Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

II. The Great Chapter

61 (1) Sectarian
“Bhikkhus, there are these three sectarian tenets which, when questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined by the wise, and taken to their conclusion, will eventuate in non-doing. What are the three?
    (1) “There are, bhikkhus, some ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that is caused by what was done in the past.’ (2) There are other ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that is caused by God’s creative activity.’ (3) And there are still other ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that occurs without a cause or condition.’
    (1) “Bhikkhus, I approached those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that is caused by past deeds,’ and I said to them: ‘Is it true that you venerable ones hold such a doctrine and view?’ When I ask them this, they affirm it. [174] Then I say to them: ‘In such a case, it is due to past deeds that you might destroy life, take what is not given, indulge in sexual activity, speak falsehood, utter divisive speech, speak harshly, indulge in idle chatter; that you might be full of longing, have a mind of ill will, and hold wrong view.’
    “Those who fall back on past deeds as the essential truth have no desire [to do] what should be done and [to avoid doing] what should not be done, nor do they make an effort in this respect. Since they do not apprehend as true and valid anything that should be done or should not be done, they are muddle-minded, they do not guard themselves, and even the personal designation ‘ascetic’ could not be legitimately applied to them. This was my first legitimate refutation of those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view.
    (2) “Then, bhikkhus, I approached those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that is caused by God’s creative activity,’ and I said to them: ‘Is it true that you venerable ones hold such a doctrine and view?’ When I ask them this, they affirm it. Then I say to them: ‘In such a case, it is due to God’s creative activity that you might destroy life … and hold wrong view.’
    “Those who fall back on God’s creative activity as the essential truth have no desire [to do] what should be done and [to avoid doing] what should not be done, nor do they make an effort in this respect. Since they do not apprehend as true and valid anything that should be done or should not be done, they are muddle-minded, they do not guard themselves, and even the personal designation ‘ascetic’ could not be legitimately applied to them. This was my second legitimate refutation of those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view. [175]
    (3) “Then, bhikkhus, I approached those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view as this: ‘Whatever this person experiences—whether pleasure, pain, or neither-pain-nor-pleasure—all that occurs without a cause or condition,’ and I said to them: ‘Is it true that you venerable ones hold such a doctrine and view?’ When I ask them this, they affirm it. Then I say to them: ‘In such a case, it is without a cause or condition that you might destroy life … and hold wrong view.’
    “Those who fall back on absence of cause and condition as the essential truth have no desire [to do] what should be done and [to avoid doing] what should not be done, nor do they make an effort in this respect. Since they do not apprehend as true and valid anything that should be done or should not be done, they are muddle-minded, they do not guard themselves, and even the personal designation ‘ascetic’ could not be legitimately applied to them. This was my third legitimate refutation of those ascetics and brahmins who hold such a doctrine and view.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the three sectarian tenets which, when questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined by the wise, and taken to their conclusion, will eventuate in non-doing.
    “But, bhikkhus, this Dhamma taught by me is unrefuted, undefiled, irreproachable and uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins. And what is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted, undefiled, irreproachable and uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins?
    “‘These are the six elements’: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins. ‘These are the six bases for contact’ … ‘These are the eighteen mental examinations’ … ‘These are the four noble truths’: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted, undefiled, irreproachable and uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins.
    “When it was said: ‘“These are the six elements”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ for what reason was this said? There are [176] these six elements: the earth element, the water element, the fire element, the air element, the space element, and the consciousness element. When it was said: ‘“These are the six elements”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ it is because of this that this was said.
    “When it was said: ‘“These are the six bases for contact”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ for what reason was this said? There are these six bases for contact: the eye as a base for contact, the ear as a base for contact, the nose as a base for contact, the tongue as a base for contact, the body as a base for contact, and the mind as a base for contact. When it was said: ‘“These are the six bases for contact”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ it is because of this that this was said.
    “When it was said: ‘“These are the eighteen mental examinations”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ for what reason was this said? Having seen a form with the eye, one examines a form that is a basis for joy; one examines a form that is a basis for dejection; one examines a form that is a basis for equanimity. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having smelled an odor with the nose … Having tasted a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for joy; one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for dejection; one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for equanimity. When it was said: ‘“These are the eighteen mental examinations”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ it is because of this that this was said.
