Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

II. The Cart Maker

11 (1) Well Known
“Bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a well-known bhikkhu is acting for the harm of many people, for the unhappiness of many people, for the ruin, harm, and suffering of many people, of devas and human beings. What three? He encourages them in discordant bodily action, discordant verbal action, and discordant [mental] qualities. Possessing these three qualities, a well-known bhikkhu is acting for the harm of many people, for the unhappiness of many people, for the ruin, harm, and suffering of many people, of devas and human beings.
    “Bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a well-known bhikkhu is acting for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, for the good, welfare, and happiness of many people, of devas and human beings. What three? He encourages them in concordant bodily action, concordant verbal action, and concordant [mental] qualities. Possessing these three qualities, a well-known bhikkhu is acting for the welfare of many people, for the happiness of many people, for the good, welfare, and happiness of many people, of devas and human beings.”

12 (2) To Be Remembered
“Bhikkhus, there are these three [places] that a head-anointed khattiya king should remember all his life. What three? (1) The first is the place where he was born. (2) The second is the place where he was head-anointed a khattiya king. (3) And the third is the place where, having triumphed in battle, he emerged victorious and settled at the head of the battlefield. These are the three [places] that a head-anointed khattiya king should remember all his life. [107]
    “So too, bhikkhus, there are these three [places] that a bhikkhu should remember all his life. What three? (1) The first is the place where he shaved off his hair and beard, put on ochre robes, and went forth from the household life into homelessness. (2) The second is the place where he understood as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ (3) And the third is the place where, with the destruction of the taints, he realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom; and having entered upon it, dwelled in it. These are the three [places] that a bhikkhu should remember all his life.”

13 (3) A Bhikkhu
“Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of persons found existing in the world. What three? The one without expectation, the one full of expectation, and the one who has overcome expectation.
    (1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the person without expectation? Here, a person has been reborn in a low family—a family of caṇḍālas, bamboo workers, hunters, cart makers, or flower scavengers—one that is poor, with little food and drink, that subsists with difficulty, where food and clothing are obtained with difficulty; and he is ugly, unsightly, dwarfish, with much illness: blind, crippled, lame, or paralyzed. He does not obtain food, drink, clothing, and vehicles; garlands, scents, and unguents; bedding, housing, and lighting. He hears: ‘The khattiyas have anointed such and such a khattiya.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ This is called the person without expectation.
    (2) “And what is the person full of expectation? [108] Here, the eldest son of a head-anointed khattiya king, one due to be anointed but not yet anointed, has attained the unshaken. He hears: ‘The khattiyas have anointed such and such a khattiya.’ It occurs to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ This is called the person full of expectation.
    (3) “And what is the person who has overcome expectation? Here, a head-anointed khattiya king hears: ‘Such and such a khattiya has been anointed by the khattiyas.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will the khattiyas anoint me too?’ For what reason? Because his past expectation of anointment subsided when he was anointed. This is called the person who has overcome expectation.
    “These are the three kinds of persons found existing in the world.
    “So too, bhikkhus, there are three kinds of persons found existing among the bhikkhus. What three? The one without expectation, the one full of expectation, and the one who has overcome expectation.
    (1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the person without expectation? Here, some person is immoral, of bad character, of impure and suspect behavior, secretive in his actions, not an ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. He hears: ‘Such and such a bhikkhu, 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, he dwells in it.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom; and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ This is called the person without expectation.
    (2) “And what is the person full of expectation? Here, a bhikkhu is virtuous, of good character. He [109] hears: ‘Such and such a bhikkhu, 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, he dwells in it.’ It occurs to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom; and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ This is called the person full of expectation.
    (3) “And what is the person who has overcome expectation? Here, a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed. He hears: ‘Such and such bhikkhu, 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, he dwells in it.’ It does not occur to him: ‘When will I, too, with the destruction of the taints, realize for myself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom; and having entered upon it, dwell in it?’ For what reason? Because his past expectation of liberation subsided when he was liberated. This is called the person who has overcome expectation.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of persons found existing among the bhikkhus.”

