Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

25. The Naked Wanderer

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at the deer preserve near Karṇakāṣṭha of [Ujuññā].[2] He was accompanied by a large assembly of 1,250 monks.

2. A naked wanderer from the Kāśyapa clan visited the Bhagavān. After they exchanged greetings, he sat to one side. That naked Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “I hear that the ascetic Gautama criticizes all ritual practices and rebukes other ascetics, considering them corrupt. Gautama, suppose someone said, ‘The ascetic Gautama criticizes all the ritual practices and rebukes other ascetics, considering them corrupt.’ If someone says this is Dharma speech that accomplishes the teachings, would they not be slandering the ascetic Gautama?”

3. The Buddha replied, “Kāśyapa, suppose someone said, ‘The ascetic Gautama criticizes all ritual practices and rebukes other ascetics, considering them corrupt.’ That wouldn’t be Dharma speech that accomplishes the teachings. They would be slandering me, for it’s not a true statement. Why is that?

4. “Kāśyapa, I’ve seen those ascetics fall into hell when their bodies broke up and their lives ended. I’ve also seen ascetics born in a heavenly good place when their bodies broke up and their lives ended. Sometimes, I’ve seen ascetics who enjoyed the ascetic practices born in hell when their bodies broke up and their lives ended. Sometimes, I’ve seen ascetics who enjoyed the ascetic practices born in a heavenly good place.

5. “Kāśyapa, I fully know and fully see these two destinies that are places gotten as rewards. Why would I want to rebuke all those ascetics and consider them corrupt? When I correctly say ‘Yes,’ they then say ‘No.’ When I correctly say ‘No,’ they say ‘Yes.’ Kāśyapa, there are ascetics and priests who equally possess the way, and there are ascetics and priest who don’t equally possess the way. Kāśyapa, those who aren’t equal are the ones that I set aside because their teaching isn’t shared with ascetics and priests equally.

6. “Kāśyapa, those who are wise make this observation: ‘When the ascetic Gautama had unskillful qualities, quite defiled, dark, and ignoble and when other teachers had the same qualities, which of them was capable of destroying these qualities?’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, they thus know and see that only the ascetic Gautama was able to destroy these qualities. Kāśyapa, when those who are wise make this observation, inquire into this, and discuss this, I’m the one who they name as being so.

7. “Furthermore, Kāśyapa, those who are wise make this observation: ‘When the ascetic Gautama’s disciples have unskillful qualities, quite defiled, dark, and ignoble and the disciple of other teachers have the same qualities, which of them is capable of destroying these qualities? Kāśyapa, when those who are wise make this observation, they thus know and see: ‘The ascetic Gautama’s disciples are able to destroy these qualities.’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, inquire into this, and discuss this, my disciples are who they name.

8. “Furthermore, Kāśyapa, those who are wise make this observation, ‘The ascetic Gautama has skillful qualities, pristine, sublime, and noble and other teachers have the same qualities. Which of them is capable of cultivating and making them grow?’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, they thus know and see: ‘Only the ascetic Gautama is capable of cultivating these qualities and making them grow.’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, inquire into this, and discuss this, I’m the one who they name as being so.

9. “Kāśyapa, those who are wise make this observation: ‘When the ascetic Gautama’s disciples have skillful qualities, pristine, sublime, and noble, and the disciples of other teachers have the same qualities, which of them is capable of cultivating them and making them grow?’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, they thus know and see, ‘Only the ascetic Gautama’s disciples are capable of cultivating these qualities and making them grow.’ Kāśyapa, when the wise make this observation, inquire into this, and discuss this, my disciples are who they name.

10. “Kāśyapa, there’s a path and a way that a monk cultivates, and then he himself will know and see: ‘The ascetic Gautama’s speech is timely, genuine, meaningful, the teaching, and the discipline.’ Kāśyapa, what is the path and what are the way that a monk cultivates, and then he himself will know and see: ‘The ascetic Gautama’s speech is timely, genuine, meaningful, the teaching, and the discipline’?

11. “Kāśyapa, a monk cultivates the awakening factor of mindfulness based on stopping, lack of desire, and escape. He cultivates the awakening factor of the teaching … effort … joy … calm … concentration … equanimity based on stopping, lack of desire, and escape. Kāśyapa, this is the path and the way that a monk cultivates, and then he himself will know and see: ‘The ascetic Gautama’s speech is timely, genuine, meaningful, the teaching, and the discipline.”

12. Kāśyapa said, “Gautama, there’s only this path and this way that a monk cultivates, and then he himself knows and sees: ‘The ascetic Gautama’s speech is timely, genuine, meaningful, the teaching, and the discipline.’ It’s only the dirty ascetic practices that make it possible to be named a priest or an ascetic. What dirty ascetic practices make it possible to be named a priest or an ascetic?

