The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 44. Abyākatasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Undeclared

1 Khemā
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Now on that occasion the bhikkhunī Khemā, while wandering on tour among the Kosalans, had taken up residence in Toraṇavatthu between Sāvatthī and Sāketa. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, while travelling from Sāketa to Sāvatthī, took up residence for one night in Toraṇavatthu between Sāketa and Sāvatthī. Then King Pasenadi of Kosala addressed a man thus: “Go, good man, and find out whether there is any ascetic or brahmin in Toraṇavatthu whom I could visit today.”
    “Yes, sire,” the man replied, but though he traversed the whole of Toraṇavatthu he did not see any ascetic or brahmin there whom King Pasenadi could visit. The man did see, however, the bhikkhunī Khemā resident in Toraṇavatthu, so he approached King Pasenadi and said to him:
    “Sire, there is no ascetic or brahmin in Toraṇavatthu whom your majesty could visit. But, sire, there is the bhikkhunī named Khemā, a disciple of the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One. Now a good report concerning this revered lady has spread about thus: [375] ‘She is wise, competent, intelligent, learned, a splendid speaker, ingenious.’ Let your majesty visit her.”
    Then King Pasenadi of Kosala approached the bhikkhunī Khemā, paid homage to her, sat down to one side, and said to her:
    “How is it, revered lady, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    “Great king, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death.’”
    “Then, revered lady, does the Tathāgata not exist after death?”
    “Great king, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death.’”
    “How is it then, revered lady, does the Tathāgata both exist and not exist after death?”
    “Great king, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death.’”
    “Then, revered lady, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?”
    “Great king, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “How is this, revered lady? When asked, ‘How is it, revered lady, does the Tathāgata exist after death?’ … And when asked, ‘Then, revered lady, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?’—in each case you say: ‘Great king, the Blessed One has not declared this.’ What now, [376] revered lady, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Well then, great king, I will question you about this same matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, great king? Do you have an accountant or calculator or mathematician who can count the grains of sand in the river Ganges thus: ‘There are so many grains of sand,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of grains of sand,’ or ‘There are so many thousands of grains of sand,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of thousands of grains of sand’?”
    “No, revered lady.”
    “Then, great king, do you have an accountant or calculator or mathematician who can count the water in the great ocean thus: ‘There are so many gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many thousands of gallons of water,’ or ‘There are so many hundreds of thousands of gallons of water’?”
    “No, revered lady. For what reason? Because the great ocean is deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom.”
    “So too, great king, that form by which one describing the Tathāgata might describe him has been abandoned by the Tathāgata, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising. The Tathāgata, great king, is liberated from reckoning in terms of form; he is deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom like the great ocean. ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’ does not apply.
    “That feeling by which one describing the Tathāgata might describe him [377] … That perception by which one describing the Tathāgata might describe him … Those volitional formations by which one describing the Tathāgata might describe him … That consciousness by which one describing the Tathāgata might describe him has been abandoned by the Tathāgata, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising. The Tathāgata, great king, is liberated from reckoning in terms of consciousness; he is deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom like the great ocean. ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’ does not apply.”
    Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, having delighted and rejoiced in the bhikkhunī Khemā’s statement, rose from his seat, paid homage to her, and departed, keeping her on his right.
    Then, on a later occasion, King Pasenadi of Kosala approached the Blessed One. Having approached, he paid homage to the Blessed One, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “How is it, venerable sir, does the Tathāgata exist after death?” [378]
    “Great king, I have not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death.’”
    (All as above down to:)
    “Great king, I have not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “How is this, venerable sir? When asked, ‘How is it, venerable sir, does the Tathāgata exist after death?’ … And when asked, ‘Then, venerable sir, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?’—in each case you say: ‘Great king, I have not declared this.’ What now, venerable sir, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Well then, great king, I will question you about this same matter. Answer as you see fit. What do you think, great king? Do you have an accountant or calculator or mathematician … (all as above down to:) [379] … The Tathāgata, great king, is liberated from reckoning in terms of consciousness: he is deep, immeasurable, hard to fathom like the great ocean. ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death’ does not apply; ‘the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’ does not apply.”
    “It is wonderful, venerable sir! It is amazing, venerable sir! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter. On one occasion, venerable sir, I approached the bhikkhunī Khemā and asked her about this matter. The revered lady explained this matter to me in exactly the same terms and phrases that the Blessed One used. It is wonderful, venerable sir! It is amazing, venerable sir! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter. Now, venerable sir, we must go. We are busy and have much to do.”
    “Then, great king, you may go at your own convenience.”
    Then King Pasenadi of Kosala, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement, [380] rose from his seat, paid homage to him, and departed, keeping him on his right.

