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Mahavagga I.23.5

Upatissa-pasine

Upatissa's (Sāriputta's) Question

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
For free distribution only.

From That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time: Readings Selected by King Asoka, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

 


 

Now at that time the wanderer Sañjaya was residing in Rājagaha with a large company of wanderers -- 250 in all. And at that time Sāriputta and Moggallāna were practicing the holy life under Sañjaya. They had made this agreement: Whoever attains the Deathless first will inform the other.

Then Ven. Assaji, arising early in the morning, taking his robe and bowl, entered Rājagaha for alms: Gracious in the way he approached and departed, looked forward and behind, drew in and stretched out his arm; his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. Sāriputta the wanderer saw Ven. Assaji going for alms in Rājagaha: gracious... his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. On seeing him, the thought occurred to him: "Surely, of those in this world who are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship, this is one. What if I were to approach him and question him: 'On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?'"

But then the thought occurred to Sāriputta the wanderer: "This is the wrong time to question him. He is going for alms in the town. What if I were to follow behind this monk who has found the path for those who seek it?"

Then Ven. Assaji, having gone for alms in Rājagaha, left, taking the alms he had received. Sāriputta the wanderer approached him and, on arrival, having exchanged friendly greetings and engaged in polite conversation, stood to one side. As he stood there he said, "Your faculties are bright, my friend, your complexion pure and clear. On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?"

"There is, my friend, the Great Contemplative, a son of the Sakyans, gone forth from a Sakyan family. I have gone forth on account of that Blessed One. That Blessed One is my teacher. It is in that Blessed One's Dhamma that I delight."

"But what is your teacher's teaching? What does he proclaim?''

"I am new, my friend, not long gone forth, only recently come to this doctrine and discipline. I cannot explain the doctrine in detail, but I can give you the gist in brief."

Then Sāriputta the wanderer spoke thus to the Ven. Assaji:

Speak a little or a lot,
    but tell me just the gist.
The gist is what I want.
    What use is a lot of rhetoric?

Then Ven. Assaji gave this Dhamma exposition to Sāriputta the Wanderer:

Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
        their cause
        and their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathāgata,
    the Great Contemplative.

Then to Sāriputta the Wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

Even if just this is the Dhamma,
you have penetrated
    to the Sorrowless (asoka) State
    unseen, overlooked (by us)
for many myriads of aeons.

Then Sāriputta the wanderer went to where Moggallāna the wanderer was staying. Moggallāna the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, "Your faculties are bright, my friend; your complexion pure and clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?"

"Yes, my friend, I have attained the Deathless."

"But how, friend, did you attain the Deathless?"

"Just now, friend, I saw Ven. Assaji going for alms in Rājagaha: gracious in the way he approached and departed, looked forward and behind, drew in and stretched out his arm; his eyes downcast, his every movement consummate. On seeing him, the thought occurred to me: 'Surely, of those in this world who are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship, this is one. What if I were to approach him and question him: "On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?"'

"But then the thought occurred to me: 'This is the wrong time to question him. He is going for alms in the town. What if I were to follow behind this monk who has found the path for those who seek it?'

"Then Ven. Assaji, having gone for alms in Rājagaha, left, taking the alms he had received. I approached him and, on arrival, having exchanged friendly greetings and engaged in polite conversation, stood to one side. As I stood there I said, 'Your faculties are bright, my friend, your complexion pure and clear. On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?'

"'There is, my friend, the Great Contemplative, a son of the Sakyans, gone forth from a Sakyan family. I have gone forth on account of that Blessed One. That Blessed One is my teacher. It is in that Blessed One's Dhamma that I delight.'

"'But what is your teacher's teaching? What does he proclaim?'

"'I am new, my friend, not long gone forth, only recently come to this doctrine and discipline. I cannot explain the doctrine to you in detail, but I can give you the gist in brief.'

"'Speak a little or a lot,
    but tell me just the gist.
The gist is what I want.
    What use is a lot of rhetoric?'

"Then Ven. Assaji gave me this Dhamma exposition:

"'Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
        their cause
        and their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathāgata,
    the Great Contemplative.'"

Then to Moggallāna the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

Even if just this is the Dhamma,
you have penetrated
    to the Sorrowless (asoka) State
    unseen, overlooked (by us)
for many myriads of aeons.


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