SUTRA ON THE BUDDHA'S BEQUEATHED TEACHING
Translated from Sanskrit by
Yau Chin Tripitaka Dharma Master Kumarjiva ... /
Translated from Chinese by:
The Buddhist Text Translation Society,
Dharma Realm Buddhist University,
Talmage, California, USA
When Shakyamuni Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma, he crossed
over the Venerable Ajnatakaundinya. The very last time he spoke the
Dharma, he crossed over the Venerable Subhadhra. All of those whom
he should have crossed over had already been crossed over. He lay
between the Twin Sala trees and was about to enter Nirvana. At this
time, in the middle period of the night, all was quiet,without any
sound. Then for the sake of all of his disciples he spoke on the
essentials of the Dharma.
Upholding the Precepts
UPHOLDING THE PRECEPTS
All of you Bhikshus, after my Nirvana, you should reverence and
honor the Pratimoksha. It is like finding a light in darkness, or
like a poor person obtaining a treasure. You should know that it is
your great teacher, and is not different from my actual presence in
the world. Those of you who uphold the pure precepts should not buy,
sell or trade. You should not covet fields or buildings, or keep
servants or raise animals. You should stay far away from all kinds
of agriculture and wealth as you would avoid a pit of fire. You
should not cut down grass or trees, plow fields or dig the earth.
Nor may you compound medicines, prophesize good and evil, observe
the constellations, cast horoscopes by the waxing and waning of the
moon, or compute astrological fortunes. All of these activities are
Regulate yourselves by eating at the appropriate time and by living
in purity. You should not participate in worldly affairs or act as
an envoy, nor should you become involved with magical spells and
elixiers of immortality, or with making connections with high
ranking people, being affectionate towards them and condescending
towards the lowly.
With an upright mind and proper mindfulness you should seek to cross
over. Do not conceal your faults or put on a special appearance to
delude the multitudes. Know the limits and be content with the four
kinds of offerings. When you receive offerings, do not store them up.
This is a general explanation of the characteristics of upholding
the precepts. The precepts are the root of proper freedom; therefore
they are called the Pratimoksha (lit. the root of freedom). By
relying on these precepts, you will give rise to all dhyana
concentrations, and reach the wisdom of the cessation of suffering.
For this reason, Bhikshus, you should uphold the pure precepts and
not allow them to be broken. If a person is able to uphold the pure
precepts, he will, as a result, be able to have good dharmas. If one
is without the pure precepts no good merit and virtue can arise.
Therefore you should know that the precepts are the dwelling place
for the foremost and secure merit and virtue.
Restraining the Mind
All of you Bhikshus, if you are already able to abide by the
precepts, you should restrain the five sense organs, not allowing
them to enter the five desires as they please. It is like a person
tending cattle who carries a staff while watching them, not allowing
them to run loose and trample others sprouting grains. If you let
your five sense organs run loose, not only will the five desires
become boundless, they will be uncontrollable. They are like a
violent horse unrestrained by reins who drags a person along so that
he falls into a pit. If you are robbed or injured you will suffer
for a single life, but the injury from the plundering done by the
five sense organs brings misfortunes which extend for many lives.
Because their harm is extremely heavy, it is impermissable to be
For this reason wise people restrain the five sense organs and do
not go along with them. They restrain them like thieves who are not
allowed to run loose. If you let them run loose for a while, before
long you will observe their destruction. Since the five sense organs
have the mind as their ruler, you should restrain the mind well.
Your mind is as dangerous as an extreme- ly poisonous snake, a
savage beast or a hateful robber. A great fire rushing upon you is
still not a satisfactory analogy for it. It is like a person
carrying a container of honey who, as he moves along in haste, only
pays attention to the honey, and does not notice a deep pit. It is
like a mad elephant without a barb, or a monkey in a tree jumping
about, which are both difficult to restrain. You should hasten to
control it and not allow it to run loose. Those who allow their
minds to wander freely loose the good situation of being a human
being. By restraining it in one place there is no affair which
cannot be completed. For this reason, Bhikshus, you should
vigorously subdue your mind.
