The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 35. Saḷāyatanasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases
Division IV. The Fourth Fifty

IV. The Vipers

238 (1) The Simile of the Vipers
“Bhikkhus, suppose there were four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom. Then a man would come along wanting to live, not wanting to die, desiring happiness and averse to suffering. They would tell him: ‘Good man, these four vipers are of fierce heat and deadly venom. [173] From time to time they must be lifted up; from time to time they must be bathed; from time to time they must be fed; from time to time they must be laid to rest. But if one or another of these vipers ever becomes angry with you, then, good man, you will meet death or deadly suffering. Do whatever has to be done, good man!’
    “Then, bhikkhus, afraid of the four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom, that man would flee in one direction or another. They would tell him: ‘Good man, five murderous enemies are pursuing you, thinking, “Wherever we see him, we will take his life right on the spot.” Do whatever has to be done, good man!’
    “Then, bhikkhus, afraid of the four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom, and of the five murderous enemies, that man would flee in one direction or another. They would tell him: ‘Good man, a sixth murderer, an intimate companion, is pursuing you with drawn sword, thinking, “Wherever I see him I will cut off his head right on the spot.” Do whatever has to be done, good man!’
    “Then, bhikkhus, afraid of the four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom, and of the five murderous enemies, and of the sixth murderer, the intimate companion with drawn sword, that man would flee in one direction or another. He would see an empty village. Whatever house he enters is void, deserted, empty. Whatever pot he takes hold of is void, hollow, empty. They would tell him: ‘Good man, just now village-attacking dacoits will raid this empty village. Do whatever has to be done, good man!’ [174]
    “Then, bhikkhus, afraid of the four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom, and of the five murderous enemies, and of the sixth murderer—the intimate companion with drawn sword—and of the village-attacking dacoits, that man would flee in one direction or another. He would see a great expanse of water whose near shore was dangerous and fearful, and whose further shore was safe and free from danger, but there would be no ferryboat or bridge for crossing over from the near shore to the far shore.
    “Then the man would think: ‘There is this great expanse of water whose near shore is dangerous and fearful, and whose further shore is safe and free from danger, but there is no ferryboat or bridge for crossing over. Let me collect grass, twigs, branches, and foliage, and bind them together into a raft, so that by means of that raft, making an effort with my hands and feet, I can get safely across to the far shore.’
    “Then the man would collect grass, twigs, branches, and foliage, and bind them together into a raft, so that by means of that raft, making an effort with his hands and feet, he would get safely across to the far shore. Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on high ground.
    “I have made up this simile, bhikkhus, in order to convey a meaning. This is the meaning here: ‘The four vipers of fierce heat and deadly venom’: this is a designation for the four great elements—the earth element, the water element, the heat element, the air element.
    “‘The five murderous enemies’: this is a designation for the five aggregates subject to clinging; that is, the material 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.
    “‘The sixth murderer, the intimate companion with drawn sword’: this is a designation for delight and lust.
    “‘The empty village’: this is a designation for the six internal sense bases. If, bhikkhus, a wise, competent, intelligent person examines them by way of the eye, they appear to be void, hollow, [175] empty. If he examines them by way of the ear … by way of the mind, they appear to be void, hollow, empty.
    “‘Village-attacking dacoits’: this is a designation for the six external sense bases. The eye, bhikkhus, is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable forms. The ear … The nose … The tongue … The body … The mind is attacked by agreeable and disagreeable mental phenomena.
    “‘The great expanse of water’: this is a designation for the four floods: the flood of sensuality, the flood of existence, the flood of views, and the flood of ignorance.
    “‘The near shore, which is dangerous and fearful’: this is a designation for identity.
    “‘The further shore, which is safe and free from danger’: this is a designation for Nibbāna.
    “‘The raft’: this is a designation for the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration.
    “‘Making effort with hands and feet’: this is a designation for the arousing of energy.
    “‘Crossed over, gone beyond, the brahmin stands on high ground’: this is a designation for the arahant.”

