Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

Chapter 7: King Dīrghāyu

80. The Rough Cloth

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

Making Robes for Aniruddha

2. It was then that Venerable Aniruddha was also in the country of Śrāvastī staying on [552a] Salaḷa Peak.[2] After the night passed and the sun rose, Venerable Aniruddha put on his robe and took his bowl into Śrāvastī to solicit alms. Venerable Ānanda also put on his robe and took his bowl into Śrāvastī after the night passed and the sun rose.

3. Venerable Aniruddha saw Venerable Ānanda going to solicit alms. Seeing him, he said, “Good man, Ānanda, you should know that my three robes are in tatters. Good man, would it be possible for the monks to make robes for me?” Venerable Ānanda silently accepted that request from Venerable Aniruddha.

4. After he had solicited alms, Venerable Ānanda finished his meal and after noontime gathered up his robe and bowl. He washed his hands and feet, put his sitting mat over his shoulder, and went from room to room with the door key in hand. When he saw the monks, he said, “Venerables, go now to Salaḷa Peak to make robes for Venerable Aniruddha.”

The monks then heard what Venerable Ānanda said and went to Salaḷa Peak to make robes for Venerable Aniruddha.

5. The Bhagavān saw Venerable Ānanda carrying the door key in hand and going from room to room. Seeing him, he asked, “Ānanda, what are doing carrying the door key in hand and going from room to room?”

Venerable Ānanda said, “Bhagavān, I’m sending monks to go make robes for Venerable Aniruddha.”

6. The Bhagavān told him, “Ānanda, why didn’t you ask the Tathāgata to make robes for the monk Aniruddha?”

Venerable Ānanda then saluted the Buddha with his palms together and said, “May it please the Bhagavān to go to Salaḷa Peak and make robes for Venerable Aniruddha.” The Bhagavān silently accepted this from Venerable Ānanda.

7. The Bhagavān then led Venerable Ānanda to Salaḷa Peak, went before the assembled monks, and then prepared a seat and sat down. At that point, there were 800 monks sitting together with the Bhagavān on Salaḷa Peak to make robes for Venerable Aniruddha.

8. Just then, Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana was in that group, and the Bhagavān addressed him, “Maudgalyāyana, I can spread out Aniruddha’s robes to cut. You cut the pieces, put them together, and sow them.”

9. Venerable Great Mahāmaudgalyāyana rose from his seat, adjusted his robe to bare his shoulder, and saluted the Buddha with his palms together. He said, “May it please the Bhagavān that he spread out the good man Aniruddha’s robes to cut, and the monks will together cut the pieces, put them together, and sow them.”

10. [552b] The Bhagavān then spread out Venerable Aniruddha’s robes to cut, and the monks together cut the pieces, put them together, and sowed them. They finished making the three robes for Aniruddha that day.

Aniruddha Teaches the Principle of the Rough Cloth

11. It was then that the Bhagavān knew Venerable Aniruddha’s three robes had been made, so he told him, “Aniruddha, you ought to teach the principle of the rough cloth for the monks. My back hurts right now, so I’d like a little rest.” Venerable Aniruddha said, “Very well, Bhagavān!”

12. The Bhagavān then folded his upper garment four times and spread it out as a bed, and he made a pillow out of his outer robe. He laid down on his right side with his feet together and formed the perception of light. Establishing right mindfulness and right knowledge, he continuously produced the idea of rising.

Going Forth

13. Venerable Aniruddha then addressed the monks, “Good men, before I had left home to train on the path, I had grown tired of birth, old age, illness, and death, lamentation and heartache, and sorrow and grief. I wanted to put an end to this great mass of suffering.

14. “Good men, once I was tired of that, I contemplated, ‘A home becomes cramped, a place of dust and toil; leaving home and training on the path reveals a clear expanse. Now, I’m confined at home, and I’m confining. I’m not able to fully live and cultivate the religious life. Wouldn’t it be better to discard this small or large amount of wealth and these few or many friends and family? I’ll shave my beard and hair, put on the reddish-brown robes, become faithful, leave home, go homeless, and train on the path.’

15. “Good men, afterwards, I discarded my small or large amount of wealth and few or many friends and family. I shaved my beard and hair, put on the reddish-brown robes, became faithful, left home, went homeless, and trained on the path. Good men, after leaving home to train on the path and discarding my family, I accepted the monk’s training, cultivated the precepts, and guarded myself from [acting] freely. Moreover, I well attended to my comportment and the rules of propriety. Seeing the smallest misdeeds and constantly fearing them, I upheld the training and precepts.

