LORD BUDDHA, Sage of the Sakyas, first turned the Wheel of the Dhamma, Venerable
Anna Kondanna crossed over (the ocean of birth and death); while as a result of
his last Discourse Venerable Subhadda crossed over likewise. All those who were
(ready) to cross over, them he (helped) to cross over. When about to attain
Final Nibbána, he was lying between the twin Sala trees in the middle watch of
the night. No sound disturbed the
calm and silence; then, for the sake of the disciples (savaka), he spoke briefly
on the essentials of Dhamma:
Bhikkhus, after my Parinibbána you should reverence and honor the Precepts of
the Patimokkha. Treat them as a
light, which you have discovered in the dark, or as a poor man would treat a
treasure found by him. You should
know that they are your chief guides and there should be no difference (in your
observance of them) from when I yet remained in the world.
If you would maintain in purity the Precepts, you should not give
yourselves over to buying, selling, or barter.
You should not covet fields or buildings, nor accumulate servants,
attendants, or animals. You should
flee from all sorts of property and wealth, as you would avoid a fire or a pit.
You should not cut down grass or trees; neither breaks new soil nor
ploughs the earth. Nor may you
compound medicines, practice divination or sorcery according to the position of
the stars, cast horoscopes by the waxing and waning of the moon, nor reckon days
of good fortune. All these are
things, which are improper (for a Bhikkhu).
yourselves in purity, eating only at the proper times and living your lives in
purity and solitude. You should not
concern yourselves with worldly affairs, nor yet circulate rumors.
You should not mumble incantations, mix magic potions, nor bind
yourselves in friendship to powerful persons, showing to them and the rich
(special) friendliness while treating with contempt those lacking (in worldly
wealth, power and so forth). All such things are not to be done!
should seek, with a steadfast mind, and with Right Mindfulness (Samma sati), for
Enlightenment. Neither conceal your
faults (within), nor work wonders (without), thereby leading (yourself and)
other people astray. As to the four
offerings, be content with them, knowing what is sufficient.
Receive them when offered but do not hoard them.
This, briefly, is what is meant by observing the Precepts.
These Precepts are fundamental (to a life based on Dhamma-Vinaya) and
accord exactly with freedom (mokkha), and so are called the Patimokkha. By
relying on them you may attain all levels of collectedness (samádhi) and
likewise the knowledge of the extinction of dukkha (un-satisfactoriness). It is for this reason, Bhikkhus, that you should always
maintain the Precepts in purity and never break them.
If you can keep these Precepts pure you possess an excellent (method for
the attainment of Enlightenment), but if you do not do so, no merit of any kind
will accrue to you. You ought to
know for this reason that the Precepts are the chief dwelling-place of the
merit, which results in both body and mind (Citta) being at rest.
Bhikkhus, if you are able already to keep within the Precepts, you must next
control the five senses, not permitting the entry of the five sense desires by
your unrestraint, just as a cowherd by taking and showing his stick prevents
cows from entering another's field, ripe for the harvest. In an evil-doer
indulging the five senses, his five desires will not only exceed all bounds but
will become uncontrollable, just as a wild horse unchecked by the bridle must
soon drag the man leading it into a pit. If
a man were robbed, his sorrow does not extend beyond the period of his life but
the evil of that robber (sense-desires) and the depredations caused by him bring
calamities extending over many lives, creating very great dukkha.
You should control yourselves!
wise men control themselves and do not indulge their senses but guard them like
robbers who must not be allowed freedom from restraint.
If you do allow them freedom from restraint, before long Mara will
destroy you. The mind is the lord
of the five senses and for this reason you should well control the mind.
Indeed, you ought to fear indulgence of the mind's (desires) more than
poisonous snakes, savage beasts, dangerous robbers, or fierce conflagrations.
No simile is strong enough to illustrate (this danger).
But think of a man carrying a jar of honey who, as he goes, heeds only
the honey and is unaware of a deep pit (in his path)!
Or think of a mad elephant unrestrained by shackles!
Again, consider a monkey who after climbing into a tree, cannot, except
with difficulty, be controlled! Such as these would be difficult to check;
therefore hasten to control your desires and do not let them go unrestrained!