13. “Gautama, they part with clothing and go naked, covering themselves with their hands. They don’t accept food in pots or bowls. They don’t accept food while between two walls, between two people, between two blades, or between two bowls. They don’t accept food when a family is eating together, when there’s a pregnancy in the household, when they see a dog at the door, or when a home has many flies.

14. “They don’t accept invitations to meals or food from someone who says they know them. They don’t eat fish or meat and don’t drink wine. They don’t take two bowls of food, considering one swallow to be a meal up to seven meals and stopping. When they accept a person’s beneficial food, they don’t do so more than seven times. Sometimes, they eat one meal a day or one every two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, or seven days.

15. “Sometimes, they eat fruit or weeds and drink juice. They eat flax seed, rice, long-grain rice, cow dung, deer dung, tree roots, branches, leaves, and fruit, or fruit that has fallen naturally.

16. “Sometimes, they wear clothes, throw on sedge as clothes, wear tree bark, curtain yourselves in grass, or wear deerskin. Sometimes, they fasten head hair to themselves, wear plaited hair, or wear clothes from a charnel ground.

17. “Sometimes, they keep your arms raised all the time, don’t sit on couches or mats, or crouch all the time. Sometimes, they cut their hair and fasten it to their beard, lie on thorns, lie on fruits and berries, or lie naked on cow dung. Sometimes, they bath three times a day or three times a night. They torment their bodies with these countless hardships. Gautama, these are the dirty practices that make it possible to be named a priest or ascetic.”

18. The Buddha said, “Kāśyapa, parting with clothes and going naked … tormenting one’s body with these countless hardships, their precepts aren’t complete, and their views aren’t complete. They aren’t able to diligently cultivate, and their [teachings] aren’t broad and open.”

19. Kāśyapa said to the Buddha, “What are the completion of precepts and completion of views that go beyond the ascetic practices and that are fine and supreme?”

20. The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Listen closely, and well consider it. I’ll explain it for you.”

Kāśyapa said, “Very well, Gautama. I’d be glad to hear it.”

21. The Buddha addressed Kāśyapa, “If a Tathāgata, an Arhat, arises in the world … the four dhyānas, then he attains happiness in the present life. Why is that? These things are a result of diligence, focused attention, unified mind, delighting in quiet seclusion, and not being self-indulgent. Kāśyapa, this is the completion of precepts and completion of views that surpasses the ascetic practices, that’s fine and supreme.”

Kāśyapa said, “Gautama, although you say this completion of precepts and completion of views surpasses the ascetic practices and is fine and supreme, it’s only being an ascetic or priest that’s difficult.”

22. The Buddha said, “Kāśyapa, this is world’s special teaching, that the teachings of ascetics and priests are difficult. Kāśyapa, even a laywoman can understand these teachings. Parting with clothing and going naked … tormenting one’s body with these countless hardships, a person still doesn’t understand their mind: ‘Am I angry or not … resentful or not … harmful or not?’ If someone knows these mental states, they aren’t named ascetics or priests. It’s because they don’t understand themselves that being an ascetic or priest is difficult.”

23. Kāśyapa then said to the Buddha, “What’s an ascetic or a priest like whose precepts and views are complete and who’s higher, superior, fine, and supreme?”

24. The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Listen closely, listen closely! Consider it well. I will explain this for you.”

Kāśyapa said, “Very well, Gautama. I’d be glad to hear it.”

25. The Buddha said, “Kāśyapa, with samādhi of mind, a monk … attains the three insights, destroys the darkness of delusions, and produces the light of wisdom. This is called producing the knowledge that the contaminants have ended. Why is that? These things are a result of diligence, focused attention, not being forgetful, delighting in quiet seclusion, and not being self-indulgent. Kāśyapa, this is called an ascetic or priest whose precepts and views are complete, and who’s superior, higher, fine, and supreme.

Kāśyapa said, “Gautama, although you say this is an ascetic or priest whose views and precepts are complete and who’s higher, superior, fine, and supreme, it’s only being an ascetic or priest that’s exceedingly difficult. It’s exceedingly difficult! An ascetic is also hard to know, and a priest is also hard to know.”

26. The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “A layman can cultivate this teaching, too. Someone who says ‘From this day forward, I will part with clothing and go naked … and torment my body with these countless hardships’ can’t be called an ascetic or a priest on account of these practices. If they were called an ascetic or priest because of these practices, it couldn’t be said, ‘Being an ascetic is exceedingly difficult! Being a priest is exceedingly difficult!’ That isn’t possible to say on account of these practices of ascetics and priests, ‘Being an ascetic is exceedingly difficult! Being a priest is exceedingly difficult!’”

27. The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “There was once a time I was in Rājagṛha, staying at Saptaparṇa Cave near Mount Vaibhāra. There, I explained to that wanderer Nigrodha the pure ascetic practices. That wanderer rejoiced, attained pure faith, gave offerings to me, praised me, and gave his best offerings and praise to me.”

