The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

95. Cankī Sutta: With Cankī

[164] 1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering in the Kosalan country with a large Sangha of bhikkhus, and eventually he arrived at a Kosalan brahmin village named Opasāda. There the Blessed One stayed in the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove to the north of Opasāda.
    2. Now on that occasion the brahmin Cankī was ruling over Opasāda, a crown property abounding in living beings, rich in grasslands, woodlands, waterways, and grain, a royal endowment, a sacred grant given to him by King Pasenadi of Kosala.
    3. The brahmin householders of Opasāda heard: “The recluse Gotama … (as Sutta 91, §3) … Now it is good see such arahants.”
    4. Then the brahmin householders of Opasāda set forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and headed northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove.
    5. Now on that occasion the brahmin Cankī had retired to the upper storey of his palace for his midday rest. Then he saw the brahmin householders of Opasāda setting forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and heading northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove. When he saw them, he asked his minister: “Good minister, why are the brahmin householders of Opasāda setting forth from Opasāda in groups and bands and heading northwards to the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove?”
    6. “Sir, there is the recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from a Sakyan clan, who has been wandering in the Kosalan country … (as Sutta 91, §3) … They are going to see that Master Gotama.”
    “Then, good minister, go to the brahmin householders of Opasāda and tell them: ‘Sirs, the brahmin Cankī says this: “Please wait, sirs. The brahmin Cankī will also go to see the recluse Gotama.”’”
    “Yes, sir,” the minister replied, [165] and he went to the brahmin householders of Opasāda and gave them the message.
    7. Now on that occasion five hundred brahmins from various states were staying at Opasāda for some business or other. They heard: “The brahmin Cankī, it is said, is going to see the recluse Gotama.” Then they went to the brahmin Cankī and asked him: “Sir, is it true that you are going to see the recluse Gotama?”
    “So it is, sirs. I am going to see the recluse Gotama.”
    8. “Sir, do not go to see the recluse Gotama. It is not proper, Master Cankī, for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you. For you, sir, are well born on both sides, of pure maternal and paternal descent seven generations back, unassailable and impeccable in respect of birth. Since that is so, Master Cankī, it is not proper for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you. You, sir, are rich, with great wealth and great possessions. You, sir, are a master of the Three Vedas with their vocabularies, liturgy, phonology, and etymology, and the histories as a fifth; skilled in philology and grammar, you are fully versed in natural philosophy and in the marks of a Great Man. You, sir, are handsome, comely, and graceful, possessing supreme beauty of complexion, with sublime beauty and sublime presence, remarkable to behold. You, sir, are virtuous, mature in virtue, possessing mature virtue. You, sir, are a good speaker with a good delivery; [166] you speak words that are courteous, distinct, flawless, and communicate the meaning. You, sir, teach the teachers of many, and you teach the recitation of the hymns to three hundred brahmin students. You, sir, are honoured, respected, revered, venerated, and esteemed by King Pasenadi of Kosala. You, sir, are honoured, respected, revered, venerated, and esteemed by the brahmin Pokkharasāti. You, sir, rule over Opasāda, a crown property abounding in living beings … a sacred grant given to you by King Pasenadi of Kosala. Since this is so, Master Cankī, it is not proper for you to go to see the recluse Gotama; rather, it is proper for the recluse Gotama to come to see you.”
    9. When this was said, the brahmin Cankī told those brahmins: “Now, sirs, hear from me why it is proper for me to go to see Master Gotama, and why it is not proper for Master Gotama to come to see me. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is well born on both sides, of pure maternal and paternal descent seven generations back, unassailable and impeccable in respect of birth. Since this is so, sirs, it is not proper for Master Gotama to come to see me; rather, it is proper for me to go to see Master Gotama. Sirs, the recluse Gotama went forth abandoning much gold and bullion stored away in vaults and depositories. Sirs, the recluse Gotama went forth from the home life into homelessness while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life. Sirs, the recluse Gotama shaved off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and went forth from the home life into homelessness though his mother and father wished otherwise and wept with tearful faces. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is handsome, comely, and graceful, possessing supreme beauty of complexion, [167] with sublime beauty and sublime presence, remarkable to behold. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is virtuous, with noble virtue, with wholesome virtue, possessing wholesome virtue. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is a good speaker with a good delivery; he speaks words that are courteous, distinct, flawless, and communicate the meaning. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is a teacher of the teachers of many. Sirs, the recluse Gotama is free from sensual lust and without personal vanity. Sirs, the recluse Gotama holds the doctrine of the moral efficacy of action, the doctrine of the moral efficacy of deeds; he does not seek any harm for the line of brahmins. Sirs, the recluse Gotama went forth from an aristocratic family, from one of the original noble families. Sirs, the recluse Gotama went forth from a rich family, from a family of great wealth and great possessions. Sirs, people come from remote kingdoms and remote districts to question the recluse Gotama. Sirs, many thousands of deities have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama. Sirs, a good report of the recluse 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.’ Sirs, the recluse Gotama possesses the thirty-two marks of a Great Man. Sirs, King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha and his wife and children have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama. Sirs, King Pasenadi of Kosala and his wife and children have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama. Sirs, the brahmin Pokkharasāti and his wife and children have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama. Sirs, the recluse Gotama has arrived at Opasāda and is living at Opasāda in the Gods’ Grove, the Sāla-tree Grove to the north of Opasāda. Now any recluses or brahmins that come to our town are our guests, and guests should be honoured, respected, revered, and venerated by us. Since the recluse Gotama has arrived at Opasāda, he is our guest, and as our guest should be honoured, respected, revered, and venerated by us. [168] Since this is so, sirs, it is not proper for Master Gotama to come to see me; rather, it is proper for me to go to see Master Gotama.
