I am a true brahmin, one to ask a favour of, pure handed, wearing my last body, an incomparable physician and surgeon. You are my own true children, born of my mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, heirs to spiritual things, not heirs to material things.
There are these six ways of being considerate. What six? One has love in deed toward one’s companions in the holy life, both openly and in private. One has love in word toward one’s companions in the holy life, both openly and in private. One has love in thought toward one’s companions in the holy life, both openly and in private. Then, things acquired rightly and properly, be they only scraps in one’s bowl, one gladly and impartially shares it with them. Also, one has those virtues that are unbroken, without flaw, spotless, without blemish, bringing freedom, conducive to concentration, and with these one lives in harmony with one’s fellows in the holy life. And finally, one has that noble understanding that is liberating, leading those who acts accordingly to it the complete overcoming of suffering; and one lives with this understanding among one’s companions in the holy life. These are the six ways of being considerate.
The Buddha is like a steadfast man who gives protection from fear. The Dhamma is like the protection from fear, and the Sangha is like those who have found protection from fear. The Buddha is like a good consoler, the Dhamma is like consolation, and the Sangha is like those who have been consoled. The Buddha is like a true friend, the Dhamma is like helpful advice, and the Sangha is like those who have achieved their wishes by heeding that helpful advice.
It is not possible that one who is himself unrestrained, undisciplined and unquenched could restrain, discipline and quench others. But it is very possible that one who is himself restrained, disciplined and quenched could make others like that also.
Once The Lord addressed the monks saying: “Once there was a certain king in this very city of Savatthi. He called someone, saying: ‘Come my good man, go and gather together in one place all the men in Savatthi who were born blind.’ ‘Very good,’ said the man, and he did as the king commanded. When he had done so the king said to him: ‘Now, my good man, show these blind men an elephant.’ ‘Very good,’ said the man, and he did as the king commanded. He presented one blind man with the head of the elephant, one with the ear, one with the tusk, another the trunk, the foot, the back, the tail and the tuft of the tail, saying to each other as he did so, ‘O blind man, this is an elephant.’ Having done this the man went to the king and said: ‘Sir, the elephant has been presented to the blind men. Do what you will.’ So, the king went to the blind men and said to each: ‘Oh blind men, have you seen the elephant?’ ‘Yes, Sir, we have,’ they replied: ‘Then tell me what an elephant is like.’ The one who had been presented with the head said: ‘An elephant is like a pot.’ The one who has been presented with the ear said: ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’ They said the tusk was like a ploughshare, the trunk like a plough pole, the body like a granary, the foot like a pillar, the back like a mortar, the tail like a pestle, and the tuft of the tail like a broom. Then they began to argue with each other, shouting as they did: ‘It is!’ It is not!’ ‘An elephant is not like that!’ ‘Yes it is!’ Soon they began to hit each other, and the king was delighted with what he saw. In the same way, wanderers of other sects are blind, they do not see, they do not know the skillful or the unskillful. They do not know what is Dhamma or what Dhamma is not and because of their ignorance they are by nature argumentative, quarrelsome and contentious, wounding each other with the weapon of the tongue.” Then the Lord spoke this verse:
“Some so-called monks and brahmins
Are deeply attached to their own opinions
They see only one side of things
And thus end up with quarrels and contention.”
The carpenter or his apprentice sees that the handle of his tool is being worn away by his fingers and thumb, but he does not necessarily know how much has been worn away today, how much yesterday and how much at another time. In the same way, one living devoted to the practice of meditation does not know how much of the defilements have been worn away today, how much yesterday and how much at another time. He merely has the knowledge that they are being worn away.
Eleven advantages are to be looked for in the freedom of mind through the practice of love, by making love grow, by making much of it, by making love a vehicle and basis, by persisting in it, by becoming familiar with it, and by establishing it well. What eleven? One sleeps happily, one wakes happily, one has no bad dreams, one is dear to be both humans and non-humans, one is guarded by the gods, fire, poison and swords do not affect one, the mind concentrates quickly, the complexion becomes radiant, one dies without bewilderment, and if one develops no further, one will reach at least to the Brahma world.
