Madhyama Āgama 1

Section 1: The Sevens

The Good Dharma

I have heard thus: Once, the Buddha travelled to the kingdom of Śrāvastī and stayed at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove.

At that time, the World Honored One addressed the bhikṣus: “A bhikṣu who achieves seven things is to the Noble Ones an encouragement, an elation, a happiness; for he is rightly headed towards the end of the outflows. What are the seven? They are knowing the Dharma, knowing the meaning, knowing the time, knowing moderation, knowing oneself, knowing the assembly, and knowing the greater likenesses of people.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing the Dharma? It means a bhikṣu who knows the true sūtras, geyas, vyākaraṇas, gāthās, nidānas, itivṛttakas, jātakas, udānas, avadānas, vaipulyas, adbhuta-dharmas, and upadeśas. This is called a bhikṣu who knows the Dharma. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who does not know the Dharma, that is to say that he does not know the true sūtras, geyas, vyākaraṇas, gāthās, nidānas, itivṛttakas, jātakas, udānas, avadānas, vaipulyas, adbhuta-dharmas, and upadeśas. This bhikṣu does not know the Dharma. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who well knows the Dharma, that is to say that he knows the true sūtras, geyas, vyākaraṇas, gāthās, nidānas, itivṛttakas, jātakas, udānas, avadānas, vaipulyas, adbhuta-dharmas, and upadeśas. This bhikṣu well knows the Dharma.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing the meaning? It means a bhikṣu knows that those discourses and doctrines have this or that meaning. This is called a bhikṣu who knows the meaning. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who does not know the meaning, that is to say that he does not know that those discourses and doctrines have this or that meaning. Such a bhikṣu does not know the meaning. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who well knows the meaning, that is to say that he knows that those discourses and doctrines have this or that meaning. This is called a bhikṣu who well knows the meaning.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing the time? It means a bhikṣu knows the time to cultivate lower appearances, the time to cultivate higher appearances, and the time to cultivate the renunciation of appearances. This is called a bhikṣu who knows the time. Suppose there a bhikṣu who does not know the time, that is to say that he does not know the time to cultivate lower appearances, the time to cultivate higher appearances, and the time to cultivate the renunciation of appearances. Such a bhikṣu does not know the time. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who well knows the time, that is to say that he knows the time to cultivate lower appearances, the time to cultivate higher appearances, and the time to cultivate the renunciation of appearances. This is called the bhikṣu who well knows the time.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing moderation? It means a bhikṣu knows moderation in drink, food, going, standing, sitting, laying down, talking, remaining silent, or great and small conveniences, pulling himself out of drowsiness and cultivating his practice with right knowledge. This is called a bhikṣu who knows moderation. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who does not know moderation, that is to say that he does not know moderation in drink, food, going, standing, sitting, laying down, talking, remaining silent, or great and small conveniences, pulling himself out of drowsiness and cultivating his practice with right knowledge. Such a bhikṣu does not know moderation. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who well knows moderation, that is to say that he well knows moderation in drink, food, going, standing, sitting, laying down, talking, remaining silent, or great and small conveniences, pulling himself out of drowsiness and cultivating his practice with right knowledge. This is called a bhikṣu who well knows moderation.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing oneself? It means a bhikṣu who knows: ‘Thus is my belief, discipline, audiences, generosity, wisdom, discernment of the Āgamas, and my attainments.’ This is called a bhikṣu who knows himself. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who does not know himself, that is to say that he does not know: ‘Thus is my belief, discipline, audiences, generosity, wisdom, discernment of the Āgamas, and my attainments.’ Such a bhikṣu does not know himself. Suppose a bhikṣu well knows himself, that is to say that he knows: ‘Thus is my belief, discipline, audiences, generosity, wisdom, discernment of the Āgamas, and my attainments.’ This is called a bhikṣu who well knows himself.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing the assembly? It means a bhikṣu knows: ‘This is a kṣatriya assembly, this a brāhmaṇa assembly, this a householder assembly, and this a śramaṇa assembly. In these assemblies I should thus go, thus stand, thus sit, thus speak, and thus remain silent.’ This is called a bhikṣu who knows the assembly. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who does not know the assembly, that is to say that he does not know: ‘This is a kṣatriya assembly, this a brāhmaṇa assembly, this a householder assembly, and this a śramaṇa assembly. In these assemblies I should thus go, thus stand, thus sit, thus speak, and thus remain silent.’ Such a bhikṣu does not know the assembly. Suppose there is a bhikṣu who well knows the assembly, that is to say that he well knows: ‘This is a kṣatriya assembly, this a brāhmaṇa assembly, this a householder assembly, and this a śramaṇa assembly. In these assemblies I should thus go, thus stand, thus sit, thus speak, and thus remain silent.’ This is called a bhikṣu who well knows the assembly.

