Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 14: Five Precepts

4. Generosity

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 anything in this assembly like one thing that when cultivated and cultivated often brings the merits that are among humans, the merits up in Heaven, and attains the realization of Nirvāṇa. What is that one thing? It’s generosity.”

3. The Buddha told the monks, “If a person widely practices generosity, they’ll attain the forms and powers that are perfected by many virtues.[1] They’ll enjoy the food and merits that are up in Heaven and among humans, which are measureless …

4. “Therefore, monks, you should practice generosity and not be stingy. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

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


  1. they’ll attain the forms and powers that are perfected by many virtues. C. 得色,得力,衆得具足. I’ve adopted an alternate that changes the end of this sentence to 衆具足 (change bolded). Uncorrected, the Taisho reads: “their attainment of form, attainment of powers, and many attainments will be perfected.” Either way, this is a reference to being reborn as a wheel-turning king or a god like Śakra or Brahmā due to one’s past good deeds.
    It should be noted, too, that the conclusion at the end of this paragraph has been lost. This is the case for most (EĀ 14.4-6 and 8-10) of the sūtras in this chapter. It’s not possible to reconstruct these conclusions precisely, but they are statements about the consequences of doing the good or bad action in question (cf. EĀ 14.1-3 and 7). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 27 July 2023