    “When it was said: ‘“These are the four noble truths”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ for what reason was this said? In dependence on the six elements the descent of a [future] embryo occurs. When the descent takes place, there is name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, there are the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, there is contact; with contact as condition, there is feeling. Now it is for one who feels that I proclaim: ‘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 what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, illness is suffering, death [177] is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish are suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering. This is called the noble truth of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? With ignorance as condition, volitional activities [come to be]; with volitional activities as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, old age-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering? With the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional activities; with the cessation of volitional activities, cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness, cessation of name-and-form; with the cessation of name-and-form, cessation of the six sense bases; with the cessation of the six sense bases, cessation of contact; with the cessation of contact, cessation of feeling; with the cessation of feeling, cessation of craving; with the cessation of craving, cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of existence; with the cessation of existence, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, old age-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering? It is just this noble eightfold path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This is called the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
    “When it was said: ‘“These are the four noble truths”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted, undefiled, irreproachable and uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ it is because of this that this was said.” [178]

62 (2) Perils
“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling speaks of these three perils that separate mother and son. What three?
    (1) “There comes a time when a great conflagration arises. When the great conflagration has arisen, it burns up villages, towns, and cities. When villages, towns, and cities are burning up, the mother does not find her son and the son does not find his mother. This is the first peril that separates mother and son of which the uninstructed worldling speaks.
    (2) “Again, there comes a time when a great rain cloud arises. When the great rain cloud has arisen, a great deluge takes place. When the great deluge takes place, villages, towns, and cities are swept away. When villages, towns, and cities are being swept away, the mother does not find her son and the son does not find his mother. This is the second peril that separates mother and son of which the uninstructed worldling speaks.
    (3) “Again, there comes a time of perilous turbulence in the wilderness, when the people of the countryside, mounted on their vehicles, flee on all sides. When there is perilous turbulence in the wilderness, and the people of the countryside, mounted on their vehicles, are fleeing on all sides, the mother does not find her son and the son does not find his mother. This is the third peril that separates mother and son of which the uninstructed worldling speaks.
    “These are the three perils that separate mother and son of which the uninstructed worldling speaks.
    “There are, bhikkhus, these three perils when mother and son reconnect that the uninstructed worldling speaks of as perils that separate mother and son. What three?
    (1) “There comes a time when a great conflagration arises. When the great conflagration has arisen, it burns up villages, towns, and cities. When villages, towns, and cities are burning up, there is sometimes an occasion when the mother [179] finds her son and the son finds his mother. This is the first peril when mother and son reconnect that the uninstructed worldling speaks of as a peril that separates mother and son.
    (2) “Again, there comes a time when a great rain cloud arises. When the great rain cloud has arisen, a great deluge takes place. When the great deluge takes place, villages, towns, and cities are swept away. When villages, towns, and cities are being swept away, there is sometimes an occasion when the mother finds her son and the son finds his mother. This is the second peril when mother and son reconnect that the uninstructed worldling speaks of as a peril that separates mother and son.
    (3) “Again, there comes a time of perilous turbulence in the wilderness, when the people of the countryside, mounted on their vehicles, flee on all sides. When there is perilous turbulence in the wilderness, and the people of the countryside, mounted on their vehicles, are fleeing on all sides, there is sometimes an occasion when the mother finds her son and the son finds his mother. This is the third peril when mother and son reconnect that the uninstructed worldling speaks of as a peril that separates mother and son.
    “These are the three perils when mother and son reconnect that the uninstructed worldling speak of as perils that separate mother and son.
    “There are, bhikkhus, these three perils that separate mother and son. What three? The peril of old age, the peril of illness, and the peril of death.
    (1) “When the son is growing old, the mother cannot fulfill her wish: ‘Let me grow old, but may my son not grow old!’ And when the mother is growing old, the son cannot fulfill his wish: ‘Let me grow old, but may my mother not grow old!’
    (2) “When the son has fallen ill, the mother cannot fulfill her wish: ‘Let me fall ill, but may my son not fall ill!’ And when the mother has fallen ill, the son cannot fulfill his wish: ‘Let me fall ill, but may my mother not fall ill!’
    (3) “When the son is dying, the mother cannot fulfill her wish: ‘Let me die, but may my son not die!’ And when the mother is dying, the son cannot fulfill his wish: ‘Let me die, but may my mother not die!’
    “These are the three perils that separate mother and son. [180]
    “There is a path, bhikkhus, there is a way that leads to the abandoning and overcoming of these three perils when mother and son reconnect and of these three perils that separate mother and son. And what is the path and way? It is just this noble eightfold path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This is the path and way that leads to the abandoning and overcoming of these three perils when mother and son reconnect and of these three perils that separate mother and son.”