14 (4)Wheel-Turning
“Bhikkhus, even a wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma, does not turn the wheel without a king above him.” When this was said, a certain bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “But, bhante, who is the king above a wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma?” “It is the Dhamma, bhikkhu,” the Blessed One said. “Here, bhikkhu, a wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma, relying just on the Dhamma, honoring, respecting, and venerating the Dhamma, taking the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and authority, provides righteous protection, shelter, and guard for the people in his court. Again, a wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma, relying just on the Dhamma, honoring, respecting, and venerating the Dhamma, taking the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and authority, provides righteous protection, shelter, and guard for his khattiya vassals, his army, [110] brahmins and householders, the people of town and countryside, ascetics and brahmins, and the animals and birds. Having provided such righteous protection, shelter, and guard for all these beings, that wheel-turning monarch, a righteous king who rules by the Dhamma, turns the wheel solely through the Dhamma, a wheel that cannot be turned back by any hostile human being.
    (1) “So too, bhikkhu, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the righteous king of the Dhamma, relying just on the Dhamma, honoring, respecting, and venerating the Dhamma, taking the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and authority, provides righteous protection, shelter, and guard in regard to bodily action, saying: ‘Such bodily action should be cultivated; such bodily action should not be cultivated.’
    (2) “Again, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the righteous king of the Dhamma, relying just on the Dhamma, honoring, respecting, and venerating the Dhamma, taking the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and authority, provides righteous protection, shelter, and guard in regard to verbal action, saying: ‘Such verbal action should be cultivated; such verbal action should not be cultivated.’
    (3) “Again, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the righteous king of the Dhamma, relying just on the Dhamma, honoring, respecting, and venerating the Dhamma, taking the Dhamma as his standard, banner, and authority, provides righteous protection, shelter, and guard in regard to mental action, saying: ‘Such mental action should be cultivated; such mental action should not be cultivated.’
    “Having provided such righteous protection, shelter, and guard in regard to bodily action, verbal action, and mental action, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, the righteous king of the Dhamma, sets in motion the unsurpassed wheel of the Dhamma solely through the Dhamma, a wheel that cannot be turned back by any ascetic, brahmin, deva, Māra, or Brahmā, or by anyone in the world.”

15 (5) Pacetana
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the deer park at Isipatana. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!” [111]
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, in the past there was a king named Pacetana. Then King Pacetana addressed a chariotmaker: ‘Friend chariotmaker, six months from now there will be a battle. Can you make me a new pair of wheels?’ – ‘I can, lord,’ the chariotmaker replied. After six months less six days the chariotmaker had finished one wheel. King Pacetana then addressed the chariotmaker: ‘Six days from now there will be a battle. Is the new pair of wheels finished?’ [The chariotmaker replied:] ‘In the past six months less six days, lord, I have finished one wheel.’ – ‘But, friend chariotmaker, can you finish a second wheel for me in the next six days?’ – ‘I can, lord,’ the chariotmaker replied. Then, over the next six days, the chariotmaker finished the second wheel. He brought the new pair of wheels to King Pacetana and said: ‘This is the new pair of wheels that I have made for you, lord.’ – ‘What is the difference, friend chariotmaker, between the wheel that took six months less six days to complete and the one that took six days to complete? I do not see any difference between them.’ – ‘There is a difference, lord. Observe the difference.’
    “Then the chariotmaker rolled the wheel that took six days to finish. It rolled as far as the impetus carried it, and then it wobbled and fell to the ground. But the wheel that took six months [112] less six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle.
    “[The king asked:] ‘Why is it, friend chariotmaker, that the wheel that took six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it, and then wobbled and fell to the ground, while the wheel that took six months less six days to finish rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle?’
    “[The chariotmaker replied:] ‘The wheel that took six days to finish, lord, has a rim that is crooked, faulty, and defective; spokes that are crooked, faulty, and defective; and a nave that is crooked, faulty, and defective. For this reason, it rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then it wobbled and fell to the ground. But the wheel that took six months less six days to finish has a rim without crookedness, faults, and defects; it has spokes without crookedness, faults, and defects; and it has a nave that is without without crookedness, faults, and defects. For this reason, it rolled as far as the impetus carried it and then stood still as if fixed on an axle.’
    “It may be, bhikkhus, that you think: ‘On that occasion the chariotmaker was someone else.’ But you should not think in such a way. On that occasion, I myself was the chariotmaker. Then I was skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects in wood. But now I am the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, (1) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of the body; (2) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of speech; and (3) skilled in crookedness, faults, and defects of mind.
    “Any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who has not abandoned crookedness, faults, and defects of the body, speech, and mind [113] has fallen down from this Dhamma and discipline, just as the wheel that was finished in six days [fell to the ground].
    “Any bhikkhu or bhikkhunī who has abandoned crookedness, faults, and defects of the body, speech, and mind is established in this Dhamma and discipline, just as the wheel that was finished in six months less six days [remained standing].
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of the body; we will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of speech; we will abandon crookedness, faults, and defects of the mind.’ It is in this way that you should train yourselves.”

16 (6) The Unmistaken
“Bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing the unmistaken way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints. What three? Here, a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties, observes moderation in eating, and is intent on wakefulness.
    (1) “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu guard the doors of the sense faculties? Here, having seen a form with the eye, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection might invade him, he practices restraint over it; he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. Having heard a sound with the ear … Having smelled an odor with the nose … Having tasted a taste with the tongue … Having felt a tactile object with the body … Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, a bhikkhu does not grasp its marks and features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unrestrained, bad unwholesome states of longing and dejection might invade him, he practices restraint over it; he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty. It is in this way that a bhikkhu guards the doors of the sense faculties. [114]
    (2) “And how does a bhikkhu observe moderation in eating? Here, reflecting carefully, a bhikkhu consumes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of this body, for avoiding harm, and for assisting the spiritual life, considering: ‘Thus I shall terminate the old feeling and not arouse a new feeling, and I shall be healthy and blameless and dwell at ease.’ It is in this way that a bhikkhu observes moderation in eating.
    (3) “And how is a bhikkhu intent on wakefulness? Here, during the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, a bhikkhu purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. In the middle watch of the night he lies down on the right side in the lion’s posture, with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and clearly comprehending, after noting in his mind the idea of rising. After rising, in the last watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive qualities. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is intent on wakefulness.
    “A bhikkhu who possesses these three qualities is practicing the unmistaken way and has laid the groundwork for the destruction of the taints.”