2 Anurādha
(Identical with 22:86.) [381–84]

3 Sāriputta and Koṭṭhita (1)
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Sāriputta. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Sāriputta and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, friend Sāriputta, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    “Friend, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death.’”
    (As in the preceding sutta down to:) [385]
    “Friend, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “How is this, friend? When asked, ‘How is it, friend, does the Tathāgata exist after death?’ … And when asked, ‘Then, friend, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?’—in each case you say: ‘Friend, the Blessed One has not declared this.’ What now, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “‘The Tathāgata exists after death’: this, friend, is an involvement with form. ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with form. ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with form. ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with form.
    “‘The Tathāgata exists after death’: this, friend, is an involvement with feeling … an involvement with perception … an involvement with volitional formations [386] … an involvement with consciousness. ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with consciousness. ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with consciousness. ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’: this is an involvement with consciousness.
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

4 Sāriputta and Koṭṭhita (2)
(As above down to:)
    “What now, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Friend, it is one who does not know and see form as it really is, who does not know and see its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, that thinks: ‘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.’ It is one who does not know and see feeling as it really is … who does not know and see perception as it really is … who does not know and see volitional formations as they really are … who does not know and see consciousness as it really is, who does not know and see its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … [387] … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “But, friend, one who knows and sees form … feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness as it really is, who knows and sees its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

5 Sāriputta and Koṭṭhita (3)
(As above down to:)
    “What now, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Friend, it is one who is not devoid of lust for form, who is not devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for form, that thinks: ‘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.’ It is one who is not devoid of lust for feeling … who is not devoid of lust for perception … who is not devoid of lust for volitional formations … who is not devoid of lust for consciousness, who is not devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for consciousness, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … [388] or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “But, friend, one who is devoid of lust for form … who is devoid of lust for feeling … who is devoid of lust for perception … who is devoid of lust for volitional formations … who is devoid of lust for consciousness, who is devoid of desire, affection, thirst, passion, and craving for consciousness, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

6 Sāriputta and Koṭṭhita (4)
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita were dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Mahākoṭṭhita and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, friend Koṭṭhita, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    (All as above down to:)
    “What now, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”   

(i. Delight in the aggregates)

“Friend, it is one who delights in form, who takes delight in form, who rejoices in form, and who does not know and see the cessation of form as it really is, that thinks: [389] ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ It is one who delights in feeling … who delights in perception … who delights in volitional formations … who delights in consciousness, who takes delight in consciousness, who rejoices in consciousness, and who does not know and see the cessation of consciousness as it really is, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “But, friend, one who does not delight in form … who does not delight in feeling … who does not delight in perception … who does not delight in volitional formations … who does not delight in consciousness, who does not take delight in consciousness, who does not rejoice in consciousness, and who knows and sees the cessation of consciousness as it really is, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

(ii. Delight in existence)

“But, friend, could there be another method of explaining why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “There could be, friend. It is one who delights in existence, who takes delight in existence, who rejoices in existence, and who does not know and see the cessation of existence as it really is, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ [390]
    “But, friend, one who does not delight in existence, who does not take delight in existence, who does not rejoice in existence, and who knows and sees the cessation of existence as it really is, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

(iii. Delight in clinging)

“But, friend, could there be another method of explaining why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “There could be, friend. It is one who delights in clinging, who takes delight in clinging, who rejoices in clinging, and who does not know and see the cessation of clinging as it really is, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “But, friend, one who does not delight in clinging, who does not take delight in clinging, who does not rejoice in clinging, and who knows and sees the cessation of clinging as it really is, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

(iv. Delight in craving)

“But, friend, could there be another method of explaining why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “There could be, friend. It is one who delights in craving, who takes delight in craving, who rejoices in craving, and who does not know and see the cessation of craving as it really is, that thinks: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … [391] or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “But, friend, one who does not delight in craving, who does not take delight in craving, who does not rejoice in craving, and who knows and sees the cessation of craving as it really is, does not think: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’
    “This, friend, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One.”

