One who is serious is a believer, not an unbeliever. One who is serious is energetic, not lazy, of steady not distracted mindfulness, of clear not confused comprehension and with strong wisdom, not weak wisdom. When you have established these five things in yourself, you should also make six other things grow within you. You should recollect the Tathagata like this: ‘Such indeed is the Lord, a Noble One, a fully enlightened Buddha, with perfect knowledge and conduct, happily attained, a knower of the worlds, a guide unsurpassed of those to be trained, a teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha, the Lord.’
You should recollect the Dhamma like this: ‘Beautifully taught is the Lord’s Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for themselves.’
You should recollect the Sangha like this: ‘Happily and straightly faring are the Lord’s disciples, correctly and methodically faring are the Lord’s disciples, namely, the four pairs of individuals, the eight types of persons. These disciples of the Lord are worthy of offerings, of hospitality, of gifts and salutation with folded hands; they are an incomparable source of goodness in the world.’
You should recollect your own virtues as being complete, whole, unspotted, untarnished, freedom-giving, as being praised by the wise, pure and leading to concentration.
You should recollect your own generosity like this: ‘It is a gain for me. Indeed, it is a great gain, that amidst those overcome by meanness, I live at home with the mind cleansed of meanness. I am open-handed, pure-handed, delighting in sharing, one to ask a favour of, one who rejoices in giving.’
Further, you should recollect the gods in this way: ‘There are the gods of the Four Great Kings, the Thirty-three Gods, the gods of Yama, the gods of delight, the gods who delight in creation, those who have power over the creations of others, those in the company of Brahma and those beyond that. I too have the faith, the virtue, the learning, the generosity, and the wisdom by which these gods, on dying here, were reborn there in heaven.’
At a time when a noble disciple recollects all these things, his mind is free from greed, hatred and delusion. At that time, his mind is straight and fixed upon those things, and with a straight mind he expresses the gladness of the good, the gladness of the Dhamma, and the gladness that goes with Dhamma. In one like this gladness arises, from gladness comes joy, because of joy the body is tranquil, with a tranquil body one is happy, and the mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. This is said of a person like this: ‘The noble disciple who recollects the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, who recollects virtue, generosity and the gods – that disciple walks evenly among those who dwell unevenly.’
And what is the factor of exertion for the complete purification of virtues? In this case, one is virtuous, undertaking and practicing the precepts. This resolve is called the complete purification of virtue: ‘I will bring to perfection the purification of virtue if it is incomplete, and if it is complete I will supplement it here and there with wisdom.’ This is called the complete purification of virtue. The desire, the effort, the exertion, the endeavor, the persistence, the mindfulness and attention applied to this is called a factor in the complete purification of virtue.
One strong in faith but weak in wisdom has uncritical and groundless confidence. One strong in wisdom but weak in faith errs on the side of cunning and is as hard to cure as one whose sickness is caused by a medicine. When faith and wisdom are balanced, one has confidence only where there are grounds for it.
The Lord asked, Asibandhakaputta, a follower of Nigantha Nataputta: “What doctrine does Nigantha Nataputta teach his disciples?”
“Lord, Nataputta teaches that whoever kills, steals, commits sexual misconduct or lies – that person goes to hell. According to how one habitually acts, one goes to one’s destiny.”
“But if you say that as one acts habitually one goes to one’s destiny, then according to Nataputta’s teaching, no one would go to hell. What do you think about this? If a man say, kills by day or night or from time to time, which time is the most habitual to him? When he kills or when he is not killing?”
“Well, Lord, the time when he is not killing is most habitual to him.”
“Now, say a teacher teaches a doctrine such as this and a follower has faith in such a teacher. That follower would think: ‘My teacher says that whoever kills, steals, commit sexual misconduct or lies goes to hell. Now I have done these things so I will to go to hell.’ And so, holding this view, not giving it up, thinking about it, ruminating over it, he does go to hell. But say a Tathagata arises in the world. He censures, strongly censures, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying, saying: ‘Abstain from these things.’ Then say a follower has faith in such a teacher, that follower would think: ‘The Lord in many ways censures, strongly censures, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying, saying: Abstain from these things. Now I have done such things. That is not well done, it is not good. Moreover, I may be remorseful when I remember that such deeds cannot be undone.’ Thinking in this way, he abandons such deeds. In this way he goes beyond evil deeds. By abandoning killing, he abstains from killing, by abandoning stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, backbiting, harsh speech, and idle chatter he abstains from all these things. By abandoning greed, he becomes generous, by abandoning hatred he becomes kind, and by abandoning wrong view he becomes one with perfect view. This noble disciple, freed from greed and hatred, not bewildered but mindful and concentrated, abides suffusing the four quarters of the world, above, below, across, everywhere, all beings, the whole world with a mind filled with love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity that is widespread, grown great. Just as a strong conch blower with but little effort gives notice to the four quarters, in the same way, nothing whatsoever is left out of that love, that compassion, that sympathetic joy or that equanimity.”
