The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 1. Devatāsaṃyutta: Connected Discourses with Devatās

II. Nandana

11 (1) Nandana
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Once in the past, bhikkhus, a certain devatā of the Tāvatiṃsa host was revelling in Nandana Grove, <11> supplied and endowed with the five cords of celestial sensual pleasure, accompanied by a retinue of celestial nymphs. On that occasion he spoke this verse:

20 “‘They do not know bliss
    Who have not seen Nandana,
    The abode of the glorious male devas
    Belonging to the host of Thirty.’ [6]

“When this was said, bhikkhus, a certain devatā replied to that devatā in verse:

21 “‘Don’t you know, you fool,
    That maxim of the arahants?
    Impermanent are all formations;
    Their nature is to arise and vanish.
    Having arisen, they cease:
    Their appeasement is blissful.’”

12 (2) Delight
At Sāvatthī. Standing to one side, that devatā recited this verse in the presence of the Blessed One: <12>

22 “One who has sons delights in sons,
    One with cattle delights in cattle.
    Acquisitions truly are a man’s delight;
    Without acquisitions one does not delight.”

[The Blessed One:]

23 “One who has sons sorrows over sons,
    One with cattle sorrows over cattle.
    Acquisitions truly are a man’s sorrows;
    Without acquisitions one does not sorrow.”

13 (3) None Equal to That for a Son
At Sāvatthī. Standing to one side, that devatā spoke this verse in the presence of the Blessed One:

24 “There is no affection like that for a son,
    No wealth equal to cattle,
    There is no light like the sun,
    Among the waters the ocean is supreme.”

[The Blessed One:]

25 “There is no affection like that for oneself,
    No wealth equal to grain,
    There is no light like wisdom,
    Among the waters the rain is supreme.” <13>

14 (4) The Khattiya

26 “The khattiya is the best of bipeds,
    The ox, the best of quadrupeds;
    A maiden is the best of wives,
    The first born, the best of sons.”

27 “The Buddha is the best of bipeds,
    A steed, the best of quadrupeds;
    An obedient woman is the best of wives,
    A dutiful boy, the best of sons.” [7]

15 (5) Murmuring

28 “When the noon hour sets in
    And the birds have settled down, <14>
    The mighty forest itself murmurs:
    How fearful that appears to me!”

29 “When the noon hour sets in
    And the birds have settled down,
    The mighty forest itself murmurs:
    How delightful that appears to me!”

16 (6) Drowsiness and Lethargy

30 “Drowsiness, lethargy, lazy stretching, <15>
    Discontent, torpor after meals:
    Because of this, here among beings,
    The noble path does not appear.”

31 “Drowsiness, lethargy, lazy stretching,
    Discontent, torpor after meals:
    When one dispels this with energy,
    The noble path is cleared.”

17 (7) Difficult to Practise

32 “The ascetic life is hard to practise
    And hard for the inept to endure,
    For many are the obstructions there
    In which the fool founders.”

33 “How many days can one practise the ascetic life
    If one does not rein in one’s mind?
    One would founder with each step
    Under the control of one’s intentions.

34 “Drawing in the mind’s thoughts
    As a tortoise draws its limbs into its shell, <16>
    Independent, not harassing others, fully quenched,
    A bhikkhu would not blame anyone.”

18 (8) A Sense of Shame

35 “Is there a person somewhere in the world
    Who is restrained by a sense of shame,
    One who draws back from blame
    As a good horse does from the whip?”

36 “Few are those restrained by a sense of shame
    Who fare always mindful;
    Few, having reached the end of suffering,
    Fare evenly amidst the uneven.” [8] <17>

19 (9) A Little Hut

37 “Don’t you have a little hut?
    Don’t you have a little nest?
    Don’t you have any lines extended?
    Are you free from bondage?”

38 “Surely I have no little hut,
    Surely I have no little nest,
    Surely I have no lines extended,
    Surely I’m free from bondage.”

39 “What do you think I call a little hut?
    What do you think I call a little nest?
    What do you think I call lines extended?
    What do you think I call bondage?”

40 “It’s a mother that you call a little hut,
    A wife that you call a little nest, <18>
    Sons that you call lines extended,
    Craving that you tell me is bondage.”

