The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 22. Khandhasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Aggregates
Division II. The Middle Fifty

IV. The Elders

83 (1) Ānanda
At Sāvatthī. There the Venerable Ānanda addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Friends, bhikkhus!”
    “Friend!” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Ānanda said this:
    “Friends, the Venerable Puṇṇa Mantāniputta was very helpful to us when we were newly ordained. He exhorted us with the following exhortation:

    “It is by clinging, Ānanda, that [the notion] ‘I am’ occurs, not without clinging. And by clinging to what does ‘I am’ occur, not without clinging? It is by clinging to form that ‘I am’ occurs, not without clinging. It is by clinging to feeling … to perception … to volitional formations … to consciousness that ‘I am’ occurs, not without clinging.
    “Suppose, friend Ānanda, a young woman—or a man—youthful and fond of ornaments, would examine her own facial image in a mirror or in a bowl filled with pure, clear, clean water: she would look at it with clinging, not without clinging. So too, it is by clinging to form that ‘I am’ occurs, not without clinging. It is by clinging to feeling … to perception … to volitional formations … to consciousness that ‘I am’ occurs, not without clinging.
    “What do you think, friend Ānanda, is form permanent or impermanent?”… (as in preceding sutta) … “Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’”

    “Friends, the Venerable Puṇṇa Mantāniputta [106] was very helpful to us when we were newly ordained. He exhorted us with that exhortation. And when I heard his Dhamma teaching I made the breakthrough to the Dhamma.”

84 (2) Tissa
At Sāvatthī. Now on that occasion the Venerable Tissa, the Blessed One’s paternal cousin, informed a number of bhikkhus: “Friends, my body seems as if it has been drugged, I have become disoriented, the teachings are no longer clear to me. Sloth and torpor persist obsessing my mind. I am leading the holy life dissatisfied, and I have doubt about the teachings.”
    Then a number of bhikkhus approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported this matter to him. The Blessed One then addressed a certain bhikkhu thus: “Come, bhikkhu, tell the bhikkhu Tissa in my name that the Teacher calls him.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu replied, and he went to the Venerable Tissa and told him: “The Teacher calls you, friend Tissa.”
    “Yes, friend,” the Venerable Tissa replied, and he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him: “Is it true, Tissa, [107] that you informed a number of bhikkhus thus: ‘Friends, my body seems as if it were drugged … and I have doubt about the teachings’?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “What do you think, Tissa, if one is not devoid of lust for form, not devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for it, then with the change and alteration of that form, do sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair arise within?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “Good, good, Tissa! So it is, Tissa, with one who is not devoid of lust for form. If one is not devoid of lust for feeling … for perception … for volitional formations … for consciousness, not devoid of desire, [108] affection, thirst, passion, and craving for it, then with the change and alteration of that consciousness, do sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair arise within?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “Good, good, Tissa! So it is, Tissa, with one who is not devoid of lust for consciousness. If one is devoid of lust for form, devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for it, then with the change and alteration of that form, do sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair arise within?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Good, good, Tissa! So it is, Tissa, with one who is devoid of lust for form. If one is devoid of lust for feeling … for perception … for volitional formations … for consciousness, devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for it, then with the change and alteration of that consciousness, do sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair arise within?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Good, good, Tissa! So it is, Tissa, with one who is devoid of lust for consciousness. What do you think, Tissa, is form permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.”… – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’
    “Suppose, Tissa, there were two men: one unskilled in the path, the other skilled in the path. The man unskilled in the path would ask the skilled man a question about the path, and the latter would say: ‘Come, good man, this is the path. Go along it a little way and you will see a fork in the road. Avoid the left-hand branch and take the right-hand branch. Go a little further and you will see a dense thicket. Go a little further and you will see a vast marshy swamp. Go a little further and you will see a steep precipice. Go a little further and you will see a delightful expanse of level ground.’
    “I have made up this simile, Tissa, in order to convey a meaning. This here is the meaning: ‘The man unskilled in the path’: this is a designation for the worldling. ‘The man skilled in the path’: this is a designation for the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. ‘The forked road’: this is a designation for doubt. [109] ‘The left-hand branch’: this is a designation for the wrong eightfold path; that is, wrong view … wrong concentration. ‘The right-hand branch’: this is a designation for the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration. ‘The dense thicket’: this is a designation for ignorance. ‘The vast marshy swamp’: this is a designation for sensual pleasures. ‘The steep precipice’: this is a designation for despair due to anger. ‘The delightful expanse of level ground’: this is a designation for Nibbāna.
    “Rejoice, Tissa! Rejoice, Tissa! I am here to exhort, I am here to assist, I am here to instruct!”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the Venerable Tissa delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.

