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The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

75. Māgandiya Sutta: To Māgandiya

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Kuru country where there was a town of the Kurus named Kammāsadhamma, on a spread of grass in the fire chamber of a brahmin belonging to the Bhāradvāja clan.
    2. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Kammāsadhamma for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Kammāsadhamma and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he went to a certain grove for the day’s abiding. Having entered the grove, he sat down at the root of a tree for the day’s abiding. [502]
    3. Then the wanderer Māgandiya, while walking and wandering for exercise, went to the fire chamber of the brahmin belonging to the Bhāradvāja clan. There he saw a spread of grass prepared and asked the brahmin: “For whom has this spread of grass been prepared in Master Bhāradvāja’s fire chamber? It seems like it might be a recluse’s bed.”
    4. “Master Māgandiya, there is the recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans, who went forth from a Sakyan clan. Now a good report of Master Gotama has been spread to this effect: ‘That Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed.’ This bed has been prepared for that Master Gotama.”
    5. “Indeed, Master Bhāradvāja, it is an ill sight we see when we see the bed of that destroyer of growth, Master Gotama.”
    “Be careful what you say, Māgandiya, be careful what you say! Many learned nobles, learned brahmins, learned householders, and learned recluses have full confidence in Master Gotama, and have been disciplined by him in the noble true way, in the Dhamma that is wholesome.”
    “Master Bhāradvāja, even if we saw that Master Gotama face to face, we would tell him to his face: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”
    “If Master Māgandiya has no objection, may I tell this to Master Gotama?”
    “Let Master Bhāradvāja be at ease. Tell him just what I have said.”
    6. Meanwhile, with the divine ear, which is purified and surpasses the human, the Blessed One heard this conversation between the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan and the wanderer Māgandiya. Then, when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from meditation, went to the brahmin’s fire chamber, and sat down on the spread of grass made ready. Then the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side. The Blessed One asked him: “Bhāradvāja, did you have any conversation with the wanderer Māgandiya [503] about this very same spread of grass?”
    When this was said, the brahmin, awestruck and with his hair standing on end, replied: “We wanted to tell Master Gotama about that very thing, but Master Gotama has anticipated us.”
    7. But this discussion between the Blessed One and the brahmin of the Bhāradvāja clan was left unfinished, for then the wanderer Māgandiya, while walking and wandering for exercise, came to the brahmin’s fire chamber and went up to the Blessed One. He exchanged greetings with the Blessed One, and when this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side. The Blessed One said to him:
    8. “Māgandiya, the eye delights in forms, takes delight in forms, rejoices in forms; that has been tamed by the Tathāgata, guarded, protected, and restrained, and he teaches the Dhamma for its restraint. Was it with reference to this that you said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth’?”
    “It was with reference to this, Master Gotama, that I said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”
    “The ear delights in sound … The nose delights in odours … The tongue delights in flavours … The body delights in tangibles …  The mind delights in mind-objects, takes delight in mind-objects, rejoices in mind-objects; that has been tamed by the Tathāgata, guarded, protected, and restrained, and he teaches the Dhamma for its restraint. Was it with reference to this that you said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth’?”
    “It was with reference to this, Master Gotama, that I said: ‘The recluse Gotama is a destroyer of growth.’ Why is that? Because that is recorded in our scriptures.”
    9. “What do you think, Māgandiya? Here someone [504] may have formerly enjoyed himself with forms cognizable by the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. On a later occasion, having understood as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of forms, he might abandon craving for forms, remove fever for forms, and abide without thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace. What would you say to him, Māgandiya?”—“Nothing, Master Gotama.”
    “What do you think, Māgandiya? Here someone may have formerly enjoyed himself with sounds cognizable by the ear … with odours cognizable by the nose … with flavours cognizable by the tongue … with tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. On a later occasion, having understood as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of tangibles, he might abandon craving for tangibles, remove fever for tangibles, and abide without thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace. What would you say to him, Māgandiya?”—“Nothing, Master Gotama.”
    10. “Māgandiya, formerly when I lived the home life, I enjoyed myself, provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure: with forms cognizable by the eye … with sounds cognizable by the ear … with odours cognizable by the nose … with flavours cognizable by the tongue … with tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. I had three palaces, one for the rainy season, one for the winter, and one for the summer. I lived in the rains’ palace for the four months of the rainy season, enjoying myself with musicians, none of whom were men, and I did not go down to the lower palace.
    “On a later occasion, having understood as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of sensual pleasures, I abandoned craving for sensual pleasures, I removed fever for sensual pleasures, and I abide without thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace. I see other beings who are not free from lust for sensual pleasures being devoured by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with fever for sensual pleasures, indulging in sensual pleasures, and I do not envy them, nor do I delight therein. Why is that? Because there is, Māgandiya, a delight apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, [505] which surpasses even divine bliss. Since I take delight in that, I do not envy what is inferior, nor do I delight therein.