Indulge the mind (with its desires) and you lose the benefit of being
born a man; check it completely and there is nothing you will be unable to
accomplish. That is the reason, O Bhikkhus, why should strive hard to subdue
Bhikkhus, in receiving all sorts of food and drinks, you should regard them as
if taking medicine. Whether they be
good or bad, do not accept or reject according to your likes and dislikes; just
use them to support your bodies, thereby staying hunger and thirst.
As bees while foraging among the flowers extract only the nectar, without
harming their color and scent, just so, O Bhikkhus, should you do (when
collecting alms-food). Accept just enough of what people offer to you for the
avoidance of distress. But do not
ask for much and thereby spoil the goodness of their hearts, just as the wise
man, having estimated the strength of his ox, does not wear out its strength by
Bhikkhus, by day you should practice good Dhamma and not allow yourselves to
waste time. In the early evening and late at night do not cease to make an
effort, while in the middle of the night you should chant the Suttas to make
yourselves better informed. Do not
allow yourselves to pass your lives vainly and fruitlessly on account of sleep.
You should envisage the world as being consumed by a great fire and
quickly determine to save yourselves from it.
Do not (spend much time in) sleep! The
robbers of the three afflictions forever lie in wait to kill men so that (your
danger) is even greater than in a household rent by hatred.
So, fearful, how can you sleep and not arouse yourselves?
These afflictions are a poisonous snake asleep in your own hearts. They
are like a black cobra sleeping in your room.
Destroy the snake quickly with the sharp spear of keeping to Precepts!
Only when that dormant snake has been driven away will you be able to
rest peacefully. If you sleep, not
having driven it away, you are men without shame (hiri).
The clothing of shame (hiri) among all ornaments is the very best.
Shame can also be compared to an iron goad that can control all human
wrongdoing; for which reason, O Bhikkhus, you should always feel ashamed of
unskillful actions (akusalakamma). You should not be without it even for a
moment, for if you are parted from shame, all merits will be lost to you.
He who has fear of blame (ottappa) has that which is good, while he who
has no fear of blame (anottappa) is not different from the birds and beasts.
Bhikkhus, if there were one who came and dismembered you joint by joint, you
should not hate him but rather include him in your heart (of friendliness -- Mettá). Besides, you should guard
your speech and refrain from reviling him.
If you succumb to thoughts of hatred you block your own (progress in)
Dhamma and lose the benefits of (accumulated) merits. Patience (khanti) is a
virtue, which cannot be equaled even by keeping the Precepts and (undertaking)
the Austere Practices. Whosoever is
able to practice patience can be truly called a great and strong man, but he who
is unable to endure abuse as happily as though he were drinking ambrosia, cannot
be called one attained to knowledge of Dhamma.
Why is this? The harm caused
by anger and resentment shatters all your goodness and so (greatly) spoils your
good name that neither present nor future generations of men will wish to hear
it. You should know that angry
thoughts are more terrible than a great fire, so continually guard yourselves
against them and do not let them gain entrance.
Among the three robbers (the afflictions), none steals merit more than
anger and resentment: Those householders dressed in white who have desires and
practice little Dhamma, in them, having no way to control themselves, anger may
still be excusable; but among those become homeless (pabbajjita) because they
wish to practice Dhamma and to abandon desire, the harboring of anger and
resentment is scarcely to be expected, just as one does not look for thunder or
lightning from a translucent, filmy cloud.
Bhikkhus, rubbing your heads you should deeply consider yourselves in this way:
'It is good that I have discarded personal adornment. I wear the russet robe of
patches and carry a bowl with which to sustain life.’ When thoughts of arrogance or contempt arise, you must
quickly destroy them by regarding yourselves in this way. The growth of arrogance and contempt is not proper among
those wearing white and living the household life: how much less so for you,
gone forth to homelessness! You should subdue your bodies, collecting food (in
your bowls) for the sake of Dhamma-practice to realize Enlightenment.
Bhikkhus, a mind inclined to flattery is incompatible with Dhamma, therefore it
is right to examine and correct such a mind. You should know that flattery is
nothing but deception, so that those who have entered the way of Dhamma-practice
have no use for it. For this
reason, be certain to examine and correct the errors of the mind, for to do so
Bhikkhus, you should know that those having many desires, by reason of their
desire for selfish profit, experience much dukkha. Those with few desires, neither desiring nor seeking
anything, do not therefore experience such dukkha.
