The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

III. Uruvelā

21 (1) Uruvelā (1)
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, on one occasion I was dwelling at Uruvelā, by the goatherds’ banyan tree on the bank of the Neranjarā River, just after I had attained full enlightenment. Then, while I was alone in seclusion, a course of thought arose in my mind thus: ‘It is painful to dwell without reverence and deference. Now what ascetic or brahmin can I honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on?’
    “Then it occurred to me: (1) ‘If my aggregate of virtuous behavior were incomplete, for the sake of completing it I would honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on another ascetic or brahmin. However, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, I do not see another ascetic or brahmin more accomplished in virtuous behavior than myself whom I could honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on.
    (2) “‘If my aggregate of concentration were incomplete, for the sake of completing it I would honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on another ascetic or brahmin. However ... I do not see another ascetic or brahmin more accomplished in concentration than myself….
    (3) “‘If my aggregate of wisdom were incomplete, for the sake of completing it I would honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on another ascetic or brahmin. However ... I do not see another ascetic or brahmin more accomplished in wisdom than myself….
    (4) “‘If my aggregate of liberation were incomplete, for the sake of completing it I would honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on another ascetic or brahmin. However, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, I do not see another ascetic or brahmin more accomplished in liberation than myself whom I could honor, respect, and dwell in dependence on.
    “It occurred to me: ‘Let me then honor, respect, and dwell in dependence only on this Dhamma to which I have become fully enlightened.’
    “Then Brahmā Sahampati, [21] having known with his own mind the reflection in my mind, disappeared from the brahmā world and reappeared before me just as a strong man might extend his drawn-in arm or draw in his extended arm. He arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, bent down with his right knee on the ground, reverently saluted me, and said: ‘So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Fortunate One! Bhante, those who were the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones in the past—those Blessed Ones, too, honored, respected, and dwelled in dependence only on the Dhamma. Those who will be the Arahants, the Perfectly Enlightened Ones in the future—those Blessed Ones, too, will honor, respect, and dwell in dependence only on the Dhamma. Let the Blessed One, too, who is at present the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, honor, respect, and dwell in dependence only on the Dhamma.’
    “This is what Brahmā Sahampati said. Having said this, he further said this:

“‘The perfect Buddhas of the past,
the Buddhas of the future,
and the present Buddha
who removes the sorrow of many:

all those dwelled, now dwell,
and [in the future] will dwell
revering the good Dhamma.
This is the nature of the Buddhas.

“‘Therefore one desiring the good,
aspiring for greatness,
should revere the good Dhamma,
recollecting the Buddhas’ teaching.”

    “This was what Brahmā Sahampati said. He then paid homage to me, and keeping me on his right, he disappeared right there. Then, having acknowledged Brahmā’s request and what was proper for myself, I honored, respected, and dwelled in dependence only on the Dhamma to which I had become fully enlightened. And now that the Saṅgha has acquired greatness, I have respect for the Saṅgha, too.” [22]

22 (2) Uruvelā (2)
“Bhikkhus, on one occasion I was dwelling at Uruvelā, by the goatherds’ banyan tree on the bank of the Neranjarā River, just after I had attained full enlightenment. Then a number of brahmins, old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage, approached me and exchanged greetings with me. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, they sat down to one side and said to me:
    “We have heard, Master Gotama: ‘The ascetic Gotama does not pay homage to brahmins who are old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage; nor does he stand up for them or offer them a seat.’ This is indeed true, for Master Gotama does not pay homage to brahmins who are old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life, come to the last stage; nor does he stand up for them or offer them a seat. This is not proper, Master Gotama.”
    “It then occurred to me: ‘These venerable ones do not know what an elder is or what the qualities that make one an elder are. Even though someone is old—eighty, ninety, or a hundred years from birth—if he speaks at an improper time, speaks falsely, speaks what is unbeneficial, speaks contrary to the Dhamma and the discipline; if at an improper time he speaks such words as are worthless, unreasonable, rambling, and unbeneficial, then he is reckoned as a foolish [childish] elder.
    “But even though someone is young, a youth with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, if he speaks at a proper time, speaks what is truthful, speaks what is beneficial, speaks on the Dhamma and the discipline; if at a proper time he speaks such words as are worth recording, reasonable, succinct, and beneficial, then he is reckoned as a wise elder.
    “There are, bhikkhus, these four qualities that make one an elder. What four?
    (1) “Here, a bhikkhu is virtuous; he dwells restrained by the Pātimokkha, possessed of good conduct and resort, seeing danger in minute faults. Having undertaken the training rules, he trains in them.
    (2) “He has learnt much, [23] remembers what he has learnt, and accumulates what he has learnt. Those teachings that are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing, which proclaim the perfectly complete and pure spiritual life—such teachings as these he has learnt much of, retained in mind, recited verbally, investigated with the mind, and penetrated well by view.
    (3) “He is 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.
    (4) “With the destruction of the taints, he 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.
    “These are the four qualities that make one an elder.”

