The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 45. Maggasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Path

I. Ignorance

1 (1) Ignorance
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, ignorance is the forerunner in the entry upon unwholesome states, with shamelessness and fearlessness of wrongdoing following along. For an unwise person immersed in ignorance, wrong view springs up. For one of wrong view, wrong intention springs up. For one of wrong intention, wrong speech springs up. For one of wrong speech, wrong action springs up. For one of wrong action, wrong livelihood springs up. For one of wrong livelihood, wrong effort springs up. For one of wrong effort, wrong mindfulness springs up. For one of wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration springs up.
    “Bhikkhus, true knowledge is the forerunner in the entry upon wholesome states, with a sense of shame and fear of wrongdoing following along. [2] For a wise person who has arrived at true knowledge, right view springs up. For one of right view, right intention springs up. For one of right intention, right speech springs up. For one of right speech, right action springs up. For one of right action, right livelihood springs up. For one of right livelihood, right effort springs up. For one of right effort, right mindfulness springs up. For one of right mindfulness, right concentration springs up.”

2 (2) Half the Holy Life
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans where there was a town of the Sakyans named Nāgaraka. Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One. Having approached, he paid homage to the Blessed One, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, this is half of the holy life, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.”
    “Not so, Ānanda! Not so, Ānanda! This is the entire holy life, Ānanda, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship. When a bhikkhu has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.
    “And how, Ānanda, does a bhikkhu who has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu develops right view, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. He develops right intention … right speech … right action … right livelihood … right effort … right mindfulness … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu who has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path. [3]
    “By the following method too, Ānanda, it may be understood how the entire holy life is good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship: by relying upon me as a good friend, Ānanda, beings subject to birth are freed from birth; beings subject to aging are freed from aging; beings subject to death are freed from death; beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair are freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair. By this method, Ānanda, it may be understood how the entire holy life is good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.”

3 (3) Sāriputta
At Sāvatthī. Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One … and said to him:
    “Venerable sir, this is the entire holy life, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.”
    “Good, good, Sāriputta! This is the entire holy life, Sāriputta, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship. When a bhikkhu has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path.
    “And how, Sāriputta, does a bhikkhu who has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path?”
    (The rest as in the preceding sutta.) [4]

4 (4) The Brahmin
At Sāvatthī. Then, in the morning, the Venerable Ānanda dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Sāvatthī for alms. The Venerable Ānanda saw the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi departing from Sāvatthī in an all-white chariot drawn by mares. The horses yoked to it were white, its ornaments were white, the chariot was white, its upholstery was white, the reins, goad, and canopy were white, his turban, clothes, and sandals were white, and he was being fanned by a white chowry. People, having seen this, said: “Divine indeed, sir, is the vehicle! It appears to be a divine vehicle indeed, sir!”
    Then, when the Venerable Ānanda had walked for alms in Sāvatthī and returned from his alms round, after his meal he approached the Blessed One, [5] paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Here, venerable sir, in the morning I dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Sāvatthī for alms. I saw the brahmin Jāṇussoṇi departing from Sāvatthī in an all-white chariot drawn by mares…. People, having seen this, said: ‘Divine indeed, sir, is the vehicle! It appears to be a divine vehicle indeed, sir!’ Is it possible, venerable sir, to point out a divine vehicle in this Dhamma and Discipline?”
    “It is possible, Ānanda,” the Blessed One said. “This is a designation for this Noble Eightfold Path: ‘the divine vehicle’ and ‘the vehicle of Dhamma’ and ‘the unsurpassed victory in battle.’
    “Right view, Ānanda, when developed and cultivated, has as its final goal the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion. Right intention … Right concentration, when developed and cultivated, [6] has as its final goal the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion.
    “In this way, Ānanda, it may be understood how this is a designation for this Noble Eightfold Path: ‘the divine vehicle’ and ‘the vehicle of Dhamma’ and ‘the unsurpassed victory in battle.’”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“Its qualities of faith and wisdom
 Are always yoked evenly together.
 Shame is its pole, mind its yoke-tie,
 Mindfulness the watchful charioteer.

“The chariot’s ornament is virtue,
 Its axle jhāna, energy its wheels;
 Equanimity keeps the burden balanced,
 Desirelessness serves as upholstery.

“Good will, harmlessness, and seclusion:
 These are the chariot’s weaponry,
 Forbearance its armour and shield,
 As it rolls towards security from bondage.

“This divine vehicle unsurpassed
 Originates from within oneself.
 The wise depart from the world in it,
 Inevitably winning the victory.”

