The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 47. Satipaṭṭhānasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Establishments of Mindfulness

II. Nālandā

11 (1) A Great Man
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘a great man, a great man.’ In what way, venerable sir, is one a great man?”
    “With a liberated mind, I say, Sāriputta, one is a great man. Without a liberated mind, I say, one is not a great man.
    “And how, Sāriputta, does one have a liberated mind? Here, Sāriputta, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. As he dwells contemplating the body in the body, the mind becomes dispassionate, and by nonclinging it is liberated from the taints.
    “He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. As he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, the mind becomes dispassionate, and by nonclinging it is liberated from the taints.
    “It is in such a way, Sāriputta, that one has a liberated mind. With a liberated mind, I say, Sāriputta, one is a great man. Without a liberated mind, I say, one is not a great man.” [159]

12 (2) Nālandā
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Nālandā in Pāvārika’s Mango Grove. Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment.”
    “Lofty indeed is this bellowing utterance of yours, Sāriputta, you have roared a definitive, categorical lion’s roar: ‘Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment.’ Have you now, Sāriputta, encompassed with your mind the minds of all the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, arisen in the past and known thus: ‘Those Blessed Ones were of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Then, Sāriputta, have you encompassed with your mind the minds of all the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, who will arise in the future and known thus: ‘Those Blessed Ones will be of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?” [160]
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Then, Sāriputta, have you encompassed with your mind my own mind—I being at present the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One—and known thus: ‘The Blessed One is of such virtue, or of such qualities, or of such wisdom, or of such dwellings, or of such liberation’?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Sāriputta, when you do not have any knowledge encompassing the minds of the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of the past, the future, and the present, why do you utter this lofty, bellowing utterance and roar this definitive, categorical lion’s roar: ‘Venerable sir, I have such confidence in the Blessed One that I believe there has not been nor ever will be nor exists at present another ascetic or brahmin more knowledgeable than the Blessed One with respect to enlightenment’?”
    “I do not have, venerable sir, any knowledge encompassing the minds of the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of the past, the future, and the present, but still I have understood this by inference from the Dhamma. Suppose, venerable sir, a king had a frontier city with strong ramparts, walls, and arches, and with a single gate. The gatekeeper posted there would be wise, competent, and intelligent; one who keeps out strangers and admits acquaintances. While he is walking along the path that encircles the city he would not see a cleft or an opening in the walls even big enough for a cat to slip through. He might think: ‘Whatever large creatures enter or leave this city, all enter and leave through this one gate.’
    “So too, venerable sir, I have understood this by inference from the Dhamma: Whatever Arahants, Perfectly Enlightened Ones arose in the past, all those Blessed Ones had first abandoned the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with their minds well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, [161] they had developed correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby they had awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. And, venerable sir, whatever Arahants, Perfectly Enlightened Ones will arise in the future, all those Blessed Ones will first abandon the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with their minds well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, they will develop correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby they will awaken to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment. And, venerable sir, the Blessed One, who is at present the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, first abandoned the five hindrances, corruptions of the mind and weakeners of wisdom; and then, with his mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, he developed correctly the seven factors of enlightenment; and thereby he has awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment.”
    “Good, good, Sāriputta! Therefore, Sāriputta, you should repeat this Dhamma exposition frequently to the bhikkhus and the bhikkhunīs, to the male lay followers and the female lay followers. Even though some foolish people may have perplexity or uncertainty regarding the Tathāgata, when they hear this Dhamma exposition their perplexity or uncertainty regarding the Tathāgata will be abandoned.”

