Saṃyutta Nikāya 22

Connected Discourses on the Aggregates

86. Anuradha

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesali in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Now on that occasion the Venerable Anuradha was dwelling in a forest hut not far from the Blessed One. Then a number of wanderers of other sects approached the Venerable Anuradha and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, they sat down to one side and said to him:

“Friend Anuradha, when a Tathagata is describing a Tathagata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment —he describes him in terms of these four cases: ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”

When this was said, the Venerable Anuradha said to those wanderers: ‘Friends, when a Tathagata is describing a Tathagata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment—he describes him apart from these four cases: ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”

When this was said, those wanderers said to the Venerable Anuradha: ‘This bhikkhu must be newly ordained, not long gone forth; or, if he is an elder, he must be an incompetent fool.”

Then those wanderers of other sects, having denigrated the Venerable Anuradha with the terms “newly ordained” and “fool,” rose from their seats and departed.

Then, not long after those wanderers had left, it occurred to the Venerable Anuradha: “If those wanderers of other sects should question me further, how should I answer if I am to state what has been said by the Blessed One and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? And how should I explain in accordance with the Dhamma, so that no reasonable consequence of my assertion would give ground for criticism?”

Then the Venerable Anuradha approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and reported to the Blessed One everything that had happened, asking: “If those wanderers of other sects should question me further, how should I answer … so that no reasonable consequence of my assertion would give ground for criticism?”

“What do you think, Anuradha, is form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”…—“Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’

“What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard form as the Tathagata?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Do you regard feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness as the Tathagata?”—“No, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard the Tathagata as in form?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Do you regard the Tathagata as apart from form?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Do you regard the Tathagata as in feeling? As apart from feeling? As in perception? As apart from perception? As in volitional formations? As apart from volitional formations? As in consciousness? As apart from consciousness?”—“No, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness taken together as the Tathagata?”—“No, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Anuradha, do you regard the Tathagata as one who is without form, without feeling, without perception, without volitional formations, without consciousness?”—“No, venerable sir.”

“But, Anuradha, when the Tathagata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life, is it fitting for you to declare: ‘Friends, when a Tathagata is describing a Tathagata—the highest type of person, the supreme person, the attainer of the supreme attainment—he describes him apart from these four cases: ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ or … ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“Good, good, Anuradha! Formerly, Anuradha, and also now, I make known just suffering and the cessation of suffering.”