The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

IV. Sumanā

31 (1) Sumanā
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then Princess Sumanā, accompanied by five hundred chariots and five hundred court girls, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. Princess Sumanā then said to the Blessed One:
    “Here, bhante, there might be two disciples of the Blessed One equal in faith, virtuous behavior, and wisdom, but one is generous while the other is not. With the breakup of the body, [33] after death, they would both be reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world. When they have become devas, would there be any distinction or difference between them?”
    “There would be, Sumanā,” the Blessed One said. “The generous one, having become a deva, would surpass the other in five ways: in celestial life span, celestial beauty, celestial happiness, celestial glory, and celestial authority. The generous one, having become a deva, would surpass the other in these five ways.”
    “But, bhante, if these two pass away from there and again become human beings, would there still be some distinction or difference between them?”
    “There would be, Sumanā,” the Blessed One said. “When they again become human beings, the generous one would surpass the other in five ways: in human life span, human beauty, human happiness, human fame, and human authority. When they again become human beings, the generous one would surpass the other in these five ways.”
    “But, bhante, if these two should go forth from the household life into homelessness, would there still be some distinction or difference between them?”
    “There would be, Sumanā,” the Blessed One said. “The generous one, having gone forth, would surpass the other in five ways. (1) He would usually use a robe that has been specifically offered to him, seldom one that had not been specifically offered to him. (2) He would usually eat almsfood that has been specifically offered to him, seldom almsfood that had not been specifically offered to him. (3) He would usually use a lodging that had been specifically offered to him, seldom one that had not been specifically offered to him. (4) He would usually use medicinal requisites and [other] supports for the sick that had been specifically offered to him, seldom those that had not been specifically offered to him. (5) His fellow monastics, those with whom he dwells, would usually behave toward him in agreeable ways by bodily, verbal, and mental action, seldom in disagreeable ways. They would usually present him what is agreeable, seldom [34] what is disagreeable. The generous one, having gone forth, would surpass the other in these five ways.”
    “But, bhante, if both attain arahantship, would there still be some distinction or difference between them after they have attained arahantship?”
    “In this case, Sumanā, I declare, there would be no difference between the liberation [of one] and the liberation [of the other].”
    “It’s astounding and amazing, bhante! Truly, one has good reason to give alms and do meritorious deeds, since they will be helpful if one becomes a deva, [again] becomes a human being, or goes forth.”
    “So it is, Sumanā! So it is, Sumanā! Truly, one has good reason to give alms and do meritorious deeds, since they will be helpful if one becomes a deva, [again] becomes a human being, or goes forth.”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, further said this:

“As the stainless moon
moving through the sphere of space
outshines with its radiance
all the stars in the world,
so one accomplished in virtuous behavior,
a person endowed with faith,
outshines by generosity
all the misers in the world.

“As the hundred-peaked rain cloud,
thundering, wreathed in lightning,
pours down rain upon the earth,
inundating the plains and lowlands,
so the Perfectly Enlightened One’s disciple,
the wise one accomplished in vision,
surpasses the miserly person
in five specific respects:
life span and glory,
beauty and happiness.
Possessed of wealth, after death
he rejoices in heaven.” [35]

