037-Cūḷa Taṇhā Sankhaya Sutta

The Shorter Discourse on the
Destruction of Craving

§ 1. THUS HAVE I HEARD.
On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in the Eastern Park, in the Palace of Migāra’s Mother.

§ 2. Then Sakka, ruler of gods, went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he stood at one side and asked:
Venerable sir, how in brief is a bhikkhu liberated in the destruction of craving, one who has reached the ultimate end, the ultimate security from bondage, the ultimate holy life, the ultimate goal, one who is foremost among gods and humans?395

§3.“Here, ruler of gods, a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to.
When a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to,
he directly knows everything;
having directly known everything, he fully understands everything;
having fully understood everything, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he abides contemplating impermanence in those feelings,
Contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. Contemplating thus, he does not cling to anything in the world.
When he does not cling, he is not agitated.
When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna.396

[395:- MA expands: “Briefly, to what extent is he said to be liberated in the destruction of craving, that is, in Nibbāna, the destruction of craving through the liberation of his mind [which occurs] by taking it [Nibbāna] as object. Teach me briefly the preliminary practice of the arahant bhikkhu by means of which he is liberated in the destruction of craving.]

[396 MA explains this passage as follows: “Everything” (sabbe dhammā) is the five aggregates, the twelve bases, the eighteen elements. These are “not worth adhering to” by way of craving and views because they turn out in actuality to be
different from the way they are grasped: grasped as permanent, pleasurable, and self, they turn out to be impermanent, suffering, and not self. He “directly knows” them as impermanent, suffering, and not self, and “fully understands” them by scrutinising them in the same way. “Contemplating impermanence,” etc., is accomplished by the insight knowledges of rise and fall and of destruction and disappearance. “He does not cling” to any formation by way of craving and views, does not become agitated because of craving, and personally attains Nibbāna by the extinguishing of all defilements.]

[252] He understands:
‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’
Briefly, it is in this way, ruler of gods, that a bhikkhu is liberated in the destruction of craving, one who has reached the ultimate end, the ultimate security from bondage, the ultimate holy life, the ultimate goal, one who is foremost among gods and humans.”

§4. Then Sakka, ruler of gods, delighting and rejoicing in the Blessed One’s words, paid homage to the Blessed One, and keeping him on his right, he vanished at once.

§5.Now on that occasion the venerable Mahā Moggallāna was sitting not far from the Blessed One. Then he considered: “Did that spirit penetrate to the meaning of the Blessed One’s words when he rejoiced, or did he not? Suppose I found out whether he did or not.”

§6.Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna vanished from the Palace of Migāra’s Mother in the Eastern Park and appeared among the gods of the Thirty three.

§7.Now on that occasion Sakka, ruler of gods, was furnished and endowed a hundredfold with the five kinds of heavenly music, and he was enjoying it in the Pleasure Park of the Single Lotus. When he saw the venerable Mahā Moggallāna coming in the distance, he dismissed the music, went to the venerable Mahā Moggallāna, and said to him:
Come, good sir Moggallāna! Welcome, good sir Moggallāna! It is long, good sir Moggallāna, since you found an opportunity to come here. Sit down, good sir Moggallāna; this seat is ready.”
The venerable Mahā Moggallāna sat down on the seat made ready, and Sakka took a low seat and sat down at one side. The venerable Mahā Moggallāna then asked him:

§8. “Kosiya,397 how did the Blessed One state to you in brief deliverance in the destruction of craving? It would be good if we might also get to hear that statement.”

[397:- A personal name of Sakka, meaning “the owl.”]

“Good sir Moggallāna, we are so busy, we have so much to do, not only with our own business, but also with the business of the gods of the Thirty-three.

Besides, good sir Moggallāna, what is well heard, well learned, [253] well attended to, well remembered, suddenly vanishes from us. Good sir Moggallāna, it once happened that war broke out between the gods and the titans.398

[398:- The gods and titans (asura) are depicted in the Pali Canon as being perpetually in a state of war with each other. See especially the Sakkasaṁyutta (SN i.216–28).]

In that war the gods won and the titans were defeated. When I had won that war and returned from it as a conqueror, I had the Vejayanta Palace built. Good sir Moggallāna, the Vejayanta Palace has a hundred towers, and each tower has seven hundred upper chambers, and each upper chamber has seven nymphs, and each nymph has seven maids. Would you like to see the loveliness of the Vejayanta Palace, good sir Moggallāna?”

The venerable Mahā Moggallāna consented in silence.