85 (3) Yamaka
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇ˜ika’s Park. Now on that occasion the following pernicious view had arisen in a bhikkhu named Yamaka: “As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.”
    A number of bhikkhus heard that such a pernicious view had arisen in the bhikkhu Yamaka. Then they approached the Venerable Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him, after which they sat down to one side and said to him: “Is it true, friend Yamaka, that such a pernicious view as this has arisen in you: [110] ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”
    “Exactly so, friends. As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.”
    “Friend Yamaka, do not speak thus. Do not misrepresent the Blessed One. It is not good to misrepresent the Blessed One. The Blessed One would not speak thus: ‘A bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.’”
    Yet, although he was admonished by the bhikkhus in this way, the Venerable Yamaka still obstinately grasped that pernicious view, adhered to it, and declared: “As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.”
    Since those bhikkhus were unable to detach the Venerable Yamaka from that pernicious view, they rose from their seats, approached the Venerable Sāriputta, and told him all that had occurred, adding: “It would be good if the Venerable Sāriputta would approach the bhikkhu Yamaka out of compassion for him.” The Venerable Sāriputta consented by silence.
    Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion. He approached the Venerable Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him, after which he sat down to one side and said to him: “Is it true, friend Yamaka, that such a pernicious view as this has arisen in you: ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, [111] a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”
    “Exactly so, friend.”
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, is form permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, friend.”… – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form as the Tathāgata?” – “No, friend.” – “Do you regard feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness as the Tathāgata?” – “No, friend.”
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathāgata as in form?” – “No, friend.” – “Do you regard the Tathāgata as apart from form?” – “No, friend.” – “Do you regard the Tathāgata as in feeling? As apart from feeling? As in perception? As apart from perception? As in volitional formations? As apart from volitional formations? As in consciousness? As apart from consciousness?” – “No, friend.”
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness [taken together] as the Tathāgata?” – “No, friend.” [112]
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathāgata as one who is without form, without feeling, without perception, without volitional formations, without consciousness?” – “No, friend.”
    “But, friend, when the Tathāgata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life, is it fitting for you to declare: ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”
    “Formerly, friend Sāriputta, when I was ignorant, I did hold that pernicious view, but now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Sāriputta I have abandoned that pernicious view and have made the breakthrough to the Dhamma.”
    “If, friend Yamaka, they were to ask you: ‘Friend Yamaka, when a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, what happens to him with the breakup of the body, after death?’—being asked thus, what would you answer?”
    “If they were to ask me this, friend, I would answer thus: ‘Friends, form is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away.’ Being asked thus, friend, I would answer in such a way.”
    “Good, good, friend Yamaka! Now, friend Yamaka, I will make up a simile for you in order to convey this same meaning even more clearly. Suppose, friend Yamaka, there was a householder or a householder’s son, a rich man, with much wealth and property, protected by a bodyguard. Then some man would appear who wanted to ruin him, to harm him, to endanger him, to take his life. [113] It would occur to that man: ‘This householder or householder’s son is a rich man, with much wealth and property, protected by a bodyguard. It won’t be easy to take his life by force. Let me get close to him and then take his life.’
    “Then he would approach that householder or householder’s son and say to him: ‘I would serve you, sir.’ Then the householder or householder’s son would appoint him as a servant. The man would serve him, rising up before him, retiring after him, doing whatever he wants, agreeable in his conduct, endearing in his speech. The householder or householder’s son would consider him a friend, a bosom friend, and he would place trust in him. But when the man becomes aware that the householder or householder’s son has placed trust in him, then, finding him alone, he would take his life with a sharp knife.
