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Dependent Liberation by Bhikkhu Brahmāli
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Dependent Liberation

Foreword

Ajahn Brahm

If there is no self, then who does the meditation and who gets enlightened?

The answer can be found in such teachings as the Upanisā Sutta, taught by the Buddha and explained here by Ven. Brahmāli.

The Upanisā Sutta describes the practice of Buddhism, centred on meditation, as a natural process of one mind state causing a second phenomenon that leads to another experience ... and so on to the ultimate end point of all processes, Nibbāna.

No one ‘does’ the meditation. Meditation is what happens when the ‘doer’ gets out of the way, thereby releasing a natural cause-and-effect process that cascades all the way to enlightenment.

Many parts of this chain of mental events are enjoyable states: gladness (pāmojja), joy (pīti) and happiness (sukha). This emphasises that meditation – according to the instructions of the Buddha, rather than those of some other Buddhist teachers – is a delightful process, full of ecstasy. What better way to end suffering once and forever than through a method that includes bliss upon bliss upon bliss!

No one gets enlightened, no more than a mango tree becomes a sweet and delicious mango fruit. Enlightenment is the end of a selfless process, well described by the Buddha in this Sutta.

Start the avalanche of profound and blissful meditative states now! End your delusion by reading this book. Get out of the way and witness the cause-and-effect process finish you off!


With mega mettā,

Ajahn Brahm
Perth, December 2012

Dependent Liberation

Introduction

Dependent liberation describes the psychology of meditation, that is, how the process of meditation is experienced, from beginning to end.

Dependent liberation is closely related to the wellknown Buddhist idea of dependent origination. For those who do not have much familiarity with the teachings of the Buddha, dependent origination is a sequence of twelve factors that are causally connected. The last factor of this chain of causality is suffering. Because it is a chain of causality, it shows you how suffering comes to be. The first of the twelve factors is ignorance or delusion – the inability to see the world as it actually is, how it truly functions. So starting with ignorance, one factor leads to the next all the way to suffering. What dependent origination shows you, then, is that suffering is the consequence of ignorance.

This is how the Buddha explains why there is suffering. But the Buddha also teaches a causal sequence that describes the liberation from suffering. It is this sequence that is called dependent liberation (SN12:23). Dependent liberation starts with suffering – in other words, it starts where dependent origination ends – and, through another sequence of twelve causally connected factors, it shows how you eventually reach liberation.

The promise of an end to all suffering is an extraordinarily positive message. Sometimes people say that Buddhists are pessimists – that they always talk about suffering – and yet here is the exact opposite. The Buddha says that dependent upon suffering we can go all the way to the freedom from that very same suffering.

Twelve Factors

Let us now go through the twelve factors of dependent liberation. The first factor is suffering (dukkha). This refers not just to the fact that there is suffering, but to one’s awareness of the problem. Only when you understand that there is a problem will you actually do something about it. Part of this is being clear about the ordinary suffering in daily life. More important, however, is seeing the scope of suffering. That understanding starts to emerge as your meditation deepens and you begin to see yourself and the world in a new way. But it is particularly the idea of rebirth – especially seeing it directly for yourself – that makes you understand the real scale of the problem.

Buddhism tells you that there is a solution to this problem. Once you understand that there is a problem and you recognise that there is a teaching that guides you to a solution, you get confidence or faith (saddhā) in that teaching. This is the second factor of the series. The remarkable thing about the Buddha’s teaching is that it shows you that the solution is in a very, very different place from where you would expect. Normally, when we run around in the world, we think that the solution to suffering is going to be in relationships, friendships, material things, status, social position, in being well-regarded, in being praised, etc. – the sorts of things known in Buddhism as “the worldly conditions” (lokadhammā; AN8:6). This is where people usually think the answer to suffering lies. Then the Buddha comes along and says that you are looking in the wrong place, that the answer is to be found elsewhere.

That’s very powerful. It gives you a sense of, yes, of course the solution must be somewhere else, because you have been trying for ever to find happiness through the worldly dhammas and you are still suffering. In a sense that is the tragedy of humanity: we all want happiness, but we normally look for it in the wrong place. We reap suffering instead. When you understand that there is a problem and then come across a teaching that promises you a solution in a realistic way, confidence arises. You recognize that there is something very special about this teaching.

Confidence is a beautiful thing. You feel safe because you have a teaching that shows you the solution to the predicament you’re in. It is said in the suttas that a person without confidence, without a refuge, is like someone who is crossing a desert. Unless he finds a way across the desert, he will eventually succumb to the forces of nature – the heat, the lack of water, all the problems of desert life. But the person who has confidence is like someone who has crossed the desert (MN39).

So confidence in the Buddha’s teachings is very important. Sometimes people think faith isn’t really important, and that all they need to do is investigate for themselves whether something is true or not. Of course, investigation is a central part of the Buddhist teaching. Nevertheless, when confidence is strong it is a power; it is something that propels you forward on the path and makes you go in the right direction. It is an essential quality to take along on the spiritual journey. Furthermore, when confidence is in place, all the other factors that come afterwards follow along as a natural consequence. It becomes a path that completes itself because each factor gives rise to the next factor, stage by stage, until you reach full awakening.

The immediate consequence of confidence is gladness (pāmojja), the third factor of dependent liberation. This is the gladness that comes from having found something truly valuable. You have found a guide to true meaning in life and you sense that these teachings are extraordinary. This connection between confidence and gladness is described in many places in the suttas. For instance, some of the important contemplations in the suttas are the reflections on the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Because these reflections are based on the recognition of the profound value of the Buddhist teachings, gladness arises inside you. This is called atthaveda and dhammaveda, inspiration in the meaning and inspiration in the Dhamma. The delightful inspiration that arises is the same as the pāmojja we are talking about here. So gladness comes with the inspiration, and this in turn is a result of confidence (AN6:10).

Once pāmojja arises, the path continues to unfold by itself. This is so because gladness brings with it mindfulness and energy. When you have mindfulness and energy and you sit down to meditate, you are able to stay with the object and you make steady progress. The meditation works. It can seem hard to pin down why meditation sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but here is the reason why. It works when you have the gladness and inspiration that comes with mindfulness and energy. So the rest of the path after gladness is largely an automatic process. It’s a process of meditation that takes you, stage by stage, all the way to awakening. This is the heart of the causal process of dependent liberation.

So how does that process work? You sit down, watch the breath, and it’s so easy. As the meditation develops, rapture or joy (pīti) starts to arise in you. This is the fourth factor of the series. As the meditation progresses, the pīti starts to calm down and you get a sense of tranquillity (passaddhi), factor five. That tranquillity, when it develops, turns into a profound sense of contentment and happiness (sukha), factor six. This in turn leads to the unification of mind (samādhi), factor seven, which is where the meditation becomes really powerful. When the mind emerges after deep samādhi, you have knowledge and vision according to reality (yathā-bhūta-ñāṇa-dassana). This is factor eight of the series. Because samādhi overcomes the hindrances – the mental pollutions that stop you from seeing things properly – you now see things clearly for the first time.

When you see things properly, you see how suffering is inextricably linked to existence. You want to reject the whole world (nibbidā). This is factor nine. You realize you have to get off the wheel of saṁsāra. Nibbidā leads to dispassion (virāga), factor ten. Virāga is the ending of craving, the opposite of passion for the world. And when that passion disappears, you are liberated (vimutti), factor eleven. When you are liberated, you also have the knowledge that you are liberated (khaye ñāṇaṁ). This is the twelfth and last factor in the series of dependent liberation. This, then, is how suffering leads to liberation.

From Suffering to Gladness

To get a deeper perspective on dependent liberation, I now wish to look at the beginning of the series from a slightly different angle. I want to focus on the first few steps of the sequence, because it is these that are really important to get right. If you get the first couple of steps right, the rest of the series follows as a natural consequence.

This deeper perspective can be acquired by considering a common variation on dependent liberation found in a number of suttas (e.g. AN11:3). This variation, instead of beginning with suffering and confidence, starts off with virtue. Virtue then gives rise to non-remorse (avippaṭisāra), and non-remorse to gladness, pāmojja. The rest of the sequence is essentially the same as explained above.

So how does this work? The gladness that derives from virtue is spiritual in nature and not connected with sensory pleasure. It’s the gladness of having a good heart. Such gladness is always conjoined with mindfulness and energy. When you are glad, your mind has a natural energy, an energy that comes from feeling good and positive. And you are mindful because spiritual gladness makes the present moment delightful.

Mindfulness

In the suttas you see again and again that meditation starts with mindfulness. When you read what the Buddha says about watching the breath in the Ānāpānasati Sutta (MN118), when you read what he says in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta about the four focuses of mindfulness (MN10), you realise that mindfulness is a precondition for meditation. If you don’t have mindfulness, you can’t meditate properly. It is so important to understand that. Insufficient mindfulness is the main reason most people don’t achieve deep states of meditation.

Because of the importance of mindfulness, you need to learn to evaluate its strength and to know whether you have enough clarity to meditate. Ask yourself: “Am I really mindful? Am I present? Is my mind going all over the place? Am I confused? Am I clear about what is happening?” If your mind is quite peaceful and you have a sense of clarity inside of you – there can still be a little bit of thinking but not that much – that is the time when meditation is likely to be truly effective.

Because there is no proper meditation without mindfulness, because it is a foundation that you need to get firmly established, you need to be clear about how you get that mindfulness. Mindfulness has been a fashionable topic in Western psychology for a number of years. Typically the discussion centres on how mindfulness can help you overcome your problems, what its qualities are, how it can be measured scientifically, etc. All of this is certainly important and useful. But the one thing usually missing is a meaningful discussion on the causes of mindfulness. To understand the causes of mindfulness is to understand how one becomes mindful.

People often think that if you just apply enough willpower, if you just try hard enough, you will be mindful. But if your mind is affected by defilements, you can try as hard as you like, but that mindfulness is not going to arise. Mindfulness is not just about being quiet or trying hard – that’s not enough. You need to prepare the mind for mindfulness to become possible.

The Cause of Mindfulness

So what is the cause of mindfulness? In the present variation on dependent liberation, the factor before pāmojja – which, as I mentioned, comes with mindfulness – is non-remorse. Non-remorse in turn comes from virtue – from morality, from kindness, from having a good heart. In this context, remorse doesn’t just mean feeling bad about having done something immoral. It includes any kind of detrimental impact on the mind resulting from one’s conduct. When the mind is tired, dull, restless, negative, or whatever, it is often the result of conduct that has not been pure enough. So remorse here includes any obstacle that blocks you from feeling the gladness, the natural joy, that otherwise is present in the mind. What this means is that the cause of mindfulness is virtue and that without virtue the mindfulness will be too weak for meditation. So if your meditation is not coming together or not progressing properly, you need to investigate what you can do to improve your virtue.

In Buddhism the idea of virtue is very broad. It obviously includes the virtue of right action – being kind, avoiding bad deeds. It also includes the virtue of good speech – saying kind things, not saying what is bad. For most people there’s a lot of work to be done just in these areas. One of the important things to keep in mind is that virtue is not just about avoiding the bad, it is also about doing good. So do good in your life, say kind things, do little acts of kindness. When you do that, you are building up a beautiful mind. This will be a powerful support for your meditation.

Overcoming Anger

But for mindfulness to become well established, virtue of body and speech is not enough. You also need the virtue of the mind. Initially, when you practice virtue of action and speech through restraint, your mind is still impure. To deal with this impurity, you need to work with your mind in such a way that you change the way you think. People sometimes think this is difficult, but with enough dedication and perseverance it is something anyone can do. And it is necessary if your meditation is to develop.

The most important mental defilement to overcome is anger in its various manifestations, including irritation and negativity (AN3:68). Anger is a mental quality that causes a great deal of suffering for ourselves and also for the people around us. If we are going to be serious about the spiritual path, this is one area that we really need to focus on. To overcome anger we need to ask ourselves how we can look at the world around us in a different way. Is there a way of looking at it so that these negative states don’t arise? You will find that if you put effort into such reflection then over time you will gradually change – you will start to see things in a new way; you will start to see the world with more compassion and kindness. As your anger, negativity and irritation decrease, you feel inside yourself that you are becoming a better person, a more pure person. What a wonderful thing it is to observe that happening in yourself. Gradually, you are changing; you are transforming yourself into a new kind of person.

