103 What Do You Think About Me?

MN 03-01-03 KINCI SUTTA

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Kusinārā, in the Grove of Offerings. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus:
“Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied.
The Blessed One said this:

§ 2. “What do you think about me, bhikkhus?
That the recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma for the sake of robes?
Or that the recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma for the sake of almsfood?
Or that the recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma for the sake of a resting place?
Or that the recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma for the sake of some better state of being?”969

[969: Bhavābhavahetu. MA: “Do you think that he teaches the Dhamma as a means of gaining merit so that he can experience happiness in this or that [higher] state of being?”]


“We do not think thus about the Blessed One:
‘The recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma for the sake of robes, or for the sake of almsfood, or for the sake of a resting place, or for the sake of some better state of being.’”

“So, bhikkhus, you do not think thus about me:
‘The recluse Gotama teaches the Dhamma
for the sake of robes
ෆොර් තේ සකේ ඔෆ් …or for the sake of some better state of being.’

Then what do you think about me?”
“Venerable sir, we think thus about the Blessed One: ‘The Blessed One is compassionate and seeks our welfare; he teaches the Dhamma out of compassion.’”

“So, bhikkhus, you think thus about me: ‘The Blessed One is compassionate
and seeks our welfare; he teaches the Dhamma out of compassion.’

§3. “So, bhikkhus, these things that I have taught you after directly knowing them—
that is,
the four foundations of mindfulness,
the four right kinds of striving,
the four bases for spiritual power,
the five faculties,
the five powers,
the seven [239] enlightenment factors,
the Noble Eightfold Path

in these things you should all train in concord,
with mutual appreciation, without disputing.

§ 4. “While you are training in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, two bhikkhus might make different assertions about the higher Dhamma.970

[970:- Abhidhamma. MA says that this refers to the thirty-seven aids to enlightenment mentioned in the previous paragraph. 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.]

§ 5. “Now if you should think thus:
‘These venerable ones differ about both the meaning and the phrasing,’971 then whichever bhikkhu you think is the more reasonable should be approached and addressed thus:

[971:- Meaning (attha) and phrasing (byañjana) are the two aspects of the Dhamma taught by the Buddha. The following passage, §§5–8, should be compared with DN 29.18–21/iii.128–29, which also expresses a concern for the preservation of the correct meaning and phrasing of the Dhamma.]

‘The venerable ones differ about both the meaning and the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is difference about the meaning and difference about the phrasing; let them not fall into a dispute.’

Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the opposite part should be approached and addressed thus:
‘The venerable ones differ about the meaning and the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is difference about the meaning and difference about the phrasing; let them not fall into a dispute.

So what has been wrongly grasped should be borne in mind as wrongly grasped. Bearing in mind what has been wrongly grasped as wrongly grasped, what is Dhamma and what is Discipline should be expounded.

§ 6. “Now if you should think thus:
‘These venerable ones differ about the meaning but agree about the phrasing,’
then whichever bhikkhu you think is the more reasonable should be approached and addressed thus:
The venerable ones differ about the meaning but agree about the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is difference about the meaning but agreement about the phrasing; let them not fall into a dispute.

Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the opposite part should be approached and addressed thus:
‘The venerable ones differ about the meaning but agree about the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is difference about the meaning but agreement about the phrasing; let them not fall into a dispute.’ [240]

So what has been wrongly grasped should be borne in mind as wrongly grasped and what has been rightly grasped should be borne in mind as rightly grasped. Bearing in mind what has been wrongly grasped as wrongly grasped, and bearing in mind what has been rightly grasped as rightly grasped, what is Dhamma and what is Discipline should be expounded.

§ 7. “Now if you think thus:
‘These venerable ones agree about the meaning but differ about the phrasing,’ then whichever bhikkhu you think is the more reasonable should be approached and addressed thus: ‘The venerable ones agree about the meaning but differ about the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is agreement about the meaning but difference about the phrasing. But the phrasing is a mere trifle. Let the venerable ones not fall into a dispute over a mere trifle.’972

[972:- This statement is made because slight deviations from the correct phrasing are not necessarily an obstacle to a proper understanding of the meaning. But elsewhere (e.g., AN 2:20/i.59) the Buddha points out that the wrong expression of the letter and the wrong interpretation of the meaning are two factors responsible for the distortion and disappearance of the true Dhamma.]

Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the opposite part should be approached and addressed thus:
The venerable ones agree about the meaning but differ about the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is agreement about the meaning but difference about the phrasing. But the phrasing is a mere trifle. Let the venerable ones not fall into a dispute over a mere trifle.’

So what has been rightly grasped should be borne in mind as rightly grasped and what has been wrongly grasped should be borne in mind as wrongly grasped. Bearing in mind what has been rightly grasped as rightly grasped, and bearing in mind what has been wrongly grasped as wrongly grasped, what is Dhamma and what is Discipline should be expounded.