Straightaway lessen your desires! Further,
in order to obtain all kinds of merit you should practice the fewness of
desires. Those who desire little do
not indulge in flattery so as to sway another’s mind, nor are they led by
their desires. Those who practice
the diminishing of desires thus achieve a mind of contentment having no cause
for either grief or fear and, finding the things they receive are sufficient,
never suffer from want. From this
cause indeed, comes Nibbána. Such is the meaning of 'having few wishes.'
Bhikkhus, if you wish to escape from all kinds of dukkha, you must see that you
are contented. The virtue of contentment is the basis of abundance, happiness,
peace, and seclusion. Those who are
contented are happy even though they have to sleep on the ground.
Those who are not contented would not be so though they lived in
celestial mansions. Such people
feel poor even though they are rich, while those who are contented are rich even
in poverty. The former are
constantly led by their five desires and are greatly pitied by the contented.
Such is the meaning of 'contentment'.
Bhikkhus, seek the joy of quietness and passivity. Avoid confusion and noise and dwell alone in secluded places.
Those who dwell in solitude are worshipped with reverence by Sakka and
all celestials. This is why you
should leave your own and other clans to live alone in quiet places, reflecting
(to develop insight) upon dukkha, it’s arising and its cessation.
Those who rejoice in the pleasures of company must bear as well the pains
of company, as when many birds flock to a great tree it may wither and collapse.
Attachment to worldly things immerses one in the dukkha experienced by
all men, like an old elephant bogged down in a swamp from which he cannot
extricate himself. Such is the
meaning of 'secluding oneself.'
Bhikkhus, if you strive diligently, nothing will be difficult for you. As a
little water constantly trickling can bore a hole through a rock, so must you
always strive energetically. If the
mind of a disciple (savaka) becomes idle and inattentive, he will resemble one
who tries to make fire by friction but rests before the heat is sufficient.
However much he desires fire, he cannot (make even a spark).
Such is the meaning of 'energetic striving'.
Bhikkhus, seek for a Noble Friend (kalyanamitta). Seek him who will best (be able to) aid you (in developing)
the unexcelled and unbroken attention. If
you are attentive, none of the (three) robbers, the afflictions, can enter your
mind. That is why you must keep
your mind in a state of constant attention, for by loss of attention you lose
all merits. If your power of
attention is very great, though you fall among (conditions favoring) the five
robbers of sense-desire, you will not be harmed by them, just as a warrior
entering a battle well covered by armor has nothing to fear. Such is the meaning of 'unbroken attention.'
Bhikkhus, if you guard your mind, so guarded the mind will remain in a state of
steady collectedness. If your minds
are in a state of collectedness, you will be able to understand the arising and
passing away of the impermanent world. For
this reason you should strive constantly to practice the various stages of
absorption (jhana). When one of
these states of collectedness is reached, the mind no longer wanders.
A disciple who practices (to attain collectedness) is just like an
irrigator who properly regulates his dykes.
As he guards water, even a small amount, so should you guard the water of
wisdom, thereby preventing it from leaking away. Such is the meaning of
Bhikkhus, if you have wisdom, then do not hunger to make a display of it.
Ever look within yourselves so that you do not fall into any fault.
In this way you will be able to attain freedom from (the tangle of) the
interior and exterior (spheres of senses and sense-objects--ayatana).
If you do not accomplish this you cannot be called Dhamma practitioners,
nor yet are you common persons clad in white, so there will be no name to fit
you! Wisdom is a firmly -bound
raft, which will ferry you across the ocean of birth, old age, sickness, and
death. Again, it is a brilliant
light with which to dispel the black obscurity of ignorance.
It is a good medicine for all who are ill.
It is a sharp axe for cutting down the strangling fig--tree of the
afflictions. That is why you
should, by the hearing-, thinking- and development-wisdoms increase your
benefits (from Dhamma). If you have
Insight (vipassana) stemming from (development-wisdom), though your eyes are but
fleshly organs you will be able to see clearly (into your own Citta.)
Such is the meaning of 'wisdom'.
Bhikkhus, if you indulge in all sorts of idle discussions then your mind will be
full of chaotic thoughts, and though you have gone forth to homelessness you
will be unable to attain Freedom. That
is why, O Bhikkhus, you should immediately cease from chaotic thoughts and idle
discussions. If you want to attain
the Happiness of Nibbána, you must eliminate completely the illness of idle
Bhikkhus, as regards all kinds of virtue, you should ever rid yourselves of
laxity, as you would flee from a hateful robber. That Dhamma which the greatly compassionate Lord has taught
for your benefit is now concluded, but it is for you to strive diligently to
practice this teaching. Whether you live in the mountains or on the Great
Plains, whether you sojourn beneath a tree or in your own secluded dwellings,
bear in mind the Dhamma you have received and let none of it be lost.