    11. “Suppose, Māgandiya, a householder or a householder’s son was rich, with great wealth and property, and being provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure, he might enjoy himself with forms cognizable by the eye … with sounds cognizable by the ear … with odours cognizable by the nose … with flavours cognizable by the tongue … with tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. Having conducted himself well in body, speech, and mind, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he might reappear in a happy destination, in the heavenly world in the retinue of the gods of the Thirty-three; and there, surrounded by a group of nymphs in the Nandana Grove, he would enjoy himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of divine sensual pleasure. Suppose he saw a householder or a householder’s son enjoying himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of [human] sensual pleasure. What do you think, Māgandiya? Would that young god surrounded by the group of nymphs in the Nandana Grove, enjoying himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of divine sensual pleasure, envy the householder or the householder’s son for the five cords of human sensual pleasure or would he be enticed by human sensual pleasures?”
    “No, Master Gotama. Why not? Because heavenly sensual pleasures are more excellent and sublime than human sensual pleasures.”
    12. “So too, Māgandiya, formerly when I lived the home life, I enjoyed myself, provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure: with forms cognizable by the eye … with tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. On a later occasion, having understood as they actually are the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of sensual pleasures, I abandoned craving for sensual pleasures, I removed fever for sensual pleasures, and I abide without thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace. I see other beings who are not free from lust for sensual pleasures being devoured by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with fever for sensual pleasures, [506] indulging in sensual pleasures, and I do not envy them nor do I delight therein. Why is that? Because there is, Māgandiya, a delight apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, which surpasses even divine bliss. Since I take delight in that, I do not envy what is inferior, nor do I delight therein.
    13. “Suppose, Māgandiya, there was a leper with sores and blisters on his limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterising his body over a burning charcoal pit. Then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, would bring a physician to treat him. The physician would make medicine for him, and by means of that medicine the man would be cured of his leprosy and would become well and happy, independent, master of himself, able to go where he likes. Then he might see another leper with sores and blisters on his limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterising his body over a burning charcoal pit. What do you think, Māgandiya? Would that man envy that leper for his burning charcoal pit or his use of medicine?”
    “No, Master Gotama. Why is that? Because when there is sickness, there is need for medicine, and when there is no sickness there is no need for medicine.”
    14. “So too, Māgandiya, formerly when I lived the home life … (as in §12) … Since I take delight in that, I do not envy what is inferior, nor do I delight therein. [507]
    15. “Suppose, Māgandiya, there was a leper with sores and blisters on his limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterising his body over a burning charcoal pit. Then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, brought a physician to treat him. The physician would make medicine for him, and by means of that medicine the man would be cured of his leprosy and would become well and happy, independent, master of himself, able to go where he likes. Then two strong men would seize him by both arms and drag him towards a burning charcoal pit. What do you think, Māgandiya? Would that man twist his body this way and that?”
    “Yes, Master Gotama. Why is that? Because that fire is indeed painful to touch, hot, and scorching.”
    “What do you think, Māgandiya? Is it only now that that fire is painful to touch, hot, and scorching, or previously too was that fire painful to touch, hot, and scorching?”
    “Master Gotama, that fire is now painful to touch, hot, and scorching, and previously too that fire was painful to touch, hot, and scorching. For when that man was a leper with sores and blisters on his limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, his faculties were impaired; thus, though the fire was actually painful to touch, he acquired a mistaken perception of it as pleasant.”
    16. “So too, Māgandiya, in the past sensual pleasures were painful to touch, hot, and scorching; in the future sensual pleasures will be painful to touch, hot, and scorching; and now at present sensual pleasures are painful to touch, hot, and scorching. But these beings who are not free from lust for sensual pleasures, who are devoured by craving for sensual pleasures, who burn with fever for sensual pleasures, have faculties that are impaired; thus, though sensual pleasures are actually painful to touch, they acquire a mistaken perception of them as pleasant.
    17. “Suppose, Māgandiya, there was a leper with sores and blisters on his limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterising his body over a burning charcoal pit; the more he scratches the scabs and cauterises his body, [508] the fouler, more evil-smelling and more infected the openings of his wounds would become, yet he would find a certain measure of satisfaction and enjoyment in scratching the openings of his wounds. So too, Māgandiya, beings who are not free from lust for sensual pleasures, who are devoured by craving for sensual pleasures, who burn with fever for sensual pleasures, still indulge in sensual pleasures; the more such beings indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their craving for sensual pleasures increases and the more they are burned by their fever for sensual pleasures, yet they find a certain measure of satisfaction and enjoyment in dependence on the five cords of sensual pleasure.
    18. “What do you think, Māgandiya? Have you ever seen or heard of a king or a king’s minister enjoying himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure who, without abandoning craving for sensual pleasures, without removing fever for sensual pleasures, was able to abide free from thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace, or who is able or who will be able to so abide?”—“No, Master Gotama.”
    “Good, Māgandiya. I too have never seen or heard of a king or a king’s minister enjoying himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure who, without abandoning craving for sensual pleasures, without removing fever for sensual pleasures, was able to abide free from thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace, or who is able or who will be able to so abide. On the contrary, Māgandiya, those recluses or brahmins who abided or abide or will abide free from thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace, all do so after having understood as they actually are the origin, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of sensual pleasures, and it is after abandoning craving for sensual pleasures and removing fever for sensual pleasures that they abided or abide or will abide free from thirst, with a mind inwardly at peace.”
    19. Then at that point the Blessed One uttered this exclamation:

“The greatest of all gains is health,
Nibbāna is the greatest bliss,
The eightfold path is the best of paths
For it leads safely to the Deathless.”

When this was said, the wanderer Māgandiya said to the Blessed One: “It is wonderful, Master Gotama, it is marvellous how well that has been expressed by Master Gotama: [509]

‘The greatest of all gains is health,
Nibbāna is the greatest bliss.’

We too have heard this said by earlier wanderers in the tradition of the teachers, and it agrees, Master Gotama.”
    “But, Māgandiya, when you heard that said by earlier wanderers in the tradition of the teachers, what is that health, what is that Nibbāna?”
    When this was said, the wanderer Māgandiya rubbed his own limbs with his hands and said: “This is that health, Master Gotama, this is that Nibbāna; for I am now healthy and happy and nothing afflicts me.”
    20. “Māgandiya, suppose there was a man born blind who could not see dark and light forms, who could not see blue, yellow, red, or pink forms, who could not see what was even and uneven, who could not see the stars or the sun and moon. He might hear a man with good eyesight saying: ‘Good indeed, sirs, is a white cloth, beautiful, spotless, and clean!’ and he would go in search of a white cloth. Then a man would cheat him with a dirty soiled garment thus: ‘Good man, here is a white cloth for you, beautiful, spotless, and clean.’ And he would accept it and put it on, and being satisfied with it, he would utter words of satisfaction thus: ‘Good indeed, sirs, is a white cloth, beautiful, spotless, and clean!’ What do you think, Māgandiya? When that man born blind accepted that dirty soiled garment, put it on, and being satisfied with it, uttered words of satisfaction thus: ‘Good indeed, sirs, is a white cloth, beautiful, spotless, and clean!’—did he do so knowing and seeing, or out of faith in the man with good eyesight?”
    “Venerable sir, he would have done so unknowing and unseeing, [510] out of faith in the man with good eyesight.”
    21. “So too, Māgandiya, the wanderers of other sects are blind and visionless. They do not know health, they do not see Nibbāna, yet they utter this stanza thus:

‘The greatest of all gains is health,
Nibbāna is the greatest bliss.’

This stanza was uttered by the earlier Accomplished Ones, Fully Enlightened Ones, thus:

‘The greatest of all gains is health,
Nibbāna is the greatest bliss,
The eightfold path is the best of paths
For it leads safely to the Deathless.’