    “What do you think, friend Yamaka, when that man had approached that householder or householder’s son and said to him: ‘I would serve you, sir,’ wasn’t he a murderer even then, though the other did not recognize him as ‘my murderer’? And when the man was serving him, rising up before him, retiring after him, doing whatever he wants, agreeable in his conduct, endearing in his speech, wasn’t he a murderer then too, though the other did not recognize him as ‘my murderer’? And when the man came upon him while he was alone and took his life with a sharp knife, wasn’t he a murderer then too, though the other did not recognize him as ‘my murderer’?”
    “Yes, friend.”
    “So too, friend Yamaka, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.
    “He regards feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self, [114] or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness.
    “He does not understand as it really is impermanent form as ‘impermanent form’ … impermanent feeling as ‘impermanent feeling’ … impermanent perception as ‘impermanent perception’ … impermanent volitional formations as ‘impermanent volitional formations’ … impermanent consciousness as ‘impermanent consciousness.’
    “He does not understand as it really is painful form as ‘painful form’ … painful feeling as ‘painful feeling’ … painful perception as ‘painful perception’ … painful volitional formations as ‘painful volitional formations’ … painful consciousness as ‘painful consciousness.’
    “He does not understand as it really is selfless form as ‘selfless form’ … selfless feeling as ‘selfless feeling’ … selfless perception as ‘selfless perception’ … selfless volitional formations as ‘selfless volitional formations’ … selfless consciousness as ‘selfless consciousness.’
    “He does not understand as it really is conditioned form as ‘conditioned form’ … conditioned feeling as ‘conditioned feeling’ … conditioned perception as ‘conditioned perception’ … conditioned volitional formations as ‘conditioned volitional formations’ … conditioned consciousness as ‘conditioned consciousness.’
    “He does not understand as it really is murderous form as ‘murderous form’ … murderous feeling as ‘murderous feeling’ … murderous perception as ‘murderous perception’ … murderous volitional formations as ‘murderous volitional formations’ … murderous consciousness as ‘murderous consciousness.’
    “He becomes engaged with form, clings to it, and takes a stand upon it as ‘my self.’ He becomes engaged with feeling … with perception … with volitional formations … with consciousness, clings to it, and takes a stand upon it as ‘my self.’ These same five aggregates of clinging, to which he becomes engaged and to which he clings, lead to his harm and suffering for a long time.
    “But, friend, the instructed noble disciple, who is a seer of the noble ones … does not regard form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.
    “He does not regard feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. [115]
    “He understands as it really is impermanent form as ‘impermanent form’ … impermanent consciousness as ‘impermanent consciousness.’
    “He understands as it really is painful form as ‘painful form’ … painful consciousness as ‘painful consciousness.’
    “He understands as it really is selfless form as ‘selfless form’ … selfless consciousness as ‘selfless consciousness.’
    “He understands as it really is conditioned form as ‘conditioned form’ … conditioned consciousness as ‘conditioned consciousness.’
    “He understands as it really is murderous form as ‘murderous form’ … murderous consciousness as ‘murderous consciousness.’
    “He does not become engaged with form, cling to it, and take a stand upon it as ‘my self.’ He does not become engaged with feeling … with perception … with volitional formations … with consciousness, cling to it, and take a stand upon it as ‘my self.’ These same five aggregates of clinging, to which he does not become engaged and to which he does not cling, lead to his welfare and happiness for a long time.”
    “So it is, friend Sāriputta, for those venerable ones who have such compassionate and benevolent brothers in the holy life to admonish and instruct them. And now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Sāriputta, my mind is liberated from the taints by nonclinging.” [116]
    This is what the Venerable Sāriputta said. Elated, the Venerable Yamaka delighted in the Venerable Sāriputta’s statement.