41 “It’s good that you have no little hut,
    Good that you have no little nest,
    Good that you have no lines extended,
    Good that you are free from bondage.”

20 (10) Samiddhi
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Hot Springs Park. Then the Venerable Samiddhi, having risen at the first flush of dawn, went to the hot springs to bathe. Having bathed in the hot springs and come back out, he stood in one robe drying his limbs.
    Then, when the night had advanced, a certain devatā of stunning beauty, illuminating the entire hot springs, approached the Venerable Samiddhi. Having approached, she stood in the air and addressed the Venerable Samiddhi in verse: <19>

42 “Without having enjoyed you seek alms, bhikkhu,
    You don’t seek alms after you’ve enjoyed.
    First enjoy, bhikkhu, then seek alms:
    Don’t let the time pass you by!” [9]

43 “I do not know what the time might be;
    The time is hidden and cannot be seen.
    Hence, without enjoying, I seek alms:
    Don’t let the time pass me by!”

Then that devatā alighted on the earth and said to the Venerable Samiddhi: “You have gone forth while young, bhikkhu, a lad with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, without having dallied with sensual pleasures. Enjoy human sensual pleasures, bhikkhu; do not abandon what is directly visible in order to pursue what takes time.”
    “I have not abandoned what is directly visible, friend, in order to pursue what takes time. I have abandoned what takes time in order to pursue what is directly visible. <20> For the Blessed One, friend, has stated that sensual pleasures are time-consuming, full of suffering, full of despair, and the danger in them is still greater, while this Dhamma is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.”
    “But how is it, bhikkhu, that the Blessed One has stated that sensual pleasures are time-consuming, full of suffering, full of despair, and the danger in them is still greater? How is it that this Dhamma is directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise?”
    “I am newly ordained, friend, not long gone forth, just recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline. I cannot explain it in detail. But that Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, is dwelling at Rājagaha in the Hot Springs Park. Approach that Blessed One and ask him about this matter. As he explains it to you, so you should remember it.”
    “It isn’t easy for us to approach that Blessed One, bhikkhu, as he is surrounded by other devatās of great influence. If you would approach him <21> and ask him about this matter, we will come along too in order to hear the Dhamma.”
    “Very well, friend,” the Venerable Samiddhi replied. Then he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, [10] and reported his entire discussion with that devatā, [11] <22–23> (verses 44–45, included in the report, repeat verses 42–43) adding: “If that devatā’s statement is true, venerable sir, then that devatā should be close by.”
    When this was said, that devatā said to the Venerable Samiddhi: “Ask, bhikkhu! Ask, bhikkhu! For I have arrived.”
    Then the Blessed One addressed that devatā in verse:

46 “Beings who perceive what can be expressed
    Become established in what can be expressed. <24>
    Not fully understanding what can be expressed,
    They come under the yoke of Death.

47 “But having fully understood what can be expressed,
    One does not conceive ‘one who expresses.’
    For that does not exist for him
    By which one could describe him.

    “If you understand, spirit, speak up.”
    “I do not understand in detail, venerable sir, the meaning of what was stated in brief by the Blessed One. Please, venerable sir, let the Blessed One explain it to me in such a way that I might understand in detail the meaning of what he stated in brief.” [12]

[The Blessed One:]

48 “One who conceives ‘I am equal, better, or worse,’
    Might on that account engage in disputes.
    But one not shaken in the three discriminations
    Does not think, ‘I am equal or better.’ <25>

    “If you understand, spirit, speak up.”
    “In this case too, venerable sir, I do not understand in detail … let the Blessed One explain it to me in such a way that I might understand in detail the meaning of what he stated in brief.”

[The Blessed One:]

49 “He abandoned reckoning, did not assume conceit;
    He cut off craving here for name-and-form.
    Though devas and humans search for him
    Here and beyond, in the heavens and all abodes,
    They do not find the one whose knots are cut,
    The one untroubled, free of longing.

    “If you understand, spirit, speak up.”
    “I understand in detail, venerable sir, the meaning of what was stated in brief by the Blessed One thus: <26>

50 “One should do no evil in all the world,
    Not by speech, mind, or body.
    Having abandoned sense pleasures,
    Mindful and clearly comprehending,
    One should not pursue a course
    That is painful and harmful.”

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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