Majjhima Nikāya

The Middle Length Sayings

Cūḷasaccaka Suttaṃ

35. Lesser Discourse To Saccaka

Thus have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Vesālī in the Great Grove in the hall of the Gabled House. Now at that time, staying at Vesālī was Saccaka, the son of Jains, a controversialist, giving himself out as learned, much honoured by the manyfolk. As he was going about Vesālī, he used to utter this speech: “I do not see that recluse or brahman, the head of a company, the head of a group, the teacher of a group, even if he is claiming to be a perfected one, a fully Self-awakened one, who, when taken in hand by me, speech by speech, would not tremble, would not shake, would not shake violently, and from whose armpits sweat would not pour. Even if I were to take in hand, speech by speech, an insensate post, even that, when taken in hand by me, speech by speech, would tremble, would shake, would shake violently—let alone a human being.”

Then the venerable Assaji, having dressed in the morning, taking his bowl and robe, entered Vesālī for almsfood. Saccaka, the son of Jains, who was always pacing up and down, always roaming about on foot, saw the venerable Assaji coming in the distance; having seen him, he approached the venerable Assaji; having approached, he exchanged greetings with the venerable Assaji, and having exchanged greetings of courtesy and friendliness, he stood at a respectful distance. As he was standing at a respectful distance, Saccaka, the son of Jains, spoke thus to the venerable Assaji: “How, good Assaji, does the recluse Gotama train disciples? And what are the divisions by which a great part of the recluse Gotama's instruction for disciples proceeds?”

“Thus, Aggivessana, does the Lord train disciples, and by such divisions does a great part of the Lord's instruction for disciples proceed: ‘Material shape, monks, is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, the habitual tendencies are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Material shape, monks, is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, the habitual tendencies are not self, consciousness is not self; all conditioned things are impermanent, all things are not self.’ Thus, Aggivessana, does the Lord train disciples, and by such divisions does the great part of the Lord's instruction for disciples proceed.”

“Indeed, we heard with disappointment, good Assaji, those of us who heard that the recluse Gotama spoke like this. Perhaps we could meet the good Gotama somewhere, sometime, perhaps there might be some conversation, perhaps we could dissuade him from that pernicious view.”

Now at that time at least five hundred Licchavis were gathered together in the conference hall on some business or other. Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, approached those Licchavis; having approached, he spoke thus to those Licchavis: “Let the good Licchavis come forward, let the good Licchavis come forward. Today there will be conversation between me and the recluse Gotama. If the recluse Gotama takes up his stand against me, as one of his well-known disciples, the monk Assaji, has taken up his stand against me, even as a powerful man, having taken hold of the fleece of a long-fleeced ram, might tug it towards him, might tug it backwards, might tug it forwards and backwards, even so will I, speech by speech, tug the recluse Gotama forwards, tug him backwards, tug him forwards and backwards. And even as a powerful distiller of spirituous liquor, having sunk his crate for spirituous liquor in a deep pool of water, taking it by a corner would tug it forwards, would tug it backwards, would tug it forwards and backwards, even so will I, speech by speech, tug the recluse Gotama forwards, tug him backwards, tug him forwards and backwards. And even as a powerful drunkard of abandoned life, having taken hold of a hair-sieve at the corner, would shake it upwards, would shake it downwards, would toss it about, even so will I, speech by speech, shake the recluse Gotama upwards, shake him downwards, toss him about. And even as a full-grown elephant, sixty years old, having plunged into a deep tank, plays at the game called the ‘merry washing,’ even so, methinks, will I play the game of ‘merry washing’ with the recluse Gotama. Let the good Licchavis come forward, let the good Licchavis come forward; today there will be conversation between me and the recluse Gotama.”

Then some Licchavis spoke thus: “How can the recluse Gotama refute Saccaka, the son of Jains, when it is Saccaka, the son of Jains, who will refute the recluse Gotama?” Some Licchavis spoke thus: “How can he, being only Saccaka, the son of Jains, refute the Lord when it is the Lord who will refute Saccaka, the son of Jains?”

Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, surrounded by at least five hundred Licchavis, approached the Great Wood, and the hall of the Gabled House. Now at that time several monks were pacing up and down in the open air. Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, approached these monks; having approached, he spoke thus to these monks: “Good sirs, where is this revered Gotama staying now? We are anxious to see the revered Gotama.”

“Aggivessana, this Lord, having plunged into the Great Wood, is sitting down for the day-sojourn at the root of a tree.” Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, together with a great company of Licchavis, having plunged into the Great Wood, approached the Lord; having approached, he exchanged greetings with the Lord; having exchanged greetings of friendliness and courtesy, he sat down at a respectful distance. And these Licchavis too—some having greeted the Lord, sat down at a respectful distance; some exchanged greetings with the Lord, and having exchanged greetings of friendliness and courtesy, they sat down at a respectful distance; some, having saluted the Lord with outstretched palms, sat down at a respectful distance; some, having made known their names and clans in the Lord's presence, sat down at a respectful distance; some, having become silent, sat down at a respectful distance.

As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, Saccaka, the son of Jains, spoke thus to the Lord: “I would ask the revered Gotama about a point if the revered Gotama grants me permission to ask a question.”

“Ask, Aggivessana, whatever you like.”

“How does the good Gotama train disciples? And what are the divisions by which a great part of the good Gotama's instructions for disciples proceeds?”

“Thus do I, Aggivessana, train disciples, and by such divisions does the great part of my instruction for disciples proceed: ‘Material shape, monks, is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, the habitual tendencies are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent. Material shape, monks, is not self, feeling is not self, perception is not self, the habitual tendencies are not self, consciousness is not self; all conditioned things are impermanent, all things are not self.’ Thus, Aggivessana, do I train disciples, and by such divisions does the great part of my instruction for disciples proceed.”

“A simile occurs to me, good Gotama.”

“Speak it forth, Aggivessana,” the Lord said.

“Good Gotama, as all seed growths and vegetable growths come to growth, increase and maturity because all depend on the earth and are based on the earth, and it is thus that these seed growths and vegetable growths come to growth, increase and maturity; as, good Gotama, all those strenuous occupations that are carried on depend on the earth and are based on the earth, and it is thus that these strenuous occupations are carried on; so, good Gotama, that person whose self is material shape, because it is based on material shape, begets either merit or demerit, this person whose self is feeling, because it is based on feeling, begets either merit or demerit, this person whose self is perception, because it is based on perception, begets either merit or demerit, this person whose self is the habitual tendencies, because it is based on the habitual tendencies, begets either merit or demerit, this person whose self is consciousness, because it is based on consciousness, begets either merit or demerit.”

“Can it be, Aggivessana, that yon speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, the habitual tendencies are my self, consciousness is my self’?”

“But I, good Gotama, do speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, the habitual tendencies are my self, consciousness is my self.’ And so does this great concourse.”

“What has this great concourse to do with you, Aggivessana? Please do you, Aggivessana, unravel just your own words.”

“But I, good Gotama, speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self, feeling is my self, perception is my self, the habitual tendencies are my self, consciousness is my self.’”

“Well then, Aggivessana, I will question you in return about this matter. You may answer me as you please. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Would a noble anointed king, such as King Pasenadi of Kosala or such as King Ajātasattu of Magadha, the son of the lady of Videhā, have power in his own territory to put to death one deserving to be put to death, to plunder one deserving to be plundered, to banish one deserving to be banished?”

“Good Gotama, a noble anointed king, such as King Pasenadi of Kosala or such as King Ajātasattu of Magadha, the son of the lady of Videhā, would have power in his own territory to put to death one deserving to be put to death, to plunder one deserving to be plundered, to banish one deserving to be banished. Why, good Gotama, even among these companies and groups, namely of the Vajjis and Mallas, there exists the power in their own territories to put to death one deserving to be put to death, to plunder one deserving to be plundered, to banish one deserving to be banished. How much more then, a noble anointed king, such as King Pasenadi of Kosala or such as King Ajātasattu of Magadha, the son of the lady of Videhā? He would have the power, good Gotama, and he deserves to have the power.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self,’ have you power over this material shape of yours (and can say), ‘Let my material shape be thus”, ‘Let my material shape be not thus’?” When this had been said, Saccaka, the son of Jains, became silent.

