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Sabbath —Bhikkhu Sujato

Numbered Discourses 3

7. The Great Chapter

70. Sabbath

1.1So I have heard. 1.2At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in the Eastern Monastery, the stilt longhouse of Migāra’s mother.

1.3Then Visākhā, Migāra’s mother, went up to the Buddha, bowed, and sat down to one side. The Buddha said to her, 1.4“So, Visākhā, where are you coming from in the middle of the day?”

1.5“Today, sir, I’m observing the sabbath.”

2.1“There are, Visākhā, these three sabbaths. 2.2What three? 2.3The sabbath of the cowherds, the sabbath of the Jains, and the sabbath of the noble ones.

2.4And what is the sabbath of the cowherds? 2.5It’s just like a cowherd who, in the late afternoon, takes the cows back to their owners. They reflect: 2.6‘Today the cows grazed in this place and that, and they drank in this place and that. 2.7Tomorrow the cows will graze in this place and that, and drink in this place and that.’ 2.8In the same way, someone keeping the sabbath reflects: 2.9‘Today I ate this and that, and had a meal of this and that. 2.10Tomorrow I’ll eat this and that, and have a meal of this and that.’ 2.11And so they spend their day with a mind full of covetousness. 2.12That’s the sabbath of the cowherds. 2.13When the cowherd’s sabbath is observed like this it’s not very fruitful or beneficial or splendid or bountiful.

3.1And what is the sabbath of the Jains? 3.2There’s a kind of ascetic belonging to a group called the Jains. 3.3They encourage their disciples: 3.4‘Please, good people, don’t hurt any living creatures more than a hundred leagues away to the east. 3.5Don’t hurt any living creatures more than a hundred leagues away to the west. 3.6Don’t hurt any living creatures more than a hundred leagues away to the north. 3.7Don’t hurt any living creatures more than a hundred leagues away to the south.’ 3.8So they encourage kindness and compassion for some creatures and not others. 3.9On the sabbath, they encourage their disciples: 3.10‘Please, good people, take off all your clothes and say: 3.11“I don’t belong to anyone anywhere! And nothing belongs to me anywhere!”’ 3.12But their mother and father still know, 3.13‘This is our child.’ 3.14And they know, 3.15‘This is my mother and father.’ 3.16Partner and child still know, 3.17‘This is our supporter.’ 3.18And they know, 3.19‘This is my partner and child.’ 3.20Bondservants, workers, and staff still know: 3.21‘This is our master.’ 3.22And they know, 3.23‘These are my bondservants, workers, and staff.’ 3.24So, at a time when they should be encouraged to speak the truth, the Jains encourage them to lie. 3.25This, I say, is lying. 3.26When the night has passed they use their possessions once more, though they’ve not been given back to them. 3.27This, I say, is stealing. 3.28That’s the sabbath of the Jains. 3.29When the Jain’s sabbath is observed like this it’s not very fruitful or beneficial or splendid or bountiful.

4.1And what is the sabbath of the noble ones? 4.2A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. 4.3And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 4.4It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Realized One: 4.5‘That Blessed One is 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.’ 4.6As they recollect the Realized One, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 4.7It’s just like cleaning a dirty head by applying effort.

5.1And how is a dirty head cleaned by applying effort? 5.2With cleansing paste, clay, and water, and by applying the appropriate effort. 5.3In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

6.1And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 6.2It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Realized One: 6.3‘That Blessed One is 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.’ 6.4As they recollect the Realized One, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 6.5This is called: 6.6‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of Brahmā, living together with Brahmā. And because they think of Brahmā their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ 6.7That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

7.1A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. 7.2And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 7.3It’s when a noble disciple recollects the teaching: 7.4‘The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.’ 7.5As they recollect the teaching, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning a dirty body by applying effort.

8.1And how is a dirty body cleaned by applying effort? 8.2With pastes of powdered shells and herbs, water, and by applying the appropriate effort. 8.3That’s how a dirty body is cleaned by applying effort. 8.4In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

9.1And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 9.2It’s when a noble disciple recollects the teaching: 9.3‘The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.’ 9.4As they recollect the teaching, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 9.5This is called: ‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of Dhamma, living together with Dhamma. And because they think of the Dhamma their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ 9.6That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

10.1A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. 10.2And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 10.3It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Saṅgha: 10.4‘The Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is practicing the way that’s good, straightforward, methodical, and proper. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. This is the Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples that is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world.’ 10.5As they recollect the Saṅgha, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning a dirty cloth by applying effort.

