Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

17. Purification

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Layman [Vedhañña]’s Grove in the country of Kapilavastu.[2] He was accompanied by a large assembly of 1,250 monks.

News of Nigranthaputra’s Death

2. The novice monk Cunda was staying in Pāpā at the time for the summer retreat. When it was finished, he took his robe and bowl and made his way to Layman [Vedhañña]’s Grove near Kapilavastu. He went to Ānanda, bowed his head at his feet, and stood to one side. He then said to Ānanda, “In the city of Pāpā, Nigranthaputra’s life ended not long ago, and his disciples are divided into two factions. They fight with each other, scolding each other to their faces. They have no hierarchy and look for each other’s shortcomings. They argue about what they know and see: ‘I can understand this, but you cannot.’ ‘My practices are true and correct; yours are wrong views.’ ‘You put what’s first last and what’s last first, getting things reversed and confused, and then there isn’t any order.’ ‘What I do is sublime; what you say is wrong.’ ‘If you have any doubts, feel free to ask me.’ Virtuous Ānanda, the people of that country who served Nirgrantha are disgusted when they hear their fighting.”

3. Ānanda said to the novice monk Cunda, “We were going to inform the Bhagavān about something. You can come with us. You ought to tell him about these events. If the Bhagavān has some instructions about it, we’ll accept them together.”

4. After hearing what Ānanda said, the novice monk Cunda went with him to visit the Bhagavān. He bowed his head at the Buddha’s feet and then stood to one side.

5. Ānanda said to the Bhagavān, “When this novice monk Cunda finished the summer retreat in Pāpā, he took his robe and bowl and made his way here. He bowed at my feet and said to me: ‘In the city of Pāpā, Nigranthaputra’s life ended not long ago, and his disciples are divided into two factions. They fight with each other, scolding each other to their faces. They have no hierarchy and look for each other’s shortcomings. They argue about what they know and see: “I can understand this, but you cannot.” “My practices are true and correct; yours are wrong views.” “You put what’s first last and what’s last first, getting things reversed and confused, and then there isn’t any order.” “What I do is sublime; what you say is wrong.” “If you have any doubts, feel free to ask me.” The people of that country who served Nirgrantha are disgusted when they hear their fighting.’”

Disciples Who Don’t Follow a Teaching

6. The Bhagavān told Cunda, “So it is, Cunda. That’s not a teaching that’s worth hearing, nor is it the teaching of a Completely Awakened One. It’s like a crumbling shrine that’s difficult to paint. Although they had a teacher, the views he held were all wrong. Although they also have a teaching, none of it is true. It isn’t worth hearing and can’t escape [suffering]. This isn’t the teaching of a Completely Awakened One. It’s like an ancient shine that can’t be painted. The disciples who didn’t follow his teaching and abandoned his different views practiced right view.

7. “Cunda, suppose someone came and said to those disciples, ‘Good men, your teacher’s Dharma was correct. You ought to put it into practice. Why did you abandon it?’ Those disciples who believe it and the speaker will both lose the path and get measureless misdeeds. Why is that? Although they have a teaching, it isn’t true.

8. “Cunda, suppose the teacher doesn’t have wrong views. His teaching is true, good to hear, and can reach the escape. That’s the teaching of a Completely Awakened One. It’s like a newly built shrine that’s easy to paint. Still, disciples who don’t diligently cultivate his teaching can’t accomplish it. They abandon the equal path and take up wrong views.

9. “Suppose someone came and said to those disciples, ‘Good men, your teacher’s Dharma was correct. You ought to put it into practice. Why did you abandon it and take up wrong views?’ Those disciples who believe it and the speaker will both see correctly and get measureless merits. Why is that? Their teaching is true.”

Disciples Who Accomplish a Teaching

10. The Buddha told Cunda, “Although they had a teacher, he held wrong views. Although they also have a teaching, none of it is true. It isn’t worth hearing and can’t escape. This isn’t the teaching of a Completely Awakened One. It’s like a crumbling shine that can’t be painted. Those disciples who accomplished his teachings and followed his practice produced wrong views.