17 (7) Oneself
“Bhikkhus, these three qualities lead to one’s own affliction, the affliction of others, and the affliction of both. What three? Bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct. These three qualities lead to one’s own affliction, the affliction of others, and the affliction of both.
   “These three [other] qualities do not lead to one’s own affliction, the affliction of others, and the affliction of both. What three? Bodily good conduct, verbal good conduct, and mental good conduct. These three qualities do not lead to one’s own affliction, the affliction of others, and the affliction of both.” [115]

18 (8) Deva
“Bhikkhus, if wanderers of other sects were to ask you thus: ‘Friends, do you lead the spiritual life under the ascetic Gotama for the sake of rebirth in the deva world?’ wouldn’t you be repelled, humiliated, and disgusted?” “Yes, bhante.” “Thus, bhikkhus, since you are repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with a celestial life span, celestial beauty, celestial happiness, celestial glory, and celestial authority, how much more then should you be repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct.”

19 (9) Shopkeeper (1)
“Bhikkhus, possessing three factors, a shopkeeper is incapable of acquiring wealth not yet acquired or of increasing wealth already acquired. What three? Here, a shopkeeper does not diligently apply himself to his work in the morning, in the middle of the day, or in the evening. Possessing these three factors, a shopkeeper is incapable of acquiring wealth not yet acquired or of increasing wealth already acquired.
    “So too, possessing three factors, a bhikkhu is incapable of achieving a wholesome state not yet attained or of increasing a wholesome state already attained. What three? Here, a bhikkhu does not diligently apply himself to an object of concentration in the morning, in the middle of the day, or in the evening. Possessing these three factors, a bhikkhu is incapable of achieving a wholesome state not yet attained or of increasing a wholesome state already attained. [116]
    “Bhikkhus, possessing three factors, a shopkeeper is capable of acquiring wealth not yet acquired and of increasing wealth already acquired. What three? Here, a shopkeeper diligently applies himself to his work in the morning, in the middle of the day, and in the evening. Possessing these three factors, a shopkeeper is capable of acquiring wealth not yet acquired and of increasing wealth already acquired.
    “So too, possessing three factors, a bhikkhu is capable of achieving a wholesome state not yet attained and of increasing a wholesome state already attained. What three? Here, a bhikkhu diligently applies himself to an object of concentration in the morning, in the middle of the day, and in the evening. Possessing these three factors, a bhikkhu is capable of achieving a wholesome state not yet attained and of increasing a wholesome state already attained.”

20 (10) Shopkeeper (2)
“Bhikkhus, possessing three factors, a shopkeeper soon attains vast and abundant wealth. What three? Here, a shopkeeper has keen eyes, is responsible, and has benefactors.
    (1) “And how, bhikkhus, does a shopkeeper have keen eyes? Here, a shopkeeper knows of an item: ‘If this item is bought at such a price and sold at such a price, it will require this much capital and bring this much profit.’ It is in this way that a shopkeeper has keen eyes.
    (2) “And how is a shopkeeper responsible? Here, a shopkeeper is skilled in buying and selling goods. It is in this way that a shopkeeper is responsible.
    (3) “And how does a shopkeeper have benefactors? [117] Here, rich, wealthy, affluent householders and householders’ sons know him thus: ‘This good shopkeeper has keen eyes and is responsible; he is able to support his wife and children and pay us back from time to time.’ So they deposit wealth with him, saying: ‘Having earned wealth with this, friend shopkeeper, support your wife and children and pay us back from time to time.’ It is in this way that a shopkeeper has benefactors.
    “Possessing these three factors, a shopkeeper soon attains vast and abundant wealth.
    “So too, bhikkhus, possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu soon attains vast and abundant wholesome qualities. What three? Here, a bhikkhu has keen eyes, is responsible, and has benefactors.
    (1) “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu have keen eyes? Here, a bhikkhu understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ It is in this way that a bhikkhu has keen eyes.
    (2) “And how is a bhikkhu responsible? 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. It is in this way that a bhikkhu is responsible.
    (3) “And how does a bhikkhu have benefactors? Here, from time to time a bhikkhu approaches those bhikkhus who are learned, heirs to the heritage, experts on the Dhamma, experts on the discipline, experts on the outlines, and inquires: ‘How is this, bhante? What is the meaning of this?’ Those venerable ones then disclose to him what has not been disclosed, clear up what is obscure, and dispel his perplexity about numerous perplexing points. It is in this way that a bhikkhu has benefactors. [118]
    “Possessing these three qualities, a bhikkhu soon attains great and vast achievements in wholesome qualities.”

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

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