“What is a bhikṣu’s knowing the greater likenesses of people? It means a bhikṣu who knows there are two kinds of people. There are the faithful and the unfaithful. If one is faithful, that is excellent. One who is not faithful is not so.

“Of faithful people, there are again two kinds: those who frequently go to see the bhikṣus and those who do not frequently go to see the bhikṣus. If one frequently goes to see the bhikṣus, that is excellent. One who does not frequently go to see the bhikṣus is not so.

“Of those who frequently go to see the bhikṣus, there are two kinds: those who respectfully salute the bhikṣus and those who do not respectfully salute the bhikṣus. If one respectfully salutes the bhikṣus, that is excellent. One who does not respectfully salute is not so.

“Of those who respectfully salute the bhikṣus, there are two kinds: those who ask about the sūtras and those who do not ask about the sūtras. If one asks about the sūtras, that is excellent. One who does not ask about the sūtras is not so.

“Of those who ask about the sūtras, there are two kinds: those who single-mindedly listen to them and those who do not single-mindedly listen to the sūtras. If one single-mindedly listens to the sūtras, that is excellent. One who does not single-mindedly listen to the sūtras is not so.

“Of those who single-mindedly listen to the sūtras, there are two kinds: those who hear and retain the Dharma and those who hear but do not retain the Dharma. If one hears and retains the Dharma, that is excellent. One who hears but does not retain the Dharma is not so.

“Of those who hear and retain the Dharma, there are two kinds: those who hear the Dharma and contemplate its meaning and those who hear the Dharma but do not contemplate its meaning. If one hears the Dharma and contemplates its meaning, that is excellent. One who hears but does not contemplete the Dharma is not so.

“Of those people who hear the Dharma and contemplete its meaning, there are two kinds: those who know the Dharma, know its meaning, incline towards the Dharma, arrive at the Dharma, conform to the Dharma, and conduct themselves according to it; and those who do not know the Dharma, know its meaning, incline towards the Dharma, arrive at the Dharma, conform to the Dharma, and conduct themselves according to it. If one knows the Dharma, knows its meaning, inclines towards the Dharma, arrives at the Dharma, conforms to the Dharma, and conducts himself according to it, that is excellent. One who does not know the Dharma, know its meaning, incline towards the Dharma, arrive at the Dharma, conform to the Dharma, and conduct himself according to it is not so.

“Of those people who know the Dharma, know its meaning, incline towards the Dharma, arrive at the Dharma, conform to the Dharma, and conduct themselves according to it, there are two kinds: those who are themselves benefited and who benefit others, benefting many people, having mercy for the world, seeking the meaning for the benefit of gods and humans, and seeks the tranquil happiness; and those who are not themselves benefited, who do not benefit others, do not benefit many people, do not have mercy for the world, do not seek the meaning for the benefit of gods and humans, and do not seek the tranquil happiness. If one is himself benefited and benefits others, benefits many people, has mercy for the world, seeks the meaning for the benefit of gods and humans, and seeks the tranquil happiness, this person is the very best among the others: great, superior, exceptional, excellent, honored, and wondrous.

“It is just as it is because of a cow that there is milk, because of milk that there is cream, because of cream that there is butter, because of butter that there is refined butter, and because of refined butter that there is ghee. Ghee is the very best of them: great, superior, exceptional, excellent, honored, and wondrous. Thus is the person who benefits himself and benefits others, benefits many people, has mercy for the world, seeks the meaning for the benefit of gods and humans, and seeks the tranquil happiness: he is said to be superior of these two people, discerned to be the superior, reckoned to be the superior of them. He is the best, great, superior, exceptional, excellent, honored, and wondrous. This is called a bhikṣu who knows the greater likenesses of people.”

The Buddha spoke thus. Those bhikṣus who heard the Buddha’s discourse were elated, took it up, and left.