066 The Simile of the Quail

Sutta Exposituion by Bhikku Bodhi

MN 02-02-06 – Laṭukikopama Sutta

Exposition by Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso

§ 1.THUS HAVE I HEARD.
On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the country of the Anguttarāpans where there was a town of theirs named Āpaṇa.

§ 2. Then, when it was morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went into Āpaṇa for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Āpaṇa and had returned from his alms-round, after his meal he went to a certain grove for the day’s abiding. Having entered the grove, he sat down at the root of a tree for the day’s abiding.

§ 3. When it was morning, the venerable Udāyin dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he too went into Āpaṇa for alms. When he had wandered for alms in Āpaṇa and had returned from his almsround, after his meal he went to that same grove for the day’s abiding. Having entered the grove, he sat down at the root of a tree for the day’s abiding.

§ 4 . Then, while the venerable Udāyin was alone in meditation, the following thought arose in his mind: “How many painful states has the Blessed One rid us of!
How many pleasant states has the Blessed One brought us!
How many unwholesome states has the Blessed One rid us of!
How many wholesome states has the Blessed One brought us!”

§ 5. Then, when it was evening, the venerable Udāyin rose from meditation, went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side [448] and told him:

§ 6.“Here, venerable sir, while I was alone in meditation, the following thought arose in my mind:
‘How many painful states has the Blessed One rid us of!… How many wholesome states has the Blessed One brought us!’

Venerable sir, formerly we used to eat in the evening, in the morning, and during the day outside the proper time. Then there was an occasion when the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:
‘Bhikkhus, please abandon that daytime meal, which is outside the proper time.’671

[671:- From this passage and that to follow, it appears that the Buddha restricted the allowable time for bhikkhus’ meals in two successive stages, first prohibiting only the afternoon meal and allowing a night meal. However, in the Vinaya account of the origin of Pāc 37 (Vin iv.85) no mention is made of this successive prohibition. To the contrary, the text seems to assume it to be an item of common knowledge that monks should not consume food past noon, and it shows the Buddha laying down the rule against untimely eating with one categorical pronouncement valid for all meals past noon.]

“Venerable sir, I was upset and sad, thinking:
‘Faithful householders give us good food of various kinds during the day outside the proper time, yet the Blessed One tells us to abandon it, the Sublime One tells us to relinquish it.’
Out of our love and respect for the Blessed One, and out of shame and fear of wrongdoing, we abandoned that daytime meal, which was outside the proper time.

“Then we ate only in the evening and in the morning. Then there was an occasion when the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus:
‘Bhikkhus, please abandon that night meal, which is outside the proper time.’
Venerable sir, I was upset and sad, thinking: ‘The Blessed One tells us to abandon the more sumptuous of our two meals, the Sublime One tells us to relinquish it.’

Once, venerable sir, a certain man had obtained some soup during the day and he said: ‘Put that aside and we will all eat it together in the evening.’ [Nearly] all dishes are prepared at night, few by day. Out of our love and respect for the Blessed One, and out of shame and fear of wrongdoing, we abandoned that night meal, which was outside the proper time.

“It has happened, venerable sir, that bhikkhus wandering for alms in the thick darkness of the night have walked into a cesspool, fallen into a sewer, walked into a thorn bush, and walked into a sleeping cow; they have met hoodlums who had already committed a crime and those planning one, and they have been sexually enticed by women.

Once, venerable sir, I went wandering for alms in the thick darkness of the night. A woman washing a pot saw me by a flash of lightning and screamed out in terror: ‘Mercy me, a devil has come for me!’ I told her: ‘Sister, I am no devil, I am a bhikkhu [449] waiting for alms.’—‘Then it’s a bhikkhu whose ma’s died and whose pa’s died!672

[672:- The utterance is in what appears to be very colloquial Pali. MA explains: If one’s mother and father were alive, they would give their son various kinds of food and offer him a place to sleep, and thus he would not have to wander about for food at night]

Better, bhikkhu, that you get your belly cut open with a sharp butcher’s knife than this prowling for alms for your belly’s sake in the thick darkness of the night!’

