Samyuktagama 256

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Saṃyuktāgama 256. First Discourse on Ignorance

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Place. At that time the venerable Sāriputta and the venerable Mahākoṭṭhita were on Mount Vulture Peak.

Then, in the afternoon the venerable Mahākoṭṭhita rose from meditation and approached the venerable Sāriputta. Having exchanged polite greetings and in various ways expressed their mutual delight, the venerable Mahākoṭṭhita withdrew to sit at one side and then said to the venerable Sāriputta: “I would like to ask a question. Would you have free time for me to speak?”

Sāriputta said: “According to what you have to ask, on knowing it I shall reply.”

Mahākoṭṭhita asked Sāriputta: “Regarding ignorance: What is ignorance? Who has this ignorance?”

Sāriputta replied: “One who is ignorant is reckoned as not understanding, one who does not understand is ignorant.”

Mahākoṭṭhita asked again: “What does he not understand?”

Sāriputta said: “That is, of bodily form, which is impermanent, he does not understand as it really is that bodily form is impermanent. Of bodily form, which is of a nature to wear away, he does not understand as it really is that bodily form is of a nature to wear away. Of bodily form, which is of a nature to arise and cease, he does not understand as it really is that bodily form is of a nature to arise and cease.

“Of feeling … perception … formations … consciousness … he does not understand as it really is that feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is impermanent. Of consciousness, which is of a nature to wear away, he does not understand as it really is that consciousness is of a nature to wear away. Of consciousness, which is of a nature to arise and cease, he does not understand as it really is that consciousness is of a nature to arise and cease.

“Mahākoṭṭhita, not understanding these five aggregates of clinging as they really are, not seeing them, not comprehending them, being stupid, dull, and without understanding in this respect—this is called ignorance. One who fulfils this condition is called ignorant.”

Mahākoṭṭhita asked again: “Sāriputta, regarding one who is knowledgeable: What is knowledge? Who has this knowledge?”

Sāriputta said: “Mahākoṭṭhita, regarding one who is knowledgeable, he understands. One who understands is called knowledgeable.”

Mahākoṭṭhita asked again: “What does he understand?”

Sāriputta said: “That is, of bodily form, which is impermanent, he understands as it really is that bodily form is impermanent. Of bodily form, which is of a nature to wear away, he understands as it really is that bodily form is of a nature to wear away. Of bodily form, which is of a nature to arise and cease, he understands as it really is that bodily form is of a nature to arise and cease.

“Of feeling … perception … formations … consciousness … he understands as it really is that feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is impermanent. Of consciousness, which is of a nature to wear away, he understands as it really is that consciousness is of a nature to wear away. Of consciousness, which is of a nature to arise and cease, he understands as it really is that consciousness is of a nature to arise and cease.

“Mahākoṭṭhita, understanding these five aggregates of clinging as they really are, seeing them, understanding them, realizing them, having wisdom in regard to them, comprehending them—this is called knowledge. One who fulfils this condition is called knowledgeable.”

The two worthy ones kept on delighting in hearing what each other had said, rose from their seats and returned to their respective former dwellings.