11.1And how is a dirty cloth cleaned by applying effort? 11.2With salt, lye, cow dung, and water, and by applying the appropriate effort. 11.3That’s how a dirty cloth is cleaned by applying effort. 11.4In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

12.1And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 12.2It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Saṅgha: 12.3‘The Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is practicing the way that’s good, straightforward, methodical, and proper. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. This Saṅgha of the Buddha’s disciples is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, and worthy of veneration with joined palms. It is the supreme field of merit for the world.’ 12.4As they recollect the Saṅgha, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 12.5This is called: ‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of the Saṅgha, living together with the Saṅgha. And because they think of the Saṅgha their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ 12.6That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

13.1A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. 13.2And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 13.3It’s when a noble disciple recollects their own ethical conduct, which is unbroken, impeccable, spotless, and unmarred, liberating, praised by sensible people, not mistaken, and leading to immersion. 13.4As they recollect their ethical conduct, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning a dirty mirror by applying effort.

14.1And how is a dirty mirror cleaned by applying effort? 14.2With oil, ash, a rolled-up cloth, and by applying the appropriate effort. 14.3That’s how a dirty mirror is cleaned by applying effort. 14.4In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

15.1And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 15.2It’s when a noble disciple recollects their own ethical conduct, which is unbroken, impeccable, spotless, and unmarred, liberating, praised by sensible people, not mistaken, and leading to immersion. 15.3As they recollect their ethical conduct, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 15.4This is called: ‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of ethical conduct, living together with ethics. And because they think of their ethical conduct their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ 15.5That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

16.1A corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort. 16.2And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 16.3It’s when a noble disciple recollects the deities: 16.4‘There are the Gods of the Four Great Kings, the Gods of the Thirty-Three, the Gods of Yama, the Joyful Gods, the Gods Who Love to Create, the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others, the Gods of Brahmā’s Host, and gods even higher than these. 16.5When those deities passed away from here, they were reborn there because of their faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. I, too, have the same kind of faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom.’ 16.6 16.7 16.8 16.9 16.10As they recollect the faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom of both themselves and those deities, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning dirty gold by applying effort.

17.1And how is dirty gold cleaned by applying effort? 17.2With a furnace, flux, a blowpipe, and tongs, and by applying the appropriate effort. 17.3That’s how dirty gold is cleaned by applying effort. 17.4In the same way, a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

18.1And how is a corrupt mind cleaned by applying effort? 18.2It’s when a noble disciple recollects the deities: 18.3‘There are the Gods of the Four Great Kings, the Gods of the Thirty-Three, the Gods of Yama, the Joyful Gods, the Gods Who Love to Create, the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others, the Gods of Brahmā’s Host, and gods even higher than these. 18.4When those deities passed away from here, they were reborn there because of their faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. I, too, have the same kind of faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom.’ 18.5As they recollect the faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom of both themselves and those deities, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. 18.6This is called: ‘A noble disciple who observes the sabbath of the deities, living together with the deities. And because they think of the deities their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.’ 18.7That’s how a corrupt mind is cleaned by applying effort.

19.1Then that noble disciple reflects: 19.2‘As long as they live, the perfected ones give up killing living creatures, renouncing the rod and the sword. They are scrupulous and kind, and live full of compassion for all living beings. 19.3I, too, for this day and night will give up killing living creatures, renouncing the rod and the sword. I’ll be scrupulous and kind, and live full of compassion for all living beings. 19.4I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

20.1As long as they live, the perfected ones give up stealing. They take only what’s given, and expect only what’s given. They keep themselves clean by not thieving. 20.2I, too, for this day and night will give up stealing. I’ll take only what’s given, and expect only what’s given. I’ll keep myself clean by not thieving. 20.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

21.1As long as they live, the perfected ones give up unchastity. They are celibate, set apart, avoiding the common practice of sex. 21.2I, too, for this day and night will give up unchastity. I will be celibate, set apart, avoiding the common practice of sex. 21.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

22.1As long as they live, the perfected ones give up lying. They speak the truth and stick to the truth. They’re honest and trustworthy, and don’t trick the world with their words. 22.2I, too, for this day and night will give up lying. I’ll speak the truth and stick to the truth. I’ll be honest and trustworthy, and won’t trick the world with my words. 22.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

23.1As long as they live, the perfected ones give up alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. 23.2I, too, for this day and night will give up alcoholic drinks that cause negligence. 23.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

24.1As long as they live, the perfected ones eat in one part of the day, abstaining from eating at night and from food at the wrong time. 24.2I, too, for this day and night will eat in one part of the day, abstaining from eating at night and food at the wrong time. 24.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

25.1As long as they live, the perfected ones avoid dancing, singing, music, and seeing shows; and beautifying and adorning themselves with garlands, fragrance, and makeup. 25.2I, too, for this day and night will avoid dancing, singing, music, and seeing shows; and beautifying and adorning myself with garlands, fragrance, and makeup. 25.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.