One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them.
The Brahmin Vassakara, an important man in Magadha, came to the Lord and said: “Good Gotama, for my part I say this, this is my opinion. If anyone speaks of what he has seen, heard or sensed, there is no harm in him saying: ‘This is what I saw. This is what I heard. This is what I sensed.’ No harm can come from that.”
The Lord then replied: “For my part, brahmin, I do not say that everything one has seen, heard or sensed should be spoken of, and nor I do not say it should not be spoken of. If one speaks and unprofitable states grow, then one should not speak. If one speaks and profitable states grow, then one should speak of what one has seen, heard, sensed and understood.”
On one occasion, the monk Visakha of the Pancalas was teaching Dhamma in the assembly hall. As the evening approached, the Lord rose from solitary mediation, went to the hall and sat down on a seat made ready for him. Then he asked: “Who was teaching Dhamma so well?”
“It was, Lord, the monk Visakha.”
Then the Lord said: “Well done, Visakha, well done. Well have you instructed and uplifted, enlightened and inspired the monks in language polished, distinct, free from roughness, revealing the meaning, comprehensive and unbiased.” Then the Lord said further:
“If he does not speak, others will not know him,
He is just a wise man mixed up with the fools.
But if he speaks about and teaches the Immortal,
Others will know him.
So light up the Dhamma,
Lift the banner of the sages high.
Sages have illuminating speech as their banner.
Dhamma is the banner of sages.”
I have taught the Dhamma in full, and if one understands the meaning of even a four-line stanza of Dhamma and resolves to live in accordance with it, that one may be called widely learned, one who knows Dhamma by heart.
Once, while the Lord was staying near Kosambi in the Ghostia Park, Venerable Udayin, sat teaching the Dhamma surrounded by a great gathering of lay people. Now Ananda saw this and he went to the Lord and told him what he had seen, and the Lord said: “Truly, Ananda, it is not easy to teach Dhamma to others. In teaching Dhamma to others, first establish five things and then teach. What five? Teach Dhamma to others thinking: ‘I will speak Dhamma in a gradual way. I will speak with the goal in mind. I will speak with kindliness. I will not speak as a means of gain. I will speak neither to my own harm, nor to the harm of others.’ Truly, Ananda, it is not easy to teach Dhamma to others. So in teaching Dhamma to others, first establish well these five things.’
If anyone abuses you to your face, strikes you with a fist, throw clods of earth at you, beats you with a stick or gives you a blow with a sword, you must put aside all worldly desires and considerations and train yourself like this: ‘My heart will be unwavering. No evil words shall I speak. I will live with compassion for the good of others, with a kindly heart, without resentment.’ Thus must you train yourself.
The Lord asked Anuruddha how he was able to live in such harmony with his fellow monks and he replied: “I always consider what a blessing it is, what a real blessing, that I am living with such companions in the holy life. I think, speak and act with love towards them, both in public and private. I always consider that I should put aside my own wishes and acquiesce to what they want, and then I do that. Thus we are many in body but one in mind.”
Potaliya the wanderer came to visit the Lord, greeted him courteously, sat down at one side, and as he did, the Lord said to him: “Potaliya, there are these four persons found in the world. What four? Concerning this, one criticizes that which deserves criticism, at the right time, saying what is factual and true, but he does not praise that which deserves praise. Again, one speaks in praise of the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true, but does not criticize that which deserves criticism. And again, one neither criticizes that which deserves criticism, nor praises the praiseworthy. And finally, one criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true. Now of these four persons, which do you think is the most admirable and rare?”
“In my opinion, good Gotama, the one who neither criticizes that which deserves criticism nor praises the praiseworthy is the most admirable and rare. And why? Because his indifference is admirable.”
