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Majjhima Nikaya 60 Apannaka Sutta – The Incontrovertible Teaching


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60. Apannaka Sutta – The Incontrovertible Teaching

1. THUS HAVE I HEARD. On one occasion the Blessed One was wandering in the Kosalan country with a large Sangha of bhikkhus, and eventually he arrived at a Kosalan brahmin village named Sala.

2. The brahmin householders of Sala heard: “The recluse Gotama, the son of the Sakyans who went forth from a Sakyan clan, has been wandering in the Kosalan country [401] with a large Sangha of bhikkhus and has come to Sala. Now a good report of Master Gotama has been spread to this effect: ‘That Blessed One is accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed. He declares this world with its gods, itsMaras, and its Brahmas, this generation with its recluses and brahmins, its princes and its people, which he has himself realised with direct knowledge. He teaches the Dhamma good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing, and he reveals a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure.’ Now it is good to see such arahants.”

3. Then the brahmin householders of Sala went to the Blessed One. Some paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down at one side; some exchanged greetings with him, and when this courteous and amiable talk was finished, sat down at one side; some extended their hands in reverential salutation towards the Blessed One and sat down at one side; some pronounced their name and clan in the Blessed One’s presence and sat down at one side; some kept silent and sat down at one side.

4. When they were seated, the Blessed One asked them: “Householders, is there any teacher agreeable to you in whom you have acquired faith supported by reasons?”[1]

“No, venerable sir, there is no teacher agreeable to us in whom we have acquired faith supported by reasons.”

“Since, householders, you have not found an agreeable teacher, you may undertake and practise this incontrovertible teaching;[2] for when the incontrovertible teaching is accepted and undertaken, it will lead to your welfare and happiness for a long time. And what is the incontrovertible teaching ?[3]

(I. THE DOCTRINE OF NIHILISM)

5. (A) “Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed; no fruit or result of good and bad actions; no this world, no other world; no mother, no father; no beings who are reborn spontaneously; no good and virtuous recluses and brahmins in the world who have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’[4] [402]

6. (B) “Now there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine is directly opposed to that of those recluses and brahmins, and they say thus: ‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are good and virtuous recluses and brahmins in the world who have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ What do you think, householders? Don’t these recluses and brahmins hold doctrines directly opposed to each other?” – “Yes, venerable sir.”

7. (A.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is nothing given … no good and virtuous recluses and brahmins in the world who have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins do not see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, nor do they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

8. (A.ii) “Since there actually is another world, one who holds the view ‘there is no other world’ has wrong view. Since there actually is another world, one who intends ‘there is no other world’ has wrong intention. Since there actually is another world, one who makes the statement ‘there is no other world’ has wrong speech. Since there actually is another world, one who says ‘there is no other world’ is opposed to those arahants who know the other world. Since there actually is another world, one who convinces another ‘there is no other world’ convinces him to accept an untrue Dhamma; and because he convinces another to accept an untrue Dhamma, he praises himself and disparages others. Thus any pure virtue that he formerly had is abandoned and corrupt conduct is substituted.[5] And this wrong view, wrong intention, wrong speech, opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept an untrue Dhamma, and self-praise and disparagement of others – these several evil unwholesome states thus come into being with wrong view as their condition. [403]

9. (A.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is no other world, then on the dissolution of the body this good person will have made himself safe enough.[6] But if there is another world, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. Now whether or not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no other world: still this good person is here and now censured by the wise as an immoral person, one of wrong view who holds the doctrine of nihilism.[7] But on the other hand, if there is another world, then this good person has made an unlucky throw on both counts: since he is censured by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. He has wrongly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends only to one side and excludes the wholesome alternative.’[8]

10. (B.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is what is given … there are good and virtuous recluses.and brahmins in the world who

have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, and they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

11. (B.ii) “Since there actually is another world, one who holds the view ‘there is another world’ has right view. Since there actually is another world, one who intends ‘there is another world’ has right intention. Since there actually is another world, one who makes the statement ‘there is another world’ has right speech. Since there actually is another world, one who says ‘there is another world’ is not opposed to those arahants who know the other world. Since there actually is another world, one who convinces another ‘there is another world’ [404] convinces him to accept true Dhamma; and because he convinces another to accept true Dhamma, he does not praise himself and disparage others. Thus any corrupt conduct that he formerly had is abandoned and pure virtue is substituted. And this right view, right intention, right speech, non-opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept true Dhamma, and avoidance of selfpraise and disparagement of others – these several wholesome states thus come into being with right view as their condition.