Moderation in Eating
All of you Bhikshus, you should receive various kinds of food and
drink as if you were taking medicine. Whether they be good or bad,
do not take more or less of them, but use them to cure hunger and
thirst and to maintain the body. Bhikshus should be the same way as
bees gathering from flowers, only taking the pollen without harming
their form or scent; receive peoples' offerings to put an end to
distress, but do not seek to obtain too much and spoil their good
hearts. Be like a wise man, who having estimated the load that suits
the strength of his ox, does not exceed that amount and exhaust its
All of you Bhikshus, during the day, with a vigorous mind, cultivate
the Dharma and don't allow the opportunity to be lost. In the first
and last periods of the night also do not be lax, and during the
middle period of the night, chant Sutras to make yourself well
informed. Do not let the causes and conditions of sleep cause your
single life to pass in vain, so that you don't obtain anything at
all. You should be mindful of the fire of impermanence which burns
up all the world. Seek to cross yourself over and do not sleep.
The robber afflictions are always about to kill you even more than
your enemies. How can you sleep? How can you not rouse yourself to
awaken? With the hook of the precepts you should quickly remove the
poisonous snake afflictions that are sleeping in your heart. When
the sleeping snake is gone, then you can sleep at ease. Those who
sleep even though it hasn't yet gone, are without shame. The
clothing of shame, among all adornments, is the very best. Shame can
be compared to an iron barb which can restrain people from doing
evil. Therefore you should always have a sense of shame, and not be
without it even for a moment, for if you have no sense of shame you
will lose all of your merit and virtue. Those who have shame have
good dharmas; one without it is no different from the birds and
All of you Bhikshus, if a person dismembered you piece by piece your
mind should be self-contained. Do not allow yourself to become
angry. Moreover, you should guard your mouth and not give rise to
evil speech. If you allow yourself to have thoughts of anger, you
will hinder your own Way, and lose the merit and virtue you have
gained. Patience is a virtue which neither upholding the precepts
nor the ascetic practises are able to compare with. One who is able
to practise patience can be called a great person who has strength;
if you are unable to happily and patiently undergo the poison of
malicious abuse, as if drinking sweet dew, you cannot be called a
wise person who has entered the Way. Why is this? The harm from
anger ruins all good dharmas and destroys one's good reputation.
People of the present and of the future will not even wish to see
this person. You should know that a heart of anger is worse than a
fierce fire. You should always guard against it, and not allow it to
enter you, for of the thieves which rob one's merit and virtue, none
surpasses anger. Anger may be excusable in lay people who indulge in
desires, and in people who do not cultivate the Way, who are without
the means to restrain themselves, but for people who have left the
home-life, who cultivate the Way and are without desires, harboring
anger is impermissable. Within a clear, cool cloud, there should not
be a sudden blazing clash of thunder.
All of you Bhikshus, you should rub your heads for you have
relinguished fine adornments, you wear the garments of a Buddhist
monk, and you carry the alms bowl to use in begging for your
livelihood; look at yourself in this way. If thoughts of arrogance
arise you should quickly destroy them, because the increase of
arrogance is not appropriate even among the customs of lay people,
how much the less for a person who has left the home-life and
entered the Way. For the sake of liberation, you should humble
yourself and practice begging for food.
All of you Bhikshus, a mind of flattery is contradictory to the Way.
Therefore you should have a straightforward disposition of mind. You
should know that flattery is only deceit, so for people who have
entered the Way, it has no use. For this reason, all of you should
have an upright mind, and take a straightforward disposition as
All of you Bhikshus, you should know that people with many desires,
because they have much seeking for advantage, have much suffering.
People who reduce their desires, who are without seeking or longing
are without this trouble. Straight-away reduce your desires and in
addition cultivate appropriately. One who reduces his desires is
more able to produce all merit and virtue. People who reduce their
desires, do not flatter in order to get what they want from others.
Moreover they are not dragged along by their sense organs. People
who reduce their desires have, as a consequence, a mind which is
peaceful, without worry or fear. In meeting with situations they are
always satisfied and never discontent. One who reduces his desires
has Nirvana. This is known as reducing desires.
All of you Bhikshus, if you wish to be free from all suffering and
difficulty, you should be content. The dharma of contentment is the
dwelling of blessings, happiness, and peace. People who are content,
although they might sleep on the ground are peaceful and happy.
