Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

I. Benefits

1 (1) What Purpose?
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
   (1) “Bhante, what is the purpose and benefit of wholesome virtuous behavior?”
   (2) “Ānanda, the purpose and benefit of wholesome virtuous behavior is non-regret.”
   (3) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of non-regret?”
   “The purpose and benefit of non-regret is joy.”
   (4) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of joy?”
   “The purpose and benefit of joy is rapture.”
   (5) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of rapture?”
   “The purpose and benefit of rapture is tranquility.”
   (6) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of tranquility?”
   “The purpose and benefit of tranquility is pleasure.”
   (7) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of pleasure?”
   “The purpose and benefit of pleasure [2] is concentration.”
   (8) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of concentration?”
   “The purpose and benefit of concentration is the knowledge and vision of things as they really are.”
   (9) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of the knowledge and vision of things as they really are?”
   “The purpose and benefit of the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is disenchantment and dispassion.”
   (10) “And what, bhante, is the purpose and benefit of disenchantment and dispassion?”
   “The purpose and benefit of disenchantment and dispassion is the knowledge and vision of liberation.”
   “Thus, Ānanda, (1)–(2) the purpose and benefit of wholesome virtuous behavior is non-regret; (3) the purpose and benefit of non-regret is joy; (4) the purpose and benefit of joy is rapture; (5) the purpose and benefit of rapture is tranquility; (6) the purpose and benefit of tranquility is pleasure; (7) the purpose and benefit of pleasure is concentration; (8) the purpose and benefit of concentration is the knowledge and vision of things as they really are; (9) the purpose and benefit of the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is disenchantment and dispassion; and (10) the purpose and benefit of disenchantment and dispassion is the knowledge and vision of liberation. Thus, Ānanda, wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost.”

2 (2) Volition
    ​
(1)–(2) “Bhikkhus, for a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous, no volition need be exerted: ‘Let non-regret arise in me.’ It is natural that non-regret arises in a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous.
    (3) “For one without regret no volition need be exerted: ‘Let joy arise in me.’ It is natural that joy arises in one without regret.
    (4) “For one who is joyful no volition need be exerted: ‘Let rapture arise in me.’ It is natural that rapture arises in one who is joyful. [3]
    (5) “For one with a rapturous mind no volition need be exerted: ‘Let my body be tranquil.’ It is natural that the body of one with a rapturous mind is tranquil.
    (6) “For one tranquil in body no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me feel pleasure.’ It is natural that one tranquil in body feels pleasure.
    (7) “For one feeling pleasure no volition need be exerted: ‘Let my mind be concentrated.’ It is natural that the mind of one feeling pleasure is concentrated.
    (8) “For one who is concentrated no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me know and see things as they really are.’ It is natural that one who is concentrated knows and sees things as they really are.
    (9) “For one who knows and sees things as they really are no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me be disenchanted and dispassionate.’ It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate.
    (10) “For one who is disenchanted and dispassionate no volition need be exerted: ‘Let me realize the knowledge and vision of liberation.’ It is natural that one who is disenchanted and dispassionate realizes the knowledge and vision of liberation.
    “Thus, bhikkhus, (9)–(10) the knowledge and vision of liberation is the purpose and benefit of disenchantment and dispassion; (8) disenchantment and dispassion are the purpose and benefit of the knowledge and vision of things as they really are; (7) the knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the purpose and benefit of concentration; (6) concentration is the purpose and benefit of pleasure; (5) pleasure is the purpose and benefit of tranquility; (4) tranquility is the purpose and benefit of rapture; (3) rapture is the purpose and benefit of joy; (2) joy is the purpose and benefit of non-regret; and (1) non-regret is the purpose and benefit of virtuous behavior.
    “Thus, bhikkhus, one stage [4] flows into the next stage, the later stage fulfills the previous stage, for going from the near shore to the far shore.”

