The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

III. Householders

21 (1) Ugga (1)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in the hall with the peaked roof in the Great Wood. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, you should remember the householder Ugga of Vesālī as one who possesses eight astounding and amazing qualities.” [209] This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling.
    Then, in the morning, a certain bhikkhu dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to the residence of the householder Ugga of Vesālī. When he arrived, he sat down on the seat that was prepared for him. Then the householder Ugga of Vesālī approached that bhikkhu, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The bhikkhu then said to him:
    “Householder, the Blessed One declared that you possess eight astounding and amazing qualities. What are they?”
    “I don’t know, bhante, what eight astounding and amazing qualities the Blessed One declared that I possess. However, there are found in me eight astounding and amazing qualities. Listen and attend closely. I will speak.”
    “Yes, householder,” the bhikkhu replied. The householder Ugga of Vesālī said this:
    (1) “When, bhante, I first saw the Blessed One in the distance, as soon as I saw him my mind acquired confidence in him. This is the first astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (2) “With a confident mind, I attended on the Blessed One. The Blessed One then gave me a progressive discourse, that is, talk on giving, virtuous behavior, and heaven; he revealed the danger, degradation, and defilement of sensual pleasures and the benefit of renunciation. When the Blessed One knew that my mind was pliant, softened, rid of hindrances, uplifted, and confident, he [210] revealed that Dhamma teaching special to the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path. Then, just as a clean cloth rid of dark spots would readily absorb dye, so too, while I sat in that same seat, the dust-free, stainless Dhamma-eye arose in me: ‘Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.’ I saw the Dhamma, attained the Dhamma, understood the Dhamma, fathomed the Dhamma, crossed over doubt, got rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and became independent of others in the teaching of the Teacher. Right there I went for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and undertook the training rules with celibacy as the fifth. This is the second astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (3) “I had four young wives. I then went to them and said: ‘Sisters, I have undertaken the training rules with celibacy as the fifth. If you want, you can enjoy wealth right here and do merits, or go back to your own family circle, or inform me if you want me to give you over to another man.’ My eldest wife then said to me: ‘Young sir, give me to such and such a man.’ I sent for that man, and with my left hand I took my wife, with my right hand I took the ceremonial vase, and I gave her to that man. But even while giving away my wife, I don’t recall that any alteration took place in my mind. This is the third astounding and amazing quality found in me. [211]
    (4) “My family is wealthy but the wealth is shared unreservedly with virtuous people of good character. This is the fourth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (5) “Whenever I attend on a bhikkhu, I attend on him respectfully, not without respect. This is the fifth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (6) “If that venerable one teaches me the Dhamma, I listen to it respectfully, not without respect. If he doesn’t teach me the Dhamma, then I teach him the Dhamma. This is the sixth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (7) “It isn’t unusual for deities to come and report to me: ‘Householder, the Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One.’ I then say to those deities: ‘Whether you say so or not, the Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One.’ Still, I do not recall any mental exultation arising because deities come to me or because I converse with deities. This is the seventh astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (8) “Of the five lower fetters taught by the Blessed One, I don’t see any that I haven’t abandoned. This is the eighth astounding and amazing quality found in me. [212]
    “These, bhante, are eight astounding and amazing qualities found in me. But I don’t know what eight astounding and amazing qualities the Blessed One declared that I possess.”
    Then that bhikkhu, having received almsfood at the residence of the householder Ugga of Vesālī, rose from his seat and departed. After his meal, on returning from his alms round, he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported to him the entire conversation he had had with the householder Ugga of Vesālī.
    [The Blessed One said:] “Good, good, bhikkhu! I had declared that the householder Ugga of Vesālī possesses the same eight astounding and amazing qualities that he rightly explained to you. You should remember the householder Ugga of Vesālī as one who possesses these eight astounding and amazing qualities.”