Venerable sir, when I recollected that I thought:
‘How many painful states has the Blessed One rid us of! How many pleasant states has the Blessed One brought us! How many unwholesome states has the Blessed One rid us of! How many wholesome states has the Blessed One brought us!’”

§ 7 . “So too, Udāyin, there are certain misguided men here who, when told by me ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What, such a mere trifle, such a little thing as this? This recluse is much too exacting!’
And they do not abandon that and they show discourtesy towards me as well as towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. For them that thing becomes a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.

§ 8. “Suppose, Udāyin, a quail were tethered by a rotting creeper and would thereby expect injury, captivity, or death. Now suppose someone said: ‘The rotting creeper by which that quail is tethered and thereby expects injury, captivity, or death, is for her a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.’ Would he be speaking rightly?”
“No, venerable sir. For that quail the rotting creeper by which she is tethered and thereby expects injury, captivity, or death, is a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.”

“So too, Udāyin there are certain misguided men here who, when told by me ‘Abandon this’…do not abandon that and they show discourtesy towards me as well as towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. For them that thing becomes a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.

§ 9 . “Udāyin, there are certain clansmen here who, [450] when told by me ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What, such a mere trifle, such a little thing to be abandoned as this, the Blessed One tells us to abandon, the Sublime One tells us to relinquish.’

Yet they abandon that and do not show discourtesy towards me or towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. Having abandoned it, they live at ease, unruffled, subsisting on others’ gifts, with mind [as aloof] as a wild deer’s. For them that thing becomes a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.

§ 10. “Suppose, Udāyin, a royal tusker elephant with tusks as long as chariot-poles, full-grown in stature, high-bred and accustomed to battle, were tethered by stout leather thongs, but by simply twisting his body a little he could break and burst the thongs and then go where he likes. Now suppose someone said:

‘The stout leather thongs by which this royal tusker elephant is tethered…are for him a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.’ Would he be speaking rightly?”

“No, venerable sir.
The stout leather thongs by which that royal tusker elephant is tethered, which by simply twisting his body a little he could break and burst and then go where he likes, are for him a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.”

“So too, Udāyin, there are certain clansmen here who, when told by me ‘Abandon this’…abandon that and do not show discourtesy towards me or towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. Having abandoned it, they live at ease, unruffled, subsisting on others’ gifts, with mind [as aloof] as a wild deer’s. For them that thing becomes a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.

§ 11 . “Suppose, Udāyin, there were a poor, penniless, destitute man, and he had one dilapidated hovel open to the crows, not the best kind, and one dilapidated wicker bedstead, not the best kind, [451] and some grain and pumpkin seeds in a pot, not the best kind, and one hag of a wife, not the best kind. He might see a bhikkhu in a monastery park sitting in the shade of a tree, his hands and feet well washed after he had eaten a delicious meal, devoting himself to the higher mind.

He might think:
‘How pleasant the recluse’s state is! How healthy the recluse’s state is! If only I could shave off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness!’

But being unable to abandon his one dilapidated hovel open to the crows, not the best kind, and his one dilapidated wicker bedstead, not the best kind, and his grain and pumpkin seeds in a pot, not the best kind, and his hag of a wife, not the best kind, he is unable to shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness.

Now suppose someone said: ‘The tethers by which that man is tethered so that he cannot abandon his one dilapidated hovel…and his hag of a wife, not the best kind, and shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness—for him those are a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.

’ Would he be speaking rightly?”
“No, venerable sir. The tethers by which that man is tethered so that he cannot abandon his one dilapidated hovel…and his hag of a wife, not the best kind, and shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness—for him those are a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.”

“So too, Udāyin, there are certain misguided men here who, when told by me ‘Abandon this’…do not abandon that and they show discourtesy towards me as well as towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. For them that thing becomes a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.

§ 12 ..“Suppose, Udāyin, there were a rich householder or a householder’s son, [452] with great wealth and property, with a vast number of gold ingots, a vast number of granaries, a vast number of fields, a vast amount of land, a vast number of wives, and a vast number of men and women slaves. He might see a bhikkhu in a monastery park sitting in the shade of a tree, his hands and feet well washed after he had eaten a delicious meal, devoting himself to the higher mind.

