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Devadaha Sutta

At Devadaha

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Sakyans at a Sakyan town named Devadaha. Then a large number of monks headed for outlying districts went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there they said to the Blessed One, "Lord, we want to go to the countryside of the outlying districts and to take up residence there."

"Have you informed Shariputra?"

"No, lord, we haven't informed Ven. Shariputra."

"Inform Shariputra, monks. Shariputra is wise, a great help to the monks who are his fellows in the holy life."

"As you say, lord," the monks replied.

At that time Ven. Shariputra was sitting under a certain cassia tree not far from the Blessed One. Then the monks, delighting in and approving of the Blessed One's words, rose from their seats and -- bowing down to the Blessed One and circumambulating him, keeping him to their right -- went to Ven. Shariputra. On arrival, they exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies, they sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to Ven. Shariputra, "Friend Shariputra, we want to go to the countryside of the outlying districts and to take up residence there. We have already informed the Teacher."

"Friends, in foreign lands there are wise nobles and priests, householders and contemplatives -- for the people there are wise and discriminating -- who will question a monk: 'What is your teacher's doctrine? What does he teach?' Have you listened well to the teachings -- grasped them well, attended to them well, considered them well, penetrated them well by means of discernment -- so that in answering you will speak in line with what the Blessed One has said, will not misrepresent the Blessed One with what is un-factual, will answer in line with the Dhamma, and no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma will have grounds for criticizing you?"

"We would come from a long way away to hear the explication of these words in Ven. Shariputra’s presence. It would be good if Ven. Shariputra himself would enlighten us as to their meaning."

"Then in that case, friends, listen and pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, friend," the monks responded.

Ven. Shariputra said: "Friends, in foreign lands there are wise nobles and priests, householders and contemplatives -- for the people there are wise and discriminating -- who will question a monk: 'What is your teacher's doctrine? What does he teach?'

"Thus asked, you should answer, 'Our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire.'

"Having thus been answered, there may be wise nobles and priests, householders and contemplatives... who will question you further, 'And your teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for what?'

"Thus asked, you should answer, 'our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for form... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications. Our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for consciousness.'

"Having thus been answered, there may be wise nobles and priests, householders and contemplatives... who will question you further, 'And seeing what danger does your teacher teach the subduing of passion and desire for form... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications. Seeing what danger does your teacher teach the subduing of passion and desire for consciousness?'

"Thus asked, you should answer, 'When one is not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, and craving for form, then from any change and alteration in that form, there arises sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. When one is not free from passion... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications... When one is not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, and craving for consciousness, then from any change and alteration in that consciousness, there arise sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Seeing this danger, our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for form... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications. Seeing this danger our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for consciousness.'

"Having thus been answered, there may be wise nobles and priests, householders and contemplatives... who will question you further, 'And seeing what benefit does your teacher teach the subduing of passion and desire for form... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications. Seeing what benefit does your teacher teach the subduing of passion and desire for consciousness?'

"Thus asked, you should answer, 'When one is free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, and craving for form, then with any change and alteration in that form, there does not arise any sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, or despair. When one is free from passion... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications... When one is free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever, and craving for consciousness, then with any change and alteration in that consciousness, there does not arise any sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, or despair. Seeing this benefit, our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for form... for feeling... for perception... for fabrications. Seeing this benefit our teacher teaches the subduing of passion and desire for consciousness.'

"Friends, if one who entered and remained in unskillful mental qualities were to have a pleasant abiding in the here and now -- unthreatened, un-despairing, un-feverish -- and on the break-up of the body, after death, could expect a good destination, then the Blessed One would not advocate the abandoning of unskillful mental qualities. But because one who enters and remains in unskillful mental qualities has a stressful abiding in the here and now -- threatened, despairing, and feverish -- and on the break-up of the body, after death, can expect a bad destination, that is why the Blessed One advocates the abandoning of unskillful mental qualities.

"If one who entered and remained in skillful mental qualities were to have a stressful abiding in the here and now -- threatened, despairing, and feverish -- and on the break-up of the body, after death, could expect a bad destination, then the Blessed One would not advocate entering into skillful mental qualities. But because one who enters and remains in skillful mental qualities has a pleasant abiding in the here and now -- unthreatened, un-despairing, un-feverish -- and on the break-up of the body, after death, can expect a good destination, that is why the Blessed One advocates entering into skillful mental qualities."

That is what Ven. Shariputra said. Gratified, the monks delighted in Ven. Shariputra’s words.

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