There are two things that burn the conscience. What two? Say a person has done immoral acts of body, speech or mind, or has failed to do virtuous acts of the body, speech or mind. When he thinks of this he burns with remorse.
There are these two gifts, the worldly and the spiritual, and of these two, the spiritual gift is the highest. There are these two types of sharing, the worldly and the spiritual, and of these two, the spiritual sharing is the highest. There are these two acts of kindness, worldly and the spiritual, and of these two, the spiritual act of kindness is the highest.
It is good from time to time to examine one’s own faults; it is good from time to time to examine another’s faults. It is good from time to time to examine one’s own attainments; it is good from time to time to examine another’s attainments.
As water is balanced, unshaken, untroubled and naturally pure, even so, the earnest student of meditation, dispelling trickery, cajolery, insinuation and dissembling, should be well poised, unshaken, untroubled and quite pure by nature. As water is poised and naturally cool, even so, the earnest student of meditation, out of compassion for all beings and seeking their welfare, should be possessed of patience, love and mercy. Again, as water makes the impure pure, even so, the earnest student of meditation, whether he be in the village or the forest, should in all circumstances be one who, being without transgression, gives no reason to be reprimanded by the preceptor or teacher. And again, as water is wanted by everyone, even so, the earnest student of meditation, having few wishes, is content, aloof and solitary in meditation, and should be one who is constantly much desired by the whole world. And finally, as water troubles no one, even so, the earnest student of meditation should do no wrong by body, speech or thought that produces in others strife, quarrels, contention, disputes, neglected meditation or dislike.
One who endures abuse, violence
Or punishment without resentment,
And whose power and protection is patience –
Him I call a true brahmin.
The doer of good rejoices here, rejoices there
Rejoices both here and there.
He rejoices and is glad
When he recollects his own good deeds.
The doer of good delights here, delights there,
Delights both here and there.
The thought: ‘I have done good’
Fills him with delight.
He delights all the more
When he goes to the realm of bliss.
Recollect the immeasurable Buddha,
And with the body filled with joy,
You will always be uplifted.
Recollect the immeasurable Dhamma,
And with the body filled with joy,
You will always be uplifted.
Recollect the immeasurable Sangha,
And with the body filled with joy,
You will always be uplifted.
There are four types of people who should be known as enemies disguised as friends; the greedy person, one who speaks but does not act, the flatterer and the squanderer. The greedy person is an enemy disguised as a friend for four reasons. He is greedy, he gives little and asks for much, if he does what he should, it is only out of fear, and he pursues his own interests only. He who speaks but does not act is an enemy disguised as friend for four reasons. He reminds you of the good he did for you in the past, he talks of good he will do for you in the future, he tries to win your favour with empty words, and when the opportunity to help you arises, he pleads helplessness. The flatterer is an enemy disguised as a friend for four reasons. He encourages you to do wrong, he discourages you from doing right, he praises you to your face and speaks ill of you behind your back. The squanderer is an enemy disguised as a friend for four reasons also. He is your companion when you drink, when you frequent the streets at untimely hours, when you haunt low shows and fairs, and he is your companion when you gamble.
There are four kinds of good-hearted people who should be known as true friends; the helper, the consistent friend, one who gives good counsel, and one who sympathizes. The helper is a true friend for four reasons. He guards you when you are off your guard, he guards your property when you are off your guard, he comforts you when you are afraid, and when something has to be done, he gives you twice what you require. The consistent friend is a true friend for four reasons. He tells you his secrets, he keeps the secrets you tell him, in trouble he does not forsake you, and he would even lay down his life for you. The friend who gives good counsel is a true friend for four reasons. He discourages you from doing wrong, he encourages you to do good, he tells you things you have not heard, and he points out the way to heaven. The friend who sympathizes is a true friend for four reasons. He is sad at your misfortunes, he rejoices at your good fortune, he restrains others from speaking ill of you, and he commends those who speak well of you.