63 (3) Venāga
On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering on tour among the Kosalans together with a large Saṅgha of bhikkhus when he reached the Kosalan brahmin village named Venāgapura. The brahmin householders of Venāgapura heard: “It is said that the ascetic Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from a Sakyan family, has arrived at Venāgapura. Now a good report about that Master Gotama has circulated thus: ‘That Blessed One is an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One. Having realized by his own direct knowledge this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, he makes it known to others. He teaches a Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing; he reveals a spiritual life that is perfectly complete and pure.’ Now it is good to see such arahants.”
    Then the brahmin householders of Venāgapura approached the Blessed One. Some paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down to one side; some exchanged greetings with him, [181] and when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, sat down to one side; some reverentially saluted him and sat down to one side; some pronounced their name and clan and sat down to one side; some kept silent and sat down to one side. The brahmin Vacchagotta of Venāgapura then said to the Blessed One:
    “It is astounding and amazing, Master Gotama, how Master Gotama’s faculties are tranquil and the color of his skin is pure and bright. Just as a yellow jujube fruit in the autumn is pure and bright, so Master Gotama’s faculties are tranquil and the color of his skin is pure and bright. Just as a palm fruit that has just been removed from its stalk is pure and bright, so Master Gotama’s faculties are tranquil and the color of his skin is pure and bright. Just as an ornament of finest gold, well prepared by a skilled goldsmith and very skillfully wrought in the furnace, placed on red brocade, shines and beams and radiates, so Master Gotama’s faculties are tranquil and the color of his skin is pure and bright.
    “Whatever high and luxurious kinds of bedding there are—that is, a sofa, a divan, a long-haired coverlet, a coverlet of diverse colors, a white coverlet, a woolen coverlet with floral designs, a quilt of cotton wool, a woolen coverlet ornamented with animal figures, a woolen coverlet with double borders, a woolen coverlet with a single border, a silken sheet studded with gems, a sheet made with silk threads and studded with gems, a dancer’s rug, an elephant rug, a horse rug, a chariot rug, a rug of antelope hide, a spread made of the hide of the kadali-deer, [a bed] with a canopy above and red bolsters at both ends—Master Gotama surely gains them at will, without trouble or difficulty.”
    “Brahmin, those high and luxurious kinds of bedding are rarely obtained by those who have gone forth, and if they are obtained, they are not allowed.
    “But, brahmin, there are three kinds of high and luxurious beds that at present I gain at will, without trouble or difficulty. What three? [182] The celestial high and luxurious bed, the divine high and luxurious bed, and the noble high and luxurious bed. These are the three kinds of high and luxurious beds that at present I gain at will, without trouble or difficulty.”
    (1) “But, Master Gotama, what is the celestial high and luxurious bed that at present you gain at will, without trouble or difficulty?”
    “Here, brahmin, when I am dwelling in dependence on a village or town, in the morning I dress, take my bowl and robe, and enter that village or town for alms. After the meal, when I have returned from the alms round, I enter a grove. I collect some grass or leaves that I find there into a pile and then sit down. Having folded my legs crosswise and straightened my body, I establish mindfulness in front of me. Then, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by thought and examination. With the subsiding of thought and examination, I enter and dwell in the second jhāna, which has internal placidity and unification of mind and consists of rapture and pleasure born of concentration, without thought and examination. With the fading away as well of rapture, I dwell equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, I experience pleasure 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.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, I enter and dwell in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.
    “Then, brahmin, when I am in such a state, if I walk back and forth, on that occasion my walking back and forth is celestial. If I am standing, on that occasion my standing is celestial. If I am sitting, on that occasion my sitting is celestial. If I lie down, on that occasion this is my celestial high and luxurious bed. This is that [183] celestial high and luxurious bed that at present I can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty.
    “It is astounding and amazing, Master Gotama! Who else, apart from Master Gotama, can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, such a celestial high and luxurious bed?
    (2) “But, Master Gotama, what is the divine high and luxurious bed that at present you gain at will, without trouble or difficulty?”
