Aŋguttara Nikāya


 

Aŋguttara Nikāya
X. Dasaka-Nipāta
VI. Sa-Citta Vagga

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha
X. The Book of the Tens
VI. One's Own Mind

Sutta 55

Parihāna Suttaɱ

Decline

Translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

© 2012 Bhikkhu Bodhi
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[102] [1407]

[1][pts] There the Venerable Sāriputta addressed the bhikkhus:

"Friends, bhikkhus!"

"Friend!" those bhikkhus replied.

The Venerable Sāriputta said this:

"Friends, it is said:

'A person subject to decline, a person subject to decline.'

In what way has the Blessed One said that a person is subject to decline, and in what way that a person is not subject to decline?"

"We would come from far away, friend, to learn the meaning of this statement from the Venerable Sāriputta.

It would be good if he would clear up the meaning of this statement.

[103] Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will retain it in mind."

"Well then, friends, listen and attend closely.

I will speak."

"Yes, friend," those bhikkhus replied.

The Venerable Sāriputta said this:

"In what way, friends, has the Blessed One said that a person is subject to decline?

Here, a bhikkhu does not get to hear a teaching he has not heard before; he forgets those teachings that he has heard; those teachings with which he had previously been familiar do not recur to him; and he does not get to understand what he has not understood.

It is in this way that the Blessed One has said a person is subject to decline.

"And in what way, friends, has the Blessed One said that a person is not subject to decline?

Here, a bhikkhu gets to hear a teaching he has not heard before; he does not forget teachings that he has heard; those teachings with which he had previously been familiar recur to him; and he gets to understand what he has not understood.

It is in this way that the Blessed One has said a person is not subject to decline.

"Friends, a bhikkhu who is not skilled in the ways of others' minds [should train]:

'I will be skilled in the ways of my own mind.'

It is in this way that you should train yourselves.

"And how, friends, is a bhikkhu skilled in the ways of his own mind?

It is just as if a woman or a man, young, youthful, and fond of ornaments, would look at their own facial reflection in a clean and bright mirror or in a bowl of clear water.

If they see any dust or blemish there, they will make an effort to remove it.

But if they do not see any dust or blemish there, they will be glad about it; [104] and their wish fulfilled, they will think,

'How fortunate for me that I'm clean!'

So too, self-examination is very helpful for a bhikkhu [to grow] in wholesome qualities.

"[One should ask oneself:]

(1) 'Am I often without longing?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(2) Am I often without ill will?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(3) Am I often free from dullness and drowsiness? Does this quality exist in me or not?

(4) Am I often calm?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(5) Am I often free from doubt?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(6) Am I often without anger?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(7) Is my mind often undefiled?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(8) Do I gain internal joy of the Dhamma?

Does this quality exist in me or not?

(9) Do I gain internal serenity of mind? Does this quality exist in me or not?

(10) Do I gain the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena?

Does this quality exist in me or not?'

"If, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu does not see any of these wholesome qualities present in himself, then he should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities.

Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to extinguish [the fire on] his clothes or head, so that bhikkhu should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities.

"But if, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu sees some wholesome qualities present in himself but not others, [105] he should base himself on those wholesome qualities that he sees in himself and put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities that he does not see in himself.

Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire ... to extinguish [the fire on] his clothes or head, so that bhikkhu should base himself on the wholesome qualities that he sees in himself and put forth extraordinary desire ... to obtain those wholesome qualities that he does not see in himself.

"But if, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu sees all these wholesome qualities present in himself, he should base himself on those same wholesome qualities and make a further effort to reach the destruction of the taints."


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