Those who are not content, although they might abide in the heavens,
are still dissatisfied. Those who are not content, even if they are
rich, they are poor. Those who are content, although they might be
poor, they are rich. Those who are discontent are always dragged
along by their five sense organs, and are pitied by those who are
content. This is known as contentment.
All of you Bhikshus, seek quietude, the Unconditioned peace, and
happiness. You should be apart from confusion and disturbances, and
dwell alone in seclusion. People who dwell in quietude are
reverenced by the heavenly ruler Shakra and all the gods. For this
reason you should renounce your own group and other groups, and
dwell alone in seclusion in order to contemplate the basis for the
cessation of suffering. If you delight in crowds, you will undergo a
lot of affliction. It is like when a flock of birds gathers in a
great tree, it is in danger of withering and collapsing. One who is
bound and attached to the world drowns in a multitude of suffering,
like an old elephant sunk in mud, who is unable to get himself out.
This is known as seclusion.
All of you Bhikshus, if you are vigorous no affair will be difficult
for you; for this reason all of you should be vigorous. It is like
a small stream flowing for a long time which is able to bore through
stone. If, on the other hand, the mind of one who cultivates
frequently becomes lax, it is like trying to make a fire by friction
but resting before there is any heat; though one wants to make a
fire, the fire is difficult to obtain. This is known as vigor.
All of you Bhikshus, seeking for a Good and Wise Advisor, or for a
wholesome benefactor, does not compare with mindfulness. If you do
not neglect mindfulness, none of the thieves of the afflictions can
enter you. For this reason all of you should constantly collect the
thoughts in your mind. If you lose mindfulness you will lose all
merit and virtue. If your power of mindfulness is firm and strong,
though you enter among the thieves of the five desires, they cannot
harm you. It is like entering a battle wearing armour, thus there is
nothing to fear. This is known as mindfulness.
All of you Bhikshus, if you collect your mind, it will be
concentrated. Because the mind is concentrated, the production and
destruction of the appearances of dharmas in the world can be known.
For this reason, all of you should constantly and vigorously
cultivate concentration. If you attain concentration your mind will
not be scattered. It is like a household that uses its water
sparingly and is able to regulate its irrigation ditches. One who
cultivates concentration is also the same way; for the sake of the
water of wisdom he well cultivates dhyana concentration so it
doesn't leak away. This is known as concentration.
All of you Bhikshus, if you have wisdom, you will be without greed
or attachment. Always examine yourselves, and do not allow
yourselves to have faults, for it is in this way that you will be
able to obtain liberation within my Dharma. If one is not like this,
since he is neither a person of the Way, nor a layperson, there is
no name for him. One with wisdom has a secure boat for crossing over
the ocean of birth, old age, sickness, and death. Wisdom is also
like a great bright lamp in the darkness of ignorance, a good
medicine for those who are sick, and a sharp axe for cutting down
the tree of afflictions. For this reason all of you should
increasingly benefit yourselves by learning, considering, and
cultivating wisdom. Even though a person only has flesh eyes, if he
has illuminating wisdom, he has clear understanding. This is known
Not Having Idle Discussions
All of you Bhikshus, if you have all sorts of idle discussions,
your mind will be scattered, and even though you have left the
home-life, you will not attain liberation. For this reason,
Bhikshus, you should quickly renounce a scattered mind and idle
discussions. If you wish to be one who attains the happiness of
still tranquillity, you only need to be good and eliminate the evil
of idle discussions. This is known as not having idle discussions.
All of you Bhikshus, with respect to all merit and virtue, you
should always have a single purpose. Relinguish all laziness as you
would leave a hateful thief. That which the greatly compassionate
World Honored One has explained for your benefit is already
finished; all of you need only to practice it diligently. Whether
you are in the mountains, in a desolate marsh, beneath a tree, or in
an empty and quiet dwelling, be mindful of the Dharma you have
received and do not allow it to be forgotten. You should always
exert yourselves and practise it vigorously. You don't want to reach
the time of death and be filled with remorse because of a life spent
in vain. I am like a good doctor who understands illnesses and
prescribes medicine. Whether it is taken or not is not the
responsibility of the doctor. Moreover I am like a virtuous guide
who points out a good path. If those who hear of it do not walk down
it, it is not the guide's fault.