11. “Cunda, suppose someone came and said to those disciples, ‘Good men, your teacher’s Dharma was correct. It’s something you ought to practice. Now, your cultivation of asceticism being diligent, you should accomplish the fruit of the path in the present life.’ Those disciples who believe it and the speaker will both lose the path and get measureless misdeeds. Why is that? Because the teaching isn’t true.

12. “Cunda, suppose the teacher doesn’t have wrong views. His teaching is true, good to hear, and can reach the escape. That’s the teaching of a Completely Awakened One. It’s like a newly built shrine that’s easy to paint. Those disciples who accomplish his teachings and follow the cultivation of his practice will produce right view.

13. “Suppose someone said to those disciples, ‘Good men, your teacher’s Dharma was correct. It’s something you ought to practice. Now, your cultivation of asceticism being diligent, you should accomplish the fruit of the path in the present life.’ Those disciples who believe it and the speaker will both have right view and obtain measureless merits. Why is that? Because the teaching is true.”

Teachers Who Are Grieved and Not Grieved

14. “Cunda, when some teachers leave the world, it makes their disciples grieve. Some teachers leave the world, and it doesn’t make their disciples grieve.

15. “How does a teacher leaving the world make his disciples grieve? Cunda, suppose a teacher has recently left the world, and it wasn’t long after he achieved awakening. His teaching was complete, his religious practice was pure, and his essentials were true, but these things weren’t widely known. The teacher’s final liberation was so soon that his disciples can’t cultivate his practice. They lament, saying, ‘The teacher was first to leave the world, not long after achieving awakening. His teaching was pure, his religious practice was complete, and his essentials were true, but they weren’t widely known. Now, the teacher’s final liberation was so soon, we disciples can’t cultivate his practice!’ This is a teacher who leaves the world, and his disciple grieve over it.

16. “How does a teacher leaving the world not make his disciples grieve? Suppose when a teacher leaves the world, his teaching is pure, his religious practice is complete, and his essentials are true. These things are widely known. After the teacher’s final liberation, his disciples can cultivate his practice. They don’t lament, saying, ‘The teacher was first to leave the world, not long after achieving awakening. His teaching was pure, his religious practice was complete, and his essentials were true, but they weren’t widely known. Now, the teacher’s final liberation was so soon, we disciples can’t cultivate his practice!’ Thus, Cunda, a teacher leaves the world, and his disciples have no grief over it.”

Factors of a Religious Practice

17. The Buddha told Cunda, “These factors achieve the religious life. That is, a teacher leaves the world not long after leaving home. His fame hasn’t spread widely. This is a factor of the religious practice being incomplete.

18. “Cunda, a teacher leaves the world a long time after he left home, and his fame has become far-reaching. This is a factor of the religious life being fulfilled.

19. “Cunda, a teacher leaves the world a long time after he left home, and his fame has become far-reaching, but his disciples have yet to receive his instruction or possess his religious practice. They’ve yet to reach a state of peace, obtain their own reward, or accept his teaching and widely promulgate it. When different interpretations arise, they can’t eliminate them according to the teaching. They still can’t transform themselves or realize miraculous abilities, either. This is a factor of the religious practice being incomplete.

20. “Cunda, a teacher leaves the world long after he left home, and his fame has become far-reaching. All his disciples receive his instruction and the complete religious practice. They reach a state of peace, obtain their own reward, and accept, discern, and promulgate his teaching. When different interpretations arise, they can eliminate them according to the teaching. They perfect transforming themselves and realize miraculous abilities. This is a factor of the religious practice being fulfilled.

21. “Cunda, a teacher leaves the world long after he left home, and his fame has become far-reaching, but his nuns have yet to receive his instructions. They’ve yet to reach a state of peace, obtain their own reward, or accept, discern, and promulgate his teaching. When different interpretations arise, they can’t eliminate them with the teaching. They still can’t transform themselves or realize miraculous abilities, either. This is a factor of the religious life being incomplete.