    “Here, brahmin, when I am dwelling in dependence on a village or town, in the morning I dress, take my bowl and robe, and enter that village or town for alms. After the meal, when I have returned from the alms round, I enter a grove. I collect some grass or leaves that I find there into a pile and then sit down. Having folded my legs crosswise and straightened my body, I establish mindfulness in front of me. Then I dwell pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to myself, I dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without enmity, without ill will. I dwell pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion … with a mind imbued with altruistic joy … with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to myself, I dwell pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without enmity, without ill will.
    “Then, brahmin, when I am in such a state, if I walk back and forth, on that occasion my walking back and forth is divine. If I am standing, on that occasion my standing is divine. If I am sitting, on that occasion my sitting is divine. If I lie down, on that occasion this is my divine high and luxurious bed. This is that divine high and luxurious bed that at present I can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty. [184]
    “It is astounding and amazing, Master Gotama! Who else, apart from Master Gotama, can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, such a high and luxurious bed?
    (3) “But, Master Gotama, what is the noble high and luxurious bed that at present you gain at will, without trouble or difficulty?”
    “Here, brahmin, when I am dwelling in dependence on a village or town, in the morning I dress, take my bowl and robe, and enter that village or town for alms. After the meal, when I have returned from the alms round, I enter a grove. I collect some grass or leaves that I find there into a pile and then sit down. Having folded my legs crosswise and straightened my body, I establish mindfulness in front of me. Then I understand thus: ‘I have abandoned greed, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising. I have abandoned hatred, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising. I have abandoned delusion, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising.’
    “Then, brahmin, when I am in such a state, if I walk back and forth, on that occasion my walking back and forth is noble. If I am standing, on that occasion my standing is noble. If I am sitting, on that occasion my sitting is noble. If I lie down, on that occasion this is my noble high and luxurious bed. This is that noble high and luxurious bed that at present I can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty.
    “It is astounding and amazing, Master Gotama! Who else, apart from Master Gotama, can gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, such a noble high and luxurious bed?
    “Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent, 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 darkness so those with good eyesight can see forms. We now go for refuge to Master Gotama, [185] to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Let Master Gotama consider us lay followers who from today have gone for refuge for life.”

64 (4) Sarabha
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha on Mount Vulture Peak. Now on that occasion a wanderer named Sarabha had recently left this Dhamma and discipline. He had been telling an assembly in Rājagaha: “I have learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son. After I had learned their Dhamma, I left that Dhamma and discipline.”
    Then, one morning, a number of bhikkhus dressed, took their bowls and robes, and entered Rājagaha for alms. They then heard the wanderer Sarabha making such a statement to an assembly in Rājagaha. When those bhikkhus had walked for alms in Rājagaha, after their meal, when they returned from their alms round, they approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Bhante, the wanderer Sarabha, who recently left this Dhamma and discipline, has been telling an assembly in Rājagaha: ‘I have learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son. After I had learned their Dhamma, I left that Dhamma and discipline.’ It would be good, bhante, if the Blessed One would go to the wanderers’ park on the bank of the Sappinikā [river] and, out of compassion, approach the wanderer Sarabha.” The Blessed One consented by silence.
    Then, in the evening, the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to the wanderers’ park on the bank of the Sappinikā [river]. He approached the wanderer Sarabha, sat down on the seat that was prepared [186] for him, and said to him: “Is it true, Sarabha, that you have been saying: ‘I have learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son. After I learned their Dhamma, I left that Dhamma and discipline’?” When this was said, the wanderer Sarabha was silent.
    A second time the Blessed One said to the wanderer Sarabha: “Tell me, Sarabha, how have you learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son? If you have not learned it completely, I will complete it. But if you have learned it completely, I will rejoice.” But a second time the wanderer Sarabha was silent.
    A third time the Blessed One said to the wanderer Sarabha: “Tell me, Sarabha, how have you learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son? If you have not learned it completely, I will complete it. But if you have learned it completely, I will rejoice.” But a third time the wanderer Sarabha was silent.
    Then those wanderers said to the wanderer Sarabha: “The ascetic Gotama has offered to give you whatever you might ask him for, friend Sarabha. Speak, friend Sarabha! How have you learned the Dhamma of the ascetics who follow the Sakyan son? If you have not learned it completely, the ascetic Gotama will complete it for you. But if you have learned it completely, he will rejoice.” When this was said, the wanderer Sarabha sat silenced, disconcerted, hunched over, downcast, glum, and speechless.
