Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
1. Gahapati Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
1. The Division on Householders

Sutta 53

Sekha Suttaɱ

Discourse for Learners

Translated from the Pali by I.B. Horner, O.B.E., M.A.
Associate of Newham College, Cambridge
First Published in 1954

Copyright The Pali Text Society
Commercial Rights Reserved
Creative Commons Licence
For details see Terms of Use.

 


[18]

[1][chlm][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

At one time the Lord[1] was staying among the Sakyans
near Kapilavatthu
in Nigrodha's monastery.

Now at that time
a new conference hall had not long been built
for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu,
and had never (yet) been occupied
by a recluse or brahman or any human being.

Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu
approached the Lord;
having approached,
having greeted the Lord,
they sat down at a respectful distance.

As they were sitting down at a respectful distance,
the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu
spoke thus to the Lord:

"Lord, there is a new conference hall here,
built not long ago
for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu,
which has never (yet) been occupied
by a recluse or brahman or any human being.

Lord, let the Lord be the first to use it.

When the Lord has used it first,
the Sakyans [19] of Kapilavatthu will use it afterwards,
and for a long time
that will be for the welfare and happiness
of the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu."[2]

The Lord consented by becoming silent.

Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu,
having understood the Lord's consent,
rising from their seats,
having greeted the Lord,
approached the conference hall
keeping their right sides towards him.

Having approached,
having spread the conference hall
with all the spreadings,[3]
having got seats ready,
having set out a water vessel,
having hung up an oil lamp,
they approached the Lord;
having approached and greeted the Lord,
they stood at a respectful distance.

As they were standing at a respectful distance,
the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu spoke thus
to the Lord:

"Lord, the conference hall has been spread
with all the spreadings,
seats have been got ready,
a water vessel set out,
an oil lamp hung up.

Let the Lord now do
that for which he thinks it is the right time."

When the Lord had dressed,
taking his bowl and robe,
he approached the conference hall
together with an Order of monks;
having approached,
he washed his feet,
entered the conference hall
and sat down against the middle pillar,
facing the east.

The Order of monks
also washed their feet,
entered the conference hall
and sat down against the western wall,
facing the east
with the Lord in front of them.

The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu
also washed their feet,
entered the conference hall
and sat down against the eastern wall,
facing the west
with the Lord in front of them.

Then the Lord,
having gladdened,
roused,
incited,
delighted the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu
with reasoned talk
far into the night,
addressed the venerable Ānanda,[4] saying:

"Ānanda, let there occur to you
a learner's course[5]
for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu;
my back is aching,
I will stretch it."

[20] "Yes, revered sir,"
the venerable Ānanda answered the Lord in assent.

Then the Lord,
having folded his outer robe into four,
lay down on his right side
in the lion posture,
foot resting on foot,
mindful,
clearly conscious,
reflecting on the thought of getting up again.

Then the venerable Ānanda
addressed Mahānāma the Sakyan,[6]
saying:

"Now, Mahānāma,
a disciple of the ariyans
is possessed of moral habit,
he is one who guards the doors of the sense-organs,
he is moderate in eating,
intent on vigilance,
possessed of the seven excellent things,[7]
one who acquires at will,[8]
without trouble,
without difficulty,
the four meditations[ed2]
which are of the purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now.[9]

And how, Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
possessed of moral habit?[10]

As to this, Mahānāma,
an ariyan disciple is moral;[11]
he lives controlled
by the control of the Obligations,[ed3]
possessed of (right) behaviour and resort,
seeing danger in the slightest faults;
undertaking them rightly,
he trains in the rules of training.

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is possessed of moral habit.

And how, Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
one who guards the doors of the sense-organs?[12]

As to this, Mahānāma,
an ariyan disciple,
having seen a material shape with the eye,
is not entranced by the general appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

For if he dwell
with the organ of sight uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states of mind,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of sight;
he achieves control over the organ of sight.

Having heard a sound with the ear,
is not entranced by the general appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

For if he dwell
with the organ of hearing uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states of mind,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of hearing;
he achieves control over the organ of hearing.

Having smelt a smell with the nose,
is not entranced by the general appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

For if he dwell
with the organ of smell uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states of mind,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of smell;
he achieves control over the organ of smell.