You should recollect beautiful friends like this: ‘It is indeed a gain for me. Indeed, it is good for me that I have beautiful friends, compassionate, desiring my welfare, and who mentor and teach me.’
Truly dangerous are gains, honours and fame. Concerning this, I have known a person whose mind I have read, who would not deliberately tell a lie even for the sake of a golden bowl filled with pieces of silver. That same person have I seen at another time telling lies because his heart was obsessed by gains, honours and fame. Truly dangerous are gains, honours and fame.
I do not praise wrong behaviour in either householder or monk. If either a householder or a monk fares along wrongly, then he is not accomplishing the perfect way, the Dhamma, the skilled, as a result of his wrong behaviour. Rather, I praise good behavior in both householder and monk. If either a householder or a monk fares along rightly, then he can win the Perfect Way, the True Dhamma, the Skillful, as a result of his right behavior.
The Buddha is like a skilled physician in that he is able to heal the sickness of the defilements. The Dhamma is like rightly applied medicines. The Sangha, with their defilements cured, are like people restored to health by that medicine.
As a lotus is unsoiled by water, even so, Nirvana is unsoiled by defilements. This is the one special quality of a lotus that is present in Nirvana.
As cool water is a means of allaying fever, even so, Nirvana, which is cool, is the means of allaying the fever of all the defilements. Again, as water is a means of quenching the thirst of men and beasts when they are exhausted, frightened, thirsty and overcome by heat, even so is Nirvana a means of dispelling the craving for sense pleasures and the craving for more and continued becoming. These are the two special qualities of water that are present in Nirvana.
As an antidote is the salvation of beings who are afflicted by poison, even so, Nirvana is the salvation of beings who are afflicted by the defilements. Again, an antidote puts an end to disease; even so, Nirvana puts an end to all sorrows. And again, an antidote is life-giving nectar; even so, Nirvana is life-giving nectar. These are three special qualities of an antidote that are present in Nirvana.
As food is the sustainer of the lifespan of all beings, even so, Nirvana, when it is realized, is the sustainer of the lifespan by driving out old age and dying. Again, food is the giver of strength, of the psychic powers in all beings; it is producer of beauty in all beings. Even so, Nirvana, when realized, is the producer of special qualities in all beings. And again, food is the calmer of distress in all beings; even so, Nirvana, when realized, is the calmer of the distress of the defilements in all beings. And finally, food is the remover of the weakness of exhaustion in all beings; even so, Nirvana, when realized, is the remover of all the weakness of exhaustion in all beings due to sorrows. These are the five special qualities of food that are present in Nirvana.
As space is not born, does not age or die, does not cease here or arise there, is hard to define, cannot be stolen by thieves, is supported by nothing, is the realm of birds, without obstruction and unending – even so, Nirvana is not born, does not age or die, does not cease here or arise there, is hard to define, cannot be stolen by thieves, is supported by nothing, is the realm of the Noble Ones, without obstruction and unending. These are the eleven special qualities of space that are present in Nirvana.
As a precious gem is the granter of desires, even so is Nirvana the granter of desires. As a precious gem gives delight, even so does Nirvana gives delight. As a precious gem is rich in lustre, even so is Nirvana. These are the three special qualities of a precious gem that are present in Nirvana.
As red sandalwood is hard to obtain, even so, Nirvana is hard to obtain. Again, red sandalwood is unequalled for its lovely perfume; even so is Nirvana unequalled for its lovely perfume. Yet again, red sandalwood is praised by good men; even so is Nirvana praised by the Noble Ones. These are the three special qualities of red sandalwood that are present in Nirvana.
The Lord said: “It is like a mother hen with eight, ten or a dozen eggs which she has sat on properly, warmed properly and hatched properly. Is the chick which first pierces through the shell with claw and beak to safely emerge called the eldest chick or the youngest?”
“Being the first, Lord, it is called the eldest.”
“Even so, having pierced through the shell of ignorance for the sake of beings living in ignorance, egg born and enclosed, I am the first in the world, utterly enlightened with the unsurpassed enlightenment. I am the eldest, the highest in the world.”
