Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 9: The Only Son

4. The Mind (2)

1. Thus I have heard:[1] 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. There’s no comparison for it. The mind drops one thing and picks up another when it isn’t focused and settled, just like a monkey. The mind is likewise when that previous and subsequent perceptions of its thoughts aren’t the same. Therefore, monks, ordinary people are unable to observe the origin of their mind’s 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 of it.


  1. The metaphor of the distracted mind and a monkey is also found in SN 12.61 and SĀ 3.7 (289). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 15 February 2023