And a second time the Lord spoke thus to Saccaka, the son of Jains: “What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self,’ have you power over this material shape of yours (and can say), ‘Let my material shape be thus”, ‘Let my material shape be not thus’?” And a second time Saccaka, the son of Jains, became silent.

Then the Lord spoke thus to Saccaka, the son of Jains: “Answer now, Aggivessana, now is not the time for you to become silent. Whoever, Aggivessana, on being asked a legitimate question up to the third time by the Tathāgata does not answer, verily his skull splits into seven pieces.”

Now at that time the yakkha Thunderbolt-bearer, taking his iron thunderbolt which was aglow, ablaze, on fire, came to stand above the ground over Saccaka, the son of Jains, and said: “If this Saccaka, the son of Jains, does not answer when he is asked a legitimate question up to the third time by the Lord, verily I will make his skull split into seven pieces.” And only the Lord saw this yakkha Thunderbolt-bearer, and (Ed: ‘above’ rather than ‘and’) Saccaka, the son of Jains.

Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, afraid, agitated, his hair standing on end, seeking protection with the Lord, seeking shelter with the Lord, seeking refuge with the Lord, spoke thus to the Lord: “Let the revered Gotama ask me, I will answer.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Material shape is my self,’ have you power over this material shape of yours (and can say), ‘Let my material shape be thus”, ‘Let my material shape be not thus’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“Pay attention, Aggivessana. When you have paid attention, Aggivessana, answer. For your last speech does not agree with your first, nor your first with your last. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Feeling is my self,’ have you power over this feeling of yours (and can say), ‘Let my feeling be thus”, ‘Let my feeling be not thus’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“Pay attention, Aggivessana. When you have paid attention, Aggivessana, answer. For your last speech does not agree with your first, nor your first with your last. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Perception is my self,’ have you power over this perception of yours (and can say), ‘Let my perception be thus”, ‘Let my perception be not thus’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“Pay attention, Aggivessana. When you have paid attention, Aggivessana, answer. For your last speech does not agree with your first, nor your first with your last. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Habitual tendencies are my self,’ have you power over these habitual tendencies of yours (and can say), ‘Let my habitual tendencies be thus”, ‘Let my habitual tendencies be not thus’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“Pay attention, Aggivessana. When you have paid attention, Aggivessana, answer. For your last speech does not agree with your first, nor your first with your last. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? When you speak thus: ‘Consciousness is my self,’ have you power over this consciousness of yours (and can say), ‘Let my consciousness be thus”, ‘Let my consciousness be not thus’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“Pay attention, Aggivessana. When you have paid attention, Aggivessana, answer. For your last speech does not agree with your first, nor your first with your last. What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Is material shape permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, good Gotama.”

“But is what is impermanent anguish or is it happiness?”

“Anguish, good Gotama.”

“But is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, anguish, liable to change as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Is feeling permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, good Gotama.”

“But is what is impermanent anguish or is it happiness?”

“Anguish, good Gotama.”

“But is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, anguish, liable to change as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Is perception permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, good Gotama.”

“But is what is impermanent anguish or is it happiness?”

“Anguish, good Gotama.”

“But is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, anguish, liable to change as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Are the habitual tendencies permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, good Gotama.”

“But is what is impermanent anguish or is it happiness?”

“Anguish, good Gotama.”

“But is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, anguish, liable to change as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”

“Impermanent, good Gotama.”

“But is what is impermanent anguish or is it happiness?”

“Anguish, good Gotama.”

“But is it fitting to regard that which is impermanent, anguish, liable to change as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?”

“This is not so, good Gotama.”

