Aŋguttara Nikāya


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Aŋguttara Nikāya
VIII. Aṭṭhaka Nipāta
III: Gahapati-Vagga

The Book of the Gradual Sayings
The Book of the Eights
III: On Householders

Sutta 29

Akkhaṇa Suttaɱ

Untimely

Translated from the Pali by E.M. Hare.

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[225] [152]

[1][bodh] Thus have I heard:

Once the Exalted One was dwelling near Sāvatthī,
at Jeta Grove,
in Anāthapiṇḍika's Park.

There the Exalted One addressed the monks, saying:

"Monks."

"Yes, lord," they replied, and the Exalted One said:

"'Timely for action is the world!

Timely for action is the world!'

Thus say the unlearned many-folk,
but they know not when it is timely or untimely.

 

§

 

Monks, there are these eight untimely,
unseasonable occasions[1]
for living the godly life.

What eight?

Take the case, monks, when a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling,[2] leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise in hell.

This, monks, is the first untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise in the animal kingdom.

This, monks, is the second untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise among the Petas.

This, monks, is the third untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise among the long-lived deva-community.[3] . . .

This, monks, is the fourth untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise in the outlying countries, among unintelligent barbarians,[4] where there is no scope[5] for monks, nuns, for lay-disciples, male or female.

This, monks, is the fifth untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise in the middle countries,
but he holds wrong views,
is perverted in vision and thinks:
that gifts, offerings and oblations are as naught;
that the fruit and result of good and bad deeds done are as naught;
that this world does not exist, nor the next world;
that there are neither mothers nor fathers,
nor beings born spontaneously,
not any recluses or godly [153] men in the world,
who have found the highest,
who have won to the highest,
who make declaration of this world and of the next,
after realization by personal knowledge.[6] . . .

This, monks, is the sixth untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Again, suppose a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person arise in the middle countries,
but he is foolish and dull,
a witless imbecile,
unable to distinguish whether a matter has been spoken well or ill.

This, monks, is the seventh untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

Moreover, monks, take the case when no Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and no Dhamma is taught which is tranquillizing,
cooling, leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer:
and suppose a person is born[7] in the middle country,
and is intelligent and not dull,
nor a witless imbecile,
but able to tell whether a matter has been spoken well or ill.

This, monks, is the eighth untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

These, monks, are the eight untimely,
unseasonable occasion
for living the godly life.

 

§

 

Monks, there is just one occasion,
which is timely,
seasonable for living the godly life.[8]

What one?

Take the case, monks, when a Tathāgata arises in the world -
an arahant,
fully awakened,
abounding in wisdom and righteousness,
a well-farer,
world-knower,
incomparable tamer of tamable men,
teacher,
the awakened among devas and men,
an Exalted One -
and Dhamma,
tranquillizing,
cooling,
leading to awakening,
declared by the Well-farer is taught;
and a person is born in the middle country[9]
and is intelligent,
not dull,
nor a witless imbecile
but can tell whether a matter has been spoken well or ill.

This, monks, is just the one occasion,
which is timely,
seasonable for living the godly life.

 


 

[154] Who, when Saddhamma's taught, win birth as man
Nor seize the time, in sooth they forfeit time!
'Tis said, times oft are wrong, much[10] hinders man.
For seldom rise Tathāgatas i' the world
And hard it is to meet them face to face.
Saddhamma's teaching, yea and birth as man -
Enough to strive for these if weal man want!
Lo! how, Saddhamma having known, can man
Just let the moment pass by (and be lost)?[11]
Indeed, who do, shall suffer long, hell-bound:
Who misses that sure way of Saddhamma
Laments it long, as merchant long lost wealth.[12] Hemmed in by ignorance, Saddhamma failing,
A man endures for long birth's and death's toils.[13]
Who win man's state what time Saddhamma's taught
And have done, shall do, do the Teacher's word,
Grasp here the time most ripe for godly living.
Who step the Way, Tathāgata-declared,
Restrained by the Seer, Sun's Kin - 'mid such
Live thou - alert, lustfreed and mindful aye.
For those who cut away all tendencies,[14]
Which follow in the flow[15] of Mara's range,
Reach the far shore with cankers all destroyed.'

 


[1] Cf. D. iii, 287, and 263 where there are nine.

[2] Parinibbāyika, v.l. -nika, with D., but Comy. -yika.

[3] Comy. asañña-deva-nikāya, the unconscious devas. These are grouped by Cpd. 138 in the fourth 'station of consciousness'; see above, p. 22.

[4] Milakkha, Vin. iii, 269; Andha-Damil-ādi.

[5] Gati.

[6] This stock passage recurs at D. i, 55; M. i, 401; S. iv, 348; A. i, 268; v, 265, and passim.

[7] Upapanno is used for rebirth or birth in the first four occasions, while in the latter four the word paccājāto.

[8] See also for devas It. 77.

[9] This may refer to the ancient Madhyadeśa, which extended, according to Manu ii, 21, from Vinaśana to Allahabad; see C.H.I. i, 45. Childers observes s.v. 'This district bore a sacred character in the eyes of Buddhists, embracing as it did such places as Rājagaha and Sāvatthī, hallowed by the residence or frequent visits of Buddha.' But see E.J. Thomas's Life, p. 29.

[10] Reading bahū hi.

[11] Cf. Sn. 333; Dhp. 315; Th. i, 403, 653, 1,005; ii, 4, 5; Sisters, p. 13.

[12] Cf. J. i, 113, where the line, differing slightly, recurs; the name of the merchant there is Seriva.

[13] Saŋsara.

[14] Or leanings (anusaye). Cf. above, p. 6.

[15] Māra-dheyya-sarā-'nuge.


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