32 Mahā Gosinga Sutta

MN 01-04-02
The Greater Discourse in Gosinga
(Purpose of Monkhood)
Bhikku Bodhi’s Talk

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD.
On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Park of the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood together with a number of very well-known elder disciples—the venerable Sāriputta, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna, the venerable Mahā Kassapa, the venerable Anuruddha, the venerable Revata, the venerable Ānanda, and other very well known elder disciples.

§ 2. Then, when it was evening, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna rose from meditation, went to the venerable Mahā Kassapa, and said to him:
“Friend Kassapa, let us go to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma.”—
“Yes, friend,” the venerable Mahā Kassapa replied.
Then the venerable Mahā Moggallāna, the venerable Mahā Kassapa, and the venerable Anuruddha went to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma.

§3. The venerable Ānanda saw them going to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma. Thereupon he went to the venerable Revata and said to him:
“Friend Revata, those true men are going to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma. Let us also go to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma.”—
“Yes, friend,” the venerable Revata to replied to Then the venerable Revata and with venerable Ānanda went to the venerable Sāriputta to listen to the Dhamma.

§4. The venerable Sāriputta saw the venerable Revata and the venerable Ānanda coming in the distance and said to the venerable Ānanda:
“Let the venerable Ānanda come, welcome to the venerable Ānanda, the Blessed One’s attendant, who is always in the Blessed One’s presence.

“Friend Ānanda, the Gosinga Sālatree Wood is delightful, the night is moonlit, the sāla trees are all in blossom, and heavenly scents seem to be floating in the air. What kind of bhikkhu, friend Ānanda, could illuminate the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

“Here, friend [213] Sāriputta, a bhikkhu 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 which affirm a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure—such teachings as these he has learned much of, remembered, mastered verbally, investigated with the mind, and penetrated well by view. And he teaches the Dhamma to the four assemblies with well-rounded and coherent statements and phrases for the eradication of the underlying tendencies.357

[357:- The four assemblies are those of bhikkhus, bhikkhunı̄s, men lay followers, and women lay followers. The seven underlying tendencies are enumerated at MN 18.8. Ven. ̄nanda was declared by the Buddha to be the pre-eminent disciple among those who had learned much, and his discourses are said to have delighted the four assemblies (DN 16.5.16/ii.145).]

That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

§5. When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta addressed the venerable Revata thus:

“Friend Revata, the venerable Ānanda has spoken according to his own inspiration. 358 Now we ask the venerable Revata: Friend Revata, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful, the night is moonlit, the sāla trees are all in blossom, and heavenly scents seem to be floating in the air. What kind of bhikkhu, friend Revata, could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

[358:- Yathā sakaṁ paṭibhānaṁ. This phrase might also be rendered “according to his own intuition” or “according to his own ideal.” Ñm renders “as it occurs to him”; Horner, “according to his own capacity.”]

“Here, friend Sāriputta, a bhikkhu delights in solitary meditation and takes delight in solitary meditation; he is devoted to internal serenity of mind, does not neglect meditation, possesses insight, and dwells in empty huts.359 That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

[359:- Ven. Revata was declared the pre-eminent disciple among those who are meditators.]

§ 6 .When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta addressed the venerable Anuruddha thus:
“Friend Anuruddha, the venerable Revata has spoken according to his own inspiration. Now we ask the venerable Anuruddha: Friend Anuruddha, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful…What kind of bhikkhu, friend Anuruddha, could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

“Here, friend Sāriputta, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, a bhikkhu surveys a thousand worlds. Just as a man with good sight, when he has ascended to the upper palace chamber, might survey a thousand wheel-rims, so too, with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, a bhikkhu surveys a thousand worlds .360 That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

[360:- Ven. Anuruddha was the pre-eminent disciple among those who possessed the divine eye.]

