Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
II. Majjhima Paṇṇāsa
2. Bhikkhu Vagga

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha

Sutta 62

Mahā Rāhul'ovāda Suttaɱ

The Greater Discourse of Advice to Rāhula

Translated from the Pali by Ñanamoli Thera.
edited and revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

© 1995 Bhikkhu Bodhi
Published by
Wisdom Publications
Boston, MA 02115

 


 

[1][pts][than][upal] THUS HAVE I HEARD.[640] On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's Park.

2. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Sāvatthī for alms. The venerable Rāhula also dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, followed close behind the Blessed One.

3. Then the Blessed One looked back and addressed the venerable Rāhula thus:[641] "Rāhula, any kind of material form whatever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all material form should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self."'
"Only material form, Blessed One? Only material form, Sublime One?"
"Material form, Rāhula, and feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness."

4. Then the venerable Rāhula considered thus: "Who would go into the town for alms today when personally admonished by the Blessed One?" Thus he turned back and sat down at the root of a tree, folding his legs crosswise, setting his body erect, and establishing mindfulness in front of him.

5. The venerable Sāriputta saw him sitting there and addressed him thus: "Rāhula, develop mindfulness of breathing. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit."[642]

6. Then, when it was evening, the venerable Rāhula rose from meditation and went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and asked the Blessed One:

7. "Venerable sir, how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit?"

8. "Rāhula,[643] whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to, that is, head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung-to: this is called the internal earth element. Now both the internal earth element and the external earth element are simply earth element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the earth element and makes the mind dispassionate towards the earth element.

9. "What, Rāhula, is the water element? The water element may be either internal or external. What is the internal water element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is water, watery, and clung-to, that is, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil-of-the-joints, urine, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is water, watery, and clung-to: this is called the internal water element. Now both the internal water element and the external water element are simply water element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the water element and makes the mind dispassionate towards the water element.

10. "What, Rāhula, is the fire element? The fire element may be either internal or external. What is the internal fire element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is fire, fiery, and clung-to, that is, that by which one is warmed, ages, and is consumed, and that by which what is eaten, drunk, consumed, and tasted gets completely digested, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is fire, fiery, and clung-to: this is called the internal fire element. Now both the internal fire element and the external fire element are simply fire element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the fire element and makes the mind dispassionate towards the fire element.

11. "What, Rāhula, is the air element? The air element may be either internal or external. What is the internal air element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is air, airy, and clung-to, that is, up-going winds, down-going winds, winds in the belly, winds in the bowels, winds that course through the limbs, in-breath and out-breath, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is air, airy, and clung-to: this is called the internal air element. Now both the internal air element and the external air element are simply air element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the air element and makes the mind dispassionate towards the air element.

12. "What, Rāhula, is the space element?[ 644 ] The space element may be either internal or external. What is the internal space element? Whatever internally, belonging to oneself, is space, spatial, and clung-to, that is, the holes of the ears, the nostrils, the door of the mouth, and that [aperture] whereby what is eaten, drunk, consumed, and tasted gets swallowed, and where it collects, and whereby it is excreted from below, or whatever else internally, belonging to oneself, is space, spatial, and clung-to: this is called the internal space element. Now both the internal space element and the external space element are simply space element. And that should be seen as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' When one sees it thus as it actually is with proper wisdom, one becomes disenchanted with the space element and makes the mind dispassionate towards the space element.

13. "Rāhula, develop meditation that is like the earth; for when you develop meditation that is like the earth, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.[645] Just as people throw clean things and dirty things, excrement, urine, spittle, pus, and blood on the earth, and the earth is not repelled, humiliated, and disgusted because of that, so too, Rāhula, develop meditation that is like the earth; for when you develop meditation that is like the earth, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.

14. "Rāhula, develop meditation that is like water; for when you develop meditation that is like water, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain. Just as people wash clean things and dirty things, excrement, urine, spittle, pus, and blood in water, and the water is not repelled, humiliated, and disgusted because of that, so too, Rāhula, develop meditation that is like water; for when you develop meditation that is like water, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.

15. "Rāhula, develop meditation that is like fire; for when you develop meditation that is like fire, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain. Just as people burn clean things and dirty things, excrement, urine, spittle, pus, and blood in fire, and the fire is not repelled, humiliated, and disgusted because of that, so too, Rāhula, develop meditation that is like fire; for when you develop meditation that is like fire, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.