Kāśyapa said, “Gautama, who hasn’t Gautama made rejoice greatly, attain pure faith, make offerings, and praise him? Now, Gautama has made me rejoice, attain pure faith, make offerings, and praise him. I take refuge in Gautama.”

28. The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “Those precepts possessed by the world don’t possess or accompany the higher precepts, and the rest. How could they want to produce anything higher? They possess samādhi, wisdom, and liberation, and have seen the liberation of wisdom, but they don’t possess or accompany these higher samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and seeing the liberation of wisdom. How could they want to produce anything higher?

29. “Kāśyapa, the Tathāgata, Arhat, and Completely Awakened One is a lion. When he teachings Dharma in detail in a great assembly, he’s sovereign and fearless, so he’s called a lion.

30. “How is it, Kāśyapa? Would you say that Tathāgata isn’t courageous when he roars the lion’s roar? Don’t imagine this. The Tathāgata’s lion’s roar is courageous and fearless.

31. “Kāśyapa, would you say the Tathāgata’s courageous and fearless lion’s roar isn’t done in a large assembly? Don’t imagine this. The Tathāgata courageously roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly.

32. “Kāśyapa, would you say that the Tathāgata doesn’t teach the Dharma when he courageously roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly? Don’t imagine this. Why is that? The Tathāgata skillfully teaches the Dharma when he courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly.

33. “How is it, Kāśyapa? Would you say that the audience isn’t unified in mind when the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly and skillfully teaches the Dharma? Don’t imagine this. Why is that? When the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly and skillfully teaches the Dharma, the audience is unified in mind.

34. “How is it, Kāśyapa? Would you say that the audience doesn’t rejoice, believe, and accept it when the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly, skillfully teaches the Dharma, and those present listen with unified minds? Don’t imagine this. Why is that? When the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly, skillfully teaches the Dharma, and the audience that’s present listens with unified minds, they rejoice, believe, and accept it.

35. “Kāśyapa, would you say that the audience doesn’t make offerings when the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly, skillfully teaches the Dharma, and the audience rejoices, believes, and accepts it? Don’t imagine this. [Why is that?] When the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly, skillfully teaches the Dharma, and the audience rejoices, believes, and accepts it, they make offerings to him.

36. “Kāśyapa, would you say that the audience doesn’t shave their hair and beard, put on the three Dharma robes, leave home, and cultivate the path when the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly … and they believe, respect, and make offerings? Don’t imagine this. Why is that? When the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly … and they believe, respect, and make offerings, the audience shaves their hair and beard, put on the three Dharma robes, leave home, and cultivate the path.

37. “Kāśyapa, would you say that the audience doesn’t practice the ultimate religious practice and reach the peaceful abode, which is Nirvāṇa without remainder, when the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly … and they leave home and cultivate the path? Don’t imagine this. Why is that? When the Tathāgata courageously and fearlessly roars the lion’s roar in a large assembly … and they leave home and cultivate the path, the audience does practice the ultimate religious practice and reach a peaceful abode, which is Nirvāṇa without remainder.”

38. Kāśyapa then said to the Buddha, “How, Gautama, do I leave home and accept the full precepts in this teaching?”

The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “If someone from another training wishes to enter my teaching, leave home, and cultivate the path, they will wait and be observed for four months and receive the Saṅgha’s assent. Afterward, they can leave home and accept the precepts. Kāśyapa, this is simply because, while there is this teaching, we also observe the person.”

39. Kāśyapa said, “If someone from another training wishes to enter the Buddha’s teaching and cultivate the religious life, they will wait to be observed for four months to assess their many ideas. Afterward, they can leave home and receive the Saṅgha’s assent. Now, I would be willing to wait for four years of observation to enter the Buddha’s teaching to receive the Saṅgha’s assent. Afterward, I’ll leave home and accept the precepts.”

The Buddha told Kāśyapa, “I would give you my assent, but it’s simply that we observe the person [first].”

40. Kāśyapa then left home and accepted the full precepts in the Buddha’s teaching. It wasn’t long after Kāśyapa had accepted the precepts that he was cultivating the unsurpassed religious practice with pure faith. In the present life, he himself realized: “My births have been ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I won’t be subject to a later existence.” He had become an arhat.

41. When Kāśyapa heard what the Buddha taught, he rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. The direct parallel for this sutra is DN 8. [back]
  2. Karṇakāṣṭha … [Ujuññā]. Ch. 金槃 (kɪəm-buan) … 委若 (ɪuĕ-niak). While the Skt. attestation for P. Kaṇṇakathala is known, the equivalent of P. Ujuññā eludes me. The Chinese transliterations do seem to match these place names, but in another Indic language. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 21 May 2021