53 – SEKHA SUTTA

The Disciple in Higher Training

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Sakyan country at Kapilavatthu in Nigrodha’s Park.

§ 2. Now on that occasion a new assembly hall had recently been built for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu and it had not yet been inhabited by any recluse or brahmin or human being at all. Then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu went to the Blessed One. After paying homage to him, they sat down at one side and said to him:

“Venerable sir, a new assembly hall has recently been built here for the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu and it has not yet been inhabited by any recluse or brahmin or human being at all.

Venerable sir, let the Blessed One be the first to use it. When the Blessed One has used it first, then the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu will use it afterwards. That will lead to their welfare and happiness for a long time.”557 [It was believed to be a source of merit for those who construct a new dwelling to invite an eminent religious personage
to dwell in it even for a single night before they inhabit it themselves. This belief still continues in Buddhist lands today, and people who have built a new house for themselves will often invite bhikkhus to hold an all-night recitation of paritta (protective) suttas in their new home before they move in.]

§ 3. The Blessed one consented in silence. .Then, when they saw that he had consented, they got up from their seats, and after paying homage to him, keeping him on their right, they went to the assembly hall. They covered it completely with coverings and prepared seats, and they put out a large water jug and hung up an oil-lamp. Then they went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, they stood at one side and said:

“Venerable sir, the assembly hall has been covered completely with coverings and seats have been prepared, a large water jug has been put out and an oil-lamp hung up. Now is the time for the Blessed One to do as he thinks fit.”

§ 4. Then the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he went with the Sangha of bhikkhus to the assembly hall. When he arrived, he washed his feet and then entered the hall and sat down by the central pillar facing the east. And the bhikkhus washed their feet and then entered the hall and sat down by the western wall facing the east, with the Blessed One before them. And the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu washed their feet and entered the hall and sat down by the eastern wall facing the west, with the Blessed One before them.

§ 5. Then, when the Blessed One had instructed, urged, roused, and encouraged the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu with talk on the Dhamma for much of the night, he said to the venerable Ananda:
“Ananda, speak to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu about the disciple in higher training who has entered upon the way.558 [Sekho patipado. The sekha, the disciple in higher training, is one who has reached any of the three lower planes of sanctity –
stream-entry, once-returning, or non-returning – but must still train further in order to reach the goal, arahantship, the supreme security from bondage. MN 53 is devoted to expounding the training he must undertake. The arahant is sometimes described as asekha, one beyond training, in the sense that he has completed the training in the Noble Eightfold Path. Nm rendered sekha as “initiate” and asekha as “adept,” which have been changed here to avoid their “esoteric” connotations.On the sekha, see n.21.]

My back is uncomfortable. I will rest it.”
“Yes, venerable sir,” the venerable Ananda replied.

Then the Blessed One prepared his patchwork cloak folded in four and lay down on his right side in the lion’s pose, with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and fully aware, after noting in his mind the time for rising.

§ 6. Then the venerable Ananda addressed Mahanama the Sakyan thus:

“Mahanama, here a noble disciple is possessed of virtue, guards the doors of his sense faculties, is moderate in eating, and devoted to wakefulness; he possesses seven good qualities; and he is one who obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now. [355]

§ 7. “And how is a noble disciple possessed of virtue? Here a noble disciple is virtuous, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the Patimokkha, he is perfect in conduct and resort, and seeing fear in the slightest fault, he trains by undertaking the training precepts. This is how a noble disciple is possessed of virtue.

§ 8. “And how does a noble disciple guard the doors of his sense faculties? On seeing a form with the eye, a noble disciple does not grasp at its signs and ‘features. Since, if he left the eye faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and grief might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the eye faculty. On hearing a sound with the ear…On smelling an odour with the nose…On tasting a flavour with the tongue…On touching a tangible with the body…on cognizing a mind-object with the mind, a noble disciple does not grasp at its signs and features. Since, if he left the mind faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness and grief might invade him, he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the mind faculty, he undertakes the restraint of the mind faculty. That is how a noble disciple guards the doors of his sense faculties.

