Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

Chapter 7: King Dīrghāyu

82. Crickets

1. Thus have I heard: One time, the Buddha traveled to the city of Rājagṛha and stayed at [Kalandaka] Park in Veḷuvana Grove.

2. It was then that a group of many monks had gathered in the meeting hall after the midday meal. They wanted to settle an argument about this teaching and discipline that was taught by the Buddha. At the time, the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] was present in the assembly. When that monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] discussed this teaching and discipline that was taught by the Buddha, he wrangled with the others around him, and what he had to say didn’t help the monks teaching Dharma to bring an end to it. Nor did he ask questions of the senior and elder monks with respect or good observation.

3. Just then, Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila was also present in the assembly. Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila then addressed the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra], “Good man, you should know that when a group of monks is discussing this teaching and discipline taught by the Buddha, you ought not to interrupt to wrangle with what they say. When the monks are finished with what they are saying, then afterward you can speak. You should ask questions of the senior and elder monks with respect and good observation. Don’t ask questions of the senior and elder monks that are disrespectful or not good observations.”

4. It was then that the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra]’s friends were present in the assembly. Those friends of the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] then said to Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila, “Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila, don’t rebuke the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra]. Why is that? The monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] is virtuous and well-versed. He might appear to be indolent, but don’t be arrogant. Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila, this monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] can assist the monks when the time is right.”

5. Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila then said to the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra]’s friends, “Good men, those who don’t know the minds of others can’t speak falsely when they praise or don’t praise them. Why is that? Perhaps there’s a person who is conscientious, modest, affectionate, and respectful when he’s in the presence of the Bhagavān or the senior and elder practitioners of the religious life. He’s then well-guarded and well-protected. Suppose later he’s not in the presence of the Bhagavān or the senior and elder practitioners of the religious life with whom he’s conscientious, modest, affectionate, and respectful. He often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

6. “Good men, he’s like a cow that goes into someone else’s field, and the person guarding the field stops him. Maybe he ties it up, or perhaps he puts it in a pen. Good men, if someone says that this cow will no longer go into the other’s field, would they be right to say that?”

They answered, “No. Why is that? If that cow is tethered with a rope, it might break or be untied. If it’s confined by a fence, it might break through or jump over it. It’ll again go into the other’s field as before, without any difference.”

7. “Good men, perhaps there’s a person who is conscientious, modest, affectionate, and respectful when he’s in the presence of the Bhagavān or the senior and elder practitioners of the religious life. He’s then well-guarded and well-protected. Suppose later he’s not in the presence of the Bhagavān or practitioners of the religious life with whom he’s conscientious, modest, affectionate, and respectful. He often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. Good men, this is called being a single person.

8. “Furthermore, good men, perhaps there’s a person who attains the first meditation. After he attains the first meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

9. “Good men, it’s like when there’s a rainstorm. The lakes and ponds between villages fill up with water. Where once sand, stones, weeds, trees, crustaceans, fish, turtles, frogs, and other water creatures were seen when people coming and going walk or stand nearby, none are seen after they are filled with water.

10. “Good men, if someone were to say that the sand, stones, weeds, trees, crustaceans, fish, turtles, frogs, and other water creatures in those lakes and ponds will never be seen again when people coming and going walk or stand nearby, would they be right to say that?”

They answered, “No. Why is that? The water in those lakes and ponds will recede afterward because elephants, horses, camels, cattle, donkeys, pigs, deer, or water buffalo will drink it. It may be people will take it, or the wind and sun will dry it up. Where before sand, stones, weeds, trees, crustaceans, fish, turtles, frogs, and other water creatures were seen when people coming and going walk or stand nearby, they will be seen again after the water recedes.”

11. “So it is, good men. Perhaps there’s a person who attains the first meditation. After he attains the first meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. Good men, this is called another person.

12. “Furthermore, good men, perhaps there’s a person who attains the second meditation. After he attains the second meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

13. “Good men, it’s like when there’s a rainstorm and the dirt in the crossroads turns to mud. Good men, if someone were to say that the mud in the crossroads will never dry up and turn back to dirt, would they be right to say that?”