    “Sirs, this much is the praise of Master Gotama that I have learned, but the praise of Master Gotama is not limited to that, for the praise of Master Gotama is immeasurable. Since Master Gotama possesses each one of these factors, it is not proper for him to come to see me; rather, it is proper for me to go to see Master Gotama. Therefore, sirs, let all of us go to see the recluse Gotama.”
    10. Then the brahmin Cankī, together with a large company of brahmins, went to the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When this courteous and amiable talk was finished, he sat down at one side.
    11. Now on that occasion the Blessed One was seated finishing some amiable talk with some very senior brahmins. At the time, sitting in the assembly, was a brahmin student named Kāpaṭhika. Young, shaven-headed, sixteen years old, he was a master of the Three Vedas with their vocabularies, liturgy, phonology, and etymology, and the histories as a fifth; skilled in philology and grammar, he was fully versed in natural philosophy and in the marks of a Great Man. While the very senior brahmins were conversing with the Blessed One, he often broke in and interrupted their talk. Then the Blessed One rebuked the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika thus: “Let not the venerable Bhāradvāja break in and interrupt the talk of the very senior brahmins while they are conversing. Let the venerable Bhāradvāja wait until the talk is finished.”
    When this was said, the brahmin Cankī said to the Blessed One: “Let not Master Gotama rebuke the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika. The brahmin student Kāpaṭhika is a clansman, he is very learned, he has a good delivery, he is wise; he is capable of taking part in this discussion with Master Gotama.”
    12. Then the Blessed One thought: “Surely, [169] since the brahmins honour him thus, the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika must be accomplished in the scriptures of the Three Vedas.”
    Then the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika thought: “When the recluse Gotama catches my eye, I shall ask him a question.”
    Then, knowing with his own mind the thought in the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika’s mind, the Blessed One turned his eye towards him. Then the brahmin student Kāpaṭhika thought: “The recluse Gotama has turned towards me. Suppose I ask him a question.” Then he said to the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, in regard to the ancient brahmanic hymns that have come down through oral transmission and in the scriptural collections, the brahmins come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ What does Master Gotama say about this?”
    13. “How then, Bhāradvāja, among the brahmins is there even a single brahmin who says thus: ‘I know this, I see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong’?”—“No, Master Gotama.”
    “How then, Bhāradvāja, among the brahmins is there even a single teacher or a single teacher’s teacher back to the seventh generation of teachers who says thus: ‘I know this, I see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong’?”—“No, Master Gotama.”
    “How then, Bhāradvāja, the ancient brahmin seers, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns, whose ancient hymns that were formerly chanted, uttered, and compiled, the brahmins nowadays still chant and repeat, repeating what was spoken and reciting what was recited—that is, Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, and Bhagu—did even these ancient brahmin seers say thus: ‘We know this, we see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong’?”—[170] “No, Master Gotama.”
    “So, Bhāradvāja, it seems that among the brahmins there is not even a single brahmin who says thus: ‘I know this, I see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ And among the brahmins there is not even a single teacher or a single teacher’s teacher back to the seventh generation of teachers, who says thus: ‘I know this, I see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ And the ancient brahmin seers, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns … even these ancient brahmin seers did not say thus: ‘We know this, we see this: only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ Suppose there were a file of blind men each in touch with the next: the first one does not see, the middle one does not see, and the last one does not see. So too, Bhāradvāja, in regard to their statement the brahmins seem to be like a file of blind men: the first one does not see, the middle one does not see, and the last one does not see. What do you think, Bhāradvāja, that being so, does not the faith of the brahmins turn out to be groundless?”