The dullard with a restless mind
who speaks much chatter,
his thoughts unsettled,
delighting in a bad teaching,
holding bad views, disrespectful,
is far from an elder’s stature.

But one accomplished in virtue,
learned and discerning,                  
self-controlled in the factors of firmness,
who clearly sees the meaning with wisdom;
gone beyond all phenomena,
not barren, discerning;

who has abandoned birth and death,
consummate in the spiritual life,
in whom there are no taints—
he is the one I call an elder.

With the destruction of the taints
a bhikkhu is called an elder.

23 (3) The World
“Bhikkhus, the Tathāgata has fully awakened to the world; the Tathāgata is detached from the world. The Tathāgata has fully awakened to the origin of the world; the Tathāgata has abandoned the origin of the world. The Tathāgata has fully awakened to the cessation of the world; the Tathāgata has realized the cessation of the world. The Tathāgata has fully awakened to the way leading to the cessation of the world; the Tathāgata has developed the way leading to the cessation of the world.
    (1) “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, [24] examined by the mind—all that the Tathāgata has fully awakened to; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
    (2) “Bhikkhus, whatever the Tathāgata speaks, utters, or expounds in the interval between the night when he awakens to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment and the night when he attains final nibbāna, all that is just so and not otherwise; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
    (3) “Bhikkhus, as the Tathāgata speaks, so he does; as he does, so he speaks. Since he does as he speaks and speaks as he does, therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
    (4) “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, the Tathāgata is the vanquisher, the unvanquished, the universal seer, the wielder of mastery; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.”

Having directly known all the world—
all in the world just as it is—
he is detached from all the world,
disengaged from all the world.

He is the vanquisher of all,
the wise one who has untied all knots.
He has reached the supreme peace,
nibbāna, inaccessible to fear.

He is the Buddha, his taints destroyed,
untroubled, all doubts cut off;
having reached the destruction of all kamma,
he is liberated in the extinction of acquisitions.

He is the Blessed One, the Buddha,
he is the lion unsurpassed;
in this world with its devas,
he set in motion the wheel of Brahmā.

Thus those devas and human beings
who have gone for refuge to the Buddha
assemble and pay homage to him,
the great one free from diffidence:

“Tamed, he is the best of tamers;
peaceful, he is the seer among peace-bringers;
freed, he is the chief of liberators;
crossed over, he is the best of guides across.”

Thus indeed they pay him homage,
the great one free from diffidence.
In this world together with its devas,
there is no one who can rival you.

24 (4) Kāḷaka
[Thus have I heard.] On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāketa, at Kāḷaka’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this: [25]
    “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—that I know.
    “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—that I have directly known. It has been known by the Tathāgata, but the Tathāgata did not become subservient to it.
    “Bhikkhus, if I were to say, ‘In this world with its devas … whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—that I do not know,’ that would be a falsehood on my part.
    “Bhikkhus, if I were to say, ‘In this world with its devas … whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—that I both know and do not know,’ that too would be just the same.
    “Bhikkhus, if I were to say, ‘In this world with its devas … whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—that I neither know nor do not know,’ that would be a fault on my part.
    (1) “So, having seen what can be seen, the Tathāgata does not misconceive the seen, does not misconceive the unseen, does not misconceive what can be seen, does not misconceive one who sees. (2) Having heard what can be heard, he does not misconceive the heard, does not misconceive the unheard, does not misconceive what can be heard, does not misconceive one who hears. (3) Having sensed what can be sensed, he does not misconceive the sensed, does not misconceive the unsensed, does not misconceive what can be sensed, does not misconceive one who senses. (4) Having cognized what can be cognized, he does not misconceive the cognized, does not misconceive the uncognized, does not misconceive what can be cognized, does not misconceive one who cognizes.
    “Thus, bhikkhus, being ever stable among things seen, heard, sensed, and cognized, the Tathāgata is a stable one. And, I say, there is no stable one more excellent or sublime than that stable one.”

