Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 9: The Only Son

3. The Mind

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “I don’t see a single thing as quick as the mind. It cannot be grasped without using the method of the Dharma, and then the mind spins around quickly.[1] Therefore, monks, ordinary people are unable to observe their mind thinking.

3. “Therefore, monks, one should control their thinking to lead their mind to the good path. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

4. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. Three editions of the Chinese omit a portion of this paragraph that contains the fmaous metaphor of a monkey picking up and dropping things. This metaphor is found in the next sūtra, and if we were to accept the Taisho edition, both sūtras would be nearly identical. It makes a bit more sense if this sūtra lacks the metaphor and the next sūtra adds it. I’ve therefore followed the older reading in my translation. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 15 February 2023