Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

IV. Divine Messengers

31 (1) Brahmā
(1) “Bhikkhus, those families dwell with Brahmā where at home the mother and father are revered by their children. (2) Those families dwell with the first teachers where at home the mother and father are revered by their children. (3) Those families dwell with the gift-worthy where at home the mother and father are revered by their children.
    “‘Brahmā,’ bhikkhus, is a designation for mother and father. ‘First teachers’ is a designation for mother and father. ‘Gift-worthy’ is a designation for mother and father. For what reason? Mother and father are helpful to their children: they raise them, nurture them, and show them the world.”

Mother and father are called “Brahmā,”
and also “first teachers.”
They are worthy of gifts from their children,
for they have compassion for their offspring.

Therefore a wise person should revere them,
and show them due honor,
serve them with food and drink,
with clothes and bedding,
by massaging and bathing them,
and by washing their feet.

Because of this service
to mother and father,
the wise praise one in this world
and after death one rejoices in heaven.

32 (2) Ānanda
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 have no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body; (2) he would have no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to all external objects; and (3) he would enter and dwell in that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, through which there is no more I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit for one who enters and dwells in it?”
    “He could, Ānanda.”
    “But how, bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?” [133]
    “Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu thinks 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.’ In this way, Ānanda, a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would have no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body; he would have no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to all external objects; and he would enter and dwell in that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, through which there is no more I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit for one who enters and dwells in it. And it was with reference to this that I said in the Pārāyana, in ‘The Questions of Puṇṇaka’:

“Having comprehended the highs and lows in the world,
he is not perturbed by anything in the world.
Peaceful, fumeless, untroubled, wishless,
he has, I say, crossed over birth and old age.”

33 (3) Sāriputta
Then the Venerable Sāriputta approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him:
    “Sāriputta, I can teach the Dhamma briefly; I can teach the Dhamma in detail; I can teach the Dhamma both briefly and in detail. It is those who can understand that are rare.”     “It is the time for this, Blessed One. It is the time for this, Fortunate One. The Blessed One should teach the Dhamma briefly; he should teach the Dhamma in detail; he should teach the Dhamma both briefly and in detail. There will be those who can understand the Dhamma.”
    “Therefore, Sāriputta, you should train yourselves thus: (1) ‘There will be no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body; (2) there will be no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to all external objects; and (3) we will enter and dwell in that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, through which there is no more I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit for one who enters and dwells in it.’ It is in this way, Sāriputta, that you should train yourselves.
    “When, Sāriputta, a bhikkhu [134] has no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body; when he has no I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit in regard to all external objects; and when he enters and dwells in that liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, through which there is no more I-making, mine-making, and underlying tendency to conceit for one who enters and dwells in it, he is called a bhikkhu who has cut off craving, stripped off the fetter, and by completely breaking through conceit, has made an end of suffering. And it was with reference to this that I said in the Pārāyana, in ‘The Questions of Udaya’:

“The abandoning of both
sensual perceptions and dejection;
the dispelling of dullness,
the warding off of remorse;

with equanimity and mindfulness purified,
preceded by reflection on the Dhamma:
this, I say, is emancipation by final knowledge,
the breaking up of ignorance.”

