Samyuktagama 236

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Saṃyuktāgama 236 The meditative abode of emptiness-concentration

Thus have I heard.

At one time the Buddha was staying at Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍika’s park at Śrāvastī. Then, in the morning, the venerable Śāriputra, having put on his outer robe and taken his bowl, went into the town of Śrāvastī for alms-food. Having received alms-food, he returned to the monastery. After putting away his robe and bowl and washing his feet, he took a sitting mat and went into the forest for day-time seated meditation.

When Śāriputra arose from meditation, he went to where the World-Honoured One (the Buddha) was. He respectfully saluted him by prostrating with his head to the ground and touching the feet of the Buddha, stepped back, and sat down at one side. Then the Buddha asked Śāriputra: “From where have you come?”

Śāriputra replied: “World Honoured One, I have come from day-time seated meditation in the forest.”

The Buddha asked Śāriputra: “Into which meditative abode (meditative state) do you enter at this time?”

Śāriputra answered the Buddha: “World-Honoured One, at this time in the forest I enter the meditative abode of emptiness-concentration.”

The Buddha said to Śāriputra: “Good, good, Śāriputra. In your seated meditation you are now entering the meditative abode of the Elders.

“If a monk wishes to enter the meditative abode of the Elders, he should practise thus: When going into the city, when receiving alms-food, and when leaving the city, he should reflect: Now, as my eyes see material forms, do I always give rise to desire, love, craving, attachment?

“Śāriputra, if in a monk, thus observing, visual consciousness of material form is accompanied by craving, longing and impure attachment, then in order to cut off evil, unskilful states, that monk should make an effort so that he is able to practise restraining the mind.

“Just as a man whose turban was on fire would make an effort to extinguish that fire, in the same way the monk should make an effort to practise restraining the mind.

“If in a monk observing his mind, whether on the road, or in the town receiving alms-food, or coming out of the town, visual consciousness of material form is without craving, longing, and impure attachment during that time, then that monk, wishing to maintain this skilful-root of happiness, makes an effort and practices restraining the mind day and night.

“This is what is called a monk’s purity of alms-food while walking, standing, sitting, and reclining. For this reason, this discourse is called ‘abiding in purity of alms-food’.”

When the Buddha had taught this discourse, the venerable Śāriputra, having heard what the Buddha said, was delighted and put it into practice.