22. “Cunda, a teacher leaves the world long after he left home, and his fame has become far-reaching. All his nuns receive his instruction and the complete religious practice. They reach a state of peace, obtain their own reward, and accept, discern, and promulgate his teaching. When different interpretations arise, they can eliminate them according to the teaching. They perfect transforming themselves and realize miraculous abilities. This is a factor of the religious practice being completely fulfilled.

23. “Cunda, laymen and laywomen widely cultivate his religious practice … transform themselves and realize miraculous abilities in the same way.

24. “Cunda, suppose a teacher isn’t present in the world, they don’t have any fame, and offerings are limited. This is a factor of the religious practice being unfulfilled.

25. “Suppose a teacher is present in the world, they’re famous, and offerings are fully provided without any limitations. This is a factor of the religious practice being fulfilled.

26. “Suppose a teacher is present in the world, they’re famous, and offerings are fully provided, but the monks don’t possess fame or offerings. This is a factor of the religious practice being incomplete.

27. “Suppose a teacher is present in the world, they’re famous, and offerings are fully provided without limitations, and the assembly of monks also possesses these things. This is a factor of the religious practice being fulfilled. It’s the same with the assembly of nuns.

28. “Cunda, I left home long ago, and my fame is widespread. My monks have received my instruction, reached a state of peace, obtained their own reward, and can accept and explain the teaching for other people. When different interpretations arise, they can eliminate them according to the teaching. They transform themselves and fully realize miraculous abilities. The monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen are the same.

29. “Cunda, I’ve widely promulgated the religious practice in each way … transforming myself and fully realizing miraculous abilities. Cunda, of all the teachers in the world, I don’t see any of them who have attained fame and offerings like myself, the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakening One.

30. “Cunda, of the followers in the world, I don’t see any with fame and offerings like my assembly.

31. “Cunda, to tell the truth, I should say that I see what can’t be seen. How do I see what can’t be seen? All whose religious practice is pure, complete, plainly explained, and widely known are said to see what can’t be seen.”

32. The Bhagavān then told the monks, “Udraka Rāmaputra made this statement to a large assembly: ‘There is what’s seen and not seen. What is called the seen and not seen? It’s like a knife that can be seen, and a sword that cannot be seen.’ Monks, Rāmaputra made that metaphor with the ignorant words of ordinary people.

33. “Thus, Cunda, to tell the truth, I should say I see what’s not seen. What is seen and not seen? You should correctly say, ‘All whose religious practice is pure, complete, plainly explained, and widely known see what can’t be seen.’

34. “Cunda, a continuous teaching that’s incomplete can be found, but a discontinued teaching that’s complete can’t be found. Cunda, among teachings, the religious practice is like the ghee that’s in butter.”

Staying Unified and Resolving Disputes

35. The Bhagavān then told the monks, “I’ve personally realized this teaching, namely the four abodes of mindfulness, four miraculous abilities, four mental disciplines, four dhyānas, five faculties, five powers, seven factors of awakening, and the noble eightfold path. All of you are united and don’t start disputes. You have the same teacher and teaching, the same water and milk. You must light yourselves with the Tathāgata’s correct teaching and delight in becoming peaceful.

36. “Once you’ve become peaceful, suppose some monk is teaching Dharma, and another says, ‘That statement isn’t correct, and his meaning isn’t correct.’

37. “A monk who hears him can’t say he’s right or wrong. He should say to that monk, ‘How is it, good man? I would say it this way, and you say it that way. My meaning is this, and your meaning is that. Which is better? Which is worse?’

38. “Suppose that monk replies, ‘I say it this way, and my meaning is this. You say it that way, and your meaning is that. Your statement is better, and your meaning is better, too.’

