Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

I. The Trainee’s Powers

1 (1) In Brief
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, there are these five trainee's powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of moral shame, the power of moral dread, the power of energy, and the power of wisdom. These are the five trainee's powers. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: 'We will possess the power of faith, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of moral shame, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of moral dread, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of energy, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of wisdom, a trainee's power.' Thus, bhikkhus, should you train yourselves.” [This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Blessed One's statement.] [2]

2 (2) In Detail
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, there are these five trainee's powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of moral shame, the power of moral dread, the power of energy, and the power of wisdom.
    (1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the power of faith? Here, a noble disciple is endowed with faith. He places faith in the enlightenment of the Tathāgata thus: 'The Blessed One is 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, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.' This is called the power of faith.
    (2) “And what is the power of moral shame? Here, a noble disciple has a sense of moral shame; he is ashamed of bodily, verbal, and mental misconduct; he is ashamed of acquiring evil, unwholesome qualities. This is called the power of moral shame.
    (3) “And what is the power of moral dread? Here, a noble disciple dreads wrongdoing; he dreads bodily, verbal, and mental misconduct; he dreads acquiring evil, unwholesome qualities. This is called the power of moral dread.
    (4) “And what is the power of energy? Here, a noble disciple 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. This is called the power of energy.
    (5) “And what is the power of wisdom? Here, a noble disciple 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. This is called the power of wisdom.
    “These are the five trainee's powers. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: 'We will possess the power of faith, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of moral shame, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of moral dread, [3] a trainee's power; we will possess the power of energy, a trainee's power; we will possess the power of wisdom, a trainee's power.' Thus, bhikkhus, should you train yourselves.”

3 (3) Suffering
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu dwells in suffering in this very life—with distress, anguish, and fever—and with the breakup of the body, after death, a bad destination can be expected for him. What five? Here, a bhikkhu is devoid of faith, morally shameless, morally reckless, lazy, and unwise. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu dwells in suffering in this very life—with distress, anguish, and fever—and with the breakup of the body, after death, he can expect a bad destination.
    “Bhikkhus, possessing five [other] qualities, a bhikkhu dwells happily in this very life—without distress, anguish, and fever—and with the breakup of the body, after death, a good destination can be expected for him. What five? Here, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, has a sense of moral shame, has moral dread, and is energetic and wise. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu dwells happily in this very life—without distress, anguish, and fever—and with the breakup of the body, after death, a good destination can be expected for him.”

4 (4) As If Brought There
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is deposited in hell as if brought there. What five? Here, a bhikkhu is devoid of faith, morally shameless, morally reckless, lazy, and unwise. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is deposited in hell as if brought there. [4]
    “Bhikkhus, possessing five [other] qualities, a bhikkhu is deposited in heaven as if brought there. What five? Here, a bhikkhu is endowed with faith, has a sense of moral shame, has moral dread, and is energetic and wise. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is deposited in heaven as if brought there.”

5 (5) Training
“Bhikkhus, when any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī gives up the training and reverts to the lower life, in this very life they incur five reasonable criticisms and grounds for censure. What five? (1) 'You did not have faith in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (2) You did not have a sense of moral shame in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (3) You did not have moral dread in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (4) You did not have energy in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (5) You did not have wisdom in [cultivating] wholesome qualities.' When any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī gives up the training and reverts to the lower life, in this very life they incur these five reasonable criticisms and grounds for censure.
    “Bhikkhus, when any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī, even with pain and dejection, weeping with a tearful face, lives the complete and pure spiritual life, in this very life they gain five reasonable grounds for praise. What five? (1) 'You have had faith in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (2) You have had a sense of moral shame in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (3) You have had moral dread in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (4) You have had energy in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. (5) You have had wisdom in [cultivating] wholesome qualities.' When any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī, even with pain and dejection, weeping with a tearful face, lives the complete and pure spiritual life, [5] in this very life they gain these five reasonable grounds for praise.”