Having savoured a taste with the tongue,
is not entranced by the general appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

For if he dwell
with the organ of taste uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states of mind,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of taste;
he achieves control over the organ of taste.

Having felt a touch with the body,
is not entranced by the general appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

For if he dwell
with the organ of touch uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states of mind,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of touch;
he achieves control over the organ of touch.

Having cognised a mental state with the mind,
he is not entranced by the general
[21] appearance,
is not entranced by the detail.

If he dwell with the organ of mind uncontrolled,
covetousness and dejection,
evil unskilled states,
might predominate.

So he fares along controlling it,
he guards the organ of mind;
he achieves control over the organ of mind.

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is one who guards the doors of the sense-organs.

And how Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
one who is moderate in eating?[13]

As to this, Mahānāma,
an ariyan disciple
takes food reflecting carefully,
not for fun
or indulgence
or personal charm
or beautification,
but just enough for maintaining this body
and keeping it going,
for keeping it unharmed,
for furthering the Brahma-faring,
with the thought:

'Thus will I crush out an old feeling,
and I will not allow a new feeling to arise,
and then there will be for me
subsistence and blamelessness
and abiding in comfort.'

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is moderate in eating.

And how Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
intent on vigilance?[14]

As to this, Mahānāma,
an ariyan disciple
during the day,
while pacing up and down
and while sitting down,
cleanses his mind
of obstructive mental states;
during the first watch of the night,
pacing up and down,
sitting down,
he cleanses his mind
of obstructive mental states;
during the middle watch of the night,
he lies down on his right side
in the lion posture,
foot resting on foot,
mindful,
clearly conscious,
reflecting on the thought
of getting up again;
during the last watch of the night,
when he has risen,
while pacing up and down,
while sitting down,
he cleanses his mind
of obstructive mental states.

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is intent on vigilance.

And how, Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
possessed of the seven excellent things?[15]

As to this, Mahānāma,
the ariyan disciple is of faith;[16]
he has faith in the awakening of the Tathāgata,
and thinks:

'He is indeed Lord,
perfected one,
fully Self-Awakened One,
endowed with right knowledge and conduct,
well-farer,
knower of the world(s),
matchless charioteer of men to be tamed,
teacher of devas and men,
the Awakened One,
the Lord.

He comes to have shame;
he is ashamed of wrong conduct in body,
of wrong conduct in speech,
of wrong conduct in thought,
he is ashamed to fall
into evil unskilled mental states.

He has fear of blame;
he fears blame for wrong conduct in body,
of wrong conduct in speech,
of wrong conduct in thought,
he is ashamed to fall
into evil unskilled mental states.

[22] He is one who has heard much,
who remembers what he has heard,
who stores up what he has heard.

Those things,
lovely in the beginning,
lovely in the middle,
lovely at the ending
which,
with the meaning and the spirit,
declare the Brahma-faring
wholly fulfilled,
perfectly purified,
such things are much heard by him,
borne in mind,
familiarised by speech,
pondered over in the mind,
well penetrated by right view.[17]

He dwells with stirred up energy[18]
for getting rid of unskilled mental states,
for acquiring skilled mental states,
steadfast,
firm in advance,
persevering amid skilled mental states.

He is mindful,[19]
possessed of the highest
mindfulness and discrimination,[20]
remembering,
recollecting[21]
what he has done and said long ago.

He is one of wisdom,[22]
endowed with wisdom
leading to (the cutting off of)
rise and fall,
with the ariyan penetration
leading to the complete destruction of anguish.

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is possessed of the seven excellent things.

And how, Mahānāma,
is an ariyan disciple
one who acquires at will,
without trouble,
without difficulty,
the four meditations
which are of the purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now?[23]

As to this, Mahānāma,
an ariyan disciple,
aloof from pleasure of the senses,
aloof from unskilled states of mind,
enters and abides in the first meditation,
which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought,
is born of aloofness
and is rapturous and joyful.

By allaying initial and discursive thought,
with the mind subjectively tranquillised
and fixed on one point,
he enters and abides
in the second meditation
which is devoid of initial and discursive thought,
is born of concentration
and is rapturous and joyful

By the fading out of rapture,
dwells with equanimity,
attentive and clearly conscious,
and experiences in his person
that joy of which the ariyans say:
'Joyful lives he who has equanimity and is mindful,'
and he enters on
and abides in
the third meditation.

