Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Related Discourses

1. The Aggregates

146. Five Monks

1. Thus I have heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Ṛṣipatana in the Deer Preserve of Bārāṇasī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the other five monks, “Form doesn’t have self. If form had self, it wouldn’t be that illness and pain arise from form, and there wouldn’t be the desire about form: ‘Let it be so; let it not be so.’ It’s because form is without self that there’s illness and pain that arise from form, and it’s possible to desire of form: ‘Let it be so; let it not be so.’ Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise.

3. “Monks, what do you think? Is form permanent, or is it impermanent?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “Impermanent, Bhagavān.”

4. “Monks, if something is impermanent, is it painful?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “It’s painful, Bhagavān.”

5. “If it’s impermanent and painful, it’s liable to change. Would a well-versed noble disciple see in it a self, what’s other than self, or either of them present in the other?”

The monks said to the Buddha, “No, Bhagavān.”

6. “Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise. Therefore, monks, all forms that exist in the past, future, or present, whether they are internal or external, crude or fine, beautiful or ugly, and distant or near, they are not self and don’t belong to self when truly observed. Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise.

7. “Monks, well-versed noble disciples see that what’s in these five acquired aggregates is not self and doesn’t belong to self. Observing in this way, they grasp nothing in all the world. Because they grasp nothing, they attach to nothing. Because they attach to nothing, [8a] they realize nirvāṇa for themselves: ‘My births have been ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I myself know that I won’t be subject to a later existence.’”

8. After the Buddha spoke this sūtra, the contaminants didn’t arise in those five monks, and their minds were liberated.

9. After the Buddha spoke this sūtra, the monks who heard what the Buddha taught rejoiced and approved.

Notes

  1. This sūtra is the famous second sermon that the Buddha taught to his first five disciples according to the Mūlasarvâstivāda tradition. It’s parallel with SN 22.59 and T102. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 6 April 2021