13 (3) Cunda
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Now on that occasion the Venerable Sāriputta was dwelling among the Magadhans at Nālakagāma—sick, afflicted, gravely ill—and the novice Cunda was his attendant. Then, because of that illness, the Venerable Sāriputta attained final Nibbāna.
    The novice Cunda, taking the Venerable Sāriputta’s bowl and robe, went to Sāvatthī, to Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he approached the Venerable Ānanda, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: [162] “Venerable sir, the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna. This is his bowl and robe.”
    “Friend Cunda, we should see the Blessed One about this piece of news. Come, friend Cunda, let us go to the Blessed One and report this matter to him.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the novice Cunda replied.
    Then the Venerable Ānanda and the novice Cunda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Venerable Ānanda then said to the Blessed One: “This novice Cunda, venerable sir, says that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna, and this is his bowl and robe. Venerable sir, since I heard that the Venerable Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna, my body seems as if it has been drugged, I have become disoriented, the teachings are no longer clear to me.”
    “Why, Ānanda, when Sāriputta attained final Nibbāna, did he take away your aggregate of virtue, or your aggregate of concentration, or your aggregate of wisdom, or your aggregate of liberation, or your aggregate of the knowledge and vision of liberation?”
    “No, he did not, venerable sir. But for me the Venerable Sāriputta was an advisor and counsellor, one who instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened me. He was unwearying in teaching the Dhamma; he was helpful to his brothers in the holy life. We recollect the nourishment of Dhamma, the wealth of Dhamma, the help of Dhamma given by the Venerable Sāriputta.”
    “But have I not already declared, Ānanda, that we must be parted, separated, and severed from all who are dear and agreeable to us? [163] How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible. It is just as if the largest branch would break off a great tree standing possessed of heartwood: so too, Ānanda, in the great Bhikkhu Saṅgha standing possessed of heartwood, Sāriputta has attained final Nibbāna. How, Ānanda, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible.
    “Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourselves as your own island, with yourselves as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge … (as in §9) … Those bhikkhus, Ānanda, either now or after I am gone, who dwell with themselves as their own island, with themselves as their own refuge, with no other refuge; who dwell with the Dhamma as their island, with the Dhamma as their refuge, with no other refuge—it is these bhikkhus, Ānanda, who will be for me topmost of those keen on the training.”

14 (4) Ukkacelā
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Vajjians at Ukkacelā on the bank of the river Ganges, together with a great Bhikkhu Saṅgha, not long after Sāriputta and Moggallāna had attained final Nibbāna.Now on that occasion the Blessed One was sitting in the open air in the midst of the Bhikkhu Saṅgha.
    Then the Blessed One, having surveyed the silent Bhikkhu Saṅgha, addressed the bhikkhus thus: [164]
    “Bhikkhus, this assembly appears to me empty now that Sāriputta and Moggallāna have attained final Nibbāna. This assembly was not empty for me [earlier], and I had no concern for whatever quarter Sāriputta and Moggallāna were dwelling in.
    “The Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, who arose in the past also had just such a supreme pair of disciples as I had in Sāriputta and Moggallāna. The Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones, who will arise in the future will also have just such a supreme pair of disciples as I had in Sāriputta and Moggallāna.
    “It is wonderful, bhikkhus, on the part of the disciples, it is amazing on the part of the disciples, that they will act in accordance with the Teacher’s instructions and comply with his admonitions, that they will be dear and agreeable to the four assemblies, that they will be revered and esteemed by them. It is wonderful, bhikkhus, on the part of the Tathāgata, it is amazing on the part of the Tathāgata, that when such a pair of disciples has attained final Nibbāna, there is no sorrow or lamentation in the Tathāgata.
    “How, bhikkhus, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible. It is just as if the largest branches would break off a great tree standing possessed of heartwood: so too, bhikkhus, in the great Bhikkhu Saṅgha standing possessed of heartwood, Sāriputta and Moggallāna have attained final Nibbāna. How, bhikkhus, is it to be obtained here: ‘May what is born, come to be, conditioned, and subject to disintegration not disintegrate!’? That is impossible.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, dwell with yourselves as your own island, with yourselves as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your island, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge … (as in §9) … [165] Those bhikkhus, either now or after I am gone, who dwell with themselves as their own island, with themselves as their own refuge, with no other refuge; with the Dhamma as their island, with the Dhamma as their refuge, with no other refuge—it is these bhikkhus who will be for me topmost of those keen on the training.”

15 (5) Bāhiya
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Bāhiya approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief, so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute.”
    “Well then, Bāhiya, purify the very starting point of wholesome states. And what is the starting point of wholesome states? Virtue that is well purified and view that is straight. Then, Bāhiya, when your virtue is well purified and your view is straight, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness.
    “What four? Here, Bāhiya, dwell contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. Dwell contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.
    “When, Bāhiya, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you develop these four establishments of mindfulness in such a way, then whether night or day comes, you may expect only growth in wholesome states, not decline.” [166]
    Then the Venerable Bāhiya, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s words, rose from his seat, and, after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on his right, he departed. Then, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Bāhiya, by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life entered and dwelt in that unsurpassed goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness. He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.” And the Venerable Bāhiya became one of the arahants.

