146-Nandakovada Sutta

Advice from Nandaka

Part One of the Audio Talk by Ven Bhikku Bodhi

Part Two of the Audio Talk by Ven Bhikku Bodhi


§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Park.

§ 2. Then MahapajapatI Gotami together with five hundred bhikkhunis went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to the Blessed One, she stood at one side and said to him:
“Venerable sir, let the Blessed One advise the bhikkhunis, let the Blessed One instruct the bhikkhunls, let the Blessed One give the bhikkhunis a talk on the Dhamma.”

§ 3. Now on that occasion the elder bhikkhus were taking turns in advising the bhikkhunis, but the venerable Nandaka did not want to advise them when his turn came.1318 [One of the eight important rules laid down by the Buddha when he established the Bhikkhuni Sangha stipulated that every fortnight the bhikkhunis should request the bhikkhus to send a bhikkhu for the purpose of giving them an exhortation. According to MA, in a previous life Ven. Nandaka had been a king and those bhikkhunis had been his concubines. He wanted to avoid his turn in advising the bhikkhunis because he thought that another bhikkhu possessing the knowledge of past lives, seeing him giving an exhortation surrounded by the bhikkhunis, would think that he still could not separate himself from his former concubines. But the Buddha saw that Nandaka’s discourse to the bhikkhunis would benefit them and thus he requested him to instruct them.]

Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Ananda: “Ananda, whose turn is it
today to advise the bhikkhunis?”
“Venerable sir, it is the venerable Nandaka’s turn to advise the bhikkhunis, but he does not want to advise them even though it is his turn.”

§4. Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Nandaka:
“Advise the bhikkhunis, Nandaka. Instruct the bhikkhunis, Nandaka.
Give the bhikkhunls a talk on the Dhamma, brahmin.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” [271] the venerable Nandaka replied.

Then, in the morning, the venerable Nandaka dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into SavatthI for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Savatthi and had returned from his alms-round, after his meal he went with a companion to the Rajaka Park. The bhikkhunis saw the venerable Nandaka coming in the distance and prepared a seat and set out water for the feet. The venerable Nandaka sat down on the seat made ready and washed his feet. The bhikkhunis paid homage to him and sat down at one side. When they were seated, the venerable Nandaka told the bhikkhunis:

§ 5. “Sisters,
this talk will be in the form of questions.
When you 
understand you should say: ‘We understand’;
when you do not 
understand you should say: ‘We do not understand’;
when you 
are doubtful or perplexed you should ask me: ‘How is this, venerable sir? What is the meaning of this?'”
“Venerable sir, we are satisfied and pleased with the master Nandaka for inviting us in this way.”

§ 6. “Sisters, what do you think? Is the eye permanent or impermanent?”
– “Impermanent, venerable sir.”
“Is what is impermanent 
suffering or happiness?”
– “Suffering, venerable sir.”

“Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”
– 
“No, venerable sir.”
“Sisters, what do you think? Is the ear…the nose…the tongue…the body…the mind permanent or impermanent?”
– 
Impermanent, venerable sir.”
– “Is what is impermanent suffering 
or happiness?”
“Suffering, venerable sir.” –
“Is what is 
impermanent, suffering, [272] and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”
“No, 
venerable sir.
Why is that?
Because, venerable sir, we have 
already seen this well as it actually is with proper wisdom thus:
‘These six internal bases are impermanent.‘”1319 [MA: They have seen this with the wisdom of insight.]
“Good, good, sisters! So it is with a noble disciple who sees this as it actually is with proper wisdom.

§ 7. “Sisters, what do you think?
Are forms…sounds…odours… 
flavours…tangibles…mind-objects permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, venerable sir.”
“Is what is impermanent 
suffering or happiness?”
“Suffering, venerable sir.” –
“Is 
what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”
– “No, 
venerable sir.
Why is that?
Because, venerable sir, we have 
already seen this well as it actually is with proper wisdom thus:
‘These six external bases are impermanent.'”
“Good, good, sisters! So it is with a noble disciple who sees this as it actually is with proper wisdom.

§ 8. “Sisters, what do you think? Is eye-consciousness… [273].. .ear-consciousness…
nose-consciousness… tongue-consciousness… body-consciousness… mind-consciousness permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, venerable sir.” –
“Is what is 
impermanent suffering or happiness?”
– “Suffering, venerable sir.”
“Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change 
fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”
“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
Because, venerable sir, we 
have already seen this well as it actually is with proper wisdom thus: ‘These six classes of consciousness are impermanent.'”
“Good, good, sisters! So it is with a noble disciple who sees this as it actually is with proper wisdom.

§ 9. “Sisters, suppose an oil-lamp is burning: its oil is impermanent and subject to change, its wick is impermanent and subject to change, its flame is impermanent and subject to change, and its radiance is impermanent and subject to change. Now would anyone be speaking rightly who spoke thus:
‘While this oil-lamp 
is burning, its oil, wick, and flame are impermanent and subject
to change, but its radiance is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change’?”
-“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
Because, venerable sir, while 
that oil-lamp is burning, its oil, wick, and flame are impermanent  and subject to change, so its radiance must be impermanent and subject to change.”
“So too, sisters, would anyone be speaking rightly who spoke thus:
‘These six internal bases are impermanent and subject to 
change, but the pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling that one experiences in dependence upon the six internal bases is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change’?”
-“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
Because each feeling arises in 
dependence upon its corresponding condition,1320 [274] [Tajjam tajjam paccayam paticca tajja tajja vedana uppajjanti.
The coming together of the eye, forms, and eye-consciousness is eye-contact, and this is the primary condition for the arising of feeling born of eye-contact. With the cessation
of the eye, one of the factors responsible for eye-contact is removed. Thus eye-contact ceases, and with its cessation the feeling born of eye-contact also ceases.]
and with the cessation of its corresponding condition, the feeling ceases.”
“Good, good, sisters! So it is with a noble disciple who sees this as it actually is with proper wisdom.

tree-clipart-

§ 10. “Sisters, suppose a great tree is standing possessed of heartwood:

  • its root is impermanent and subject to change,
  • its trunk is impermanent and subject to change,
  • its branches and foliage are impermanent and subject to change, and
  • its shadow is impermanent and subject to change.

