Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

Chapter 1: Sevens

6. The Good Person’s Departure

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha traveled to the country of Śrāvastī and stayed at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “I will explain for you the seven places to which a good person goes and nirvāṇa without remainder. Listen closely, listen closely! Consider it well.”

The monks then accepted the teaching and listened.

1. Like Chaff that Burns and Goes Out

3. The Buddha said, “What are the seven? A monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness,[2] but he has yet to attain its realization.

4. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like setting fire to wheat chaff, which burns a little and then goes out. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa in the interim. This is called the first place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people.

2. Like a Spark that Flies Up and Goes Out

5. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, but he has yet to attain its realization.

6. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like striking an iron that’s glowing and flaming hot with a hammer, and a spark flies off and goes out after rising. [427b] You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa in the interim. This is called the second place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people.

3. Like a Spark that Goes Out as It Falls Back Down

7. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, but he has yet to attain its realization.

8. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like striking an iron that’s glowing and flaming hot with a hammer, and a spark flies off it. After rising, it comes back down but goes out before reaching the ground. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa in the interim. This is called the third place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people.

4. Like a Spark that Goes Out after Reaching the Ground

9. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, but he has yet to attain its realization.

10. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like striking an iron that’s blazing and flaming hot with a hammer, and a spark flies off, falls to the ground, and goes out. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa at birth. This is called the fourth place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people.

5. Like a Spark that Sets Fire to Some Grass and Goes Out

11. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, but he has yet to attain its realization.

12. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like striking an iron that’s glowing and flaming hot with a hammer, and a spark flies off it. It falls onto a little wood or grass that smokes or burns, and then it goes out after burning. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa with practice. This is called the fifth place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people.

6. Like a Spark that Completely Burns Up Some Grass

13. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, [427c] but he has yet to attain its realization.

14. “Where will a monk go who practices in this way? It’s like striking an iron that’s glowing and flaming hot with a hammer, and a spark flies off it. It falls onto much wood or grass that smokes or burns, and then goes out after burning it up completely. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa without practice. This is called the sixth place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people

7. Like a Spark that Burns Up a Large Area

15. “Furthermore, a monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, but he has yet to attain its realization.

16. “Where will a monk who practices thus go? It’s like striking an iron that’s both glowing and flaming with a hammer, and a spark flies off it. It falls onto much wood or grass that smokes or burns. Once it’s burning, it then sets fire to a town, a city, a forested mountain, or a wilderness. After it burns that town, city, forested mountain, or wilderness, it might reach a road, water line, or a plain and go out. You should know that monk to be likewise. With a little conceit that’s yet to end, he has cut the five lower bonds and will attain parinirvāṇa upstream in Akaniṣṭha. This is called the seventh place to which a good person goes. The world in truth does have such people

Nirvāṇa Without Remainder

17. “What is nirvāṇa without remainder? A monk’s practice ought to be thus: ‘I have no self, and nothing is mine. In the future, there’ll be no self, and nothing will be mine.’ He then ends what has been, and he attains equanimity after ending it. The pleasures he has don’t stain him, and he doesn’t cling to what has come together. Such a practitioner sees by the wisdom of unsurpassed stillness, and he has attained its realization.

18. “I say that monk doesn’t go east, and he doesn’t go west, south, north, the four counterpoints, up, or down. In the present life, he’s been stilled and completely liberated.

19. “I had said, ‘I will explain the seven places to which a good person goes and nirvāṇa without remainder,’ and so I have explained it.”

20. Thus did the Buddha speak. Those monks who heard what the Buddha taught rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. Parallels include AN 7.55. [Back]
  2. stillness. Lit. “stop making tracks” or “stand still.” [Back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 17 March 2021