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With Saṅgārava —Bhikkhu Sujato

Numbered Discourses 3

6. Brahmins

60. With Saṅgārava

1.1Then Saṅgārava the brahmin went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. 1.2When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha:

1.3“Master Gotama, we who are called brahmins 1.4make sacrifices and encourage others to make sacrifices. 1.5Now, Master Gotama, both of these people—the one who sacrifices and the one who encourages others to sacrifice—are doing good for many people on account of that sacrifice. 1.6But, Master Gotama, when someone has gone forth from the lay life to homelessness, they tame, calm, and extinguish themselves alone. That being so, they are doing good for just one person on account of that going forth.”

2.1“Well then, brahmin, I’ll ask you about this in return, and you can answer as you like. 2.2What do you think, brahmin? 2.3A Realized One arises in the world, perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed. 2.4He says, 2.5‘Come, this is the path, this is the practice. Practicing like this, I realized the supreme culmination of the spiritual life with my own insight, and I make it known. 2.6Please, all of you, practice like this, and you too will realize the supreme culmination of the spiritual life, and will live having realized it with your own insight.’ 2.7So the teacher teaches Dhamma, and others practice accordingly, in their hundreds and thousands, and hundreds of thousands.

3.1What do you think, brahmin? 3.2This being so, are they doing good for just one person or for many people on account of going forth?”

3.3“This being so, Master Gotama, they are doing good for many people on account of going forth.”

4.1When he said this, Venerable Ānanda said to Saṅgārava, 4.2“Brahmin, which of these two practices do you believe has fewer requirements and undertakings, yet is more fruitful and beneficial?”

4.3Saṅgārava said to Ānanda, 4.4“Those such as the masters Gotama and Ānanda 4.5are honored and praised by me!”

5.1For a second time, Ānanda said to Saṅgārava, 5.2“Brahmin, I didn’t ask you 5.3who you honor and praise. 5.4I asked you 5.5which of these two practices do you believe has fewer requirements and undertakings, yet is more fruitful and beneficial?”

5.6For a second time Saṅgārava said to Ānanda, 5.7“Those such as the masters Gotama and Ānanda 5.8are honored and praised by me!”

6.1For a third time, Ānanda said to Saṅgārava, 6.2“Brahmin, I didn’t ask you 6.3who you honor and praise. 6.4I asked you 6.5which of these two practices do you believe has fewer requirements and undertakings, yet is more fruitful and beneficial?”

6.6For a third time Saṅgārava said to Ānanda, 6.7“Those such as the masters Gotama and Ānanda 6.8are honored and praised by me!”

7.1Then it occurred to the Buddha, 7.2“Though Ānanda asked him a sensible question three times, Saṅgārava falters without answering. 7.3Why don’t I give him a way out?”

7.4So the Buddha said to Saṅgārava, 7.5“Brahmin, what came up in the conversation among the king’s retinue today, sitting together in the royal compound?”

7.6“Master Gotama, this came up: 7.7‘Formerly, it seems, there were fewer mendicants, but more of them displayed superhuman demonstrations of psychic power; 7.8while these days, there are more mendicants, but fewer display superhuman demonstrations of psychic power.’ 7.9This is what came up in the conversation among the king’s retinue today, while sitting together in the royal compound.”

8.1“Brahmin, there are three kinds of demonstration. 8.2What three? 8.3A demonstration of psychic power, a demonstration of revealing, and a demonstration of instruction.

8.4And what is the demonstration of psychic power? 8.5It’s when someone wields the many kinds of psychic power: multiplying themselves and becoming one again; appearing and disappearing; going unimpeded through a wall, a rampart, or a mountain as if through space; diving in and out of the earth as if it were water; walking on water as if it were earth; flying cross-legged through the sky like a bird; touching and stroking with the hand the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. They control the body as far as the Brahmā realm. 8.6This is called the demonstration of psychic power.