Clearing up all doubts
All of you Bhikshus, if you have doubts about suffering and the
other Four Truths, you may quickly ask about them now. Do not
harbour doubts and fail to clear them up.
At that time the World Honored One repeated this three times, yet no
one asked him a question. And why was this? Because the assembly did
not harbour any doubts.
At that time Venerable Aniruddha contemplated the minds of the
assembly and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, the moon can
become hot and the sun can become cold, but the Four Truths
proclaimed by the Buddha cannot be otherwise. The Truth of Suffering
taught by the Buddha is actually suffering, and cannot become
happiness. Accumulation is truly the cause of it, besides which
there is no other cause. If one is to destroy suffering, the cause
of suffering must be destroyed, because if the cause is destroyed
then the result is destroyed. The path leading to the destruction of
suffering is truly the real path, besides which there is no other
path. World Honored One, all of these Bhikshus are certain and have
no doubts about the Four Truths."
Living beings who will cross over
"When those in this assembly who have not yet done what should be
done see the Buddha cross over to Nirvana they will certainly feel
sorrow. Those who have newly entered the Dharma and heard what the
Buddha taught, will all cross over. They have seen the Way, like a
flash of lightning in the night. But those who have already done
what was to be done who have already crossed over the ocean of
suffering, will only have this thought: 'Why has the World Honored
One crossed over to Nirvana so soon?'
Aniruddha spoke these words. Everyone in the assembly had penetrated
the meaning of the Four Holy Truths. The World Honored One wished
all in that great assembly to be firm, so with a mind of great
compassion he spoke again for their sake.
"All of you Bhikshus do not be grieved or distressed. If I were to
live in the world for a kalpa, my association with you would still
come to an end. A meeting without a seperation can never be. The
Dharma for benefitting oneself and others is complete. If I were to
live longer it would be of no further benefit. All of those who
could be crossed over, whether in the heavens above or among humans,
have already crossed over, and all of those who have not yet crossed
over have already created the causes and conditions for crossing
The Dharma Body is always present
From now on all of my disciples must continuously practise. Then the
Thus Come One's Dharma body will always be present and
indestructible. You should know therefore, that everything in the
world is impermanent. Meetings necessarily have seperations, so do
not harbour grief. Every appearance in the world is like this, so
you should be vigorous and seek for an early liberation. Destroy the
darkness of delusion with the brightness of wisdom. The world is
truly dangerous and unstable, without any durability.
My present attainment of Nirvana is like being rid of a malignant
sickness. The body is a false name, drowning in the great ocean of
birth, sickness, old age and death. How can one who is wise not be
happy when he gets rid of it, like killing a hateful thief?
All of you Bhikshus, you should always singlemindedly and diligently
seek the way out of all the moving and unmoving dharmas of the
world, for they are all destructible, unfixed appearances. All of
you, stop; there is nothing more to say. Time is passing away, and
I wish to cross over to Nirvana. These are my very last instructions.
THE DISCOURSE OF THE TEACHING
BEQUEATHED BY THE BUDDHA ...
(just before His Parinibbana)
Translated into Chinese by the Indian Acarya Kumarajiva sometime prior to the year 956 Buddhist Era.
WHEN LORD BUDDHA, Sage of the Sakyas, first turned the Wheel of the Dhamma, Venerable Annakondanna crossed over (the
ocean of birth and death); while as a result of his last Discourse Venerable Subhadda crossed over likewise. All those who were
(ready) to cross over, them he (helped) to cross over. When about to attain Final Nibbana, he was lying between the twin sala
trees in the middle watch of the night. No sound disturbed the calm and silence; then, for the sake of the disciples (savaka), he
spoke briefly on the essentials of Dhamma:
II. On the cultivation of virtue in this world
1. Exhortation on keeping the Precepts ...
O bhikkhus, after my Parinibbana you should reverence and honor the Precepts of the Patimokkha. Treat them as a light which
you have discovered in the dark, or as a poor man would treat a treasure found by him. You should know that they are your chief
guide and there should be no difference (in your observance of them) from when I yet remained in the world. If you would
maintain in purity the Precepts, you should not give yourselves over to buying, selling or barter. You should not covet fields or
buildings, nor accumulate servants, attendants or animals. You should flee from all sorts of property and wealth as you would
avoid a fire or a pit. You should not cut down grass or trees, neither break new soil nor plough the earth. Nor may you compound
medicines, practice divination or sorcery according to the position of the stars, cast horoscopes by the waxing and waning of the
moon, nor reckon days of good fortune. All these are things which are improper (for a bhikkhu).