34 (4) Causes
“Bhikkhus, there are these three causes for the origination of kamma. What three? Greed is a cause for the origination of kamma; hatred is a cause for the origination of kamma; delusion is a cause for the origination of kamma.
    (1) “Any kamma, bhikkhus, fashioned through greed, born of greed, caused by greed, originated by greed, ripens wherever the individual is reborn. Wherever that kamma ripens, it is there that one experiences its result, either in this very life, or in the [next] rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion.
    (2) “Any kamma fashioned through hatred, born of hatred, caused by hatred, originated by hatred, ripens wherever the individual is reborn. Wherever that kamma ripens, it is there that one experiences its result, either in this very life, or in the [next] rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion.
    (3) “Any kamma fashioned through delusion, born of delusion, caused by delusion, originated by delusion, ripens wherever the individual is reborn. Wherever that kamma ripens, [135] it is there that one experiences its result, either in this very life, or in the [next] rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, seeds that are intact, unspoiled, not damaged by wind and the sun’s heat, fecund, well preserved, were deposited in well-prepared ground in a good field and receive proper rainfall: in this way, those seeds would grow, increase, and mature. So too, any kamma that is fashioned through greed … hatred … delusion, born of delusion, caused by delusion, originated by delusion, ripens wherever the individual is reborn. Wherever that kamma ripens, it is there that one experiences its result, either in this very life, or in the [next] rebirth, or on some subsequent occasion.
    “These are the three causes for the origination of kamma.”
    “Bhikkhus, there are these three [other] causes for the origination of kamma. What three? Non-greed is a cause for the origination of kamma; non-hatred is a cause for the origination of kamma; non-delusion is a cause for the origination of kamma.
    (1) “Any kamma, bhikkhus, fashioned through non-greed, born of non-greed, caused by non-greed, originated by non-greed, is abandoned when greed has vanished; it is cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.
    (2) “Any kamma fashioned through non-hatred, born of non-hatred, caused by non-hatred, originated by non-hatred, is abandoned when hatred has vanished; it is cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.
    (3) “Any kamma fashioned through non-delusion, born of non-delusion, caused by non-delusion, originated by non-delusion, is abandoned when delusion has vanished; it is cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.
    “Suppose, bhikkhus, there are seeds that are intact, unspoiled, [136] not damaged by wind and the sun’s heat, fecund, well preserved. Then a man would burn them in a fire, reduce them to ashes, and winnow the ashes in a strong wind or let them be carried away by the swift current of a river. In this way, those seeds would be cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that they are no more subject to future arising. So too, any kamma that is fashioned through non-greed … non-hatred … non-delusion, born of non-delusion, caused by non-delusion, originated by non-delusion, is abandoned when delusion has vanished; it is cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated so that it is no more subject to future arising.”
    “These, bhikkhus, are the three causes for the origination of kamma.”

Whatever kamma a wise person [had done]
born of greed, hatred, and delusion,
whether what was fashioned by him be little or much,
it is to be experienced right here:
there exists no other site [for it].

Therefore a wise person should abandon
[any deed] born of greed, hatred, and delusion.
A bhikkhu, giving rise to knowledge,
should abandon all bad destinations.

35 (5) Hatthaka
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Āḷavī on a heap of leaves spread out on a cow track in a siṃsapā grove. Then Hatthaka of Āḷavī, while walking and wandering for exercise, saw the Blessed One sitting there. He then approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to the Blessed One:
    “Bhante, did the Blessed One sleep well?”
    “Yes, prince, I slept well. I am one of those in the world who sleep well.”
    “But, bhante, the winter nights are cold. It is the eight-day interval, the time when snow falls. The ground trampled by the hooves of cattle is rough, the spread of leaves is thin, [137] the leaves on the tree are sparse, the ochre robes leave one cold, and the gale wind blows cold. Yet the Blessed One says thus: ‘Yes, prince, I slept well. I am one of those in the world who sleep well.’”
    “Well then, prince, I will question you about this matter. You should answer as you see fit. What do you think, prince? A householder or a householder’s son might have a house with a peaked roof, plastered inside and out, draft-free, with bolts fastened and shutters closed. There he might have a couch spread with rugs, blankets, and covers, with an excellent covering of antelope hide, with a canopy above and red bolsters at both ends. An oil lamp would be burning and his four wives would serve him in extremely agreeable ways. What do you think, would he sleep well or not, or what do you think about this?”
    “He would sleep well, bhante. He would be one of those in the world who sleep well.”
    (1) “What do you think, prince? Might there arise in that householder or householder’s son bodily and mental fevers born of lust, which would torment him so that he would sleep badly?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    “There might arise in that householder or householder’s son bodily and mental fevers born of lust, which would torment him so that he would sleep badly; but the Tathāgata has abandoned such lust, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising. Therefore I have slept well.
    (2) “What do you think, prince? Might there arise in that householder or householder’s son bodily and mental fevers born of hatred … (3) … bodily and mental fevers born of delusion, which would torment him so that he would sleep badly?”
    “Yes, bhante.”
    “There might arise in that householder or householder’s son bodily and mental fevers born of delusion, which would torment him so that he would sleep badly; but the Tathāgata has abandoned such delusion, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, [138] obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising. Therefore I have slept well.”

