Majjhima Nikāya

The Middle Length Sayings

Cūḷataṇhāsaṇkhaya Suttaṃ

37. Lesser Discourse on the Destruction of Craving

Thus have I heard:

At one time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī in the Eastern Monastery in the palace of Migāra's mother. Then Sakka, the lord of devas, approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, he stood at a respectful distance. As he was standing at a respectful distance, Sakka, the lord of devas, spoke thus to the Lord: “Briefly, Lord, to what extent does a monk come to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men?”

“As to this, lord of devas, a monk comes to hear: ‘It is not fitting that there should be inclination towards any (psycho-physical) conditions.’ If, lord of devas, a monk comes to hear this, that ‘It is not fitting that there should be inclination towards any (psycho-physical) conditions,’ he knows all the conditions thoroughly; by knowing all the conditions thoroughly he knows all the conditions accurately; by knowing all the conditions accurately, whatever feeling he feels, pleasant or painful or neither painful nor pleasant, he abides viewing impermanence, he abides viewing dispassion, he abides viewing stopping, he abides viewing renunciation in regard to those feelings. When he is abiding viewing impermanence, when he is abiding viewing dispassion, when he is abiding viewing stopping, when he is abiding viewing renunciation in regard to these feelings, he grasps after nothing in the world; not grasping he is not troubled; being untroubled he himself is individually attained to nibbāna, and he comprehends: ‘Destroyed is birth, brought to a close is the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or such’. Briefly, it is to this extent, lord of devas, that a monk comes to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men.” Then Sakka, the lord of devas, having rejoiced in what the Lord had said, having given thanks, having greeted the Lord, vanished then and there keeping his right side towards him.

Now at that time the venerable Moggallāna the Great was sitting down near the Lord. Then it occurred to the venerable Moggallāna the Great: “Now, did that yakkha, when he thanked the Lord for his words, grasp them or not? Suppose that I should find out whether that yakkha, when he thanked the Lord for his words, grasped them or not?” Then the venerable Moggallāna the Great, as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or might bend back his out-stretched arm, vanishing from the palace of Migāra's mother in the Eastern Monastery, appeared among the devas of the Thirty-Three.

Now at that time Sakka, the lord of devas, equipped and provided with five hundred deva-like musical instruments, was amusing himself in the One Lotus pleasure grove. Sakka, the lord of devas, saw the venerable Moggallāna the Great coming in the distance; seeing him, having had those five hundred deva-like musical instruments stopped, he approached the venerable Moggallāna the Great; having approached, he spoke thus to the venerable Moggallāna the Great: “Come, my good Moggallāna, you are welcome, my good Moggallāna; at last, my good Moggallāna, you take this occasion for coming here; sit down, my good Moggallāna, this seat is appointed.” The venerable Moggallāna the Great sat down on the appointed seat. Sakka, the lord of devas, having taken a low seat, sat down at a respectful distance.

The venerable Moggallāna the Great spoke thus to Sakka, the lord of devas, as he was sitting down at a respectful distance: “In regard to the talk that the Lord spoke in brief to you, Kosiya, on freedom by the destruction of craving, it were good even for me to hear portions of this talk.” “I, my good Moggallāna, am very busy, there is much to be done by me; both on my own account there are things to be done, and there are also (still more) things to be done for the devas of the Thirty-Three. Further, my good Moggallāna, it was properly heard, properly learnt, properly attended to, properly reflected upon, so that it cannot vanish quickly.

Once upon a time, my good Moggallāna, a battle was in full swing between devas and demons. In that battle, my good Moggallāna, the devas conquered, the demons were defeated. So I, my good Moggallāna, having won that battle and being victorious in the, battle, when I came back from there built a palace named Vejayanta (Victory). Now, my good Moggallāna, there are a hundred towers to the Vejayanta Palace, in each tower there are seven gabled houses, in each gabled house there are seven nymphs, and for each nymph there are seven attendants. Would you, my good Moggallāna, like to see the delights of the Vejayanta Palace?” The venerable Moggallāna the Great consented by becoming silent.

Then Sakka, the lord of devas, and the great rajah Vessavaṇa, having put the venerable Moggallāna the Great in front of them approached Vejayanta Palace. The female attendants of Sakka, the lord of devas, saw the venerable Moggallāna the Great coming in the distance; on seeing him, shrinking and shy, each entered her own inner room. As a daughter-in-law shrinks and is shy on seeing her father-in-law, even so did the female attendants of Sakka, the lord of devas, on seeing the venerable Moggallāna the Great, shrinking and shy, each enter her own inner room.

Then Sakka, the lord of devas, and Vessavaṇa, the great rajah, made the venerable Moggallāna the Great follow them into the Vejayanta Palace and roam about in it, and (they said): “My dear Moggallāna, see this delight of the Vejayanta Palace, and, dear Moggallāna, see that delight of the Vejayanta Palace.” “This shines forth as a deed of merit formerly done by the venerable Kosiya, and people seeing anything delightful speak thus: ‘Indeed it shines forth from the devas of the Thirty-Three, that is to say it shines forth as a deed of merit formerly done by the venerable Kosiya.’”