86 (4) Anurādha
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Now on that occasion the Venerable Anurādha was dwelling in a forest hut not far from the Blessed One. Then a number of wanderers of other sects approached the Venerable Anurādha and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, they sat down to one side and said to him:
    “Friend Anurādha, when a Tathāgata is describing a Tathāgata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment—he describes him in terms of these four cases: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    When this was said, the Venerable Anurādha said to those wanderers: ‘Friends, when a Tathāgata is describing a Tathāgata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment—he describes him apart from these four cases: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    When this was said, those wanderers said to the Venerable Anurādha: ‘This bhikkhu must be newly ordained, not long gone forth; or, if he is an elder, he must be an incompetent fool.”
    Then those wanderers of other sects, having denigrated the Venerable Anurādha with the terms “newly ordained” and “fool,” rose from their seats and departed. [117]
    Then, not long after those wanderers had left, it occurred to the Venerable Anurādha: “If those wanderers of other sects should question me further, how should I answer if I am to state what has been said by the Blessed One and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? And how should I explain in accordance with the Dhamma, so that no reasonable consequence of my assertion would give ground for criticism?”
    Then the Venerable Anurādha approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported to the Blessed One everything that had happened, [118] asking: “If those wanderers of other sects should question me further, how should I answer … so that no reasonable consequence of my assertion would give ground for criticism?”
    “What do you think, Anurādha, is form permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.”… – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’
    “What do you think, Anurādha, do you regard form as the Tathāgata?” – “No, venerable sir.” – “Do you regard feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness as the Tathāgata?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “What do you think, Anurādha, do you regard the Tathāgata as in form?” – “No, venerable sir.” – “Do you regard the Tathāgata as apart from form?” – “No, venerable sir.” – “Do you regard the Tathāgata as in feeling? As apart from feeling? As in perception? As apart from perception? As in volitional formations? As apart from volitional formations? As in consciousness? As apart from consciousness?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “What do you think, Anurādha, do you regard form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness [taken together] as the Tathāgata?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “What do you think, Anurādha, do you regard the Tathāgata as one who is without form, without feeling, without perception, without volitional formations, without consciousness?” – “No, venerable sir.”
    “But, Anurādha, when the Tathāgata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life, is it fitting for you to declare: ‘Friends, when a Tathāgata is describing a Tathāgata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment—he describes him apart from these four cases: [119] ‘The Tathāgata exists after death,’ or … ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “Good, good, Anurādha! Formerly, Anurādha, and also now, I make known just suffering and the cessation of suffering.”

