“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’ Then, following on that memory, came the realization: ‘That is the path to enlightenment.’

“I thought: ‘Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?’ I thought: ‘I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.’.

“I considered: ‘It is not easy to attain that pleasure with a body so excessively emaciated. Suppose I ate some solid food—some boiled rice and bread. And I ate some food—some boiled rice and bread. Now at that time five bhikkhus were waiting upon me, thinking: ‘If our recluse Gotama achieves some higher state, he will inform us.’ But when I ate the boiled rice and bread, the five bhikkhus were disgusted and left me, thinking: ‘The recluse Gotama now lives luxuriously; he has given up his striving and reverted to luxury.’

“Now when I had eaten solid food and regained my strength, then quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, I entered upon and abided in the second jhana... With the fading away as well of rapture... I entered upon and abided in the third jhana... With the abandoning of pleasure and pain... I entered upon and abided in the fourth jhana... But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births... Thus with their aspects I recollected my manifold past lives.

“This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignor-ance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings... Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings pass on according to their actions.

“This was the second true knowledge attained by me in the second watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering;’... ‘This is the origin of suffering;’... ‘This is the cessation of suffering;’... ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering;’... ‘These are the taints’;... ‘This is the origin of the taints;’... ‘This is the cessation of the taints;’... ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’

“When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’

“This was the third true knowledge attained by me in the third watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute. But such pleasant feeling that arose in me did not invade my mind and remain.

“Aggivessana, I recall teaching the Dhamma to an assembly of many hundreds. Perhaps each person thinks: ‘The recluse Gotama is teaching the Dhamma especially for me.’ But it should not be so regarded; the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma to others only to give them knowledge. When the talk is finished, Aggivessana, then I steady my mind internally, quieten it, bring it to singleness, and concentrate it on that same sign of concentration as before, in which I constantly abide.”

“This can be believed of Master Gotama, since he is accomplished and fully enlightened. But does Master Gotama recall sleeping during the day?”

“I recall, Aggivessana, in the last month of the hot season, on returning from my almsround, after my meal I lay out my outer robe folded in four, and lying down on my right side, I fall asleep mindful and fully aware.”

“Some recluses and brahmins call that abiding in delusion, Master Gotama.” “It is not in such a way that one is deluded or undeluded, Aggivessana. As to how one is deluded or undeluded, listen and attend closely to what I shall say.”—“Yes, sir,” Saccaka the Nigantha’s son replied. The Blessed One said this: “Him I call deluded, Aggivessana, who has not abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future birth, aging, and death; for it is with the non-abandoning of the taints that one is deluded. Him I call undeluded who has abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future birth, aging, and death; for it is with the abandoning of the taints that one is undeluded. The Tathagata, Aggivessana, has abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future birth, aging, and death; he has cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising. Just as a palm tree whose crown is cut off is incapable of further growth, so too, the Tathagatha has abandoned the taints that defile... done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising.”

photo by Suphamongkhon Arwatchanakarn

 

When this was said, Saccaka the Nigantha’s son said: “It is wonderful, Master Gotama, it is marvelous how when Master Gotama is spoken to offensively again and again, assailed by discourteous courses of speech, the color of his skin brightens and the color of his face clears, as is to be expected of one who is accomplished and fully enlightened. I recall, Master Gotama, engaging Purana Kassapa in debate, and then he prevaricated, led the talk aside, and showed anger, hate, and bitterness. But when Master Gotama is spoken to offensively again and again, assaulted by discourteous courses of speech, the color of his skin brightens and the color of his face clears, as is to be expected of one who is accomplished and fully enlightened. I recall, Master Gotama, engaging Makkhali Gosala... Ajita Kesakambalin... Pakudha Kaccayana... Sanjaya Belatthiputta... the Nigantha Nataputta in debate, and then he prevaricated, led the talk aside, and showed anger, hate, and bitterness. But when Master Gotama is spoken to offensively again and again, assailed by discourteous courses of speech, the color of his skin brightens and the color of his face clears, as is to be expected of one who is accomplished and fully enlightened. And now, Master Gotama, we depart. We are busy and have much to do.”

“Now is the time, Aggivessana, to do as you think fit.” Then Saccaka the Nigantha’s son, having delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s words, got up from his seat and departed.Bhikkhu Nanamoli was born in England and ordained as a monk in Sri Lanka in 1949. He translated many original Pali texts, including the Visuddbunagga


Bhikkhu Bodhi was born in New York City in 1944 and ordained as a monk in Sri Lanka in 1972. He has translated many Pali sutras and their commentaries.

© Bhikkhu Bodhi 1995, 2001. Reprinted from The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144, www.wisdompubs.org.