Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
Sattaka Nipāta
Mahāyañña-Vagga

Sutta 49

Dāna-Maha-p-Phala Suttaɱ

Giving

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Proofed against and modified in accordance with the revised edition at dhammatalks.org
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

Translator's note

This discourse discusses the possible motivations for generosity, and rates in ascending order the results they can lead to. The Commentary notes that the highest motivation, untainted by lower motivations and leading to non-returning, requires a certain level of mastery in concentration and insight to be one’s genuine motivation for giving.

 


 

[1] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Campā, on the shore of Gaggarā Lake.

Then a large number of lay followers from Campā went to Ven. Sāriputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side.

As they were sitting there they said to Ven. Sāriputta:

"It has been a long time, venerable sir, since we have had a chance to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence.

It would be good if we could get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence."

"Then in that case, my friends, come again on the next Uposatha day, and perhaps you'll get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence."

"As you say, venerable sir," the lay followers from Campā said to Ven. Sāriputta.

Rising from their seats, bowing down to him, and then circling him — keeping him on their right — they left.

Then, on the following Uposatha day, the lay followers from Campā went to Ven. Sāriputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side.

Then Ven. Sāriputta, together with the lay followers from Campā, went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side.

As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One:

The text here for Sariptta's question reads: "na mahapphalaɱ na mahānisaɱsaɱ.", "not of great fruit not of great profit", but here and hereafter for Gotama's response reads: mahapphalaɱ na mahānisaɱsaɱ. 'of great fruit, not of great profit.' When Sāriputta then asks for a reasoned explanation, he alters his question to conform to the way in which Gotama states the matter. According to a note to the text the first 'na' in Sāriputta's question is left out in all mss. except T. M.6[Turnour Morris Mss]. In the concluding paragraph of the text the wording reverts to: "na mahapphalaɱ na mahānisaɱsaɱ.". The fact is that on the face of it the outcomes of the lesser gifts described here must surely be counted as being of great fruit, and that gifts of lesser scope than the examples given here are always spoken of as bearing great fruit. But as to profit the final outcome for the one giving to improve his mind conforms to the goal of the Dhamma and is shown to be the greater because of that. The most natural rendering would be for Sāriputta's question to have been "not of great fruit, not of great profit", then for Gotama's response to have been 'of great fruit, not of great profit', and then for Sariptutta to have altered his question to 'of great fruit of great profit' and for the conclusion to have been the sequence 'of great fruit, not of great profit'; 'of great fruit, of great profit.' It is a common occurance for suttas to conclude with a repetition of the opening statement, so it is likely that, the incorrect concusion was formed from Sāriputtas question rather than Gotama's first statement. I think we are being asked to make a distinction between 'fruit' and 'profit.' Bhks. Thanissaro and Bodhi, and Sister Upalavana all overlook this problem.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

"Might there be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Yes, Sāriputta, there would be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."

"Lord, what is the cause, what is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Sāriputta, there is the case where a person gives a gift seeking his own profit, with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.'

He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, and ointment; bedding, shelter, and a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative.

What do you think, Sāriputta?

Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift seeking his own profit — with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself, [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death' — on the break-up of the body, after death, reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Then there is the case of a person who gives a gift not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.'

Instead, he gives a gift with the thought, 'Giving is good.'

He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, and ointment; bedding, shelter, and a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative.

What do you think, Sāriputta?

Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift with the thought, 'Giving is good,' on the break-up of the body, after death, reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'Giving is good,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father and grandfather.

It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued' ... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'I am well-off.

These are not well-off.

It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off' ... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamadaggi, Aṇgīrasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, and Bhagu — in the same way will this be my distribution of gifts' ... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who delight in creation.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene.

Gratification and joy arise'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who have power over the creations of others.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification and joy arise,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind.'

He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, and ointment; bedding, shelter, and a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative.

What do you think, Sāriputta?

Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this, not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death,'

" — nor with the thought, 'Giving is good,'

" — nor with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father and grandfather.

It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued,'

" — nor with the thought, 'I am well-off.

These are not well-off.

It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off,'

nor with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamadaggi, Aṇgīrasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, & Bhagu — in the same way this will be my distribution of gifts,'

" — nor with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene.

Gratification and joy arise,'

" — but with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma's Retinue.

Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner.

He does not come back to this world.

"This, Sāriputta, is the cause, this is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."

 


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