The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

II. Pairs

61 (1) Ignorance
“Bhikkhus, this is said: ‘A first point of ignorance, bhikkhus, is not seen such that before this there was no ignorance and afterwards it came into being.’ Still, ignorance is seen to have a specific condition.
   “I say, bhikkhus, that ignorance has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for ignorance? It should be said: the five hindrances. The five hindrances, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the five hindrances? It should be said: the three kinds of misconduct. The three kinds of misconduct, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the three kinds of misconduct? It should be said: non-restraint of the sense faculties. Non-restraint of the sense faculties, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for non-restraint of the sense faculties? It should be said: lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension. Lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: careless attention. Careless attention, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for careless attention? It should be said: lack of faith. Lack of faith, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for lack of faith? It should be said: not hearing the good Dhamma. Not hearing the good Dhamma, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for not hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: not associating with good persons.
   “Thus not associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up not hearing the good Dhamma. Not hearing the good Dhamma, becoming full, fills up lack of faith. Lack of faith, becoming full, fills up careless attention. Careless attention, becoming full, fills up lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension. Lack of mindfulness and clear comprehension, becoming full, [114] fills up non-restraint of the sense faculties. Non-restraint of the sense faculties, becoming full, fills up the three kinds of misconduct. The three kinds of misconduct, becoming full, fill up the five hindrances. The five hindrances, becoming full, fill up ignorance. Thus there is nutriment for ignorance, and in this way it becomes full.
   “Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountaintop, the water flows down along the slope and fills the clefts, gullies, and creeks; these, becoming full, fill up the pools; these, becoming full, fill up the lakes; these, becoming full, fill up the streams; these, becoming full, fill up the rivers; and these, becoming full, fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full. So too, not associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up not hearing the good Dhamma…. The five hindrances, becoming full, fill up ignorance. Thus there is nutriment for ignorance, and in this way it becomes full.
   “I say, bhikkhus, that (1) true knowledge and liberation have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for true knowledge and liberation? It should be said: (2) the seven factors of enlightenment. The seven factors of enlightenment, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the seven factors of enlightenment? It should be said: (3) the four establishments of mindfulness. The four establishments of mindfulness, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the four establishments of mindfulness? It should be said: (4) the three kinds of good conduct. [115] The three kinds of good conduct, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the three kinds of good conduct? It should be said: (5) restraint of the sense faculties. Restraint of the sense faculties, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for restraint of the sense faculties? It should be said: (6) mindfulness and clear comprehension. Mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: (7) careful attention. Careful attention, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for careful attention? It should be said: (8) faith. Faith, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for faith? It should be said: (9) hearing the good Dhamma. Hearing the good Dhamma, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: (10) associating with good persons.
   “Thus associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma. Hearing the good Dhamma, becoming full, fills up faith. Faith, becoming full, fills up careful attention. Careful attention, becoming full, fills up mindfulness and clear comprehension. Mindfulness and clear comprehension, becoming full, fill up restraint of the sense faculties. Restraint of the sense faculties, becoming full, fills up the three kinds of good conduct. The three kinds of good conduct, becoming full, fill up the four establishments of mindfulness. The four establishments of mindfulness, becoming full, fill up the seven factors of enlightenment. The seven factors of enlightenment, becoming full, fill up true knowledge and liberation. Thus there is nutriment for true knowledge and liberation, and in this way they become full.
   “Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountaintop, the water flows down along the slope and fills the clefts, gullies, and creeks; these, becoming full, fill up the pools; these, becoming full, fill up the lakes; these, becoming full, fill up the streams; these, becoming full, fill up the rivers; and these, becoming full, [116] fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full. So too, associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma…. The seven factors of enlightenment, becoming full, fill up true knowledge and liberation. Thus there is nutriment for true knowledge and liberation, and in this way they become full.”

62 (2) Craving
“Bhikkhus, it is said: ‘A first point of craving for existence, bhikkhus, is not seen such that before this there was no craving for existence and afterwards it came into being.’ Still, craving for existence is seen to have a specific condition.
   “I say, bhikkhus, that craving for existence has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for craving for existence? It should be said: ignorance. Ignorance, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for ignorance? It should be said: the five hindrances … [as in 10:61] [117] … And what is the nutriment for not hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: not associating with good persons.
   “Thus not associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up not hearing the good Dhamma…. The five hindrances, becoming full, fill up ignorance. Ignorance, becoming full, fills up craving for existence. Thus there is nutriment for craving for existence, and in this way it becomes full.
   “Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountaintop, the water flows down along the slope … [118] … and the rivers, becoming full, fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full. So too, not associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up not hearing the good Dhamma ... and ignorance, becoming full, fills up craving for existence. Thus there is nutriment for craving for existence, and in this way it becomes full.
   “I say, bhikkhus, that (1) true knowledge and liberation have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for true knowledge and liberation? It should be said: (2) the seven factors of enlightenment…. Hearing the good Dhamma, too, I say, has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for hearing the good Dhamma? It should be said: (10) associating with good persons.
   “Thus associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma…. [119] The seven factors of enlightenment, becoming full, fill up true knowledge and liberation. Thus there is nutriment for true knowledge and liberation, and in this way they become full.
   “Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountain top, the water flows down along the slope … and the rivers, becoming full, fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full. So too, associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma ... The seven factors of enlightenment, becoming full, fill up true knowledge and liberation. Thus there is nutriment for true knowledge and liberation, and in this way they become full.”

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

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