5 (5) For What Purpose?
At Sāvatthī. Then a number of bhikkhus approached the Blessed One…. Sitting to one side, those bhikkhus said to the Blessed One:
    “Here, venerable sir, wanderers of other sects ask us: ‘For what purpose, friends, is the holy life lived under the ascetic Gotama?’ When we are asked thus, venerable sir, we answer those wanderers thus: ‘It is, friends, for the full understanding of suffering that the holy life is lived under the Blessed One.’ We hope, venerable sir, that when we answer thus we state what has been said by the Blessed One and do not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact; [7] that we explain in accordance with the Dhamma, and that no reasonable consequence of our assertion gives ground for criticism.”
    “Surely, bhikkhus, when you answer thus you state what has been said by me and do not misrepresent me with what is contrary to fact; you explain in accordance with the Dhamma, and no reasonable consequence of your assertion gives ground for criticism. For, bhikkhus, it is for the full understanding of suffering that the holy life is lived under me.
    “If, bhikkhus, wanderers of other sects ask you: ‘But, friends, is there a path, is there a way for the full understanding of this suffering?’—being asked thus, you should answer them thus: ‘There is a path, friends, there is a way for the full understanding of this suffering.’
    “And what, bhikkhus, is that path, what is that way for the full understanding of this suffering? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration. This is the path, this is the way for the full understanding of this suffering.
    “Being asked thus, bhikkhus, you should answer those wanderers of other sects in such a way.”

6 (6) A Certain Bhikkhu (1)
At Sāvatthī. Then a certain bhikkhu approached the Blessed One…. Sitting to one side, that bhikkhu said to the Blessed One:
    “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘the holy life, the holy life.’ What, venerable sir, is the holy life? What is the final goal of the holy life?”
    “This Noble Eightfold Path, bhikkhu, is the holy life; that is, right view … right concentration. [8] The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is the final goal of the holy life.”

7 (7) A Certain Bhikkhu (2)
“Venerable sir, it is said, ‘the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion.’ Of what now, venerable sir, is this the designation?”
    “This, bhikkhu, is a designation for the element of Nibbāna: the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion. The destruction of the taints is spoken of in that way.”
    When this was said, that bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘the Deathless, the Deathless.’ What now, venerable sir, is the Deathless? What is the path leading to the Deathless?”
    “The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the Deathless. This Noble Eightfold Path is the path leading to the Deathless; that is, right view … right concentration.”

8 (8) Analysis
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the Noble Eightfold Path and I will analyse it for you. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view … right concentration.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, [9] knowledge of the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called right view.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from divisive speech, abstinence from harsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter: this is called right speech.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct: this is called right action.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns his living by a right livelihood: this is called right livelihood.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right effort? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states…. He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states…. He generates desire for the maintenance of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecay, increase, expansion, and fulfilment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. This is called right effort.
    “And what, bhikkhus is right mindfulness? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, [10] clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is called right mindfulness.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is right concentration? Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhāna, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.”

9 (9) The Spike
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, suppose a spike of rice or a spike of barley were wrongly directed and were pressed upon by the hand or the foot. That it could pierce the hand or the foot and draw blood: this is impossible. For what reason? Because the spike is wrongly directed. So too, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu with a wrongly directed view, with a wrongly directed development of the path, could pierce ignorance, arouse true knowledge, and realize Nibbāna: this is impossible. For what reason? Because his view is wrongly directed.
    “Bhikkhus, suppose a spike of rice or a spike of barley were rightly directed and were pressed upon by the hand or the foot. That it could pierce the hand or the foot and draw blood: this is possible. For what reason? Because the spike is rightly directed. [11] So too, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu with a rightly directed view, with a rightly directed development of the path, could pierce ignorance, arouse true knowledge, and realize Nibbāna: this is possible. For what reason? Because his view is rightly directed.
    “And how does a bhikkhu do so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. He develops … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release.
    “It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu with a rightly directed view, with a rightly directed development of the path, pierces ignorance, arouses true knowledge, and realizes Nibbāna.”

10 (10) Nandiya
At Sāvatthī. Then the wanderer Nandiya 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: “How many things, Master Gotama, when developed and cultivated, lead to Nibbāna, have Nibbāna as their destination, Nibbāna as their final goal?”
    “These eight things, Nandiya, when developed and cultivated, lead to Nibbāna, have Nibbāna as their destination, Nibbāna as their final goal. What eight? Right view … right concentration. These eight things, when developed and cultivated, lead to Nibbāna, have Nibbāna as their destination, Nibbāna as their final goal.”
    When this was said, the wanderer Nandiya said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent, Master [12] Gotama!… From today let Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”
 

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

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