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With Jīvaka—Bhikkhu Sujato

Middle Discourses 55

With Jīvaka

1.1So I have heard. 1.2At one time the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha in the Mango Grove of Jīvaka Komārabhacca. 2.1Then Jīvaka went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to the Buddha:

3.1“Sir, I have heard this: 3.2‘They slaughter living creatures specially for the ascetic Gotama. The ascetic Gotama knowingly eats meat prepared on purpose for him: this is a deed he caused.’ 3.3I trust that those who say this repeat what the Buddha has said, and do not misrepresent him with an untruth? Is their explanation in line with the teaching? Are there any legitimate grounds for rebuke and criticism?”

4.1“Jīvaka, those who say this do not repeat what I have said. They misrepresent me with what is false and untrue. 5.1For three reasons I say ‘meat may not be eaten’: 5.2it’s seen, heard, or suspected. 5.3These are three reasons I say ‘meat may not be eaten’. 5.4For three reasons I say ‘meat may be eaten’: 5.5it’s not seen, heard, or suspected. 5.6These are three reasons I say ‘meat may be eaten’.

6.1Take the case of a mendicant living supported by a town or village. 6.2They meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. 6.3A householder or their child approaches and invites them for the next day’s meal. 6.4The mendicant accepts if they want. 6.5When the night has passed, they robe up in the morning, take their bowl and robe, and approach that householder’s home, where they sit on the seat spread out. 6.6That householder or their child serves them with delicious alms-food. 6.7It never occurs to them: 6.8‘It’s so good that this householder serves me with delicious alms-food! 6.9I hope they serve me with such delicious alms-food in the future!’ 6.10They don’t think that. 6.11They eat that alms-food untied, uninfatuated, unattached, seeing the drawback, and understanding the escape. 6.12What do you think, Jīvaka? 6.13At that time is that mendicant intending to hurt themselves, hurt others, or hurt both?”

6.14“No, sir.”

6.15“Aren’t they eating blameless food at that time?”

7.1“Yes, sir. 7.2Sir, I have heard that 7.3Brahmā abides in love. 7.4Now, I’ve seen the Buddha with my own eyes, 7.5and it is the Buddha who truly abides in love.”

7.6“Any greed, hate, or delusion that might give rise to ill will has been given up by the Realized One, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated, and is unable to arise in the future. 7.7If that’s what you were referring to, I acknowledge it.”

7.8“That’s exactly what I was referring to.”

8-10.1“Take the case, Jīvaka, of a mendicant living supported by a town or village. 8-10.2They meditate spreading a heart full of compassion … 8-10.3They meditate spreading a heart full of rejoicing … 8-10.4They meditate spreading a heart full of equanimity to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. 8-10.5In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of equanimity to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will. 8-10.6A householder or their child approaches and invites them for the next day’s meal. 8-10.7The mendicant accepts if they want. 8-10.8When the night has passed, they robe up in the morning, take their bowl and robe, and approach that householder’s home, where they sit on the seat spread out. 8-10.9That householder or their child serves them with delicious alms-food. 8-10.10It never occurs to them: 8-10.11‘It’s so good that this householder serves me with delicious alms-food! 8-10.12I hope they serve me with such delicious alms-food in the future!’ 8-10.13They don’t think that. 8-10.14They eat that alms-food untied, uninfatuated, unattached, seeing the drawback, and understanding the escape. 8-10.15What do you think, Jīvaka? 8-10.16At that time is that mendicant intending to hurt themselves, hurt others, or hurt both?”

8-10.17“No, sir.”

8-10.18“Aren’t they eating blameless food at that time?”

11.1“Yes, sir. 11.2Sir, I have heard that 11.3Brahmā abides in equanimity. 11.4Now, I’ve seen the Buddha with my own eyes, 11.5and it is the Buddha who truly abides in equanimity.”

11.6“Any greed, hate, or delusion that might give rise to cruelty, negativity, or repulsion has been given up by the Realized One, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, obliterated, and is unable to arise in the future. 11.7If that’s what you were referring to, I acknowledge it.”

11.8“That’s exactly what I was referring to.”

12.1“Jīvaka, anyone who slaughters a living creature specially for the Realized One or the Realized One’s disciple makes much bad karma for five reasons. 12.2When they say: 12.3‘Go, fetch that living creature,’ this is the first reason. 12.4When that living creature experiences pain and sadness as it’s led along by a collar, this is the second reason. 12.5When they say: 12.6‘Go, slaughter that living creature,’ this is the third reason. 12.7When that living creature experiences pain and sadness as it’s being slaughtered, this is the fourth reason. 12.8When they provide the Realized One or the Realized One’s disciple with unallowable food, this is the fifth reason. 12.9Anyone who slaughters a living creature specially for the Realized One or the Realized One’s disciple makes much bad karma for five reasons.”

13.1When he had spoken, Jīvaka said to the Buddha:

13.2“It’s incredible, sir, it’s amazing! 13.3The mendicants indeed eat allowable food. 13.4The mendicants indeed eat blameless food. 13.5Excellent, sir! Excellent! … 13.6From this day forth, may the Buddha remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life.”