Conduct yourselves in purity, eating only at the proper times and living your lives in purity and solitude. You should not
concern yourselves with worldly affairs, nor yet circulate rumors. You should not mumble incantations, mix magic potions, nor
bind yourselves in friendship to powerful persons, showing to them and the rich (special) friend-liness while treating with
contempt those lacking (in worldly wealth, power and so forth). All such things are not to be done!
You should seek, with a steadfast mind, and with Right Mindfulness (samma sati), for Enlightenment. Neither conceal your faults
(within), nor work wonders (without), thereby leading (yourself and) other people astray. As to the four offerings, be content
with them, knowing what is sufficient. Receive them when offered but do not hoard them. This, briefly, is what is meant by
observing the Precepts. These Precepts are fundamental (to a life based on Dhamma-Vinaya) and accord exactly with freedom
(mokkha), and so are called the Patimokkha. By relying on them you may attain all levels of collectedness (samadhi) and likewise
the knowledge of the extinction of dukkha (unsatisfactoriness). It is for this reason, bhikkhus, that you should always maintain
the Precepts in purity and never break them. If you can keep these Precepts pure you possess an excellent (method for the
attainment of Enlightenment), but if you do not do so, no merit of any kind will accrue to you. You ought to know for this reason
that the Precepts are the chief dwelling-place of the merit which results in both body and mind (citta) being at rest.
2. Exhortation on the control of Mind and Body ...
O bhikkus, if you are able already to keep within the Precepts, you must next control the five senses, not permitting the entry of
the five sense desires by your unrestraint, just as a cowherd by taking and showing his stick prevents cows from entering
another's field, ripe for the harvest. In an evil-doer indulging the five senses, his five desires will not only exceed all bounds but
will become uncontrollable, just as a wild horse unchecked by the bridle must soon drag the man leading it into a pit. If a man be
robbed, his sorrow does not extend beyond the period of his life but the evil of that robber (sense-desires) and the depredations
caused by him bring calamities extending over many lives, creating very great dukkha. You should control yourselves!
Hence, wise men control themselves and do not indulge their senses but guard them like robbers who must not be allowed
freedom from restraint. If you do allow them freedom from restraint, before long you will be destroyed by Mara. The mind is the
lord of the five senses and for this reason you should well control the mind. Indeed, you ought to fear indulgence of the mind's
(desires) more than poisonous snakes, savage beasts, dangerous robbers or fierce conflagrations. No simile is strong enough to
illustrate (this danger). But think of a man carrying a jar of honey who, as he goes, heeds only the honey and is unaware of a
deep pit (in his path)! Or think of a mad elephant unrestrained by shackles! Again, consider a monkey who after climbing into a
tree, cannot, except with difficulty, be controlled! Such as these would be difficult to check; therefore hasten to control your
desires and do not let them go unrestrained! Indulge the mind (with its desires) and you lose the benefit of being born a man;
check it completely and there is nothing you will be unable to accomplish. That is the reason, O bhikkhus, why should strive hard
to subdue your minds.
3. Exhortation on the moderate use of food ...
O bhikkhus, in receiving all sorts of food and drinks, you should regard them as if taking medicine. Whether they be good or bad,
do not accept or reject according to your likes and dislikes; just use them to support your bodies, thereby staying hunger and
thirst. As bees while foraging among the flowers extract only the nectar, without harming their color and scent, just so, O
bhikkhus, should you do (when collecting alms-food). Accept just enough of what people offer to you for the avoidance of
distress. But do not ask for much and thereby spoil the goodness of their hearts, just as the wise man, having estimated the
strength of his ox, does not wear out its strength by overloading.