3 (3) Virtuous Behavior
“Bhikkhus, (1) for an immoral person, for one deficient in virtuous behavior, (2) non-regret lacks its proximate cause. When there is no non-regret, for one deficient in non-regret, (3) joy lacks its proximate cause. When there is no joy, for one deficient in joy, (4) rapture lacks its proximate cause. When there is no rapture, for one deficient in rapture, (5) tranquility lacks its proximate cause. When there is no tranquility, for one deficient in tranquility, (6) pleasure lacks its proximate cause. When there is no pleasure, for one deficient in pleasure, (7) right concentration lacks its proximate cause. When there is no right concentration, for one deficient in right concentration, (8) the knowledge and vision of things as they really are lacks its proximate cause. When there is no knowledge and vision of things as they really are, for one deficient in the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, (9) disenchantment and dispassion lack their proximate cause. When there is no disenchantment and dispassion, for one deficient in disenchantment and dispassion, (10) the knowledge and vision of liberation lacks its proximate cause.
   “Suppose there is a tree deficient in branches and foliage. Then its shoots do not grow to fullness; also its bark, softwood, and heartwood do not grow to fullness. So too, for an immoral person, one deficient in virtuous behavior, non-regret lacks its proximate cause. When there is no non-regret … the knowledge and vision of liberation lacks its proximate cause.
   “Bhikkhus, (1) for a virtuous person, for one whose behavior is virtuous, (2) non-regret possesses its proximate cause. When there is non-regret, for one possessing non-regret, (3) joy possesses its proximate cause. When there is joy, for one possessing joy, (4) rapture possesses its proximate cause. When there is rapture, for one possessing rapture, (5) tranquility possesses its proximate cause. When there is tranquility, for one possessing tranquility, (6) pleasure possesses its proximate cause. When there is pleasure, for one possessing pleasure, (7) right concentration possesses its proximate cause. When there is right concentration, for one possessing right concentration, (8) the knowledge and vision of things as they really are possesses its proximate cause. When there is the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, for one possessing the knowledge and vision of things as they really are, (9) disenchantment and dispassion possess their proximate cause. When there is disenchantment and dispassion, for one possessing disenchantment and dispassion, (10) the knowledge and vision of liberation possesses its proximate cause.
   “Suppose there is a tree possessing branches and foliage. Then its shoots grow to fullness; also its bark, softwood, and heartwood grow to fullness. So too, for a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous, non-regret possesses its proximate cause. When there is non-regret … the knowledge and vision of liberation possesses its proximate cause.”

4 (4) Proximate Cause
There the Venerable Sāriputta addressed the bhikkhus:
    [Identical with 10:3, but spoken by Sāriputta.] [6]

5 (5) Ānanda
There the Venerable Ānanda addressed the bhikkhus:
    [Identical with 10:3, but spoken by Ānanda.] [7]

6 (6) Concentration
Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:
    “Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient?”
    “He could, Ānanda.”
    “But how, bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?” [8]
    “Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’ It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; of water in relation to water; of fire in relation to fire; of air in relation to air; of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; of this world in relation to this world; of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient.”

7 (7) Sāriputta
Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Venerable Sāriputta and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Venerable Sāriputta:
    “Friend Sāriputta, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient?”
    “He could, friend Ānanda.”
    “But how, friend Sāriputta, could he obtain such a state of concentration?”
    “On one occasion, friend Ānanda, I was dwelling right here in Sāvatthī in the Blind Men’s Grove. There I attained such a state of concentration that I was not percipient of earth in relation to earth; of water in relation to water; of fire in relation to fire; of air in relation to air; of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; of this world in relation to this world; of the other world in relation to the other world, but I was still percipient.”
    “But of what was the Venerable Sāriputta percipient on that occasion?”
    “One perception arose and another perception ceased in me: ‘The cessation of existence is nibbāna; the cessation of existence is nibbāna.’ Just as, when a fire of twigs is burning, one flame arises and another flame ceases, so one perception [10] arose and another perception ceased in me: ‘The cessation of existence is nibbāna; the cessation of existence is nibbāna.’ On that occasion, friend, I was percipient: ‘The cessation of existence is nibbāna.’“