26.1As long as they live, the perfected ones give up high and luxurious beds. They sleep in a low place, either a cot or a straw mat. 26.2I, too, for this day and night will give up high and luxurious beds. I’ll sleep in a low place, either a cot or a straw mat. 26.3I will observe the sabbath by doing as the perfected ones do in this respect.’

27.1That’s the sabbath of the noble ones. 27.2When the sabbath of the noble ones is observed like this it’s very fruitful and beneficial and splendid and bountiful.

28.1How much so? 28.2Suppose you were to rule as sovereign lord over these sixteen great countries—Aṅga, Magadha, Kāsī, Kosala, Vajjī, Malla, Ceti, Vaṅga, Kuru, Pañcāla, Maccha, Sūrusena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhāra, and Kamboja—full of the seven treasures. 28.3This wouldn’t be worth a sixteenth part of the sabbath with its eight factors. 28.4Why is that? 28.5Because human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.

29.1Fifty years in the human realm is one day and night for the gods of the Four Great Kings. 29.2Thirty such days make up a month. 29.3Twelve such months make up a year. 29.4The life span of the gods of the Four Great Kings is five hundred of these divine years. 29.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the gods of the Four Great Kings. 29.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 29.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

30.1A hundred years in the human realm is one day and night for the Gods of the Thirty-Three. 30.2Thirty such days make up a month. 30.3Twelve such months make up a year. 30.4The life span of the Gods of the Thirty-Three is a thousand of these divine years. 30.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the Gods of the Thirty-Three. 30.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 30.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

31.1Two hundred years in the human realm is one day and night for the Gods of Yama. 31.2Thirty such days make up a month. 31.3Twelve such months make up a year. 31.4The life span of the Gods of Yama is two thousand of these divine years. 31.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the Gods of Yama. 31.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 31.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

32.1Four hundred years in the human realm is one day and night for the Joyful Gods. 32.2Thirty such days make up a month. 32.3Twelve such months make up a year. 32.4The life span of the Joyful Gods is four thousand of these divine years. 32.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the Joyful Gods. 32.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 32.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

33.1Eight hundred years in the human realm is one day and night for the Gods Who Love to Create. 33.2Thirty such days make up a month. 33.3Twelve such months make up a year. 33.4The life span of the Gods Who Love to Create is eight thousand of these divine years. 33.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the Gods Who Love to Create. 33.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 33.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

34.1Sixteen hundred years in the human realm is one day and night for the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others. 34.2Thirty such days make up a month. 34.3Twelve such months make up a year. 34.4The life span of the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others is sixteen thousand of these divine years. 34.5It’s possible that a woman or man who has observed the eight-factored sabbath will—when their body breaks up, after death—be reborn in the company of the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others. 34.6This is what I was referring to when I said: 34.7‘Human kingship is a poor thing compared to the happiness of the gods.’

35.1You shouldn’t kill living creatures, or steal,
35.2or lie, or drink alcohol.
35.3Be celibate, refraining from sex,
35.4and don’t eat at night, the wrong time.

36.1Not wearing garlands or applying fragrance,
36.2you should sleep on a low bed, or a mat on the ground.
36.3This is the eight-factored sabbath, they say,
36.4explained by the Buddha, who has gone to suffering’s end.

37.1The moon and sun are both fair to see,
37.2radiating as far as they revolve.
37.3Those shining ones in the sky light up the quarters,
37.4dispelling the darkness as they traverse the heavens.

38.1All of the wealth that’s found in this realm—
38.2pearls, gems, fine beryl too,
38.3horn-gold or mountain gold,
38.4or natural gold dug up by marmots—

39.1they’re not worth a sixteenth part
39.2of the sabbath with its eight factors,
39.3as all the constellations of stars can’t equal the light of the moon.

40.1So an ethical woman or man,
40.2who has observed the eight-factored sabbath,
40.3having made merit whose outcome is happiness,
40.4blameless, they go to a heavenly place.”

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