Then it occurred to the venerable Moggallāna the Great: “This yakkha lives much too indolently. Suppose that I were to agitate this yakkha?” Then the venerable Moggallāna the Great worked such a working of psychic power that with his big toe he made Vejayanta Palace tremble, shake and quake. Then the minds of Sakka, the lord of devas, and of the great rajah Vessavaṇa and of the devas of the Thirty-Three were full of wonder and marvel, and they said: “Indeed, the great psychic power, the great majesty of the recluse is wonderful, it is indeed marvellous, inasmuch as with his big toe he makes this deva-like abode tremble, shake and quake.”

Then the venerable Moggallāna the Great, knowing that Sakka, the lord of devas, was agitated and astounded, spoke thus to Sakka, the lord of devas: “In regard to the talk that the Lord spoke in brief to you, Kosiya, on freedom by the destruction of craving, it were good even for me to hear portions of that talk.” “As to that I, my good Moggallāna, approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, I stood at a respectful distance. As I was standing at a respectful distance, my good Moggallāna, I spoke thus to the Lord: ‘Briefly, Lord, to what extent does a monk come to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men?

When this had been said, my good Moggallāna, the Lord spoke thus to me; ‘It is not fitting that there should be inclination towards any (psycho-physical) conditions.’ If, lord of devas, a monk comes to hear this, that ‘It is not fitting that there should be inclination towards any (psycho-physical) conditions,’ he knows all the conditions thoroughly; by knowing all the conditions thoroughly he knows all the conditions accurately; by knowing all the conditions accurately, whatever feeling he feels, pleasant or painful or neither painful nor pleasant, he abides viewing impermanence, he abides viewing dispassion, he abides viewing stopping, he abides viewing renunciation in regard to those feelings. When he is abiding viewing impermanence, when he is abiding viewing dispassion, when he is abiding viewing stopping, when he is abiding viewing renunciation in regard to these feelings, he grasps after nothing in the world; not grasping he is not troubled; being untroubled he himself is individually attained to nibbāna, and he comprehends: ‘Destroyed is birth, brought to a close is the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or such’. Briefly, it is to this extent, lord of devas, that a monk comes to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men.’ Thus, my good Moggallāna, did the Lord speak to me briefly on freedom by the destruction of craving.” Then the venerable Moggallāna the Great, having rejoiced in what Sakka, the lord of devas, had said, having given thanks, as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or might bend back his outstretched arm, vanishing even so from among the devas of the Thirty-Three, did he become manifest in the palace of Migāra's mother in the Eastern Monastery.

Then soon after the venerable Moggallāna the Great had departed, the female attendants of Sakka, the lord of devas, spake thus to Sakka, the lord of devas: “Good sir, is not this lord your teacher? “Good ladies, this lord is not my teacher, he is a fellow Brahma-farer of mine, the venerable Moggallāna the Great.” “It is a gain for you, good sir, that this fellow Brahma-farer of yours is of such great psychic potency, of such great majesty; certainly this lord is your teacher.”

Then the venerable Moggallāna the Great approached the Lord; having approached, having greeted the Lord, he sat down at a respectful distance. As he was sitting down at a respectful distance, the venerable Moggallāna the Great spoke thus to the Lord: “Lord, does the Lord know that just now he spoke in brief on freedom by the destruction of craving to a very powerful yakkha?” “I know, Moggallāna, that Sakka, the lord of devas, approached me here; having approached, having greeted me, he stood at a respectful distance. As he was standing at a respectful distance, Sakka, the lord of devas, spoke thus to me, Moggallāna: ‘Briefly, Lord, to what extent does a monk come to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men?

When this had been said, I, Moggallāna, spoke thus to Sakka, the lord of devas: ‘As to this, lord of devas, a monk comes to hear: ‘It is not fitting that there should be inclination towards any (psycho-physical) conditions,’ he knows all the conditions thoroughly; by knowing all the conditions thoroughly he knows all the conditions accurately; by knowing all the conditions accurately, whatever feeling he feels, pleasant or painful or neither painful nor pleasant, he abides viewing impermanence, he abides viewing dispassion, he abides viewing stopping, he abides viewing renunciation in regard to those feelings. When he is abiding viewing impermanence, when he is abiding viewing dispassion, when he is abiding viewing stopping, when he is abiding viewing renunciation in regard to these feelings, he grasps after nothing in the world; not grasping he is not troubled; being untroubled he himself is individually attained to nibbāna, and he comprehends: ‘Destroyed is birth, brought to a close is the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or such’. Briefly, it is to this extent, lord of devas, that a monk comes to be freed by the destruction of craving, completely fulfilled, completely secure from the bonds, a complete Brahma-farer, complete as to his culmination, best of devas and men.’ I, Moggallāna, know that I spoke in brief thus on freedom by the destruction of craving to Sakka, the lord of devas.”

Thus spoke the Lord. Delighted, the venerable Moggallāna the Great rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Lesser Discourse on the Destruction of Craving: The Seventh