§9. Then Sakka, ruler of gods, and the divine King Vessavaṇa399 went to the Vejayanta Palace, giving precedence to the venerable Mahā Moggallāna. When the maids of Sakka saw the venerable Mahā Moggallāna coming in the distance, they were embarrassed and ashamed and they went each into their own rooms. Just as a daughter-in-law is embarrassed and ashamed on seeing her father-inlaw, so too, when the maids of Sakka saw the venerable Mahā Moggallāna coming, they were embarrassed and ashamed and they went each into their own rooms.

[399:-One of the Four Great Kings, the ruler of the yakkhas, his kingdom being in the north.]

§ 10. Then Sakka, ruler of gods, and the divine King Vessavaṇa had the venerable Mahā Moggallāna walk all over and explore the Vejayanta Palace:
“See, good sir Moggallāna, this loveliness of the Vejayanta Palace! See, good sir Moggallāna, this loveliness of the Vejayanta Palace!”
“It does the venerable Kosiya credit as one who has formerly made merit; and whenever human beings see anything lovely, they say: ‘Sirs, it does credit to the gods of the Thirty-three!’ It does the venerable Kosiya credit as one who has formerly made merit.”

§11.Then the venerable Mahā Moggallāna considered thus: “This spirit is living much too negligently. What if I stirred up a sense of urgency in him?”
Then the venerable Mahā Moggallāna performed such a feat of supernormal power that with his toe he made the Vejayanta Palace shake and quake and tremble.400 [254]

[400:- MA: He did this by entering into meditation on the water-kasina and then resolving: “Let the foundation of the palace be like water.”]

Sakka and the divine King Vessavaṇa and the gods of the Thirty-three were filled with wonder and amazement, and they said:
“Sirs, it is wonderful, it is marvellous, what power and might the recluse has, that with his toe he makes the heavenly abode shake and quake and tremble!”

§ 12.When the venerable Mahā Moggallāna knew that Sakka, ruler of the gods, was stirred to a sense of urgency with his hair standing on end, he asked him:
“Kosiya, how did the Blessed One state to you in brief deliverance in the destruction of craving? It would be good if we might also get to hear that statement.”
“Good sir Moggallāna, I went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, I stood at one side and said: ‘Venerable sir,…[as in §2]…of gods and humans?’

When this was said, good sir Moggallāna, the Blessed One told me:
‘Here, ruler of gods,… [as in §3]…of gods and humans.’ That is how the Blessed One stated to me in brief deliverance in the destruction of craving, good sir Moggallāna.”

§ 13.Then the venerable Mahā Moggallāna delighted and rejoiced in the words of Sakka, ruler of gods. [255] Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, he vanished from among the gods of the Thirty-three and appeared in the Eastern Park in the Palace of Migāra’s Mother.

§14.Then, soon after the venerable Mahā Moggallāna had gone, the attendants of Sakka, ruler of gods, asked him: “Good sir, was that your teacher, the Blessed One?”—“No, good sirs, that was not my teacher, the Blessed One. That was one of my companions in the holy life, the venerable Mahā Moggallāna.”401

[401:- Sakka can refer to Ven. Mahā Moggallāna as a “companion in the holy life” because he himself had earlier attained to stream-entry (DN 21.2.10/ii.289) and was thus a noble disciple bound for the same deliverance that Mahā Moggallāna had already achieved.]

“Good sir, it is a gain for you that your companion in the holy life is so powerful and mighty. Oh, how much more so must be the Blessed One, your teacher!”

§15.Then the venerable Mahā Moggallāna went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and asked him:
“Venerable sir, does the Blessed One recall stating in brief—to a certain one of the renowned spirits with a great following—deliverance in the destruction of craving?”
“I do recall doing so, Moggallāna. Here Sakka, ruler of gods, came to me, and after paying homage to me, he stood at one side and asked: ‘Venerable sir, how in brief is a bhikkhu liberated in the destruction of craving, one who has reached the ultimate end, the ultimate security from bondage, the ultimate holy life, the ultimate goal, one who is foremost among gods and humans?’

When this was said, I told him: ‘Here, ruler of gods, a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to. When a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to, he directly knows everything; having directly known everything, he fully understands everything; having fully understood everything, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he abides contemplating impermanence in those feelings, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. Contemplating thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. When he does not cling, he is not agitated. When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands:
“Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, [256] what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.”

Briefly, it is in this way, ruler of gods, that a bhikkhu is liberated in the destruction of craving…one who is foremost among gods and humans.’ That is how I recall stating in brief to Sakka, ruler of gods, deliverance in the destruction of craving.”

That is what the Blessed One said. The venerable Mahā Moggallāna was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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