Often people think that will-power is the way to deal with harmful mental qualities. They think they can force themselves to be kind, that they can crush the anger, crush the negativity. And sometimes when you read the suttas it can seem that way. You read that you are supposed to ‘obliterate’ the negative states of mind, ‘do away’ with them, ‘annihilate’ them. The vocabulary that it used can be very strong and it is easy to think that the text refers to will-power. But what the Buddha is really saying is that the best way to overcome negative states is to use wisdom (MN19).

To use wisdom is to ask yourself where anger leads. If you reflect on that, you will find it always leads to suffering, your own and that of others (MN19). It leads to your own suffering because anger is painful compared to a peaceful state of mind. It leads to others’ suffering because we tend to act on that anger in ways that hurt others. Furthermore, you are making bad kamma when you are angry, particularly when you act it out. You are creating unhappiness for yourself both here and now and for future lives. So this whole chain reaction of unpleasant and painful results comes from this negative quality. Remind yourself of that. Think about it regularly. Anger, negativity, harming – this is dangerous territory; it really does lead to suffering for yourself and for the people around you. The more powerful you can make the perception that this is a real problem, the greater your ability to turn away from it.

When the perception of the danger of anger becomes strong and clear, it becomes a powerful tool to use in the development of your mind. When an angry thought starts to arise, all you need to do is bring up the perception of the danger and the thought just vanishes. Wisdom does the work for you. But remember that to build up this wisdom takes a lot of work, as do most things on the spiritual path. It is not difficult as such, but it takes determination and perseverance. Gradually, you will see the danger of anger with greater and greater clarity. The more you understand it, the more powerful is your ability to overcome anger whenever it arises. That is why the Buddha uses words like ‘obliterate’, ‘do away with’, and ‘annihilate’ to describe the overcoming of these thoughts. These words do not refer to using will-power, but to a tool that is much more powerful, the tool of wisdom. Wisdom, when it is well developed, cuts through these things – it is as if it obliterates the negative states of mind. They simply disappear straight away. So keep on reflecting on the danger of anger in all its manifestations. Eventually you have a very useful tool for your spiritual practice.

Another negative consequence of anger is that it destroys wisdom (MN19). Wisdom is the most important of the spiritual qualities. It is wisdom that allows you to understand the difference between happiness and suffering and, more importantly, to understand the difference between what causes suffering and what causes happiness. Wisdom is what solves the problems of our lives.

The Buddha says that wisdom ceases (paññānirodhika; MN19) as a consequence of unwholesome mental states. Given the importance of wisdom, isn’t that good enough reason to put them away, to do away with them? Compare your mind when you are angry to when you are not. Look at the difference. You will observe that when you are angry you cannot see the world clearly. You don’t understand what is right and what is wrong – everything gets turned upside down, distorted by the anger. See how it destroys wisdom. This is a powerful reflection.

Another reflection recommended by the Buddha is to see how anger harms the mind (MN19). Reflect on how your mind feels when you are angry and compare that to when you are truly peaceful. The difference is enormous! You are burning inside when you’re angry. Why would you want to be angry if there is the option of not being angry?

Such reflections are one of the most powerful aspects of the Dhamma and they are the most effective way of overcoming the unwholesome states of mind. If you want to change your thinking patterns, wisdom is the path, not will-power.

Diminishing Defilements

Over time, as you develop a new outlook, you find that your defilements decrease, that your problems in life diminish, and that the pāmojja – the gladness – gradually increases in your mind. The gladness comes from purity, from the reality that you are becoming a better person. And as the pāmojja becomes stronger, so does the mindfulness. It is the defilements of the mind that block mindfulness from being a true spiritual power. As the defilements decrease, mindfulness strengthens. If you are able to reduce the hindrances through your daily practice, you will find that each time you go on a retreat you are able to watch things you weren’t able to watch before.

When you watch the breath without sufficient mindfulness, the mind tends to go all over the place. You are not really in charge of your mind – you are being run around by the defilements instead. But once mindfulness is there, you actually feel in charge of yourself. And because you have a sense of being in charge, you are able to direct your attention towards the breath or towards whatever it is that you wish to focus on. Mindfulness that is properly developed is a power, and this is how it is described in the suttas (SN50:1). This is why mindfulness is so important.

Because mindfulness arises from virtue, especially mental virtue, it is important to put in the effort to overcome the negative tendencies of the mind. Sometimes it is hard work, because our tendencies and habits are usually deeply ingrained. It takes determination and perseverance to change the way you look at things, the way you do things. But gradually, over the months, over the years, you see change happening inside of you. As you change, your meditation becomes calmer and deeper. How wonderful it is when the meditation starts to work, when you are able to stay with the object and see real progress. When you have that power of mindfulness, including the gladness in the mind, you just sit down, watch the breath, and meditation happens all by itself.

When meditation happens by itself, no force is required. All you have to do is sit back, be aware, and watch the breath. Because you have mindfulness, the watching is natural and easy, without will-power. As the minutes tick by, the meditation becomes more and more powerful, more and more profound. All you have to do is be there.

From Gladness to Freedom

At a certain point in this process, pīti, rapture, starts to arise. Pīti is a feeling of pleasure, often with a strong physical component. It can be experienced as waves of pleasure coursing through the body. It is really just an intensification of the gladness one had previously. What one is experiencing here is the beginning of the pure pleasure of the mind, the spiritual happiness. After meditation it is worth reflecting on the qualities of that feeling and how they differ from sensual pleasures. You will notice that pīti is a result of purity of mind, in particular the absence of anger and strong craving. This purity is a result of one’s previous practice of virtue. You know intuitively that this is a wholesome feeling. At the same time it feels very good. You know you are on the right track and that you need to develop this further.

So you continue watching the breath. Gradually the ‘exciting’ aspect of the pīti starts to settle down and you experience a deeper sense of tranquillity, passaddhi. As the tranquillity deepens, you experience a profound and peaceful sense of happiness, sukha. With every step, the meditation is becoming more beautiful and powerful. At this point you are feeling so content that the mind doesn’t want to go anywhere else. This is the beginning of samādhi. Again, this is all happening by itself. You are just sitting back watching the whole process unfold.

Samādhi is the one-pointedness of mind, the ability to focus effortlessly on an object, whether it is the breath, the light in the mind or whatever. At this point the mind is very steady; it just stays with the object without wavering. You allow the samādhi to develop until the five hindrances are completely abandoned and the mind is bright and fully focused. This process culminates in the attainment of the jhānas.

After you come out of samādhi, your mind is pure and powerful. Because of that purity, you know and see in accordance with reality, yathā-bhūta-ñāṇa-dassana. Seeing things as they actually are is only possible after samādhi, because it is only with samādhi that the hindrances – the defilements that distort our mental processes – are fully overcome. Moreover, it is only with the jhānas that the abandoning of the hindrances is stable (MN68). This is one of the main reasons why the jhānas are so conducive to seeing things as they really are.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the root cause of suffering is our misunderstanding of how the world actually works. We see happiness where there is suffering. We see a self where there is no such thing. We think things will last when they can disappear at any time. By seeing things as they actually are, we are rectifying this distorted outlook, the delusion or ignorance, the root cause of the problem.

So by overcoming the hindrances through deep samādhi, ignorance is weakened and undermined. Because ignorance is the first factor of dependent origination, each subsequent factor, including suffering, is affected by the strength of our delusion. This means that the weaker the ignorance, the less the suffering, both now and in the future.

Seeing the world as it actually is and understanding the full scope of suffering in the world, how deep it actually goes, is an incredible eye-opener. The Buddha says it is as if you’ve been enclosed in a shell and suddenly the shell cracks open and you see the world for the first time (MN53). It is like you have been enveloped by darkness and suddenly somebody turns on the light (MN36).

Seeing the Dhamma fully gives you an entirely new perspective on life. Because you see the full range of the problem, you realise there is no escape from suffering in worldly existence, and you reject the whole lot. That is nibbidā, the being repelled, the rejection of everything, because you see how deep the suffering goes.

When you are repelled by everything, there is nothing to grasp onto and craving becomes impossible. This is dispassion, virāga. Because it is all suffering, you let go and you can never ever crave for anything again. When you realize that the search for happiness is futile, craving comes to a final end. That is liberation, vimutti. You are free at last, free from all the problems of existence. And the knowledge arises in you that you are free. You have reached the greatest happiness possible. That is what the Buddha’s path promises you.

Conclusion

It is very profound. Although these teachings may be hard to relate to, I believe it is important to know the whole map, to know where everything is leading, to get a glimpse of the more profound aspects of the Buddha’s teaching. In my experience, such a glimpse is nourishing and a spur to practice.

But from a practical point of view, perhaps the most important aspect of dependent liberation is that it shows that success on the Buddha’s path, success in meditation, depends on the purity of one’s conduct, especially one’s mental purity. It is only if you are able to reduce the defilements of the mind, particularly anger and negativity and the coarser aspects of desire, that your meditation will eventually take off. It is a gradual process and every step on the path brings its rewards. If you want real happiness and contentment, this is the only way.

-- END OF PHYSICAL BOOK --
-- ADDENDUM FOLLOWS --

Addendum

All suttas translated by Bhikkhu Sujato, 2018.
Origin: SuttaCentral

SN.12:23 - Vital Conditions

At Sāvatthī.

“Mendicants, I say that the ending of defilements is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know or see. For one who knows and sees what? ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling … Such is perception … Such are choices … Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ The ending of the defilements is for one who knows and sees this.

I say that this knowledge of ending has a vital condition, it doesn’t lack a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Freedom.’ I say that freedom has a vital condition, it doesn’t lack a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Dispassion.’ I say that dispassion has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Disillusionment.’ I say that disillusionment has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Truly knowing and seeing.’ I say that truly knowing and seeing has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Immersion.’ I say that immersion has a vital condition.

And what is it? You should say: ‘Bliss.’ I say that bliss has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Tranquility.’ I say that tranquility has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Rapture.’ I say that rapture has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Joy.’ I say that joy has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Faith.’ I say that faith has a vital condition.

And what is it? You should say: ‘Suffering.’ I say that suffering has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Rebirth.’ I say that rebirth has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Continued existence.’ I say that continued existence has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Grasping.’ I say that grasping has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Craving.’ I say that craving has a vital condition.

And what is it? You should say: ‘Feeling.’ … You should say: ‘Contact.’ … You should say: ‘The six sense fields.’ … You should say: ‘Name and form.’ … You should say: ‘Consciousness.’ … You should say: ‘Choices.’ … I say that choices have a vital condition, they don’t lack a vital condition. And what is the vital condition for choices? You should say: ‘Ignorance.’

So ignorance is a vital condition for choices. Choices are a vital condition for consciousness. Consciousness is a vital condition for name and form. Name and form are vital conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are vital conditions for contact. Contact is a vital condition for feeling. Feeling is a vital condition for craving. Craving is a vital condition for grasping. Grasping is a vital condition for continued existence. Continued existence is a vital condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a vital condition for suffering. Suffering is a vital condition for faith. Faith is a vital condition for joy. Joy is a vital condition for rapture. Rapture is a vital condition for tranquility. Tranquility is a vital condition for bliss. Bliss is a vital condition for immersion. Immersion is a vital condition for truly knowing and seeing. Truly knowing and seeing is a vital condition for disillusionment. Disillusionment is a vital condition for dispassion. Dispassion is a vital condition for freedom. Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.

It’s like when it rains heavily on a mountain top, and the water flows downhill to fill the hollows, crevices, and creeks. As they become full, they fill up the pools. The pools fill up the lakes, the lakes fill up the streams, and the streams fill up the rivers. And as the rivers become full, they fill up the ocean.

In the same way, ignorance is a vital condition for choices. … Freedom is a vital condition for the knowledge of ending.”

AN8:6 - Worldly Conditions

“Mendicants, the eight worldly conditions revolve around the world, and the world revolves around the eight worldly conditions. What eight? Gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. These eight worldly conditions revolve around the world, and the world revolves around these eight worldly conditions.

An uneducated ordinary person encounters gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain. And so does an educated noble disciple. What, then, is the difference between an ordinary uneducated person and an educated noble disciple?”

“Our teachings are rooted in the Buddha. He is our guide and our refuge. Sir, may the Buddha himself please clarify the meaning of this. The mendicants will listen and remember it.”

“Well then, mendicants, listen and pay close attention, I will speak.”