(v. Another method?)

“But, friend, could there be another method of explaining why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Here now, friend Sāriputta, why should you want anything additional to this? Friend Sāriputta, when a bhikkhu is liberated by the destruction of craving, there is no round for describing him.”

7 Moggallāna
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna:
    “How is it, Master Moggallāna, is the world eternal?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The world is eternal.’”
    “Then, Master Moggallāna, is the world not eternal?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The world is not eternal.’”
    “How is it then, Master Moggallāna, is the world finite?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The world is finite.’”
    “Then, Master Moggallāna, is the world infinite?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The world is infinite.’” [392]
    “How is it then, Master Moggallāna, are the soul and the body the same?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The soul and the body are the same.’”
    “Then, Master Moggallāna, is the soul one thing, the body another?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another.’”
    “How is it, Master Moggallāna, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathāgata exists after death.’”
    “Then, Master Moggallāna, does the Tathāgata not exist after death?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata does not exist after death.’”
    “How is it, then, Master Moggallāna, does the Tathāgata both exist and not exist after death?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death.’”
    “Then, Master Moggallāna, does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?”
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “What, Master Moggallāna, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ or ‘The world is not eternal’; or ‘The world is finite’ or ‘The world is infinite’; or ‘The soul and the body are the same’ or ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another’; or ‘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’? [393] And what is the cause and reason why, when the ascetic Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?”
    “Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ They regard the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards the ear … the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ Therefore, when the Tathāgata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”
    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and approached the Blessed One. He exchanged greetings with the Blessed One … and said to him:
    “How is it, good Gotama, is the world eternal?”
    (All as above down to:)
    “Vaccha, I have not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’” [394]
    “What, Master Gotama, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’? And what is the cause and reason why, when the ascetic Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?”
    “Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye … the mind thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye … the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ Therefore, when the Tathāgata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”
    “It is wonderful, Master Gotama! It is amazing, Master Gotama! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter. Just now, Master Gotama, I approached the ascetic Moggallāna [395] and asked him about this matter. The ascetic Moggallāna explained this matter to me in exactly the same terms and phrases that Master Gotama used. It is wonderful, Master Gotama! It is amazing, Master Gotama! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter.”

8 Vacchagotta
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, Master Gotama, is the world eternal?”… (as above) …
    “What, Master Gotama, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ And what is the cause and reason why, when Master Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?”
    “Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. They 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. Therefore, [396] when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, does not regard form as self … or self as in consciousness. Therefore, when the Tathāgata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”
    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and approached the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna … and said to him:
    “How is it, Master Moggallāna, is the world eternal?”
    (All as above down to:)
    “Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”
    “What, Master Moggallāna, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death’? And what is the cause and reason why when the ascetic Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?” [397]
    “Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard form as self … or self as in consciousness. Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, does not regard form as self … or self as in consciousness. Therefore, when the Tathāgata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”
    “It is wonderful, Master Moggallāna! It is amazing, Master Moggallāna! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter. Just now, Master Moggallāna, I approached the ascetic Gotama and asked him about this matter. The ascetic Gotama explained this matter to me in exactly the same terms and phrases that Master Moggallāna used. It is wonderful, Master Moggallāna! It is amazing, Master Moggallāna! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter.” [398]