32 (2) Cundī
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrel sanctuary. Then Princess Cundī, accompanied by five hundred chariots and five hundred court girls, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. Princess Cundī then said to the Blessed One:
    “Bhante, my brother is Prince Cunda. He says thus: ‘Whenever a man or a woman has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from indulging in liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn only in a good destination, not in a bad destination.’ I ask the Blessed One: ‘What kind of teacher, bhante, should one have confidence in, so that, with the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn only in a good destination, not in a bad destination? What kind of Dhamma should one have confidence in, so that, with the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn only in a good destination, not in a bad destination? What kind of Saṅgha should one have confidence in, so that, with the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn only in a good destination, not in a bad destination? What kind of virtuous behavior should one fulfill so that, with the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn only in a good destination, not in a bad destination?”
    (1) “Cundī, to whatever extent there are beings, whether footless or with two feet, four feet, or many feet, whether having form or formless, whether percipient, non-percipient, or neither percipient nor non-percipient, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One is declared the foremost among them. Those who have confidence in the Buddha have confidence in the foremost, and for those who have confidence in the foremost, the result is foremost.
    (2) “To whatever extent, Cundī, there are phenomena that are conditioned, the noble eightfold path is declared the foremost among them. Those who have confidence in the noble eightfold path have confidence in the foremost, and for those who have confidence in the foremost, the result is foremost.
    (3) “To whatever extent, Cundī, there are phenomena whether conditioned or unconditioned, dispassion is declared the foremost among them, that is, the crushing of pride, the removal of thirst, the uprooting of attachment, the termination of the round, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna. Those who [36] have confidence in the Dhamma, in dispassion, have confidence in the foremost, and for those who have confidence in the foremost, the result is foremost.
    (4) “To whatever extent, Cundī, there are Saṅghas or groups, the Saṅgha of the Tathāgata’s disciples is declared the foremost among them, that is, the four pairs of persons, the eight types of individuals—this Saṅgha of the Blessed One’s disciples is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world. Those who have confidence in the Saṅgha have confidence in the foremost, and for those who have confidence in the foremost, the result is foremost.
    (5) “To whatever extent, Cundī, there is virtuous behavior, the virtuous behavior loved by the noble ones is declared the foremost among them, that is, when it is unbroken, flawless, unblemished, unblotched, freeing, praised by the wise, ungrasped, leading to concentration. Those who fulfill the virtuous behavior loved by the noble ones fulfill the foremost, and for those who fulfill the foremost, the result is foremost.”

For those confident in regard to the foremost,
knowing the foremost Dhamma,
confident in the Buddha—the foremost—
unsurpassed, worthy of offerings;

for those confident in the foremost Dhamma,
in the blissful peace of dispassion;
for those confident in the foremost Saṅgha,
the unsurpassed field of merit;

for those giving gifts to the foremost,
the foremost kind of merit increases:
the foremost life span, beauty, and glory,
good reputation, happiness, and strength.

The wise one who gives to the foremost,
concentrated upon the foremost Dhamma,
having become a deva or human being,
rejoices having attained the foremost.

33 (3) Uggaha
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Bhaddiya in the Jātiyā Grove. Then Uggaha, Meṇḍaka’s grandson, approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to the Blessed One:
    “Bhante, let the Blessed One together with three other monks consent to accept tomorrow’s [37] meal from me.”
    The Blessed One consented by silence. Then Uggaha, having understood that the Blessed One had consented, rose from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, circumambulated him keeping the right side toward him, and departed.
    Then, when the night had passed, in the morning the Blessed One dressed, took his bowl and robe, and went to Uggaha’s residence, where he sat down on the appointed seat. Then, with his own hands, Uggaha, Meṇḍaka’s grandson, served and satisfied the Blessed One with various kinds of delicious food.
    When the Blessed One had finished eating and had put away his bowl, Uggaha sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One: “Bhante, these girls of mine will be going to their husbands’ families. Let the Blessed One exhort them and instruct them in a way that will lead to their welfare and happiness for a long time.”
    The Blessed One then said to those girls:
    (1) “So then, girls, you should train yourselves thus: ‘To whichever husband our parents give us—doing so out of a desire for our good, seeking our welfare, taking compassion on us, acting out of compassion for us—we will rise before him and retire after him, undertaking whatever needs to be done, agreeable in our conduct and pleasing in our speech.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    (2) “And you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will honor, respect, esteem, and venerate those whom our husband respects—his mother and father, ascetics and brahmins—and when they arrive we will offer them a seat and water.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    (3) “And you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will be skillful and diligent in attending to our husband’s domestic chores, whether knitting or weaving; we will possess sound judgment about them in order to carry out and arrange them properly.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    (4) “And you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will find out what our husband’s domestic helpers—whether slaves, messengers, or [38] workers—have done and left undone; we will find out the condition of those who are ill; and we will distribute to each an appropriate portion of food.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    (5) “And you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will guard and protect whatever income our husband brings home—whether money or grain, silver or gold—and we will not be spendthrifts, thieves, wastrels, or squanderers of his earnings.’ Thus should you train yourselves.
    “When, girls, a woman possesses these five qualities, with the breakup of the body, after death, she is reborn in companionship with the agreeable-bodied devas.”