“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Does he who is cleaving to anguish, attached to anguish, clinging to anguish regard anguish as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?—and further, could he comprehend his own anguish or could he dwell having brought anguish to destruction?”

“How could this be, good Gotama? This is not so, good Gotama.”

[“What do you think about this, Aggivessana? Are not you cleaving to anguish, attached to anguish, clinging to anguish regarding anguish as ‘This is mine, this am I, this is my self’?” “How could this not be, good Gotama? This is so, good Gotama.”]

“Aggivessana, as a man walking about aiming at the pith, seeking for the pith, looking about for the pith, taking a sharp knife, might enter a wood; he might see there the stem of a great plantain tree, straight, young, grown without defect; he might cut it down at the root; having cut it down at the root, he might cut off the crown; having cut off the crown, he might unroll the spirals of the leaves; but unrolling the spirals of the leaves, he would not even come upon softwood, how then on pith? Even so are you, Aggivessana, when being questioned, cross-questioned and pressed for reasons by me in regard to your own words, empty, void, and have fallen short. But these words were spoken by you, Aggivessana, to the company at Vesālī: ‘I do not see that recluse or brahman, the head of a company, the head of a group, the teacher of a group, even if he is claiming to be a perfected one, a fully Self-awakened one, who, when taken in hand by me, speech by speech, would not tremble, would not shake, would not shake violently, and from whose armpits sweat would not pour. Even if I were to take in hand, speech by speech, an insensate post, even that, when taken in hand by me, speech by speech, would tremble, would shake, would shake violently—let alone a human being.’ But it is from your brow, Aggivessana, that drops of sweat are pouring, and having soaked through your upper and inner robes, are falling to the ground. But there is not at present, Aggivessana, any sweat on my body.” And the Lord disclosed his golden coloured body to that concourse.

When this had been said, Saccaka, the son of Jains, having become silent, having become ashamed, his shoulders drooped, his head cast down, sat down brooding, at a loss for an answer. Then Dummukha, the son of a Licchavi, knowing that Saccaka, the son of Jains, had become silent, had become ashamed, his shoulders drooped, his head cast down, brooding, at a loss for an answer, spoke thus to the Lord: “A simile occurs to me, Lord.”

“Speak it forth, Dummukha,” the Lord said.

“Lord, it is like a lotus-tank, not far from a village or little town, where there might be a crab. Then, Lord, several boys or girls, having come out from that village or little town, might approach that lotus-tank, and having approached, having plunged into that lotus-tank, having lifted the crab out of the water, might place it on the dry land. And whenever that crab, Lord, might thrust out a claw, as often might those boys or girls hack and break and smash it with a piece of wood or a potsherd. Thus, Lord, that crab with all its claws hacked and broken and smashed, could not become one to descend again to the tank as it used to do before.

Even so, Lord, whatever the distortions, the disagreements, the wrigglings of Saccaka, the son of Jains—all these have been hacked, broken and smashed by the Lord. And now, Lord, Saccaka, the son of Jains, cannot become one to approach the Lord again, that is to say desiring speech.”

When this had been said, Saccaka, the son of Jains, spoke thus to Dummukha, the son of a Licchavi: “You, Dummukha, wait, you, Dummukha, wait. Not with you am I conferring, I am conferring here with the good Gotama. Let be, good Gotama, these words of mine and of other individual recluses and brahmans. Methinks this idle talk is regretted. Now, to what extent does a disciple of the good Gotama come to be one who is a doer of the instruction, one who accepts the exhortation, one who has crossed over doubt and, perplexity gone, fares in the Teacher's instruction, won to conviction, not relying on others?”

“Now, Aggivessana, a disciple of mine in regard to whatever is material shape, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, sees all material shape as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.’ In regard to whatever is feeling, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, sees all feeling as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.’ In regard to whatever is perception, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, sees all perception as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.’ In regard to whatever is the habitual tendencies, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, sees all the habitual tendencies as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.’ “In regard to whatever is consciousness, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, sees all consciousness as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.’ To this extent, Aggivessana, a disciple of mine comes to be a doer of the instruction, an accepter of the exhortation, one who has crossed over doubt and, perplexity gone, fares in the Teacher's instruction, won to conviction, not relying on others.”

