at the Blessed One’s feet and said to him: ‘Venerable sir, the Blessed One is my teacher, I am his disciple. Venerable sir, the Blessed One is my teacher, I am his disciple.’
    “When I had said this, the Blessed One said to me: ‘Kassapa, if one who does not know and see should say to a disciple so single-minded as yourself: “I know, I see,” his head would split. But knowing, Kassapa, I say, “I know”; seeing, I say, “I see.”
    “‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “I will arouse a keen sense of shame and fear of wrongdoing towards elders, the newly ordained, and those of middle status.” Thus should you train yourself.
    “‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “Whenever I listen to any Dhamma connected with the wholesome, I will listen to it with eager ears, attending to it as a matter of vital concern, applying my whole mind to it.” Thus should you train yourself.
    “‘Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: “I will never relinquish mindfulness directed to the body associated with joy.” Thus should you train yourself.’
    “Then, having given me this exhortation, the Blessed One rose from his seat and departed. [221] For seven days, friend, I ate the country’s almsfood as a debtor, but on the eighth day final knowledge arose.
    “Then, friend, the Blessed One descended from the road and went to the foot of a tree. I folded in four my outer robe of patches and said to him: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One sit down here. This will lead to my welfare and happiness for a long time.’ The Blessed One sat down on the appointed seat and said to me: ‘Your outer robe of patches is soft, Kassapa.’ – ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One accept my outer robe of patches, out of compassion.’ – ‘Then will you wear my worn-out hempen rag-robes?’ – ‘I will, venerable sir.’ Thus I offered the Blessed One my outer robe of patches and received from him his worn-out hempen rag-robes.
    “If, friend, one speaking rightly could say of anyone: ‘He is a son of the Blessed One, born of his breast, born of his mouth, born of the Dhamma, created by the Dhamma, an heir to the Dhamma, a receiver of worn-out hempen rag-robes,’ it is of me that one could rightly say this.
    “Friend, to whatever extent I wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by thought and examination, [222] with rapture and happiness born of seclusion…. (As in §9, down to:)
    “Friend, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge.
    “Friend, one might just as well think that a bull elephant seven or seven and a half cubits high could be concealed by a palm leaf as think that my six direct knowledges could be concealed.”
    But the bhikkhunī Thullanandā fell away from the holy life.

12 After Death
On one occasion the Venerable Mahākassapa and the Venerable Sāriputta were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Mahākassapa. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Mahākassapa and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, friend Kassapa, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    “The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death.’”
    “Then, friend, does the Tathāgata not exist after death?”
    “The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death.’” [223]
    “How is it then, friend, does the Tathāgata both exist and not exist after death?”
    “The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death.’”
    “Then, friend, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?”
    “The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “Why hasn’t the Blessed One declared this, friend?”
    “Because this is unbeneficial, irrelevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and does not lead to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. Therefore the Blessed One has not declared this.”
    “And what, friend, has the Blessed One declared?”
    “The Blessed One, friend, has declared: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”
    “And why, friend, has the Blessed One declared this?”
    “Because, friend, this is beneficial, relevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and leads to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. Therefore the Blessed One has declared this.”

13 The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then the Venerable Mahākassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: [224]
    “Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?”
    “That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world. But when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.
    “Just as, Kassapa, gold does not disappear so long as counterfeit gold has not arisen in the world, but when counterfeit gold arises then true gold disappears, so the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.
    “It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.
    “The true Dhamma does not disappear all at once in the way a ship sinks. There are, Kassapa, five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; [225] they dwell without reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell without reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma.
    “There are five things, Kassapa, that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell with reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell with reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five things that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance.”

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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