9.1And what is the demonstration of revealing? 9.2In one case, someone reveals by means of a sign: 9.3‘This is what you’re thinking, such is your thought, and thus is your state of mind.’ 9.4And even if they reveal this many times, it turns out exactly so, not otherwise.

10.1In another case, someone reveals after hearing it from humans or non-humans or deities: 10.2‘This is what you’re thinking, such is your thought, and thus is your state of mind.’ 10.3And even if they reveal this many times, it turns out exactly so, not otherwise.

11.1In another case, someone reveals by hearing the sound of thought spreading as someone thinks and considers: 11.2‘This is what you’re thinking, such is your thought, and thus is your state of mind.’ 11.3And even if they reveal this many times, it turns out exactly so, not otherwise.

12.1In another case, someone comprehends the mind of a person who has attained the immersion that’s free of placing the mind and keeping it connected. They understand: 12.2‘Judging by the way this person’s intentions are directed, immediately after this mind state, they’ll think this thought.’ 12.3And even if they reveal this many times, it turns out exactly so, not otherwise. 12.4This is called the demonstration of revealing.

13.1And what is a demonstration of instruction? 13.2It’s when someone instructs others like this: 13.3‘Think like this, not like that. Focus your mind like this, not like that. Give up this, and live having achieved that.’ 13.4This is called a demonstration of instruction.

13.5These are the three kinds of demonstration. 13.6Of these three kinds of demonstration, which do you consider to be the finest?”

14.1“Regarding this, Master Gotama, a demonstration of psychic power 14.2 14.3is experienced only by the one who performs it, occurring only to them. 14.4This seems to me like a magic trick.

15.1And the demonstration where someone reveals something by means of a sign, 15.2 15.3or after hearing it from humans, non-humans, or deities, 15.4or by hearing the sound of thought spreading as someone thinks and considers, 15.5or by comprehending the mind of another person, 15.6 15.7is also experienced only by the one who performs it, occurring only to them. 15.8This also seems to me like a magic trick.

16.1But as to the demonstration where someone instructs others: 16.2‘Think like this, not like that. Focus your mind like this, not like that. Give up this, and live having achieved that.’ 16.3I prefer this demonstration, Master Gotama. It’s the finest of the three kinds of demonstration.

17.1It’s incredible, Master Gotama, it’s amazing, 17.2how well this was said by Master Gotama. We regard Master Gotama as someone who possesses these three kinds of demonstration. 17.3For Master Gotama wields the many kinds of psychic power … controlling the body as far as the Brahmā realm. 17.4And Master Gotama comprehends the mind of another person who has attained the immersion that is free of placing the mind and keeping it connected. He understands: 17.5‘Judging by the way this person’s intentions are directed, immediately after this mind state they’ll think this thought.’ 17.6And Master Gotama instructs others like this: 17.7‘Think like this, not like that. Focus your mind like this, not like that. Give up this, and live having achieved that.’”

18.1“Your words are clearly invasive and intrusive, brahmin. 18.2Nevertheless, I will answer you. 18.3For I do wield the many kinds of psychic power … controlling the body as far as the Brahmā realm. 18.4And I do comprehend the mind of another person who has attained the immersion that is free of placing the mind and keeping it connected. I understand: 18.5‘Judging by the way this person’s intentions are directed, immediately after this mind state they’ll think this thought.’ 18.6And I do instruct others like this: 18.7‘Think like this, not like that. Focus your mind like this, not like that. Give up this, and live having achieved that.’”

19.1“But Master Gotama, is there even one other mendicant who possesses these three kinds of demonstration, apart from Master Gotama?”

19.2“There’s not just one hundred mendicants, brahmin, who possess these three kinds of demonstration, nor two, three, four, or five hundred, but many more than that.”

19.3“But where are these mendicants now staying?”

19.4“Right here, brahmin, in this Saṅgha of mendicants.”

20.1“Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent! 20.2As if he were righting the overturned, or revealing the hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, Master Gotama has made the teaching clear in many ways. 20.3I go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the teaching, and to the mendicant Saṅgha. 20.4From this day forth, may Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”

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