Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

56. Meghiya

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha traveled to Magadha and stayed at a cave in the dense mango forest near the village of Jantu.[2]

2. Venerable Meghiya[3] was serving as his attendant at the time. After the night had passed and the sun rose, Venerable Meghiya put on his robe, took his bowl into Jantu, and walked about soliciting alms. When he was finished soliciting alms, he went to the side of the *Kimba River[4]. There, he saw the level plain of a famously beautiful mango grove. The water of the river was sublime and delightful. It was both warm and cool and flowed slowly and serenely from a clear spring. When he saw this, he rejoiced and thought, “This level plain is a famously beautiful mango grove. The water of the river is sublime and delightful. It’s both warm and cool and flows slowly and serenely from a clear spring. If a clansman wanted to work towards ending the afflictions[5], he could do it here. I have some to end myself. Shouldn’t I work towards ending them here in this peaceful place?”

3. When he finished his meal that afternoon, Meghiya picked up his robe and bowl and washed his hands and feet. He put his sitting mat over his shoulder and went back to the Buddha. He then bowed his head at the Buddha’s feet, withdrew to stand to one side, and said, “Bhagavān, this morning, I put on my robe, took my bowl into Jantu, and walked about soliciting alms. When I was finished soliciting alms, I went to the side of the Kimba River. There, I saw the level plain of a famously beautiful mango grove. The water of the river was sublime and delightful. It was both warm and cool and flowed slowly and serenely from a clear spring. When I saw this, I rejoiced and thought, ‘This level plain is a famously beautiful mango grove. The water of the river is sublime and delightful. It’s both warm and cool and flows slowly and serenely from a clear spring. If a clansman wanted to work towards ending the afflictions, he could do it here. I have some to end myself. Shouldn’t I work towards ending them here in this peaceful place?’ Bhagavān, I’d like to go now to a quiet place in that mango grove and work towards ending my afflictions.”

4. The Bhagavān then said, “Now, Meghiya, don’t you realize? I’m alone here. There aren’t any people, and I would have no attendant. You can stay there a little while, but a monk needs to come to be my attendant. Then, you can go train at a peaceful place in that mango grove.”

5. Venerable Meghiya repeated himself three times: “… Bhagavān, I’d like to go now to a quiet place in that mango grove and work towards ending my afflictions.”

6. The Bhagavān also repeated himself three times: “Now, Meghiya, don’t you realize? I’m alone here. There aren’t any people, and I would have no attendant. You can stay there a little while, but a monk needs to come to be my attendant. Then, you can then go train at a peaceful place in that mango grove.”

7. Meghiya again said, “The Bhagavān has nothing to do, no task, and nothing to contemplate. Bhagavān, I have more to do, a task, and something to contemplate. Bhagavān, I’m going to a peaceful place in that mango grove to work towards ending my afflictions.”[6]

8. The Bhagavān told him, “Meghiya, if you want to pursue the end to your afflictions, what can I say? Meghiya, go ahead and do as you like.”

9. Venerable Meghiya then had well accepted, well remembered, and well recited what the Buddha had taught. He bowed at the Buddha’s feet, circled him three times, and departed for the mango grove. Having entered the mango grove, he went to a tree, spread his sitting mat out under it, and sat cross-legged.

10. While Venerable Meghiya was staying in that mango grove, he had three kinds of bad and unskillful thoughts occur to him: desirous thoughts, angry thoughts, and harmful thoughts. He remembered the Bhagavān when this happened. That afternoon, he rose from his seat of repose and returned to the Buddha. He bowed his head at his feet, withdrew to stand at one side, and said, “Bhagavān, I went to the mango grove and sat in a peaceful place, but then three kinds of bad and unskillful thoughts occurred to me: desirous thoughts, angry thoughts, and harmful thoughts. I remembered the Bhagavān when that happened.”

11. The Bhagavān told him, “Meghiya, your mind’s liberation isn’t mature yet. Someone who wants to cause its maturation has five ways of cultivating that. What are the five? Meghiya, a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends. Meghiya, this is the first way of cultivating the mind’s liberation when it isn’t mature yet and one wants to cause its maturation.

12. “Furthermore, a monk cultivates the precepts and protects the Pratimokṣa.[7] His behavior and manners are also well composed. Seeing a tiny misdeed, he’s constantly anxious about maintaining his training and precepts. Meghiya, this is the second way of cultivating the mind’s liberation when it isn’t mature yet and one wants to cause its maturation.

13. “Furthermore, Meghiya, a monk can be taught about the noble aim, which make his mind gentle and cause it to lack hindrances. That is, he’s taught the precepts, taught samādhi, and taught wisdom. He’s taught liberation, taught to know and see liberation, and taught effacement. He’s taught to not enjoy company, taught to desire little, and taught satisfaction. He’s taught to end afflictions, taught the lack of desire, and taught cessation. He’s taught to sit in repose and taught dependent origination. He obtains such teachings that are appropriate for an ascetic fully, easily, and not with difficulty. Meghiya, this is the third way of cultivating the mind’s liberation when it isn’t mature yet and one wants to cause its maturation.