    Then the Blessed One, having understood that the wanderer Sarabha [sat] silenced, disconcerted, hunched over, downcast, glum, and speechless, said to those wanderers:
    (1) “Wanderers, if anyone should say about me: ‘Though you claim to be perfectly enlightened, you are not fully enlightened about these things,’ [187] I might question him closely about this matter, interrogate him, and cross-examine him. When he is being closely questioned by me, interrogated, and cross-examined, it is impossible and inconceivable that he would not incur one or another of three consequences: he would either answer evasively and divert the discussion to an irrelevant subject; [or] display anger, hatred, and bitterness; or would sit silenced, disconcerted, hunched over, downcast, glum, and speechless, just like the wanderer Sarabha.
    (2) “If, wanderers, anyone should say about me: ‘Though you claim to be one whose taints are destroyed, you have not fully destroyed these taints,’ I might question him closely about this matter, interrogate him, and cross-examine him. When he is being closely questioned by me, interrogated, and cross-examined, it is impossible and inconceivable that he would not incur one or another of three consequences: he would either answer evasively and divert the discussion to an irrelevant subject; [or] display anger, hatred, and bitterness; or would sit silenced, disconcerted, hunched over, downcast, glum, and speechless, just like the wanderer Sarabha.
    (3) “If, wanderers, anyone should say about me: ‘The Dhamma does not lead one who practices it to the complete destruction of suffering, the goal for the sake of which you teach it,’ I might question him closely about this matter, interrogate him, and cross-examine him. When he is being closely questioned by me, interrogated, and cross-examined, it is impossible and inconceivable that he would not incur one or another of three consequences: he would either answer evasively and divert the discussion to an irrelevant subject, [or] display anger, hatred, and bitterness, or would sit silenced, disconcerted, hunched over, downcast, glum, and speechless, just like the wanderer Sarabha.”
    Then the Blessed One, having roared his lion’s roar three times in the wanderers’ park on the bank of the Sappinikā [river], rose up into the air and departed.
    Then, soon after the Blessed One had left, those wanderers gave the wanderer Sarabha a thorough verbal lashing, [saying:] “Just as an old jackal in a huge forest might think: ‘I will roar a lion’s roar,’ and yet would only howl and yelp like a jackal, so, friend Sarabha, claiming in the absence of the ascetic Gotama: ‘I will roar a lion’s roar,’ [188] you only howled and yelped like a jackal. Just as, friend Sarabha, a chick might think: ‘I will sing like a cock,’ and yet would only sing like a chick, so, friend Sarabha, claiming in the absence of the ascetic Gotama: ‘I will sing like a cock,’ you only sang like a chick. Just as, friend Sarabha, a bull might think to bellow deeply in an empty cow shed, so, friend Sarabha, in the absence of the ascetic Gotama you thought you could bellow deeply.” [In this way] those wanderers gave the wanderer Sarabha a thorough verbal lashing.

65 (5) Kesaputtiya
On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering on tour among the Kosalans together with a large Saṅgha of monks when he reached the town of the Kālāmas named Kesaputta. The Kālāmas of Kesaputta heard: “It is said that the ascetic Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from a Sakyan family, has arrived at Kesaputta. Now a good report about that Master Gotama has circulated thus: ‘That Blessed One is an arahant, perfectly enlightened … [as at 3:63] … [and] reveals a spiritual life that is perfectly complete and pure.’ Now it is good to see such arahants.”
    Then the Kālāmas of Kesaputta approached the Blessed One. Some paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down to one side … [as at 3:63] … some kept silent and sat down to one side. Sitting to one side, the Kālāmas said to the Blessed One:
    “Bhante, there are some ascetics and brahmins who come to Kesaputta. They explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, denigrate, deride, and denounce the doctrines of others. But then some other ascetics and brahmins come to Kesaputta, [189] and they too explain and elucidate their own doctrines, but disparage, denigrate, deride, and denounce the doctrines of others. We are perplexed and in doubt, bhante, as to which of these good ascetics speak truth and which speak falsehood.”
    “It is fitting for you to be perplexed, Kālāmas, it is fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence [of a speaker], or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’ But when, Kālāmas, you know for yourselves: ‘These things are unwholesome; these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if accepted and undertaken, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.
    (1) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When greed arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his harm, bhante.”
    “Kālāmas, a greedy person, overcome by greed, with mind obsessed by it, destroys life, takes what is not given, transgresses with another’s wife, and speaks falsehood; and he encourages others to do likewise. Will that lead to his harm and suffering for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    (2) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When hatred arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his harm, bhante.”
