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Sotar Sutta

The Listener

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only

"Endowed with five qualities, a king's elephant is worthy of a king, is a king's asset, counts as a very limb of his king. Which five? There is the case where a king's elephant is a listener, a destroyer, a protector, an endurer, and a goer.

"And how is a king's elephant a listener? There is the case where, whenever the tamer of tamable elephants gives him a task, then -- regardless of whether he has or hasn't done it before -- he pays attention, applies his whole mind, and lends ear. This is how a king's elephant is a listener.

"And how is a king's elephant a destroyer? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, destroys an elephant together with its rider, destroys a horse together with its rider, destroys a chariot together with its driver, destroys a foot soldier. This is how a king's elephant is a destroyer.

"And how is a king's elephant a protector? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, protects his forequarters, protects his hindquarters, protects his forefeet, protects his hind-feet, protects his head, protects his ears, protects his tusks, protects his trunk, protects his tail, protects his rider. This is how a king's elephant is a protector.

"And how is a king's elephant an endurer? There is the case where a king's elephant, having gone into battle, endures blows from spears, swords, arrows, and axes; he endures the resounding din of drums, cymbals, conchs, and tom-toms. This is how a king's elephant is an endurer.

"And how is a king's elephant a goer? There is the case where -- in whichever direction the tamer of tamable elephants sends him, regardless of whether he has or hasn't gone there before -- a king's elephant goes there right away. This is how a king's elephant is a goer.

"Endowed with these five qualities, a king's elephant is worthy of a king, is a king's asset, counts as a very limb of his king.

"In the same way, a monk endowed with five qualities is deserving of gifts, deserving of hospitality, deserving of offerings, deserving of respect, an unexcelled field of merit for the world. Which five? There is the case where a monk is a listener, a destroyer, a protector, an endurer, and a goer.

"And how is a monk a listener? There is the case where, when the Dhamma and Discipline declared by the Tathágata is being taught, a monk pays attention, applies his whole mind, and lends ear to the Dhamma. This is how a monk is a listener.

"And how is a monk a destroyer? There is the case where a monk does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, and wipes it out of existence. He does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will... an arisen thought of cruelty... He does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful mental qualities. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, and wipes them out of existence. This is how a monk is a destroyer.

"And how is a monk a protector? There is the case where a monk, on seeing a form with the eye, does not grasp at any theme or particulars by which -- if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the eye. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye.

"On hearing a sound with the ear...

"On smelling an aroma with the nose...

"On tasting a flavor with the tongue...

"On touching a tactile sensation with the body...

"On cognizing an idea with the intellect, he does not grasp at any theme or particulars by which -- if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the intellect -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the intellect. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the intellect.

"This is how a monk is a protector.

"And how is a monk an endurer? There is the case where a monk is resilient to cold, heat, hunger, and thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words and bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, and menacing to life. This is how a monk is an endurer.

"And how is a monk a goer? There is the case where a monk goes right away to that direction to which he has never been before in the course of this long stretch of time -- in other words, to the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving, dispassion, cessation, Unbinding. This is how a monk is a goer.

"Endowed with these five qualities a monk is deserving of gifts, deserving of hospitality, deserving of offerings, deserving of respect, an unexcelled field of merit for the world."

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