They answered, “No. Why is that? The crossroads will be walked upon by elephants, horses, camels, cattle, donkeys, pigs, deer, water buffalo, and people. The wind will blow on it, and the sun will bake it. After the mud in the crossroads has dried up, it will turn back into dirt.”

14. “So it is, good men. Perhaps there’s a person who attains the second meditation. After he attains the second meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. Good men, this is called another person.

15. “Furthermore, good men, perhaps there’s a person who attains the third meditation. After he attains the third meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

16. “Good men, it’s like the water in the pool of a mountain spring that’s clear, pure, and has level banks. Being still and undisturbed, it has no waves or ripples. Good men, suppose someone were to say the water in the pool of that mountain spring will never again move or have any waves. Would they be right to say that?”

The friends answered, “No. Why is that? A strong wind might come from the east and blow on the surface of that pool, disturb it, and create waves. Thus, a strong wind might come from the south, west, or north and blow on the surface of that pool, disturb it, and create waves.”

17. “So it is, good men. Perhaps there’s a person who attains the third meditation. After he attains the third meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. Good men, this is called another person.

18. “Furthermore, good men, perhaps there’s a person who attains the fourth meditation. After he attains the fourth meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

19. “Good men, it’s like a householder or a householder’s son who eats a fine meal that fills him up and satisfies him. Where before he wanted to eat, now he no longer desires it. Good men, suppose someone were to say that that householder or householder’s son will never want another meal. Would they be right to say that?”

They answered, “No. Why is that? After a night has passed, that householder or householder’s son will go back to wanting a meal even if he had no use for food before.”

20. “So it is, good men. Perhaps there’s a person who attains the fourth meditation. After he attains the fourth meditation, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. Good men, this is called another person.

21. “Furthermore, good men, perhaps there’s a person who obtains the concentration without conceptual thought. After he attains the concentration without conceptual thought, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path.

22. “Good men, it’s like an undisturbed place where the chirping of crickets is heard. Perhaps a king’s or a royal minister’s stay overnight at that undisturbed place. The sound of elephants, horses, carts, footsteps, conches, drums, slim-waisted drums, dancing girl drums, music, singing, lutes, and feasting causes the chirping crickets to no longer be heard. Good man, suppose someone were to say that the chirping crickets will never be heard again at that undisturbed place. Would they be right to say that?”

The friends answered, “No. Why is that? After a night has passed and the sun rises, that king or royal minister will return home. The sounds of elephants, horses, carts, footsteps, conches, drums, slim-waisted drums, dancing girl drums, music, singing, lutes, and feasting that caused the chirping crickets to no longer be heard will be gone after that. Then the crickets will be heard as they were before.”

23. “So it is, good men. Perhaps someone attains the concentration without conceptual thought. After he attains the concentration without conceptual thought, then he abides calmly and no longer seeks to obtain desires that he has yet to obtain, to seize desires he hasn’t seized, or to consummate desires he hasn’t consummated. After that, he often meets with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways. After he has often met with white-robed people who joke with each other, are arrogant, and clamor in various ways, his mind readily becomes desirous. After his mind becomes desirous, then his body and mind become obsessed. After his body and mind become obsessed, then he discards the precepts and takes a break from the path. This is called another person.”

24. Soon after that, the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] abandoned the precepts and took a break from the path. After he abandoned the precepts and took a break from the path, those friends of that monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] went to Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila. When they arrived, they said, “Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila, you knew the mind of the monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] and caused these other matters to be known. Why is that? The monk Citra [Hastisāriputra] now has abandoned the precepts and taken a break from the path.”

25. Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila told his friends, “Good men, these matters should indeed be so. Why is that? It was because he didn’t know as it truly was and didn’t see as it truly was.”

26. Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila spoke thus. Those monks who heard what Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila taught rejoiced and approved.


Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 14 September 2020