He always sleeps well,
the brahmin who has attained nibbāna,
cooled off, without acquisitions,
not tainted by sensual pleasures.

Having cut off all attachments,
having removed anguish in the heart,
the peaceful one sleeps well,
having attained peace of mind.

36 (6) Messengers
“Bhikkhus, there are these three divine messengers. What three?
    “Here, bhikkhus, someone engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. In consequence, with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. There the wardens of hell grab him by both arms and show him to King Yama, [saying]: ‘This person, your majesty, did not behave properly towards his mother and father; he did not behave properly towards ascetics and brahmins; and he did not honor the elders of the family. May your majesty inflict due punishment on him!’
    (1) “Then King Yama questions, interrogates, and cross-examines him about the first divine messenger: ‘Good man, didn’t you see the first divine messenger that appeared among human beings?’ And he replies: ‘No, lord, I didn’t see him.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘But, good man, didn’t you ever see among human beings a man or a woman, eighty, ninety or a hundred years of age, frail, bent like a roof bracket, crooked, wobbling as they go along leaning on a stick, ailing, youth gone, with broken teeth, with grey and scanty hair or bald, with wrinkled skin and blotched limbs?’ And the man replies: ‘Yes, lord, I have seen this.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘Good man, didn’t it occur to you, an intelligent and mature person: “I too am subject to old age, I am not exempt from old age. Let me now do good by body, speech, and mind”?’ [139] – ‘No, lord, I could not. I was heedless.’
    “Then King Yama says: ‘Through heedlessness, good man, you failed to do good by body, speech, or mind. Surely, they will treat you in a way that fits your heedlessness. That bad kamma of yours was not done by your mother or father, nor by your brother or sister, nor by your friends and companions, nor by your relatives and family members, nor by the deities, nor by ascetics and brahmins. Rather, you were the one who did that bad kamma, and you yourself will have to experience its result.’
    (2) “When King Yama has questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined him about the first divine messenger, he again questions, interrogates, and cross-examines him about the second divine messenger: ‘Good man, didn’t you see the second divine messenger that appeared among human beings?’ And he replies: ‘No, lord, I didn’t see him.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘But, good man, didn’t you ever see among human beings a man or a woman, sick, afflicted, gravely ill, lying in his own urine and excrement, having to be lifted up by some and put down by others?’ And he replies: ‘Yes, lord, I have seen this.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘Good man, didn’t it occur to you, an intelligent and mature person: “I too am subject to illness, I am not exempt from illness. Let me now do good by body, speech, and mind”?’ – ‘No, lord, I could not. I was heedless.’
    “Then King Yama says: [140] ‘Through heedlessness, good man, you failed to do good by body, speech, or mind. Surely, they will treat you in a way that fits your heedlessness. That bad kamma of yours was not done by your mother or father, nor by your brother or sister, nor by your friends and companions, nor by your relatives and family members, nor by the deities, nor by ascetics and brahmins. Rather, you were the one who did that bad kamma, and you yourself will have to experience its result.’
    (3) “When King Yama has questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined him about the second divine messenger, he again questions, interrogates, and cross-examines him about the third divine messenger: ‘Good man, didn’t you see the third divine messenger that appeared among human beings?’ And he replies: ‘No, lord, I didn’t see him.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘But, good man, didn’t you ever see among human beings a man or a woman, one, two, or three days dead, the corpse bloated, livid, and festering?’ And he replies: ‘Yes, lord, I have seen this.’
    “Then King Yama says to him: ‘Good man, didn’t it occur to you, an intelligent and mature person: “I too am subject to death, I am not exempt from death. Let me now do good by body, speech, and mind”?’ – ‘No, lord, I could not. I was heedless.’
    “Then King Yama says: ‘Through heedlessness, good man, you failed to do good by body, speech, or mind. Surely, they will treat you in a way that fits your heedlessness. That bad kamma of yours was not done by your mother or father, nor by your brother or sister, nor by your friends and companions, nor by your relatives and family members, nor by the deities, nor by ascetics and brahmins. Rather, you were the one who did that bad kamma, and you yourself will have to experience its result.’
    “When, bhikkhus, King Yama has questioned, interrogated, and cross-examined him about the third divine messenger, he falls silent. [141] Then the wardens of hell torture him with the fivefold transfixing. They drive a red-hot iron stake through one hand, and another red-hot iron stake through the other hand; they drive a red-hot iron stake through one foot, and another red-hot iron stake through the other foot; they drive a red-hot iron stake through the middle of his chest. There he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings, yet he does not die so long as that bad kamma is not exhausted.
    “Next the wardens of hell throw him down and pare him with axes. There he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings, yet he does not die so long as that bad kamma is not exhausted. Next the wardens of hell turn him upside down and pare him with adzes … Next the wardens of hell harness him to a chariot and drive him back and forth across ground that is burning, blazing, and glowing … Next the wardens of hell make him climb up and down a great mound of coals that are burning, blazing, and glowing … Next the wardens of hell turn him upside down and plunge him into a red-hot copper cauldron that is burning, blazing, and glowing. He is cooked there in a swirl of foam. And as he is being cooked there in a swirl of foam, he is swept now up, now down, and now across. There he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings, yet he does not die so long as that bad kamma is not exhausted.
    “Next the wardens of hell throw him into the great hell. Now, bhikkhus, as to that great hell:

“It has four corners and four doors
and is divided into separate compartments;
it is surrounded by iron ramparts
and shut in with an iron roof. [142]

“Its floor as well is made of iron
and heated till it glows with fire.
The range is a full hundred yojanas
which it ever covers pervasively.

“Once, bhikkhus, in the past King Yama thought: ‘Those in the world who do evil deeds are punished with such diverse tortures. Oh, that I might attain the human state! That a Tathāgata, Arahant, Perfectly Enlightened One might arise in the world! That I might attend upon that Blessed One! That the Blessed One might teach me the Dhamma, and that I might come to understand his Dhamma!’
    “Bhikkhus, I am not repeating something that I heard from another ascetic or brahmin, but rather I am speaking about a matter that I have actually known, seen, and understood myself.”

Though warned by the divine messengers,
those people who remain heedless
sorrow for a long time,
having fared on to a lower realm.

But those good people here who,
when warned by the divine messengers,
never become heedless
in regard to the noble Dhamma;
who, having seen the peril in clinging
as the origin of birth and death,
are liberated by non-clinging
in the extinction of birth and death:
those happy ones have attained security;
they have reached nibbāna in this very life.
Having overcome all enmity and peril,
they have transcended all suffering.

37 (7) Kings (1)
“Bhikkhus, (1) on the eighth of the fortnight, the ministers and assembly members of the four great kings wander over this world, [thinking]: ‘We hope there are many people who behave properly towards their mother and father, behave properly towards ascetics and brahmins, honor the elders of the family, observe the uposatha, keep the extra observance days, and do meritorious deeds.’ (2) On the fourteenth of the fortnight, the sons of the four great kings wander over this world, [thinking]: ‘We hope there are many people who behave properly towards their mother and father … [143] … and do meritorious deeds.’ (3) On the fifteenth, the uposatha day, the four great kings themselves wander over this world, [thinking]: ‘We hope there are many people who behave properly towards their mother and father … and do meritorious deeds.’
    “If, bhikkhus, there are few people who behave properly towards their mother and father … and do meritorious deeds, the four great kings report this to the Tāvatiṃsa devas when they meet and are sitting together in the Sudhamma council hall: ‘Revered sirs, there are few people who behave properly towards their mother and father … and do meritorious deeds.’ Then, because of this, the Tāvatiṃa devas become displeased, [saying]: ‘Alas, the celestial company will decline and the company of asuras will flourish!’
    “But if there are many people who behave properly towards their mother and father … and do meritorious deeds, the four great kings report this to the Tāvatiṃsa devas when they meet and are sitting together in the Sudhamma council hall: ‘Revered sirs, there are many people who behave properly towards their mother and father, behave properly towards ascetics and brahmins, honor the elders of the family, observe the uposatha, keep the extra observance days, and do meritorious deeds.’ Then, because of this, the Tāvatiṃa devas become elated, [saying]: ‘Indeed, the celestial company will flourish and the company of asuras will decline!’”
    “Bhikkhus, once in the past, when Sakka, ruler of the devas, was guiding the Tāvatiṃsa devas, he recited this verse:  [144]

‘The person who would be like me
should observe the uposatha
complete in the eight factors,
on the fourteenth, fifteenth,
and eighth of the fortnight,
and during special fortnights.’