239 (2) The Simile of the Chariot
“Bhikkhus, by possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu lives full of happiness and joy in this very life, and he has laid a foundation for the destruction of the taints. What are the three? He is one who guards the doors of the sense faculties, who is moderate in eating, and who is devoted to wakefulness. [176]
    “And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu one who guards the doors of the sense faculties? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu does not grasp its signs and features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unrestrained, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having smelt an odour with the nose … Having tasted a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, a bhikkhu does not grasp its signs and its features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unrestrained, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, a chariot harnessed to thoroughbreds was standing ready on even ground at a crossroads, with a goad on hand. Then a skilful trainer, a charioteer of horses to be tamed, would mount it and, taking the reins in his left hand and the goad in his right, would drive away and return by any route he wants, whenever he wants. So too, a bhikkhu trains in protecting these six sense faculties, trains in controlling them, trains in taming them, trains in pacifying them. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu moderate in eating? Here, reflecting wisely, a bhikkhu takes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of this body, for ending discomfort, and for assisting the holy life, considering: ‘Thus I shall terminate the old feeling and not arouse a new feeling, and I shall be healthy and blameless and live in comfort.’ [177] Just as a person anoints a wound only for the purpose of enabling it to heal, or just as one greases an axle only for the sake of transporting a load, so a bhikkhu, reflecting wisely, takes food … for assisting the holy life. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu is moderate in eating.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu devoted to wakefulness? Here, during the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, a bhikkhu purifies his mind of obstructive states. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. In the middle watch of the night he lies down on the right side in the lion’s posture with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and clearly comprehending, after noting in his mind the idea of rising. After rising, in the last watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu is devoted to wakefulness.
    “Bhikkhus, it is by possessing these three qualities that a bhikkhu lives full of happiness and joy in this very life, and he has laid the foundation for the destruction of the taints.”

240 (3) The Simile of the Tortoise
“Bhikkhus, in the past a tortoise was searching for food along the bank of a river one evening. On that same evening a jackal was also searching for food along the bank of that same river. When the tortoise saw the jackal in the distance searching for food, [178] it drew its limbs and neck inside its shell and passed the time keeping still and silent.
    “The jackal had also seen the tortoise in the distance searching for food, so he approached and waited close by, thinking, ‘When this tortoise extends one or another of its limbs or its neck, I will grab it right on the spot, pull it out, and eat it.’ But because the tortoise did not extend any of its limbs or its neck, the jackal, failing to gain access to it, lost interest in it and departed.
    “So too, bhikkhus, Māra the Evil One is constantly and continually waiting close by you, thinking, ‘Perhaps I will gain access to him through the eye or through the ear … or through the mind.’ Therefore, bhikkhus, dwell guarding the doors of the sense faculties. Having seen a form with the eye, do not grasp its signs and features. Since, if you leave the eye faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the eye faculty, undertake the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having smelt an odour with the nose … Having savoured a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, do not grasp its signs and features. Since, if you leave the mind faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure might invade you, practise the way of its restraint, guard the mind faculty, undertake the restraint of the mind faculty.
    “When, bhikkhus, you dwell guarding the doors of the sense faculties, Māra the Evil One, failing to gain access to you, will lose interest in you and depart, just as the jackal departed from the tortoise.” [179]

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

241 (4) The Simile of the Great Log (1)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Kosambī on the bank of the river Ganges. The Blessed One saw a great log being carried along by the current of the river Ganges, and he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Do you see, bhikkhus, that great log being carried along by the current of the river Ganges?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”
    “If, bhikkhus, that log does not veer towards the near shore, does not veer towards the far shore, does not sink in mid-stream, does not get cast up on high ground, does not get caught by human beings, does not get caught by nonhuman beings, does not get caught in a whirlpool, and does not become inwardly rotten, it will slant, slope, and incline towards the ocean. For what reason? Because the current of the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the ocean.
    “So too, bhikkhus, if you do not veer towards the near shore, do not veer towards the far shore, do not sink in mid-stream, do not get cast up on high ground, do not get caught by human beings, do not get caught by nonhuman beings, do not get caught in a whirlpool, and do not become inwardly rotten, [180] you will slant, slope, and incline towards Nibbāna. For what reason? Because right view slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbāna.”
    When this was said, a certain bhikkhu asked the Blessed One: “What, venerable sir, is the near shore? What is the far shore? What is sinking in mid-stream? What is getting cast up on high ground? What is getting caught by human beings, what is getting caught by nonhuman beings, what is getting caught in a whirlpool? What is inward rottenness?”
    “‘The near shore,’ bhikkhu: this is a designation for the six internal sense bases. ‘The far shore’: this is a designation for the six external sense bases. ‘Sinking in mid-stream’: this is a designation for delight and lust. ‘Getting cast up on high ground’: this is a designation for the conceit ‘I am.’
    “And what, bhikkhu, is getting caught by human beings? Here, someone lives in association with laypeople; he rejoices with them and sorrows with them, he is happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad, and he involves himself in their affairs and duties. This is called getting caught by human beings.