22 (2) Ugga (2)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Vajjis at Hatthigāma. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus.…
    “Bhikkhus, you should remember the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma as one who possesses eight astounding and amazing qualities.” This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling.
    Then, in the morning, a certain bhikkhu dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to the residence of the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma. When he arrived, he sat down on the seat that was prepared for him. Then the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma approached that bhikkhu, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The bhikkhu then said to him: [213]
    “Householder, the Blessed One declared that you possess eight astounding and amazing qualities. What are they?”
    “I don’t know, bhante, what eight astounding and amazing qualities the Blessed One declared that I possess. However, there are found in me eight astounding and amazing qualities. Listen and attend closely. I will speak.”
    “Yes, householder,” the bhikkhu replied. The householder Ugga of Hatthigāma said this:
    (1) “Bhante, I was carousing in the Nāga Grove when I first saw the Blessed One in the distance. As soon as I saw him my mind acquired confidence in him and my drunkenness vanished. This is the first astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (2) “With a confident mind, I attended on the Blessed One. The Blessed One then gave me a progressive discourse … [as in 8:21] … Right there [214] I went for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and undertook the training rules with celibacy as the fifth. This is the second astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (3) “I had four young wives. I then went to them … [as in 8:21] … But even while giving away my young wife, I don’t recall that any alteration took place in my mind. This is the third astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (4) “My family is wealthy but the wealth is shared unreservedly with virtuous people of good character. This is the fourth astounding and amazing quality found in me. [215]
    (5) “Whenever I attend on a bhikkhu, I attend on him respectfully, not without respect. If that venerable one teaches me the Dhamma, I listen to it respectfully, not without respect. If he doesn’t teach me the Dhamma, then I teach him the Dhamma. This is the fifth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (6) “It isn’t unusual that when the Saṅgha has been invited by me [for a meal], deities come and report to me: ‘That bhikkhu, householder, is liberated in both respects. That one is liberated by wisdom. That one is a body witness. That one is attained to view. That one is liberated by faith. That one is a Dhamma follower. That one is a faith follower. That one is virtuous, of good character. That one is immoral, of bad character.’ Still, when I am serving the Saṅgha, I do not recall thinking: ‘Let me give this one little, let me give that one a lot to that.’ Rather, I give with an equal mind. This is the sixth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    (7) “It isn’t unusual for deities to come and report to me: ‘‘Householder, the Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One.’ I then say to those deities: ‘Whether you deities say so or not, the Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One.’ Still, I do not recall any mental exultation arising because deities come to me or because I converse with deities. This is the seventh astounding and amazing quality found in me. [216]
    (8) “If I were to pass away before the Blessed One, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blessed One would declare of me: ‘There is no fetter bound by which the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma might return to this world.’ This is the eighth astounding and amazing quality found in me.
    “These, bhante, are eight astounding and amazing qualities found in me. But I don’t know what eight astounding and amazing qualities the Blessed One declared that I possess.”
    Then that bhikkhu, having received almsfood at the residence of the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma, rose from his seat and departed. After his meal, on returning from his alms round, he approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported to him the entire conversation he had had with the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma.
    [The Blessed One said:] “Good, good, bhikkhu! I had declared that the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma possesses these same eight astounding and amazing qualities that he rightly explained to you. You should remember the householder Ugga of Hatthigāma as one who possesses these eight astounding and amazing qualities.”

23 (3) Hatthaka (1)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Āḷavī at the Aggāḷava Shrine. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus.… [217]
    “Bhikkhus, you should remember Hatthaka of Āḷavī as one who possesses seven astounding and amazing qualities. What seven? (1) Hatthaka of Āḷavī is endowed with faith. (2) He is virtuous, and (3) has a sense of moral shame and (4) moral dread. (5) He is learned, (6) generous, and (7) wise. You should remember Hatthaka of Āḷavī as one who possesses these seven astounding and amazing qualities.” This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One rose from his seat and entered his dwelling.
    Then, in the morning, a certain bhikkhu dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to the residence of Hatthaka of Āḷavī. When he arrived, he sat down on the seat that was prepared for him. Then Hatthaka of Āḷavī approached the bhikkhu, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The bhikkhu then said to him:
    “Friend, the Blessed One declared that you possess seven astounding and amazing qualities. What seven? ‘Bhikkhus, Hatthaka of Āḷavī is endowed with faith. He is virtuous and has a sense of moral shame and moral dread. He is learned, generous, and wise.’ The Blessed One declared that you possess these seven astounding and amazing qualities.”
    “I hope, bhante, that no white-robed layman was present?”
    “No, friend. No white-robed layman was present.”
    “That’s good, bhante.”
    Then that bhikkhu, having received almsfood at the residence of Hatthaka of Āḷavī, rose from his seat and departed. After his meal, on returning from his alms round, he approached the Blessed One, [218] paid homage to him, sat down to one side, [and reported to him all that had happened].
    [The Blessed One said:] “Good, good, bhikkhu! That clansman has few desires, since he does not want his inner wholesome qualities to be known by others. Therefore, bhikkhu, you should remember Hatthaka of Āḷavī as one who possesses this eighth astounding and amazing quality, that is, (8) fewness of desires.”