He might think: ‘How pleasant the recluse’s state is! How healthy the recluse’s state is! If only I could shave off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness!’

And being able to abandon his vast number of gold ingots, his vast number of granaries, his vast number of fields, his vast amount of land, his vast number of wives, and his vast number of men and women slaves, he is able to shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness. Now suppose someone said:

‘The tethers by which that householder or householder’s son is tethered so that he can abandon his vast number of gold ingots…his vast number of men and women slaves, and shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness—for him those are a strong, stout, tough, unrotting tether and a thick yoke.’ Would he be speaking rightly?”

“No, venerable sir. The tethers by which that householder or householder’s son is tethered so that he can abandon his vast number of gold ingots…his vast number of men and women slaves, and shave off his hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness—for him those are a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.”

“So too, Udāyin, there are certain clansmen here who, when told by me ‘Abandon this’…abandon that and do not show discourtesy towards me or towards those bhikkhus desirous of training. [453] Having abandoned it, they live at ease, unruffled, subsisting on others’ gifts, with mind [as aloof] as a wild deer’s. For them that thing becomes a feeble, weak, rotting, coreless tether.

§ 13. “Udāyin, there are four kinds of persons to be found existing in the world.
What are the four?673

[673:- MA: The Buddha undertakes this teaching in order to analyse the person who abandons what he is told to abandon (§9) into four distinct types of individuals.]

§ 14 .“Here, Udāyin, some person practises the way to the abandoning of the acquisitions, to the relinquishing of the acquisitions. 674 When he is practising the way, memories and intentions associated with the acquisitions beset him. He tolerates them; he does not abandon them, remove them, do away with them, and annihilate them. Such a person I call fettered, not unfettered.
Why is that?
Because I have known the particular diversity of faculties in this person.

[674:- Upadhi. MA glosses: For the abandoning of four kinds of upadhi—the aggregates, defilements, volitional formations, and cords of sensual pleasure (khandh’upadhi kiles’upadhi abhisankhār’upadhi k̄magụ’upadhi).]

§ 15 . “Here, Udāyin, some person practises the way to the abandoning of the acquisitions, to the relinquishing of the acquisitions. When he is practising the way, memories and intentions associated with the acquisitions beset him. He does not tolerate them; he abandons them, removes them, does away with them, and annihilates them. Such a person too I call fettered, not unfettered. Why is that? Because I have known the particular diversity of faculties in this person.675

[675:- MA: The ordinary man, the stream-enterer, the once-returner, and the nonreturner can all be included under the first category (§14), the non-returner because the craving for being still exists in him and thus at times he can delight in thoughts of worldly enjoyment. The same four can be included in the second category (§15), the ordinary man because he may suppress arisen defilements, arouse energy, develop insight, and eradicate defilements by attaining the supramundane path.]

§ 16 . “Here, Udāyin, some person practises the way to the abandoning of the acquisitions, to the relinquishing of the acquisitions. When he is practising the way, memories and intentions associated with the acquisitions beset him now and then through lapses of mindfulness. His mindfulness may be slow in arising, but he quickly abandons them, removes them, does away with them, and annihilates them.676

[676:- This type is distinguished from the previous type only by his sluggishness in arousing mindfulness to abandon arisen defilements.]

Just as if a man were to let two or three drops of water fall onto an iron plate heated for a whole day, the falling of the water drops might be slow but they would quickly vaporise and vanish.

So too, here some person practises the way…His mindfulness may be slow in arising, but he quickly abandons them, removes them, does away with them, and annihilates them. Such a person too I call fettered, not unfettered. [454]
Why is that?
Because I have known the particular diversity of faculties in this person.

§ 17 . “Here, Udāyin, some person, having understood that acquisition is the root of suffering, divests himself of the acquisitions and is liberated in the destruction of the acquisitions. Such a person I call unfettered, not fettered.677

[677:- This is the arahant, who alone has eradicated all the fetters.]

Why is that?
Because I have known the particular diversity of faculties in this person.