6 (6) Entering 
(1) “Bhikkhus, there is no entering upon the unwholesome so long as faith is securely settled in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. But when faith has disappeared and lack of faith obsesses one, then there is the entering upon the unwholesome.
    (2) “There is no entering upon the unwholesome so long as a sense of moral shame is securely settled in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. But when a sense of moral shame has disappeared and moral shamelessness obsesses one, then there is the entering upon the unwholesome.
    (3) “There is no entering upon the unwholesome so long as moral dread is securely settled in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. But when moral dread has disappeared and lack of moral dread obsesses one, then there is the entering upon the unwholesome.
    (4) “There is no entering upon the unwholesome so long as energy is securely settled in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. But when energy has disappeared and laziness obsesses one, then there is the entering upon the unwholesome.
    (5) “There is no entering upon the unwholesome so long as wisdom is securely settled in [cultivating] wholesome qualities. But when wisdom has disappeared and lack of wisdom obsesses one, then there is the entering upon the unwholesome.”

7 (7) Sensual Pleasures 
“Bhikkhus, beings for the most part are captivated by sensual pleasures. When a clansman has forsaken the sickle and carrying-pole and gone forth from the household life into homelessness, he can be described as a clansman who has gone forth out of faith. For what reason? Sensual pleasures, whether of this or that kind, can be obtained by a youth. Inferior sensual pleasures, middling sensual pleasures, and superior sensual pleasures are all reckoned simply as sensual pleasures. [6]
    “Suppose a young infant boy, ignorant, lying on his back, were to put a stick or pebble in his mouth because of his nurse's heedlessness. His nurse would quickly attend to him and try to take it out. If she could not quickly take it out, she would brace the boy's head with her left hand and, hooking a finger of her right hand, she would take it out even if she had to draw blood. For what reason? There would be some distress for the boy—this I don't deny—but the nurse has to do so for his good and welfare, out of compassion for him. However, when the boy has grown up and has enough sense, the nurse would be unconcerned about him, thinking: 'The boy can now look after himself. He won’t be heedless.'
    “So too, so long as a bhikkhu is still not accomplished in faith in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, in a sense of shame in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, in moral dread in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, in energy in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, and in wisdom in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, I must still look after him. But when that bhikkhu is accomplished in faith in [cultivating] wholesome qualities … accomplished in wisdom in [cultivating] wholesome qualities, then I am unconcerned about him, thinking: 'The bhikkhu can now look after himself. He won’t be heedless.'“

8 (8) Falling Away (1)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities a bhikkhu falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma. What five? (1) A bhikkhu devoid of faith falls away and is not established [7] in the good Dhamma. (2) A morally shameless bhikkhu … (3) A morally reckless bhikkhu … (4) A lazy bhikkhu … (5) An unwise bhikkhu falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma.
    “Bhikkhus, possessing five [other] qualities a bhikkhu does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. What five? (1) A bhikkhu endowed with faith does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. (2) A bhikkhu who has a sense of moral shame … (3) A bhikkhu who has moral dread … (4) An energetic bhikkhu … (5) A wise bhikkhu does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma.”

9 (9) Falling Away (2)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, an irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma. What five? (1) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu devoid of faith falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma. (2) An irreverent and undeferential morally shameless bhikkhu … (3) An irreverent and undeferential morally reckless bhikkhu … (4) An irreverent and undeferential lazy bhikkhu … (5) An irreverent and undeferential unwise bhikkhu falls away and is not established in the good Dhamma. Possessing these five qualities, an irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu is not established in the good Dhamma. [8]
    “Bhikkhus, possessing five [other] qualities, a reverential and deferential bhikkhu does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. What five? (1) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu endowed with faith does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. (2) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who has a sense of moral shame … (3) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who has moral dread … (4) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who is energetic … (5) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who is wise does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma. Possessing these five qualities, a reverential and deferential bhikkhu does not fall away but is established in the good Dhamma.”

10 (10) Irreverent
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, an irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu is not capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. What five? (1) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu devoid of faith is not capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. (2) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu who is morally shameless … (3) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu who is morally reckless … (4) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu who is lazy … (5) An irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu who is unwise is not capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. Possessing these five qualities, an irreverent and undeferential bhikkhu is not capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline.
    “Bhikkhus, possessing five [other] qualities, a reverential and deferential bhikkhu is capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. What five? (1) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who is endowed with faith is capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. (2) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who has a sense of moral shame … (3) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who has moral dread ... [9] … (4) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who is energetic … (5) A reverential and deferential bhikkhu who is wise is capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. Possessing these five qualities, a reverential and deferential bhikkhu is capable of achieving growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline.”
 

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

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