14. “Furthermore, Meghiya, a monk always practices diligently to end bad and unskillful things and cultivate good things. He continuously motivates himself to be focused and stable, and he doesn’t abandon the methods for making roots of goodness. Meghiya, this is the fourth way of cultivating the mind’s liberation when it isn’t mature yet and one wants to cause its maturation.

15. “Furthermore, Meghiya, a monk cultivates wisdom and observes the law of arising and passing away. Attaining such knowledge, which is a noble and wise insight, he discerns and clearly understands the correct way to end suffering. Meghiya, this is the fifth way of cultivating the mind’s liberation when it isn’t mature yet and one wants to cause its maturation.

16. “Once he possesses these five ways of cultivation, he cultivates another four things. What are the four? He contemplates the foul discharges to end desire. He cultivates kindness to end anger. He’s mindful of breathing in and out to end confused thoughts. He cultivates the notion of impermanence to end self-pride.

17. “Meghiya, if a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends, you should know that he’ll surely cultivate the precepts and protect the Pratimokṣa. His behavior and manners will also be well-composed. Seeing a tiny misdeed, he’ll be constantly anxious about maintaining his training and precepts.

18. “Meghiya, if a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends, you should know that he’ll surely be taught about the noble aim, which will make his mind gentle and cause it to lack hindrances. That is, he’ll be taught the precepts, taught samādhi, and taught wisdom. He’ll be taught liberation, taught to know and see liberation, and taught effacement. He’ll be taught to not enjoy company, taught to desire little, and taught satisfaction. He’ll be taught to end afflictions, taught the lack of desire, and taught cessation. He’ll be taught to sit in repose and taught dependent origination. He’ll obtain such teachings that are appropriate for an ascetic fully, easily, and not with difficulty.

19. “Meghiya, if a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends, you should know that he’ll surely practice diligently to end bad and unskillful things and cultivate good things. He’ll continuously motivate himself to be focused and stable, and he won’t abandon the methods for making roots of goodness.

20. “Meghiya, if a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends, you should know that he’ll surely cultivate wisdom and observe the law of arising and passing away. Attaining such knowledge, which is a noble and wise insight, he discerns and clearly understands the correct way to end suffering.

21. “Meghiya, if a monk is himself a good friend, accompanied by good friends, and united with good friends, you should know that he’ll surely contemplate the foul discharges to end desire. He’ll cultivate kindness to end anger. He’ll be mindful of breathing in and out to end confused thoughts. He’ll cultivate the notion of impermanence to end self-pride.

22. “Meghiya, if a monk gets the notion of impermanence, he’ll surely get the notion of no self. Meghiya, if a monk gets the notion of no self, then he’ll end all self-pride and attain stillness, cessation, the unconditioned, and Nirvāṇa in the present life.”

23. The Buddha thus spoke. When Venerable Meghiya and the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


Notes

  1. This sūtra is a parallel to AN 9.3 and Ud 4.1. [back]
  2. Jantu. C. 闍鬪村 (EMC. ʒɪă-təu = *Jatu). P/S. Jantu is properly G. Jaṃtu but attested in fragments as G. Jadu, Jatuṇa, and Jaduṇa. This may be a case of consonants being transposed in G. sources (Brough, 50), and the ending syllable being silent. I’ve adopted the S. equivalent. [back]
  3. Meghiya. C. 彌醯 (EMC. miĕhei = *Mehi), P. Meghiya, G. Mekhiya. In G., gh frequently becomes kh, but the consonants g/k are often weakened to fricatives or go silent. The result is that -k- can become -y- (Brough, 86), and -kh- can become -h- (Brough, 93). This scenario matches the C. transliteration (*Mehi[ya]), so I’ve adopted the S. equivalent. For a summary of Meghiya’s background, see the Buddhist Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. [back]
  4. Kimba River. C. 金鞞河 (EMC. *Kiṃba River), P. kimikāḷāya nadiyā, G. ?. There’s no attestation for G. Kiṃba in G. sources yet, but S. Kimba is a kind of tree. I’ve adopted this as an educated guess. [back]
  5. work toward ending the afflictions. C. 學斷, P. padhāna, G. prahana *vinedi. Lit. “train in abandoning.” What Meghiya wants to abandon is left unsaid, but the likely candidates are things like suffering or affliction. The P. parallel, as is often the case, has “exertion” (P. padhāna) instead of “abandoning” (G. prahana). [back]
  6. In AN 9.3, Meghiya repeats this objection three times, rather than his initial request, which makes him appear more impolite than this version. [back]
  7. Pratimokṣa. C. 從解脱, P. pātimokkha. The Chinese translator has rendered Pratimokṣa as “conform to (從 = prati-) liberation (解脱 = -mokṣa).” I’ve converted the translation back to Sanskrit for clarity. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 28 November 2022