    “And what, bhikkhu, is getting caught by nonhuman beings? Here, someone lives the holy life with the aspiration [to be reborn] into a certain order of devas, thinking: ‘By this virtue or vow or austerity or holy life I will become a deva or one among the devas.’ This is called getting caught by nonhuman beings.
    “‘Getting caught in a whirlpool’: this, bhikkhu, is a designation for the five cords of sensual pleasure.
    “And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, [181] not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
    Now on that occasion the cowherd Nanda was standing near the Blessed One. He then said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, I will not veer towards the near shore, I will not veer towards the far shore, I will not sink in mid-stream, I will not get cast up on high ground, I will not get caught by human beings, I will not get caught by nonhuman beings, I will not get caught in a whirlpool, I will not become inwardly rotten. May I receive the going forth under the Blessed One, may I receive the higher ordination?”
    “In that case, Nanda, return the cows to their owners.”
    “The cows will go back of their own accord, venerable sir, out of attachment to the calves.”
    “Return the cows to their owners, Nanda.”
    Then the cowherd Nanda returned the cows to their owners, came back to the Blessed One, and said: “The cows have been returned to their owners, venerable sir. May I receive the going forth under the Blessed One, may I receive the higher ordination?”
    Then the cowherd Nanda received the going forth under the Blessed One, and he received the higher ordination. And soon, not long after his higher ordination, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute … the Venerable Nanda became one of the arahants.”

242 (5) The Simile of the Great Log (2)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Kimbilā on the bank of the river Ganges. The Blessed One saw a great log being carried along by the current of the river Ganges, and he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Do you see, bhikkhus, [182] that great log being carried along by the current of the river Ganges?”
    “Yes, venerable sir.”… (as above) …
    When this was said, the Venerable Kimbila asked the Blessed One: “What, venerable sir, is the near shore … what is inward rottenness?”
    (Replies as above except the following:)
    “And what, Kimbila, is inward rottenness? Here, Kimbila, a bhikkhu commits a certain defiled offence, an offence of a kind that does not allow for rehabilitation. This is called inward rottenness.”

243 (6) Exposition on the Corrupted
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu in Nigrodha’s Park. Now on that occasion a new assembly hall had just been built for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu and it had not yet been inhabited by any ascetic or brahmin or by any human being at all. Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, a new council hall has just been built for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu and it has not yet been inhabited by any ascetic or brahmin or by any human being at all. [183] Venerable sir, let the Blessed One be the first to use it. When the Blessed One has used it first, then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu will use it afterwards. That will lead to their welfare and happiness for a long time.”
    The Blessed One consented by silence. Then, when the Sakyans understood that the Blessed One had consented, they rose from their seats and, after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on their right, they went to the new assembly hall. They covered it thoroughly with mats, prepared seats, put out a large water jug, and hung up an oil lamp. Then they approached the Blessed One and informed him of this, adding: “Let the Blessed One come at his own convenience.”
    Then the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, went together with the Saṅgha of bhikkhus to the new assembly hall. After washing his feet, he entered the hall and sat down against the central pillar facing east. The bhikkhus too, after washing their feet, entered the hall and sat down against the western wall facing east, with the Blessed One in front of them. The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu too, after washing their feet, entered the hall and sat down against the eastern wall facing west, with the Blessed One in front of them.
    The Blessed One then instructed, exhorted, inspired, and gladdened the Sakyans with a Dhamma talk through much of the night, after which he dismissed them, saying: “The night has passed, Gotamas. You may go at your own convenience.” [184]
    “Yes, venerable sir,” they replied. Then they rose from their seats and, after paying homage to the Blessed One, keeping him on their right, they departed. Then, not long after the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu had left, the Blessed One addressed the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna thus: “The Saṅgha of bhikkhus is free from sloth and torpor, Moggallāna. Give a Dhamma talk to the bhikkhus. My back is aching, so I will stretch it.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna replied.
    Then the Blessed One prepared his outer robe folded in four and lay down on his right side in the lion’s posture, with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and clearly comprehending, after noting in his mind the idea of rising. Thereupon the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Friends, bhikkhus!”
    “Friend!” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Mahāmoggallāna said this:
    “I will teach you, friends, an exposition on the corrupted and the uncorrupted. Listen to it and attend closely, I will speak.”
    “Yes, friend,” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Mahāmoggallāna said this:
    “How, friends, is one corrupted? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is intent upon a pleasing form and repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. [185] Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder.