87 (5) Vakkali
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Vakkali was dwelling in a potter’s shed, sick, afflicted, gravely ill. Then the Venerable Vakkali addressed his attendants:
    “Come, friends, approach the Blessed One, pay homage to him in my name with your head at his feet, and say: ‘Venerable sir, the bhikkhu Vakkali is sick, afflicted, gravely ill; he pays homage to the Blessed One with his head at his feet.’ Then say: ‘It would be good, venerable sir, if the Blessed One would approach the bhikkhu Vakkali out of compassion.’”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied, and they approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and delivered their message. The Blessed One consented by silence.
    Then the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, approached the Venerable Vakkali. [120] The Venerable Vakkali saw the Blessed One coming in the distance and stirred on his bed. The Blessed One said to him: “Enough, Vakkali, do not stir on your bed. There are these seats ready, I will sit down there.”
    The Blessed One then sat down on the appointed seat and said to the Venerable Vakkali: “I hope you are bearing up, Vakkali, I hope you are getting better. I hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned.”
    “Venerable sir, I am not bearing up, I am not getting better. Strong painful feelings are increasing in me, not subsiding, and their increase, not their subsiding, is to be discerned.”
    “I hope then, Vakkali, that you are not troubled by remorse and regret.”
    “Indeed, venerable sir, I have quite a lot of remorse and regret.”
    “I hope, Vakkali, that you have nothing for which to reproach yourself in regard to virtue.”
    “I have nothing, venerable sir, for which to reproach myself in regard to virtue.”
    “Then, Vakkali, if you have nothing for which to reproach yourself in regard to virtue, why are you troubled by remorse and regret?”
    “For a long time, venerable sir, I have wanted to come to see the Blessed One, but I haven’t been fit enough to do so.”
    “Enough, Vakkali! Why do you want to see this foul body? One who sees the Dhamma sees me; one who sees me sees the Dhamma. For in seeing the Dhamma, Vakkali, one sees me; and in seeing me, one sees the Dhamma.
    “What do you think, Vakkali, is form permanent or impermanent?” – [121] “Impermanent, venerable sir.”… – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’”
    Then the Blessed One, having given this exhortation to the Venerable Vakkali, rose from his seat and departed for Mount Vulture Peak.
    Then, not long after the Blessed One had left, the Venerable Vakkali addressed his attendants thus: “Come, friends, lift me up on this bed and carry me to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. How can one like me think of dying among the houses?”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied and, having lifted up the Venerable Vakkali on the bed, they carried him to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope.
    The Blessed One spent the rest of that day and night on Mount Vulture Peak. Then, when the night was well advanced, two devatās of stunning beauty approached the Blessed One, illuminating the whole of Mount Vulture Peak…. Standing to one side, one devatā said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, the bhikkhu Vakkali is intent on deliverance.” The other devatā said: “Surely, venerable sir, he will be liberated as one well liberated.” This is what those devatās said. Having said this, they paid homage to the Blessed One and, keeping him on their right, they disappeared right there.
    Then, when the night had passed, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Come, bhikkhus, approach the bhikkhu Vakkali and say to him: ‘Friend Vakkali, listen to the word of the Blessed One [122] and two devatās. Last night, friend, when the night was well advanced, two devatās of stunning beauty approached the Blessed One. One devatā said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, the bhikkhu Vakkali is intent on deliverance.” The other devatā said: “Surely, venerable sir, he will be liberated as one well liberated.” And the Blessed One says to you, friend Vakkali: “Do not be afraid, Vakkali, do not be afraid! Your death will not be a bad one. Your demise will not be a bad one.”’”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied, and they approached the Venerable Vakkali and said to him: “Friend Vakkali, listen to the word of the Blessed One and two deities.”
    Then the Venerable Vakkali addressed his attendants: “Come, friends, lower me from the bed. How can one like me think of listening to the Blessed One’s teaching while seated on a high seat.”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied, and they lowered the Venerable Vakkali from the bed.
    “Last night, friend, two deities of stunning beauty approached the Blessed One. One devatā said to the Blessed One: ‘Venerable sir, the bhikkhu Vakkali is intent on deliverance.’ The other devatā said: ‘Surely, venerable sir, he will be liberated as one well liberated.’ And the Blessed One says to you, friend Vakkali: ‘Do not be afraid, Vakkali, do not be afraid! Your death will not be a bad one. Your demise will not be a bad one.’”
    “Well then, friends, pay homage to the Blessed One in my name with your head at his feet and say: ‘Venerable sir, the bhikkhu Vakkali is sick, afflicted, gravely ill; he pays homage to the Blessed One with his head at his feet.’ Then say: ‘Form is impermanent: I have no perplexity about this, venerable sir, I do not doubt that whatever is impermanent is suffering. I do not doubt that in regard to what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, I have no more desire, lust, or affection. [123] Feeling is impermanent … Perception is impermanent … Volitional formations are impermanent … Consciousness is impermanent: I have no perplexity about this, venerable sir, I do not doubt that whatever is impermanent is suffering. I do not doubt that in regard to what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, I have no more desire, lust, or affection.’”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied, and then they departed. Then, not long after those bhikkhus had left, the Venerable Vakkali used the knife.
    Then those bhikkhus approached the Blessed One … and delivered their message. The Blessed One then addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Come, bhikkhus, let us go to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope, where the clansman Vakkali has used the knife.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. Then the Blessed One, together with a number of bhikkhus, went to the Black Rock on the Isigili Slope. The Blessed One saw in the distance the Venerable Vakkali lying on the bed with his shoulder turned. [124]
    Now on that occasion a cloud of smoke, a swirl of darkness, was moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters. The Blessed One then addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Do you see, bhikkhus, that cloud of smoke, that swirl of darkness, moving to the east, then to the west, to the north, to the south, upwards, downwards, and to the intermediate quarters?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “That, bhikkhus, is Māra the Evil One searching for the consciousness of the clansman Vakkali, wondering: ‘Where now has the consciousness of the clansman Vakkali been established?’ However, bhikkhus, with consciousness unestablished, the clansman Vakkali has attained final Nibbāna.”