By getting rid of joy,
by getting rid of anguish,
by the going down of his former pleasures and sorrows,
enters on
and abides in
the fourth meditation
which has neither anguish nor joy,
and which is entirely purified
by equanimity and mindfulness.

It is thus, Mahānāma,
that an ariyan disciple
is one who acquires at will,
without trouble,
without difficulty,
the four meditations
which are of the purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now.

When, Mahānāma, an ariyan disciple
is endowed with moral habit thus,
is one who guards the doors of his sense-organs thus,
is moderate in eating thus,
is intent on vigilance thus,
is endowed with the seven excellent things thus,
is one who acquires thus at will,
without trouble,
without difficulty,
the four meditations
which are of the [23] purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now,
then he, Mahānāma,
is called an ariyan disciple
who is on a learner's course,
possessed of (mental) soundness,
he becomes one for successful breaking through,[24]
he becomes one for self-awakening,
he becomes one for winning
the matchless security from the bonds.

Mahānāma,
it is as if there were eight
or ten
or a dozen hen's eggs,
properly sat on,
properly incubated,
properly hatched by that hen;
such a wish as this
would not arise in that hen:

'O may my chicks,
having pierced through the egg-shell
with the point of the claw on their feet
or with their beaks,
break forth safely,'

for these chicks were ones
who were able to break forth safely
having pierced the egg-shells
with the point of the claw on their feet
or with their beaks.

Even so, Mahānāma,
when an ariyan disciple
is endowed with moral habit thus,
is one who guards the doors of his sense-organs thus,
is moderate in eating thus,
is intent on vigilance thus,
is endowed with the seven excellent things thus,
is one who acquires thus at will,
without trouble,
without difficulty
the four meditations
which are of the purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now,
then he, Mahānāma,
is called an ariyan disciple
who is on a learner's course,
possessed of (mental) soundness,
he becomes one for successful breaking through,
he becomes one for self-awakening,
he because one for winning
the matchless security from the bonds.

That ariyan disciple, Mahānāma,
having come to this matchless purification
through equanimity
and mindfulness,[25]
recollects a variety of former habitations,
that is to say:
one birth,
two births,
three births,
four births,
five births,
ten births,
twenty births,
thirty births,
forty births,
fifty births,
a hundred births,
a thousand births,
a hundred thousand births,
and many an eon of integration
and many an eon of disintegration
and many an eon of integration-disintegration:

'Such a one was I by name,
having such and such a clan,
such and such a colour,
so I was nourished,
such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine,
so did the span of life end.

Passing from this,
I came to be in another state
where I was such a one by name,
having such and such a clan,
such and such a colour,
so I was nourished,
such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine,
so did the span of life end.

Passing from this,
I arose here.'

Thus in all their mode and detail
he recollects a variety
of former habitations.

This is his first breaking through
as a chick's from the egg-shell.

Then this ariyan disciple, Mahānāma,
having come to this matchless purification
through equanimity
and mindfulness,
with the purified deva-vision
surpassing that of men,
sees beings as they pass hence
or come to be;
he comprehends that beings are mean,
excellent,
comely,
ugly,
well-going,
ill-going,
according to the consequences of deeds,
and thinks:

'Indeed these worthy beings
who were possessed of wrong conduct in body,
speech
and thought,
scoffers at the ariyans,
holding a wrong view,
incurring deeds consequent on a wrong view -
these, at the breaking up of the body after dying,
have arisen in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

But these worthy beings
who were possessed of good conduct in body,
speech
and thought,
who did not scoff at the ariyans,
holding a right view,
incurring deeds consequent on a right view -
these at the breaking up of the body after dying,
have arisen in a good bourn,
a heaven world.'

Thus with the purified deva-vision
surpassing that of men
does he see beings as they pass hence,
as they arise;
he comprehends that beings are mean,
excellent,
comely,
ugly,
well-going,
ill-going
according to the consequences of deeds.

This is his second breaking through as a chick's from the egg-shell.

Then this ariyan disciple, Mahānāma,
having come to this matchless purification
through equanimity
and mindfulness,
by the destruction of the cankers
having here-now realised
by his own super-knowledge
the freedom of mind
and the freedom through intuitive wisdom
that are cankerless,
enters and abides therein.

