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Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhika —Bhikkhu Sujato

Middle Discourses 61

Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhika

1.1So I have heard. 1.2At one time the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrels’ feeding ground.

2.1Now at that time Venerable Rāhula was staying at Ambalaṭṭhikā. 2.2Then in the late afternoon, the Buddha came out of retreat and went to Ambalaṭṭhika to see Venerable Rāhula. 2.3Rāhula saw the Buddha coming off in the distance. 2.4He spread out a seat and placed water for washing the feet. 2.5The Buddha sat on the seat spread out, 2.6and washed his feet. 2.7Rāhula bowed to the Buddha and sat down to one side.

3.1Then the Buddha, leaving a little water in the pot, addressed Rāhula, 3.2“Rāhula, do you see this little bit of water left in the pot?”

3.3“Yes, sir.”

3.4“That’s how little of the ascetic’s nature is left in those who are not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie.”

4.1Then the Buddha, tossing away what little water was left in the pot, said to Rāhula, 4.2“Do you see this little bit of water that was tossed away?”

4.3“Yes, sir.”

4.4“That’s how the ascetic’s nature is tossed away in those who are not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie.”

4.5Then the Buddha, turning the pot upside down, said to Rāhula, 4.6“Do you see how this pot is turned upside down?”

4.7“Yes, sir.”

4.8“That’s how the ascetic’s nature is turned upside down in those who are not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie.”

4.9Then the Buddha, turning the pot right side up, said to Rāhula, 4.10“Do you see how this pot is vacant and hollow?”

4.11“Yes, sir.”

4.12“That’s how vacant and hollow the ascetic’s nature is in those who are not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie.

7.1Suppose there was a royal bull elephant with tusks like plows, able to draw a heavy load, pedigree and battle-hardened. In battle it uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, but it still protects its trunk. 7.2So its rider thinks: 7.3‘This royal bull elephant still protects its trunk. 7.4It has not fully dedicated its life.’ 7.5But when that royal bull elephant … in battle uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, and its trunk, its rider thinks: 7.6‘This royal bull elephant … in battle uses its fore-feet and hind-feet, its fore-quarters and hind-quarters, its head, ears, tusks, and tail, and its trunk. 7.7It has fully dedicated its life. 7.8Now there is nothing that royal bull elephant would not do.’

7.9In the same way, when someone is not ashamed to tell a deliberate lie, there is no bad deed they would not do, I say. 7.10So you should train like this: ‘I will not tell a lie, even for a joke.’ 7.11

8.1What do you think, Rāhula? 8.2What is the purpose of a mirror?”

8.3“It’s for checking your reflection, sir.”

8.4“In the same way, deeds of body, speech, and mind should be done only after repeated checking.

9.1When you want to act with the body, you should check on that same deed: 9.2‘Does this act with the body that I want to do lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both? 9.3Is it unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result?’ 9.4If, while checking in this way, you know: 9.5‘This act with the body that I want to do leads to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 9.6It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ To the best of your ability, Rāhula, you should not do such a deed. 9.7But if, while checking in this way, you know: 9.8‘This act with the body that I want to do doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 9.9It’s skillful, with happiness as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should do such a deed.

10.1While you are acting with the body, you should check on that same act: 10.2‘Does this act with the body that I am doing lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both? 10.3Is it unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result?’ 10.4If, while checking in this way, you know: 10.5‘This act with the body that I am doing leads to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 10.6It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should desist from such a deed. 10.7But if, while checking in this way, you know: 10.8‘This act with the body that I am doing doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 10.9It’s skillful, with happiness as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should continue doing such a deed.

11.1After you have acted with the body, you should check on that same act: 11.2‘Does this act with the body that I have done lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both? 11.3Is it unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result?’ 11.4If, while checking in this way, you know: 11.5‘This act with the body that I have done leads to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 11.6It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should confess, reveal, and clarify such a deed to the Teacher or a sensible spiritual companion. 11.7And having revealed it you should restrain yourself in future. 11.8But if, while checking in this way, you know: 11.9‘This act with the body that I have done doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 11.10It’s skillful, with happiness as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should live in rapture and joy because of this, training day and night in skillful qualities.

12.1When you want to act with speech, you should check on that same deed: 12.2‘Does this act of speech that I want to do lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both?’ … 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9

13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.9

14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4If, while checking in this way, you know: 14.5‘This act of speech that I have done leads to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 14.6It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should confess, reveal, and clarify such a deed to the Teacher or a sensible spiritual companion. 14.7And having revealed it you should restrain yourself in future. 14.8But if, while checking in this way, you know: 14.9‘This act of speech that I have done doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 14.10It’s skillful, with happiness as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should live in rapture and joy because of this, training day and night in skillful qualities.

15.1When you want to act with the mind, you should check on that same deed: 15.2‘Does this act of mind that I want to do lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both?’ … 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 15.8 15.9

16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 16.7 16.8 16.9

17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4If, while checking in this way, you know: 17.5‘This act of mind that I have done leads to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 17.6It’s unskillful, with suffering as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should be horrified, repelled, and disgusted by that deed. 17.7And being repelled, you should restrain yourself in future. 17.8But if, while checking in this way, you know: 17.9‘This act with the mind that I have done doesn’t lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both. 17.10It’s skillful, with happiness as its outcome and result.’ Then, Rāhula, you should live in rapture and joy because of this, training day and night in skillful qualities.

18.1All the ascetics and brahmins of the past, future, and present who purify their physical, verbal, and mental actions do so after repeatedly checking. 18.2 18.3 18.4So Rāhula, you should train yourself like this: ‘I will purify my physical, verbal, and mental actions after repeatedly checking.’” 18.5

18.6That is what the Buddha said. 18.7Satisfied, Venerable Rāhula was happy with what the Buddha said.