The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

26. Ariyapariyesanā Sutta: The Noble Search

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park.
    2. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Sāvatthī for alms. Then a number of bhikkhus went to the venerable Ānanda and said to him: “Friend Ānanda, it is long since we heard a talk on the Dhamma from the Blessed One’s own lips. It would be good if we could get to hear such a talk, friend Ānanda.”—“Then let the venerable ones go to the brahmin Rammaka’s hermitage. Perhaps you will get to hear a talk on the Dhamma from the Blessed One’s own lips.”—“Yes, friend,” they replied.
    3. Then, when the Blessed One had wandered for alms in Sāvatthī and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he addressed the venerable Ānanda: “Ānanda, let us go to the Eastern Park, to the Palace of Migāra’s Mother, for the day’s abiding.”—“Yes, venerable sir,” the venerable Ānanda replied. [161] Then the Blessed One went with the venerable Ānanda to the Eastern Park, the Palace of Migāra’s Mother, for the day’s abiding.
    Then, when it was evening, the Blessed One rose from meditation and addressed the venerable Ānanda: “Ānanda, let us go to the Eastern Bathing Place to bathe.”—“Yes, venerable sir,” the venerable Ānanda replied. Then the Blessed One went with the venerable Ānanda to the Eastern Bathing Place to bathe. When he was finished, he came up out of the water and stood in one robe drying his limbs. Then the venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, the brahmin Rammaka’s hermitage is nearby. That hermitage is agreeable and delightful. Venerable sir, it would be good if the Blessed One went there out of compassion.” The Blessed One consented in silence.
    4. Then the Blessed One went to the brahmin Rammaka’s hermitage. Now on that occasion a number of bhikkhus were sitting together in the hermitage discussing the Dhamma. The Blessed One stood outside the door waiting for their discussion to end. When he knew that it was over, he coughed and knocked, and the bhikkhus opened the door for him. The Blessed One entered, sat down on a seat made ready, and addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus, for what discussion are you sitting together here now? And what was your discussion that was interrupted?”
    “Venerable sir, our discussion on the Dhamma that was interrupted was about the Blessed One himself. Then the Blessed One arrived.”
    “Good, bhikkhus. It is fitting for you clansmen who have gone forth out of faith from the home life into homelessness to sit together to discuss the Dhamma. When you gather together, bhikkhus, you should do either of two things: hold discussion on the Dhamma or maintain noble silence.

(Two Kinds of Search)
5. “Bhikkhus, there are these two kinds of search: the noble search and the ignoble search. And what is the ignoble search? Here someone being himself subject to birth seeks what is also subject to birth; being himself subject to ageing, [162] he seeks what is also subject to ageing; being himself subject to sickness, he seeks what is also subject to sickness; being himself subject to death, he seeks what is also subject to death; being himself subject to sorrow, he seeks what is also subject to sorrow; being himself subject to defilement, he seeks what is also subject to defilement.
    6. “And what may be said to be subject to birth? Wife and children are subject to birth, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to birth. These acquisitions are subject to birth; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to birth, seeks what it also subject to birth.
    7. “And what may be said to be subject to ageing? Wife and children are subject to ageing, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to ageing. These acquistions are subject to ageing; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to ageing, seeks what is also subject to ageing.
    8. “And what may be said to be subject to sickness? Wife and children are subject to sickness, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares are subject to sickness. These acquisitions are subject to sickness; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to sickness, seeks what is also subject to sickness.
    9. “And what may be said to be subject to death? Wife and children are subject to death, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares are subject to death. These acquisitions are subject to death; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to death, seeks what is also subject to death.
    10. “And what may be said to be subject to sorrow? Wife and children are subject to sorrow, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares are subject to sorrow. These acquisitions are subject to sorrow; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to sorrow, seeks what is also subject to sorrow.
    11. “And what may be said to be subject to defilement? Wife and children are subject to defilement, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to defilement. These acquisitions are subject to defilement; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to defilement, seeks what is also subject to defilement. This is the ignoble search.
    12. “And what is the noble search? Here someone being himself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, [163] seeks the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to ageing, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, he seeks the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, he seeks the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, he seeks the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, he seeks the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being himself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, he seeks the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. This is the noble search.