39. “The monk who says this also can’t be found to be right or wrong. You should admonish, rebuke, and stop that monk. You should then investigate the matter together. Thus, all of you will be united without starting disputes. You have the same teacher and teaching, the same water and milk. You should light yourselves with the correct teaching of the Tathāgata and delight in becoming peaceful.

40. “Once you’ve become peaceful, suppose a monk is teaching Dharma, and another says, ‘That statement isn’t correct, but his meaning is correct.’

41. “A monk who hears him can’t say he’s right or wrong. He should say to that monk, ‘How is it, monk? I say it this way, and you say it that way. Which is correct, and which is wrong?’

42. “Suppose that monk replies, ‘I say it this way, and you say it that way. Your statement is better.’

43. “A monk who says this also can’t be said to be right or wrong. You should admonish, rebuke, and stop that monk. You should investigate the matter together. Thus, all of you will be united without starting disputes. You have the same teacher and teaching, the same water and milk. You should light yourselves with the correct teaching of the Tathāgata and delight in becoming peaceful.

44. “Once you’ve become peaceful, suppose a monk is teaching Dharma, and another monk makes the statement, ‘That statement is correct, but his meaning isn’t correct.’

45. “A monk who hears him can’t say that he’s right or wrong. You should say to him, ‘How is it, monk? My meaning is this, and your meaning is that. Which is right, and which is wrong?’

46. “Suppose he replies, ‘My meaning is this, and your meaning is that. Your meaning is better.’

47. “When a monk says that, he can’t be said to be right or wrong. You should admonish, rebuke, and stop that monk. You should investigate the matter together. Thus, all of you will be united without starting disputes. You have the same teacher and teaching, the same water and milk. You should light yourselves with the correct teaching of the Tathāgata and delight in becoming peaceful.

48. “Once you’ve become peaceful, suppose a monk is teaching Dharma, and another monks makes the statement, ‘That statement is correct, and his meaning is correct.’

49. “A monk who hears him can’t say that he’s right or wrong. You should commend him by saying, ‘What you say is right! What you say is right!’

50. “Therefore, monks, realize for yourself what’s in the twelve divisions of the sutras, and widely promulgate it. They are the sutras, songs, assurances, verses, inspirations, past events, past births, histories, extensive sutras, unprecedented things, parables, and explanations.[3] You should skillfully preserve, assess, investigate, and widely promulgate them.

The Allowance of Requisites

51. “Monks, the robes that I allow are robes from cemeteries, robes from prominent people, or crude robes. These robes are sufficient for warding off cold, heat, and biting insects, and they’re enough to cover your four limbs.

52. “Monks, the food that I allow is solicited food or a householder’s food. This food is sufficient for your body or troubles. When the myriad ailments become severe, they become a source of anxiety until death, so I permit you this food. Be satisfied with that.

53. “Monks, the abodes that I allow are under a tree, out in the open, in a room, in a hall, or in a cave. If you live in these various abodes, be satisfied with them. They ward off the cold, heat, wind, rain, and biting insects. Abide under them in quiet repose.

54. “Monks, the medicines that I allow are urine, feces, cream, oil, honey, or rock honey. Be satisfied with these medicines. If your body is troubled by pains, then I permit these medicines when the myriad ailments become severe and cause anxiety until death.”

Pleasures the Buddha Doesn’t Approve

55. The Buddha said, “Some wanderers of other religions come and say, ‘The ascetic Śākyans themselves enjoy many pleasures.’

56. “When they say this, you should thus reply, ‘You shouldn’t say that the ascetic Śākyans themselves enjoy many pleasures. Why is that? When someone enjoys pleasures, the Tathāgata rebukes them. When someone enjoys pleasures, the Tathāgata commends them.’

57. “Suppose that wanderer from another religion asks, ‘The enjoyment of which pleasures does Gautama rebuke?’