Then the Lord replied: “Well, I maintain that he who criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true, he is the best. And why? Because his timing is admirable.”
Just as the River Ganges flows towards, inclines towards, tends towards the east, so too, one who cultivates and develops the Noble Eightfold Path flows towards, inclines towards and tends towards Nirvana.
I tell you this. Let an intelligent person who is sincere, honest and straightforward come to me, and I will instruct him, I will teach him Dhamma. If he practices as he is taught, then in seven years he will attain in this very life by his own knowledge and vision that goal for the sake of which young men go forth from home into homelessness, and he will abide in it. Never mind seven years, he will be able to do it in seven days. Now, you may think: ‘The monk Gotama only says this in order to get disciples.’ But this is not so; let he who is your teacher be your teacher still. You may think: ‘He wants us to give up our commandments.’ But this is not so; continue to live by your commandments. Or you may think: ‘He wants us to give up our way of life.’ But this is not so; continue to live your way of life. Or perhaps you will think: ‘He wants us to practice things that are wrong or not practice things that are right, according to our teachings.’ But this is not so; continue to avoid the things your teaching considers wrong, and practice the things that your teaching considers right. But there are unskillful things not yet given up, things tainted, leading to rebirth, fearful, with painful result in the future, things associated with birth, decay and death. And it is for the giving up of these things that I teach Dhamma. However, if you practice correctly, these tainted things will be given up, and the things that lead to the purification will grow and develop. You will attain the fullness of perfected wisdom by your own knowledge and vision, and abide in it in this very life.
What people expect to happen
Is often different from what actually happens.
Thus does disappointment arise.
This is the way the world works.
There are these three types of sick person to be found in the world. What three? There is the sick person who, whether or not he obtains the proper diet, medicines and nursing, will not recover from his illness. Then there is the sick person who, whether or not he obtains the proper diet, medicines, and nursing, will recover from his sickness anyway. Lastly there is the sick person who will recover from his illness only if he gets the proper diet, medicines and nursing.
It is for this last type that proper diet, medicine and nursing should be prescribed, but the others should be looked after also.
Now, there are three types of person in the world who can be compared to the three types of sick person. What three? There is the person who, whether or not he gets the chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline, will not enter the perfection of things that are skillful. Again, there is the person who, whether or not he gets a chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline, will enter the perfection of things that are skillful.
And again, there is the person who will enter into the perfection of things that are skillful only if he gets the chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline.
It is on account of this last person that the Dhamma is proclaimed, but it should be taught to others also.
How is a person concerned with his own good and the good of others? Concerning this, one is concerned with the restraint of greed, hatred and delusion in himself, and he encourages others to the same restraint.
These five things characterize the good person’s gift. What five? One gives with reverence, one gives thoughtfully, one gives with one’s own hand, one gives things that are good, and one gives thinking of the result.
Venerable Ananda went to the house, leaned against the doorpost and wept, saying: “I am but a learner. I still have to attain perfection. But alas, my teacher, he who is so compassionate towards me, is about to pass away.” Then the Lord asked the monks: “Where is Ananda?” and they told him and the Lord said: “Go monk, and say to Ananda, ‘Friend Ananda, the Lord calls you.’” When Ananda came, the Lord said to him: “Enough Ananda, do not cry. Have I not taught that it is the nature of all things beloved that we must suffer separation from them and be severed from them? For that which is born, come to be and is compounded is also subject to dissolution. How could it be otherwise? For a long time Ananda, you have served the Tathagata with thoughts of love, with words of love and with deeds of love, graciously, unstintingly and wholeheartedly. You have gathered great good. Now put forth energy and soon you too will be free from the defilements.”
The Lord said: “If anyone should criticize me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, you should not because of that be angry, resentful or upset. For if you did, that would hinder you and you would not be able to know whether what they said was right or wrong. Would you?”
