Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima-Paṇṇāsa
3. Paribbājaka Vagga

The Middle Length Sayings
II. The Middle Fifty Discourses
3. The Division on Wanderers

Sutta 80

Vekhanassa Suttaɱ

Discourse to Vekhanassa

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

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

At one time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī
in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapinḍika's monastery.

Then the wanderer Vekhanassa[1] approached the Lord;
having approached, [237] he greeted the Lord;
and having conversed in a friendly and courteous way,
he stood at a respectful distance.

As he was standing at a respectful distance,
the wanderer Vekhanassa uttered a solemn utterance
in the Lord's presence:

"This is the highest lustre,
this is the highest lustre."

"But why do you, Kaccāna,[2] speak thus:

'This is the highest lustre,
this is the highest lustre?'

Which is this highest lustre?"

"Good Gotama, there is no other lustre
superior to
or more excellent than this lustre,
it is the highest lustre."

"But which, Kaccāna,
is this lustre
than which there is no other lustre
superior or more excellent?"

"Good Gotama, there is no other lustre
superior to
or more excellent than this lustre,
it is the highest lustre."

"You would be long in expanding this, Kaccāna.

You say:

'Good Gotama, there is no other lustre
superior to
or more excellent than this lustre,
it is the highest lustre.'

But you do not point to this lustre.

Kaccāna, it is as though a man should say:

'Whoever is the belle of this countryside,
I want her,
I desire her.'[3]

Another man might say to him:

'My good man,
do you know whether this belle of the countryside
whom you want and desire
is a noble maiden
or a brahmin
or a merchant
or a worker?'

Asked this, he would say:

'No.'

The other might say to him:

'My good man,
do you know the name
or the clan
of this belle of the countryside
whom you want and desire?'

Asked this, he would say:

'No.'

The other might say to him:

'My good man,
do you know whether she is tall
or short
or of medium height,
or dark
or brown
or sallow;
or what village
or market town
or what town
she belongs to?'

Asked this, he might say:

'No.'

The other might speak to him thus:

'My good man,
do you want and desire
her whom you know not,
see not?'

Asked this, he might say:

'Yes.'

What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

This being so,
surely that man's irresponsible talk
does not prosper him?"

"Certainly, revered sir,
this being so,
that man's irresponsible talk
does not prosper him."

"But even so do you, Kaccāna, say:

'Revered sir, there is no other lustre
superior to
or more excellent than this lustre,
it is the highest lustre.'

But you do not point to this lustre."

 


 

"Revered sir, as an emerald jewel,
of lovely water,
well cut into eight facets,
if placed on a pale piece of cloth
shines and gleams and glows -
of such a lustre
is the hale self
after dying."

 


 

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
that emerald jewel,
of lovely water,
cut into eight facets
that, if placed on a pale piece of cloth
shines and gleams and glows;
or some glow-worm
or fire-fly
in the dense darkness of the night?"

"Why, revered sir, of these two lustres,
the surpassing and more excellent
is the glow-worm
or fire-fly
in the dense darkness of the night."

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
the glow-worm
or fire-fly
in the dense darkness of the night
or an oil-lamp
in the dense darkness of the night?"

"Why, revered sir, the oil-lamp."

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
the oil-lamp
in the dense darkness of the night
or a great blaze of fire
in the dense darkness of the night?"

"Why, revered sir,
the great blaze of fire
in the dense darkness of the night."

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
the great blaze of fire
in the dense darkness of the night
or the morning star
in a clear cloudless sky
towards dawn?"

"Why, revered sir,
the morning star
in a clear cloudless sky
towards dawn
is the surpassing and more excellent
of these two lustres."

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
the morning star
in a clear cloudless sky
towards dawn
or the moon at its zenith
in a clear cloudless sky
at midnight
on an Observance day,
a fifteenth?"

"Why, revered sir,
on an Observance day,
a fifteenth,
the moon at its zenith
in a clear cloudless sky
at midnight."

"What do you think about this, Kaccāna?

Of these two lustres,
which is the surpassing and more excellent:
the moon at its zenith
in a clear cloudless sky
at midnight
on an Observance day,
a fifteenth,
or the sun at its zenith
in a clear cloudless sky
at noonday
in the last month of the rains
in the autumn?"

"Why, revered sir,
the sun at its zenith
in a clear cloudless sky
at noonday
in the last month of the rains
in the autumn
is of these two lustres
the surpassing and more excellent."

"Greater than these
are those many devas, Kaccāna,
who do not share in the brilliance
of these moons and suns -
that I comprehend.

But then I do not say:

'There is no other lustre
superior to
or more excellent than this lustre.'

This should be:
although this lustre
is feebler and poorer than the lustre
of a glow-worm or a fire-fly,
you say it is the highest lustre.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

But you, Kaccāna,
although this lustre of a glow-worm
or a fire-fly
is feebler and poorer,
say it is the highest lustre.

And you do not point to that lustre.

 


 

These five, Kaccāna,
are the strands of sense-pleasures.[4]

Which five?

Material shapes cognisable by the eye,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Sounds cognisable by the ear,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Smells cognisable by the nose,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Tastes cognisable by the tongue,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

Touches cognisable by the body,
agreeable,
pleasant,
liked,
enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures,
alluring.

These, Kaccana, are the five strands of sense-pleasures.