58. “If they were to ask that, you should reply, ‘The qualities of the five desires are lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to them. What are the five? The eye perceives form that’s lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to it. The ear hears sound … nose smells odor … tongue tastes flavor … body feels contact that’s lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to it.

59. “‘Good men, even though these five desires are conditions for joy and happiness, they are rebuked by the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One. Even though people enjoy killing sentient beings, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One. Even though people enjoy robbing and stealing from others, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata. Even though people enjoy violating the religious life, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata. Even though people enjoy making false statements, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata. Even though people are unrestrained and self-indulgent, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata. Even though people enjoy practicing the ascetic practices of other religions and not the correct practices taught by the Tathāgata, it’s rebuked by the Tathāgata.’

60. “Monks, I rebuke the qualities of the five desires that make people addicted to them. What are the five? The eye perceives form that’s lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to it. The ear hears sound … nose smells odor … tongue tastes flavor … body feels contact that’s lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to it.

61. “The ascetic Śākyans take no pleasures like these. Even though some people enjoy killing sentient beings, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure. Even though some people enjoy stealing from others, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure. Even though some people enjoy violating the religious life, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure. Even though some people enjoy making false statements, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure. Even though some people are unrestrained and self-indulgent, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure. Even though some people enjoy practicing the ascetic practices of other religions, the ascetic Śākyans take no such pleasure.

Pleasures the Buddha Does Approve

62. “Suppose that wanderer of another religion asks this question, ‘The enjoyment of which pleasures does the ascetic Gautama commend?’

63. “Monks, if they were to ask this, you should answer them: ‘Good men, there are the qualities of the five desires that are lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to them. What are the five? The eye perceives form … body feels contact that’s lovely and enjoyable, so people are addicted to it.

64. “‘Good men, the five desires are conditions that give rise to pleasure and must be quickly eliminated. Even though some people enjoy killing sentient beings, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated. Even though some people enjoy stealing, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated. Even though some people enjoy violating the religious life, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated. Even though some people enjoy making false statements, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated. Even though some people are unrestrained and self-indulgent, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated. Even though some people enjoy practicing the ascetic practices of other religions, such pleasure should be quickly eliminated.

65. “‘Some people seclude themselves from desire and aren’t subject to any more evil things. With perception and contemplation, seclusion gives rise to joy and happiness, and they enter the first dhyāna. Such pleasure is commended by the Buddha.

66. “‘Some people cease their perception and contemplation. With inner joy, unified mind, and no perception or contemplation, samādhi gives rise to joy and happiness, and they enter the second dhyāna. Such pleasure is commended by the Buddha.

67. “‘Some people discard joy and enter equanimity. They personally know their own happiness that’s sought by noble people. With equanimity, mindfulness, and unified mind, they enter the third dhyāna. Such pleasure is commended by the Buddha.

68. “‘Some people’s pleasure and pain ends, and their prior sorrow and joy subsides. Not discomforted or happy, they are equanimous, mindful, and pure, and they enter the fourth dhyāna. Such pleasure is commended by the Buddha.’

The Benefits of the Pleasures the Buddha Approves

69. “Suppose that wanderer of another religion asks this question, ‘How many fruits and virtues do you seek from these pleasures?’

70. “You should answer them, ‘These pleasures will have seven fruits and virtues. What are the seven? In the present life, one achieves the realization of awakening. Even if one doesn’t achieve it, they will achieve it right before their life ends. If they don’t achieve it before their life ends, then they will end the five lower bonds and Parinirvāṇa in the interim, Parinirvāṇa at birth, Parinirvāṇa with practice, Parinirvāṇa without practice, or Parinirvāṇa upstream in Akaniṣṭha. Good men, these are the seven virtues of these pleasures.

71. “‘Good men, if a monk in training desires to do the above, he’ll look for a peaceful place before eliminating five hindrances. What are the five? The hindrances of desire, anger, sleepiness, agitation, and doubt. If a trainee monk seeks the above place of safety before ceasing the five hindrances, he won’t be capable of diligently cultivating the four abodes of mindfulness or the seven factors of awakening. Attaining the state of the superior man and developing noble wisdom will be impossible for someone seeking to know and see them.