Amidst those who are self-constrained, the Stable One
would not serve as categorically true or false
anything seen, heard, or sensed,
clung to and considered truth by others.

Since they have already seen this dart
to which people cling and adhere, [26]
[saying] “I know, I see, it is just so” –
the Tathāgatas cling to nothing.

25 (5) The Spiritual Life
“Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion, and cessation.”

The Blessed One taught the spiritual life,
not based on tradition, culminating in nibbāna,
lived for the sake of
restraint and abandoning.

This is the path of the great ones,
followed by the great seers.
Those who practice it
as taught by the Buddha,
acting upon the Teacher’s guidance,
will make an end of suffering.

26 (6) Deceivers
(1) “Bhikkhus, those bhikkhus who are deceivers, stubborn, talkers, imposters, haughty, and unconcentrated are not bhikkhus of mine. (2) They have strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and do not achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline. (3) But those bhikkhus who are honest, sincere, steadfast, compliant, and well concentrated are bhikkhus of mine. (4) They have not strayed from this Dhamma and discipline, and achieve growth, progress, and maturity in this Dhamma and discipline.”

Those who are deceivers, stubborn, talkers,
imposters, haughty, unconcentrated,
do not make progress in the Dhamma
that the Perfectly Enlightened One has taught.

But those who are honest and sincere,
steadfast, compliant, and well concentrated,
make progress in the Dhamma
that the Perfectly Enlightened One has taught.

27 (7) Contentment
“Bhikkhus, there are these four trifles, easily gained and blameless. What four?
    (1) “A rag-robe is a trifle among robes, easily gained [27] and blameless. (2) A lump of almsfood is a trifle among meals, easily gained and blameless. (3) The foot of a tree is a trifle among lodgings, easily gained and blameless. (4) Putrid urine is a trifle among medicines, easily gained and blameless.
    “These are the four trifles, easily gained and blameless. When a bhikkhu is satisfied with what is trifling and easily gained, I say that he has one of the factors of the ascetic life.”

When one is content with what is blameless,
trifling and easily gained;
when one’s mind is not distressed
because of a lodging,
robe, drink, and food,
one is not hindered anywhere.

These qualities, rightly said
to conform to the ascetic life,
are acquired by a bhikkhu
who is content and heedful.

28 (8) Noble Lineages
“Bhikkhus, there are these four noble lineages, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. What four?
    (1) “Here, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of robe, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of robe, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of a robe. If he does not get a robe he is not agitated, and if he gets one he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.
    (2) “Again, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of almsfood, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of almsfood, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of almsfood. If he does not get almsfood he is not agitated, and if he gets some he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. [28] Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.
    (3) “Again, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of lodging, and he speaks in praise of contentment with any kind of lodging, and he does not engage in a wrong search, in what is improper, for the sake of lodging. If he does not get lodging he is not agitated, and if he gets it he uses it without being tied to it, infatuated with it, and blindly absorbed in it, seeing the danger in it and understanding the escape from it. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.
    (4) “Again, a bhikkhu finds delight in development, is delighted with development, finds delight in abandoning, is delighted with abandoning. Yet he does not extol himself or disparage others because of this. Any bhikkhu who is skillful in this, diligent, clearly comprehending and ever mindful, is said to be standing in an ancient, primal noble lineage.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the four noble lineages, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.
    “Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu possesses these four noble lineages, if he dwells in the east he vanquishes discontent, discontent does not vanquish him; if he dwells in the west he vanquishes discontent, discontent does not vanquish him; if he dwells in the north he vanquishes discontent, discontent does not vanquish him; if he dwells in the south he vanquishes discontent, discontent does not vanquish him. For what reason? Because he is a steadfast one who vanquishes discontent and delight.”

Discontent does not vanquish the steadfast one,
[for] the steadfast one is not vanquished by discontent.
The steadfast one vanquishes discontent,
for the steadfast one is a vanquisher of discontent. [29]

Who can obstruct the dispeller
who has discarded all kamma?
Who is fit to blame one who is like
a coin of refined gold?
Even the devas praise such a one;
by Brahmā too he is praised.