    “This is called, friends, a bhikkhu who is corrupted amidst forms cognizable by the eye, corrupted amidst sounds cognizable by the ear, corrupted amidst odours cognizable by the nose, corrupted amidst tastes cognizable by the tongue, corrupted amidst tactile objects cognizable by the body, corrupted amidst mental phenomena cognizable by the mind. When a bhikkhu dwells thus, if Māra approaches him through the eye, Māra gains access to him, Māra gets a hold on him. If Māra approaches him through the ear … through the mind, Māra gains access to him, Māra gets a hold on him.
    “Suppose, friends, there is a shed made of reeds or of grass, dried up, desiccated, past its prime. If a man approaches it from the east with a blazing grass torch, or from the west, from the north, from the south, from below, or from above, whichever way he approaches it the fire gains access to it, the fire gets a hold on it. So too, friends, when a bhikkhu dwells thus, if Māra approaches him through the eye … through the mind, Māra gains access to him, Māra gets a hold on him.
    “When a bhikkhu dwells thus, forms overwhelm him; he does not overwhelm forms. Sounds overwhelm him; [186] he does not overwhelm sounds. Odours overwhelm him; he does not overwhelm odours. Tastes overwhelm him; he does not overwhelm tastes. Tactile objects overwhelm him; he does not overwhelm tactile objects. Mental phenomena overwhelm him; he does not overwhelm mental phenomena. This is called, friends, a bhikkhu who is overwhelmed by forms, overwhelmed by sounds, overwhelmed by odours, overwhelmed by tastes, overwhelmed by tactile objects, overwhelmed by mental phenomena—one who is overwhelmed and who does not overwhelm. Evil unwholesome states have overwhelmed him, states that defile, that lead to renewed existence, that bring trouble, that result in suffering, and that lead to future birth, aging, and death.
    “It is in this way, friends, that one is corrupted.
    “And how, friends, is one uncorrupted? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is not intent upon a pleasing form and not repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is not intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and not repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder.
    “This is called, friends, a bhikkhu who is uncorrupted amidst forms cognizable by the eye, uncorrupted amidst sounds cognizable by the ear, uncorrupted amidst odours cognizable by the nose, uncorrupted amidst tastes cognizable by the tongue, uncorrupted amidst tactile objects cognizable by the body, uncorrupted amidst mental phenomena cognizable by the mind. When a bhikkhu dwells thus, if Māra approaches him through the eye, Māra fails to gain access to him, Māra fails to get a hold on him. If Māra approaches him through the ear … through the mind, Māra fails to gain access to him, Māra fails to get a hold on him.
    “Suppose, friends, there is a peaked house or a hall [187] built of thickly packed clay and freshly plastered. If a man approaches it from the east with a blazing grass torch, or from the west, from the north, from the south, from below, or from above, whichever way he approaches it the fire fails to gain access to it, the fire fails to get a hold on it. So too, friends, when a bhikkhu dwells thus, if Māra approaches him through the eye … through the mind, Māra fails to gain access to him, Māra fails to get a hold on him.
    “When a bhikkhu dwells thus, he overwhelms forms; forms do not overwhelm him. He overwhelms sounds; sounds do not overwhelm him. He overwhelms odours; odours do not overwhelm him. He overwhelms tastes; tastes do not overwhelm him. He overwhelms tactile objects; tactile objects do not overwhelm him. He overwhelms mental phenomena; mental phenomena do not overwhelm him. This is called, friends, a bhikkhu who overwhelms forms, who overwhelms sounds, who overwhelms odours, who overwhelms tastes, who overwhelms tactile objects, who overwhelms mental phenomena—one who overwhelms and who is not overwhelmed. He has overwhelmed those evil unwholesome states that defile, that lead to renewed existence, that bring trouble, that result in suffering, and that lead to future birth, aging, and death.
    “It is in this way, friends, that one is uncorrupted.”
    Then the Blessed One got up and addressed the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna thus: “Good, good, Moggallāna! You have spoken well to the bhikkhus the exposition on the corrupted and the uncorrupted.”
    This is what the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna said. [188] The Teacher approved. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna’s statement.

244 (7) States That Entail Suffering
“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of all states whatsoever that entail suffering, then sensual pleasures have been seen by him in such a way that as he looks at them sensual desire, sensual affection, sensual infatuation, and sensual passion do not lie latent within him in regard to sensual pleasures; then he has comprehended a mode of conduct and manner of dwelling in such a way that as he conducts himself thus and as he dwells thus, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure do not flow in upon him.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu understand as they really are the origin and the passing away of all states whatsoever that entail suffering? ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away; such is feeling … such is perception … such are volitional formations … such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away’: it is in such a way that a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of all states whatsoever that entail suffering.
