Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

42. What Purpose

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

2. It was then that Venerable Ānanda rose from his seat of repose in the afternoon and went to Buddha. He bowed his head at the Buddha’s feet and withdrew to sit at one side. He asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of observing precepts?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, observing precepts has the purpose of causing no regrets. Ānanda, if someone were to observe the precepts, he would readily attain not having regrets.”

3. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of not having regrets?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, not having regrets has the purpose of causing gladness. Ānanda, if someone were to have no regrets, he would readily attain gladness.”

4. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of gladness?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, gladness has the purpose of causing joy. Ānanda, if someone were to have gladness, he would readily attain joy.”

5. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of joy?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, joy has the purpose of causing calm. Ānanda, if someone were to have joy, he would readily attain a calm body.”

6. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of calm?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, calm has the purpose of causing happiness. Ānanda, if someone were to be calm, he would readily attain the feeling of happiness.”

7. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of happiness?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, happiness has the purpose of causing concentration. Ānanda, if someone were to have happiness, he would readily attain a concentrated state of mind.”

8. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of concentration?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, concentration has the purpose of causing seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is. Ānanda, if someone were to have [485b] concentration, he would readily attain seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is.”

9. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is has the purpose of causing disenchantment. Ānanda, if someone sees as it really is and knows as it truly is, he would readily attain disenchantment.”

10. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of disenchantment?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, disenchantment has the purpose of causing lack of desire. Ānanda, if someone were to have disenchantment, he would readily attain lack of desire.”

11. Again, he asked, “Bhagavān, what is the purpose of lack of desire?”

The Bhagavān replied, “Ānanda, lack of desire has the purpose of causing liberation. Ānanda, if someone were to have lack of desire, he would readily attain liberation from all lust, hatred, and delusion.

12. “Therefore, Ānanda, one readily attains having no regrets because of observing precepts. One readily attains gladness because of having no regrets. One readily attains joy because of gladness. One readily attains calm because of joy. One readily attains happiness because of calm. One readily attains concentration because of happiness.

13. “Ānanda, the well-versed disciple readily attains seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is because of concentration. He readily attains disenchantment because of seeing as it really is and knowing as it truly is. He readily attains lack of desire because of disenchantment. He readily attains liberation because of lack of desire. Because of liberation, he readily knows he is liberated: ‘Birth has ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished.’ He’s no longer subject to existence and knows it as it really is.

14. “Ānanda, these are the mutual advantages from one thing to another and the mutual causes from one thing to another. Thus, this observance of precepts leads to what’s supreme, which is to cross from this shore over to the other shore.”

15. The Buddha spoke thus. The Venerable Ānanda and the monks who heard what the Buddha had taught rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. Parallels include AN 11.1. [Back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 14 September 2020