The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 45. Maggasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Path

XIV. Strenuous Deeds

(Each sutta is to be elaborated in accordance with the same fourfold method.)

149 (1) Strenuous
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, just as whatever strenuous deeds are done, are all done based upon the earth, established upon the earth, [46] so too, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path.”

150 (2) Seeds
“Bhikkhus, just as whatever kinds of seed and plant life attain to growth, increase, and expansion, all do so based upon the earth, established upon the earth, so too, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, and thereby he attains to growth, increase, and expansion in [wholesome] states.
    “And how does a bhikkhu do so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, [47] and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, and thereby attains to growth, increase, and expansion in [wholesome] states.”

151 (3) Nāgas
“Bhikkhus, based upon the Himalayas, the king of mountains, the nāgas nurture their bodies and acquire strength. When they have nurtured their bodies and acquired strength, they then enter the pools. From the pools they enter the lakes, then the streams, then the rivers, and finally they enter the ocean. There they achieve greatness and expansiveness of body. So too, bhikkhus, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, and thereby he achieves greatness and expansiveness in [wholesome] states.
    “And how does a bhikkhu do so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, and thereby achieves greatness and expansiveness in [wholesome] states.”

152 (4) The Tree
“Bhikkhus, suppose a tree were slanting, sloping, and inclining towards the east. If it were cut at its foot, in what direction would it fall?” [48]
    “In whatever direction it was slanting, sloping, and inclining, venerable sir.”
    “So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbāna.
    “And how does a bhikkhu do so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that he slants, slopes, and inclines towards Nibbāna.”

153 (5) The Pot
“Bhikkhus, just as a pot that has been turned upside down gives up its water and does not take it back, so a bhikkhu who develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path gives up evil unwholesome states and does not take them back.
    “And how does a bhikkhu do so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that he gives up evil unwholesome states and does not take them back.”

154 (6) The Spike
“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. [49] 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 … 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.”

155 (7) The Sky
“Bhikkhus, just as various winds blow in the sky—easterly winds, westerly winds, northerly winds, southerly winds, dusty winds and dustless winds, cold winds and hot winds, gentle winds and strong winds—so too, when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, then for him the four establishments of mindfulness go to fulfilment by development; the four right strivings go to fulfilment by development; the four bases for spiritual power go to fulfilment by development; the five spiritual faculties go to fulfilment by development; the five powers go to fulfilment by development; the seven factors of enlightenment go to fulfilment by development.
    “And how is this so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that when a bhikkhu [50] develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, then for him the four establishments of mindfulness … the seven factors of enlightenment go to fulfilment by development.”

156 (8) The Rain Cloud (1)
“Bhikkhus, just as, in the last month of the hot season, when a mass of dust and dirt has swirled up, a great rain cloud out of season disperses it and quells it on the spot; so too, when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, whenever evil unwholesome states arise, he disperses them and quells them on the spot.
    “And how is this so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. [51] It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that whenever evil unwholesome states arise, he disperses them and quells them on the spot.”

157 (9) The Rain Cloud (2)
“Bhikkhus, just as, when a great rain cloud has arisen, a strong wind intercedes to disperse and quell it; so too, when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, whenever evil unwholesome states have arisen, he intercedes to disperse and quell them.
    “And how is this so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that whenever evil unwholesome states have arisen, he intercedes to disperse and quell them.”

158 (10) The Ship
“Bhikkhus, suppose there were a seafaring ship bound with rigging that had been worn out in the water for six months. It would be hauled up on dry land during the cold season and its rigging would be further attacked by wind and sun. Inundated by rain from a rain cloud, the rigging would easily collapse and rot away. So too, when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, his fetters easily collapse and rot away.
    “And how is this so? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that his fetters easily collapse and rot away.”

159 (11) The Guest House
“Bhikkhus, suppose there is a guest house. People come from the east, west, north, and south and lodge there; khattiyas, brahmins, [52] vessas, and suddas come and lodge there. So too, when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, he fully understands by direct knowledge those things that are to be fully understood by direct knowledge; he abandons by direct knowledge those things that are to be abandoned by direct knowledge; he realizes by direct knowledge those things that are to be realized by direct knowledge; he develops by direct knowledge those things that are to be developed by direct knowledge.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the things to be fully understood by direct knowledge? It should be said: the five aggregates subject to clinging. What five? The form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. These are the things to be fully understood by direct knowledge.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the things to be abandoned by direct knowledge? Ignorance and craving for existence. These are the things to be abandoned by direct knowledge.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the things to be realized by direct knowledge? True knowledge and liberation. These are the things to be realized by direct knowledge.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the things to be developed by direct knowledge? Serenity and insight. These are the things to be developed by direct knowledge.
    “And how is it, bhikkhus, that when a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path, he fully understands by direct knowledge those things that are to be fully understood by direct knowledge … [53] … he develops by direct knowledge those things that are to be developed by direct knowledge? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path so that he fully understands by direct knowledge those things that are to be fully understood by direct knowledge … he develops by direct knowledge those things that are to be developed by direct knowledge.”

160 (12) The River
“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 a 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 developing and cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path, 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 developing and cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path, 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 return to the lower life.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path? [54] Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops right view … right concentration, which is based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, maturing in release. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu develops and cultivates the Noble Eightfold Path.”
 

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

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