The 20 Renunciations

16. “Good men, I parted with killing, stopped killing, and discarded blades and bludgeons. With conscience and modesty and with kindness and compassion, I was beneficial to all living things, even insects and worms. I purified my mind and rid it of killing living things.

17. “Good men, I parted with taking what’s not given, stopped taking what’s not given, and took after something was given. I was happy with taking what was given and always liked generosity. Rejoicing in having no stinginess, I didn’t expect any reward. I purified my mind and rid it of taking what’s not given.

18. “Good men, I parted with what’s not the religious life, stopped what’s not the religious life, and diligently cultivated the religious life. Diligent was my wondrous conduct. I was pure and undefiled, parted with desire and stopped lust. I purified my mind and rid it of what’s not the religious life.

19. “Good men, I parted with false speech, stopped false speech, and spoke truly. I enjoyed truth, abided in truth, and didn’t budge from it. I was believed by all and [552c] didn’t deceive the world. I purified my mind and rid it of false speech.

20. “Good men, I parted with duplicity, stopped duplicity, and practiced what’s not duplicitous. I didn’t divide others. I didn’t hear something here and tell it there with the desire to divide those here. I didn’t hear something there and tell it here with the desire to divide those there. I wanted to bring the estranged together, and I rejoiced for those who were united. I didn’t act partisan, didn’t enjoy partisanship, and didn’t commend partisanship. I purified my mind and rid it of duplicity.

21. “Good men, I parted with coarse speech and stopped coarse speech. If something said was in expression or feeling coarse and mean, bad sounding and disagreeable to the ear, that displeased many and wasn’t loved by many, that caused others to suffer, or that made concentration impossible, I stopped such words. If some expression was clear, peaceful, and flexible, that agreed with the ear and entered the mind, that was pleasing and lovely, that caused the well-being of others, that used words and sounds that were completely understandable, that didn’t cause people to be frightened, and that allowed others to concentrate, then I spoke such words. I purified my mind and rid it of coarse speech.

22. “Good men, I parted with fancy speech and stopped fancy speech. [I spoke] timely speech, true speech, Dharma speech, purposeful speech, and calming speech. I enjoyed calming speech, performed tasks in a timely way as was appropriate, and I well taught and well admonished [others]. I purified my mind and rid it of fancy speech.

23. “Good men, I parted with making a living, stopped making a live, and discarded measurements and weights. I didn’t accept money and didn’t fetter people. I didn’t hope to bend weights and measures in order to cheat people for a small profit. I purified my mind and rid it of making a living.

24. “Good men, I parted with accepting widowed women and girls and stopped accepting widowed women and girls. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting widowed women and girls.

25. “Good men, I parted with accepting servants and stopped accepting servants. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting servants.

26. “Good men, I parted with accepting elephants, horses, cattle, and sheep and stopped accepting elephants, horses, cattle, and sheep. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting elephants, horses, cattle, and sheep.

27. “Good men, I parted with accepting chickens and pigs and stopped accepting chickens and pigs. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting chickens and pigs.

28. “Good men, I parted with accepting farm work and selling goods at markets and stopped accepting farm work and selling goods at markets. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting farm work and selling goods at markets.

29. “Good men, I parted with accepting and growing rice, barley, and beans and stopped accepting and growing rice, barley, and beans. I purified my mind and rid it of accepting and growing rice, barley, and beans.

30. “Good men, I parted with wine and stopped drinking wine. I purified my mind and rid it of drinking wine.

31. “Good men, I parted with high, wide, and large beds and stopped using high, wide, and large beds. I purified my mind and rid it of using high, wide, and large beds.

32. “Good men, I parted with flower garlands, jewelry, perfume, and cosmetics and stopped using flower garlands, jewelry, perfume, and cosmetics. I purified my mind and rid it of using flower garlands, jewelry, perfume, and cosmetics.

33. [553a] “Good men, I parted with singing, dancing, and going to watch and listen to them and stopped singing, dancing, and going to watch and listen to them. I purified my mind and rid it of singing, dancing, and going to watch and listen to them.

34. “Good men, I parted with being born with valuable physical forms and stopped being born with valuable physical forms. I purified my mind and rid it of being born with valuable physical forms.[3]

35. “Good men, I parted with eating after midday and stopped eating after midday. I ate one meal and not at night but during the training time. I purified my mind and rid it of eating after midday.