88 (6) Assaji
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. Now on that occasion the Venerable Assaji was dwelling at Kassapaka’s Park, sick, afflicted, gravely ill.
    (As in preceding sutta, down to:) [125]
    “Then if you have nothing for which to reproach yourself in re-gard to virtue, Assaji, why are you troubled by remorse and regret?”
    “Formerly, venerable sir, when I was ill I kept on tranquillizing the bodily formations, but [now] I do not obtain concentration. As I do not obtain concentration, it occurs to me: ‘Let me not fall away!’”
    “Those ascetics and brahmins, Assaji, who regard concentration as the essence and identify concentration with asceticism, failing to obtain concentration, might think, ‘Let us not fall away!’
    “What do you think, Assaji, is form permanent or impermanent?” – “Impermanent, venerable sir.”… [126] – “Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.
    “When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’
    “Just as, Assaji, an oil lamp burns in dependence on the oil and the wick, and with the exhaustion of the oil and the wick it is extinguished through lack of fuel, so too, Assaji, when a bhikkhu feels a feeling terminating with the body … terminating with life … He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’”

89 (7) Khemaka
On one occasion a number of elder bhikkhus were dwelling at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Now on that occasion the Venerable Khemaka was living at Jujube Tree Park, sick, afflicted, gravely ill. [127]
    Then, in the evening, those elder bhikkhus emerged from seclusion and addressed the Venerable Dāsaka thus: “Come, friend Dāsaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: We hope that you are bearing up, friend, we hope that you are getting better. We hope that your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing, and that their subsiding, not their increase, is to be discerned.’”
    “Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dāsaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.
    [The Venerable Khemaka answered:] “I am not bearing up, friend, I am not getting better. Strong painful feelings are increasing in me, not subsiding, and their increase, not their subsiding, is to be discerned.”
    Then the Venerable Dāsaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They told him: “Come, friend Dāsaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: These five aggregates subject to clinging, friend, have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. Does the Venerable Khemaka regard anything as self or as belonging to self among these five aggregates subject to clinging?’”
    “Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dāsaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.
    [The Venerable Khemaka replied:] [128] “These five aggregates subject to clinging have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. Among these five aggregates subject to clinging, I do not regard anything as self or as belonging to self.”
    Then the Venerable Dāsaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They replied: “Come, friend Dāsaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: These five aggregates subject to clinging, friend, have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. If the Venerable Khemaka does not regard anything among these five aggregates subject to clinging as self or as belonging to self, then he is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed.’”
    “Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dāsaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.
    [The Venerable Khemaka replied:] “These five aggregates subject to clinging have been spoken of by the Blessed One; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. I do not regard anything among these five aggregates subject to clinging as self or as belonging to self, yet I am not an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed. Friends, [the notion] ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, but I do not regard [anything among them] as ‘This I am.’” [129]
    Then the Venerable Dāsaka approached the elder bhikkhus and reported what the Venerable Khemaka had said. They replied: “Come, friend Dāsaka, approach the bhikkhu Khemaka and say to him: ‘The elders say to you, friend Khemaka: Friend Khemaka, when you speak of this “I am”—what is it that you speak of as “I am”? Do you speak of form as “I am,” or do you speak of “I am” apart from form? Do you speak of feeling … of perception … of volitional formations … of consciousness as “I am,” or do you speak of “I am” apart from consciousness? When you speak of this “I am,” friend Khemaka, what is it that you speak of as “I am”?’”