16. "Rāhula, develop meditation that is like air; for when you develop meditation that is like air, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain. Just as the air blows on clean things and dirty things, on excrement, urine, spittle, pus, and blood, and the air is not repelled, humiliated, and disgusted because of that, so too, Rāhula, develop meditation that is like air; for when you develop meditation that is like air, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.

17. "Rāhula, develop meditation that is like space; for when you develop meditation that is like space, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain. Just as space is not established anywhere, so too, Rāhula, develop meditation that is like space; for when you develop meditation that is like space, arisen agreeable and disagreeable contacts will not invade your mind and remain.

18. "Rāhula, develop meditation on loving-kindness; for when you develop meditation on loving-kindness, any ill will will be abandoned.

19. "Rāhula, develop meditation on compassion; for when you develop meditation on compassion, any cruelty will be abandoned.

20. "Rāhula, develop meditation on altruistic joy; for when you develop meditation on altruistic joy, any discontent will be abandoned.

21. "Rāhula, develop meditation on equanimity; for when you develop meditation on equanimity, any aversion will be abandoned.

22. "Rāhula, develop meditation on foulness; for when you develop meditation on foulness, any lust will be abandoned.

23. "Rāhula, develop meditation on the perception of impermanence; for when you develop meditation on the perception of impermanence, the conceit 'I am' will be abandoned.

24. "Rāhula, develop meditation on mindfulness of breathing. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit. And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit?

25. "Here, Rāhula, a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.[646]

26. "Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breathe out long.' Breathing in short, he understands: 'I breathe in short'; or breathing out short, he understands: 'I breathe out short.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquillising the bodily formation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out tranquillising the bodily formation.'

27. "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in experiencing rapture'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing rapture.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in experiencing pleasure'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing pleasure.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in experiencing the mental formation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing the mental formation.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquillising the mental formation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out tranquillising the mental formation.'

28. "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in experiencing the mind'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing the mind.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in gladdening the mind'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out gladdening the mind.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in concentrating the mind'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out concentrating the mind.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in liberating the mind'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out liberating the mind.'

29. "He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating impermanence'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating impermanence.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating fading away'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating fading away.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating cessation'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating cessation.' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in contemplating relinquishment'; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out contemplating relinquishment.'

30. "Rāhula, that is how mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated in this way, even the final in-breaths and out-breaths are known as they cease, not unknown."[647]

That is what the Blessed One said. The venerable Rāhula was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One's words.

 


 

[ 640 ] According to MA, this discourse was taught to Rāhula when he was eighteen years old, for the purpose of dispelling desire connected with the household life. The Shorter Discourse of Advice to Rāhula is MN 147.

[ 641 ] MA: While Rāhula was following the Buddha, he noted with admiration the physical perfection of the Master and reflected that he himself was of similar appearance, thinking: "I too am handsome like my father the Blessed One. The Buddha's form is beautiful and so too is mine." The Buddha read Rāhula's thought and decided to admonish him at once, before such vain thoughts led him into greater difficulties. Hence the Buddha framed his advice in terms of contemplating the body as neither a self nor the possession of a self.

[ 642 ] MA: Ven. Sāriputta, Rāhula's teacher, gave Rāhula this advice unaware that he had already been given different meditation instructions by the Buddha. He was misled by Rāhula's cross-legged posture into thinking that he was practising mindfulness of breathing. [MO: Preposterous! 1. Everyone sitting in the cross-legged position is practicing mindfulness of breathing? And Sāriputta being mislead?]

[ 643 ]MA: The Buddha here explains the meditation on the four great elements rather than mindfulness of breathing in order to dispel Rāhula's attachment to the body, which had not yet been removed by the brief instruction on the egolessness of material form. See n.329 for explanation of terms requiring comment.

[ 644 ] Space (ākāsa) is not a primary material element but is classified under derivative material form (upadā rūpa).

[ 645 ] MA: This passage (§13-17) is taught to show the quality of impartiality (tādibhāva).

[ 646 ] For explanations of unclear terms in this first tetrad on mindfulness of breathing (§26), see nn.140-142. Terms needing clarification in the following three tetrads will be explained in the notes to MN 118, the Anāpānasati Sutta.

[ 647 ] That is, the meditator dies calmly, with mindfulness and awareness.


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