Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
VIII. Navaka Nipāta
IV. Mahā Vagga

Sutta 35

Gāvī-Upamā Suttaɱ

The Cow

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

 


 

[1][pts] "Suppose there was a mountain cow — foolish, incompetent, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains — and she were to think, 'What if I were to go in a direction I have never gone before, to eat grass I have never eaten before, to drink water I have never drunk before!'

She would lift her hind hoof without having placed her front hoof firmly and (as a result) would not get to go in a direction she had never gone before, to eat grass she had never eaten before, or to drink water she had never drunk before.

And as for the place where she was standing when the thought occurred to her, 'What if I were to go where I have never been before... to drink water I have never drunk before,' she would not return there safely.

Why is that?

Because she is a foolish, incompetent mountain cow, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains.

"In the same way, there are cases where a monk—foolish, incompetent, unfamiliar with his pasture, unskilled in being quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation—doesn't stick with that theme, doesn't develop it, pursue it, or establish himself firmly in it.

The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, were to enter & remain in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.'

He is not able... to enter & remain in the second jhāna....

The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the first jhāna....

He is not able... to enter & remain in the first jhāna.

This is called a monk who has slipped & fallen from both sides, like the mountain cow, foolish, incompetent, unfamiliar with her pasture, unskilled in roaming on rugged mountains.

"But suppose there was a mountain cow — wise, competent, familiar with her pasture, skilled in roaming on rugged mountains—and she were to think, 'What if I were to go in a direction I have never gone before, to eat grass I have never eaten before, to drink water I have never drunk before!'

She would lift her hind hoof only after having placed her front hoof firmly and (as a result) would get to go in a direction she had never gone before... to drink water she had never drunk before.

And as for the place where she was standing when the thought occurred to her, 'What if I were to go in a direction I have never gone before... to drink water I have never drunk before,' she would return there safely.

Why is that?

Because she is a wise, competent mountain cow, familiar with her pasture, skilled in roaming on rugged mountains.

"In the same way, there are some cases where a monk—wise, competent, familiar with his pasture, skilled in being quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, and entering & remaining in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation—sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I were to enter & remain in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.'

Without jumping at the second jhāna, he—with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations—enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if, with the fading of rapture, I... were to enter & remain in the third jhāna'....

Without jumping at the third jhāna, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body, entering & remaining in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the fourth jhāna'....

Without jumping at the fourth jhāna, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—he enters & remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the dimension of the infinitude of space.'

Without jumping at the dimension of the infinitude of space, he, with the complete transcending of perceptions of (physical) form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not attending to perceptions of multiplicity, (perceiving,) 'Infinite space,' enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of space.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.'

Without jumping at the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, he, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, (perceiving,) 'Infinite consciousness,' enters & remains in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the dimension of nothingness.'

Without jumping at the dimension of nothingness, he, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, (perceiving,) 'There is nothing,' enters & remains in the dimension of nothingness.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues, it & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I... were to enter & remain in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.'

Without jumping at the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, enters & remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

He sticks with that theme, develops it, pursues it, & establishes himself firmly in it.

"The thought occurs to him, 'What if I, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, were to enter & remain in the cessation of perception & feeling.'

Without jumping at the cessation of perception & feeling, he, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling.

"When a monk enters & emerges from that very attainment, his mind is pliant & malleable.

With his pliant, malleable mind, limitless concentration is well developed.

With his well-developed, limitless concentration, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, he wields manifold supranormal powers.

Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one.

He appears.

He vanishes.

He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space.

He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water.

He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land.

Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird.

With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful.

He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahmā worlds.

He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, he hears—by means of the divine ear-element, purified and surpassing the human—both kinds of sounds: divine & human, whether near or far.

He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, he knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness.

He knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness.

He discerns a mind with passion as 'a mind with passion,' and a mind without passion as 'a mind without passion.'

He discerns a mind with aversion as 'a mind with aversion,' and a mind without aversion as 'a mind without aversion.'

He discerns a mind with delusion as 'a mind with delusion,' and a mind without delusion as 'a mind without delusion.'

He discerns a restricted mind as 'a restricted mind,' and a scattered mind as 'a scattered mind.'

He discerns an enlarged mind as 'an enlarged mind,' and an unenlarged mind as 'an unenlarged mind.'

He discerns a surpassed mind [one that is not at the most excellent level] as 'a surpassed mind,' and an unsurpassed mind as 'an unsurpassed mind.'

He discerns a concentrated mind as 'a concentrated mind,' and an unconcentrated mind as 'an unconcentrated mind.'

He discerns a released mind as 'a released mind,' and an unreleased mind as 'an unreleased mind.'

He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, he recollects his manifold past lives [literally: previous homes], i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction and expansion, (recollecting,) 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance.

Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life.

Passing away from that state, I re-arose there.

There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance.

Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life.

Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.'

Thus he remembers his manifold past lives in their modes and details.

He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, he sees—by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human—beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma:

'These beings—who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views—with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell.

But these beings—who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views—with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in a good destination, a heavenly world.'

Thus—by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human—he sees beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.

"If he wants, then through the ending of effluents, he enters & remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having directly known and realized them for himself right in the here & now. He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening.”

 


 

Of Related Interest:

SN 47:8;
SN 47:10;
AN 4:41;
AN 5:28;
AN 8:70

 


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