72. “‘Good men, suppose a trainee monk seeks the above place of peace and can cease the five hindrances, which are the hindrances of desire, anger, sleepiness, agitation, and doubt. He can also diligently cultivate the four abodes of mindfulness and seven factors of awakening. Attaining the state of the superior man and developing noble wisdom will then be possible for someone seeking to know and see them.

73. “‘Good men, suppose there’s a monk, an arhat who’s ended the contaminants. He has accomplished the task, put down the heavy burden, won his own reward, and ended the bonds of existence. He’s liberated by right knowledge and doesn’t do nine things. What are the nine? He doesn’t kill, steal, engage in sex, make false statements, abandon the path, follow desire, follow anger, follow fear, or follow delusion.

74. “‘Good men, this is an arhat who has ended the contaminants, accomplished the task, put down the heavy burden, won his own reward, and ended the bonds of existence. He’s liberated by right knowledge and avoids nine things.’

The Śākyan Teaching Is Always Steady

75. “Some wanderers of other religions make the statement, ‘The ascetic Śākyans have an unsteady teaching.’

76. “You should respond to them, ‘Good men, don’t say that the ascetic Śākyans have a teaching that’s unsteady. Why is that? The teaching of ascetic Śākyans is always steady and immovable. It’s like a gate’s threshold that’s always steady and unmoved.[4] The ascetic Śākyans are likewise. Their teaching is always steady without any movement.’

The Buddha’s Knowledge of the Future

77. “Some wanderers of other religions make the statement, ‘The ascetic Gautama entirely knows about past lives, but he doesn’t know the future.’

78. “Monks, the knowledge of those wanderers of different trainings is different, and their examination of knowledge is also different. That statement is false. There’s nothing in the past that the Tathāgata doesn’t know and see like seeing it with his own eyes. His knowledge about future lives arose with the knowledge of awakening.

79. “When past lives are false, unreal, not worth enjoying, or aren’t beneficial, the Buddha doesn’t relate them. If past lives are real but aren’t worth enjoying or beneficial, the Buddha doesn’t relate them. If past lives are real and worth enjoying but aren’t beneficial, the Buddha doesn’t relate them, either. If past lives are real, worth enjoying, and beneficial, the Tathāgata entirely knows them and relates them afterward. The future and present are likewise.

80. “The Tathāgata’s discourses about the past, future, and present are timely, truthful, meaningful, profitable, about Dharma, about discipline, and without any falsehood. From the first night after the Buddha achieved complete awakening to the last night, everything he says in the meantime is true.[5] That’s why he’s called the Tathāgata.

81. “Furthermore, what the Tathāgata says is according to the subject, and the subject is as he describes it. Therefore, he’s called the Tathāgata. What’s the meaning of his being called the Completely Awakened One? The Buddha entirely comprehends what he knows and sees, what he ceased, and what he realized. Therefore, he’s called the Completely Awakened One.

Views about the Past and Future

82. “Some wanderers of other religions make the statement,[6] ‘The world is eternal. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is impermanent. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is eternal and impermanent. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is neither eternal nor impermanent. Only this is true; the rest is false.’

83. “Others say, ‘The world is limited. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is limitless. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is limited and limitless. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The world is neither limited nor limitless. Only this is true; the rest is false.’

84. “Others say, ‘The soul is the body. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘This is neither the soul nor the body. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The soul is different than the body. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘This isn’t different than the soul or the body. This is true; the rest is false.’[7]

85. “Others say, ‘The Tathāgata has an end. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The Tathāgata doesn’t end. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The Tathāgata ends and doesn’t end. This is true; the rest is false.’ Others say, ‘The Tathāgata neither ends nor doesn’t end. This is true; the rest is false.’