She does not despise her husband,
the man who constantly supports her,
who ardently and eagerly
always brings her whatever she wants.

Nor does a good woman scold her husband
with speech caused by jealousy;
the wise woman shows veneration
to all those whom her husband reveres.

She rises early, works diligently,
manages the domestic help;
she treats her husband in agreeable ways
and safeguards the wealth he earns.

The woman who fulfills her duties thus,
following her husband’s will and wishes,
is reborn among the devas
called “the agreeable ones.”

34 (4) Sīha 
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in the hall with the peaked roof in the Great Wood. Then Sīha the general approached [39] the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said:
    “Is it possible, bhante, to point out a directly visible fruit of giving?”
    “It is, Sīha,” the Blessed One said.
    (1) “A donor, Sīha, a munificent giver, is dear and agreeable to many people. This is a directly visible fruit of giving.
    (2) “Again, good persons resort to a donor, a munificent giver. This, too, is a directly visible fruit of giving.
    (3) “Again, a donor, a munificent giver, acquires a good reputation. This, too, is a directly visible fruit of giving.
    (4) “Again, whatever assembly a donor, a munificent giver, approaches—whether of khattiyas, brahmins, householders, or ascetics—he approaches it confidently and composed. This too is a directly visible fruit of giving.
    (5) “Again, with the breakup of the body, after death, a donor, a munificent giver, is reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world. This is a fruit of giving pertaining to future lives.”
    When this was said, Sīha the general said to the Blessed One: “Bhante, I do not go by faith in the Blessed One concerning those four directly visible fruits of giving declared by him. I know them, too. For I am a donor, a munificent giver, and I am dear and agreeable to many people. I am a donor, a munificent giver, and many good persons resort to me. I am a donor, a munificent giver, and I have acquired a good reputation as a donor, sponsor, and supporter of the Saṅgha. I [40] am a donor, a munificent giver, and whatever assembly I approach—whether of khattiyas, brahmins, householders, or ascetics—I approach it confidently and composed. I do not go by faith in the Blessed One concerning these four directly visible fruits of giving declared by him. I know them, too. But when the Blessed One tells me: ‘Sīha, with the breakup of the body, after death, a donor, a munificent giver, is reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world,’ I do not know this, and here I go by faith in the Blessed One.”
    “So it is, Sīha, so it is! With the breakup of the body, after death, a donor, a munificent giver, is reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.”

By giving, he becomes dear and many resort to him.
He attains a good reputation and his fame increases.
The generous man is composed
and confidently enters the assembly.

Therefore, seeking happiness,
wise persons give gifts,
having removed the stain of miserliness.
When they are settled in the triple heaven,
for a long time they delight
in companionship with the devas.

Having taken the opportunity to do wholesome deeds,
passing from here, self-luminous, they roam in Nandana,
where they delight, rejoice, and enjoy themselves,
furnished with the five objects of sensual pleasure.
Having fulfilled the word of the unattached Stable One,
the Fortunate One’s disciples rejoice in heaven. [41]

35 (5) The Benefits of Giving
“Bhikkhus, there are these five benefits of giving. What five? (1) One is dear and agreeable to many people. (2) Good persons resort to one. (3) One acquires a good reputation. (4) One is not deficient in the layperson’s duties. (5) With the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world. These are the five benefits in giving.”

By giving, one becomes dear,
one follows the duty of the good;
the good self-controlled monks,
always resort to one.

They teach one the Dhamma
that dispels all suffering,
having understood which
the taintless one here attains nibbāna.

36 (6) Timely 
“Bhikkhus, there are these five timely gifts. What five? (1) One gives a gift to a visitor. (2) One gives a gift to one setting out on a journey. (3) One gives a gift to a patient. (4) One gives a gift during a famine. (5) One first presents the newly harvested crops and fruits to the virtuous ones. These are the five timely gifts.”

At the proper time, those wise,
charitable, and generous
give a timely gift to the noble ones,
who are stable and upright;
given with a clear mind,
one’s offering is vast.

Those who rejoice in such deeds
or who provide [other] service
do not miss out on the offering;
they too partake of the merit.