4. Exhortation on sleeping ...
O bhikkhus, by day you should practice good Dhamma and not allow yourselves to waste time. In the early evening and late at
night do not cease to make an effort, while in the middle of the night you should chant the Suttas to make yourselves better
informed. Do not allow yourselves to pass your lives vainly and fruitlessly on account of sleep. You should envisage the world
as being consumed by a great fire and quickly determine to save yourselves from it. Do not (spend much time in) sleep! The
robbers of the three afflictions forever lie in wait to kill men so that (your danger) is even greater than in a household rent by
hatred. So, fearful, how can you sleep and not arouse yourselves? These afflictions are a poisonous snake asleep in your own
hearts. They are like a black cobra sleeping in your room. Destroy the snake quickly with the sharp spear of keeping to Precepts!
Only when that dormant snake has been driven away will you be able to rest peacefully. If you sleep, not having driven it away,
you are men without shame (hiri). The clothing of shame (hiri) among all ornaments, is the very best. Shame can also be compared
to an iron goad that can control all human wrong-doing; for which reason, O bhikkhus, you should always feel ashamed of
unskillful actions (akusalakamma). You should not be without it even for a moment, for if you are parted from shame, all merits will
be lost to you. He who has fear of blame (ottappa) has that which is good, while he who has no fear of blame (anottappa) is not
different from the birds and beasts.
5. Exhortation on refraining from anger and ill will ...
O bhikkhus, if there were one who came and dismembered you joint by joint, you should not hate him but rather include him in
your heart (of friendliness -- metta). Besides, you should guard your speech and refrain from reviling him. If you succumb to
thoughts of hatred you block your own (progress in) Dhamma and lose the benefits of (accumulated) merits. Patience (khanti) is a
virtue which cannot be equaled even by keeping the Precepts and (undertaking) the Austere Practices. Whosoever is able to
practice patience can be truly called a great and strong man, but he who is unable to endure abuse as happily as though he were
drinking ambrosia, cannot be called one attained to knowledge of Dhamma. Why is this? The harm caused by anger and
resentment shatters all your goodness and so (greatly) spoils your good name that neither present nor future generations of men
will wish to hear it. You should know that angry thoughts are more terrible than a great fire, so continually guard yourselves
against them and do not let them gain entrance. Among the three robbers (the afflictions), none steals merit more than anger and
resentment: Those householders dressed in white who have desires and practice little Dhamma, in them, having no way to
control themselves, anger may still be excusable; but among those become homeless (pabbajjita) because they wish to practice
Dhamma and to abandon desire, the harboring of anger and resentment is scarcely to be expected, just as one does not look for
thunder or lightning from a translucent, filmy cloud.
6. Exhortation on refraining from arrogance and contempt ...
O bhikkhus, rubbing your heads you should deeply consider yourselves in this way: 'It is good that I have discarded personal
adornment. I wear the russet robe of patches and carry a bowl with which to sustain life.' When thoughts of arrogance or
contempt arise, you must quickly destroy them by regarding yourselves in this way. The growth of arrogance and contempt is
not proper among those wearing white and living the household life: how much less so for you, gone forth to homelessness! You
should subdue your bodies, collecting food (in your bowls) for the sake of Dhamma-practice to realize Enlightenment.
7. Exhortation on flattery ...
O bhikkhus, a mind inclined to flattery is incompatible with Dhamma, therefore it is right to examine and correct such a mind. You
should know that flattery is nothing but deception, so that those who have entered the way of Dhamma-practice have no use for
it. For this reason, be certain to examine and correct the errors of the mind, for to do so is fundamental.
III. On the advantages for great men gone forth to homelessness
1. The virtue of few wishes ...
O bhikkhus, you should know that those having many desires, by reason of their desire for selfish profit, experience much
dukkha. Those with few desires, neither desiring nor seeking anything, do not therefore experience such dukkha. Straight-away
lessen your desires! Further, in order to obtain all kinds of merit you should practice the fewness of desires. Those who desire
little do not indulge in flattery so as to away another's mind, nor are they led by their desires. Those who practice the diminishing
of desires thus achieve a mind of contentment having no cause for either grief or fear and, finding the things they receive are
sufficient, never suffer from want. From this cause indeed, (comes) Nibbana. Such is the meaning of 'having few wishes.'
