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Subha Sutta

Morality, Concentration, Wisdom

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

Thus Have I Heard: [1]  

Once the Venerable 聲anda was staying at Savatthi, in Jeta's grove, in Anathapindika's park, shortly after the Lord's final passing. [2] And at that time the youth Subha, Todeyya's son, [3]  was staying at Savatthi on some business.

And Subha said to a certain young man :  "Go, my lad, to where the ascetic 聲anda is, ask him in my name if he is in good health, free from fatigue, strong, vigorous and dwelling in comfort, and say:  "It would be good if the Reverend 聲anda would, out of compassion, visit the dwelling of Subha, the son of Todeyya."

"Very good, Sir,"  replied the young man.  Then he went to the Venerable 聲anda, exchanged courtesies with him, and sat down to one side.  Then he delivered  the message.

The Venerable 聲anda replied :  "It is not the right time, young man.  Today I have taken some medicine.  Perhaps it will be possible to come tomorrow when the time and the occasion are suitable."  And the young man rose, returned to Subha and reported what had passed between him and the Venerable 聲anda, adding :  "My mission has been thus far accomplished, that the Reverend 聲anda will probably take the opportunity to come tomorrow."

And indeed, as that night was ending, the Venerable 聲anda dressed in the early morning, took his robe and bowl and, accompanied by the Venerable Cetaka, [4] came to Subha's dwelling, and sat down on the prepared seat.  Then Subha approached the Venerable 聲anda, exchanged courtesies with him, and sat down to one side.  Then he said :  "The Reverend 聲anda was for a long time the Reverend Gotama's personal attendant, dwelling in his presence and near him.  You, Reverend 聲anda, would know what things the Reverend Gotama praised, and with which he aroused, exhorted and established people.  Which, Reverend 聲anda, were those things?"

"Subha, there were three divisions of things which the Lord praised, and with which he aroused, exhorted and established people.  Which three?  The division of Aryan morality, [5] the division of Aryan concentration, and the division of Aryan wisdom.  These were the three divisions of things which the Lord praised ..."'

"Well, Reverend 聲anda, what is the division of Aryan morality which  the Reverend Gotama  praised ... ?"

"Young Sir, a Tath墔ata arises in the world, an Arahant, a fully-enlightened Buddha, endowed with wisdom and conduct, Well-Farer, Knower of the worlds, incomparable Trainer of men to be tamed, Teacher of Gods and humans, enlightened and blessed.  He, having realized it by his own super-knowledge, proclaims this world with its Devas, Maras and Brahmas, its princes and people.  He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in its beginning, lovely in its middle, lovely in its ending, in the spirit and in the letter, and displays the fully-perfected and purified holy life.  A disciple goes forth and practices the moralities, etc. (Digha Nik嫝a 2, verses 41-63).  Thus a monk is perfected in morality.

"That is the division of Aryan morality which the Lord praised ... But something more remains to be done."   "It is wonderful, Reverend 聲anda, it is marvelous!  This division of Aryan morality is perfectly fulfilled, not left incomplete.  And I do not see this division of Aryan morality fulfilled thus anywhere among the ascetics and Brahmins of other schools.  And if any of them were to have found this perfection in themselves, they would have been so delighted that they would have said :  "We've done enough!  The goal of our asceticism has been reached!  There's nothing more to be done!"  And yet the Reverend 聲anda declares that there is more to be done!"

End of first recitation-section

"Reverend 聲anda, what is the division of Aryan concentration which the Reverend Gotama  praised ... ?"

"And how is a monk guardian of the sense-doors?  He guards the sense-doors and attains the four jhanas (Digha Nik嫝a 2, verses 64-82).  This comes to him through concentration.

"That is the division of Aryan concentration which the Lord praised ... But something more remains to be done."   "It is wonderful, Reverend 聲anda, it is marvelous!  This division of Aryan concentration is perfectly fulfilled, not left incomplete.  And I do not see this division of Aryan concentration fulfilled thus anywhere among the ascetics and Brahmins of other schools.  And if any of them were to have found this perfection in themselves, they would have been so delighted that they would have said :  "We've done enough!  The goal of our asceticism has been reached!  Theres nothing more to be done!"  And yet the Reverend 聲anda declares that there is more to be done!"

"Reverend 聲anda, what is the division of Aryan wisdom which the Reverend Gotama praised?"

"And so, with mind concentrated he attains various insights (Digha Nik嫝a 2, verses 83-84).  That is known to him by wisdom."

"He realizes the Four Noble Truths, the path and the cessation of the corruptions (Digha Nik嫝a 2, verses 85-97).  And he knows: "... There is nothing further here."

"That is the division of Aryan wisdom which the Lord praised, with which he aroused, exhorted and established people.  Beyond that there is nothing to be done."

"It is wonderful, Reverend 聲anda, it is marvelous!  This division of Aryan wisdom is perfectly fulfilled, not left incomplete.  And I do not see this division of Aryan wisdom fulfilled thus anywhere among the ascetics and Brahmins of other schools.  And there is nothing further to be done!  Excellent, Reverend 聲anda, excellent!  It is as if someone were to set up what had been knocked down, or to point out the way to one who had got lost, or to bring an oil-lamp into a dark place, so that those with eyes could see what was there  just so the Reverend 聲anda has expounded the Dhamma in various ways."

"Reverend 聲anda, I go for refuge to the Lord Gotama, the Dhamma and the Sangha.  May the Reverend 聲anda accept me as a lay-follower who has taken refuge from this day forth as long as life shall last!"

Footnotes:

[1]  We may wonder slightly, as RD does, why this is included as a separate Digha Nik嫝a, consisting as it does of little more than the corresponding passages in Digha Nik嫝a two.  But repetitiveness was never regarded by the early redactors of the Canon as a bar to inclusion, and this was no doubt independently preserved as an account of Subha's conversion.  RD points out that the three heads here are given as s璱a, sam墂hi and pa嚭, which we render (somewhat differently from RD) as morality, concentration and wisdom.  RD also states that the term sam墂hi is not found in any pre-Buddhist text.  To his remarks on the subject should be added that its subsequent use in Hindu texts to denote the state of enlightenment is not in conformity with Buddhist usage, where the basic meaning of concentration is expanded to cover "meditation" in general.

[2] Chronology is of little account in this Nik嫝a.  The Buddha's final passing is narrated in DN 16.

[3] A Brahmin, whose name means "man of  Tudi."

[4] Like Todeyya, he is named after his birthplace in the Cetiya country.

[5] Silakhandha.  This is also the name of the first of the three divisions of this Nik嫝a, but the other two do not conform to the same pattern.

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