8 (8) Faith
(1) “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may be endowed with faith but he is not virtuous; thus he is incomplete with respect to that factor. He should fulfill that factor, [thinking]: ‘How can I be endowed with faith and also be virtuous?’ But when a bhikkhu is endowed with faith and is also virtuous, then he is complete with respect to that factor.
    (2) “A bhikkhu may be endowed with faith and virtuous, but he is not learned … (3) … learned, but not a speaker on the Dhamma … (4) … a speaker on the Dhamma, but not one who frequents assemblies … (5) … one who frequents assemblies, but not one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly … (6) … one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly, but not an expert on the discipline … (7) … an expert on the discipline, but not a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings … (8) … a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings, but not one who gains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life … (9) … one who gains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, but not one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it.
    “Thus he is incomplete with respect to that factor. He should fulfill that factor, [thinking]: ‘How can I be endowed with faith … [11] … and also be one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it?’
    (10) “But when a bhikkhu is (i) endowed with faith, (ii) virtuous, and (iii) learned; (iv) a speaker on the Dhamma; (v) one who frequents assemblies; (vi) one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly; (vii) an expert on the discipline; (viii) a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings; (ix) one who gains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life; and (x) one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it, then he is complete with respect to that factor.
    “A bhikkhu who possesses these ten qualities is one who inspires confidence in all respects and who is complete in all aspects.”

9 (9) Peaceful
(1) “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may be endowed with faith but he is not virtuous … (2) … endowed with faith and virtuous, but he is not learned … (3) … learned, but not a speaker on the Dhamma … (4) … a speaker on the Dhamma, but not one who frequents assemblies … (5) … one who frequents assemblies, but not one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly … (6) … one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly, but not an expert on the discipline … (7) … an expert on the discipline, but not a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings … (8) … a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings, but not one who contacts with the body and dwells in those peaceful emancipations, transcending forms, that are formless … (9) … one who contacts with the body and dwells in those peaceful emancipations, transcending forms, [12] that are formless, but not one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, nor, having entered upon it, dwells in it.
    “Thus he is incomplete with respect to that factor. He should fulfill that factor, [thinking]: ‘How can I be endowed with faith … and also be one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it?’
    (10) “But when a bhikkhu is (i) endowed with faith, (ii) virtuous, and (iii) learned; (iv) a speaker on the Dhamma; (v) one who frequents assemblies; (vi) one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly; (vii) an expert on the discipline; (viii) a forest-dweller who resorts to remote lodgings; (ix) one who dwells having contacted with the body those peaceful emancipations, transcending forms, that are formless; and (x) one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it, then he is complete with respect to that factor.
    “A bhikkhu who possesses these ten qualities is one who inspires confidence in all respects and who is complete in all aspects.”

10 (10) True Knowledges
(1) “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu may be endowed with faith but he is not virtuous … [13] … (2) … endowed with faith and virtuous, but he is not learned … (3) … learned, but not a speaker on the Dhamma … (4) … a speaker on the Dhamma, but not one who frequents assemblies … (5) … one who frequents assemblies, but not one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly … (6) … one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly, but not an expert on the discipline … (7) … an expert on the discipline, but not one who recollects his manifold past abodes, that is, one birth, two births … [as in 6:2 §4] … thus he does not recollect his manifold past abodes with their aspects and details … (8) … one who recollects his manifold past abodes … but not one who, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human … [as in 6:2 §5] … understands how beings fare on in accordance with their kamma … (9) … one who, with the divine eye … understands how beings fare on in accordance with their kamma, but not one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it.
    “Thus he is incomplete with respect to that factor. He should fulfill that factor, [thinking]: ‘How can I be endowed with faith … [14] … and also be one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it?’
    (10) “But when a bhikkhu is (i) endowed with faith, (ii) virtuous, and (iii) learned; (iv) a speaker on the Dhamma; (v) one who frequents assemblies; (vi) one who confidently teaches the Dhamma to an assembly; (vii) an expert on the discipline; (viii) one who recollects his manifold past abodes … with their aspects and details; (ix) one who, with the divine eye … understands how beings fare on in accordance with their kamma; and (x) one who, with the destruction of the taints, has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, dwells in it, then he is complete with respect to that factor.
    “A bhikkhu who possesses these ten qualities is one who inspires confidence in all respects and who is complete in all aspects.” [15]

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

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