2. The virtue of contentment ...
O bhikkhus, if you wish to escape from all kinds of dukkha, you must see that you are contented. The virtue of contentment is
the basis of abundance, happiness, peace and seclusion. Those who are contented are happy even though they have to sleep on
the ground. Those who are not contented would not be so though they lived in celestial mansions. Such people feel poor even
though they are rich, while those who are contented are rich even in poverty. The former are constantly led by their five desires
and are greatly pitied by the contented Such is the meaning of 'contentment'.
3. The virtue of seclusion ...
O bhikkhus, seek the joy of quietness and passivity. Avoid confusion and noise and dwell alone in secluded places. Those who
dwell in solitude are worshipped with reverence by Sakka and all celestials. This is why you should leave your own and other
clans to live alone in quiet places, reflecting (to devdop insight) upon dukkha, its arising and its cessation. Those who rejoice in
the pleasures of company must bear as well the pains of company, as when many birds flock to a great tree it may wither and
collapse. Attachment to worldly things immerses one in the dukkha experienced by all men, like an old elephant bogged down in
a swamp from which he cannot extricate himself. Such is the meaning of 'secluding oneself.'
4. The virtue of energetic striving ...
O bhikkhus, if you strive diligently, nothing will be difficult for you. As a little water constantly trickling can bore a hole through
a rock, so must you always strive energetically. If the mind of a disciple (savaka) becomes idle and inattentive, he will resemble
one who tries to make fire by friction but rests before the heat is sufficient. However much he desires fire, he cannot (make even a
spark). Such is the meaning of 'energetic striving'.
5. The virtue of attentiveness ...
O bhikkhus, seek for a Noble Friend (kalyanamitta). Seek him who will best (be able to) aid you (in developing) the unexcelled and
unbroken attention. If you are attentive, none of the (three) robbers, the afflictions, can enter your mind. That is why you must
keep your mind in a state of constant attention, for by loss of attention you lose all merits. If your power of attention is very
great, though you fall among (conditions favoring) the five robbers of sense-desire, you will not be harmed by them, just as a
warrior entering a battle well covered by armor has nothing to fear. Such is the meaning of 'unbroken attention.'
6. The virtue of collectedness (samadhi) ...
O bhikkhus, if you guard your mind, so guarded the mind will remain in a state of steady collectedness. If your minds are in a
state of collectedness, you will be able to understand the arising and passing away of the impermanent world. For this reason
you should strive constantly to practice the various stages of absorption (jhana). When one of these states of collectedness is
reached, the mind no longer wanders. A disciple who practices (to attain collectedness) is just like an irrigator who properly
regulates his dykes. As he guards water, even a small amount, so should you guard the water of wisdom, thereby preventing it
from leaking away. Such is the meaning of 'collectedness'.
7. The virtue of wisdom. (PRAJNA) ...
O bhikkhus, if you have wisdom, then do not hunger to make a display of it. Ever look within yourselves so that you do not fall
into any fault. In this way you will be able to attain freedom from (the tangle of) the interior and exterior (spheres of senses and
sense-objects--ayatana). If you do not accomplish this you cannot be called Dhamma practicers, nor yet are you common
persons clad in white, so there will be no name to fit you! Wisdom is a firmly -bound raft which will ferry you across the ocean of
birth, old age, sickness and death. Again, it is a brilliant light with which to dispel the black obscurity of ignorance. It is a good
medicine for all who are ill. It is a sharp axe for cutting down the strangling fig--tree of the afflictions. That is why you should, by
the hearing-, thinking- and development-wisdoms increase your benefits (from Dhamma). If you have Insight (vipassana)
stemming from (development-wisdom), though your eyes are but fleshly organs you will be able to see clearly (into your own
citta.) Such is the meaning of 'wisdom'.