The Stages of Training

36. “Good men, after I had accomplished this group of noble precepts, I again had to learn to be quite satisfied, taking clothing to cover my form and food to fill my body. Wherever I went, I had my robes and bowl, traveling without a care like a hawk flying through the sky with a pair of wings. Good men, I was likewise. Wherever I went, I had my robes and bowl, traveling without a care.

37. “Good men, after I had accomplished this group of noble precepts and was quite satisfied, I again had to learn to guard my faculties. I accomplished being constantly mindful and closed off, mindfully wanting clear understanding, and guarding that mindful state of mind. I continuously produced right knowing.

38. “If my eye saw forms, I still didn’t accept the signs and didn’t partake of the forms. That is, because of resentment and arguing, I guarded the eye faculty, and longing, grief, and bad and unwholesome things didn’t arise in my mind. Because it leads to them, I guarded the eye faculty. So it was with the ear, nose, tongue, and body. If the mind knew things, I still didn’t accept the signs and didn’t partake of those things. That is, because of resentment and arguing, I guarded the mind faculty, and longing, grief, and bad and unwholesome things didn’t arise in my mind. Because it leads to them, I guarded the mind faculty.

39. “Good men, after I had accomplished this group of noble precepts, was quite satisfied, and had guarded my faculties, I again had to learn correct knowing of exiting and entering. Well observing and discerning while bending and stretching or rising and sitting down, my comportment and expression were serene. I wore my outer and inner robes and held my bowl well. While walking, standing, sitting, and lying, sleeping and waking, and speaking and remaining silent, I correctly knew them.

40. “Good men, after I had accomplished this group of noble precepts, was quite satisfied, guarded my faculties, and correctly knew exiting and entering, I again had to learn to live alone in seclusion in a peaceful place. It might have been under a tree, in an empty and peaceful dwelling, or in a mountain cave. Sometimes it was on bare ground or a pile of straw. Perhaps I’d go to a forest, or maybe I’d stay in a cemetery.

41. “Good men, after I was staying in a peaceful place, perhaps under a tree or in an empty and peaceful dwelling, I spread out my sitting mat and sat down crossed-legged. With correct posture and correct intent, I avoided what was contrary to mindfulness and put a stop to longing. Without any arguing, I saw another’s property and requirements for living without longing or wanting them for myself. I wished to make myself attain that, so I purified my mind and rid it of longing. So it was [553b] with hatred, drowsiness, regret, and doubt. It not having any resemblance to good qualities, I purified my mind and rid it of doubt.

42. “Good men, after I had stopped these five hindrances and mental defilements that weaken wisdom, I parted with desire and parted with bad and unwholesome things … attained the accomplishment of the fourth meditation.

43. “Good men, after I had attained a concentrated mind in this way, I was pure, undefiled, untroubled, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and learned to realize the supernormal abilities and penetrating knowledges.

44. “Good men, I attained measureless supernormal abilities. That is, I divided from one into many and combined from many into one. I was one abiding as one with knowledge and vision. I was not obstructed by stone walls as though I was walking through space. I could sink into the earth as though it were water and tread on water as though it were earth. Sitting cross-legged, I could rise into the sky like a bird flies. Here and now, I could touch with my hand the body of the sun and moon that possess great supernormal abilities, great majesty, great fortune, and great might. I could reach up to the Brahma Heaven.

45. “Good men, after I had attained thus the purity of a concentrated mind, I was without defilement or affliction, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and trained to realize the penetrating knowledge of the divine ear. Good men, with the divine ear I heard the voices of humans and non-humans near and far, sublime and not sublime.

46. “Good men, after I had attained thus the purity of a concentrated mind, I was without defilement or affliction, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and trained to realize the penetrating knowledge of other minds.

47. “Good men, I knew the minds of others as they truly were using the knowledge of other minds, such as the thoughts, intentions, purposes, and actions of other sentient beings. A mind with desire I knew to be a mind with desires as it truly was. A mind without desire I knew to be a mind without desire as it truly was. A mind with or without anger … with or without delusion … with or without defilement … unified … distracted … high … low … small … great … cultivated … uncultivated … concentrated … unconcentrated … not liberated I knew to be a mind that wasn’t liberated as it truly was. A liberated mind I knew to be a liberated mind as it truly was.