Whatever happiness, Kaccāna,
whatever pleasure
arises in consequence
of these five strands of sense-pleasure,
this is called happiness in sense-pleasures.

Iti kāmehi kāmasukhaɱ,||
kāmasukhā kāmaggasukhaɱ tattha aggam akkhāyatī'

Note Bhks. Bodhi/Ñāṇamolī:
"Thus sensual pleasure [areise] through sensual pleasures, but beyond sensual pleasure there is a pleasure higher than the sensual, and that is declared to be the highest among them."
But that which is beyond sensual pleasure is not 'among' sensual pleasures.
Thus from sensuality, sensual-pleasure,
beyond sense pleasure arising from sensuality —
that is counted as higher.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Thus, because of sense-pleasures
there is happiness in sense-pleasures;
from happiness in sense-pleasures
the topmost happiness in sense-pleasures[5]
is there accounted topmost."

When this had been said,
the wanderer Vekhanassa spoke thus to [238] the Lord:

"It is wonderful, good Gotama,
it is marvellous, good Gotama.

So far this is well spoken by the good Gotama:

'Because of sense-pleasures
there is happiness in sense-pleasures;
from happiness in sense-pleasures
the topmost happiness in sense-pleasures
is there accounted topmost.'"

"Hard is this for you to understand, Kaccāna -
sense-pleasures,
or the happiness in sense-pleasures,
or the topmost happiness in sense-pleasures -
you who are of another view,
another allegiance,
another objective,
of a different observance
and under a different teacher.[6]

But those monks, Kaccāna, who are perfected ones,
the cankers destroyed,
who have lived the life,
done what was to be done,
shed the burden,
who have attained their own goal,
the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed,
and who are freed
by perfect profound knowledge -
these would know:
sense-pleasures,
or the happiness in sense-pleasures,
or the topmost happiness in sense-pleasures."

When this had been said,
the wanderer Vekhanassa,
angry and displeased,
scorning even the Lord,
despising even him,
saying[7] even of him:

"The recluse Gotama shall be disgraced,"

spoke thus to the Lord:

"But it is just that there are here
some recluses and brahmans
who, not knowing the past,
not seeing the future,
yet claim:

'Destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so.'

This speech of theirs
proves merely ridiculous,
worthless,
empty,
void."[8]

"This censure is only just, Kaccāna,
for those recluses and brahmans
who, not knowing the past,
not seeing the future,
yet claim:

'Destroyed is birth,
brought to a close the Brahma-faring,
done is what was to be done,
there is no more of being such or so.'

But, Kaccāna,
let be the past,
let be the future.[9]

Let there come an intelligent man,
guileless,
honest,
straight,
and who says:

'I instruct,
I teach dhamma.[10]

Faring along as instructed
it will not be long before (some man)
of himself will know,
of himself will see.'

Even so, indeed,
is deliverance from the direst bond -
that is from the bond of ignorance.

'swaddlings of thread' sutta-bandhana.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Kaccāna, it is like a young baby boy
lying on his [239] back
and bound around his neck
with a fivefold swaddling,
it might be with swaddlings of thread.

As he grows up
and develops his faculties
he would be released from those swaddlings,
and in the absence of swaddlings
he would know:

'I am released.'

Even so, Kaccāna,
let there come intelligent man,
guileless,
honest,
straight,
and who says:

'I instruct, I teach dhamma.

Faring along as instructed
it will not be long before (some man)
of himself will know,
of himself will see.'

Even so, indeed,
is deliverance from the direst bond -
that is from the bond of ignorance."

When this had been said,
the wanderer Vekhanassa spoke thus to the Lord:

"It is excellent, good Gotama,
excellent, good Gotama.

Revered sir, it is as if one might set upright
what had been upset,
or might disclose what was covered,
or show the way
to one who had gone astray,
or bring an oil-lamp into the darkness
so that those with vision
might see material shapes —
even so in many a figure
has dhamma been made clear by the Lord.

I, revered sir, am going to the Lord for refuge
and to dhamma
and to the Order of monks.

May the Lord accept me as a lay follower
going for refuge
from this day forth
for as long as life lasts."

Discourse to Vekhanassa:
The Tenth

Division on Wanderers:
The Third

 


[1] MA. iii. 277 says he was the teacher of Sakuludāyin (of Stas. 77 and 79). Wishing to find out why his pupil had been defeated by Gotama, and to defeat him himself on the question of the highest lustre, he went the forty-five yojanas from Rājagaha to Sāvatthī.

[2] Kaccāna (or Kaccāyana) was the name of a gotta, a family or clan. Presumably therefore Vekhanassa belonged to this clan.

[3] Exactly as in the preceding Discourse, above, p. 230.

[4] As at M. i. 85.

[5] MA. iii. 277 calls this nibbāna.

[6] As at M. i. 487.

[7] vadamāno. This passage is also found at M. ii. 200, D. i. 90; at the latter the reading is upavadamāno, insulting.

[8] Cf. D. i. 240.

[9] As at M. ii. 32. MA. iii. 278 says Gotama said this because the wanderer had no knowledge of former habitations making it suitable to talk about the past; and no knowledge of the deva-vision making it suitable to talk about the future.

[10] As at Vin. i. 9, where the sentence is attributed to Gotama himself.

 


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