“So, if others criticize me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, simply explain what is incorrect, saying: ‘That is incorrect. That is not right. That is not our way. We do not do that.’ But also, if others should praise me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, you should not because of that be pleased, elated or self-satisfied. For if you were, that would hinder you. So, if others praise me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, then simply explain what is correct, saying: ‘That is correct. That is right. That is our way. That is what we do.’”
When there is discontent, this woe may be looked for. Whether one goes, stands, sits or lies, one has no happiness or pleasure. Whether one has gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, to a lonely place, to an open space or among the monks, one finds no happiness or pleasure. But when there is contentment, this good may be looked for. Whether one goes, stands, sits or lies, whether one has gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, to a lonely place, to an open space or amongst the monks, one finds happiness and pleasure.
Mahanama the Sakyan came to see the Lord and said: “This town of Kapilavatthu is rich, prosperous, popular, crowded, thickly populated with people. Now when I enter the city in the evening after waiting on the Lord or the monks, I meet with elephants and horses, chariots, carts and people, all hustling and bustling along. At such times, my mindfulness of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha become scattered. Then I think: ‘If I were to die at this moment, what would be my destiny? Where would I be reborn?’”
“Have no fear, Mahanama, have no fear! Your death will be good, your end will be good. For one whose mind has for long a long time has been given to faith, virtue, learning, renunciation and wisdom, even though the body made of the four elements is devoured by birds and animals, yet the mind will soar upwards to a good rebirth. It is just as if a man were to plunge a jar of butter or oil into a deep pool of water and it were to be broken; the fragments of the jar would sink to the bottom but the butter or oil would float to the top. Your mind Mahanama, has for a long time been given faith, virtue, learning, renunciation and in wisdom. So, have no fear. Your death will not be bad, your end will not be bad.”
As a mongoose approaches a snake to seize it only after having supplied his own body with an antidote, so too, the earnest student of meditation, on approaching this world abounding as it is in anger and malice, plagued by quarrels, strife, contention and hatred, must first anoint his mind with the antidote of love.
There are these four persons found in the world. What four? One with little learning who does not benefit from his learning, one of little learning who does benefit from his learning, one of great learning who does not benefit from his learning, and one of great learning who does benefit from his learning.
And how does one with little learning not benefit from his learning? In this case, a person is not well-learned in the discourses, he knows neither the letter nor the spirit, and he does not live in accordance with the Dhamma. And how does one with little learning benefit from his learning? In this case, a person is not well-learned in the discourses, but of what he knows he understands both the letter and the spirit and lives in accordance with it. How does one with great learning not benefit from his learning? In this case, a person is widely learned in the discourses, but he understands neither the letter nor the spirit and does not live in accordance with the Dhamma. And finally, how does one with great learning benefit from his learning? Here, a person is widely learned in the discourses, he understands both the letter and the spirit and he lives in accordance with the Dhamma.
Bharadvaja asked the Lord: “What, good Gotama, is of great help in the attainment of truth? We are asking about the thing that is of great help in the attaining of truth.”
“Striving, Bharadvaja, is of great help in the attainment of truth, for if one did not strive one would not attain truth. But if one does strive one will attain truth.”
“But what is of great help to striving?”
“Weighing things up is of great help in the attainment of striving, for if one does not weigh things up one would not strive. But if one does weigh things up one will strive.”
“But what is of great help in weighing things up?”
“Making an effort is of great help in weighing things up, for if one does not make an effort one would not weigh things up. But if one does make an effort one will weigh things up.”
“But what is of great help in making an effort?”
“Desire is of great help in making an effort, for if one had no desire one will not make an effort. But if one desires one will make an effort.”
“But what is of great help in generating desire?”
“Approving of things is of great help in generating desire, for if one did not approve of something one would not generate desire. But when one approves of something one generates desire.”
“But what is of great help in approving of things?”
“Testing the meaning is of great help in approving of things, for if one does not test the meaning one will not approve of things. But if one does test the meaning one will approve of things.”
“But what is of great help in testing the meaning?”