48. “Good men, after I had attained thus the purity of a concentrated mind, I was without defilement or affliction, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and trained to realize the penetrating knowledge of past lives.

49. “Good men, I remembered the actions and forms that have existed throughout the measureless past. That is, [I remembered] one birth, two births, a hundred births, a thousand births, an eon of formation, an eon of destruction, and measureless eons of formation and destruction. Those sentient beings were named so-and-so and had former experiences, such as ‘I had been born there in the past with such a surname, such given name, such birth, such food and drink, such experiences of pain and pleasure, such a length of life, such long abiding, and such an end to that life. Dying here, I was born there. Dying there, I was born here. I was born here with such a surname, such a given name, such birth, such food and drink, such experiences of pain and pleasure, [553c] such a length of life, such long abiding, and such an end to my life.’

50. “Good men, after I had attained thus the purity of a concentrated mind, I was without defilement or affliction, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and trained to realize the penetrating knowledge of birth-and-death.

51. “Good men, with the pure divine eye that goes beyond that of humans, I saw sentient beings here when they were dying and being born. With beautiful and ugly forms, marvelous and not marvelous, they were reborn in good places and places that were not good according to the deeds that those sentient beings had done. I saw them as they really were.

52. “If these sentient beings had accomplished bad physical actions and bad verbal and mental actions, had slandered noble people, had wrong views, and accomplished the deeds of wrong views, then those causes and conditions here would surely send them to bad places when their bodies broke up and their lives ended. They were born in hell.

53. “If these sentient beings accomplished marvelous physical actions and marvelous verbal and mental actions, didn’t slander noble people, had right views, and accomplished the deeds of right view, then those causes and conditions here would surely lead them to rise to good places when their bodies broke up and their lives ended. They were born up in the heavens.

54. “Good men, after I had attained thus the purity of a concentrated mind, I was without defilement or affliction, flexible, and well abiding. I attained an imperturbable mind and trained to realize the penetrating knowledge of the end of contaminants.

55. “Good men, I knew as it truly was, ‘This is suffering.’ I knew as they truly were, ‘This is the accumulation of suffering,’ ‘This is cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the path to the cessation of suffering.’ I knew ‘These are contaminants,’ ‘This is the accumulation of contaminants,’ ‘This is the cessation of contaminants,’ and ‘This is the path to the cessation of contaminants’ as they truly are.

56. “Thus knowing and thus seeing, my mind was liberated from the contaminants of desire and liberated from the contaminants of existence and ignorance. After I was liberated, I readily knew that I was liberated: ‘Birth has been ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished.’ I was no longer subject to existence and knew it as it really is.

Analogy of the Stairs

57. “Good men, suppose there’s a monk who violates the precepts, breaks the precepts, is lacking in precepts, pierces the precepts, defiles the precepts, and blackens the precepts. Wanting to base himself on the precepts and establish them, he considers the precepts to be stair steps, but there will never be a way for him to ascend to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple.

58. “Good men, it’s like going to a village not far away that has a lofty multi-story temple, and stairs are placed there that have 10 or 12 steps. Suppose someone comes wanting to go up to that temple. If he doesn’t climb the stairs by going up the first step, then there’s no way for him to climb to the second step. If he doesn’t climb up to the second step, then there’s no way for him to climb to the third and fourth steps or on up to the temple.

59. “Good men, so it is if there’s a monk who violates the precepts, breaks the precepts, is lacking in the precepts, pierces the precepts, defiles the precepts, and blackens the precepts. Wanting to base himself on the precepts and establish them, he considers the precepts to be stair steps, but there will never be a way for him to ascend to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple.

60. “Good men, suppose there’s a monk who doesn’t violate the precepts, doesn’t break the precepts, isn’t lacking in precepts, doesn’t pierce the precepts, doesn’t defile the precepts, and doesn’t blacken the precepts. Wanting to base himself on the precepts and establish them, he considers the precepts to be stair steps. He’ll surely have a way to ascend to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple.

61. “Good men, it’s like going to a village not far away that has a lofty multi-story temple, and stairs are placed there that have 10 or 12 steps. Suppose someone comes wanting to go up to that temple. If he climbs the stairs by going up to the first step, then he surely has a way to climb to the second step. If he climbs up to the second step, then there’s surely a way for him to climb to the third and fourth steps or on up to the temple.

