Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

47. Vīmamsaka Sutta: The Inquirer

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this:
    2. “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an inquirer, not knowing how to gauge another’s mind, should make an investigation of the Tathāgata in order to find out whether or not he is fully enlightened.”
    3. “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, have the Blessed One as their resort. It would be good if the Blessed One would explain the meaning of these words. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the bhikkhus will remember it.”
    “Then listen, bhikkhus, and attend closely to [318] what I shall say.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    4. “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is an inquirer, not knowing how to gauge another’s mind, should investigate the Tathāgata with respect to two kinds of states, states cognizable through the eye and through the ear thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not any defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘No defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata.’
    5. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not any mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘No mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata.’
    6. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘Cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata.’
    7. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Has this venerable one attained this wholesome state over a long time or did he attain it recently?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one has attained this wholesome state over a long time; he did not attain it only recently.’
    8. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Has this venerable one acquired renown and attained fame, so that the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are found in him?’ For, bhikkhus, as long as a bhikkhu has not acquired renown and attained fame, the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are not found in him; but when he has acquired renown and attained fame, those dangers are found in him. When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one has acquired renown and attained fame, but the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are not found in him.’
    9. “When he comes to know this, [319] he investigates him further thus: ‘Is this venerable one restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and does he avoid indulging in sensual pleasures because he is without lust through the destruction of lust?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one is restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and he avoids indulging in sensual pleasure because he is without lust through the destruction of lust.’
    10. “Now, bhikkhus, if others should ask that bhikkhu thus: ‘What are the venerable one’s reasons and what is his evidence whereby he says: “That venerable one is restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and he avoids indulging in sensual pleasures because he is without lust through the destruction of lust”?’—answering rightly, that bhikkhu would answer thus: ‘Whether that venerable one dwells in the Sangha or alone, while some there are well behaved and some are ill behaved and some there teach a group, while some here are seen concerned about material things and some are unsullied by material things, still that venerable one does not despise anyone because of that. And I have heard and learned this from the Blessed One’s own lips: “I am restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and I avoid indulging in sensual pleasures because I am without lust through the destruction of lust.”’
    11. “The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, should be questioned further about that thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not any defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ The Tathāgata would answer thus: ‘No defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata.’
    12. “If asked, ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not any mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ the Tathāgata would answer thus: ‘No mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata.’
    13. “If asked, ‘Are there found in the Tathāgata or not cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ the Tathāgata would answer thus: ‘Cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathāgata. They are my pathway and my domain, yet I do not identify with them.’
    14. “Bhikkhus, a disciple should approach the Teacher who speaks thus in order to hear the Dhamma. The Teacher teaches him the Dhamma with its higher and higher levels, with its more and more sublime levels, with its dark and bright counterparts. As the Teacher teaches the Dhamma to a bhikkhu in this way, through direct knowledge of a certain teaching here in that Dhamma, [320] the bhikkhu comes to a conclusion about the teachings. He places confidence in the Teacher thus: ‘The Blessed One is fully enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sangha is practising the good way.’
    15. “Now if others should ask that bhikkhu thus: ‘What are the venerable one’s reasons and what is his evidence whereby he says, “The Blessed One is fully enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sangha is practising the good way”?’—answering rightly, that bhikkhu would answer thus: ‘Here, friends, I approached the Blessed One in order to hear the Dhamma. The Blessed One taught me the Dhamma with its higher and higher levels, with its more and more sublime levels, with its dark and bright counterparts. As the Blessed One taught the Dhamma to me in this way, through direct knowledge of a certain teaching here in that Dhamma, I came to a conclusion about the teachings. I placed confidence in the Teacher thus: “The Blessed One is fully enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sangha is practising the good way.”’
    16. “Bhikkhus, when anyone’s faith has been planted, rooted, and established in the Tathāgata through these reasons, terms, and phrases, his faith is said to be supported by reasons, rooted in vision, firm; it is invincible by any recluse or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world. That is how, bhikkhus, there is an investigation of the Tathāgata in accordance with the Dhamma, and that is how the Tathāgata is well investigated in accordance with the Dhamma.”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2009)

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