(The Search for Enlightenment)
13. “Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still only an unenlightened Bodhisatta, I too, being myself subject to birth, sought what was also subject to birth; being myself subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, I sought what was also subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement. Then I considered thus: ‘Why, being myself subject to birth, do I seek what is also subject to birth? Why, being myself subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, do I seek what is also subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement? Suppose that, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, I seek the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. Suppose that, being myself subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, I seek the unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless, and undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna.’
    14. “Later, while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, though my mother and father wished otherwise and wept with tearful faces, I shaved off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and went forth from the home life into homelessness.
    15. “Having gone forth, bhikkhus, in search of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I went to Āḷāra Kālāma and said to him: ‘Friend Kālāma, I want to lead the holy life in this Dhamma and Discipline.’ Āḷāra Kālāma replied: ‘The venerable one may stay here. This Dhamma is such that a wise man [164] can soon enter upon and abide in it, realising for himself through direct knowledge his own teacher’s doctrine.’ I soon quickly learned that Dhamma. As far as mere lip-reciting and rehearsal of his teaching went, I could speak with knowledge and assurance, and I claimed, ‘I know and see’—and there were others who did likewise.
    “I considered: ‘It is not through mere faith alone that Āḷāra Kālāma declares: “By realising for myself with direct knowledge, I enter upon and abide in this Dhamma.” Certainly Āḷāra Kālāma abides knowing and seeing this Dhamma.’ Then I went to Āḷāra Kālāma and asked him: ‘Friend Kālāma, in what way do you declare that by realising for yourself with direct knowledge you enter upon and abide in this Dhamma?’ In reply he declared the base of nothingness.
    “I considered: ‘Not only Āḷāra Kālāma has faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. I too have faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Suppose I endeavour to realise the Dhamma that Āḷāra Kālāma declares he enters upon and abides in by realising for himself with direct knowledge?’
    “I soon quickly entered upon and abided in that Dhamma by realising for myself with direct knowledge. Then I went to Āḷāra Kālāma and asked him: ‘Friend Kālāma, is it in this way that you declare that you enter upon and abide in this Dhamma by realising for yourself with direct knowledge?’—‘That is the way, friend.’—‘It is in this way, friend, that I also enter upon and abide in this Dhamma by realising for myself with direct knowledge.’—‘It is a gain for us, friend, it is a great gain for us that we have such a venerable one for our companion in the holy life. So the Dhamma that I declare I enter upon and abide in by realising for myself with direct knowledge is the Dhamma that you enter upon and abide in by realising for yourself with direct knowledge. [165] And the Dhamma that you enter upon and abide in by realising for yourself with direct knowledge is the Dhamma that I declare I enter upon and abide in by realising for myself with direct knowledge. So you know the Dhamma that I know and I know the Dhamma that you know. As I am, so are you; as you are, so am I. Come, friend, let us now lead this community together.’
    “Thus Āḷāra Kālāma, my teacher, placed me, his pupil, on an equal footing with himself and awarded me the highest honour. But it occurred to me: ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna, but only to reappearance in the base of nothingness.’ Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, disappointed with it, I left.
    16. “Still in search, bhikkhus, of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I went to Uddaka Rāmaputta and said to him: ‘Friend, I want to lead the holy life in this Dhamma and Discipline.’ Uddaka Rāmaputta replied: ‘The venerable one may stay here. This Dhamma is such that a wise man can soon enter upon and abide in it, himself realising through direct knowledge his own teacher’s doctrine.’ I soon quickly learned that Dhamma. As far as mere lip-reciting and rehearsal of his teaching went, I could speak with knowledge and assurance, and I claimed, ‘I know and see’—and there were others who did likewise.
    “I considered: ‘It was not through mere faith alone that Rāma declared: “By realising for myself with direct knowledge, I enter upon and abide in this Dhamma.” Certainly Rāma abided knowing and seeing this Dhamma.’ Then I went to Uddaka Rāmaputta and asked him: ‘Friend, in what way did Rāma declare that by realising for himself with direct knowledge he entered upon and abided in this Dhamma?’ In reply Uddaka Rāmaputta declared the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.
    “I considered: ‘Not only Rāma had faith, [166] energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. I too have faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Suppose I endeavour to realise the Dhamma that Rāma declared he entered upon and abided in by realising for himself with direct knowledge.’
    “I soon quickly entered upon and abided in that Dhamma by realising for myself with direct knowledge. Then I went to Uddaka Rāmaputta and asked him: ‘Friend, was it in this way that Rāma declared that he entered upon and abided in this Dhamma by realising for himself with direct knowledge?’—‘That is the way, friend.’—‘It is in this way, friend, that I also enter upon and abide in this Dhamma by realising for myself with direct knowledge.’—‘It is a gain for us, friend, it is a great gain for us that we have such a venerable one for our companion in the holy life. So the Dhamma that Rāma declared he entered upon and abided in by realising for himself with direct knowledge is the Dhamma that you enter upon and abide in by realising for yourself with direct knowledge. And the Dhamma that you enter upon and abide in by realising for yourself with direct knowledge is the Dhamma that Rāma declared he entered upon and abided in by realising for himself with direct knowledge. So you know the Dhamma that Rāma knew and Rāma knew the Dhamma that you know. As Rāma was, so are you; as you are, so was Rāma. Come, friend, now lead this community.’
    “Thus Uddaka Rāmaputta, my companion in the holy life, placed me in the position of a teacher and accorded me the highest honour. But it occurred to me: ‘This Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna, but only to reappearance in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.’ Not being satisfied with that Dhamma, disappointed with it, I left.
    17. “Still in search, bhikkhus, of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I wandered by stages through the Magadhan country until eventually I arrived at Senānigama near Uruvelā. [167] There I saw an agreeable piece of ground, a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. I considered: ‘This is an agreeable piece of ground, this is a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. This will serve for the striving of a clansman intent on striving.’ And I sat down there thinking: ‘This will serve for striving.’