“To what extent, good Gotama, does a monk become a perfected one, the cankers destroyed, one who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetter of becoming utterly destroyed, and is freed with perfect profound knowledge?”

“Now, Aggivessana, a monk in regard to whatever is material shape, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, having seen all material shape as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ becomes freed with no (further) attachment; In regard to whatever is feeling, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, having seen all feeling as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ becomes freed with no (further) attachment; In regard to whatever is perception, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, having seen all perception as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ becomes freed with no (further) attachment; In regard to whatever is the habitual tendencies, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, having seen all the habitual tendencies as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ becomes freed with no (further) attachment; In regard to whatever is consciousness, past, future, present, subjective or objective, gross or subtle, low or excellent, distant or near, having seen all consciousness as it really is by means of perfect intuitive wisdom as: ‘This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self,’ becomes freed with no (further) attachment; To this extent, Aggivessana, does a monk become a perfected one, the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetter of becoming utterly destroyed, and is freed with perfect profound knowledge.

Aggivessana, a monk with his mind freed thus, becomes possessed of the three things than which there is nothing further: the vision than which there is nothing further, the course than which there is nothing further, the freedom than which there is nothing further. Aggivessana, a monk freed thus reveres, esteems, reverences, honours only the Tathāgata, saying: ‘The Lord is awakened, he teaches Dhamma for awakening; the Lord is tamed, he teaches Dhamma for taming; the Lord is calmed, he teaches Dhamma for calming; the Lord is crossed over, he teaches Dhamma for crossing over; the Lord has attained nibbāna, he teaches Dhamma for attaining nibbāna.’”

When this had been said, Saccaka, the son of Jains, spoke thus to the Lord: “Good Gotama, I was arrogant, I was presumptuous, in that I deemed I could assail the revered Gotama, speech by speech. Good Gotama, there might be safety for a man assailing a rutting elephant, but there could be no safety for a man assailing the revered Gotama. Good Gotama, there might be safety for a man assailing a blazing mass of fire, but there could be no safety for a man assailing the revered Gotama. Good Gotama, there might be safety for a man assailing a deadly poisonous snake, but there could be no safety for a man assailing the revered Gotama.

Good Gotama, I was arrogant, I was presumptuous, in that I deemed I could assail the revered Gotama, speech by speech. May the good Gotama consent (to accept) a meal with me on the morrow together with the Order of monks.”

The Lord consented by becoming silent.

Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, having understood the Lord's consent, addressed those Licchavis, saying: “Let the good Licchavis listen to me: the recluse Gotama is invited for a meal on the morrow together with the Order of monks. Prepare anything of mine that you think will be suitable.” Then these Licchavis, towards the end of that night, prepared five hundred offerings of rice cooked in milk as the gift of food.

Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, having had sumptuous food, solid and soft, made ready in his own park, had the time announced to the Lord, saying: “It is time, good Gotama, the meal is ready.” Then the Lord, having dressed in the morning, taking his bowl and robe, approached the park of Saccaka, the son of Jains; having approached he sat down on the appointed seat, together with the Order of monks. Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, with his own hand served and satisfied the Order of monks with the Lord at its head with the sumptuous food, solid and soft.

Then Saccaka, the son of Jains, when the Lord had eaten and had withdrawn his hand from his bowl, having taken a low seat, sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, Saccaka, the son of Jains, spoke thus to the Lord: “Whatever there is of merit or the accompaniment of merit in this gift, good Gotama, let that be for the happiness of the donors.”

“There will be for the donors, Aggivessana, whatever attaches to the recipient of a gift of faith such as you who are not without attachment, not without aversion, not without confusion. There will be for you, Aggivessana, whatever attaches to the recipient of a gift of faith such as me who am without attachment, without aversion, without confusion.”

Lesser Discourse to Saccaka: The Fifth