Samyuktagama 105

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Saṃyuktāgama 105. [Discourse to Seniya]

This have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Place.

At that time a heterodox wanderer called Seniya approached the Bud­dha, paid respect, exchanged greetings, sat at one side, and said to the Buddha: “Blessed One, on a former day recluses, brahmins, itinerants (caraka ), and wanderers (paribbājaka ) gathered in a hall in the hope of some discussion on what is meaningful and praiseworthy in this way:

“‘Pūraṇa Kassapa is the leader of a great congregation, being sur­rounded on all sides by five hundred disciples. There are among them some who are very wise and some who have dull faculties. When they pass away, he does not declare of any of them the place where they have been reborn.

“There is also Makkhali Gosālaputta, who is the leader of a great congregation , being surrounded on all sides by five hundred disciples. Some of his disciples are wise and some have dull faculties. When they pass away, he does not declare of any of them the place where they have been reborn.’

”In the same way Sañjaya Belaṭṭhiputta, Ajita Kesakambalī, Pakudha Kaccāyana, and Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta, each of them is surrounded on all sides by five hundred disciples … as above.

“The recluse Gotama was then also mentioned in that discussion: ‘The recluse Gotama is the leader of a great congregation … when his dis­ciples pass away, he does declare that certain have been reborn in that place, certain have been reborn in this place.’ Formerly the doubt had arisen in me: ‘How come the recluse Gotama has reached a condi­tion like this?’”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “Do not give rise to doubt! Because of uncertainty, one gives rise to doubt. Seniya, you should know that there are three kinds of teacher. What are the three?

“There is a teacher who has the view that [only] in the present world there truly is a self, and he speaks according to his understanding, yet he is not able to know matters of the afterlife. This is called the first [kind of] teacher that appears in the world.

“Again, Seniya, there is a teacher who has the view that in the present world there truly is a self, and he also has the view that in the afterlife there [truly] is a self, and he speaks according to his understanding.

“Again, Seniya, there is a teacher who does not have the view that in the present world there truly is a self, and he also does not have the view that in the afterlife there truly is a self.

“Seniya, the first teacher who has the view that in the present world there truly is a self and who speaks according to his understanding, he is reckoned as having the view of annihilation.

“The second teacher who has the view that in the present world and in the future world there truly is a self, and who speaks according to his understanding, he has the view of eternalism.

“The third teacher who does not have the view that in the present world there truly is a self, and who also does not have the view that in the afterlife there [truly] is a self ― this is the Tathāgata, the arahant, the fully awakened one, who in the present has abandoned craving, become separated from desire, has made them cease, and has attained Nirvāṇa.”

Seniya said to the Buddha: “Blessed One, having heard what the Blessed One said had the effect of further increasing my doubt.”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “It is right that your doubt should increase. Why is that? This is a very profound matter, which is difficult to see and difficult to understand. The very profound has to be illuminated in its subtle aspects until it is comprehended by the wise. Living beings of the common type are not able to distinguish and understand it. Why is that? It is because living beings have for a long time had a different view, a different acceptance, a different quest, and a different aspira­tion.”

Seniya said to the Buddha: “Blessed One, [so that] my mind gains pure faith in the Blessed One, may the Blessed One teach me the Dharma so that in this very seat my wisdom eye will be purified.”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “I shall teach you now according to your liking.”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “Is bodily form permanent or is it imper­manent?”

[Seniya] replied: “It is impermanent.”

The Blessed One asked again: “Seniya, what is impermanent, is it dukkha?”

[Seniya] replied: “It is dukkha.”

The Blessed One asked Seniya again: “What is impermanent, dukkha, of a nature to change, would a noble disciple herein [regard] it as the self, as distinct from the self [in the sense of being owned by it], as ex­isting [within the self, or the self] as existing [within it]?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

Feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is also like this.

[The Buddha] asked again: “How is it, Seniya, is bodily form the Ta­thāgata?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

[The Buddha asked again]: “Is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness the Tathāgata?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

[The Buddha] asked again: “Seniya, is the Tathāgata distinct from bodily form? Is the Tathāgata distinct from feeling … percep­tion … formations … consciousness?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

[The Buddha] asked again: “Seniya, is the Tathāgata in bodily form? Is the Tathāgata in feeling … perception … formations … conscious­ness?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

[The Buddha] asked again: “Seniya, is bodily form in the Tathāgata? Is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness in the Ta­thāgata?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

[The Buddha] asked again: “Seniya, is the Tathāgata without bodily form … feeling … perception … formations … consciousness?”

[Seniya] replied: “No, Blessed One.”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “[Although] all my disciples hear what I teach, [some] do not completely understand its significance and do not give rise to right comprehension of conceit. Because of not rightly comprehending it, they do not abandon conceit. Because they have not abandoned conceit, on having given up these aggregates [at death] they take part in the succession of aggregates and are reborn. For this reason, Seniya, I declare that these disciples, when their body breaks up at the end of life, have been reborn in this or that place. Why is that? It is because they have a remainder of conceit.

“Seniya, [some] disciples of mine are able to understand the signifi­cance of what I teach. They gain right comprehension of all conceit. Because of gaining right comprehension of it, they abandon all conceit. Because they have abandoned all conceit, when the body breaks up at the end of life there is no succession [of the aggregates for them]. Seniya, I do not declare that such disciples, on having given up these aggregates [at death], are reborn in this or that place. Why is that? It is because there is no condition whereby this could be declared.

“Wishing me to make some declaration, I would declare: ‘They have abandoned all craving and desire, are forever apart from the bondage of existence, and their mind is rightly liberated with the complete end­ing of dukkha.’

“From former times until the present, I constantly teach the danger in conceit, in the accumulation of conceit, in the arising of conceit, and in the rising up of conceit. If conceit is contemplated with right com­prehension, the manifold dukkha does not arise.”

When the Buddha spoke this teaching, the wanderer Seniya attained the pure eye of Dharma that is remote from [mental] stains and free from [mental] dust.

At that time the wanderer Seniya saw the Dharma and attained the Dharma, abandoning all doubt and uncertainty, not needing to rely on others to understand, not needing to rely on others to cross over, and his mind had attained fearlessness in the right Dharma.

He rose from his seat and with his palms held together [in respect] towards the Buddha he said: “Blessed One, can I gain the going forth in this right Dharma to cultivate the holy life?”

The Buddha said to Seniya: “You can gain the going forth in this right Dharma, the receiving of full ordination, and the becoming of a mem­ber of the monastic [community].”

At that time Seniya, having gained the going forth, alone in a quiet place practised dwelling without negligence, reflecting in this way on that for the sake of which a clansman’s son shaves off beard and hair to go forth out of right faith into homelessness to train in the path and cultivate the practice of the holy life, personally knowing here and now and realizing directly that ‘birth for me has been eradicated, the holy life has been established, what had to be done has been done, I myself know that there will be no receiving of any further existence.’ He became an arahant.

Hearing what the Buddha had said, he was delighted and re­ceived it respectfully.