One who is virtuous, possessed of virtue, is like an antidote for destroying the poison of defilements in beings, is like a healing balm for allaying the sickness of defilements in beings, is like precious gems for granting all beings their wishes, is like a ship for beings to go beyond the four floods. He or she is like a caravan leader for taking beings across the desert of repeated births, like the wind for extinguishing the three fierce fires in beings, like a great rain cloud for filling beings with good thoughts, like a teacher for encouraging beings to train themselves in what is skilled, like a good guide for pointing out to beings the path to security.
Vacchagotta said to the Lord: “I have heard it said that you, good Gotama, teach that charity should only be given to you, not to others, to your followers, not to the followers of other teachers. Are those who say this representing your opinion without distorting it? Do they speak according to your teaching? For indeed, good Gotama, I am anxious not to misrepresent you.”
The Lord replied: “Vaccha, those who say this are not of my opinion, they misrepresent me and say what is not true. Truly, whoever discourages another from giving charity hinders them in three ways. What three? He hinders the giver from acquiring good, he hinders the receiver from receiving the charity, and he has already ruined himself through his meanness.”
I will not treat you the way a potter treats wet clay. Repeatedly restraining I will speak to you, repeatedly admonishing. The strong heart will stand the test.
The king asked Venerable Nagasena: “Which is greater, good or bad?”
“Good is greater, Sir; bad is only small.”
“In what way?”
“Sir, someone acting badly is remorseful, saying: ‘An evil deed was done by me,’ and thus evil does not increase. But someone doing good is not remorseful. Because of freedom from remorse, gladness arises, from gladness comes joy, because of joy the body is tranquil, with a tranquil body one is happy, and the mind of one who is happy becomes concentrated. One who is concentrated sees things as they really are, and in this way good increases.”
Once, the Lord was staying near Vesali, at the Gabled Hall in the great forest. And at that time, the brahmin Karanapalin constructed a building for the Licchavis. And Karanapalin saw the brahmin Pingiyanin coming in the distance, and as he approached, he said: “Pray, now, from where comes your honour Pingiyanin so early in the day?”
“I come from the presence of the monk Gotama.”
“Well, what do you think of his clarity of wisdom? Do you think he is a wise man?”
“But what am I compared to him? Who am I to judge his clarity? Is it not only one like him who could judge the monk Gotama’s clarity of wisdom?”
“High indeed is the praise that you give the monk Gotama.”
“But what am I compared to him? Who am I to praise the monk Gotama? Truly he is praised by the praised. He is the highest amongst gods and humans.”
“But what good do you see in him that you have such faith in him?”
“Just as when a man is completely satisfied with some delicious flavour, and longs not for other flavours that are poor – even so, when one hears the good Gotama’s Dhamma in all its parts, one longs not for the talk of others, the crowd, other recluses or Brahmins. Just as a man overcome by hunger and weakness may come across a honey cake, and whenever he tastes it, he enjoys the sweet, delicious flavour – even so, when one hears the good Gotama’s Dhamma in all its parts, one experiences sweetness and serenity of mind. Just as a man may come across a stick of yellow or red sandalwood, and wherever he smells it, at the root, in the middle or at the top, he comes across an exceedingly fair, delicious fragrance – even so, when one hears the good Gotama’s Dhamma in all its parts, all grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair just vanish away. Just as a man tortured by heat, overcome by heat, wearied, craving and thirsty, might come to a pool of clear, sweet, cool, limpid water, a lovely resting place, and might plunge in, bathe, drink, and allay all woe, fatigue and fretting – even so, when one hears the good Gotama’s Dhamma in all its parts, all woe, fatigue and fretting are wholly allayed.”
When he had said this, the Brahmin Karanapalin arose from his seat, arranged his upper robe on his shoulder, set his right knee on the ground and bending forth his outstretched hands towards where the Lord was, said three times: “Homage to the Lord, the Noble One, the fully enlightened Buddha. Wonderful is it, Pingiyanin, truly wonderful. Just as if one had set upright a thing toppled over, revealed something covered, showed a blind man the way, brought a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see – in the same way, you have illuminated this Dhamma in many a way. I too will go to the good Gotama, the Dhamma and the Sangha as my refuge. Look upon me as a lay disciple gone for refuge from now until as long as life lasts.”