24 (4) Hatthaka (2)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Āḷavī at the Aggāḷava Shrine. Then Hatthaka of Āḷavī, accompanied by five hundred lay followers, [219] approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him:
    “Your retinue is large, Hatthaka. How do you sustain this large retinue?”
    “I do so, bhante, by the four means of attracting and sustaining others taught by the Blessed One. When I know: ‘This one is to be attracted and sustained by a gift,’ I attract and sustain him by a gift. When I know: ‘This one is to be attracted and sustained by endearing speech,’ I attract and sustain him by endearing speech. When I know: ‘This one is to be attracted and sustained by beneficent conduct,’ I attract and sustain him by beneficent conduct. When I know: ‘This one is to be attracted and sustained by impartiality,’ I attract and sustain him by impartiality. There is wealth in my family, bhante. They don’t think they should listen to me as if I were poor.”
    “Good, good, Hatthaka! This is the method by which you can attract and sustain a large retinue. For all those in the past who attracted and sustained a large retinue did so by these same four means of attracting and sustaining others. All those in the future who will attract and sustain a large retinue will do so by these same four means of attracting and sustaining others. And all those at present who attract and sustain a large retinue do so by these same four means of attracting and sustaining others.”
    Then, after the Blessed One had instructed, encouraged, inspired, and gladdened Hatthaka of Āḷavī with a Dhamma talk, Hatthaka rose from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, circumambulated him keeping the right side toward him, [220] and departed.
    Then, not long after Hatthaka of Āḷavī had left, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus, you should remember Hatthaka of Āḷavī as one who possesses eight astounding and amazing qualities. What eight? (1) He is endowed with faith. (2) He is virtuous, and (3) has a sense of moral shame and (4) moral dread. (5) He is learned, (6) generous, and (7) wise. (8) He has few desires. You should remember Hatthaka of Āḷavī as one who possesses these eight astounding and amazing qualities.”

25 (5) Mahānāma
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu in the banyan tree park. Then Mahānāma the Sakyan approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “In what way, bhante, is one a lay follower?”
    “When, Mahānāma, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, in that way one is a lay follower.”
    “In what way, bhante, is a lay follower virtuous?”
    “When, Mahānāma, a lay follower abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, in that way a lay follower is virtuous.”
    “In what way, bhante, is a lay follower practicing for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others?” [221]
    (1) “When, Mahānāma, a lay follower is himself accomplished in faith but does not encourage others to accomplish faith; (2) when he is himself accomplished in virtuous behavior but does not encourage others to accomplish virtuous behavior; (3) when he is himself accomplished in generosity but does not encourage others to accomplish generosity; (4) when he himself wants to see bhikkhus but does not encourage others to see bhikkhus; (5) when he himself wants to hear the good Dhamma but does not encourage others to hear the good Dhamma; (6) when he himself retains in mind the teachings he has heard but does not encourage others to retain the teachings in mind; (7) when he himself examines the meaning of the teachings that have been retained in mind but does not encourage others to examine their meaning; (8) when he himself has understood the meaning and the Dhamma and practices in accordance with the Dhamma, but does not encourage others to do so: it is in this way, Mahānāma, that a lay follower is practicing for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others.
    “In what way, bhante, is a lay follower practicing for his own welfare and for the welfare of others?”
    (1) “When, Mahānāma, a lay follower is himself accomplished in faith and also encourages others to accomplish faith; (2) when he is himself accomplished in virtuous behavior and also encourages others to accomplish virtuous behavior; (3) when he is himself accomplished in generosity and also encourages others to accomplish generosity; (4) when he himself wants to see bhikkhus and also encourages others to see bhikkhus; (5) when he himself wants to hear the good Dhamma and also encourages others to hear the good Dhamma; (6) when he himself retains in mind the teachings he has heard and also encourages others to retain the teachings in mind; (7) when he himself examines the meaning of the teachings that have been retained in mind and also encourages others to examine their meaning; (8) when he himself understands the meaning [222] and the Dhamma and then practices in accordance with the Dhamma, and also encourages others to practice in accordance with the Dhamma: it is in this way, Mahānāma, that a lay follower is practicing for his own welfare and also for the welfare of others.”