§ 8. “Now if you should think thus: ‘These venerable ones agree about both the meaning and the phrasing,’ then whichever bhikkhu you think is the more reasonable should be approached and addressed thus:
‘The venerable ones agree about both the meaning and the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is agreement about both the meaning and the phrasing; let the venerable ones not fall into a dispute.’

Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the opposite part should be approached and addressed thus:
The venerable ones agree about both the meaning and the phrasing. The venerable ones should know that it is for this reason that there is agreement about both the meaning and the phrasing; let the venerable ones not [241] fall into a dispute.’

So what has been rightly grasped should be borne in mind as rightly grasped. Bearing in mind what has been rightly grasped as rightly grasped, what is Dhamma and what is Discipline should be expounded.

§ 9. “While you are training in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, some bhikkhu might commit an offence or a transgression.973

[973:- The general principle underlying §§10–14 is this:
If the offending bhikkhu can be rehabilitated, then despite the hurt to him and the trouble to oneself, one should try to correct him. But if he is not susceptible to being rehabilitated, one should just maintain one’s own equanimity]

§ 10. “Now, bhikkhus, you should not hurry to reprove him; rather, the person should be examined thus:
‘I shall not be troubled and the other person will not be hurt; for the other person is not given to anger and resentment, he is not firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes easily, and I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. ’
If such occurs to you, bhikkhus, it is proper to speak.

§ 11. “Then it may occur to you, bhikkhus:
I shall not be troubled, but the other person will be hurt, for the other person is given to anger and resentment.
However, he is not firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes easily, and I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. It is a mere trifle that the other person will be hurt, but it is a much greater thing that I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. ’ If such occurs to you, bhikkhus, it is proper to speak.

§ 12 . “Then it may occur to you, bhikkhus:
‘I shall be troubled, but the other person will not be hurt; for the other person is not given to anger and resentment, though he is firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes with difficulty; yet I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. It is a mere trifle that I shall be troubled, but it is a much greater thing that I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome.’
If such occurs to you, bhikkhus, it is proper to speak.

§ 13. “Then it may occur to you, bhikkhus:
‘I shall be troubled and the other person will be hurt; [242] for the other person is given to anger and resentment, and he is firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes with difficulty; yet I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome. It is a mere trifle that I shall be troubled and the other person hurt, but it is a much greater thing that I can make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome.’
If such occurs to you, bhikkhus, it is proper to speak.

§ 14. “Then it may occur to you, bhikkhus:
‘I shall be troubled and the other person will be hurt; for the other person is given to anger and resentment, and he is firmly attached to his view and he relinquishes with difficulty; and I cannot make that person emerge from the unwholesome and establish him in the wholesome.’
One should not underrate equanimity towards such a person.

§ 15 . “While you are training in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, there might arise mutual verbal friction, insolence in views, mental annoyance, bitterness, and dejection. Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the one part should be approached and addressed thus:
‘While we were training in concord, friend, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, there arose mutual verbal friction, insolence in views, mental annoyance, bitterness, and dejection. If the Recluse knew, would he censure that?974

[974:- “The Recluse” (samaṇa) is glossed by MA with satthā, the Teacher, referring to the Buddha. A similar use of the term is found at MN 105.18, 21.]

Answering rightly, the bhikkhu would answer thus: ‘While we were training…If the Recluse knew, he would censure that.’ “
But, friend, without abandoning that thing, can one realise Nibbāna?’
Answering rightly, the bhikkhu would answer thus: ‘Friend, without abandoning that thing, one cannot realise Nibb̄na.’975

[975:- The “thing” (dhamma) intended, MA says, is quarrelling]

§ 16. “Then whichever bhikkhu you think is the most reasonable of those who side together on the opposite part should be approached and addressed thus:
While we were training in concord, friend, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, there arose mutual verbal friction, insolence in views, mental annoyance, bitterness, and dejection. If the Recluse knew, would he censure that?’

Answering rightly, the bhikkhu would answer thus:
‘While we were training…If the Recluse knew, he would censure that.’
“‘But, friend, without abandoning that thing, can one realise Nibbāna?’
Answering rightly, the bhikkhu would answer thus: [243]
‘Friend, without abandoning that thing, one cannot realise Nibbāna.’

§ 17. “If others should ask that bhikkhu thus:
‘Was it the venerable one who made those bhikkhus emerge from the unwholesome and established them in the wholesome?
answering rightly, the bhikkhu would answer thus:
‘Here, friends, I went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One taught me the Dhamma. Having heard that Dhamma, I spoke to those bhikkhus. The bhikkhus heard that Dhamma, and they emerged from the unwholesome and became established in the wholesome.

Answering thus, the bhikkhu neither exalts himself nor disparages others; he answers in accordance with the Dhamma in such a way that nothing which provides a ground for censure can be legitimately deduced from his assertion.”

That is what the Blessed One said.
The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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