29 (9) Dhamma Factors
“Bhikkhus, there are these four Dhamma factors, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. What four?
    (1) “Non-longing is a Dhamma factor, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which is not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which is not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. (2) Good will is a Dhamma factor, primal, of long standing … (3) Right mindfulness is a Dhamma factor, primal, of long standing … (4) Right concentration is a Dhamma factor, primal, of long standing … not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.
    “These are the four Dhamma factors, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.”

One should dwell free from longing
with a heart of good will.
One should be mindful and one-pointed in mind,
internally well concentrated.

30 (10) Wanderers
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha on Mount Vulture Peak. Now on that occasion a number of very well-known wanderers were residing at the wanderers’ park on the bank of the river Sappinī, namely, Annabhāra, Varadhara, Sakuludāyī the wanderer, and other very well-known wanderers.
    Then, in the evening, the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to the wanderers’ park on the bank of the Sappinī. He sat down on a seat that was prepared and said to those wanderers: “Wanderers, there are these four Dhamma factors that are primal, [30] of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. What four?
    (1) “Non-longing is a Dhamma factor that is primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which is not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which is not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. (2) Good will is a Dhamma factor that is primal, of long standing … (3) Right mindfulness is a Dhamma factor that is primal, of long standing … (4) Right concentration is a Dhamma factor that is primal, of long standing … not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.
    “These are the four Dhamma factors that are primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, which are not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins.
    (1) “If, wanderers, anyone should say: ‘I will reject this Dhamma factor of non-longing and point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is full of longing, deeply passionate about sensual pleasures,’ I would respond to him thus: ‘Let him come, speak, and converse. Let me see how mighty he is!’ Indeed, it would be impossible for him to reject non-longing as a Dhamma factor and to point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is full of longing, deeply passionate about sensual pleasures.
    (2) “If anyone should say: ‘I will reject this Dhamma factor of good will and point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who has a mind of ill will and intentions of hate,’ I would respond to him thus: ‘Let him come, speak, and converse. Let me see how mighty he is!’ Indeed, it would be impossible for him to reject good will as a Dhamma factor and to point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who has a mind of ill will and intentions of hate.
    (3) “If anyone should say: ‘I will reject this Dhamma factor of right mindfulness and point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is muddled in mind and lacks clear comprehension,’ I would respond to him thus: ‘Let him come, speak, and converse. Let me see how mighty he is!’ Indeed, it would be impossible for him to reject right mindfulness as a Dhamma factor and to point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is muddled in mind and lacks clear comprehension.
    (4) “If anyone should say: ‘I will reject this Dhamma factor of right concentration and point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is unconcentrated, with a wandering mind,’ I would respond to him thus: ‘Let him come, speak, [31] and converse. Let me see how mighty he is!’ Indeed, it would be impossible for him to reject right concentration as a Dhamma factor and to point out a [real] ascetic or brahmin who is unconcentrated, with a wandering mind.
    “If, wanderers, anyone thinks these four Dhamma factors should be censured and repudiated, then, in this very life, he incurs four reasonable criticisms and grounds for censure. What four?
    “‘If you censure and repudiate this Dhamma factor of non-longing, then you must regard as worthy of worship and praise those ascetics and brahmins who are full of longing and deeply passionate about sensual pleasures. If you censure and repudiate this Dhamma factor of good will, then you must regard as worthy of worship and praise those ascetics and brahmins who have minds of ill will and intentions of hate. If you censure and repudiate this Dhamma factor of right mindfulness, then you must regard as worthy of worship and praise those ascetics and brahmins who are muddle-minded and lack clear comprehension. If you censure and repudiate this Dhamma factor of right concentration, then you must regard as worthy of worship and praise those ascetics and brahmins who are unconcentrated, with wandering minds.’
    “If, wanderers, anyone thinks these four Dhamma factors should be censured and repudiated, then, in this very life, he incurs these four reasonable criticisms and grounds for censure. Even those wanderers Vassa and Bhañña of Ukkalā, who were proponents of non-causality, inactivity, and nihilism, did not think that these four Dhamma factors should be censured and repudiated. For what reason? From fear of blame, attack, and refutation.”

One of good will, ever mindful,
inwardly well concentrated,
training to remove longing,
is said to be heedful. [32]

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

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