You should always exert yourselves in practicing it diligently, lest you
die after wasting a whole lifetime and come to regret it afterwards.
I am like a good doctor who, having diagnosed the complaint, prescribes
some medicine; but whether it is taken or not, does not depend on the doctor. Again,
I am like a good guide who points out the best road; but if, having heard of it,
(the enquirer) does not take it, the fault is not with the guide.
Bhikkhus, if you have any doubts regarding the Four Noble Truths: of
un-satisfactoriness (dukkha) and the rest, (its arising. its cessation and the
Practice-path going to its cessation), you should ask about them at once. Do not
harbor such doubts without seeking to resolve them.
that occasion the Lord spoke thus three times, yet there were none who
question-ed him. And why was that?
Because there were none in that assembly (of Bhikkhus) who harbored any
the venerable Aniruddha, seeing what was in the minds of those assembled,
respectfully addressed the Buddha thus: 'Lord, the moon may grow hot and the sun
may become cold, but the Four Noble Truths proclaimed by the Lord cannot be
otherwise. The Truth of Dukkha
taught by the Lord describes real dukkha, which cannot become happiness.
The accumulation of desires truly is the cause of the Arising of Dukkha;
there can never be a different cause. If
dukkha is destroyed (the Cessation of Dukkha), it is because the cause of dukkha
has been destroyed, for if the cause is destroyed the result must also be
destroyed. The Practice path going to the Cessation of Dukkha is the true path,
nor can there be another. Lord, all these Bhikkhus are certain and have no
doubts about the Four Noble Truths.
this assembly, those who have not yet done what should be done (i. e., attained
to Enlightenment), will, on seeing the Lord attain Final Nibbána, certainly feel
sorrowful. (Among them) those who
have newly entered upon the Dhamma-way and who have heard what the Lord has
(just said), they will all reach Enlightenment (in due course) seeing Dhamma as
clearly as a flash of lightning in the dark of the night.
But is there anyone who has done what should be done (being an Arahant),
already having crossed over the ocean of dukkha who will think thus: "The
Lord has attained Final Nibbána; why was this done so quickly?"
the Venerable Aniruddha had thus spoken these words, and the whole assembly had
penetrated the meaning of the Four Noble Truths, still the Lord wished to
strengthen all in that great assembly. With a mind of infinite compassion he
spoke (again) for their benefit.
Bhikkhus do not feel grieved. If I
were to live in the world for a whole eon (kappa), my association with you would
still come to an end, since a meeting with no parting is an impossibility.
The Dhamma is now complete for each and every one, so even if I were to
live longer it would be of no benefit at all.
Those who were (ready) to cross over, both among the celestials and men,
have all without exception attained Enlightenment, while those who have not yet
completed their crossing (of the ocean of Samsára to the Further Shore or Nibbána) have already produced the necessary causes (to enable them to do so in
course of time).
now on, all my disciples must continue to practice (in this way) without
ceasing, whereby the body of the Tathágata's Dhamma will be ever lasting and
indestructible. But as to the
world, nothing there is eternal, so that all meeting must be followed by
partings. Hence, do not harbor
grief, for such (impermanence) is the nature of worldly things. But do strive diligently and quickly seek for Freedom.
With the light of Perfect Wisdom destroy the darkness of ignorance, for
in this world is nothing strong or enduring.
that I am about to attain Final Nibbána, it is like being rid of a terrible
sickness. This body is a thing of
which we are indeed well rid, an evil thing falsely going by the name of self
and sunk in the ocean of birth, disease, old age, and death.
Can a wise man do aught but rejoice when he is able to rid himself of it,
as others might (be glad) when slaying a hateful robber?
Bhikkhus, you should always exert the mind, seeking the Way out (of the
Wandering-on, or samsára). All
forms in the world, without exception, whether moving or non-moving, are subject
to decay and followed by destruction. All
of you should stop. It is needless
to speak again. Time is passing
away. I wish to cross over to
Freedom (from existence in this world). These
are my very last instructions."