    14. “The brahmins honour this not only out of faith, Master Gotama. They also honour it as oral tradition.”
    “Bhāradvāja, first you took your stand on faith, now you speak of oral tradition. There are five things, Bhāradvāja, that may turn out in two different ways here and now. What five? Faith, approval, oral tradition, reasoned cogitation, and reflective acceptance of a view. These five things may turn out in two different ways here and now. Now something may be fully accepted out of faith, yet it may be empty, hollow, and false; but something else may not be fully accepted out of faith, yet it may be factual, true, and unmistaken. Again, [171] something may be fully approved of … well transmitted … well cogitated … well reflected upon, yet it may be empty, hollow, and false; but something else may not be well reflected upon, yet it may be factual, true, and unmistaken. [Under these conditions] it is not proper for a wise man who preserves truth to come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’”
    15. “But, Master Gotama, in what way is there the preservation of truth? How does one preserve truth? We ask Master Gotama about the preservation of truth.”
    “If a person has faith, Bhāradvāja, he preserves truth when he says: ‘My faith is thus’; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the preservation of truth; in this way he preserves truth; in this way we describe the preservation of truth. But as yet there is no discovery of truth.
    “If a person approves of something … if he receives an oral tradition … if he [reaches a conclusion based on] reasoned cogitation … if he gains a reflective acceptance of a view, he preserves truth when he says: ‘My reflective acceptance of a view is thus’; but he does not yet come to the definite conclusion: ‘Only this is true, anything else is wrong.’ In this way too, Bhāradvāja, there is the preservation of truth; in this way he preserves truth; in this way we describe the preservation of truth. But as yet there is no discovery of truth.”
    16. “In that way, Master Gotama, there is the preservation of truth; in that way one preserves truth; in that way we recognise the preservation of truth. But in what way, Master Gotama, is there the discovery of truth? In what way does one discover truth? We ask Master Gotama about the discovery of truth.”
    17. “Here, Bhāradvāja, a bhikkhu may be living in dependence on some village or town. Then a householder or a householder’s son goes to him and investigates him in regard to three kinds of states: [172] in regard to states based on greed, in regard to states based on hate, and in regard to states based on delusion: ‘Are there in this venerable one any states based on greed such that, with his mind obsessed by those states, while not knowing he might say, “I know,” or while not seeing he might say, “I see,” or he might urge others to act in a way that would lead to their harm and suffering for a long time?’ As he investigates him he comes to know: ‘There are no such states based on greed in this venerable one. The bodily behaviour and the verbal behaviour of this venerable one are not those of one affected by greed. And the Dhamma that this venerable one teaches is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by greed.’
    18. “When he has investigated him and has seen that he is purified from states based on greed, he next investigates him in regard to states based on hate: ‘Are there in this venerable one any states based on hate such that, with his mind obsessed by those states … he might urge others to act in a way that would lead to their harm and suffering for a long time?’ As he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘There are no such states based on hate in this venerable one. The bodily behaviour and the verbal behaviour of this venerable one are not those of one affected by hate. And the Dhamma that this venerable one teaches is profound … to be experienced by the wise. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by hate.’
    19. “When he has investigated him and has seen that he is purified from states based on hate, [173] he next investigates him in regard to states based on delusion: ‘Are there in this venerable one any states based on delusion such that, with his mind obsessed by those states … he might urge others to act in a way that would lead to their harm and suffering for a long time?’ As he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘There are no such states based on delusion in this venerable one. The bodily behaviour and the verbal behaviour of this venerable one are not those of one affected by delusion. And the Dhamma that this venerable one teaches is profound … to be experienced by the wise. This Dhamma cannot easily be taught by one affected by delusion.’
    20. “When he has investigated him and has seen that he is purified from states based on delusion, then he places faith in him; filled with faith he visits him and pays respect to him; having paid respect to him, he gives ear; when he gives ear, he hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it and examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinises; having scrutinised, he strives; resolutely striving, he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom. In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the discovery of truth; in this way one discovers truth; in this way we describe the discovery of truth. But as yet there is no final arrival at truth.”
    21. “In that way, Master Gotama, there is the discovery of truth; in that way one discovers truth; in that way we recognise the discovery of truth. But in what way, Master Gotama, is there the final arrival at truth? In what way does one finally arrive at truth? We ask Master Gotama about the final arrival at truth.” [174]
    “The final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja, lies in the repetition, development, and cultivation of those same things. In this way, Bhāradvāja, there is the final arrival at truth; in this way one finally arrives at truth; in this way we describe the final arrival at truth.”