(Enlightenment)
18. “Then, bhikkhus, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to ageing, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, seeking the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, seeking the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, seeking the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, seeking the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, seeking the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My deliverance is unshakeable; this is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being.’
    19. “I considered: ‘This Dhamma that I have attained is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in worldliness, takes delight in worldliness, rejoices in worldliness. It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, namely, specific conditionality, dependent origination. And it is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna. [168] If I were to teach the Dhamma, others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me.’ Thereupon there came to me spontaneously these stanzas never heard before:

‘Enough with teaching the Dhamma
That even I found hard to reach;
For it will never be perceived
By those who live in lust and hate.

Those dyed in lust, wrapped in darkness
Will never discern this abstruse Dhamma
Which goes against the worldly stream,
Subtle, deep, and difficult to see.’

    Considering thus, my mind inclined to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.
    20. “Then, bhikkhus, the Brahmā Sahampati knew with his mind the thought in my mind and he considered: ‘The world will be lost, the world will perish, since the mind of the Tathāgata, accomplished and fully enlightened, inclines to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.’ Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, the Brahmā Sahampati vanished in the Brahma-world and appeared before me. He arranged his upper robe on one shoulder, and extending his hands in reverential salutation towards me, said: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma, let the Sublime One teach the Dhamma. There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are wasting through not hearing the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.’ The Brahmā Sahampati spoke thus, and then he said further:

‘In Magadha there have appeared till now
Impure teachings devised by those still stained.
Open the doors to the Deathless! Let them hear
The Dhamma that the Stainless One has found.

Just as one who stands on a mountain peak
Can see below the people all around,
So, O Wise One, All-seeing Sage,
Ascend the palace of the Dhamma.
Let the Sorrowless One survey this human breed,
Engulfed in sorrow, overcome by birth and old age. [169]

Arise, victorious hero, caravan leader,
Debtless one, and wander in the world.
Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma,
There will be those who will understand.’

    21. “Then I listened to the Brahmā’s pleading, and out of compassion for beings I surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha. Surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelt seeing fear in blame and in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses that are born and grow in the water thrive immersed in the water without rising out of it, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rest on the water’s surface, and some other lotuses that are born and grow in the water rise out of the water and stand clear, unwetted by it; so too, surveying the world with the eye of a Buddha, I saw beings with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach, and some who dwelt seeing fear in blame and in the other world. Then I replied to the Brahmā Sahampati in stanzas:

‘Open for them are the doors to the Deathless,
Let those with ears now show their faith.
Thinking it would be troublesome, O Brahmā,
I did not speak the Dhamma subtle and sublime.’