    “Yes, friends,” the Venerable Dāsaka replied, and he approached the Venerable Khemaka and delivered his message.
    “Enough, friend Dāsaka! Why keep running back and forth? Bring me my staff, friend. I’ll go to the elder bhikkhus myself.”
    Then the Venerable Khemaka, leaning on his staff, approached the elder bhikkhus, exchanged greetings with them, and sat down to one side. [130] The elder bhikkhus then said to him: “Friend Khemaka, when you speak of this ‘I am’ … what is it that you speak of as ‘I am’?”
    “Friends, I do not speak of form as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from form. I do not speak of feeling as ‘I am’ … nor of perception as ‘I am’ … nor of volitional formations as ‘I am’ … nor of consciousness as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from consciousness. Friends, although [the notion] ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, still I do not regard [anything among them] as ‘This I am.’
    “Suppose, friends, there is the scent of a blue, red, or white lotus. Would one be speaking rightly if one would say, ‘The scent belongs to the petals,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the stalk,’ or ‘The scent belongs to the pistils’?”
    “No, friend.”
    “And how, friends, should one answer if one is to answer rightly?”
    “Answering rightly, friend, one should answer: ‘The scent belongs to the flower.’”
    “So too, friends, I do not speak of form as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from form. I do not speak of feeling as ‘I am’ … nor of perception as ‘I am’ … nor of volitional formations as ‘I am’ … nor of consciousness as ‘I am,’ nor do I speak of ‘I am’ apart from consciousness. Friends, although [the notion] ‘I am’ has not yet vanished in me in relation to these five aggregates subject to clinging, still I do not regard [anything among them] as ‘This I am.’
    “Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, still, in relation to the five aggregates subject to clinging, there lingers in him a residual conceit ‘I am,’ a desire ‘I am,’ an underlying tendency ‘I am’ that has not yet been uprooted. Sometime later he dwells contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging: ‘Such is form, such its origin, [131] such its passing away; such is feeling … such is perception … such are volitional formations … such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away.’ As he dwells thus contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging, the residual conceit ‘I am,’ the desire ‘I am,’ the underlying tendency ‘I am’ that had not yet been uprooted—this comes to be uprooted.
    “Suppose, friends, a cloth has become soiled and stained, and its owners give it to a laundryman. The laundryman would scour it evenly with cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung, and rinse it in clean water. Even though that cloth would become pure and clean, it would still retain a residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished. The laundryman would then give it back to the owners. The owners would put it in a sweet-scented casket, and the residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cowdung that had not yet vanished would vanish.
    “So too, friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, still, in relation to the five aggregates subject to clinging, there lingers in him a residual conceit ‘I am,’ a desire ‘I am,’ an underlying tendency ‘I am’ that has not yet been uprooted…. As he dwells thus contemplating rise and fall in the five aggregates subject to clinging, the residual conceit ‘I am,’ the desire ‘I am,’ the underlying tendency ‘I am’ that had not yet been uprooted—this comes to be uprooted.”
    When this was said, the elder bhikkhus said to the Venerable Khemaka: “We did not ask our questions in order to trouble the Venerable Khemaka, [132] but we thought that the Venerable Khemaka would be capable of explaining, teaching, proclaiming, establishing, disclosing, analysing, and elucidating the Blessed One’s teaching in detail. And the Venerable Khemaka has explained, taught, proclaimed, established, disclosed, analysed, and elucidated the Blessed One’s teaching in detail.”
    This is what the Venerable Khemaka said. Elated, the elder bhikkhus delighted in the Venerable Khemaka’s statement. And while this discourse was being spoken, the minds of sixty elder bhikkhus and of the Venerable Khemaka were liberated from the taints by nonclinging.