“Yes, sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, an uneducated ordinary person encounters gain. They don’t reflect: ‘I’ve encountered this gain. It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They don’t truly understand it. They encounter loss … fame … disgrace … praise … blame … pleasure … pain. They don’t reflect: ‘I’ve encountered this pain. It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They don’t truly understand it.

So gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain occupy their mind. They favor gain and oppose loss. They favor fame and oppose disgrace. They favor praise and oppose blame. They favor pleasure and oppose pain. Being so full of favoring and opposing, they’re not freed from rebirth, old age, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re not freed from suffering, I say.

An educated noble disciple encounters gain. They reflect: ‘I’ve encountered this gain. It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They truly understand it. They encounter loss … fame … disgrace … praise … blame … pleasure … pain. They reflect: ‘I’ve encountered this pain. It’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable.’ They truly understand it.

So gain and loss, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain don’t occupy their mind. They don’t favor gain or oppose loss. They don’t favor fame or oppose disgrace. They don’t favor praise or oppose blame. They don’t favor pleasure or oppose pain. Having given up favoring and opposing, they’re freed from rebirth, old age, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re freed from suffering, I say. This is the difference between an educated noble disciple and an uneducated ordinary person.

Gain and loss, fame and disgrace,
praise and blame, and pleasure and pain.
These qualities among people are impermanent,
transient, and perishable.

A clever and mindful person knows these things,
seeing that they’re perishable.
Desirable things don’t disturb their mind,
nor are they repelled by the undesirable.

Both favoring and opposing
are cleared and ended, they are no more.
Knowing the stainless, sorrowless state,
they understand rightly, going beyond rebirth.”


MN39 - The Longer Discourse at Assapura

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Aṅgas, near the Aṅgan town named Assapura. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, people label you as ascetics. And when they ask you what you are, you claim to be ascetics.

Given this label and this claim, you should train like this: ‘We will undertake and follow the things that make one an ascetic and a brahmin. That way our label will be accurate and our claim correct. Any robes, alms-food, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick that we use will be very fruitful and beneficial for the donor. And our going forth will not be wasted, but will be fruitful and fertile.’

And what are the things that make one an ascetic and a brahmin? You should train like this: ‘We will have conscience and prudence.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence. Just this much is enough. We have achieved the goal of life as an ascetic. There is nothing more to do.’ And you might rest content with just that much. I declare this to you, mendicants, I announce this to you: ‘You who seek to be true ascetics, do not lose sight of the goal of the ascetic life while there is still more to do.’

What more is there to do? You should train like this: ‘Our bodily behavior will be pure, clear, open, neither inconsistent nor secretive. And we won’t glorify ourselves or put others down on account of our pure bodily behavior.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, and our bodily behavior is pure. Just this much is enough …’ I declare this to you, mendicants, I announce this to you: ‘You who seek to be true ascetics, do not lose sight of the goal of the ascetic life while there is still more to do.’

What more is there to do? You should train like this: ‘Our verbal behavior … mental behavior … livelihood will be pure, clear, open, neither inconsistent nor secretive. And we won’t glorify ourselves or put others down on account of our pure livelihood.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, and our livelihood is pure. Just this much is enough. We have achieved the goal of life as an ascetic. There is nothing more to do.’ And you might rest content with just that much. I declare this to you, mendicants, I announce this to you: ‘You who seek to be true ascetics, do not lose sight of the goal of the ascetic life while there is still more to do.’

What more is there to do? You should train yourselves like this: ‘We will restrain our sense doors. When we see a sight with our eyes, we won’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of sight were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion would become overwhelming. For this reason, we will practice restraint, we will protect the faculty of sight, and we will achieve its restraint. When we hear a sound with our ears … When we smell an odor with our nose … When we taste a flavor with our tongue … When we feel a touch with our body … When we know a thought with our mind, we won’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of mind were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion would become overwhelming. For this reason, we will practice restraint, we will protect the faculty of mind, and we will achieve its restraint.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, our livelihood is pure, and our sense doors are restrained. Just this much is enough …’

What more is there to do? You should train yourselves like this: ‘We will not eat too much. We will only eat after reflecting properly on our food. We will eat not for fun, indulgence, adornment, or decoration, but only to sustain this body, to avoid harm, and to support spiritual practice. In this way, we shall put an end to old discomfort and not give rise to new discomfort, and we will live blamelessly and at ease.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, our livelihood is pure, our sense doors are restrained, and we don’t eat too much. Just this much is enough …’

What more is there to do? You should train yourselves like this: ‘We will be dedicated to wakefulness. When practicing walking and sitting meditation by day, we will purify our mind from obstacles. In the evening, we will continue to practice walking and sitting meditation. In the middle of the night, we will lie down in the lion’s posture—on the right side, placing one foot on top of the other—mindful and aware, and focused on the time of getting up. In the last part of the night, we will get up and continue to practice walking and sitting meditation, purifying our mind from obstacles.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, our livelihood is pure, our sense doors are restrained, we don’t eat too much, and we are dedicated to wakefulness. Just this much is enough …’

What more is there to do? You should train yourselves like this: ‘We will have situational awareness and mindfulness. We will act with situational awareness when going out and coming back; when looking ahead and aside; when bending and extending the limbs; when bearing the outer robe, bowl and robes; when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting; when urinating and defecating; when walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent.’ Now, mendicants, you might think, ‘We have conscience and prudence, our bodily, verbal, and mental behavior is pure, our livelihood is pure, our sense doors are restrained, we don’t eat too much, we are dedicated to wakefulness, and we have mindfulness and situational awareness. Just this much is enough …’

What more is there to do? Take a mendicant who frequents a secluded lodging—a wilderness, the root of a tree, a hill, a ravine, a mountain cave, a charnel ground, a forest, the open air, a heap of straw.

After the meal, they return from alms-round, sit down cross-legged with their body straight, and establish mindfulness right there. Giving up desire for the world, they meditate with a heart rid of desire, cleansing the mind of desire. Giving up ill will and malevolence, they meditate with a mind rid of ill will, full of compassion for all living beings, cleansing the mind of ill will. Giving up dullness and drowsiness, they meditate with a mind rid of dullness and drowsiness, perceiving light, mindful and aware, cleansing the mind of dullness and drowsiness. Giving up restlessness and remorse, they meditate without restlessness, their mind peaceful inside, cleansing the mind of restlessness and remorse. Giving up doubt, they meditate having gone beyond doubt, not undecided about skillful qualities, cleansing the mind of doubt.

Suppose a man who has gotten into debt were to apply himself to work, and his efforts proved successful. He would pay off the original loan and have enough left over to support his partner. Thinking about this, he’d be filled with joy and happiness.

Suppose a person was sick, suffering, and gravely ill. They’d lose their appetite and get physically weak. But after some time they’d recover from that illness, and regain their appetite and their strength. Thinking about this, they’d be filled with joy and happiness.

Suppose a person was imprisoned in a jail. But after some time they were released from jail, safe and sound, with no loss of wealth. Thinking about this, they’d be filled with joy and happiness.

Suppose a person was a bondservant. They belonged to someone else and were unable to go where they wished. But after some time they’d be freed from servitude and become their own master, an emancipated individual able to go where they wished. Thinking about this, they’d be filled with joy and happiness.

Suppose there was a person with wealth and property who was traveling along a desert road. But after some time they crossed over the desert, safe and sound, with no loss of wealth. Thinking about this, they’d be filled with joy and happiness.

In the same way, as long as these five hindrances are not given up inside themselves, a mendicant regards them as a debt, a disease, a prison, slavery, and a desert crossing. But when these five hindrances are given up inside themselves, a mendicant regards this as freedom from debt, good health, release from prison, emancipation, and sanctuary.

They give up these five hindrances, corruptions of the heart that weaken wisdom. Then, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, they enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. They drench, steep, fill, and spread their body with rapture and bliss born of seclusion. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with rapture and bliss born of seclusion. It’s like when a deft bathroom attendant or their apprentice pours bath powder into a bronze dish, sprinkling it little by little with water. They knead it until the ball of bath powder is soaked and saturated with moisture, spread through inside and out; yet no moisture oozes out.

In the same way, a mendicant drenches, steeps, fills, and spreads their body with rapture and bliss born of seclusion. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with rapture and bliss born of seclusion.

Furthermore, as the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled, a mendicant enters and remains in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and confidence, and unified mind, without placing the mind and keeping it connected. They drench, steep, fill, and spread their body with rapture and bliss born of immersion. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with rapture and bliss born of immersion. It’s like a deep lake fed by spring water. There’s no inlet to the east, west, north, or south, and no rainfall to replenish it from time to time. But the stream of cool water welling up in the lake drenches, steeps, fills, and spreads throughout the lake. There’s no part of the lake that’s not spread through with cool water.

In the same way, a mendicant drenches, steeps, fills, and spreads their body with rapture and bliss born of immersion. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with rapture and bliss born of immersion.

Furthermore, with the fading away of rapture, a mendicant enters and remains in the third absorption, where they meditate with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’ They drench, steep, fill, and spread their body with bliss free of rapture. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with bliss free of rapture. It’s like a pool with blue water lilies, or pink or white lotuses. Some of them sprout and grow in the water without rising above it, thriving underwater. From the tip to the root they’re drenched, steeped, filled, and soaked with cool water. There’s no part of them that’s not soaked with cool water.

In the same way, a mendicant drenches, steeps, fills, and spreads their body with bliss free of rapture. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with bliss free of rapture.

Furthermore, giving up pleasure and pain, and ending former happiness and sadness, a mendicant enters and remains in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness. They sit spreading their body through with pure bright mind. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with pure bright mind. It’s like someone sitting wrapped from head to foot with white cloth. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread over with white cloth.

In the same way, they sit spreading their body through with pure bright mind. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with pure bright mind.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward recollection of past lives. They recollect many kinds of past lives, with features and details. Suppose a person was to leave their home village and go to another village. From that village they’d go to yet another village. And from that village they’d return to their home village. They’d think: ‘I went from my home village to another village. There I stood like this, sat like that, spoke like this, or kept silent like that. From that village I went to yet another village. There too I stood like this, sat like that, spoke like this, or kept silent like that. And from that village I returned to my home village.’

In the same way, a mendicant recollects their many kinds of past lives, with features and details.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings. With clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, they see sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. They understand how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds. Suppose there were two houses with doors. A person with good eyesight standing in between them would see people entering and leaving a house and wandering to and fro.

In the same way, with clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, they see sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. They understand how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds.

When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. They truly understand: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.’ They truly understand: ‘These are defilements’ … ‘This is the origin of defilements’ … ‘This is the cessation of defilements’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of defilements.’ Knowing and seeing like this, their mind is freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed. They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’

Suppose that in a mountain glen there was a lake that was transparent, clear, and unclouded. A person with good eyesight standing on the bank would see the mussel shells, gravel and pebbles, and schools of fish swimming about or staying still. They’d think: ‘This lake is transparent, clear, and unclouded. And here are the mussel shells, gravel and pebbles, and schools of fish swimming about or staying still.’

In the same way, a mendicant truly understands: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.’ They understand: ‘… there is no return to any state of existence.’

This mendicant is called an ‘ascetic’, a ‘brahmin’, a ‘bathed initiate’, a ‘knowledge master’, a ‘scholar’, a ‘noble one’, and a ‘perfected one’.

And how is a mendicant an ascetic? They have quelled the bad, unskillful qualities that are corrupted, leading to future lives, hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. That’s how a mendicant is an ascetic.

And how is a mendicant a brahmin? They have barred out the bad, unskillful qualities. That’s how a mendicant is a brahmin.

And how is a mendicant a bathed initiate? They have bathed off the bad, unskillful qualities. That’s how a mendicant is a bathed initiate.

And how is a mendicant a knowledge master? They have known the bad, unskillful qualities. That’s how a mendicant is a knowledge master.

And how is a mendicant a scholar? They have scoured off the bad, unskillful qualities. That’s how a mendicant is a scholar.

And how is a mendicant a noble one? They are far away from the bad, unskillful qualities. That’s how a mendicant is a noble one.

And how is a mendicant a perfected one? They are far away from the bad, unskillful qualities that are corrupted, leading to future lives, hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. That’s how a mendicant is a perfected one.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said.