§ 18. “There are, Udāyin, five cords of sensual pleasure.
What are the five?
(a) Forms
cognizable by the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust.
(b) Sounds
cognizable by theear…
(c) Odours
cognizable by the nose…
(d) Flavours
cognizable by the tongue…
(e) Tangibles
cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust.
These are the five cords of sensual pleasure.

§ 19. “Now, Udāyin, the pleasure and joy that arise dependent on these five cords of sensual pleasure are called sensual pleasure—
a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure, an ignoble pleasure.
I say of this kind of pleasure that it should not be pursued, that it should not be developed, that it should not be cultivated, that it should be feared.

§ 20. “Here, Udāyin, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…
With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, he enters upon and abides in the second jhāna…
With the fading away as well of rapture…he enters upon and abides in the third jhāna…
With the abandoning of pleasure and pain…he enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna…

§ 21 . “This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment.678 I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not be feared.

[678:- Here I have departed from Ñm in rendering sukha as “bliss” rather than “pleasure” in order to avoid the awkward-sounding phrases that would result from strict consistency. MA explains the jhānas as nekkhamma-sukha because they yield the bliss of renouncing sensual pleasures; as paviveka-sukha because they yield the bliss of being secluded from the crowd and from defilements; as upasama-sukha because their bliss is for the purpose of quieting down the defilements; and as sambodha-sukha because their bliss is for the purpose of attaining enlightenment. The jhānas themselves, of course, are not states of enlightenment.]

§ 22. “Here, Udāyin, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…

Now this, I say, belongs to the perturbable. 679 And what therein belongs to the perturbable? The applied thought and sustained thought that have not ceased therein, that is what belongs to the perturbable.

[679:- All states of mind below the fourth jhāna are classified as “the perturbable” (iñjita). The fourth jhāna and all higher states are called “the imperturbable” (aniñjita). Āneñja (BBS); āṇañja (PTS). This is a technical term for the meditative attainments from the fourth jhāna through the four immaterial attainments. But since the highest two immaterial attainments are dealt with separately, it seems that in this sutta only the fourth jhāna and the lower two immaterial attainments are intended as “the imperturbable.”]

§ 23. “Here, Udāyin, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhāna…Now this, I say, also belongs to the perturbable. And what therein belongs to the perturbable? The rapture and pleasure that have not ceased therein, that is what belongs to the perturbable.

§ 24.“Here, Udāyin, with the fading away as well of rapture…a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the third jhāna…Now this, I say, also belongs to the perturbable. And what therein belongs to the perturbable? [455] The pleasure of equanimity that has not ceased therein, that is what belongs to the perturbable.

§ 25. “Here, Udāyin, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain…a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna… Now this, I say, belongs to the imperturbable.

§ 26. “Here, Udāyin, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…That, I say, is not enough.680 Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

[680:- MA: It is not fitting to become attached to it with craving, and one should not come to a standstill at this point.]

§ 27. “Here, Udāyin, with the stilling of applied and sustained thought, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the second jhāna…That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 28. “Here, Udāyin, with the fading away as well of rapture…a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the third jhāna…That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 29. “Here, Udāyin, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain…a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna… That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 30. “Here, Udāyin, with the complete surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance of perceptions of sensory impact, with non-attention to perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite space. That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 31 . “Here, Udāyin, by completely surmounting the base of infinite space, aware that ‘consciousness is infinite,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of infinite consciousness. That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 32. “Here, Udāyin, by completely surmounting the base of infinite consciousness, aware that ‘there is nothing,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of nothingness. That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough.
Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 33. “Here, Udāyin, by completely surmounting the base of nothingness, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base of neither-perception-nor-nonperception. [456] That surmounts it. But that too, I say, is not enough. Abandon it, I say; surmount it, I say. And what surmounts it?

§ 34. “Here, Udāyin, by completely surmounting the base of neither-perception nor-non-perception, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the cessation of perception and feeling.681 That surmounts it.

[681:- The cessation of perception and feeling is not simply one more higher attainment along the scale of concentration, but here implies the full development of insight brought to its climax in arahantship ]

Thus I speak of the abandoning even of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. Do you see, Udāyin, any fetter, small or great, of whose abandoning I do not speak?”
“No, venerable sir.”
That is what the Blessed One said.

The venerable Udāyin was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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