    Then the Brahmā Sahampati thought: ‘I have created the opportunity for the Blessed One to teach the Dhamma.’ And after paying homage to me, keeping me on the right, he thereupon departed at once.
    22. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma is wise, intelligent, and discerning; he has long had little dust in his eyes. Suppose I [170] taught the Dhamma first to Āḷāra Kālāma. He will understand it quickly.’ Then deities approached me and said: ‘Venerable sir, Āḷāra Kālāma died seven days ago.’ And the knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma died seven days ago.’ I thought: ‘Āḷāra Kālāma’s loss is a great one. If he had heard this Dhamma, he would have understood it quickly.’
    23. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta is wise, intelligent, and discerning; he has long had little dust in his eyes. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to Uddaka Rāmaputta. He will understand it quickly.’ Then deities approached me and said: ‘Venerable sir, Uddaka Rāmaputta died last night.’ And the knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta died last night.’ I thought: ‘Uddaka Rāmaputta’s loss is a great one. If he had heard this Dhamma, he would have understood it quickly.’
    24. “I considered thus: ‘To whom should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will understand this Dhamma quickly?’ It then occurred to me: ‘The bhikkhus of the group of five who attended upon me while I was engaged in my striving were very helpful. Suppose I taught the Dhamma first to them.’ Then I thought: ‘Where are the bhikkhus of the group of five now living?’ And with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw that they were living at Benares in the Deer Park at Isipatana.

(The Teaching of the Dhamma)
25. “Then, bhikkhus, when I had stayed at Uruvelā as long as I chose, I set out to wander by stages to Benares. Between Gayā and the Place of Enlightenment the Ājīvaka Upaka saw me on the road and said: ‘Friend, your faculties are clear, the colour of your skin is pure and bright. Under whom have you gone forth, friend? Who is your teacher? Whose Dhamma do you [171] profess?’ I replied to the Ājīvaka Upaka in stanzas:

‘I am one who has transcended all, a knower of all,
Unsullied among all things, renouncing all,
By craving’s ceasing freed. Having known this all
For myself, to whom should I point as teacher?

I have no teacher, and one like me
Exists nowhere in all the world
With all its gods, because I have
No person for my counterpart.

I am the Accomplished One in the world,
I am the Teacher Supreme.
I alone am a Fully Enlightened One
Whose fires are quenched and extinguished.

I go now to the city of Kāsi
To set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma.
In a world that has become blind
I go to beat the drum of the Deathless.’

‘By your claims, friend, you ought to be the Universal Victor.’

‘The victors are those like me
Who have won to destruction of taints.
I have vanquished all evil states,
Therefore, Upaka, I am a victor.’

    “When this was said, the Ājīvaka Upaka said: ‘May it be so, friend.’ Shaking his head, he took a bypath and departed.
    26. “Then, bhikkhus, wandering by stages, I eventually came to Benares, to the Deer Park at Isipatana, and I approached the bhikkhus of the group of five. The bhikkhus saw me coming in the distance, and they agreed among themselves thus: ‘Friends, here comes the recluse Gotama who lives luxuriously, who gave up his striving, and reverted to luxury. We should not pay homage to him or rise up for him or receive his bowl and outer robe. But a seat may be prepared for him. If he likes, he may sit down.’ However, as I approached, those bhikkhus found themselves unable to keep their pact. One came to meet me and took my bowl and outer robe, another prepared a seat, and another set out water for my feet; however, they addressed me by name and as ‘friend.’
    27. “Thereupon I told them: ‘Bhikkhus, do not address the Tathāgata by name and as “friend.” The Tathāgata is an Accomplished One, [172] a Fully Enlightened One. Listen, bhikkhus, the Deathless has been attained. I shall instruct you, I shall teach you the Dhamma. Practising as you are instructed, by realising for yourselves here and now through direct knowledge you will soon enter upon and abide in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness.’
    “When this was said, the bhikkhus of the group of five answered me thus: ‘Friend Gotama, by the conduct, the practice, and the performance of austerities that you undertook, you did not achieve any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. Since you now live luxuriously, having given up your striving and reverted to luxury, how will you have achieved any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones?’ When this was said, I told them: ‘The Tathāgata does not live luxuriously, nor has he given up his striving and reverted to luxury. The Tathāgata is an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One. Listen, bhikkhus, the Deathless has been attained … from the home life into homelessness.’
    “A second time the bhikkhus of the group of five said to me: ‘Friend Gotama … how will you have achieved any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones?’ A second time I told them: ‘The Tathāgata does not live luxuriously … from the home life into homelessness.’ A third time the bhikkhus of the group of five said to me: ‘Friend Gotama … how will you have achieved any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones?’
    28. “When this was said I asked them: ‘Bhikkhus, have you ever known me to speak like this before?’—‘No, venerable sir.’—‘Bhikkhus, the Tathāgata is an Accomplished One, a Fully Enlightened One. Listen, bhikkhus, the Deathless has been attained. I shall instruct you, I shall teach you the Dhamma. Practising as you are instructed, by realising for yourselves here and now through direct knowledge you will soon enter upon and abide in that supreme goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the home life into homelessness.’ [173]
    29. “I was able to convince the bhikkhus of the group of five. Then I sometimes instructed two bhikkhus while the other three went for alms, and the six of us lived on what those three bhikkhus brought back from their almsround. Sometimes I instructed three bhikkhus while the other two went for alms, and the six of us lived on what those two bhikkhus brought back from their almsround.
    30. “Then the bhikkhus of the group of five, thus taught and instructed by me, being themselves subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being themselves subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, sickness, death, sorrow, and defilement, seeking the unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless, and undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, they attained the unageing, unailing, deathless, sorrowless, and undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. The knowledge and vision arose in them: ‘Our deliverance is unshakeable; this is our last birth; there is no renewal of being.’