AN6:10 - With Mahānāma

At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Sakyans, near Kapilavatthu in the Banyan Tree Monastery. Then Mahānāma the Sakyan went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, when a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions, what kind of meditation do they frequently practice?”

“Mahānāma, when a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions they frequently practice this kind of meditation.

Firstly, a noble disciple recollects the Realized One: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’ When a noble disciple recollects the Realized One their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. At that time their mind is unswerving, based on the Realized One. A noble disciple whose mind is unswerving finds joy in the meaning and the teaching, and finds joy connected with the teaching. When they’re joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss. And when they’re blissful, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi. This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the Buddha.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the teaching: ‘The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.’ When a noble disciple recollects the teaching their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. … This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the teaching.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the Saṅgha: ‘The Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is practicing the way that’s good, direct, methodical, and proper. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. This is the Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples that is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world.’ When a noble disciple recollects the Saṅgha their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. … This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the Saṅgha.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects their own ethical conduct, which is unbroken, impeccable, spotless, and unmarred, liberating, praised by sensible people, not mistaken, and leading to immersion. When a noble disciple recollects their ethical conduct their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. … This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of ethics.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects their own generosity: ‘I’m so fortunate, so very fortunate! Among people full of the stain of stinginess I live at home rid of stinginess, freely generous, open-handed, loving to let go, committed to charity, loving to give and to share.’ When a noble disciple recollects their own generosity their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. … This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of generosity.

Furthermore, a noble disciple recollects the deities: ‘There are the Gods of the Four Great Kings, the Gods of the Thirty-Three, the Gods of Yama, the Joyful Gods, the Gods Who Love to Create, the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others, the Gods of Brahmā’s Host, and gods even higher than these. When those deities passed away from here, they were reborn there because of their faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. I, too, have the same kind of faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom.’ When a noble disciple recollects the faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom of both themselves and the deities their mind is not full of greed, hate, and delusion. At that time their mind is unswerving, based on the deities. A noble disciple whose mind is unswerving finds joy in the meaning and the teaching, and finds joy connected with the teaching. When you’re joyful, rapture springs up. When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil. When the body is tranquil, you feel bliss. And when you’re blissful, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi. This is called a noble disciple who lives in balance among people who are unbalanced, and lives untroubled among people who are troubled. They’ve entered the stream of the teaching and develop the recollection of the deities.

When a noble disciple has reached the fruit and understood the instructions this is the kind of meditation they frequently practice.”

AN11:3 - Vital Conditions

“Mendicants, an unethical person, who lacks ethics, has destroyed a vital condition for having no regrets. When there are regrets, one who has regrets has destroyed a vital condition for joy. When there is no joy, one who lacks joy has destroyed a vital condition for rapture. When there is no rapture, one who lacks rapture has destroyed a vital condition for tranquility. When there is no tranquility, one who lacks tranquility has destroyed a vital condition for bliss. When there is no bliss, one who lacks bliss has destroyed a vital condition for right immersion. When there is no right immersion, one who lacks right immersion has destroyed a vital condition for true knowledge and vision. When there is no true knowledge and vision, one who lacks true knowledge and vision has destroyed a vital condition for disillusionment. When there is no disillusionment, one who lacks disillusionment has destroyed a vital condition for dispassion. When there is no dispassion, one who lacks dispassion has destroyed a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

Suppose there was a tree that lacked branches and foliage. Its shoots, bark, softwood, and heartwood would not grow to fullness.

In the same way, an unethical person, who lacks ethics, has destroyed a vital condition for having no regrets. When there are regrets, one who has regrets has destroyed a vital condition for joy. … When there is no dispassion, one who lacks dispassion has destroyed a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

An ethical person, who has fulfilled ethics, has fulfilled a vital condition for not having regrets. When there are no regrets, one who has no regrets has fulfilled a vital condition for joy. When there is joy, one who has fulfilled joy has fulfilled a vital condition for rapture. When there is rapture, one who has fulfilled rapture has fulfilled a vital condition for tranquility. When there is tranquility, one who has fulfilled tranquility has fulfilled a vital condition for bliss. When there is bliss, one who has fulfilled bliss has fulfilled a vital condition for right immersion. When there is right immersion, one who has fulfilled right immersion has fulfilled a vital condition for true knowledge and vision. When there is true knowledge and vision, one who has fulfilled true knowledge and vision has fulfilled a vital condition for disillusionment. When there is disillusionment, one who has fulfilled disillusionment has fulfilled a vital condition for dispassion. When there is dispassion, one who has fulfilled dispassion has fulfilled a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

Suppose there was a tree that was complete with branches and foliage. Its shoots, bark, softwood, and heartwood would grow to fullness.

In the same way, an ethical person, who has fulfilled ethics, has fulfilled a vital condition for not having regrets. When there are no regrets, one who has no regrets has fulfilled a vital condition for joy. … When there is dispassion, one who has fulfilled dispassion has fulfilled a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.”

MN118 - Mindfulness of Breathing

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in the Eastern Monastery, the stilt longhouse of Migāra’s mother, together with several well-known senior disciples, such as the venerables Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, Mahākassapa, Mahākaccāna, Mahākoṭṭhita, Mahākappina, Mahācunda, Anuruddha, Revata, Ānanda, and others.

Now at that time the senior mendicants were advising and instructing the junior mendicants. Some senior mendicants instructed ten mendicants, while some instructed twenty, thirty, or forty. Being instructed by the senior mendicants, the junior mendicants realized a higher distinction than they had before.

Now, at that time it was the sabbath—the full moon on the fifteenth day—and the Buddha was sitting surrounded by the Saṅgha of monks for the invitation to admonish. Then the Buddha looked around the Saṅgha of monks, who were so very silent. He addressed them:

“I am satisfied, mendicants, with this practice. My heart is satisfied with this practice. So you should rouse up even more energy for attaining the unattained, achieving the unachieved, and realizing the unrealized. I will wait here in Sāvatthī for the Komudi full moon of the fourth month.”

Mendicants from around the country heard about this, and came down to Sāvatthī to see the Buddha.

And those senior mendicants instructed the junior mendicants even more. Some senior mendicants instructed ten mendicants, while some instructed twenty, thirty, or forty. Being instructed by the senior mendicants, the junior mendicants realized a higher distinction than they had before.

Now, at that time it was the sabbath—the Komudi full moon on the fifteenth day of the fourth month—and the Buddha was sitting in the open surrounded by the Saṅgha of monks. Then the Buddha looked around the Saṅgha of monks, who were so very silent. He addressed them:

“This assembly has no nonsense, mendicants, it’s free of nonsense. It consists purely of the essential core. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! Even a small gift to an assembly such as this is fruitful, while giving more is even more fruitful. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is rarely seen in the world. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is worth traveling many leagues to see, even if you have to carry your own provisions in a shoulder bag.

For in this Saṅgha there are perfected mendicants, who have ended the defilements, completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and are rightly freed through enlightenment. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of the five lower fetters are reborn spontaneously. They are extinguished there, and are not liable to return from that world. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, are once-returners. They come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of three fetters are stream-enterers, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the four kinds of mindfulness meditation … the four right efforts … the four bases of psychic power … the five faculties … the five powers … the seven awakening factors … the noble eightfold path. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha. In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the meditation on love … compassion … rejoicing … equanimity … ugliness … impermanence. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha. In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the meditation on mindfulness of breathing.

Mendicants, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated it is very fruitful and beneficial. Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the four kinds of mindfulness meditation. The four kinds of mindfulness meditation, when developed and cultivated, fulfill the seven awakening factors. And the seven awakening factors, when developed and cultivated, fulfill knowledge and freedom.

And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated to be very fruitful and beneficial?

It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut. They sit down cross-legged, with their body straight, and establish mindfulness right there. Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’ When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’ They practice breathing in experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing out experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

They practice breathing in experiencing rapture. They practice breathing out experiencing rapture. They practice breathing in experiencing bliss. They practice breathing out experiencing bliss. They practice breathing in experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing out experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing in stilling these emotions. They practice breathing out stilling these emotions.

They practice breathing in experiencing the mind. They practice breathing out experiencing the mind. They practice breathing in gladdening the mind. They practice breathing out gladdening the mind. They practice breathing in immersing the mind in samādhi. They practice breathing out immersing the mind in samādhi. They practice breathing in freeing the mind. They practice breathing out freeing the mind.

They practice breathing in observing impermanence. They practice breathing out observing impermanence. They practice breathing in observing fading away. They practice breathing out observing fading away. They practice breathing in observing cessation. They practice breathing out observing cessation. They practice breathing in observing letting go. They practice breathing out observing letting go.

Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated in this way, is very fruitful and beneficial.

And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated so as to fulfill the four kinds of mindfulness meditation?

Whenever a mendicant knows that they breathe heavily, or lightly, or experiencing the whole body, or stilling the body’s motion—at that time they’re meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. For I say that the in-breaths and out-breaths are an aspect of the body. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing rapture, or experiencing bliss, or experiencing these emotions, or stilling these emotions—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. For I say that close attention to the in-breaths and out-breaths is an aspect of feelings. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing the mind, or gladdening the mind, or immersing the mind in samādhi, or freeing the mind—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. There is no development of mindfulness of breathing for someone who is unmindful and lacks awareness, I say. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while observing impermanence, or observing fading away, or observing cessation, or observing letting go—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. Having seen with wisdom the giving up of desire and aversion, they watch over closely with equanimity. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

That’s how mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.

And how are the four kinds of mindfulness meditation developed and cultivated so as to fulfill the seven awakening factors?

Whenever a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body, at that time their mindfulness is established and lucid. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of mindfulness; they develop it and perfect it.

As they live mindfully in this way they investigate, explore, and inquire into that principle with wisdom. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of investigation of principles; they develop it and perfect it.

As they investigate principles with wisdom in this way their energy is roused up and unflagging. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of energy; they develop it and perfect it.

When they’re energetic, spiritual rapture arises. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of rapture; they develop it and perfect it.

When the mind is full of rapture, the body and mind become tranquil. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of tranquility; they develop it and perfect it.

When the body is tranquil and they feel bliss, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of immersion; they develop it and perfect it.

They closely watch over that mind immersed in samādhi. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of equanimity; they develop it and perfect it.

Whenever a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of feelings … mind … principles, at that time their mindfulness is established and lucid. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of mindfulness … investigation of principles … energy … rapture … tranquility … immersion … equanimity.

That’s how the four kinds of mindfulness meditation, when developed and cultivated, fulfill the seven awakening factors.

And how are the seven awakening factors developed and cultivated so as to fulfill knowledge and freedom?

It’s when a mendicant develops the awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation of principles, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion, and equanimity, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go.

That’s how the seven awakening factors, when developed and cultivated, fulfill knowledge and freedom.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said.

MN10 - Mindfulness Meditation

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, near the Kuru town named Kammāsadamma. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, the four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.

What four? It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

1. Observing the Body

1.1. Mindfulness of Breathing

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the body?

It’s when a mendicant—gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut—sits down cross-legged, with their body straight, and focuses their mindfulness right there. Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’

When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’

They practice breathing in experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing out experiencing the whole body.

They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

It’s like a deft carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice. When making a deep cut they know: ‘I’m making a deep cut,’ and when making a shallow cut they know: ‘I’m making a shallow cut.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

1.2. The Postures

Furthermore, when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’ When standing they know: ‘I am standing.’ When sitting they know: ‘I am sitting.’ And when lying down they know: ‘I am lying down.’ Whatever posture their body is in, they know it.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

1.3. Situational Awareness

Furthermore, a mendicant acts with situational awareness when going out and coming back; when looking ahead and aside; when bending and extending the limbs; when bearing the outer robe, bowl and robes; when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting; when urinating and defecating; when walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

1.4. Focusing on the Repulsive

Furthermore, a mendicant examines their own body, up from the soles of the feet and down from the tips of the hairs, wrapped in skin and full of many kinds of filth. ‘In this body there is head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, undigested food, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, snot, synovial fluid, urine.’