8. The virtue of restraint from idle talk ...
O bhikkhus, if you indulge in all sorts of idle discussions then your mind will be full of chaotic thoughts, and though you have
gone forth to homelessness you will be unable to attain Freedom. That is why, O bhikkhus, you should immediately cease from
chaotic thoughts and idle discussions. If you want to attain the Happiness of Nibbana, you must eliminate completely the illness
of idle discussion
IV. Self exertion
O bhikkhus, as regards all kinds of virtue, you should ever rid yourselves of laxity, as you would flee from a hateful robber. That
Dhamma which the greatly-compassionate Lord has taught for your benefit is now concluded, but it is for you to strive diligently
to practice this teaching. Whether you live in the mountains or on the great plains, whether you sojourn beneath a tree or in your
own secluded dwellings, bear in mind the Dhamma you have received and let none of it be lost. You should always exert
yourselves in practicing it diligently, lest you die after wasting a whole lifetime and come to regret it afterwards. I am like a good
doctor who, having diagnosed the complaint, prescribes some medicine; but whether it is taken or not, does not depend on the
doctor. Again, I am like a good guide who points out the best road; but if, having heard of it, (the enquirer) does not take it, the
fault is not with the guide.
V. On clearing up all doubts
O bhikkhus, if you have any doubts regarding the Four Noble Truths: of unsatis-factoriness (dukkha) and the rest, (its arising. its
cessation and the Practice-path going to its cessation), you should ask about them at once. Do not harbor such doubts without
seeking to resolve them.
On that occasion the Lord spoke thus three times, yet there were none who question-ed him. And why was that? Because there
were none in that assembly (of bhikkhus) who harbored any doubts.
Then the venerable Anuruddha, seeing what was in the minds of those assembled, respectfully addressed the Buddha thus:
'Lord, the moon may grow hot and the sun may become cold, but the Four Noble Truths proclaimed by the Lord cannot be
otherwise. The Truth of Dukkha taught by the Lord describes real dukkha which cannot become happiness. The accumulation of
desires truly is the cause of the Arising of Dukkha; there can never be a different cause. If dukkha is destroyed (the Cessation of
Dukkha), it is because the cause of dukkha has been destroyed, for if the cause is destroyed the result must also be destroyed.
The Practice path going to the Cessation of Dukkha is the true path, nor can there be another. Lord, all these bhikkhus are certain
and have no doubts about the Four Noble Truths.
In this assembly, those who have not yet done what should be done (i. e., attained to Enlightenment), will, on seeing the Lord
attain Final Nibbana, certainly feel sorrowful. (Among them) those who have newly entered upon the Dhamma-way and who
have heard what the Lord has (just said), they will all reach Enlightenment (in due course) seeing Dhamma as clearly as a flash of
lightning in the dark of the night. But is there anyone who has done what should be done (being an Arahant), already having
crossed over the ocean of dukkha who will think thus: "The Lord has attained Final Nibbana; why was this done so quickly?"
Although the Venerable Anuruddha had thus spoken these words, and the whole assembly had penetrated the meaning of the
Four Noble Truths, still the Lord wished to strengthen all in that great assembly. With a mind of infinite compassion he spoke
(again) for their benefit.
"O bhikkhus, do not feel grieved. If I were to live in the world for a whole aeon (kappa), my association with you would still come
to an end, since a meeting with no parting is an impossibility. The Dhamma is now complete for each and every one, so even if I
were to live longer it would be of no benefit at all. Those who were (ready) to cross over, both among the celestials and men,
have all without exception attained Enlightenment, while those who have not yet completed their crossing (of the ocean of
Samsara to the Further Shore or Nibbana) have already produced the necessary causes (to enable them to do so in course of
From now on, all my disciples must continue to practice (in this way) without ceasing, whereby the body of the Tathagata's
Dhamma will be ever lasting and indestructi-ble. But as to the world, nothing there is eternal, so that all meeting must be followed
by partings. Hence, do not harbor grief, for such (impermanence) is the nature of worldly things. But do strive diligently and
quickly seek for Freedom. With the light of Perfect Wisdom destroy the darkness of ignorance, for in this world is nothing strong
Now that I am about to attain Final Nibbana, it is like being rid of a terrible sickness. This body is a thing of which we are indeed
well rid, an evil thing falsely going by the name of self and sunk in the ocean of birth, disease, old age and death. Can a wise man
do aught but rejoice when he is able to rid himself of it, as others might (be glad) when slaying a hateful robber?
O bhikkhus, you should always exert the mind, seeking the Way out (of the Wandering-on, or samsara). All forms in the world,
without exception, whether moving or non-moving, are subject to decay and followed by destruction. All of you should stop. It
is needless to speak again. Time is passing away. I wish to cross over to Freedom (from existence in this world). These are my
very last instructions."