§ 9. “And how is a noble disciple moderate in eating?
Here, reflecting wisely, a noble disciple takes food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the endurance and continuance of this body, for ending discomfort, and for assisting the holy life, considering: ‘Thus I shall terminate old feelings without arousing new feelings and I shall be healthy and blameless and shall live in comfort.’ That is how a noble disciple is moderate in eating.

§ 10. “And how is a noble disciple devoted to wakefulness?

Here, during the day, while walking back and forth and sitting, a noble disciple purifies his mind of obstructive states. In the first watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. In the middle watch of the night he lies down on the right side in the lion’s pose with one foot overlapping the other, mindful and fully aware, after noting in his mind the time for rising. After rising, in the third watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive states. That is how a noble disciple is devoted to wakefulness. [356]

§ 11. “And how does a noble disciple possess’ seven good qualities?

Here a noble disciple has faith; he places his faith in the Tathagata’s enlightenment thus: ‘The Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed.’

§ 12. “He has shame;
he is ashamed of misconduct in body, speech, and mind,
ashamed of engaging in evil unwholesome deeds.

§ 13. “He has fear of wrongdoing; he is afraid of misconduct in body, speech, and mind, afraid of engaging in evil unwholesome deeds.559 [On the distinction between shame (hiri) and fear of wrongdoing (ottappa), Shame (hiri) and fear of wrongdoing (ottappa) are two complementary qualities designated by the Buddha “the guardians of the world” (AN 1.51) because they serve as the foundation for morality. Shame has the characteristic of disgust with evil, is dominated by a sense of self-respect, and manifests itself as conscience. Fear of wrongdoing has the characteristic of dread of evil, is dominated by a concern for the opinions of others, and manifests itself as fear of doing evil. See Vsm XIV, 142.see n.416.]

§ 14. “He has learned much, remembers what he has learned, and consolidates what he has learned. Such teachings as are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing, and affirm a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure – such teachings as these he has learned much of, remembered, recited verbally, investigated with the mind and penetrated well by view.

§ 15. “He is energetic in abandoning unwholesome states and in undertaking wholesome states; he is steadfast, firm in striving, not remiss in developing wholesome states.

§ 16. “He has mindfulness; he possesses the highest mindfulness and skill; he recalls and recollects what was done long ago and spoken long ago.560 [Here the text Explains sati, mindfuhless, by reference to its original meaning o f memory. The relationship between the two senses of sati – memory and attentiveness – may be formulated thus: keen attentiveness to the present forms the basis for an accurate memory of the past. MA takes the mention of sati here to imply all seven
factors of enlightenment/ among which it is the first.]

§ 17. “He is wise; he possesses wisdom regarding rise and disappearance that is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering.561 [MA: This is the wisdom of insight and of the path, capable of penetrating the rise and fall of the five aggregates. Path wisdom is called “penetrative” (nibbedhika) because
it pierces through and eradicates the mass of greed, hate, and delusion; insight wisdom is called penetrative because it pierces through them temporarily and because it leads to penetration by the path.]

That is how a noble disciple possesses seven good qualities.

§ 18. “And how is a noble disciple one who obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now?

Here, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a noble disciple enters upon and abides in the first jhana…With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, he enters upon and abides in the second jhana…With the fading away as well of rapture…he enters upon and abides in the third jhana…With the abandoning of pleasure and pain.. .he enters upon and abides in the fourth jhana, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness due to equanimity. That is how a noble disciple is one who obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now.

§ 19. “When a noble disciple has thus become one who is possessed of virtue, who guards the doors of his sense faculties, who is moderate in eating, who is devoted to wakefulness, who possesses seven good qualities, [357] who obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now, he is called one in higher training who has entered upon the way. His eggs are unspoiled; he is capable of breaking out, capable of enlightenment, capable of attaining the supreme security from bondage.