It’s as if there were a bag with openings at both ends, filled with various kinds of grains, such as fine rice, wheat, mung beans, peas, sesame, and ordinary rice. And someone with good eyesight were to open it and examine the contents: ‘These grains are fine rice, these are wheat, these are mung beans, these are peas, these are sesame, and these are ordinary rice.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

1.5. Focusing on the Elements

Furthermore, a mendicant examines their own body, whatever its placement or posture, according to the elements: ‘In this body there is the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

It’s as if a deft butcher or butcher’s apprentice were to kill a cow and sit down at the crossroads with the meat cut into portions.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

1.6. The Charnel Ground Contemplations

Furthermore, suppose a mendicant were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground. And it had been dead for one, two, or three days, bloated, livid, and festering. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

Furthermore, suppose they were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground being devoured by crows, hawks, vultures, herons, dogs, tigers, leopards, jackals, and many kinds of little creatures. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

Furthermore, suppose they were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground, a skeleton with flesh and blood, held together by sinews …

A skeleton without flesh but smeared with blood, and held together by sinews …

A skeleton rid of flesh and blood, held together by sinews …

Bones rid of sinews scattered in every direction. Here a hand-bone, there a foot-bone, here a shin-bone, there a thigh-bone, here a hip-bone, there a rib-bone, here a back-bone, there an arm-bone, here a neck-bone, there a jaw-bone, here a tooth, there the skull …

White bones, the color of shells …

Decrepit bones, heaped in a pile …

Bones rotted and crumbled to powder. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

2. Observing the Feelings

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of feelings?

It’s when a mendicant who feels a pleasant feeling knows: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a painful feeling.’

When they feel a neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a neutral feeling.’

When they feel a material pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a material painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material painful feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual painful feeling.’

When they feel a material neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a material neutral feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual neutral feeling.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the feelings internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing feelings as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that feelings exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of feelings.

3. Observing the Mind

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the mind?

It’s when a mendicant understands mind with greed as ‘mind with greed,’ and mind without greed as ‘mind without greed.’ They understand mind with hate as ‘mind with hate,’ and mind without hate as ‘mind without hate.’ They understand mind with delusion as ‘mind with delusion,’ and mind without delusion as ‘mind without delusion.’ They know constricted mind as ‘constricted mind,’ and scattered mind as ‘scattered mind.’ They know expansive mind as ‘expansive mind,’ and unexpansive mind as ‘unexpansive mind.’ They know mind that is not supreme as ‘mind that is not supreme,’ and mind that is supreme as ‘mind that is supreme.’ They know mind immersed in samādhi as ‘mind immersed in samādhi,’ and mind not immersed in samādhi as ‘mind not immersed in samādhi.’ They know freed mind as ‘freed mind,’ and unfreed mind as ‘unfreed mind.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the mind internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the mind as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the mind exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the mind.

4. Observing Principles

4.1. The Hindrances

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles?

It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five hindrances. And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five hindrances?

It’s when a mendicant who has sensual desire in them understands: ‘I have sensual desire in me.’ When they don’t have sensual desire in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have sensual desire in me.’ They understand how sensual desire arises; how, when it’s already arisen, it’s given up; and how, once it’s given up, it doesn’t arise again in the future.

When they have ill will in them, they understand: ‘I have ill will in me.’ When they don’t have ill will in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have ill will in me.’ They understand how ill will arises; how, when it’s already arisen, it’s given up; and how, once it’s given up, it doesn’t arise again in the future.

When they have dullness and drowsiness in them, they understand: ‘I have dullness and drowsiness in me.’ When they don’t have dullness and drowsiness in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have dullness and drowsiness in me.’ They understand how dullness and drowsiness arise; how, when they’ve already arisen, they’re given up; and how, once they’re given up, they don’t arise again in the future.

When they have restlessness and remorse in them, they understand: ‘I have restlessness and remorse in me.’ When they don’t have restlessness and remorse in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have restlessness and remorse in me.’ They understand how restlessness and remorse arise; how, when they’ve already arisen, they’re given up; and how, once they’re given up, they don’t arise again in the future.

When they have doubt in them, they understand: ‘I have doubt in me.’ When they don’t have doubt in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have doubt in me.’ They understand how doubt arises; how, when it’s already arisen, it’s given up; and how, once it’s given up, it doesn’t arise again in the future.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the principles as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that principles exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five hindrances.

4.2. The Aggregates

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five grasping aggregates. And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five grasping aggregates? It’s when a mendicant contemplates: ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling, such is the ending of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception, such is the ending of perception. Such are choices, such is the origin of choices, such is the ending of choices. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally …

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the five grasping aggregates.

4.3. The Sense Fields

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the six interior and exterior sense fields. And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles with respect to the six interior and exterior sense fields?

It’s when a mendicant understands the eye, sights, and the fetter that arises dependent on both of these. They understand how the fetter that has not arisen comes to arise; how the arisen fetter comes to be abandoned; and how the abandoned fetter comes to not rise again in the future.

They understand the ear, sounds, and the fetter …

They understand the nose, smells, and the fetter …

They understand the tongue, tastes, and the fetter …

They understand the body, touches, and the fetter …

They understand the mind, thoughts, and the fetter that arises dependent on both of these. They understand how the fetter that has not arisen comes to arise; how the arisen fetter comes to be abandoned; and how the abandoned fetter comes to not rise again in the future.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally …

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the six internal and external sense fields.

4.4. The Awakening Factors

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the seven awakening factors. And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles with respect to the seven awakening factors?

It’s when a mendicant who has the awakening factor of mindfulness in them understands: ‘I have the awakening factor of mindfulness in me.’ When they don’t have the awakening factor of mindfulness in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have the awakening factor of mindfulness in me.’ They understand how the awakening factor of mindfulness that has not arisen comes to arise; and how the awakening factor of mindfulness that has arisen becomes fulfilled by development.

When they have the awakening factor of investigation of principles … energy … rapture … tranquility … immersion … equanimity in them, they understand: ‘I have the awakening factor of equanimity in me.’ When they don’t have the awakening factor of equanimity in them, they understand: ‘I don’t have the awakening factor of equanimity in me.’ They understand how the awakening factor of equanimity that has not arisen comes to arise; and how the awakening factor of equanimity that has arisen becomes fulfilled by development.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the principles as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that principles exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the seven awakening factors.

4.5. The Truths

Furthermore, a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the four noble truths.

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of principles with respect to the four noble truths? It’s when a mendicant truly understands: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the principles as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that principles exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of principles with respect to the four noble truths.

Anyone who develops these four kinds of mindfulness meditation in this way for seven years can expect one of two results: enlightenment in the present life, or if there’s something left over, non-return.

Let alone seven years, anyone who develops these four kinds of mindfulness meditation in this way for six years … five years … four years … three years … two years … one year … seven months … six months … five months … four months … three months … two months … one month … a fortnight … Let alone a fortnight, anyone who develops these four kinds of mindfulness meditation in this way for seven days can expect one of two results: enlightenment in the present life, or if there’s something left over, non-return.

‘The four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.’ That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said.

AN3:68 - Followers of Other Paths

“Mendicants, if wanderers who follow other paths were to ask: ‘There are these three things. What three? Greed, hate, and delusion. These are the three things. What’s the difference between them?’ How would you answer them?”

“Our teachings are rooted in the Buddha. He is our guide and our refuge. Sir, may the Buddha himself please clarify the meaning of this. The mendicants will listen and remember it.”

“Well then, mendicants, listen and pay close attention, I will speak.”

“Yes, sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, if wanderers who follow other paths were to ask: ‘There are these three things. What three? Greed, hate, and delusion. These are the three things. What’s the difference between them?’ You should answer them: ‘Greed, reverends, is mildly blameworthy, but slow to fade away. Hate is very blameworthy, but quick to fade away. Delusion is very blameworthy, and slow to fade away.’

And if they ask: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why greed arises, and once arisen it increases and grows?’ You should say: ‘The beautiful feature of things. When you attend improperly to the beautiful feature of things, greed arises, and once arisen it increases and grows. This is the cause, this is the reason why greed arises, and once arisen it increases and grows.’

And if they ask: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why hate arises, and once arisen it increases and grows?’ You should say: ‘The feature of harshness. When you attend improperly to the feature of harshness, hate arises, and once arisen it increases and grows. This is the cause, this is the reason why hate arises, and once arisen it increases and grows.’

And if they ask: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why delusion arises, and once arisen it increases and grows?’ You should say: ‘Improper attention. When you attend improperly, delusion arises, and once arisen it increases and grows. This is the cause, this is the reason why delusion arises, and once arisen it increases and grows.’

And if they ask, ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why greed doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up?’ You should say: ‘The ugly feature of things. When you attend properly on the ugly feature of things, greed doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up. This is the cause, this is the reason why greed doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up.’

And if they ask, ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up?’ You should say: ‘The heart’s release by love.’ When you attend properly on the heart’s release by love, hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up. This is the cause, this is the reason why hate doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up.’

And if they ask, ‘What is the cause, what is the reason why delusion doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up?’ You should say: ‘Proper attention. When you attend properly, delusion doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up. This is the cause, this is the reason why delusion doesn’t arise, or if it’s already arisen it’s given up.’”

MN19 - Two Kinds of Thought

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, before my awakening—when I was still unawakened but intent on awakening—I thought: ‘Why don’t I meditate by continually dividing my thoughts into two classes?’ So I assigned sensual, malicious, and cruel thoughts to one class. And I assigned thoughts of renunciation, good will, and harmlessness to the second class.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a sensual thought arose. I understood: ‘This sensual thought has arisen in me. It leads to hurting myself, hurting others, and hurting both. It blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment.’ When I reflected that it leads to hurting myself, it went away. When I reflected that it leads to hurting others, it went away. When I reflected that it leads to hurting both, it went away. When I reflected that it blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment, it went away. So I gave up, got rid of, and eliminated any sensual thoughts that arose.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a malicious thought arose … a cruel thought arose. I understood: ‘This cruel thought has arisen in me. It leads to hurting myself, hurting others, and hurting both. It blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment.’ When I reflected that it leads to hurting myself … hurting others … hurting both, it went away. When I reflected that it blocks wisdom, it’s on the side of anguish, and it doesn’t lead to extinguishment, it went away. So I gave up, got rid of, and eliminated any cruel thoughts that arose.

Whatever a mendicant frequently thinks about and considers becomes their heart’s inclination. If they often think about and consider sensual thoughts, they’ve given up the thought of renunciation to cultivate sensual thought. Their mind inclines to sensual thoughts. If they often think about and consider malicious thoughts … their mind inclines to malicious thoughts. If they often think about and consider cruel thoughts … their mind inclines to cruel thoughts.

Suppose it’s the last month of the rainy season, when the crops grow closely together, and a cowherd must take care of the cattle. He’d tap and poke them with his staff on this side and that to keep them in check. Why is that? For he sees that if they wander into the crops he could be executed, imprisoned, fined, or condemned.

In the same way, I saw that unskillful qualities have the drawbacks of sordidness and corruption, and that skillful qualities have the benefit and cleansing power of renunciation.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a thought of renunciation arose. I understood: ‘This thought of renunciation has arisen in me. It doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. It nourishes wisdom, it’s on the side of freedom from anguish, and it leads to extinguishment.’ If I were to keep on thinking and considering this all night … all day … all night and day, I see no danger that would come from that. Still, thinking and considering for too long would tire my body. And when the body is tired, the mind is stressed. And when the mind is stressed, it’s far from immersion. So I stilled, settled, unified, and immersed my mind internally. Why is that? So that my mind would not be stressed.

Then, as I meditated—diligent, keen, and resolute—a thought of good will arose … a thought of harmlessness arose. I understood: ‘This thought of harmlessness has arisen in me. It doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. It nourishes wisdom, it’s on the side of freedom from anguish, and it leads to extinguishment.’ If I were to keep on thinking and considering this all night … all day … all night and day, I see no danger that would come from that. Still, thinking and considering for too long would tire my body. And when the body is tired, the mind is stressed. And when the mind is stressed, it’s far from immersion. So I stilled, settled, unified, and immersed my mind internally. Why is that? So that my mind would not be stressed.

Whatever a mendicant frequently thinks about and considers becomes their heart’s inclination. If they often think about and consider thoughts of renunciation, they’ve given up sensual thought to cultivate the thought of renunciation. Their mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If they often think about and consider thoughts of good will … their mind inclines to thoughts of good will. If they often think about and consider thoughts of harmlessness … their mind inclines to thoughts of harmlessness.

Suppose it’s the last month of summer, when all the crops have been gathered into the neighborhood of a village, and a cowherd must take care of the cattle. While at the root of a tree or in the open he need only be mindful that the cattle are there. In the same way I needed only to be mindful that those things were there.

