III. Khandha Vagga
Translated from the Pali
Michael M. Olds
Once upon a time, the venerable Sāriputta was Sāvatthi-town, Jeta Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's Park revisiting.
At that time there had come into the mind of a certain beggar name-a Yamaka the following point of view: 'This is how I understand the Dhamma as taught by the Buddha: -- If a Beggar has destroyed the āsavas, at the break up of the elements at death, he has reached his end and becomes non existent."
At this point he is questioned by his fellow Beggars and they are unable to dissuade him from this view and he is brought to Sāriputta who asks him if it is true that he holds this view. He admits that he does, and he is subjected to the following interview:
Now then, friend Yamaka, what do you think about this: Is body permanent or impermanent?
And that which is impermanent; is that properly regarded as painful or pleasant?
And that which is painful, is that properly regarded as being the self or belonging to the self or being that in which the self is to be found or being that which is to be found as a part within the self?
It is not to be so regarded.
So then is it not the case that one who sees it this way knows that there is no further prospect of life identified with these conditions?
That is true.
Well, then, let me ask you: Do you regard the tathagata as body?
Do you regard the tathagata as feeling, or perception, or confoundings or consciousness?
Do you regard the tathagata as something other than body, feeling, perception, or confoundings or consciousness?
Do you regard the tathagata as Inside the body somewhere? . . . Possessing the body somewhere in him? . . . feelings, perceptions, confoundings or consciousness?
None of these.
Do you regard the tathagata as being body and feeling and perception and confoundings and consciousness?
Do you regard the tathagata as not having body, feeling, perception, activities or consciousness?
So then, friend Yamaka, you are saying that right here and now the tathagata is not to be regarded as existing in Ultimate Reality, so how is it proper for you to assert that "If a Beggar has destroyed the āsavas, at the break up of the elements at death, he has reached his end and becomes non existent"?
'The That-that-got-that', lower case "t". Here it is clear that what is being spoken of is not The Buddha, but any person who has destroyed the āsavas.