“Suppose there were a hen with eight or ten or twelve eggs, which she had covered, incubated, and nurtured properly.  Even though she did not wish: ‘Oh, that my chicks might pierce their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and hatch out safely!’ yet the chicks are capable of piercing their shells with the points of their claws and beaks and hatching out safely. [As at MN 16.26. He develops the basis for spiritual power consisting in concentration due to zeal and determined striving; he develops the basis for spiritual power consisting in concentration due to energy and determined striving; he develops the basis for spiritual power consisting in concentration due to [purity of] mind and determined striving; he develops the basis for spiritual power consisting in concentration due to investigation and determined striving. And enthusiasm is the fifth]

So too, when a noble disciple has thus become one who is possessed of virtue…he is called one in higher training who has entered upon the way. His eggs are unspoiled; he is capable of breaking out, capable of enlightenment, capable of attaining the supreme security from bondage.

§ 20. “Having arrived at that same supreme mindfulness whose purity is due to equanimity,563 [This refers to the fourth jhana, which is the foundation for the three knowledge’s to follow.]

his noble disciple recollects his manifold past lives…(as Sutta 51, §24)…Thus with their aspects and particulars he recollects his manifold past lives. This is his first breaking out like that of the hen’s chicks from their shells.

§ 21. “Having arrived at that same supreme mindfulness whose purity is due to equanimity, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, this noble disciple sees beings passing away and reappearing…(AS Sutta 51, §25)…he understands how beings pass on according to their actions. This is his second breaking out like that of the hen’s chicks from their shells.

§ 22. “Having arrived at that same supreme mindfulness whose purity is due to equanimity, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, this noble disciple 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. [358] This is his third breaking out like that of the hen’s chicks from their shells.564 –[At this point he ceases to be a sekha and becomes an arahant.]

§ 23. “When a noble disciple is possessed of virtue, that is his conduct. When he guards the doors of his sense faculties, that is his conduct. When he is moderate in eating, that is his conduct. When he is devoted to wakefulness, that is his conduct. When he possesses seven good qualities, that is his conduct. When he is one who obtains at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhanas that constitute the higher mind and provide a pleasant abiding here and now, that is his conduct.565 [These constitute the traditional list of fifteen factors making up conduct (carana), which are often conjoined with the three following types of knowledge in the complete course of training. The two together enter into the common epithet of the Buddha and the arahants, vijjlicaranasampanna, “perfect in true knowledge and conduct.” See Vsin VII, 30-31.]

§ 24. “When he recollects his manifold past lives…with their aspects and particulars, that is his true knowledge. When, with the divine eye…he sees beings passing away and reappearing and understands how beings pass on according to their actions, that is his true knowledge. When, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, he 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, that is his true knowledge.

§ 25. “This noble disciple is thus said to be perfect in true knowledge, perfect in conduct, perfect in true knowledge and conduct. And this stanza was uttered by the Brahma Sanankumara:

‘The noble clan is held to be
The best of people as to lineage;
But best of gods and humans is one
Perfect in true knowledge and conduct.’

“Now that stanza was well sung by the Brahma Sanankumara, not ill-sung; it was well spoken, not ill-spoken; it has a meaning, and is not meaningless; and it was approved by the Blessed One.”566 [The verse was approved by the Buddha at DN 3.1.28/i.99.
The Brahma Sanankumara, “Forever Young,” according to MA was a youth who attained jhana, passed away, and was reborn in the Brahma-world, retaining the same handsome form he possessed in his existence in the human world. See DN 18.17-29/ii.210-218.]

§ 26. Then the Blessed One rose and addressed the venerable Ananda thus: “Good, good, Ananda! It is good that you have spoken to the Sakyans of Kapilavatthu about the disciple in higher training who has entered upon the way.” [359] That is what the venerable Ananda said. The Teacher approved.

The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu were satisfied and delighted in the venerable Ananda’s words.

Vipassana

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