Samyuktagama 271

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Saṃyuktāgama 271. Discourse on Admonishing Tissa

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park.

At that time there was a monk by the name of Tissa, who was together with a community of many monks that had gathered in the dining hall. He said to the monks: “Venerable ones, I am not distinguishing the teachings, I do not enjoy cultivating the holy life, I much enjoy sleeping and I have doubts about the teachings.”

At that time one monk who was among the community approached the Buddha, paid respect at the Buddha’s feet, withdrew to stand at one side, and said to the Buddha: “Blessed One, the monk Tissa, who was together with a community of many monks that had gathered in the dining hall, spoke like this, explicitly stating it: ‘I am not able to distinguish the teachings, I do not enjoy cultivating the holy life, I much enjoy sleeping, and I have doubts about the teachings.”

The Buddha told the monk: “The monk Tissa is a foolish person, he does not guard the sense-doors, does not know his limits with beverages and food, in the first watch of the night and the last watch of the night his mind is not awake, he is lazy and indolent, not being energetic, not properly examining and giving attention to the good teachings. That he should distinguish the teachings, that his mind should enjoy cultivating the holy life, that he should be free from sleepiness and that in the right teachings he should be free from doubt—that is not possible.

“Suppose there would be a monk who guards the sense-doors, who knows his limits with beverages and food, who in the first watch of the night and the last watch of the night is awake and energetic, examining the good teachings. That he should delight in and distinguish the teachings, enjoy cultivating the holy life, be free from sleepiness and have no doubt about the teaching in his mind—that is possible.”

At that time, the Blessed One said to one monk: “You approach the monk Tissa and tell him: ‘The great teacher calls you.’”

The monk said to the Buddha: “Yes, certainly, I have received the instruction” and coming forward he paid respect at the Buddha’s feet. He approached Tissa and said: “Elder Tissa, the Blessed One calls you.” Having heard the order, Tissa approached the Blessed One, paid respect with his head at the Buddha’s feet and withdrew to stand at one side.

At that time the Blessed One said to the monk Tissa: “Tissa, is it true that when a community of many monks had gathered in the dining hall, you explicitly said this: ‘Elders, I am not able to distinguish the teachings, I do not enjoy cultivating the holy life, I much enjoy sleeping, and I have doubts about the teachings’?”

Tissa said to the Buddha: “It is true, Blessed One.”

The Buddha asked Tissa: “I will now ask you, answer as you think. What do you think? If one is not separated from lust for bodily form, not separated from desire for it, not separated from craving for it, not separated from missing it, not separated from thirst for it, and that bodily form changes and becomes otherwise, what do you think, will worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain arise?”

Tissa said to the Buddha: “Indeed, Blessed One, if one is not separated from lust for bodily form, not separated from desire for it, not separated from craving for it, not separated from missing it, not separated from thirst for it, and that bodily form changes and becomes otherwise, then worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain will truly arise. Blessed One this is true and not otherwise.”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “It is well, it is well, Tissa, this is indeed how one should explain the teaching on not being separated from lustful desire for bodily form.

“Tissa if one is not separated from lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness, not separated from desire for it, not separated from craving for it, not separated from missing it, not separated from thirst for it, and that consciousness changes and becomes otherwise, what do you think, will worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain arise?”

Tissa said to the Buddha: “Indeed, Blessed One, if one is not separated from lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness, not separated from desire for it, not separated from craving for it, not separated from missing it, not separated from thirst for it, and that consciousness changes and becomes otherwise, then worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain will truly arise. Blessed One this is true and not otherwise.”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “It is well, it is well, Tissa, this is indeed how one should explain the teaching on not being separated from lustful desire for consciousness.”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “What do you think? If one is separated from lust for bodily form, separated from desire for it, separated from craving for it, separated from missing it, separated from thirst for it, when bodily form changes and becomes otherwise, will worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain arise?”

Tissa said to the Buddha: “No, Blessed One.”

The Buddha said: “What do you think, is it in this way, not otherwise? If one is separated from lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness, separated from desire for it, separated from craving for it, separated from missing it, separated from thirst for it, if that consciousness changes and becomes otherwise, will worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain arise?”

Tissa said to the Buddha: “No, Blessed One. It is in this way and not otherwise.”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “It is well, it is well, Tissa. Now I shall tell you a simile, a wise person gains understanding with the help of a simile.

“It is as if two persons walk on a path together, one knows the path well and the other does not know the path. The one who does not know the path speaks to the one who knows the path in this way:

’I wish to approach a certain town, a certain village, a certain dwelling place, show me the path.’ Then the one who knows the path shows the other one the path, saying: ‘Man, you follow this way, further on you see two ways, let be the one on the left and go forward on the right. Then there is a ravine with a stream. You let it be to the right and follow the left. Then there is a forest, you let it be to the right and follow the left. Proceeding gradually in this way, you will reach a certain town.’”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “That simile is like this: The one who does not know the path stands for a foolish worldling, the one who knows the path stands for the Tathāgata, who is an arahant, fully awakened. The two paths in front is the doubt of living beings. The left path is the three unwholesome states: thoughts of lust, hatred, and malevolence. The right path is the three wholesome thoughts: thoughts of renunciation and dispassion, thoughts without hatred, and thoughts of not harming.

“Going forward on the left path is wrong view, wrong intention, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, and wrong concentration. Going forward on the right path is right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The ravine with a stream is anger, obstruction, worry, and sadness. The forest is the five strands of sensual pleasures. The city is Nirvāṇa.”

The Buddha said to Tissa: “The Buddha, being the great teacher, has done what is to be done for his disciples. What now should be done out of thoughts of compassion and empathy, for the sake of their peace and happiness, all that he has done. Now you should do what needs to be done. At the root of a tree, in an open field, or in a cave in a mountain, gathering some grass you should sit, well giving attention with mindfulness, cultivating it without negligence. Do not later have regrets, this is my teaching to you.”

Then Tissa, hearing what the Buddha had said, was delighted and received it respectfully.