My energy was roused up and unflagging, my mindfulness was established and lucid, my body was tranquil and undisturbed, and my mind was immersed in samādhi.

Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

As the placing of the mind and keeping it connected were stilled, I entered and remained in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and confidence, and unified mind, without placing the mind and keeping it connected.

And with the fading away of rapture, I entered and remained in the third absorption, where I meditated with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’

With the giving up of pleasure and pain, and the ending of former happiness and sadness, I entered and remained in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness.

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward recollection of past lives. I recollected many kinds of past lives, with features and details.

This was the first knowledge, which I achieved in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute.

When my mind had become immersed in samādhi like this, I extended it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings. With clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, I saw sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. I understood how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds.

This was the second knowledge, which I achieved in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute.

When my mind had become immersed in samādhi like this, I extended it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. I truly understood: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.'

I truly understood: ‘These are defilements’ … ‘This is the origin of defilements’ … ‘This is the cessation of defilements’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of defilements.' Knowing and seeing like this, my mind was freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. I understood: ‘Rebirth is ended; the spiritual journey has been completed; what had to be done has been done; there is no return to any state of existence.’

This was the third knowledge, which I achieved in the last watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute.

Suppose that in a forested wilderness there was an expanse of low-lying marshes, and a large herd of deer lived nearby. Then along comes a person who wants to harm, injure, and threaten them. They close off the safe, secure path that leads to happiness, and open the wrong path. There they plant domesticated male and female deer as decoys so that, in due course, that herd of deer would fall to ruin and disaster. Then along comes a person who wants to help keep the herd of deer safe. They open up the safe, secure path that leads to happiness, and close off the wrong path. They get rid of the decoys so that, in due course, that herd of deer would grow, increase, and mature.

I’ve made up this simile to make a point. And this is what it means. ‘An expanse of low-lying marshes’ is a term for sensual pleasures. ‘A large herd of deer’ is a term for sentient beings. ‘A person who wants to harm, injure, and threaten them’ is a term for Māra the Wicked. ‘The wrong path’ is a term for the wrong eightfold path, that is, wrong view, wrong thought, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, and wrong immersion. ‘A domesticated male deer’ is a term for greed and relishing. ‘A domesticated female deer’ is a term for ignorance. ‘A person who wants to help keep the herd of deer safe’ is a term for the Realized One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha. ‘The safe, secure path that leads to happiness’ is a term for the noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.

So, mendicants, I have opened up the safe, secure path to happiness and closed off the wrong path. And I have got rid of the male and female decoys.

Out of compassion, I’ve done what a teacher should do who wants what’s best for their disciples. Here are these roots of trees, and here are these empty huts. Practice absorption, mendicants! Don’t be negligent! Don’t regret it later! This is my instruction to you.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said.

SN50:1

“Mendicants, there are these five powers. What five? The powers of faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom. These are the five powers. The Ganges river slants, slopes, and inclines to the east. In the same way, a mendicant who develops and cultivates the five powers slants, slopes, and inclines to extinguishment.

And how does a mendicant who develops the five powers slant, slope, and incline to extinguishment? It’s when a mendicant develops the powers of faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. That’s how a mendicant who develops and cultivates the five powers slants, slopes, and inclines to extinguishment.”

MN68 - At Naḷakapāna

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kosalans near Naḷakapāna in the Parrot Tree grove.

Now at that time several very well-known gentlemen had gone forth from the lay life to homelessness out of faith in the Buddha—The venerables Anuruddha, Bhaddiya, Kimbila, Bhagu, Koṇḍañña, Revata, Ānanda, and other very well-known gentlemen.

Now at that time the Buddha was sitting in the open, surrounded by the mendicant Saṅgha. Then the Buddha spoke to the mendicants about those gentlemen: “Mendicants, those gentlemen who have gone forth from the lay life to homelessness out of faith in me—I trust they’re satisfied with the spiritual life?” When this was said, the mendicants kept silent.

For a second and a third time the Buddha asked the same question. For a third time, the mendicants kept silent.

Then it occurred to the Buddha, “Why don’t I question just those gentlemen?” Then the Buddha said to Venerable Anuruddha, “Anuruddha and friends, I hope you’re satisfied with the spiritual life?”

“Indeed, sir, we are satisfied with the spiritual life.”

“Good, good, Anuruddha and friends! It’s appropriate for gentlemen like yourselves, who have gone forth in faith from the lay life to homelessness, to be satisfied with the spiritual life. Since you’re blessed with youth, in the prime of life, black-haired, you could have enjoyed sensual pleasures; yet you have gone forth from the lay life to homelessness. But you didn’t go forth because you were forced to by kings or bandits, or because you’re in debt or threatened, or to earn a living. Rather, didn’t you go forth thinking: ‘I’m swamped by rebirth, old age, and death; by sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. I’m swamped by suffering, mired in suffering. Hopefully I can find an end to this entire mass of suffering’?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But, Anuruddha and friends, when a gentleman has gone forth like this, what should he do? Take someone who doesn’t achieve the rapture and bliss that are secluded from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities, or something even more peaceful than that. Their mind is still occupied by desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, doubt, discontent, and sloth. That’s someone who doesn’t achieve the rapture and bliss that are secluded from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities, or something even more peaceful than that.

Take someone who does achieve the rapture and bliss that are secluded from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities, or something even more peaceful than that. Their mind is not occupied by desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, doubt, discontent, and sloth. That’s someone who does achieve the rapture and bliss that are secluded from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities, or something even more peaceful than that.

Is this what you think of me? ‘The Realized One has not given up the defilements, the corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. That’s why, after appraisal, he uses some things, endures some things, avoids some things, and gets rid of some things.’”

“No sir, we don’t think of you that way. We think of you this way: ‘The Realized One has given up the defilements, the corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. That’s why, after appraisal, he uses some things, endures some things, avoids some things, and gets rid of some things.’”

“Good, good, Anuruddha and friends! The Realized One has given up the defilements, the corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. He has cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, obliterated them so they are unable to arise in the future. Just as a palm tree with its crown cut off is incapable of further growth, in the same way, the Realized One has given up the defilements so they are unable to arise in the future. That’s why, after appraisal, he uses some things, endures some things, avoids some things, and gets rid of some things.

What do you think, Anuruddha and friends? What advantage does the Realized One see in declaring the rebirth of his disciples who have passed away: ‘This one is reborn here, while that one is reborn there’?”

“Our teachings are rooted in the Buddha. He is our guide and our refuge. Sir, may the Buddha himself please clarify the meaning of this. The mendicants will listen and remember it.”

“The Realized One does not declare such things for the sake of deceiving people or flattering them, nor for the benefit of possessions, honor, or popularity, nor thinking, ‘So let people know about me!’ Rather, there are gentlemen of faith who are full of sublime joy and gladness. When they hear that, they apply their minds to that end. That is for their lasting welfare and happiness.

Take a monk who hears this: ‘The monk named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, he was enlightened.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that monk’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That’s how a monk lives at ease.

Take a monk who hears this: ‘The monk named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of the five lower fetters, he’s been reborn spontaneously and will become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that monk’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That too is how a monk lives at ease.

Take a monk who hears this: ‘The monk named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, he’s a once-returner. He’ll come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that monk’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That too is how a monk lives at ease.

Take a monk who hears this: ‘The monk named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters he’s a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that monk’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That too is how a monk lives at ease.

Take a nun who hears this: ‘The nun named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, she was enlightened.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that nun’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That’s how a nun lives at ease.

Take a nun who hears this: ‘The nun named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of the five lower fetters, she’s been reborn spontaneously and will become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that nun’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That too is how a nun lives at ease.

Take a nun who hears this: ‘The nun named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, she’s a once-returner. She’ll come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that nun’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That too is how a nun lives at ease.

Take a nun who hears this: ‘The nun named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters she’s a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that nun’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That too is how a nun lives at ease.

Take a layman who hears this: ‘The layman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of the five lower fetters, he’s been reborn spontaneously and will become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that layman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That’s how a layman lives at ease.

Take a layman who hears this: ‘The layman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, he’s a once-returner. He’ll come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that layman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That too is how a layman lives at ease.

Take a layman who hears this: ‘The layman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters he’s a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.’ And he’s either seen for himself, or heard from someone else, that that venerable had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that layman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, he applies his mind to that end. That too is how a layman lives at ease.

Take a laywoman who hears this: ‘The laywoman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of the five lower fetters, she’s been reborn spontaneously and will become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that laywoman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That’s how a laywoman lives at ease.

Take a laywoman who hears this: ‘The laywoman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, she’s a once-returner. She’ll come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that laywoman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That too is how a laywoman lives at ease.

Take a laywoman who hears this: ‘The laywoman named so-and-so has passed away. The Buddha has declared that, with the ending of three fetters she’s a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.’ And she’s either seen for herself, or heard from someone else, that that sister had such ethics, such qualities, such wisdom, such meditation, or such freedom. Recollecting that laywoman’s faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom, she applies her mind to that end. That too is how a laywoman lives at ease.

So it’s not for the sake of deceiving people or flattering them, nor for the benefit of possessions, honor, or popularity, nor thinking, ‘So let people know about me!’ that the Realized One declares the rebirth of his disciples who have passed away: ‘This one is reborn here, while that one is reborn there.’ Rather, there are gentlemen of faith who are full of joy and gladness. When they hear that, they apply their minds to that end. That is for their lasting welfare and happiness.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, Venerable Anuruddha and friends were happy with what the Buddha said.

MN53 - A Trainee

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Sakyans, near Kapilavatthu in the Banyan Tree Monastery.

Now at that time a new town hall had recently been constructed for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu. It had not yet been occupied by an ascetic or brahmin or any person at all. Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Sir, a new town hall has recently been constructed for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu. It has not yet been occupied by an ascetic or brahmin or any person at all. May the Buddha be the first to use it, and only then will the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu use it. That would be for the lasting welfare and happiness of the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu.” The Buddha consented in silence.

Then, knowing that the Buddha had consented, the Sakyans got up from their seat, bowed, and respectfully circled the Buddha, keeping him on their right. Then they went to the new town hall, where they spread carpets all over, prepared seats, set up a water jar, and placed a lamp. Then they went back to the Buddha, bowed, stood to one side, and told him of their preparations, saying, “Please, sir, come at your convenience.”

Then the Buddha robed up and, taking his bowl and robe, went to the new town hall together with the Saṅgha of mendicants. Having washed his feet he entered the town hall and sat against the central column facing east. The Saṅgha of mendicants also washed their feet, entered the town hall, and sat against the west wall facing east, with the Buddha right in front of them. The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu also washed their feet, entered the town hall, and sat against the east wall facing west, with the Buddha right in front of them.

The Buddha spent most of the night educating, encouraging, firing up, and inspiring the Sakyans with a Dhamma talk. Then he addressed Venerable Ānanda, “Ānanda, speak about the practicing trainee to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu as you feel inspired. My back is sore, I’ll stretch it.”

“Yes, sir,” Ānanda replied. And then the Buddha spread out his outer robe folded in four and laid down in the lion’s posture—on the right side, placing one foot on top of the other—mindful and aware, and focused on the time of getting up.

Then Ānanda addressed Mahānāma the Sakyan:

“Mahānāma, a noble disciple is accomplished in ethics, guards the sense doors, eats in moderation, and is dedicated to wakefulness. They have seven good qualities, and they get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty.

And how is a noble disciple accomplished in ethics? It’s when a noble disciple is ethical, restrained in the monastic code, conducting themselves well and seeking alms in suitable places. Seeing danger in the slightest fault, they keep the rules they’ve undertaken. That’s how a noble disciple is ethical.

And how does a noble disciple guard the sense doors? When a noble disciple sees a sight with their eyes, they don’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of sight were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of sight, and achieving its restraint. When they hear a sound with their ears … When they smell an odor with their nose … When they taste a flavor with their tongue … When they feel a touch with their body … When they know a thought with their mind, they don’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of mind were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of mind, and achieving its restraint. That’s how a noble disciple guards the sense doors.