§7. When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta addressed the venerable Mahā Kassapa thus:
“Friend Kassapa, the venerable Anuruddha has spoken according to his own inspiration.
Now we ask the venerable Mahā Kassapa: Friend Kassapa, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful…What kind of bhikkhu, friend Kassapa, [214] could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

“Here, friend Sāriputta,
(i) a bhikkhu is a forest dweller himself and speaks in praise of forest dwelling;
(ii) he is an almsfood eater himself and speaks in praise of eating almsfood;
(iii) he is a refuse-rag wearer himself and speaks in praise of wearing refuse-rag robes;
(iv) he is a triple-robe wearer himself and speaks in praise of wearing the triple robe;361
(v) he has few wishes himself and speaks in praise of fewness of wishes; he is content himself and speaks in praise of contentment;

[361:-Mahā Kassapa was the pre-eminent disciple among those who observed the ascetic practices.]

(vi) he is secluded himself and speaks in praise of seclusion; he is aloof from society himself and speaks in praise of aloofness from society;
(vii) he is energetic himself and speaks in praise of arousing energy;
(viii) he has attained to virtue himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of virtue;
(ix) he has attained to concentration himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of concentration;
(x) he has attained to wisdom himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of wisdom;
(xi) he has attained to deliverance himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of deliverance;
(xii) he has attained to the knowledge and vision of deliverance himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of the knowledge and vision of deliverance.

That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

§ 8. When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta addressed the venerable Mahā Moggallāna thus:
“Friend Moggallāna, the venerable Mahā Kassapa has spoken according to his own inspiration. Now we ask the venerable Mahā Moggallāna:
“Friend Moggallāna, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful…What kind of bhikkhu, friend Moggallāna, could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

“Here, friend Sāriputta, two bhikkhus engage in a talk on the higher Dhamma362 and they question each other, and each being questioned by the other answers without foundering, and their talk rolls on in accordance with the Dhamma. That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

[362:- Abhidhamma. Though the word cannot refer here to the Piṭaka of that name —obviously the product of a phase of Buddhist thought later than the Nikāyas— it may well indicate a systematic and analytical approach to the doctrine that served as the original nucleus of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka. In a careful study of the contexts in which the word “Abhidhamma” occurs in the Sutta Piṭakas of several early recensions, the Japanese Pali scholar Fumimaro Watanabe concludes that the Buddha’s own disciples formed the conception of Abhidhamma as an elementary philosophical study that attempted to define, analyse, and classify dhammas and to explore their mutual relations. See his Philosophy and its Development in the Nikāyas and Abhidhamma, pp. 34–36. ]


§ 9 . When this was said, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna addressed the venerable Sāriputta thus: “Friend Sāriputta, we have all spoken according to our own inspiration. Now we ask the venerable Sāriputta: Friend Sāriputta, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful, the night is moonlit, the sāla trees are all in blossom, and heavenly scents seem to be floating in the air. What kind of bhikkhu, friend Sāriputta, could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?”

“Here, friend Moggallāna, a bhikkhu wields mastery over his mind, he does not let the mind wield mastery over him. In the morning he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants [215] to abide in during the morning; at midday he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants to abide in at midday; in the evening he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants to abide in during the evening. Suppose a king or a king’s minister had a chest full of variously coloured garments. In the morning he could put on whatever pair of garments he wanted to put on in the morning; at midday he could put on whatever pair of garments he wanted to put on at midday; in the evening he could put on whatever pair of garments he wanted to put on in the evening. So too, a bhikkhu wields mastery over his mind, he does not let the mind wield mastery over him. In the morning…at midday…in the evening he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants to abide in during the evening. That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.” Then the venerable Sāriputta addressed those venerable ones thus

“Friends, we have all spoken according to our own inspiration. Let us go to the Blessed One and report this matter to him. As the Blessed One answers, so let us remember it.”—“Yes, friend,” they replied.
Then those venerable ones went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, they sat down at one side. The
venerable Sāriputta said to the Blessed One:

§ 11. “Venerable sir, the venerable Revata and the venerable Ānanda came to me to listen to the Dhamma. I saw them coming in the distance and [216] said to the venerable Ānanda:
‘Let the venerable Ānanda come, welcome to the venerable Ānanda…Friend Ānanda, the Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood is delightful… What kind of bhikkhu, friend Ānanda, could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?’ When asked, venerable sir, the venerable Ānanda replied:
‘Here, friend Sāriputta, a bhikkhu has learned much…(as in §4)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.’”
“Good, good, Sāriputta. Ānanda, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did. For Ānanda 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 which affirm a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure—such teachings as these he has learned much of, remembered, mastered verbally, investigated with the mind, and penetrated well by view. And he teaches the Dhamma to the four assemblies with well-rounded and coherent statements and phrases for the eradication of the underlying tendencies.”

§ 12. “When this was said, venerable sir, I addressed the venerable Revata thus: ‘Friend Revata…What kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?’ And the venerable Revata replied: ‘Here, frien d Sāriputta, a bhikkhu delights in solitary meditation…(as in §5)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.’”
“Good, good, Sāriputta. Revata, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did.
For Revata delights in solitary meditation, takes delight in solitary meditation, is devoted to internal serenity of mind, does not neglect meditation, possesses insight, and dwells in empty huts.” [217]

§13. “When that was said, venerable sir, I addressed the venerable Anuruddha thus: ‘Friend Anuruddha…What kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?’ And the venerable Anuruddha replied: ‘Here, friend Sāriputta,
with the divine eye…(as in §6)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.’”
“Good, good, Sāriputta. Anuruddha, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did. For with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, Anuruddha surveys a thousand worlds.”

§14. “When this was said, venerable sir, I addressed the venerable Mahā Kassapa thus: ‘Friend Kassapa…What kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?’ And the venerable Mahā Kassapa replied: ‘Here, friend Sāriputta, a bhikkhu is a forest-dweller himself…(as in §7)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.’” [218]
“Good, good, Sāriputta. Kassapa, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did. For Kassapa is a forest-dweller himself and speaks in praise of forest dwelling… he has attained to the knowledge and vision of deliverance himself and speaks in praise of the attainment of the knowledge and vision of deliverance.”

§ 15. “When this was said, venerable sir, I addressed the venerable Mahā Moggallāna thus: ‘Friend Moggallāna…What kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood?’ And the venerable Mahā Moggallāna replied: ‘Here, friend Sāriputta, two bhikkhus engage in a talk on the higher Dhamma… (as in §8)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sālatree Wood.’”
“Good, good, Sāriputta. Moggallāna, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did. For Moggallāna is one who talks on the Dhamma.”

§ 16. When that was said, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna told the Blessed One: “Then, venerable sir, I addressed the venerable Sāriputta thus: ‘Friend Sāriputta…What kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree
Wood?’ And the venerable Sāriputta replied: ‘Here, friend Moggallāna, a bhikkhu wields mastery over his mind…[219] (as in §9)…That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.’”

“Good, good, Moggallāna. Sāriputta, speaking rightly, should speak just as he did. For Sāriputta wields mastery over his mind, he does not let the mind wield mastery over him. In the morning he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he
wants to abide in during the morning; at midday he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants to abide in at midday; in the evening he abides in whatever abiding or attainment he wants to abide in during the evening.”

§ 17. When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta asked the Blessed One:
“Venerable sir, which of us has spoken well?” “You have all spoken well, Sāriputta, each in his own way. Hear also from me what kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood. Here, Sāriputta, when a bhikkhu has returned from his almsround, after his meal, he sits down, folds his legs crosswise, sets his body erect, and establishing mindfulness in front of him, resolves: ‘I shall not break this sitting position until through not clinging my mind is liberated from the taints.’ That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sālatree Wood.”363

[363:-While the replies of the disciples hold up as the ideal a bhikkhu who has already achieved proficiency in a particular sphere of the renunciant life, the Buddha’s reply, by focusing on a bhikkhu still striving for the goal, underscores the ultimate purpose of the holy life itself.]


That is what the Blessed One said.
Those venerable ones were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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