Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Related Discourses

Alternate Translations

Taisho 102: The Five Aggregates Are Empty Sutra

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

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the five monks, “You should know that form is not self. If it were the self, form wouldn’t become ill and subject to suffering. ‘I wish for such form; I don’t wish for such form.’ It doesn’t thus yield to those desires. Therefore, you should know that form is not self. Feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness are likewise.

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

They said, “Virtuous sir, form is impermanent.”

4. The Buddha said, “Form being impermanent, it then is suffering, whether it’s the suffering of pain, the suffering of decay, or the suffering of action. Indeed, do my auditing and well-versed disciples hold that there’s a self? Is form the self? Does self exist as forms? Does form belong to self? Is self located in form?”

“Not so, Bhagavān.”

5. “You should know that feeling … perception … volition … consciousness that’s permanent and impermanent is likewise. All existent forms, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, crude or fine, superior or inferior, and far or near are all without self. You should know that should they are to be well contemplated with right knowledge. Thus, feeling … perception … volition … consciousnesses that exists, whether future, past, or present … should all be contemplated with right knowledge as before.

6. “Suppose my auditing assembly of noble disciples contemplate these five acquired aggregates and know that they have no self or anything belonging to self. After thus contemplating them, they will know the world has nothing that’s grasped, that grasps, or that’s unchanging. They simply realize Nirvāṇa from their self-awakening: ‘My births have been ended, the religious practice has been established, and the task has been accomplished. I am not subject to a later existence.’”

7. When he spoke this teaching, the minds of those five monks were liberated from the afflictions. They faithfully accepted it and approved.

Notes

  1. This sutra is an extract from Yijing’s translation in 710 CE of the Mūlasarvâstivāda Vinaya (T1451.407a26-b15) that also appears in the Taisho as an independent text. In that Vinaya account, it was the third sermon that the Buddha taught to his first five disciples. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 14 September 2020