    “And how, bhikkhus, are sensual pleasures seen by a bhikkhu in such a way that as he looks at them sensual desire, sensual affection, sensual infatuation, and sensual passion do not lie latent within him in regard to sensual pleasures? Suppose there is a charcoal pit deeper than a man’s height, filled with glowing coals without flame or smoke. A man would come along wanting to live, not wanting to die, desiring happiness and averse to suffering. Then two strong men would grab him by both arms and drag him towards the charcoal pit. The man would wriggle his body this way and that. For what reason? Because he knows: [189] ‘I will fall into this charcoal pit and I will thereby meet death or deadly suffering.’ So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has seen sensual pleasures as similar to a charcoal pit, sensual desire, sensual affection, sensual infatuation, and sensual passion do not lie latent within him in regard to sensual pleasures.
    “And how, bhikkhus, has a bhikkhu comprehended a mode of conduct and manner of dwelling in such a way that as he conducts himself thus and as he dwells thus, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure do not flow in upon him? Suppose a man would enter a thorny forest. There would be thorns in front of him, thorns behind him, thorns to his left, thorns to his right, thorns below him, thorns above him. He would go forward mindfully, he would go back mindfully, thinking, ‘May no thorn prick me!’ So too, bhikkhus, whatever in the world has a pleasing and agreeable nature is called a thorn in the Noble One’s Discipline. Having understood this thus as ‘a thorn,’ one should understand restraint and nonrestraint.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is there nonrestraint? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is intent upon a pleasing form and repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. It is in such a way that there is nonrestraint.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is there restraint? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is not intent upon a pleasing form and not repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, [190] wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is not intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and not repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. It is in such a way that there is restraint.
    “When, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is conducting himself and dwelling in such a way, if occasionally, due to a lapse of mindfulness, evil unwholesome memories and intentions connected with the fetters arise in him, slow might be the arising of his mindfulness, but then he quickly abandons them, dispels them, puts an end to them, obliterates them. Suppose a man let two or three drops of water fall onto an iron plate heated for a whole day. Slow might be the falling of the water drops, but then they would quickly vaporize and vanish. So too, when a bhikkhu is conducting himself and dwelling in such a way … slow might be the arising of his mindfulness, but then he quickly abandons them, dispels them, puts an end to them, obliterates them.
    “Thus a bhikkhu has comprehended a mode of conduct and manner of dwelling in such a way that as he conducts himself and as he dwells thus, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and displeasure do not flow in upon him.
    “When a bhikkhu is conducting himself thus and dwelling thus, kings or royal ministers, friends or colleagues, relatives or kinsmen, might invite him to accept wealth, saying: ‘Come, good man, why let these saffron robes weigh you down? Why roam around with a shaven head and a begging bowl? Come, having returned to the lower life, enjoy wealth and do meritorious deeds.’ Indeed, bhikkhus, when that bhikkhu is conducting himself thus and dwelling thus, it is impossible that he will give up the training and return to the lower life. [191]
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, that when the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the east, a great crowd of people would come along bringing a shovel and basket, thinking: ‘We will make this river Ganges slant, slope, and incline towards the west.’ What do you think, bhikkhus, would that great crowd of people be able to make the river Ganges slant, slope, and incline towards the west?”
    “No, venerable sir. For what reason? Because the river Ganges slants, slopes, and inclines towards the east, and it is not easy to make it slant, slope, and incline towards the west. That great crowd of people would only reap fatigue and vexation.”
    “So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is conducting himself thus and dwelling thus, kings or royal ministers, friends or colleagues, relatives or kinsmen, might invite him to accept wealth … [but] it is impossible that he will give up the training and return to the lower life. For what reason? Because for a long time his mind has slanted, sloped, and inclined towards seclusion. Thus it is impossible that he will give up the training and return to the lower life.”

245 (8) The Kiṃsuka Tree
One bhikkhu approached another and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”
    “When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the six bases for contact, [192] in this way his vision is well purified.”
    Then the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”
    “When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the five aggregates subject to clinging, in this way his vision is well purified.”
    Again, the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached still another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”
    “When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and the passing away of the four great elements, in this way his vision is well purified.”
    Again, the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached still another bhikkhu and asked him: “In what way, friend, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”
    “When, friend, a bhikkhu understands as it really is: ‘Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation,’ in this way his vision is well purified.”
    Then the first bhikkhu, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, approached the Blessed One, reported everything that had happened, [193] and asked: “In what way, venerable sir, is a bhikkhu’s vision well purified?”