9 The Debating Hall
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One:
    “In recent days, Master Gotama, a number of ascetics, brahmins, and wanderers of various sects had assembled in the debating hall and were sitting together when this conversation arose among them: ‘This Pūraṇa Kassapa—the leader of an order, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, the well known and famous spiritual guide considered holy by many people—declares the rebirth of a disciple who has passed away and died thus: “That one was reborn there, that one was reborn there.” And in the case of a disciple who was a person of the highest kind, a supreme person, one who had attained the supreme attainment, when that disciple has passed away and died he also declares his rebirth thus: “That one was reborn there, that one was reborn there.” This Makkhali Gosāla … This Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta … This Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta … This Pakudha Kaccāyana … This Ajita Kesakambalī … when that disciple has passed away [399] and died he also declares his rebirth thus: “That one was reborn there, that one was reborn there.” This ascetic Gotama—the leader of an order, the leader of a group, the teacher of a group, the well known and famous spiritual guide considered holy by many people—declares the rebirth of a disciple who has passed away and died thus: “That one was reborn there, that one was reborn there.” But in the case of a disciple who was a person of the highest kind, a supreme person, one who had attained the supreme attainment, when that disciple has passed away and died he does not declare his rebirth thus: “That one was reborn there, that one was reborn there.” Rather, he declares of him: “He cut off craving, severed the fetter, and, by completely breaking through conceit, he has made an end to suffering.”’
    “There was perplexity in me, Master Gotama, there was doubt: ‘How is the Dhamma of the ascetic Gotama to be understood?’”
    “It is fitting for you to be perplexed, Vaccha, it is fitting for you to doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. I declare, Vaccha, rebirth for one with fuel, not for one without fuel. Just as a fire burns with fuel, but not without fuel, so, Vaccha, I declare rebirth for one with fuel, not for one without fuel.”
    “Master Gotama, when a flame is flung by the wind and goes some distance, what does Master Gotama declare to be its fuel on that occasion?”
    “When, Vaccha, a flame is flung by the wind and goes some distance, I declare that it is fuelled by the wind. For on that occasion the wind is its fuel.” [400]
    “And, Master Gotama, when a being has laid down this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, what does Master Gotama declare to be its fuel on that occasion?”
    “When, Vaccha, a being has laid down this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, I declare that it is fuelled by craving. For on that occasion craving is its fuel.”

10 Ānanda (Is There a Self?)
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Blessed One … and said to him:
    “How is it now, Master Gotama, is there a self?”
    When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.
    “Then, Master Gotama, is there no self?”
    A second time the Blessed One was silent.
    Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and departed.
    Then, not long after the wanderer Vacchagotta had left, the Venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One: “Why is it, venerable sir, that when the Blessed One was questioned by the wanderer Vacchagotta, he did not answer?”
    “If, Ānanda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, ‘Is there a self?’ I had answered, ‘There is a self,’ this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are eternalists. And if, when I was asked by him, ‘Is there no self?’ I had answered, ‘There is no self,’ [401] this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are annihilationists.
    “If, Ānanda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, ‘Is there a self?’ I had answered, ‘There is a self,’ would this have been consistent on my part with the arising of the knowledge that ‘all phenomena are nonself’?”
    “No, venerable sir.”
    “And if, when I was asked by him, ‘Is there no self?’ I had answered, ‘There is no self,’ the wanderer Vacchagotta, already confused, would have fallen into even greater confusion, thinking, ‘It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now.’”

11 Sabhiya Kaccāna
On one occasion the Venerable Sabhiya Kaccāna was dwelling at Ñātika in the Brick Hall. Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Venerable Sabhiya Kaccāna and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:
    “How is it, Master Kaccāna, does the Tathāgata exist after death?”
    (All as in §1 down to:) [402]
    “What then, Master Kaccāna, is the cause and reason why this has not been declared by the Blessed One?”
    “Vaccha, as to the cause and condition for describing him as ‘consisting of form’ or as ‘formless’ or as ‘percipient’ or as ‘nonpercipient’ or as ‘neither percipient nor nonpercipient’: if that cause and condition were to cease completely and totally without remainder, in what way could one describe him as ‘consisting of form’ or as ‘formless’ or as ‘percipient’ or as ‘nonpercipient’ or as ‘neither percipient nor nonpercipient’?”
    “How long has it been since you went forth, Master Kaccāna?”
    “Not long, friend. Three years.”
    “One, friend, who has gotten so much in such a time has indeed gotten much, not to speak of one who has surpassed this!” [403]

 

The Book of the Six Sense Bases is finished.

 

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

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