There is one thing which, if practiced and developed conduces to letting go, giving up, stilling, calming, higher knowledge, awakening and to Nirvana. And what is that one thing? It is the recollection of peace.
The brahmin Sangarava said to the Lord: “Good Gotama, we brahmins perform the sacrifice and encourage others to do so. Whoever does this creates much good that benefits many people. But one who goes forth from home into homeless life as a monk only benefits himself, only calms himself, leads only himself to Nirvana. I say that such a person is practicing something that benefits only himself.”
And the Lord said: “Well, brahmin, I will ask you a question, answer as you think fit. Let us say a Tathagata arises in the world, a Noble One, a fully enlightened Buddha, with perfect knowledge and conduct, happily attained, a knower of the worlds, a guide unsurpassed for people to be tamed, a teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha, the Lord. And then he says: ‘Come! By my own power of realization I have attained great happiness as a result of this practice, this way. You practice it too! By your own powers of realization you too will attain great happiness as a result of this practice, this way.’ Thus this teacher teaches Dhamma to many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of such people. Now brahmin, since this is so, is this going forth into the homeless life as a monk a practice that benefits only one person or many people?”
“Good Gotama, it is a practice that benefits many people.”
A god said to the Lord: “These six things do not lead to one’s decline. What six? Reverence for the Teacher, the Dhamma, the Sangha, for the training, for earnestness and for love.” Later, the Lord repeated to the monks what the god had said, and then added:
“Deep reverence for the Teacher,
The Dhamma and the Sangha.
With earnestness and love,
One like this will not fail;
For they are near Nirvana.”
If a person suffering from a disease
Does not seek treatment
Even when a physician is available,
That is not the fault of the physician.
In the same way, if one is oppressed
And tormented by the disease of the defilements
But does not seek help from the Teacher,
That is not the Teacher’s fault.
It is wonderful, truly marvelous, how serene the good Gotama’s presence is, how clear and radiant his complexion. Just as a yellow jujube fruit in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm tree fruit separated from the stalk is clear and radiant, so too is the good Gotama’s complexion. Just as a trinket of red gold, wrought in a crucible by a clever goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow cloth shines and glitters – so too the good Gotama’s senses are calmed and his complexion is clear and radiant.
Imagine a pool of turbid, stirred up and muddied water. Then, a man with good vision might stand upon the bank. He could not see the mussels, shells, pebbles and gravel on the bottom or the fish moving about. And why? Because of the turbid state of the water. In the same way, it is impossible for one with a turbid mind to understand either his own benefit or the benefit of others, or to realize higher states. And why? Because of the turbid state of the mind. Now, imagine a pool of clear, tranquil and still water. A man with good vision might stand on the bank. He could see the mussels, shells, pebbles and gravel on the bottom, and the fish that move about. And why? Because of the untroubled state of the water. In the same way, it is possible for one with a tranquil mind to understand his own benefit and the benefit of others, and to realize higher states. And why? Because of the untroubled state of his mind.
Those for whom you have sympathy, those with whom you communicate – your friends, intimates, kinsmen and relations – all should be told about, grounded in, established in the Four Limbs of Stream-Winning. What are these four? Faith in the Buddha, faith in the Dhamma, faith in the Sangha, and virtue that is dear to the Noble Ones and conducive to concentration of mind.
At that time, the brahmin Sundarika Bharadvaja was sitting not far from the Lord and he said: “Does the good Gotama bathe in the Bahuka River?”
“What is there in the Bahuka River? Of what value is this river?”
“Good Gotama, many people believe that they can be purified by bathing in the Bahuka River. They wash away their evil deeds in it.”
Then the Lord said:
“In the Bahuka and at Adhikakka,
At Gaya and in the Sundarika,
In the Sarassati and at Payaga
or in the Bahumati River,
The fool, though entering constantly,
Cannot wash away his evil deeds.
What can these rivers do?
They cannot purify the bad person
or one who is intent on evil.
For the good person, every day is special.
For the good person, every day is holy.
The good practice good every day.
Bathe in that and you will protect all beings.
If you speak no lie, do no harm,
Steal not, if you believe and are generous,
What can be the good of going to Gaya?
The water at Gaya is the same as the water at home.”