Now would anyone be speaking rightly who spoke thus:

  • ‘The root, trunk, branches, and foliage of this great tree standing possessed of heartwood are impermanent and subject to change,
  • but its shadow is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change’?”

“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
-Because, venerable sir, the 
root, trunk, branches, and foliage of this great tree standing possessed of heartwood are impermanent and subject to change, so its shadow must be impermanent and subject to change.”
“So too, sisters, would anyone be speaking rightly who spoke thus:
‘These six external bases are impermanent and subject to 
change, but the pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling that one experiences in dependence upon the six external bases is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change’?”
-“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
-Because each feeling arises in 
dependence upon its corresponding condition, and with the cessation of its corresponding condition, the feeling ceases.”
“Good, good, sisters! So it is with a noble disciple who sees this as it actually is with proper wisdom.

slaughering cow

§ 11. “Sisters,
suppose a skilled butcher or his apprentice were 
to kill a cow and carve it up with a sharp butcher’s knife.
Without damaging the inner mass of flesh and without damaging the outer hide, he would cut, sever, and carve away the inner tendons, sinews, and ligaments with the sharp butcher’s knife. [275] Then having cut, severed, and carved all this away, he would remove the outer hide and cover the cow again with that same hide. Would he be speaking rightly if he were to say:
‘This cow is joined to this hide just as it was before’?”
-“No, venerable sir.
Why is that?
-Because if that skilled butcher 
or his apprentice were to kill a cow…and cut, sever, and carve all that away, even though he covers the cow again with that same hide and says:
‘This cow is joined to this hide just as it was 
before,’
that cow would still be dis-joined from that hide.”

§ 12. “Sisters, I have given this simile in order to convey a meaning. This is the meaning:

  • ‘The inner mass of flesh’ is a term for the six internal bases.  
  • “The outer hide’ is a term for the six external bases.
  • ‘The inner tendons, sinews, and ligaments’ is a term for delight and lust.
  • ‘The sharp butcher’s knife’ is a term for noble wisdom – the noble wisdom that cuts, severs, and carves away the inner defilements, fetters, and bonds.

§ 13. “Sisters, there are these seven enlightenment factors 1321
[MA: .He undertakes this teaching on the enlightenment factors because wisdom is not able to cut away the defilements by itself, but only when accompanied by the other six enlightenment factors (wisdom being equivalent to the investigation -of-states enlightenment factor).]
through the development and cultivation of which a bhikkhu, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.

What are the seven?

  • Here, sisters, a bhikkhu develops the mindfulness enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 
  • He develops the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 
  • He develops the energy enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 
  • He develops the rapture enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in relinquishment. He develops the tranquillity enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 
  • He develops the concentration enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 
  • He develops the equanimity enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in  relinquishment. 

These are the seven enlightenment factors through the development and cultivation of which a bhikkhu, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.” [276]

§ 14. When the venerable Nandaka had advised the bhikkhunis thus, he dismissed them, saying: “Go, sisters, it is time.”

Then the bhikkhunls, having delighted and rejoiced in the venerable Nandaka’s words, rose from their seats, and after paying homage to the venerable Nandaka, departed keeping him on their right.

They went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, stood at one side. The Blessed One told them:
“Go, sisters, it is time.” Then the bhikkhunis paid homage to the Blessed One and departed keeping him on their right.

§ 15. Soon after they had left, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus:
“Bhikkhus, just as on the Uposatha day of the fourteenth 
people are not doubtful or perplexed as to whether the moon is incomplete or full, since then the moon is  clearly incomplete, so too, those bhikkhunis are satisfied with Nandaka’s teaching of the Dhamma, but their intention has not yet been fulfilled.”

§ 16-26. Then the Blessed One addressed the venerable Nandaka:
“Well then, Nandaka, tomorrow too you should 
advise those bhikkhunis in exactly the same way.”
“Yes, venerable sir,” the venerable Nandaka replied.

Then, the next morning, the venerable Nandaka dressed…(repeat verbatim §§4—14 above, as far as) [277]…Then the bhikkhunls paid homage to the Blessed One and departed keeping him on their right.

§  27. Soon after they had left, the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus:
“Bhikkhus, just as on the Uposatha day of the fifteenth 
people are not doubtful or perplexed as to whether the moon is incomplete or full, since then the moon is clearly full, so too, those bhikkhunls are satisfied with Nandaka’s teaching of the Dhamma and their intention has been fulfilled. Bhikkhus even the least advanced of those five hundred bhikkhunls is a stream-enterer, no longer subject to perdition, bound [for deliverance], headed for enlightenment.”1322
[MA: She who was last in regard to good qualities had become a stream-enterer, but those whose intentions were to become once-returners, non-returners, and arahants
each achieved the fulfilment of their intentions. Because of these results, the Buddha named Ven. Nandaka the foremost bhikkhu in instructing the bhikkhurus.]
That is what the Blessed One said.

The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

savanatasisilasalogo

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