12. (B.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is another world, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, this good person will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. Now whether or not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no other world: still this good person is here and now praised by the wise as a virtuous person, one with right view who holds the doctrine of affirmation.[9] And on the other hand, if there is another world, then this good person has made a lucky throw on both counts: since he is praised by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. He has rightly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends to both sides and excludes the unwholesome alternative.’[10]

(II. THE DOCTRINE OF NON-DOING)

13. (A) “Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this:[11] ‘When one acts or makes others act, when one mutilates or makes others mutilate, when one tortures or makes others inflict torture, when one inflicts sorrow or makes others inflict sorrow, when one oppresses or makes others inflict oppression, when one intimidates or makes others inflict intimidation, when one kills living beings, takes what is not given, breaks into houses, plunders wealth, commits burglary, ambushes highways, seduces another’s wife, utters falsehood – no evil is done by the doer. If, with a razorrimmed wheel, one were to make the living beings on this earth into one mass of flesh, into one heap of flesh, because of this there would be no evil and no outcome of evil. If one were to go along the south bank of the Ganges killing and slaughtering, mutilating and making others mutilate, torturing and making others inflict torture, because of this there would be no evil and no outcome of evil. If one were to go along the north bank of the Ganges giving gifts and making others give gifts, making offerings and making others make offerings, because of this there would be no merit and no outcome of merit. By giving, by taming oneself, by restraint, by speaking truth, there is no merit and no outcome of merit.’

14. (B) “Now there are some recluses and brahmins [405] whose doctrine is directly opposed to that of those recluses and brahmins, and they say thus: ‘When one acts or makes others act, when one mutilates or makes others mutilate … utters falsehood – evil is done by the doer. If, with a razor-rimmed wheel, one were to make the living beings on this earth into one mass of flesh, into one heap of flesh, because of this there would be evil and the outcome of evil. If one were to go along the south bank of the Ganges killing and slaughtering, mutilating and making others mutilate, torturing and making others inflict torture, because of this there would be evil and the outcome of evil. If one were to go along the north bank of the Ganges giving gifts and making others give gifts, making offerings and making others make offerings, because of this there would be merit and the outcome of merit. By giving, by taming oneself, by restraint, by speaking truth, there is merit and the outcome of merit.’ What do you think, householders? Don’t these recluses and brahmins hold doctrines directly opposed to each other?” – “Yes, venerable sir.”

15. (A.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘When one acts or makes others act … there is no merit and no outcome of merit,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct and good mental conduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins do not see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, nor do they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

16. (A.ii) “Since there actually is doing, one who holds the view ‘there is no doing’ has wrong view. Since there actually is doing, one who intends ‘there is no doing’ has wrong intention. Since there actually is doing, one who makes the statement ‘there is no doing’ has wrong speech. Since there actually is doing, one who says ‘there is no doing’ is opposed to those arahants who hold the doctrine that there is doing. Since there actually is doing, one who convinces another ‘there is no doing’ convinces him to accept an untrue Dhamma; and because he convinces another to accept an untrue Dhamma, he praises himself and disparages others. Thus any pure virtue that he formerly had is abandoned and corrupt conduct is substituted. [406] And this wrong view, wrong intention, wrong speech, opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept an untrue Dhamma, and self-praise and disparagement of others – these several evil unwholesome states thus come into being with wrong view as their condition.

17. (A.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is no doing, then on the dissolution of the body this good person will have made himself safe enough. But if there is doing, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. Now whether er not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no doing: still this good person is here and now censured by the wise as an immoral person, one of wrong view who holds the doctrine of non-doing. But on the other hand, if there is doing, then this good person has made an unlucky throw on both counts: since he is censured by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. He has wrongly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends only to one side and excludes the wholesome alternative.’