    22. “In that way, Master Gotama, there is the final arrival at truth; in that way one finally arrives at truth; in that way we recognise the final arrival at truth. But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for the final arrival at truth? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for the final arrival at truth.”
    “Striving is most helpful for the final arrival at truth, Bhāradvāja. If one does not strive, one will not finally arrive at truth; but because one strives, one does finally arrive at truth. That is why striving is most helpful for the final arrival at truth.”
    23. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for striving? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for striving.”
    “Scrutiny is most helpful for striving, Bhāradvāja. If one does not scrutinise, one will not strive; but because one scrutinises, one strives. That is why scrutiny is most helpful for striving.”
    24. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for scrutiny? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for scrutiny.”
    “Application of the will is most helpful for scrutiny, Bhāradvāja. If one does not apply one’s will, one will not scrutinise; but because one applies one’s will, one scrutinises. That is why application of the will is most helpful for scrutiny.”
    25. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for application of the will? We ask the Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for application of the will.”
    “Zeal is most helpful for application of the will, Bhāradvāja. If one does not arouse zeal, one will not apply one’s will; but because one arouses zeal, one applies one’s will. That is why zeal is most helpful for application of the will.”
    26. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for zeal? [175] We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for zeal.”
    “A reflective acceptance of the teachings is most helpful for zeal, Bhāradvāja. If one does not gain a reflective acceptance of the teachings, zeal will not spring up; but because one gains a reflective acceptance of the teachings, zeal springs up. That is why a reflective acceptance of the teachings is most helpful for zeal.”
    27. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for a reflective acceptance of the teachings? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for a reflective acceptance of the teachings.”
    “Examination of the meaning is most helpful for a reflective acceptance of the teachings, Bhāradvāja. If one does not examine their meaning, one will not gain a reflective acceptance of the teachings; but because one examines their meaning, one gains a reflective acceptance of the teachings. That is why examination of the meaning is most helpful for a reflective acceptance of the teachings.”
    28. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for examination of the meaning? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for examination of meaning.”
    “Memorising the teachings is most helpful for examining the meaning, Bhāradvāja. If one does not memorise a teaching, one will not examine its meaning; but because one memorises a teaching, one examines its meaning.”
    29. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for memorising the teachings? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for memorising the teachings.”
    “Hearing the Dhamma is most helpful for memorising the teachings, Bhāradvāja. If one does not hear the Dhamma, one will not memorise the teachings; but because one hears the Dhamma, one memorises the teachings. That is why hearing the Dhamma is most helpful for memorising the teachings.”
    30. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for hearing the Dhamma? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for hearing the Dhamma.”
    “Giving ear is most helpful for hearing the Dhamma, Bhāradvāja. [176] If one does not give ear, one will not hear the Dhamma; but because one gives ear, one hears the Dhamma. That is why giving ear is most helpful for hearing the Dhamma.”
    31. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for giving ear? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for giving ear.”
    “Paying respect is most helpful for giving ear, Bhāradvāja. If one does not pay respect, one will not give ear; but because one pays respect, one gives ear. That is why paying respect is most helpful for giving ear.”
    32. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for paying respect? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for paying respect.”
    “Visiting is most helpful for paying respect, Bhāradvāja. If one does not visit [a teacher], one will not pay respect to him; but because one visits [a teacher], one pays respect to him. That is why visiting is most helpful for paying respect.”
    33. “But what, Master Gotama, is most helpful for visiting? We ask Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for visiting.”
    “Faith is most helpful for visiting, Bhāradvāja. If faith [in a teacher] does not arise, one will not visit him; but because faith [in a teacher] arises, one visits him. That is why faith is most helpful for visiting.”
    34. “We asked Master Gotama about the preservation of truth, and Master Gotama answered about the preservation of truth; we approve of and accept that answer, and so we are satisfied. We asked Master Gotama about the discovery of truth, and Master Gotama answered about the discovery of truth; we approve of and accept that answer, and so we are satisfied. We asked Master Gotama about the final arrival at truth, and Master Gotama answered about the final arrival at truth; we approve of and accept that answer, and so we are satisfied. [177] We asked Master Gotama about the thing most helpful for the final arrival at truth, and Master Gotama answered about the thing most helpful for the final arrival at truth; we approve of and accept that answer, and so we are satisfied. Whatever we asked Master Gotama about, that he has answered us; we approve of and accept that answer, and so we are satisfied. Formerly, Master Gotama, we used to think: ‘Who are these bald-pated recluses, these swarthy menial offspring of the Kinsman’s feet, that they would understand the Dhamma?’ But Master Gotama has indeed inspired in me love for recluses, confidence in recluses, reverence for recluses.
    35. “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.  From today let Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge for life.”
 

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