16 (6) Uttiya
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Uttiya approached the Blessed One … (all as in preceding sutta down to:) …
    “When, Uttiya, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you develop these four establishments of mindfulness in such a way, you will go beyond the realm of Death.”
    Then the Venerable Uttiya, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s words, rose from his seat … (as in preceding sutta) … And the Venerable Uttiya became one of the arahants.

17 (7) Noble
“Bhikkhus, these four establishments of mindfulness, when developed and cultivated, are noble and emancipating; they lead the one who acts upon them out to the complete destruction of suffering. What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. [167]
    “These four establishments of mindfulness, bhikkhus, when developed and cultivated, are noble and emancipating; they lead the one who acts upon them out to the complete destruction of suffering.”

18 (8) Brahmā
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Uruvelā on the bank of the river Nerañjarā at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree just after he had become fully enlightened. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: “This is the one-way path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the passing away of pain and displeasure, for the achievement of the method, for the realization of Nibbāna, that is, the four establishments of mindfulness. What four? Here a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is the one-way path for the purification of beings … that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.”
    Then Brahmā Sahampati, having known with his own mind the reflection in the Blessed One’s mind, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his drawn-in arm or draw in his extended arm, disappeared from the brahmā world and reappeared before the Blessed One. He arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation towards the Blessed One, and said to him: “So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Fortunate One! Venerable sir, this is the one-way path for the purification of beings … (all as above) [168] … that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.”
    This is what Brahmā Sahampati said. Having said this, he further said this:

“The seer of the destruction of birth,
 Compassionate, knows the one-way path
 By which in the past they crossed the flood,
 By which they will cross and cross over now.”

19 (9) Sedaka
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sumbhas, where there was a town of the Sumbhas named Sedaka. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:
    “Bhikkhus, once in the past an acrobat set up his bamboo pole and addressed his apprentice Medakathālikā thus: ‘Come, dear Medakathālikā, climb the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.’ Having replied, ‘Yes, teacher,’ the apprentice Medakathālikā climbed up the bamboo pole and stood on the teacher’s shoulders. The acrobat then said to the apprentice Medakathālikā: ‘You protect me, dear Medakathālikā, and I’ll protect you. Thus [169] guarded by one another, protected by one another, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’ When this was said, the apprentice Medakathālikā replied: ‘That’s not the way to do it, teacher. You protect yourself, teacher, and I’ll protect myself. Thus, each self-guarded and self-protected, we’ll display our skills, collect our fee, and get down safely from the bamboo pole.’
    “That’s the method there,” the Blessed One said. “It’s just as the apprentice Medakathālikā said to the teacher. ‘I will protect myself,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. ‘I will protect others,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. Protecting oneself, bhikkhus, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.
    “And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation [of the four establishments of mindfulness]. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.
    “And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, lovingkindness, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
    “‘I will protect myself,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. ‘I will protect others,’ bhikkhus: thus should the establishments of mindfulness be practised. Protecting oneself, bhikkhus, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.”

20 (10) The Most Beautiful Girl of the Land
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sumbhas, where there was a town of the Sumbhas named Sedaka. [170] There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, suppose that on hearing, ‘The most beautiful girl of the land! The most beautiful girl of the land!’ a great crowd of people would assemble. Now that most beautiful girl of the land would dance exquisitely and sing exquisitely. On hearing, ‘The most beautiful girl of the land is dancing! The most beautiful girl of the land is singing!’ an even larger crowd of people would assemble. Then a man would come along, wishing to live, not wishing to die, wishing for happiness, averse to suffering. Someone would say to him: ‘Good man, you must carry around this bowl of oil filled to the brim between the crowd and the most beautiful girl of the land. A man with a drawn sword will be following right behind you, and wherever you spill even a little of it, right there he will fell your head.’
    “What do you think, bhikkhus, would that man stop attending to that bowl of oil and out of negligence turn his attention outwards?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “I have made up this simile, bhikkhus, in order to convey a meaning. This here is the meaning: ‘The bowl of oil filled to the brim’: this is a designation for mindfulness directed to the body. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate mindfulness directed to the body, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus, bhikkhus, should you train yourselves.”
 

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

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