62. “Good men, so it is if there’s a monk who doesn’t violate the precepts, doesn’t break the precepts, isn’t lacking in precepts, doesn’t pierce the precepts, doesn’t defile the precepts, and doesn’t blacken the precepts. [554a] Wanting to base himself on the precepts and establish them, he considers the precepts to be stair steps. He’ll surely have a way to ascend to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple.

63. “Good men, basing myself on the precepts and establishing them, I considered the precepts to be stair steps and ascended to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple. With a little skill, I observed a thousand worlds. Good men, I was like a person with eyes standing atop a high tower, and they look down at the ground with a little skill and see a thousand mounds of earth.

64. “Good men, I was likewise. Basing myself on the precepts and establishing them, I considered the precepts to be stair steps and ascended to the unsurpassed wisdom hall of the right Dharma temple. With a little skill, I readily observed a thousand worlds. Good men, suppose a king’s great elephant, whether he has seven treasures or less than eight, covers himself with palm leaves. I was similarly covered and hidden behind these six penetrating knowledges.

Doubts about Aniruddha’s Attainments

65. “Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the supernormal abilities and penetrating knowledges, they should question me, and I will answer them. Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the penetrating knowledge of the divine ear, they should question me, and I will answer them. Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the penetrating knowledge of other minds, they should question me, and I will answer them. Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the penetrating knowledge of past lives, they should question me, and I will answer them. Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the penetrating knowledge of birth-and-death, they should question me, and I will answer them. Good men, if anyone doubts that I’ve realized the penetrating knowledge of the end of the contaminants, they should question me, and I will answer them.

66. “Venerable Ānanda then said, “Venerable Aniruddha, now here on Salaḷa Peak 800 monks and the Bhagavān have gathered to make robes for Venerable Aniruddha. If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the supernormal abilities and penetrating knowledges, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them. If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the penetrating knowledge of the divine ear, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them. [554b] If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the penetrating knowledge of other minds, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them. If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the penetrating knowledge of past lives, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them. If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the penetrating knowledge of birth-and-death, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them. If anyone doubts that Venerable Aniruddha has realized the penetrating knowledge of the end of the contaminants, they should question him, and Venerable Aniruddha will answer them.

67. “Only we have been long familiar with Venerable Aniruddha’s mind, just as Venerable Aniruddha possesses great supernormal abilities, great majesty, great fortune, and great might.”

Conclusion

68. The Bhagavān then recovered from his ailment and became well again. He got up and sat crossed-legged. After sitting crossed-legged, the Bhagavān praised Venerable Aniruddha, “Good, Aniruddha, good! It’s outstanding, Aniruddha, how you’ve taught the principle of the rough cloth for the monks. Aniruddha, you’ve again taught the principle of the rough cloth for the monks. Aniruddha, many times have you taught the principle of the rough cloth for the monks.”

69. The Bhagavān then addressed the monks, “Monks, you all have received the principle of the rough cloth. Recite often the principle of the rough cloth, and well retain the principle of the rough cloth. What’s the reason for that? The principle of the rough cloth and the Dharma are associated. It’s the root of the religious life; it leads to penetration, to awakening, and to nirvāṇa. If a clansmen shaves his beard and hair, puts on the reddish-brown robes, becomes faithful, leaves home, goes homeless, and trains on the path, then he ought to bring to mind and accept the principle of the rough cloth and well accept and well retain the principle of the rough cloth. What’s the reason for that?

70. “I do not see a time in the past when monks made such robes like [they did for] the monk Aniruddha. I do not see future or present monks making such robes like [they did for] the monk Aniruddha. What’s the reason for that? Here on this Salaḷa Peak, 800 monks have gathered with the Bhagavān to make robes for the monk Aniruddha. Such a monk as Aniruddha possesses great supernormal abilities, great majesty, great fortune, and great might.”

71. The Buddha spoke thus. Venerable Aniruddha and [554c] the monks who heard what the Buddha taught rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. While this sutra doesn’t appear to have a direct Pali parallel, much of Aniruddha’s discourse (para. 16-55) parallels material found in Pali sources such as MN 27 and AN 4.198. [Back]
  2. Salaḷa Peak. This is an educated guess based on the Chinese transliteration. This location doesn’t appear to be known in other sources. Presumably, this was a height with a craggy peak with salaḷa trees on it not far from Śrāvastī. [Back]
  3. physical forms (色像). Throughout MĀ, this term is used to denote the physical shape and appearance of various beings, especially gods. Paired with the verb “to be born” (受生), it seems to mean birth as a being. [Back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 15 November 2020