Majjhima Nikāya

The Middle Length Sayings

Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Suttaṃ

61. Discourse on an Exhortation to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhikā

Setting

Thus have I heard: at one time the Lord was staying near Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove at the squirrels’ feeding place. At that time the venerable Rāhula was staying at Ambalaṭṭhikā. Then the Lord, emerging from solitary meditation towards evening, approached Ambalaṭṭhikā and the venerable Rāhula. Then the venerable Rāhula saw the Lord coming in the distance; seeing him, he made ready a seat and water for (washing) the feet. The Lord sat down on the seat made ready; as he was sitting down he bathed his feet. And the venerable Rāhula, having greeted the Lord, sat down at a respectful distance.

Intentional Lies

Then the Lord, having put a little quantity of water that was left over into a water-vessel, addressed the venerable Rāhula, saying: “Do you, Rāhula, see this little quantity of water that is left over and that is put into the water-vessel?” “Yes, revered sir.” “Even so, Rāhula, little is the recluseship of those who have no shame at intentional lying.”

Then the Lord, having thrown away that little quantity of water, addressed the venerable Rāhula, saying: “Do you, Rāhula, see this little quantity of water that has been thrown away?” “Yes, revered sir.” “Even so, Rāhula, thrown away is the recluseship of those who have no shame at intentional lying.”

Then the Lord, having overturned that water-vessel, addressed the venerable Rāhula, saying: “Do you, Rāhula, see this water-vessel that has been overturned?” “Yes, revered sir.” Even so, Rāhula, overturned is the recluseship of those who have no shame at intentional lying.”

Then the Lord, having turned upright that water-vessel, addressed the venerable Rāhula, saying: “Do you, Rāhula, see this water-vessel that is empty, void?” “Yes, revered sir.” “Even so, Rāhula, void and empty is the recluseship of those who have no shame at intentional lying.

Rāhula, it is like a king's bull-elephant whose tusks are as long as a plough-pole, massive, finely bred, whose home is the battle-field, and who, when going forth to battle, uses his forelegs, uses his hind legs, uses the forepart of his body, uses the hind part of his body, uses his head, uses his ears, uses his tusks and uses his tail, protecting only his trunk. Thereupon it occurs to the mahout: ‘This king's bull-elephant whose tusks are as long as a plough-pole massive, finely bred, whose home is the battle-field, and who, when going forth to battle, uses his forelegs, uses his hind legs, uses the forepart of his body, uses the hind part of his body, uses his head, uses his ears, uses his tusks and uses his tail, protects only his trunk. This king's bull-elephant has not thrown away his life.’ But when, Rāhula, the king's bull-elephant whose tusks are as long as a plough-pole massive, finely bred, whose home is the battle-field, and who, when going forth to battle, uses his forelegs, uses his hind legs, uses the forepart of his body, uses the hind part of his body, uses his head, uses his ears, uses his tusks and uses his tail, and uses his trunk, it thereupon occurs to the mahout: ‘This king's bull-elephant whose tusks are as long as a plough-pole massive, finely bred, whose home is the battle-field, and who, when going forth to battle, uses his forelegs, uses his hind legs, uses the forepart of his body, uses the hind part of his body, uses his head, uses his ears, uses his tusks and uses his tail, and uses his trunk. This king's bull-elephant has thrown away his life, there is nothing to be done now for the king's bull-elephant.’ Even so, Rāhula, of anyone for whom there is no shame at intentional lying, of him I say that there is no evil he cannot do. Wherefore, for you, Rāhula, ‘I will not speak a lie, even for fun’, this is how you must train yourself, Rāhula.

Reflection before Action

“What do you think about this, Rāhula? What is the purpose of a mirror?” “Its purpose is reflection, revered sir.” “Even so, Rāhula, a deed is to be done with the body (only) after repeated reflection; a deed is to be done with speech (only) after repeated reflection a deed is to be done with the mind (only) after repeated reflection.

Intending Bodily Deeds

If you, Rāhula, are desirous of doing a deed with the body, you should reflect on that deed of your body, thus: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the body is a deed of my body that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of body is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’ If you, Rāhula, reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the body is a deed of my body that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of body is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’, a deed of body like this, Rāhula, is certainly not to be done by you. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the body is a deed of my body that would conduce neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of body is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, a deed of body like this, Rāhula, may be done by you.

Doing Bodily Deeds

While you, Rāhula, are doing this deed with the body, you should reflect thus on this self-same deed of body: ‘Is this deed that I am doing with the body a deed of my body that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Is this deed of body unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish?’ If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the body is a deed of my body that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of body is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish’, you, Rāhula, should avoid a deed of body like this. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the body is a deed of my body that is not conducing to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of body is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, you, Rāhula, could repeat a deed of body like this.