    “This verse, bhikkhus, was badly recited by Sakka, ruler of the devas, not well recited. It was badly stated, not well stated. For what reason? Because Sakka, ruler of the devas, is not devoid of lust, hatred, and delusion. But in the case of a bhikkhu who is an arahant—one whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the spiritual life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached his own goal, utterly destroyed the fetters of existence, one completely liberated through final knowledge—it is fitting for him to say:

‘The person who would be like me …
and during special fortnights.’

“For what reason? Because that bhikkhu is devoid of lust, hatred, and delusion.”

38 (8) Kings (2)
“Bhikkhus, once in the past, when Sakka, ruler of the devas, was guiding the Tāvatiṃsa devas, on that occasion he recited this verse:

‘The person who would be like me …
and during special fortnights.’

“This verse, bhikkhus, was badly recited by Sakka, ruler of the devas, not well recited. It was badly stated, not well stated. For what reason? Because Sakka, ruler of the devas, is not free from birth, old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; he is not free from suffering, I say. But in the case of a bhikkhu who is an arahant—one whose taints are destroyed … one completely liberated through final knowledge—it is fitting for him to say:

‘The person who would be like me …
and during special fortnights.’ [145]

“For what reason? Because that bhikkhu is free from birth, old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; he is free from suffering, I say.”

39 (9) Delicate
    “Bhikkhus, I was delicately nurtured, most delicately nurtured, extremely delicately nurtured. At my father’s residence lotus ponds were made just for my enjoyment: in one of them blue lotuses bloomed, in another red lotuses, and in a third white lotuses. I used only sandal unguent from Kāsī and my head dress, jacket, lower garment, and upper garment were made of Kāsī cloth. By day and by night a white canopy was held over me so that cold and heat, dust, grass, and dew would not settle on me.
    “I had three mansions: one for the winter, one for the summer, and one for the rainy season. I spent the four months of the rains in the rainy-season mansion, being entertained by musicians, none of whom were male, and I did not leave the mansion. While in other people’s homes slaves, workers, and servants are given broken rice together with sour gruel for their meals, in my father’s residence they were given choice hill rice, meat, and boiled rice.
    (1) “Amidst such splendor and a delicate life, it occurred to me: ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to old age, not exempt from old age, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who is old, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to old age and am not exempt from old age. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, [146] and disgusted when seeing another who is old, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with youth was completely abandoned.
    (2) “[Again, it occurred to me:] ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to illness, not exempt from illness, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who is ill, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to illness and am not exempt from illness. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who is ill, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with health was completely abandoned.
    (3) “[Again, it occurred to me:] ‘An uninstructed worldling, though himself subject to death, not exempt from death, feels repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when he sees another who has died, overlooking his own situation. Now I too am subject to death and am not exempt from death. Such being the case, if I were to feel repelled, humiliated, and disgusted when seeing another who has died, that would not be proper for me.’ When I reflected thus, my intoxication with life was completely abandoned.
    “There are, bhikkhus, these three kinds of intoxication. What three? Intoxication with youth, intoxication with health, and intoxication with life. (1) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with youth, engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. (2) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with health, engages in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell. (3) An uninstructed worldling, intoxicated with life, engages in misconduct by body, [147] speech, and mind. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the plane of misery, in a bad destination, in the lower world, in hell.
    “Intoxicated with youth, a bhikkhu rejects the training and reverts to the lower life; or intoxicated with health, he rejects the training and reverts to the lower life; or intoxicated with life, he rejects the training and reverts to the lower life.

“Worldlings subject to illness,
old age, and death, are disgusted
[by other people] who exist
in accordance with their nature.

“If I were to become disgusted
with beings who have such a nature,
that would not be proper for me
since I too have the same nature.