26 (6) Jīvaka
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in Jīvaka’s mango grove. Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “In what way, bhante, is one a lay follower?”
    [The rest as in 8:25.] [223]

27 (7) Powers (1)
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight powers. What eight? (1) The power of children is weeping; (2) the power of women is anger; (3) the power of thieves is a weapon; (4) the power of kings is sovereignty; (5) the power of fools is to complain; (6) the power of the wise is to deliberate; (7) the power of the learned is reflection; (8) the power of ascetics and brahmins is patience. These are the eight powers.”

28 (8) Powers (2)
Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One … The Blessed One then said to him: [224]
    “Sāriputta, when a bhikkhu’s taints have been destroyed, how many powers does he possess by reason of which he can claim: ‘My taints have been destroyed’?”
    “Bhante, when a bhikkhu’s taints have been destroyed, he possesses eight powers by reason of which he can claim: ‘My taints have been destroyed.’ What eight?
    (1) “Here, bhante, a bhikkhu with taints destroyed has clearly seen all conditioned phenomena as they really are with correct wisdom as impermanent. This is a power of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed on the basis of which he can claim: ‘My taints have been destroyed.’
    (2) “Again, a bhikkhu with taints destroyed has clearly seen sensual pleasures as they really are with correct wisdom as similar to a charcoal pit. This is a power of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed …
    (3) “Again, the mind of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed slants, slopes, and inclines to seclusion; it is withdrawn, delighting in renunciation, and is entirely finished with all things that are a basis for the taints. This is a power of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed …
    (4) “Again, a bhikkhu with taints destroyed has developed and well developed the four establishments of mindfulness. Since [225] that is so, this is a power of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed …
    (5)–(8) “Again, a bhikkhu with taints destroyed has developed and well developed the four bases for psychic potency … the five spiritual faculties … the seven factors of enlightenment … the noble eightfold path. This is a power of a bhikkhu with taints destroyed on the basis of which he can claim: ‘My taints have been destroyed.’
    “Bhante, when a bhikkhu’s taints have been destroyed, he possesses these eight powers on the basis of which he can claim: ‘My taints have been destroyed.’“