“Remembering the Dhamma is of great help in testing the meaning, for if one does not remember the Dhamma one could not test its meaning. But if one does remember the Dhamma one can test it.”
“But what is of great help in remembering the Dhamma?”
“Hearing the Dhamma is of great help in remembering the Dhamma, for if one did not hear the Dhamma one could not remember it. But if one does hear one can remember it.”
“But what is of great help in hearing the Dhamma?”
“Lending an ear is of great help in hearing the Dhamma, for if one did not lend an ear one would not hear the Dhamma. But if one does lend an ear one will hear the Dhamma.”
“But what is of great help in leading an ear?”
“Drawing close is of great help in lending an ear, for if one did not draw close one could not lend an ear. But if one did draw close one can lend an ear.”
“But what is of great help in drawing close?”
“Visiting is of great help in drawing close, for if one did not visit one could not draw close. But if one does visit one will be able to draw close.”
“Then, what is of great help in visiting?”
“Faith is of great help in visiting, for if one did not have faith one would not visit. But if one has faith one will visit.”
The Lord said to Lohicca: “Is it true that you think like this: ‘If a monk or brahmin discovers some important truth, he should not teach it to others. For what can one person do for another? It is just as if, having cut through an old bond, one were to make a new bond. Such a thing is an evil action rooted in attachment. For what can one person do for another?’”
“Yes, good Gotama, that is my thinking.”
“What do you think about this, Lohicca? You reside here in Salavatika. If someone were to say: “The brahmin Lohicca should enjoy all the revenue and produce of Salavatika, allowing nothing to anyone else,” would one who speaks like this be a danger to your tenants?”
“He would, good Gotama.”
“And as such, would he be considering their welfare or not?”
“He would not.”
“And not considering their welfare, would he have a heart full of love for them, or one full of ill-will?”
“Full of ill-will, good Gotama.”
“And in a heart full of ill-will is there wrong view, or Perfect View?”
“Now, if one holds wrong views, I say that one of two destinies results – rebirth in purgatory or as an animal.”
In due time Kisa Gotami became pregnant and after ten lunar months she gave birth to a son. But the child died as soon as he was able to walk. Kisa Gotami had not known death before and when they came to remove the child’s body for cremation, she refused to let them do so, saying to herself: “I will get medicine for my son.” Placing the dead child on her hip, she went from house to house, pleading: “Do you know a cure for my son?” Everyone said to her: “Woman, you are completely mad in seeking medicine for your son,” but she went away, thinking: “Truly, I will find someone who knows the right medicine for my child.” Now a certain wise man saw her and thought to himself: “I must help her.” So he said: “Woman, I do not know if there is a cure for your child, but there is one who will know and I know him.”
“Sir, who is it who will know?”
“Woman, the Lord will know. Go and ask him.”
So, she went to the Lord, paid reverence to him, stood at one side and asked: “Venerable sir, is it true as people say that you will know a cure for my child?”
“Yes, I know.”
“What then do I need?”
“A few mustard seeds.”
“I will get them, Venerable sir, but in whose house?”
“Get them from a house where no son or daughter or any other person has ever died.”
“Very well, sir,” Kisa Gotami said, and having paid reverence to the Lord, and having placed the dead child on her hip, she went to the village and stopped at the very first house.
“Have you any mustard seeds? They say they will cure my child.” They gave her the seeds, and then she asked: “Friend, has any son or daughter died in this house?”
“What do you ask, woman? The living are few and the dead are many.”
“Then take back your seeds, for they will not cure my child,” she said, and returned the seeds they had given her. In this way she went from house to house but never did she find one that had the mustard seeds that she needed. Then she thought: “Oh! It is a difficult task that I have. I thought it was only I who had lost a child, but in every village the dead are more than the living.” While she reflected thus, her heart which had trembled now become still.
Even if low-down criminals should cut you limb from limb with a double-handled saw, if you filled your mind with hatred, you would not be practicing my teachings.