Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Related Discourses

1. The Aggregates

150. Lowly

1. Thus have I heard:[1] One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “Worldly people of lowly occupations search in various ways for wealth and livelihood, and they obtain their fortunes. Worldly people all know this. According to what’s known by worldly people, I likewise speak. Why is that? I’m not set apart from worldly people.

3. “Monks, take for example a vessel that’s in a person’s dwelling, which is called a ghaṭī. Some call it a pātra, some call it a pipīla, some call it a jvāla, some call it a vasiṣṭha, some call it a vacana, and some call it a sarayu.[2] However they know it, I speak of it that way. Why is that? It doesn’t set me apart from worldly people.

4. “Thus, monks, there’s a mundane rule of the world that I myself know and realize and that I discern, explain, and demonstrate for people. Knowing and seeing it, I say that the world is blind, without eyes, and doesn’t know or see it. How am I like the world that’s blind, without eyes, and doesn’t know or see it?

5. “Monks, what is the mundane rule of the world that I myself know and realize … doesn’t know or see it? Form is impermanent, painful, and subject to change. This is the mundane rule of the world. Feeling … perception … volition … consciousness is impermanent, painful, and subject to change. This is the mundane rule of the world. Monks, this is called the mundane rule of the world that I myself know and see … for people who are blind, without eyes, and don’t know or see it. How am I like them?”

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

Notes

  1. This sutra is parallel with SA 1.149 and SN 22.94. [back]
  2. These Sanskrit names are all obscure transliteration in Chinese; however, Chinese glossaries do help us with making educated guesses even if they seem outlandish as names of vessels.
    Ghati was a water jar, apparently used for time-keeping because it became the name for clocks in India.
    Pipīla is the Skt. name of an ant, and a Chinese glossary (T2130.1032c16) claims the transliteration here means a flying insect.
    Jvāla: A Chinese glossary (T2130.987a12) says that this transliteration means “light.” Jvāla seems closest to the Chinese; however, rucā is another possibility if the Chinese characters are transposed.
    vasiṣṭha: T2130.987a13 says the Chinese here is equivalent to a more well-known transliteration for vasiṣṭha, which was the name of the great brahmin sage, and translates the term as “highest.”
    Vacana: T2130.987a14 offers an alternative transliteration and translates the term as “speech.”
    Sarayu: For this transliteration, the only clue that can be found is that the same transliteration is used in T1543.772b12 for the river Sarayu, but it only has the first two syllables (as early and middle Chinese transliterations often do). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 1 November 2020