“While I was dwelling thus,
having known the state without acquisitions,
I overcame all intoxications—
intoxication with health,
with youth, and with life—
having seen security in renunciation.

“Zeal then arose in me
as I clearly saw nibbāna.
Now I am incapable
of indulging in sensual pleasures.
Relying on the spiritual life,
never will I turn back.”

40 (10) Authorities
“Bhikkhus, there are these three authorities. What three? Oneself as one’s authority; the world as one’s authority; and the Dhamma as one’s authority.
    (1) “And what, bhikkhus, is oneself as one’s authority? Here, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘I did not go forth from the household life into homelessness for the sake of a robe, almsfood, or lodging, or for the sake of becoming this or that, but rather [with the thought]: “I am immersed in birth, old age, and death; in sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish. I am immersed in suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering can be discerned.” [148] As one who has gone forth from the household life into homelessness, it would not be proper for me to seek out sensual pleasures similar to or worse than those that I have discarded.’ He then reflects thus: ‘Energy will be aroused in me without slackening; mindfulness will be established without confusion; my body will be tranquil without disturbance; my mind will be concentrated and one-pointed.’ Having taken himself as his authority, he abandons the unwholesome and develops the wholesome; he abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is blameless; he maintains himself in purity. This is called oneself as one’s authority.
    (2) “And what, bhikkhus, is the world as one’s authority? Here, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘I did not go forth from the household life into homelessness for the sake of a robe … but rather [with the thought]: “I am immersed in birth, old age, and death … Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering can be discerned.” As one who has gone forth from the household life into homelessness, I might think sensual thoughts, thoughts of ill will, or thoughts of harming. But the abode of the world is vast. In the vast abode of the world there are ascetics and brahmins with psychic potency and the divine eye who know the minds of others. They see things from a distance but they are not themselves seen even when they’re close; they know the minds [of others] with their own mind. They would know me thus: “Look at this clansman: though he has gone forth from the household life into homelessness out of faith, he is tarnished by bad unwholesome states.” There are deities, too, with psychic potency and the divine eye who know the minds of others. They see even from a distance but are not seen themselves even when close; they too know the minds [of others] with their own mind. They too would know me thus: “Look at this clansman: though he has gone forth from the household life into homelessness out of faith, he is tarnished by bad unwholesome states.”‘ He then reflects thus: ‘Energy will be aroused in me [149] without slackening; mindfulness will be established without confusion; my body will be tranquil without disturbance; my mind will be concentrated and one-pointed.’ Having taken the world as his authority, he abandons the unwholesome and develops the wholesome; he abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is blameless; he maintains himself in purity. This is called the world as one’s authority.
    (3) “And what, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma as one’s authority? Here, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘I did not go forth from the household life into homelessness for the sake of a robe … but rather [with the thought]: “I am immersed in birth, old age, and death … Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering can be discerned.” The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise. There are fellow monks of mine who know and see. As one who has gone forth from the household life into homelessness in this well-expounded Dhamma and discipline, it would be improper for me to be lazy and heedless.’ He then reflects thus: ‘Energy will be aroused in me without slackening; mindfulness will be established without confusion; my body will be tranquil without disturbance; my mind will be concentrated and one-pointed.’ Having taken the Dhamma as his authority, he abandons the unwholesome and develops the wholesome; he abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is blameless; he maintains himself in purity. This is called the Dhamma as one’s authority.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the three authorities.”

For one performing an evil deed
there is no place in the world called “hidden.”
The self within you knows, O person,
whether it is true or false.

Indeed, sir, you the witness
despise your good self;
you conceal the evil self
existing within yourself. [150]

The devas and Tathāgatas see the fool
acting unrighteously in the world.
Therefore one should fare mindfully,
taking oneself as authority;
alert and meditative, taking the world as authority;
and fare in accordance with the Dhamma,
taking the Dhamma as authority.
Truly exerting himself, a sage does not decline.

Having vanquished Māra
and overcome the end-maker,
the striver has finished with birth.
Such a sage, wise, a world-knower,
identifies with nothing at all.
 

How to cite this document:
© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

Creative Commons License
This selection from The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Bodhi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/numerical-discourses-buddha.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.wisdompubs.org/terms-use.