This is his third breaking through
as a chick's from the egg-shell.

[24] Whatever ariyan disciple, Mahānāma,
is possessed of moral habit,
this is so of him
in regard to conduct.[26]

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple
is guarded as to the doors of his sense-organs,
this too is so of him
in regard to conduct.

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple is moderate in eating,
this too is so of him
in regard to conduct.

is intent on vigilance,
this too is so of him
in regard to conduct.

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple
is possessed of the seven excellent things,
this too is so of him
in regard to conduct.

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple
acquires at will,
without trouble,
without difficulty,
the four meditations
that are of the purest mentality,
abidings in ease here and now,
this to is so of him
in regard to conduct.

But, Mahānāma, whatever ariyan disciple
in many a figure
recollects his former habitations,
that is to say:
one birth,
two births,
three births,
four births,
five births,
ten births,
twenty births,
thirty births,
forty births,
fifty births,
a hundred births,
a thousand births,
a hundred thousand births,
and many an eon of integration
and many an eon of disintegration
and many an eon of integration-disintegration:

'Such a one was I by name,
having such and such a clan,
such and such a colour,
so I was nourished,
such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine,
so did the span of life end.

Passing from this,
I came to be in another state
where I was such a one by name,
having such and such a clan,
such and such a colour,
so I was nourished,
such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine,
so did the span of life end.

Passing from this,
I arose here.'

Thus in all their mode and detail
he recollects a variety
of former habitations
that is so of him
in regard to knowledge.[27]

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple,
by the purified deva-vision
surpassing that of men,
sees beings as they are passing hence
and uprising,
mean,
excellent,
comely,
ugly,
well-going,
ill-going,
according to the consequences of deeds,
and thinks:

'Indeed these worthy beings
who were possessed of wrong conduct in body,
speech
and thought,
scoffers at the ariyans,
holding a wrong view,
incurring deeds consequent on a wrong view -
these, at the breaking up of the body after dying,
have arisen in a sorrowful state,
a bad bourn,
the abyss,
Niraya Hell.

But these worthy beings
who were possessed of good conduct in body,
speech
and thought,
who did not scoff at the ariyans,
holding a right view,
incurring deeds consequent on a right view -
these at the breaking up of the body after dying,
have arisen in a good bourn,
a heaven world.'

Thus with the purified deva-vision
surpassing that of men
does he see beings as they pass hence,
as they arise;
he comprehends that beings are mean,
excellent,
comely,
ugly,
well-going,
ill-going
according to the consequences of deeds
this too is so of him
in regard to knowledge.

And, Mahānāma,
whatever ariyan disciple,
by the destruction of the cankers,
having realised here and now
by his own super-knowledge
the freedom of mind
and the freedom through wisdom
that are cankerless,
enters and abides therein,
this too is so of him
in regard to knowledge.[28]

Mahānāma, this ariyan disciple
is said to be possessed of knowledge
and to be possessed of (right) conduct
and to be possessed of knowledge and (right) conduct.

And, Mahānāma,
this verse was spoken by Brahmā Ever-Young:[29]

'The noble warrior is best among those people who value clan;
He who is possessed of knowledge and (right) conduct is the best of devas and men.'[30]

Mahānāma, this verse was rightly sung,
not wrongly sung
by Brahmā Ever-Young;
it was rightly spoken,
not wrongly spoken;
it is connected with the goal,
not connected with what is not the goal.

It is approved by the Lord."

Then the Lord,
having risen,
addressed the venerable Ānanda,
[25] saying:

"It is good, it is good, Ānanda;
it is good that you, Ānanda,
spoke on a learner's course
to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu."

Thus spoke the venerable Ānanda,
the Teacher approving.

Delighted, the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu
rejoiced in what the venerable Ānanda had said.

 


[1] S. iv. 182-3. At D. iii. 207 ff. the scene is laid among the Mallas of Pāvā.

[2] Cf. RV VIII. 17. 14, "Strong pillar thou, Lord of the home!"