Now it has gradually become current among ordinary people. And although this body, Māgandiya, is a disease, a tumour, a dart, a calamity, and an affliction, referring to this body you say: ‘This is that health, Master Gotama, this is that Nibbāna.’ You do not have that noble vision, Māgandiya, by means of which you might know health and see Nibbāna.”
    22. “I have confidence in Master Gotama thus: ‘Master Gotama is capable of teaching me the Dhamma in such a way that I can come to know health and to see Nibbāna.’”
    “Māgandiya, suppose there was a man born blind who could not see dark and light forms … or the sun and moon. Then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, would bring a physician to treat him. The physician would make a medicine for him, yet by means of that medicine the man’s vision would not arise or be purified. What do you think, Māgandiya, would that doctor reap weariness and disappointment?”—“Yes, Master Gotama.”—“So too, Māgandiya, if I were to teach you the Dhamma thus: ‘This is that health, this is that Nibbāna,’ you might not know health or see Nibbāna, and that would be wearisome and troublesome for me.” [511]
    23. “I have confidence in Master Gotama thus: ‘Master Gotama is capable of teaching me the Dhamma in such a way that I can come to know health and to see Nibbāna.’”
    “Māgandiya, suppose there was a man born blind who could not see dark and light forms … or the sun and moon. He might hear a man with good eyesight saying: ‘Good indeed, sirs, is a white cloth, beautiful, spotless, and clean!’ and he would go in search of a white cloth. Then a man would cheat him with a dirty soiled garment thus: ‘Good man, here is a white cloth for you, beautiful, spotless, and clean.’ And he would accept it and put it on. Then his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, would bring a physician to treat him. The physician would make medicine—emetics and purgatives, ointments and counter-ointments and nasal treatment—and by means of that medicine the man’s vision would arise and be purified. Together with the arising of his vision, his desire and liking for that dirty soiled garment would be abandoned; then he might burn with indignation and enmity towards that man and might think that he ought to be killed thus: ‘Indeed, I have long been tricked, cheated, and defrauded by this man with this dirty soiled garment when he told me: “Good man, here is a white cloth for you, beautiful, spotless, and clean.”’
    24. “So too, Māgandiya, if I were to teach you the Dhamma thus: ‘This is that health, this is that Nibbāna,’ you might know health and see Nibbāna. Together with the arising of your vision, your desire and lust for the five aggregates affected by clinging might be abandoned. Then perhaps you might think: ‘Indeed, I have long been tricked, cheated, and defrauded by this mind. For when clinging, I have been clinging just to material form, I have been clinging just to feeling, I have been clinging just to perception, I have been clinging just to formations, I have been clinging just to consciousness. With my clinging as condition, being [comes to be]; with being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, [512] and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.’”
    25. “I have confidence in Master Gotama thus: ‘Master Gotama is capable of teaching me the Dhamma in such a way that I might rise up from this seat cured of my blindness.’”
    “Then, Māgandiya, associate with true men. When you associate with true men, you will hear the true Dhamma. When you hear the true Dhamma, you will practise in accordance with the true Dhamma. When you practise in accordance with the true Dhamma, you will know and see for yourself thus: ‘These are diseases, tumours, and darts; but here these diseases, tumours, and darts cease without remainder. With the cessation of my clinging comes cessation of being; with the cessation of being, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’”
    26. When this was said, the wanderer Māgandiya said: “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent, Master Gotama! Master Gotama has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as though he were turning upright what had been overthrown, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see forms. I go to Master Gotama for refuge and to the Dhamma and to the Sangha of bhikkhus. I would receive the going forth under Master Gotama. I would receive the full admission.”
    27. “Māgandiya, one who formerly belonged to another sect and desires the going forth and the full admission in this Dhamma and Discipline lives on probation for four months. At the end of four months, if the bhikkhus are satisfied with him, they give him the going forth and the full admission to the bhikkhus’ state. But I recognise individual differences in this matter.”
    “Venerable sir, if those who formerly belonged to another sect and desire the going forth and the full admission in this Dhamma and Discipline live on probation for four months, and if at the end of the four months the bhikkhus being satisfied with them give them the going forth and the full admission to the bhikkhus’ state, then I will live on probation for four years. At the end of the four years if the bhikkhus are satisfied with me, let them give me the going forth and the full admission to the bhikkhus’ state.” [513]
    28. Then the wanderer Māgandiya received the going forth under the Blessed One, and he received the full admission. And soon, not long after his full admission, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the venerable Māgandiya, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now entered upon and abided in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness. He directly knew: “Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.” And the venerable Māgandiya became one of the arahants.
 

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