(Sensual Pleasure)
31. “Bhikkhus, there are these five cords of sensual pleasure. What are the five? Forms cognizable by the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable and likeable, connected with sensual desire, and provocative of lust. Sounds cognizable by the ear … Odours cognizable by the nose … Flavours cognizable by the tongue … Tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable and likeable, connected with sensual desire, and provocative of lust. These are the five cords of sensual pleasure.
    32. “As to those recluses and brahmins who are tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure, infatuated with them and utterly committed to them, and who use them without seeing the danger in them or understanding the escape from them, it may be understood of them: ‘They have met with calamity, met with disaster, the Evil One may do with them as he likes.’ Suppose a forest deer who was bound lay down on a heap of snares; it might be understood of him: ‘He has met with calamity, met with disaster, the hunter can do with him as he likes, and when the hunter comes he cannot go where he wants.’ So too, as to those recluses and brahmins who are tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure … it may be understood of them: ‘They have met with calamity, met with disaster, the Evil One may do with them as he likes.’
    33. “As to those recluses and brahmins who are not tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure, who are not infatuated with them or utterly committed to them, and who use them seeing the danger in them and understanding the escape from them, [174] it may be understood of them: ‘They have not met with calamity, not met with disaster, the Evil One cannot do with them as he likes.’ Suppose a forest deer who was unbound lay down on a heap of snares; it might be understood of him: ‘He has not met with calamity, not met with disaster, the hunter cannot do with him as he likes, and when the hunter comes he can go where he wants.’ So too, as to those recluses and brahmins who are not tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure … it may be understood of them: ‘They have not met with calamity, not met with disaster, the Evil One cannot do with them as he likes.’
    34. “Suppose a forest deer is wandering in the forest wilds: he walks confidently, stands confidently, sits confidently, lies down confidently. Why is that? Because he is out of the hunter’s range. So too, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra, to have become invisible to the Evil One by depriving Māra’s eye of its opportunity.
    35. “Again, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhāna, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of concentration. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    36. “Again, with the fading away as well of rapture, a bhikkhu abides in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the third jhāna, on account of which noble ones announce: ‘He has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.’ This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    37. “Again, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    38. “Again, with the complete surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of sensory impact, with non-attention to perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite space. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    39. “Again, by completely surmounting the base of infinite space, aware that ‘consciousness is infinite,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite consciousness. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    40. “Again, by completely surmounting the base of infinite consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of nothingness. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra …
    41. “Again, by completely surrounding the base of nothingness, [175] a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra, to have become invisible to the Evil One by depriving Māra’s eye of its opportunity.
    42. “Again, by completely surmounting the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the cessation of perception and feeling. And his taints are destroyed by his seeing with wisdom. This bhikkhu is said to have blindfolded Māra, to have become invisible to the Evil One by depriving Māra’s eye of its opportunity, and to have crossed beyond attachment to the world. He walks confidently, stands confidently, sits confidently, lies down confidently. Why is that? Because he is out of the Evil One’s range.”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2009)

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