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Bhikkhuni Sutta

The Nun

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only

I have heard that on one occasion Ven. 聲anda was staying in Kosambi, at Ghosita's Park. Then a certain nun said to a certain man, "Go, my good man, to my lord 聲anda and, on arrival, bowing your head to his feet in my name, tell him, 'The nun named such-and-such, venerable sir, is sick, in pain, severely ill. She bows her head to the feet of her lord 聲anda and says, "It would be good if my lord 聲anda were to go to the nuns' quarters, to visit this nun out of sympathy for her."'"

Responding, "Yes, my lady," the man then approached Ven. 聲anda and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. 聲anda, "The nun named such-and-such, venerable sir, is sick, in pain, severely ill. She bows her head to the feet of her lord 聲anda and says, 'It would be good if my lord 聲anda were to go to the nuns' quarters, to visit this nun out of sympathy for her.'"

Ven. 聲anda accepted with silence.

Then in the early morning, having put on his robes and, carrying his bowl and outer robe, he went to the nuns' quarters. The nun saw Ven. 聲anda coming from afar. On seeing him, she lay down on a bed, having covered her head.

Then Ven. 聲anda approached the nun and, on arrival, sat down on a prepared seat. As he was sitting there, he said to the nun: "This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.

"This body comes into being through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is to be abandoned. The Buddha calls sexual intercourse a cutting off of the bridge.

"'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food -- not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification -- but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.' Then, at a later time, he abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered and remains in the fermentation-free release of awareness and release of discernment, having known and realized them for himself in the here and now.' The thought occurs to him, 'I hope that I, too, will -- through the ending of the fermentations -- enter and remain in the fermentation-free release of awareness and release of discernment, having known and realized them for myself in the here and now.' Then, at a later time, he abandons craving, having relied on craving. 'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.

"'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered and remains in the fermentation-free release of awareness and release of discernment, having known and realized them for himself in the here and now.' The thought occurs to him, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered and remains in the fermentation-free release of awareness and release of discernment, having known and realized them for himself in the here and now. Then why not me?' Then, at a later time, he abandons conceit, having relied on conceit. 'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus it was said, and in reference to this was it said.

"This body comes into being through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is to be abandoned. The Buddha calls sexual intercourse a cutting off of the bridge."

Then the nun -- getting up from her bed, arranging her upper robe over one shoulder, and bowing down with her head at Ven. 聲andas feet -- said, "A transgression has overcome me, venerable sir, in that I was so foolish, so muddle-headed, and so unskilled as to act in this way. May my lord 聲anda please accept this confession of my transgression as such, so that I may restrain myself in the future."

"Yes, sister, a transgression overcame you in that you were so foolish, so muddle-headed, and so unskilled as to act in this way. But because you see your transgression as such and make amends in accordance with the Dhamma, we accept your confession. For it is a cause of growth in the Dhamma and discipline of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future."

That is what Ven. 聲anda said. Gratified, the nun delighted in Ven. 聲andas words.

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