[3] sabbasanthariɱ santhāgāraɱ santharitvā. On santhata, p.p. of santharati, see B.D. ii. p. xxi ff.; and on v.11. of santharitvā in this connection see D. iii, 208, n. 5. The reading should probably be santharāpetvā as in D.

p.p. explains it all [ed1] This is taking the comentary at it's word, but The Abhidhamma was not even existent at this point. No mention is made of 'The Abhidhamma' in this sutta! That higher Dhamma is spoken of does not say that there is a pitaka called 'The Abhidhamma' in existence. Higher Dhamma is that Dhamma that involves understanding the Four Truths.

[ed2] Note that the jhanas here are expected to be developed by laymen: "...acquires at will, without trouble, without difficulty, the four meditations ...

[ed3] Pātimokkha The Patimokkha, which is not binding on laymen! This must be a later insert. [Edit: I think I am wrong here. I think this sutta is being delivered to laymen but is meant to be describing the next step, that is the training that the new initiate undergoes.]

— p.p.

[4] Ānanda was a learned expert in the three Piṭakas, and was able to speak of the three (parts of the) training by means of them: the Vinaya spoken for speaking of the higher morality, the Sutta-piṭaka for speaking of the higher thought, and the Abhidhamma-pitaka for speaking of the higher wisdom, MA. ii9i. 28. These three branches of the whole training are all mentioned in this Discourse.[ed1]

[5] Sekho pāṭipado. Cf. A. ii. 86 (bhikkhu sekkho hoti paṭipado, and where it would seem that pāṭi- is "the more correct," G.S. ii. 96, n. 2), and Iti. p. 80, (sāvako ... pi sekho).

[6] MA. iii. 29 says he was chief and head of the company at that time.

[7] saddhammehi; MA. iii. 29 reads sundaradhammehi sataɱ vā sappurisaɱ dhammehi. AA. iv. explains saddhammehi by suddhammehi. With this paragraph cf. A. iv. 108f.

[8] See M. i. 33.

[9] This phrase also at A. ii. 23, 36, etc. See P.T.C., s.v. abhicetasika.

[10] MA. iii. 29 refers to the ākaºkheyya Sutta (M. Sta. 6), etc. See also M. Sta. 107.

[11] sīlavant. Cf. Sāmaññaphala Suttanta, §§ 43-62, each of which ends by saying: idaɱ pi'ssa hot sīlasmiɱ, a phrase to be compared with idaɱ pi'ssa hoti caraṇasmiɱ ... vijjāya, "this is so of him in regard to conduct ... knowledge" on p. 24 below.

[12] Cf. M. i. 180 (M.L.S. i. 226)

[13] As at M. i. 273

[14] As at M. i. 273.

[15] Cf. M. iii. 23; D. iii. 252, 282; A. iv. 108 ff.

[16] Cf. S. v. 196.

[17] Cf. M. iii. 11.

[18] Cf. M. ii. 95, S. v. 197, A. iii. 11, iv. 3, Ud. 37.

[19] Cf. S. v. 197, A. iii. 11.

[20] nepakka, see Vbh. 249.

[21] MA. iii. 30 distinguishes saying that saritā (remembering) is remembering once, anussaritā (recollecting) is remembering again and again.

[22] Cf. M. ii, 95.

[23] Cf. A. ii. 22f., iii. 131, iv. 108 ff.

[24] I.e. from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. Cf. M. i. 104.

[25] In the fourth meditation. See also below, p. 31. [MN 54].

[26] caraṇa.

[27] vijjā. On vijjācaraṇa see A. ii. 163, v. 326 f.; and Vism. 202.

[28] Cf. the fifteen things (dhammā) given at Vism. 202 in its definition of caraṇa, "conduct," The implied idea of movement in the word caraṇa is also made explicit at Vism. 202: "these very fifteen things are those by which an ariyan disciple walks (carati, fares, moves) and goes to the deathless quarter." Cf. also the fifteen factors (aŋga) at M. i. 303, 304. The three knowledges are meant here according to MA. iii. 33, and also, as Vism. 202 notices, in the Bhayabherava Sutta (M. Sta. 4), but eight are spoken of in the Ambaṭṭhasutta (D. i. 100.)

[29] Sanaŋkumāra. See Chānd. Up. Ch. VII.

[30] D. i. 99; iii. 97; S. i. 153, ii. 284; A. v. 327.


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