    “Bhikkhu, suppose there was a man who had never before seen a kiṃsuka tree. He might approach a man who had seen a kiṃsuka tree and ask him: ‘Sir, what is a kiṃsuka tree like?’ The other might answer: ‘Good man, a kiṃsuka tree is blackish, like a charred stump.’ On that occasion a kiṃsuka tree was for him exactly as it had been in the other man’s sight.
    “Then that man, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, might approach another man who had seen a kiṃsuka tree and ask him: ‘Sir, what is a kiṃsuka tree like?’ The other might answer: ‘Good man, a kiṃsuka tree is reddish, like a piece of meat.’ On that occasion a kiṃsuka tree was for him exactly as it had been in the other man’s sight.
    “Then that man, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, might approach still another man who had seen a kiṃsuka tree and ask him: ’Sir, what is a kiṃsuka tree like?’ The other might answer: ‘Good man, a kiṃsuka tree has strips of bark hanging down and burst pods, like an acacia tree.’ On that occasion a kiṃsuka tree was for him exactly as it had been in the other man’s sight.
    “Then that man, dissatisfied with the other’s answer, [194] might approach still another man who had seen a kiṃsuka tree and ask him: ‘Sir, what is a kiṃsuka tree like?’ The other might answer: ‘Good man, a kiṃsuka tree has plenty of leaves and foliage and gives abundant shade, like a banyan tree.’ On that occasion a kiṃsuka tree was for him exactly as it had been in the other man’s sight.
    “So too, bhikkhu, those superior men answered as they were disposed in just the way their own vision had been well purified.
    “Suppose, bhikkhu, a king had a frontier city with strong ramparts, walls, and arches, and with six gates. The gatekeeper posted there would be wise, competent, and intelligent; one who keeps out strangers and admits acquaintances. A swift pair of messengers would come from the east and ask the gatekeeper: ‘Where, good man, is the lord of this city?’ He would reply: ‘He is sitting in the central square.’ Then the swift pair of messengers would deliver a message of reality to the lord of the city and leave by the route by which they had arrived. Similarly, messengers would come from the west, from the north, from the south, deliver their message, and leave by the route by which they had arrived.
    “I have made up this simile, bhikkhu, in order to convey a meaning. This is the meaning here: ‘The city’: this is a designation for this body consisting of the four great elements, originating from mother and father, built up out of boiled rice and gruel, subject to impermanence, to being worn and rubbed away, to breaking apart and dispersal. ‘The six gates’: this is a designation for the six internal sense bases. ‘The gatekeeper’: this is a designation for mindfulness. [195] ‘The swift pair of messengers’: this is a designation for serenity and insight. ‘The lord of the city’: this is designation for consciousness. ‘The central square’: this is a designation for the four great elements—the earth element, the water element, the heat element, the air element. ‘A message of reality’: this is a designation for Nibbāna. ‘The route by which they had arrived’: this is a designation for the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration.”

246 (9) The Simile of the Lute
“Bhikkhus, if in any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī desire or lust or hatred or delusion or aversion of mind should arise in regard to forms cognizable by the eye, such a one should rein in the mind from them thus: ‘This path is fearful, dangerous, strewn with thorns, covered by jungle, a deviant path, an evil path, a way beset by scarcity. This is a path followed by inferior people; it is not the path followed by superior people. This is not for you.’ In this way the mind should be reined in from these states regarding forms cognizable by the eye. So too regarding sounds cognizable by the ear … regarding mental phenomena cognizable by the mind.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, that the barley has ripened and the watchman is negligent. If a bull fond of barley enters the barley field, he might indulge himself as much as he likes. [196] So too, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling who does not exercise restraint over the six bases for contact indulges himself as much as he likes in the five cords of sensual pleasure.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, that the barley has ripened and the watchman is vigilant. If a bull fond of barley enters the barley field, the watchman would catch hold of him firmly by the muzzle. While holding him firmly by the muzzle, he would get a secure grip on the locks between his horns and, keeping him in check there, would give him a sound beating with his staff. After giving him that beating, he would drive the bull away. This might happen a second time and a third time. Thus that bull fond of barley, whether he has gone to the village or the forest, whether he is accustomed to standing or to sitting, remembering the previous beating he got from the staff, would not enter that barley field again.
    “So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu’s mind has been subdued, well subdued, regarding the six bases for contact, it then becomes inwardly steady, settled, unified, and concentrated.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a king or a royal minister who had never before heard the sound of a lute. He might hear the sound of a lute and say: ‘Good man, what is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, [197] so entrancing, so enthralling?’ They would say to him: ‘Sire, it is a lute that is making this sound—so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ He would reply: ‘Go, man, bring me that lute.’