Therefore, with a non-regressing mind,
one should give a gift where it yields great fruit.
Merits are the support of living beings
[when they arise] in the other world. [42]

37 (7) Food
“Bhikkhus, a donor who gives food gives the recipients five things. What five? One gives life, beauty, happiness, strength, and discernment. (1) Having given life, one partakes of life, whether celestial or human. (2) Having given beauty, one partakes of beauty, whether celestial or human. (3) Having given happiness, one partakes of happiness, whether celestial or human. (4) Having given strength, one partakes of strength, whether celestial or human. (5) Having given discernment, one partakes of discernment, whether celestial or human. A donor who gives food gives the recipients these five things.”

The wise one is a giver
of life, strength, beauty, and discernment.
The intelligent one is a donor of happiness
and in turn acquires happiness.

Having given life, strength, beauty,
happiness, and discernment,
one is long-lived and famous
wherever one is reborn.

38 (8) Faith
“Bhikkhus, these five benefits come to a clansman endowed with faith. What five? (1) When the good persons in the world show compassion, they first show compassion to the person with faith, not so to the person without faith. (2) When they approach anyone, they first approach the person with faith, not so the person without faith. (3) When they receive alms, they first receive alms from the person with faith, not so from the person without faith. (4) When they teach the Dhamma, they first teach the Dhamma to the person with faith, not so to the person without faith. (5) With the breakup of the body, after death, a person with faith is reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world. These are the five benefits that come to a clansman who has faith.
    “Just as at a crossroads on level ground, a great banyan tree becomes the resort for birds all around, so [43] the clansman endowed with faith becomes the resort for many people: for bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, and female lay followers.”

A large tree with a mighty trunk,
branches, leaves, and fruit,
firm roots, and bearing fruit,
is a support for many birds.
Having flown across the sky,
the birds resort to this delightful base:
those in need of shade partake of its shade;
those needing fruit enjoy its fruit.

Just so, when a person is virtuous,
endowed with faith,
of humble manner, compliant,
gentle, welcoming, soft,
those in the world who are fields of merit —
devoid of lust and hatred,
devoid of delusion, taintless—
resort to such a person.

They teach him the Dhamma
that dispels all suffering,
having understood which
the taintless one here attains nibbāna.

39 (9) Son
“Bhikkhus, considering five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family. What five? (1) ‘Having been supported by us, he will support us. (2) Or he will do work for us. (3) Our family lineage will be extended. (4) He will manage the inheritance, (5) or else, when we have passed on, he will give an offering on our behalf.’ Considering these five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family.”

Considering the five prospects,
wise people wish for a son.
“Supported by us, he will support us,
or he will do work for us.
The family lineage will be extended,
he will manage the inheritance,
or else, when we have passed on,
he will make an offering on our behalf.”

Considering these prospects,
wise people wish for a son.
Therefore good persons,
grateful and appreciative,
support their mother and father,
recalling how they helped one in the past; [44]
they do what is necessary for them
as they did for oneself in the past.

Following their advice,
nurturing those who brought him up,
continuing the family lineage,
endowed with faith, virtuous:
this son is worthy of praise.

40 (10) Sal Trees
“Bhikkhus, based on the Himalayas, the king of mountains, great sal trees grow in five ways. What five? (1) They grow in branches, leaves, and foliage; (2) they grow in bark; (3) they grow in shoots; (4) they grow in softwood; and (5) they grow in heartwood. Based on the Himalayas, the king of mountains, great sal trees grow in these five ways.
    “So too, when the head of the family is endowed with faith, the people in the family who depend on him grow in five ways. What five? (1) They grow in faith; (2) they grow in virtuous behavior; (3) they grow in learning; (4) they grow in generosity; and (5) they grow in wisdom. When the head of a family is endowed with faith, the people in the family who depend on him grow in these five ways.”

Just as the trees that grow
in dependence on a rocky mountain
in a vast forest wilderness
might become great ‘woodland lords,’

so, when the head of a family here
possesses faith and virtue,
his wife, children, and relatives
all grow in dependence on him;
so too his companions, his family circle,
and those dependent on him. [153]

Those possessed of discernment,
seeing that virtuous man’s good conduct,
his generosity and good deeds,
emulate his example.

Having lived here in accord with Dhamma,
the path leading to a good destination,
those who desire sensual pleasures rejoice,
delighting in the deva world. [45]
 

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

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