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After Death—Bhikkhu Bodhi

Saṃyutta Nikāya 16

Connected Discourses with Kassapa

12. After Death

On one occasion the Venerable Mahakassapa and the Venerable Sāriputta were dwelling at Baraṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion and approached the Venerable Mahakassapa. He exchanged greetings with the Venerable Mahakassapa and, when they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to him:

“How is it, friend Kassapa, does the Tathagata exist after death?”

“The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this: ‘The Tathagata exists after death.’”

“Then, friend, does the Tathagata not exist after death?”

“The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death.’”

“How is it then, friend, does the Tathagata both exist and not exist after death?”

“The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this: ‘The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death.’”

“Then, friend, does the Tathagata neither exist nor not exist after death?”

“The Blessed One, friend, has not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”

“Why hasn’t the Blessed One declared this, friend?”

“Because this is unbeneficial, irrelevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and does not lead to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. Therefore the Blessed One has not declared this.”

“And what, friend, has the Blessed One declared?”

“The Blessed One, friend, has declared: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering, ’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

“And why, friend, has the Blessed One declared this?”

“Because, friend, this is beneficial, relevant to the fundamentals of the holy life, and leads to revulsion, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. Therefore the Blessed One has declared this.”