29 (9) Inopportune Moments
“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling says: ‘The world has gained the opportunity! The world has gained the opportunity!’ but he does not know what is an opportunity and what is not an opportunity. There are, bhikkhus, these eight inopportune moments that are not right occasions for living the spiritual life. What eight?
    (1) “Here, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world, an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed trainer of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, an Enlightened One, a Blessed One, and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in hell. This is the first inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life. [226]
    (2) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in the animal realm. This is the second inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (3) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in the sphere of afflicted spirits. This is the third inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (4) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in a certain order of long-lived devas. This is the fourth inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (5) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in the outlying provinces among the uncouth foreigners, [a place] to which bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, and female lay followers do not travel. This is the fifth inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (6) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. A person has been reborn in the central provinces, but he holds wrong view and has a distorted perspective: ‘There is nothing given, nothing sacrificed, nothing offered; there is no fruit or result of good and bad actions; there is no this world, no other world; there is no mother, no father; there are no beings spontaneously reborn; there are in the world no ascetics and brahmins of right conduct and right practice who, having realized this world and the other world for themselves by direct knowledge, make them known to others.’ This is the sixth inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (7) “Again, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world … and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. A person has been reborn in the central provinces, but he is unwise, stupid, obtuse, unable to understand the meaning of what has been well stated and badly stated. This is the seventh inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    (8) “Again, a Tathāgata has not arisen in the world … and the Dhamma [227] leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is not taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. But a person has been reborn in the central provinces, and he is wise, intelligent, astute, able to understand the meaning of what has been well stated and badly stated. This is the eighth inopportune moment that is not the right occasion for living the spiritual life.
    “These are the eight inopportune moments that are not the right occasions for living the spiritual life.
    “There is, bhikkhus, one unique opportune moment that is the right occasion for living the spiritual life. What is it? Here, a Tathāgata has arisen in the world, an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed trainer of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, an Enlightened One, a Blessed One, and the Dhamma leading to peace, nibbāna, and enlightenment is taught as proclaimed by a Fortunate One. And a person has been reborn in the central provinces, and he is wise, intelligent, astute, able to understand the meaning of what has been well stated and badly stated. This, bhikkhus, is the one unique opportune moment that is the right occasion for living the spiritual life.”

Having obtained the human state
when the good Dhamma has been well proclaimed,
those who do not seize the moment
have let the right moment slip by.

For many inopportune times are spoken of,
occasions obstructive to the path;
for it is only sometimes, on occasion,
that Tathāgatas arise in the world.

If one has directly encountered them,
[fortune] rarely gained in the world,
if one has obtained the human state,
and the good Dhamma is being taught,
for a person desiring his own good,
this is incentive enough to strive. [228]

How can one understand the good Dhamma,
so that the moment won’t slip by?
For those who miss the moment grieve
when they are reborn in hell.

One here who has failed to obtain
the fixed course of the good Dhamma,
will come to regret it for a long time
like a merchant who has missed a profit.

A person hindered by ignorance
who has failed in the good Dhamma
will long experience wandering on
in [the round of] birth and death.

But those who gain the human state
when the good Dhamma is well proclaimed,
have accomplished the Teacher’s word,
or will do so, or are doing so now.

Those who have practiced the path,
proclaimed by the Tathāgata,
have penetrated the right moment in the world
the unsurpassed spiritual life.

You should dwell without leakages,
guarded, ever-mindful in the restraints
taught by the One with Vision,
the Kinsman of the Sun.

Having cut off all underlying tendencies
that follow one drifting in Māra’s domain,
those who attain the destruction of the taints,
though in the world, have gone beyond.