And how does a noble disciple eat in moderation? It’s when a noble disciple reflects properly on the food that they eat: ‘Not for fun, indulgence, adornment, or decoration, but only to sustain this body, to avoid harm, and to support spiritual practice. In this way, I shall put an end to old discomfort and not give rise to new discomfort, and I will live blamelessly and at ease.’ That’s how a noble disciple eats in moderation.

And how is a noble disciple dedicated to wakefulness? It’s when a noble disciple practices walking and sitting meditation by day, purifying their mind from obstacles. In the evening, they continue to practice walking and sitting meditation. In the middle of the night, they lie down in the lion’s posture—on the right side, placing one foot on top of the other—mindful and aware, and focused on the time of getting up. In the last part of the night, they get up and continue to practice walking and sitting meditation, purifying their mind from obstacles. That’s how a noble disciple is dedicated to wakefulness.

And how does a noble disciple have seven good qualities? It’s when a noble disciple has faith in the Realized One’s awakening: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’

They have a conscience. They’re conscientious about bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and conscientious about having any bad, unskillful qualities.

They exercise prudence. They’re prudent when it comes to bad conduct by way of body, speech, and mind, and prudent when it comes to acquiring any bad, unskillful qualities.

They’re very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reinforcing them by recitation, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically.

They live with energy roused up for giving up unskillful qualities and embracing skillful qualities. They’re strong, staunchly vigorous, not slacking off when it comes to developing skillful qualities.

They’re mindful. They have utmost mindfulness and alertness, and can remember and recall what was said and done long ago.

They’re wise. They have the wisdom of arising and passing away which is noble, penetrative, and leads to the complete ending of suffering. That’s how a noble disciple has seven good qualities.

And how does a noble disciple get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty? It’s when a noble disciple, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption. That’s how a noble disciple gets the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty.

When a noble disciple is accomplished in ethics, guards the sense doors, eats in moderation, and is dedicated to wakefulness; and they have seven good qualities, and they get the four absorptions—blissful meditations in the present life that belong to the higher mind—when they want, without trouble or difficulty, they are called a noble disciple who is a practicing trainee. Their eggs are unspoiled, and they are capable of breaking out of their shell, becoming awakened, and achieving the supreme sanctuary. Suppose there was a chicken with eight or ten or twelve eggs. And she properly sat on them to keep them warm and incubated. Even if that chicken doesn’t wish, ‘If only my chicks could break out of the eggshell with their claws and beak and hatch safely!’ Still they can break out and hatch safely.

In the same way, when a noble disciple is practicing all these things they are called a noble disciple who is a practicing trainee. Their eggs are unspoiled, and they are capable of breaking out of their shell, becoming awakened, and achieving the supreme sanctuary.

Relying on this supreme purity of mindfulness and equanimity, that noble disciple recollects their many kinds of past lives. That is: one, two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand rebirths; many eons of the world contracting, many eons of the world expanding, many eons of the world contracting and expanding. … And so they recollect their many kinds of past lives, with features and details. This is their first breaking out, like a chick from an eggshell.

Relying on this supreme purity of mindfulness and equanimity, that noble disciple, with clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, sees sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. … They understand how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds. This is their second breaking out, like a chick from an eggshell.

Relying on this supreme purity of mindfulness and equanimity, that noble disciple realizes the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements. This is their third breaking out, like a chick from an eggshell.

A noble disciple’s conduct includes the following: being accomplished in ethics, guarding the sense doors, moderation in eating, being dedicated to wakefulness, having seven good qualities, and getting the four absorptions when they want, without trouble or difficulty.

A noble disciple’s knowledge includes the following: recollecting their past lives, clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, and realizing the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life due to the ending of defilements.

This noble disciple is said to be ‘accomplished in knowledge’, and also ‘accomplished in conduct’, and also ‘accomplished in knowledge and conduct’.

And Brahmā Sanaṅkumāra also spoke this verse:

‘The aristocrat is first among people
who take clan as the standard.
But one accomplished in knowledge and conduct
is first among gods and humans.’

And that verse was well sung by Brahmā Sanaṅkumāra, not poorly sung; well spoken, not poorly spoken, beneficial, not harmful, and it was approved by the Buddha.”

Then the Buddha got up and said to Venerable Ānanda, “Good, good, Ānanda! It’s good that you spoke to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu about the practicing trainee.”

This is what Venerable Ānanda said, and the teacher approved. Satisfied, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu were happy with what Venerable Ānanda said.

MN36 - The Longer Discourse With Saccaka

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Vesālī, at the Great Wood, in the hall with the peaked roof.

Now at that time in the morning the Buddha, being properly dressed, took his bowl and robe, wishing to enter Vesālī for alms.

Then as Saccaka, the son of Jain parents, was going for a walk he approached the hall with the peaked roof in the Great Wood. Venerable Ānanda saw him coming off in the distance, and said to the Buddha, “Sir, Saccaka, the son of Jain parents, is coming. He’s a debater and clever speaker regarded as holy by many people. He wants to discredit the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha. Please, sir, sit for a moment out of compassion.” The Buddha sat on the seat spread out.

Then Saccaka went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha,

“Master Gotama, there are some ascetics and brahmins who live committed to the practice of developing physical endurance, without developing the mind. They suffer painful physical feelings. This happened to someone once. Their thighs became paralyzed, their heart burst, hot blood gushed from their mouth, and they went mad and lost their mind. Their mind was subject to the body, and the body had power over it. Why is that? Because their mind was not developed. There are some ascetics and brahmins who live committed to the practice of developing the mind, without developing physical endurance. They suffer painful mental feelings. This happened to someone once. Their thighs became paralyzed, their heart burst, hot blood gushed from their mouth, and they went mad and lost their mind. Their body was subject to the mind, and the mind had power over it. Why is that? Because their physical endurance was not developed. It occurs to me that Master Gotama’s disciples must live committed to the practice of developing the mind, without developing physical endurance.”

“But Aggivessana, what have you heard about the development of physical endurance?”

“Take, for example, Nanda Vaccha, Kisa Saṅkicca, and Makkhali Gosāla. They go naked, ignoring conventions. They lick their hands, and don’t come or wait when asked. They don’t consent to food brought to them, or food prepared on purpose for them, or an invitation for a meal. They don’t receive anything from a pot or bowl; or from someone who keeps sheep, or who has a weapon or a shovel in their home; or where a couple is eating; or where there is a woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or who has a man in her home; or where there’s a dog waiting or flies buzzing. They accept no fish or meat or liquor or wine, and drink no beer. They go to just one house for alms, taking just one mouthful, or two houses and two mouthfuls, up to seven houses and seven mouthfuls. They feed on one saucer a day, two saucers a day, up to seven saucers a day. They eat once a day, once every second day, up to once a week, and so on, even up to once a fortnight. They live committed to the practice of eating food at set intervals.”

“But Aggivessana, do they get by on so little?”

“No, Master Gotama. Sometimes they eat a variety of luxury foods and drink a variety of luxury beverages. They gather their body’s strength, build it up, and get fat.”

“What they earlier gave up, they later got back. That is how there is the increase and decrease of this body. But Aggivessana, what have you heard about development of the mind?” When Saccaka was questioned by the Buddha about development of the mind, he was unable to answer.

So the Buddha said to Saccaka, “The development of physical endurance that you have described is not the legitimate development of physical endurance in the noble one’s training. And since you don’t even understand the development of physical endurance, how can you possibly understand the development of the mind? Still, as to how someone is undeveloped in physical endurance and mind, and how someone is developed in physical endurance and mind, listen and pay close attention, I will speak.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Saccaka. The Buddha said this:

“And how is someone undeveloped in physical endurance and mind? Take an uneducated ordinary person who has a pleasant feeling. When they experience pleasant feeling they become full of lust for it. Then that pleasant feeling ceases. And when it ceases, a painful feeling arises. When they suffer painful feeling, they sorrow and wail and lament, beating their breast and falling into confusion. Because their physical endurance is undeveloped, pleasant feelings occupy the mind. And because their mind is undeveloped, painful feelings occupy the mind. Someone whose mind is occupied by both pleasant and painful feelings like this is undeveloped in physical endurance and in mind.

And how is someone developed in physical endurance and mind? Take an educated noble disciple who has a pleasant feeling. When they experience pleasant feeling they don’t become full of lust for it. Then that pleasant feeling ceases. And when it ceases, painful feeling arises. When they suffer painful feelings they don’t sorrow or wail or lament, beating their breast and falling into confusion. Because their physical endurance is developed, pleasant feelings don’t occupy the mind. And because their mind is developed, painful feelings don’t occupy the mind. Someone whose mind is not occupied by both pleasant and painful feelings like this is developed in physical endurance and in mind.”

“I am quite confident that Master Gotama is developed in physical endurance and in mind.”

“Your words are clearly invasive and intrusive, Aggivessana. Nevertheless, I will answer you. Ever since I shaved off my hair and beard, dressed in ocher robes, and went forth from the lay life to homelessness, it has not been possible for any pleasant or painful feeling to occupy my mind.”

“Surely you must have had feelings so pleasant or so painful that they could occupy your mind?”

“How could I not, Aggivessana? Before my awakening—when I was still unawakened but intent on awakening—I thought: ‘Living in a house is cramped and dirty, but the life of one gone forth is wide open. It’s not easy for someone living at home to lead the spiritual life utterly full and pure, like a polished shell. Why don’t I shave off my hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness?’

Some time later, while still black-haired, blessed with youth, in the prime of life—though my mother and father wished otherwise, weeping with tearful faces—I shaved off my hair and beard, dressed in ocher robes, and went forth from the lay life to homelessness.

Once I had gone forth I set out to discover what is skillful, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace. I approached Āḷāra Kālāma and said to him, ‘Reverend Kālāma, I wish to lead the spiritual life in this teaching and training.’

Āḷāra Kālāma replied, ‘Stay, venerable. This teaching is such that a sensible person can soon realize their own tradition with their own insight and live having achieved it.’

I quickly memorized that teaching. So far as lip-recital and oral recitation were concerned, I spoke with knowledge and the authority of the elders. I claimed to know and see, and so did others.

Then it occurred to me, ‘It is not solely by mere faith that Āḷāra Kālāma declares: “I realize this teaching with my own insight, and live having achieved it.” Surely he meditates knowing and seeing this teaching.’

So I approached Āḷāra Kālāma and said to him, ‘Reverend Kālāma, to what extent do you say you’ve realized this teaching with your own insight?’ When I said this, he declared the dimension of nothingness.

Then it occurred to me, ‘It’s not just Āḷāra Kālāma who has faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom; I too have these things. Why don’t I make an effort to realize the same teaching that Āḷāra Kālāma says he has realized with his own insight?’ I quickly realized that teaching with my own insight, and lived having achieved it.

So I approached Āḷāra Kālāma and said to him, ‘Reverend Kālāma, have you realized this teaching with your own insight up to this point, and declare having achieved it?’

‘I have, reverend.’

‘I too have realized this teaching with my own insight up to this point, and live having achieved it.’

‘We are fortunate, reverend, so very fortunate to see a venerable such as yourself as one of our spiritual companions! So the teaching that I’ve realized with my own insight, and declare having achieved it, you’ve realized with your own insight, and live having achieved it. The teaching that you’ve realized with your own insight, and live having achieved it, I’ve realized with my own insight, and declare having achieved it. So the teaching that I know, you know, and the teaching you know, I know. I am like you and you are like me. Come now, reverend! We should both lead this community together.’ And that is how my teacher Āḷāra Kālāma placed me, his student, on the same position as him, and honored me with lofty praise.

Then it occurred to me, ‘This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the dimension of nothingness.’ Realizing that this teaching was inadequate, I left disappointed.

I set out to discover what is skillful, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace. I approached Uddaka, son of Rāma, and said to him, ‘Reverend, I wish to lead the spiritual life in this teaching and training.’

Uddaka replied, ‘Stay, venerable. This teaching is such that a sensible person can soon realize their own tradition with their own insight and live having achieved it.’

I quickly memorized that teaching. So far as lip-recital and oral recitation were concerned, I spoke with knowledge and the authority of the elders. I claimed to know and see, and so did others.

Then it occurred to me, ‘It is not solely by mere faith that Rāma declared: “I realize this teaching with my own insight, and live having achieved it.” Surely he meditated knowing and seeing this teaching.’