86. “Those views are called ‘views about the past.’[8] Now, I’ll explain this for you: ‘This world is eternal … the Tathāgata neither ends nor doesn’t end. Only this is true; the rest is false.’ These are views about the past. I will explain it for you.

87. “There are views about the future[9] that I also explain. Which of these views about the future do I explain? ‘The self is form. Its end comes from perception.[10] This is true; the rest is false.’ ‘The self is formless. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self is form and formless. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘Self is neither form nor formless. Its end comes from perception …’

88. “‘The self is limited …’ ‘The self is limitless …’ ‘The self is limited and limitless …’ ‘The self is neither limited nor limitless. Its end comes from perception …’

89. “‘The self is pleasure. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self is without pleasure. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self has pain and pleasure. Its end comes from perception …’ The self has no pain or pleasure. Its end comes from perception …’

90. “‘The self is a single perception. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self is diverse perceptions. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self is a little perception. Its end comes from perception …’ ‘The self is measureless perception. Its end comes from perception. This is true; the rest is false.’ These are the wrong views that are views about the future, which I have explained them.

91. “Some ascetics and priests have such theories and such views: ‘This world is eternal. This is true; the rest is false … Self is a measureless perception. This is true; the rest is false.’ Those ascetics and priests also make such statements and such views: ‘This is true; the rest is false.’

92. “The response to that should be, ‘You really have made this theory? How is this world eternal? How is this true, and the rest is false? Such statements as these aren’t permitted by the Buddha.’ Why is that? In each of these views, there is bondage. It’s reasonable to conclude there are no ascetics or priests that are our equals. How could they surpass us? These wrong views are just words that I don’t discuss with you. Each one, up to ‘Self is a measureless perception,’ is likewise.

Views about the World’s Creation

93. “Some ascetics and priests make this statement, ‘The world created itself.’ Other ascetics and priests say, ‘The world was created by another.’ Others say, ‘It was created by itself and another.’ Others say, ‘It was neither created by itself nor by another. It spontaneously came into existence.’

94. “There are those ascetics and priests who say, ‘The world created itself.’ These ascetics and priests do so as a result of the dependent origination of contact. If they were separated from the causes of contact, saying that would be impossible. Why is that? Contact arises from the body of six senses. Feeling arises from contact. Craving arises from feeling. Grasping arises from craving. Existence arises from grasping. Birth arises from existence. Old, death, sorrow, lamentation, and suffering arise from birth. This is the formation of the great mass of suffering.

95. “If the body of six senses doesn’t exist, then there’s no contact. If there’s no contact, there’s no feeling. If there’s no feeling, there’s no craving. If there’s no craving, there’s no grasping. If there’s no grasping, there’s no existence. If there’s no existence, there’s no birth. If there’s no birth, there are no old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, or the formation of that great mass of suffering.

96. “They also say, ‘This world is created by another.’ They also say, ‘This world is created by itself and by another.’ They also say, ‘This world is neither created by itself nor by another. It comes into existence spontaneously.’ These views are the same. They exist because of contact. Without contact, they wouldn’t exist.”

How to Cease Such Wrong Views

97. The Buddha told the monks, “If you want to cease these wrong and evil views, you should cultivate the four abodes of mindfulness in three ways. In which three ways should a monk cultivate the four abodes of mindfulness to cease these evil things?

98. “A monk observes internal body as body. He’s diligent and not negligent. His attention to it isn’t lost, and he removes worldly craving and sorrow. He observes external body as body. He’s diligent and not negligent. His attention to it isn’t lost, and he removes worldly craving and sorrow. He observes internal and external body as body. He’s diligent and not negligent. His attention to it isn’t lost, and he removes worldly craving and sorrow. He observes feeling, mind, and principles in the same way. This is ceasing the myriad evil things by cultivating the four abodes of mindfulness in three ways.