    “Kālāmas, a person who is full of hate, overcome by hatred, with mind obsessed by it, destroys life … and he encourages others to do likewise. Will that lead to his harm and suffering for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    (3) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When delusion arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his harm, bhante.” [190]
    “Kālāmas, a person who is deluded, overcome by delusion, with mind obsessed by it, destroys life … and he encourages others to do likewise. Will that lead to his harm and suffering for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    “What do you think, Kālāmas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?” – “Unwholesome, bhante.” – “Blameworthy or blameless?” – “Blameworthy, bhante.” – “Censured or praised by the wise?” – “Censured by the wise, bhante.” – “Accepted and undertaken, do they lead to harm and suffering or not, or how do you take it?” – “Accepted and undertaken, these things lead to harm and suffering. So we take it.”
    “Thus, Kālāmas, when we said: ‘Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition … But when you know for yourselves: “These things are unwholesome; these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to harm and suffering,” then you should abandon them,’ it is because of this that this was said.
    “Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence [of a speaker], or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’ But when you know for yourselves: ‘These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if accepted and undertaken, lead to welfare and happiness,’ then you should live in accordance with them.
    (1) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When non-greed arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his welfare, bhante.”
    “Kālāmas, a person without greed, not overcome by greed, his mind not obsessed by it, does not destroy life, take what is not given, transgress with another’s wife, or speak falsehood; nor does he encourage others to do likewise. [191] Will that lead to his welfare and happiness for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    (2) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When non-hatred arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his welfare, bhante.”
    “Kālāmas, a person who is without hate, not overcome by hatred, his mind not obsessed by it, does not destroy life … nor does he encourage others to do likewise. Will that lead to his welfare and happiness for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    (3) “What do you think, Kālāmas? When non-delusion arises in a person, is it for his welfare or for his harm?”
    “For his welfare, bhante.”
    “Kālāmas, a person who is undeluded, not overcome by delusion, his mind not obsessed by it, does not destroy life … nor does he encourage others to do likewise. Will that lead to his welfare and happiness for a long time?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    “What do you think, Kālāmas? Are these things wholesome or unwholesome?” – “Wholesome, bhante.” – “Blameworthy or blameless?” – “Blameless, bhante.” – “Censured or praised by the wise?” – “Praised by the wise, bhante.” – “Accepted and undertaken, do they lead to welfare and happiness or not, or how do you take it?” – “Accepted and undertaken, these things lead to welfare and happiness. So we take it.”
    “Thus, Kālāmas, when we said: ‘Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition … But when you know for yourselves: “These things are wholesome; these things are blameless; these things are praised by the wise; these things, if accepted and undertaken, lead to welfare and happiness,” then you should [192] live in accordance with them,’ it is because of this that this was said.
    “Then, Kālāmas, that noble disciple, who is thus devoid of longing, devoid of ill will, unconfused, clearly comprehending, ever mindful, dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness … with a mind imbued with compassion … with a mind imbued with altruistic joy … with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without enmity, without ill will.
    “This noble disciple, Kālāmas, whose mind is in this way without enmity, without ill will, undefiled, and pure, has won four assurances in this very life.
    “The first assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is another world, and if there is the fruit and result of good and bad deeds, it is possible that with the breakup of the body, after death, I will be reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’
    “The second assurance he has won is this: ‘If there is no other world, and there is no fruit and result of good and bad deeds, still right here, in this very life, I maintain myself in happiness, without enmity and ill will, free of trouble.
    “The third assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil comes to one who does evil. Then, when I have no evil intentions towards anyone, how can suffering afflict me, since I do no evil deed?’
    “The fourth assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil does not come to one who does evil. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects.’
    “This noble disciple, Kālāmas, whose mind is in this way without enmity, without ill will, undefiled, and pure, has won these four assurances in this very life.”
    “So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Fortunate One! This noble disciple whose mind is in this way without enmity, without ill will, undefiled, and pure, [193] has won four assurances in this very life.
    “The first assurance he has won … [as above, down to:] … The fourth assurance he has won is this: ‘Suppose evil does not befall the evil-doer. Then right here I see myself purified in both respects.’
    “This noble disciple, bhante, whose mind is in this way without enmity, without ill will, undefiled, and pure, has won these four assurances in this very life.
    “Excellent, bhante!… We go for refuge to the Blessed One, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Let the Blessed One consider us lay followers who from today have gone for refuge for life.”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

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