So I approached Uddaka, son of Rāma, and said to him, ‘Reverend, to what extent did Rāma say he’d realized this teaching with his own insight?’ When I said this, Uddaka, son of Rāma, declared the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

Then it occurred to me, ‘It’s not just Rāma who had faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom; I too have these things. Why don’t I make an effort to realize the same teaching that Rāma said he had realized with his own insight?’ I quickly realized that teaching with my own insight, and lived having achieved it.

So I approached Uddaka, son of Rāma, and said to him, ‘Reverend, had Rāma realized this teaching with his own insight up to this point, and declared having achieved it?’

‘He had, reverend.’

‘I too have realized this teaching with my own insight up to this point, and live having achieved it.’

‘We are fortunate, reverend, so very fortunate to see a venerable such as yourself as one of our spiritual companions! The teaching that Rāma had realized with his own insight, and declared having achieved it, you have realized with your own insight, and live having achieved it. The teaching that you’ve realized with your own insight, and live having achieved it, Rāma had realized with his own insight, and declared having achieved it. So the teaching that Rāma directly knew, you know, and the teaching you know, Rāma directly knew. Rāma was like you and you are like Rāma. Come now, reverend! You should lead this community.’ And that is how my spiritual companion Uddaka, son of Rāma, placed me in the position of a teacher, and honored me with lofty praise.

Then it occurred to me, ‘This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.’ Realizing that this teaching was inadequate, I left disappointed.

I set out to discover what is skillful, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace. Traveling stage by stage in the Magadhan lands, I arrived at Senanigama near Uruvelā. There I saw a delightful park, a lovely grove with a flowing river that was clean and charming, with smooth banks. And nearby was a village to go for alms. Then it occurred to me, ‘This park is truly delightful, a lovely grove with a flowing river that’s clean and charming, with smooth banks. And nearby there’s a village to go for alms. This is good enough for a gentleman who wishes to put forth effort in meditation.’ So I sat down right there, thinking: ‘This is good enough for meditation.’

And then these three examples, which were neither supernaturally inspired, nor learned before in the past, occurred to me. Suppose there was a green, sappy log, and it was lying in water. Then a person comes along with a drill-stick, thinking to light a fire and produce heat. What do you think, Aggivessana? By drilling the stick against that green, sappy log lying in the water, could they light a fire and produce heat?”

“No, Master Gotama. Why not? Because it’s a green, sappy log, and it’s lying in the water. That person will eventually get weary and frustrated.”

“In the same way, there are ascetics and brahmins who don’t live withdrawn in body and mind from sensual pleasures. They haven’t internally given up or stilled desire, affection, infatuation, thirst, and passion for sensual pleasures. Regardless of whether or not they feel painful, sharp, severe, acute feelings due to overexertion, they are incapable of knowledge and vision, of supreme awakening. This was the first example that occurred to me.

Then a second example occurred to me. Suppose there was a green, sappy log, and it was lying on dry land far from the water. Then a person comes along with a drill-stick, thinking to light a fire and produce heat. What do you think, Aggivessana? By drilling the stick against that green, sappy log on dry land far from water, could they light a fire and produce heat?”

“No, Master Gotama. Why not? Because it’s still a green, sappy log, despite the fact that it’s lying on dry land far from water. That person will eventually get weary and frustrated.”

“In the same way, there are ascetics and brahmins who live withdrawn in body and mind from sensual pleasures. But they haven’t internally given up or stilled desire, affection, infatuation, thirst, and passion for sensual pleasures. Regardless of whether or not they suffer painful, sharp, severe, acute feelings due to overexertion, they are incapable of knowledge and vision, of supreme awakening. This was the second example that occurred to me.

Then a third example occurred to me. Suppose there was a dried up, withered log, and it was lying on dry land far from the water. Then a person comes along with a drill-stick, thinking to light a fire and produce heat. What do you think, Aggivessana? By drilling the stick against that dried up, withered log on dry land far from water, could they light a fire and produce heat?”

“Yes, Master Gotama. Why is that? Because it’s a dried up, withered log, and it’s lying on dry land far from water.”

“In the same way, there are ascetics and brahmins who live withdrawn in body and mind from sensual pleasures. And they have internally given up and stilled desire, affection, infatuation, thirst, and passion for sensual pleasures. Regardless of whether or not they suffer painful, sharp, severe, acute feelings due to overexertion, they are capable of knowledge and vision, of supreme awakening. This was the third example that occurred to me. These are the three examples, which were neither supernaturally inspired, nor learned before in the past, that occurred to me.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I, with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind.’ So that’s what I did, until sweat ran from my armpits. It was like when a strong man grabs a weaker man by the head or throat or shoulder and squeezes, squashes, and tortures them. In the same way, with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, I squeezed, squashed, and tortured mind with mind until sweat ran from my armpits. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I practice the breathless absorption?’ So I cut off my breathing through my mouth and nose. But then winds came out my ears making a loud noise, like the puffing of a blacksmith’s bellows. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I keep practicing the breathless absorption?’ So I cut off my breathing through my mouth and nose and ears. But then strong winds ground my head, like a strong man was drilling into my head with a sharp point. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I keep practicing the breathless absorption?’ So I cut off my breathing through my mouth and nose and ears. But then I got a severe headache, like a strong man was tightening a tough leather strap around my head. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I keep practicing the breathless absorption?’ So I cut off my breathing through my mouth and nose and ears. But then strong winds carved up my belly, like a deft butcher or their apprentice was slicing my belly open with a meat cleaver. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I keep practicing the breathless absorption?’ So I cut off my breathing through my mouth and nose and ears. But then there was an intense burning in my body, like two strong men grabbing a weaker man by the arms to burn and scorch him on a pit of glowing coals. My energy was roused up and unflagging, and my mindfulness was established and lucid, but my body was disturbed, not tranquil, because I’d pushed too hard with that painful striving. But even such painful feeling did not occupy my mind.

Then some deities saw me and said, ‘The ascetic Gotama is dead.’ Others said, ‘He’s not dead, but he’s dying.’ Others said, ‘He’s not dead or dying. The ascetic Gotama is a perfected one, for that is how the perfected ones live.’

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I practice completely cutting off food?’ But deities came to me and said, ‘Good sir, don’t practice totally cutting off food. If you do, we’ll infuse divine nectar into your pores and you will live on that.’ Then I thought, ‘If I claim to be completely fasting while these deities are infusing divine nectar in my pores, that would be a lie on my part.’ So I dismissed those deities, saying, ‘There’s no need.’

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t I just take a little bit of food each time, a cup of broth made from mung beans, lentils, chickpeas, or green gram.’ So that’s what I did, until my body became extremely emaciated. Due to eating so little, my limbs became like the joints of an eighty-year-old or a corpse, my bottom became like a camel’s hoof, my vertebrae stuck out like beads on a string, and my ribs were as gaunt as the broken-down rafters on an old barn. Due to eating so little, the gleam of my eyes sank deep in their sockets, like the gleam of water sunk deep down a well. Due to eating so little, my scalp shriveled and withered like a green bitter-gourd in the wind and sun.

Due to eating so little, the skin of my belly stuck to my backbone, so that when I tried to rub the skin of my belly I grabbed my backbone, and when I tried to rub my backbone I rubbed the skin of my belly. Due to eating so little, when I tried to urinate or defecate I fell face down right there. Due to eating so little, when I tried to relieve my body by rubbing my limbs with my hands, the hair, rotted at its roots, fell out.

Then some people saw me and said: ‘The ascetic Gotama is black.’ Some said: ‘He’s not black, he’s brown.’ Some said: ‘He’s neither black nor brown. The ascetic Gotama has tawny skin.’ That’s how far the pure, bright complexion of my skin had been ruined by taking so little food.

Then I thought, ‘Whatever ascetics and brahmins have experienced painful, sharp, severe, acute feelings due to overexertion—whether in the past, future, or present—this is as far as it goes, no-one has done more than this. But I have not achieved any superhuman distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones by this severe, grueling work. Could there be another path to awakening?’

Then it occurred to me, ‘I recall sitting in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree while my father the Sakyan was off working. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. Could that be the path to awakening?’

Stemming from that memory came the realization: ‘That is the path to awakening!’

Then it occurred to me, ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities?’ Then I thought, ‘I’m not afraid of that pleasure, for it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures or unskillful qualities.’

Then I thought, ‘I can’t achieve that pleasure with a body so excessively emaciated. Why don’t I eat some solid food, some rice and porridge?’ So I ate some solid food.

Now at that time the five mendicants were attending on me, thinking, ‘The ascetic Gotama will tell us of any truth that he realizes.’ But when I ate some solid food, they left disappointed in me, saying, ‘The ascetic Gotama has become indulgent; he has strayed from the struggle and returned to indulgence.’

After eating solid food and gathering my strength, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

As the placing of the mind and keeping it connected were stilled, I entered and remained in the second absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of immersion, with internal clarity and confidence, and unified mind, without placing the mind and keeping it connected. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind. And with the fading away of rapture, I entered and remained in the third absorption, where I meditated with equanimity, mindful and aware, personally experiencing the bliss of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous and mindful, one meditates in bliss.’ But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind. With the giving up of pleasure and pain, and the ending of former happiness and sadness, I entered and remained in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward recollection of past lives. I recollected my many kinds of past lives, with features and details.

This was the first knowledge, which I achieved in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings. With clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, I saw sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. I understood how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds.

This was the second knowledge, which I achieved in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

When my mind had immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—I extended it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements. I truly understood: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering.’ I truly understood: ‘These are defilements’ … ‘This is the origin of defilements’ … ‘This is the cessation of defilements’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of defilements.’

Knowing and seeing like this, my mind was freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. When it was freed, I knew it was freed.

I understood: ‘Rebirth is ended; the spiritual journey has been completed; what had to be done has been done; there is no return to any state of existence.’

This was the third knowledge, which I achieved in the last watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed and knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed and light arose, as happens for a meditator who is diligent, keen, and resolute. But even such pleasant feeling did not occupy my mind.

Aggivessana, I recall teaching the Dhamma to an assembly of many hundreds, and each person thinks that I am teaching the Dhamma especially for them. But it should not be seen like this. The Realized One teaches others only so that they can understand. When that talk is finished, I still, settle, unify, and immerse my mind in samādhi internally, using the same meditation subject as a foundation of immersion that I used before, which is my usual meditation.”

“I’d believe that of Master Gotama, just like a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha. But do you ever recall sleeping during the day?”

“I do recall that in the last month of the summer, I have spread out my outer robe folded in four and lain down in the lion’s posture—on the right side, placing one foot on top of the other—mindful and aware.”

“Some ascetics and brahmins call that a deluded abiding.”

“That’s not how to define whether someone is deluded or not. But as to how to define whether someone is deluded or not, listen and pay close attention, I will speak.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Saccaka.

The Buddha said this:

“Whoever has not given up the defilements—corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death—is deluded, I say. For it’s not giving up the defilements that makes you deluded. Whoever has given up the defilements—corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death—is not deluded, I say. For it’s giving up the defilements that makes you not deluded.

The Realized One has given up the defilements—corruptions that lead to future lives and are hurtful, resulting in suffering and future rebirth, old age, and death. He has cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, obliterated them so they are unable to arise in the future. Just as a palm tree with its crown cut off is incapable of further growth, in the same way, the Realized One has given up the defilements so they are unable to arise in the future.”

When he had spoken, Saccaka said to him, “It’s incredible, Master Gotama, it’s amazing! When Master Gotama is repeatedly attacked with inappropriate and intrusive criticism, the complexion of his skin brightens and the color of his face becomes clear, just like a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.

I recall taking on Pūraṇa Kassapa in debate. He dodged the issue, distracting the discussion with irrelevant points, and displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness. But when Master Gotama is repeatedly attacked with inappropriate and intrusive criticism, the complexion of his skin brightens and the color of his face becomes clear, just like a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.

I recall taking on Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta, and Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta in debate. They all dodged the issue, distracting the discussion with irrelevant points, and displaying annoyance, hate, and bitterness. But when Master Gotama is repeatedly attacked with inappropriate and intrusive criticism, the complexion of his skin brightens and the color of his face becomes clear, just like a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.

Well, now, Master Gotama, I must go. I have many duties, and much to do.”

“Please, Aggivessana, go at your convenience.”

Then Saccaka, the son of Jain parents, having approved and agreed with what the Buddha said, got up from his seat and left.

-- END OF BOOK --
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