99. “There are eight liberations. What are the eight? He observes form as form. This is the first liberation. He observes external form without an internal perception of form. This is the second liberation. He’s liberated by purity. This is the third liberation. He traverses perception of form, ceases perception of resistance, and abides in the abode of emptiness. This is the fourth liberation. He discards the abode of emptiness and abides in the abode of consciousness. This is the fifth liberation. He discards the abode of consciousness and abides in the abode of nothingness. This is the sixth liberation. He discards the abode of nothingness and abides in the abode of perception and no perception. This is the seventh liberation. The samādhi of complete cessation is the eighth liberation.”

100. Ānanda was at the time standing behind the Bhagavān holding a fan. He adjusted his robes to bare his right shoulder and knelt on his right knee. With his palms together, he said to the Buddha, “Amazing, Bhagavān! This teaching is pure, sublime, and supreme! What shall be its name? How shall we uphold it?”

101. The Buddha told Ānanda, ‘This sutra’s name is ‘Purity.’ You should uphold it as ‘Purification.’”

102. When Ānanda heard what the Buddha taught, he rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. The direct parallel for this sutra are DN 29. [back]
  2. Vedhañña. Ch. 緬祇 (MCh. mian-g’jie). The Chinese transliteration doesn’t match the Pali parallel, but I’ve adopted it since I lack a Sanskrit attestation. [back]
  3. This list of the twelve sutra genres (aṅga) is part transliteration and part translation in the Chinese. Some translations aren’t expected and don’t appear to match the usual meanings of the traditional list. The typical list of 12 sutra genres include (in Skt) sutra, geya, vyākaraṇa, gāthā, udāna, itivṛttaka, jātaka, nidāna, vaipulya, adbhuta-dharma, avadāna, and upadeśa. The Chinese literally reads: 貫經 (threaded sutra), 祇夜經 (geya sutra), 受記經 (giving prediction sutra) 偈經 (gāthā sutra), 法句經 (Dharma aphorism sutra), 相應經 (connected sutra), 本緣經 (legend sutra), 天本經 (root of heaven sutra), 廣經 (extensive sutra), 未曾有經 (unprecedented sutra), 譬喻經 (parable sutra), 大教經 (great teaching sutra). The Japanese translators considered 法句 to translate udāna, 相應 itivṛttaka, 天本 nidāna, and 大教 upadeśa. [back]
  4. gate’s threshold. Ch. 門閫, P. indakhīla. This refers to a post driven into the ground to which a gate is fastened or set against when closed. [back]
  5. first night … last night. Ch. 初夜 … 末後夜. The context of his teachings being true during this time suggests to me that it refers instead to his entire teaching career from his awakening to his parinirvāṇa. This also agrees with the interpretation that was added to the Pali parallel. [back]
  6. The views listed in this section have a closer parallel in DN 9 than DN 29. [back]
  7. the soul is the body. Ch. 是命是身. The Chinese appears to be a literal translation equivalent to P. taṁ jīvaṁ taṁ sarīraṁ.
    the soul is different than the body. Ch. 命異身異. This appears to match P. aññaṁ jīvaṁ aññaṁ sarīraṁ. [back]
  8. views about the past. Ch. 本生本見. This is an uncertain expression that might be read literally as “views about the past and past births” or “views about the past arising from the past.” The parallel in DN 29 reads P. pubbantasahagatā diṭṭhinissayā (“support for views related to the past”). [back]
  9. views about the future. Ch. 未見未生, P. aparantasahagatā diṭṭhinissayā. [back]
  10. its end comes from perception. Ch. 從想有終. “End” (終) refers to the end of life, or death. The intended meaning of this expression is mysterious, but it may be related to the expression we find in DN 1/DĀ 21, where views are listed such as: “After I die, I’ll be born with … perception.” But, here, perception appears to bring about the self’s end rather than follow death. In the direct Pali parallel to the present passage in DN 29, there is a reference to death but not perception: rūpī attā hoti arogo paraṁ maraṇā (“after death, the self is physical and unharmed”). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 19 October 2021