Having Done Bodily Deeds

And when you, Rāhula, have done a deed with the body you should reflect on this self-same deed of body thus: ‘Was this deed that I did with the body a deed of my body that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Was this an unskilled deed of body, its yield anguish, its result anguish? If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the body was a deed of my body that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of body was unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish’, such a deed of your body, Rāhula, should be confessed, disclosed, declared to the Teacher or to intelligent Brahma-farers so that, confessed, disclosed and declared, it would induce restraint in the future. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the body was a deed of my body that conduced neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; it was a skilled deed of body, its yield happy, its result happy’, because of it you, Rāhula, may abide in zest and rapture training yourself day and night in states that are skilled.

Intending Verbal Deeds

If you, Rāhula, are desirous of doing a deed with the speech, you should reflect on that deed of your speech, thus: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the speech is a deed of my speech that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of speech is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’ If you, Rāhula, reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the speech is a deed of my speech that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of speech is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’, a deed of speech like this, Rāhula, is certainly not to be done by you. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the speech is a deed of my speech that would conduce neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of speech is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, a deed of speech like this, Rāhula, may be done by you.

Doing Verbal Deeds

While you, Rāhula, are doing this deed with the speech, you should reflect thus on this self-same deed of speech: ‘Is this deed that I am doing with the speech a deed of my speech that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Is this deed of speech unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish?’ If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the speech is a deed of my speech that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of speech is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish’, you, Rāhula, should avoid a deed of speech like this. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the speech is a deed of my speech that is not conducing to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of speech is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, you, Rāhula, could repeat a deed of speech like this.

Having Done Verbal Deeds

And when you, Rāhula, have done a deed with the speech you should reflect on this self-same deed of speech thus: ‘Was this deed that I did with the speech a deed of my speech that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Was this an unskilled deed of speech, its yield anguish, its result anguish? If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the speech was a deed of my speech that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of speech was unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish’, such a deed of your speech, Rāhula, should be confessed, disclosed, declared to the Teacher or to intelligent Brahma-farers so that, confessed, disclosed and declared, it would induce restraint in the future. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the speech was a deed of my speech that conduced neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; it was a skilled deed of speech, its yield happy, its result happy’, because of it you, Rāhula, may abide in zest and rapture training yourself day and night in states that are skilled.

Intending Mental Deeds

If you, Rāhula, are desirous of doing a deed with the mind, you should reflect on that deed of your mind, thus: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the mind is a deed of my mind that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of mind is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’ If you, Rāhula, reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the mind is a deed of my mind that might conduce to the harm of self and that might conduce to the harm of others and that might conduce to the harm of both; this deed of mind is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish.’, a deed of mind like this, Rāhula, is certainly not to be done by you. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘That deed which I am desirous of doing with the mind is a deed of my mind that would conduce neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of mind is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, a deed of mind like this, Rāhula, may be done by you.

Doing Mental Deeds

While you, Rāhula, are doing this deed with the mind, you should reflect thus on this self-same deed of mind: ‘Is this deed that I am doing with the mind a deed of my mind that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Is this deed of mind unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish?’ If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the mind is a deed of my mind that is conducing to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of mind is unskilled, its yield is anguish, its result is anguish’, you, Rāhula, should avoid a deed of mind like this. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I am doing with the mind is a deed of my mind that is not conducing to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; this deed of mind is skilled, its yield is happy, its result is happy’, you, Rāhula, could repeat a deed of mind like this.

Having Done Mental Deeds

And when you, Rāhula, have done a deed with the mind you should reflect on this self-same deed of mind thus: ‘Was this deed that I did with the mind a deed of my mind that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both? Was this an unskilled deed of mind, its yield anguish, its result anguish? If you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the mind was a deed of my mind that conduced to the harm of self and to the harm of others and to the harm of both; this deed of mind was unskilled, its yield anguish, its result anguish’, such a deed of your mind, Rāhula, should be confessed, disclosed, declared to the Teacher or to intelligent Brahma-farers so that, confessed, disclosed and declared, it would induce restraint in the future. But if you, Rāhula, while reflecting thus, should find: ‘This deed that I did with the mind was a deed of my mind that conduced neither to the harm of self nor to the harm of others nor to the harm of both; it was a skilled deed of mind, its yield happy, its result happy’, because of it you, Rāhula, may abide in zest and rapture training yourself day and night in states that are skilled.

Purification only by Reflection

All those recluses and brahmans, Rāhula, who in the long past purified a deed of body, purified a deed of speech, purified a deed of mind, did so (only) after repeated reflection. And all those recluses and brahmans, Rāhula, who in the distant future will purify a deed of body, will purify a deed of speech, will purify a deed of mind, will do so (only) after repeated reflection. And all those recluses and brahmans, Rāhula, who in the present are purifying a deed of body, are purifying a deed of speech, are purifying a deed of mind, are doing so (only) after repeated reflection.

Wherefore, Rāhula, thinking: ‘We will purify a deed of body after repeated reflection, we will purify a deed of speech after repeated reflection, we will purify a deed of mind after repeated reflection’, this is how you must train yourself, Rāhula.”

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

Discourse on an Exhortation to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhikā: The First