    “They would bring him the lute and tell him: ‘Sire, this is that lute, the sound of which was so tantalizing, so lovely, so intoxicating, so entrancing, so enthralling.’ The king would say: ‘I’ve had enough with this lute, man. Bring me just that sound.’ The men would reply: ‘This lute, sire, consists of numerous components, of a great many components, and it gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components; that is, in dependence on the parchment sounding board, the belly, the arm, the head, the strings, the plectrum, and the appropriate effort of the musician. So it is, sire, that this lute consisting of numerous components, of a great many components, gives off a sound when it is played upon with its numerous components.’
    “The king would split the lute into ten or a hundred pieces, then he would reduce these to splinters. Having reduced them to splinters, he would burn them in a fire and reduce them to ashes, and he would winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by the swift current of a river. Then he would say: ‘A poor thing, indeed sir, is this so-called lute, as well as anything else called a lute. How the multitude are utterly heedless about it, utterly taken in by it!’
    “So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form, he investigates feeling to the extent that there is a range for feeling, he investigates perception to the extent that there is a range for perception, he investigates volitional formations to the extent that there is a range for volitional formations, he investigates consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness. [198] As he investigates form to the extent that there is a range for form … consciousness to the extent that there is a range for consciousness, whatever notions of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am’ had occurred to him before no longer occur to him.”

247 (10) The Simile of the Six Animals
“Bhikkhus, suppose a man with limbs wounded and festering would enter a wood of thorny reeds, and the kusa thorns would prick his feet and the reed blades would slash his limbs. Thus that man would thereby experience even more pain and displeasure. So too, bhikkhus, some bhikkhu here, gone to the village or the forest, meets someone who reproaches him thus: ‘This venerable one, acting in such a way, behaving in such a way, is a foul village thorn.’ Having understood him thus as a ‘thorn,’ one should understand restraint and nonrestraint.
    “And how, bhikkhus is there nonrestraint? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is intent upon a pleasing form and repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. He dwells without having set up mindfulness of the body, with a limited mind, and he does not understand as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would catch six animals—with different domains and different feeding grounds—and tie them by a strong rope. He would catch a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, [199] a jackal, and a monkey, and tie each by a strong rope. Having done so, he would tie the ropes together with a knot in the middle and release them. Then those six animals with different domains and different feeding grounds would each pull in the direction of its own feeding ground and domain. The snake would pull one way, thinking, ‘Let me enter an anthill.’ The crocodile would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter the water.’ The bird would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me fly up into the sky.’ The dog would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a village.’ The jackal would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a charnel ground.’ The monkey would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a forest.’
    “Now when these six animals become worn out and fatigued, they would be dominated by the one among them that was strongest; they would submit to it and come under its control. So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has not developed and cultivated mindfulness directed to the body, the eye pulls in the direction of agreeable forms and disagreeable forms are repulsive; the ear pulls in the direction of agreeable sounds and disagreeable sounds are repulsive; the nose pulls in the direction of agreeable odours and disagreeable odours are repulsive; the tongue pulls in the direction of agreeable tastes and disagreeable tastes are repulsive; the body pulls in the direction of agreeable tactile objects and disagreeable tactile objects are repulsive; the mind pulls in the direction of agreeable mental phenomena and disagreeable mental phenomena are repulsive.
    “It is in such a way that there is nonrestraint.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is there restraint? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu is not intent upon a pleasing form and not repelled by a displeasing form. He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, he is not intent upon a pleasing mental phenomenon and not repelled by a displeasing mental phenomenon. [200] He dwells having set up mindfulness of the body, with a measureless mind, and he understands as it really is that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. It is in such a way that there is restraint.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, a man would catch six animals—with different domains and different feeding grounds—and tie them by a strong rope. He would catch a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal, and a monkey, and tie each by a strong rope. Having done so, he would bind them to a strong post or pillar. Then those six animals with different domains and different feeding grounds would each pull in the direction of its own feeding ground and domain. The snake would pull one way, thinking, ‘Let me enter an anthill’ … (as above) … The monkey would pull another way, thinking, ‘Let me enter a forest.’
    “Now when these six animals become worn out and fatigued, they would stand close to that post or pillar, they would sit down there, they would lie down there. So too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu has developed and cultivated mindfulness directed to the body, the eye does not pull in the direction of agreeable forms nor are disagreeable forms repulsive; the ear does not pull in the direction of agreeable sounds nor are disagreeable sounds repulsive; the nose does not pull in the direction of agreeable odours nor are disagreeable odours repulsive; the tongue does not pull in the direction of agreeable tastes nor are disagreeable tastes repulsive; the body does not pull in the direction of agreeable tactile objects nor are disagreeable tactile objects repulsive; the mind does not pull in the direction of agreeable mental phenomena nor are disagreeable mental phenomena repulsive.