18. (B.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘When one acts or makes others act … there is merit and outcome of merit,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, and they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

19. (B.ii) “Since there actually is doing, one who holds the view ‘there is doing’ has right view. Since there actually is doing, one who intends ‘there is doing’ has right intention. Since there actually is doing, one who makes the statement ‘there is doing’ has right speech. Since there actually is doing, one who says ‘there is doing’ is not opposed to those arahants who hold the doctrine that there is doing. Since there actually is doing, one who convinces another ‘there is doing’ convinces him to accept true Dhamma; [407] and because he convinces another to accept true Dhamma, he does not praise himself and disparage others. Thus any corrupt conduct that he formerly had is abandoned and pure virtue is substituted. And this right view, right intention, right speech, non-opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept true Dhamma, and avoidance of self-praise and disparagement of others – these several wholesome states thus come into being with right view as their condition.

20. (B.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is doing, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, this good person will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. Now whether or not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no doing: still this good person is here and now praised by the wise as a virtuous person, one with right view who holds the doctrine of doing. And on the other hand, if there is doing, then this good person has made a lucky throw on both counts: since he is praised by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. He has rightly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends to both sides and excludes the unwholesome alternative.’

(III. THE DOCTRINE OF NON-CAUSALITY)

21. (A) “Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this:[12] ‘There is no cause or condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled without cause or condition. There is no cause or condition for the purification of beings; beings are purified without cause or condition. There is no power, no energy, no manly strength, no manly endurance. All beings, all living things, all creatures, all souls are without mastery, power, and energy; moulded by destiny, circumstance, and nature, they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes.’[13]

22. (B) “Now there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine is directly opposed to that of those recluses and brahmins, and they say thus: ‘There is a cause and condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled owing to a cause and condition. There is a cause and condition for the purification of beings; beings are purified owing to a cause and condition. There is power, energy, manly strength, manly endurance. It is not the case that all beings, all living things, all creatures, all souls are without mastery, power, and energy, or that moulded by destiny, circumstance, and nature, they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes.’ What do you think, householders? [408] Don’t these recluses and brahmins hold doctrines directly opposed to each other?” – “Yes, venerable sir.”

23. (A.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is no cause or condition for the defilement of beings … they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins do not see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, nor do they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

24. (A.ii) “Since there actually is causality,’ one who holds the view ‘there is no causality’ has wrong view. Since there actually is causality, one who intends ‘there is no causality’ has wrong intention. Since there actually is causality, one who makes the statement ‘there is no causality’ has wrong speech. Since there actually is causality, one who says ‘there is no causality’ is opposed to those arahants who hold the doctrine of causality. Since there actually is causality, one who convinces another ‘there is no causality’ convinces him to accept an untrue Dhamma; and because he convinces another to accept an untrue Dhamma, he praises himself and disparages others. Thus any pure virtue that he formerly had is abandoned and corrupt conduct is substituted. And this wrong view, wrong intention, wrong speech, opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept an untrue Dhamma, and self-praise and disparagement of others – these several evil unwholesome states thus come into being with wrong view as their condition.

25. (A.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is no causality, then on the dissolution of the body this good person will have made himself safe enough. But if there is causality, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. Now whether or not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no causality: still this good person is here and now censured by the wise as an immoral person, one of wrong view who holds the doctrine of non-causality. But on the other hand, if there is causality, then this good person has made an unlucky throw on both counts: [409] since he is censured by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell. He has wrongly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends only to one side and excludes the wholesome alternative.’

26. (B.i) “Now, householders, of those recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is a cause and condition for the defilement of beings … they experience pleasure and pain in the six classes,’ it is to be expected that they will avoid these three unwholesome states, namely, bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, and mental misconduct, and that they will undertake and practise these three wholesome states, namely, good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, and good mental conduct. Why is that? Because those good recluses and brahmins see in unwholesome states the danger, degradation, and defilement, and they see in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation, the aspect of cleansing.

27. (B.ii) “Since there actually is causality, one who holds the view ‘there is causality’ has right view. Since there actually is causality, one who intends ‘there is causality’ has right intention. Since there actually is causality, one who makes the statement ‘there is causality’ has right speech. Since there actually is causality, one who says ‘there is causality’ is not opposed to those arahants who hold the doctrine of causality. Since there actually is causality, one who convinces another ‘there is causality’ convinces him to accept true Dhamma; and because he convinces another to accept true Dhamma, he does not praise himself and disparage others. Thus any corrupt conduct that he formerly had is abandoned and pure virtue is substituted. And this right view, right intention, right speech, non-opposition to noble ones, convincing another to accept true Dhamma, and avoidance of self-praise and disparagement of others – these several wholesome states thus come into being with right view as their condition.