90 (8) Channa
On one occasion a number of bhikkhus were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Channa emerged from seclusion and, taking his key, went from dwelling to dwelling saying to the elder bhikkhus: “Let the elder venerable ones exhort me, let them instruct me, let them give me a Dhamma talk in such a way that I might see the Dhamma.”
    When this was said, the elder bhikkhus said to the Venerable Channa: “Form, friend Channa, is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, volitional formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Form is nonself, [133] feeling is nonself, perception is nonself, volitional formations are nonself, consciousness is nonself. All formations are impermanent; all phenomena are nonself.”
    Then it occurred to the Venerable Channa: “I too think in this way: ‘Form is impermanent … consciousness is impermanent. Form is nonself … consciousness is nonself. All formations are impermanent; all phenomena are nonself.’ But my mind does not launch out upon the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna; nor does it acquire confidence, settle down, and resolve on it. Instead, agitation and clinging arise and the mind turns back, thinking: ‘But who is my self?’ But such does not happen to one who sees the Dhamma. So who can teach me the Dhamma in such a way that I might see the Dhamma?”
    Then it occurred to the Venerable Channa: “This Venerable Ānanda is dwelling at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park, and he has been praised by the Teacher and is esteemed by his wise brothers in the holy life. The Venerable Ānanda is capable of teaching me the Dhamma in such a way that I might see the Dhamma. Since I have so much trust in the Venerable Ānanda, let me approach him.”
    Then the Venerable Channa set his lodging in order, took his bowl and robe, and went to Ghosita’s Park in Kosambī, where he approached the Venerable Ānanda and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and told the Venerable Ānanda everything that had happened, adding: [134] “Let the Venerable Ānanda exhort me, let him instruct me, let him give me a Dhamma talk in such a way that I might see the Dhamma.”
    “Even by this much am I pleased with the Venerable Channa. Perhaps the Venerable Channa has opened himself up and broken through his barrenness. Lend your ear, friend Channa, you are capable of understanding the Dhamma.”
    Then at once a lofty rapture and gladness arose in the Venerable Channa as he thought: “It seems that I am capable of understanding the Dhamma.”
    [The Venerable Ānanda then said:] “In the presence of the Blessed One I have heard this, friend Channa, in his presence I have received the exhortation he spoke to the bhikkhu Kaccānagotta:
    “This world, Kaccāna, for the most part relies upon a duality … [135] (the entire sutta 12:15 is cited here) … Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
    “So it is, friend Ānanda, for those venerable ones who have such compassionate and benevolent brothers in the holy life to admonish and instruct them. And now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Ānanda, I have made the breakthrough to the Dhamma.”

91 (9) Rāhula (1)
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Rāhula approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, [136] and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, how should one know, how should one see so that, in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs, I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit no longer occur within?”
    “Any kind of form whatsoever, Rāhula, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—one sees all form as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
    “Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—one sees all consciousness as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’
    “When one knows and sees thus, Rāhula, then in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs,
I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit no longer occur within.”

92 (10) Rāhula (2)
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Rāhula … said to the Blessed One:
    “Venerable sir, how should one know, how should one see so that, in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs, the mind is rid of I-making, mine-making, and conceit, has transcended discrimination, and is peaceful and well liberated?”
    “Any kind of form whatsoever, Rāhula, whether past, future, or present … far or near—having seen all form as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ one is liberated by nonclinging.
    “Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—[137] having seen all consciousness as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,’ one is liberated by nonclinging.
    “When one knows and sees thus, Rāhula, then in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs, the mind is rid of I-making, mine-making, and conceit, has transcended discrimination, and is peaceful and well liberated.”
 

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

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