    “It is in such a way that there is restraint.
    “‘A strong post or pillar’: this, bhikkhus, is a designation for mindfulness directed to the body. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate mindfulness directed to the body, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus should you train yourselves.” [201]

248 (11) The Sheaf of Barley
“Bhikkhus, suppose a sheaf of barley were set down at a crossroads. Then six men would come along with flails in their hands and they would strike that sheaf of barley with the six flails. Thus that sheaf of barley would be well struck, having been struck by the six flails. Then a seventh man would come along with a flail in his hand and he would strike that sheaf of barley with the seventh flail. Thus that sheaf of barley would be struck even still more thoroughly, having been struck by the seventh flail.
    “So too, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling is struck in the eye by agreeable and disagreeable forms; struck in the ear by agreeable and disagreeable sounds; struck in the nose by agreeable and disagreeable odours; struck in the tongue by agreeable and disagreeable tastes; struck in the body by agreeable and disagreeable tactile objects; struck in the mind by agreeable and disagreeable mental phenomena. If that uninstructed worldling sets his mind upon future renewed existence, then that senseless man is struck even still more thoroughly, just like the sheaf of barley struck by the seventh flail.
    “Once in the past, bhikkhus, the devas and the asuras were arrayed for battle. Then Vepacitti, lord of the asuras, addressed the asuras thus: ‘Good sirs, if in this impending battle the asuras win and the devas are defeated, bind Sakka, lord of the devas, by his four limbs and neck and bring him to me in the city of the asuras.’ And Sakka, lord of the devas, addressed the Tāvatiṃsa devas: ‘Good sirs, if in this impending battle the devas win and the asuras are defeated, bind Vepacitti, lord of the asuras, by his four limbs and neck and bring him to me in Sudhamma, the assembly hall of the devas.’
    “In that battle the devas won and the asuras were defeated. [202] Then the Tāvatiṃsa devas bound Vepacitti by his four limbs and neck and brought him to Sakka in Sudhamma, the assembly hall of the devas. And there Vepacitti, lord of the asuras, was bound by his four limbs and neck.
    “When it occurred to Vepacitti: ‘The devas are righteous, the asuras are unrighteous; now right here I have gone to the city of the devas,’ he then saw himself freed from the bonds around his limbs and neck and he enjoyed himself furnished and endowed with the five cords of divine sensual pleasure. But when it occurred to him: ‘The asuras are righteous, the devas are unrighteous; now I will go there to the city of the asuras,’ then he saw himself bound by his four limbs and neck and he was deprived of the five cords of divine sensual pleasure.
    “So subtle, bhikkhus, was the bondage of Vepacitti, but even subtler than that is the bondage of Māra. In conceiving, one is bound by Māra; by not conceiving, one is freed from the Evil One.
    “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall consist of form’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be formless’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be nonpercipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither percipient nor nonpercipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with a mind devoid of conceiving.’
    “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is a perturbation; ‘I am this’ is a perturbation; ‘I shall be’ is a perturbation … ‘I shall be neither percipient nor nonpercipient’ is a perturbation. Perturbation [203] is a disease, perturbation is a tumour, perturbation is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with an imperturbable mind.’
    “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is a palpitation; ‘I am this’ is a palpitation; ‘I shall be’ is a palpitation … ‘I shall be neither percipient nor nonpercipient’ is a palpitation. Palpitation is a disease, palpitation is a tumour, palpitation is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with a mind devoid of palpitation.’
    “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is a proliferation; ‘I am this’ is a proliferation; ‘I shall be’ is a proliferation … ‘I shall be neither percipient nor nonpercipient’ is a proliferation. Proliferation is a disease, proliferation is a tumour, proliferation is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with a mind devoid of proliferation.’
    “Bhikkhus, ‘I am’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I am this’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall be’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall not be’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall consist of form’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall be formless’ is an involvement with conceit ; ‘I shall be percipient’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall be nonpercipient’ is an involvement with conceit; ‘I shall be neither percipient nor nonpercipient’ is an involvement with conceit. Involvement with conceit is a disease, involvement with conceit is a tumour, involvement with conceit is a dart. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will dwell with a mind in which conceit has been struck down.’ Thus should you train yourselves.”
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

Creative Commons License
This selection from The Connected Discourses of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Bodhi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/connected-discourses-buddha.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.wisdompubs.org/terms-use.