30 (10) Anuruddha
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Bhaggas in Suṃsumāragira in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. Now on that occasion the Venerable Anuruddha dwelled among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. While the Venerable Anuruddha was alone in seclusion, a course of thought arose in his mind thus:
    (1) “This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires. (2) This [229] Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. (3) This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company. (4) This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy. (5) This Dhamma is for one with mindfulness established, not for one who is muddle-minded. (6) This Dhamma is for one who is concentrated, not for one who is unconcentrated. (7) This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise.”
    The Blessed One knew with his own mind the course of thought in the Venerable Anuruddha’s mind. Then, just as a strong man might extend his drawn-in arm or draw in his extended arm, the Blessed One disappeared from among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove, and reappeared before the Venerable Anuruddha among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. The Blessed One sat down on the seat prepared for him. The Venerable Anuruddha then paid homage to him and sat down to one side, and the Blessed One said to him: “Good, good, Anuruddha! It is good that you have reflected on these thoughts of a great person, namely: This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires.… This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise.’ Therefore, Anuruddha, also reflect on this eighth thought of a great person: This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation.’
    “When, Anuruddha, you reflect on these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, [230] you will enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by thought and examination.
    “When you reflect on these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the subsiding of thought and examination, you will enter and dwell in the second jhāna, which has internal placidity and unification of mind and consists of rapture and pleasure born of concentration, without thought and examination.
    “When you reflect on these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the fading away as well of rapture, you will dwell equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, experience pleasure with the body; you will enter and dwell in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’
    “When you reflect on these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and sadness, you will enter and dwell in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.
    “When, Anuruddha, you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your rag-robe will seem to you as a chest full of variously colored garments seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna. [231]
    “When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will … these four jhānas … then, while you dwell contentedly, your scraps of almsfood will seem to you as a dish of rice cleaned of black grains and served with many gravies and curries seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and they will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.
    “When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will … these four jhānas … then, while you dwell contentedly, your dwelling place at the foot of a tree will seem to you as a house with a peaked roof, plastered inside and out, draft-free, with bolts fastened and shutters closed, seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.
    “When you reflect upon those eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will … these four jhānas … then, while you dwell contentedly, your bed and seat made of straw will seem to you as a couch spread with rugs, blankets, and covers, with an excellent covering of antelope hide, with a canopy above and red bolsters at both ends, seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna. [232]
    “When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will … these four jhānas … then, while you dwell contentedly, your medicine of fermented cow’s urine will seem to you as various medicaments of ghee, butter, oil, honey, and molasses seem to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.
    “Therefore, Anuruddha, you should also spend the next rains residence right here among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park.”
    “Yes, bhante,” the Venerable Anuruddha replied.
    Then, having exhorted the Venerable Anuruddha, just as a strong man might extend his drawn-in arm or draw in his extended arm, the Blessed One disappeared before the Venerable Anuruddha among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park and reappeared among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. He then sat down on the seat prepared for him and addressed the bhikkhus: “I will teach you, bhikkhus, the eight thoughts of a great person. Listen and attend carefully. I will speak.”
    “Yes, bhante,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the eight thoughts of a great person? (1) This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires. (2) This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. (3) This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company. (4) This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy. (5) This Dhamma is for one with mindfulness established, not for one who is muddle-minded. (6) This Dhamma is for one who is concentrated, not for one who is unconcentrated. (7) This Dhamma is for one who is wise, [233] not for one who is unwise. (8) This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation.
    (1) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, when a bhikkhu is one with few desires, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one with few desires.’ When he is content, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who is content.’ When he resorts to solitude, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who resorts to solitude.’ When he is energetic, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be energetic.’ When he is mindful, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be mindful.’ When he is concentrated, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be concentrated.’ When he is wise, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be wise.’ When he delights in non-proliferation, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who delights in non-proliferation.’ When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (2) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicines and provisions for the sick. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (3) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, when a bhikkhu resorts to solitude, bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, female lay followers, kings, royal ministers, heads of other sects, and disciples belonging to other sects approach him. In each case, with a mind that slants, slopes, and inclines to seclusion, withdrawn, delighting in renunciation, he gives them a talk invariably concerned with dismissing them. [234] When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (4) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu has aroused energy for abandoning unwholesome qualities and acquiring wholesome qualities; he is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (5) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with mindfulness established, not for one who is muddle-minded,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, one who remembers and recollects what was done and said long ago. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with mindfulness established, not for one who is muddle-minded,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (6) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is concentrated, not for one who is unconcentrated,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures … a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is concentrated, not for one who is unconcentrated,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.
    (7) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is wise; he possesses the wisdom that discerns arising and passing away, which is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise,’ it is with reference to this that this was said. [235]
    (8) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu’s mind launches out upon the cessation of proliferation, becomes placid, settles down, and is liberated in it. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.”
    Then the Venerable Anuruddha spent the next rains residence right there among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. Dwelling alone, withdrawn, heedful, ardent, and resolute, in no long time the Venerable Anuruddha realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, that unsurpassed consummation of the spiritual life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness; and having entered upon it, he dwelled in it. He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the spiritual life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming back to any state of being.” And the Venerable Anuruddha became one of the arahants.
    On that occasion, when he had attained arahantship, the Venerable Anuruddha spoke these verses:

“Having understood my thoughts,
the unsurpassed teacher in the world
came to me by psychic potency
in a mind-made body.

“He taught me more
than my thoughts contained:
the Buddha, delighting in non-proliferation,
instructed me in non-proliferation.

“Having learned his Dhamma,
I delighted in his teaching.
I have gained the three true knowledges;
the Buddha’s teaching has been done.” [236]    
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

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