28. (B.iii) “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘If there is causality, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, this good person will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. Now whether or not the word of those good recluses and brahmins is true, let me assume that there is no causality: still this good person is here and now praised by the wise as a virtuous person, one with right view who holds the doctrine of causality. And on the other hand, if there is [410] causality, then this good person has made a lucky throw on both counts: since he is praised by the wise here and now, and since on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. He has rightly accepted and undertaken this incontrovertible teaching in such a way that it extends to both sides and excludes the unwholesome alternative.’

(IV. THERE ARE NO IMMATERIAL REALMS)

29. “Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There are definitely no immaterial realms.’[14]

30. “Now there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine is directly opposed to that of those recluses and brahmins, and they say thus: ‘There definitely are immaterial realms.’ What do you think, householders? Don’t these recluses and brahmins hold doctrines directly opposed to each other?” – “Yes, venerable sir.”

31. “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘These good recluses and brahmins hold the doctrine and view “there are definitely no immaterial realms,” but that has not been seen by me. And these other good recluses and brahmins hold the doctrine and view “there definitely are immaterial realms,” but that has not been known by me. If, without knowing and seeing, I were to take one side and declare: “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” that would not be fitting for me. Now as to the recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely are no immaterial realms,” if their word is true then it is certainly still possible that I might reappear [after death] among the gods of the fine-material realms who consist of mind.[15] But as to the recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely are immaterial realms,” if their word is true then it is certainly possible that I might reappear [after death] among the gods of the immaterial realms who consist of perception. The taking up of rods and weapons, quarrels, brawls, disputes, recrimination, malice, and false speech are seen to occur based on material form, but this does not exist at all in the immaterial realms.’ After reflecting thus, he practises the way to dispassion towards material forms, to the fading away and cessation of material forms.[16]

(V. THERE IS NO CESSATION OF BEING)

32. “Householders, there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine and view is this: ‘There is definitely no cessation of being.’[17]

33. “Now there are some recluses and brahmins whose doctrine is directly opposed to that of those recluses and brahmins, and they say thus: ‘There definitely [411] is a cessation of being.’ What do you think, householders? Don’t these recluses and brahmins hold doctrines directly opposed to each other?” – “Yes, venerable sir.”

34. “About this a wise man considers thus: ‘These good recluses and brahmins hold the doctrine and view “there is definitely no cessation of being,” but that has not been seen by me. And these other good recluses and brahmins hold the doctrine and view “there definitely is a cessation of being,” but that has not been known by me. If, without knowing and seeing, I were to take one side and declare: “Only this is true, anything else is wrong,” that would not be fitting for me. Now as to the recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely is no cessation of being,” if their word is true then it is certainly still possible that I might reappear [after death] among the gods of the immaterial realms who consist of perception. But as to the recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely is a cessation of being,” if their word is true then it is possible that I might here and now attain final Nibbana. The view of those good recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely is no cessation of being” is close to lust, close to bondage, close to delighting, close to holding, close to clinging; but the view of those good recluses and brahmins who hold the doctrine and view “there definitely is cessation of being” is close to non-lust, close to non-bondage, close to nondelighting, close to non-holding, close to non-clinging. After reflecting thus, he practises the way to dispassion towards being, to the fading away and cessation of being.[18]

(FOUR KINDS OF PERSONS)

35. “Householders, there are four kinds of persons to be found existing in the world. What four? Here a certain kind of person torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself. Here a certain kind of person torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others. Here a certain kind of person torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself, and he also torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others. Here a certain kind of person does not torment himself or pursue the practice of torturing himself, and he does not torment others or pursue the practice of torturing others.[412] Since he torments neither himself nor others, he is here and now hungerless, extinguished, and cooled, and he abides experiencing bliss, having himself become holy.

36. “What kind of person, householders, torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself? Here a certain person goes naked, rejecting conventions … (as Sutta 51, §8) … Thus in such a variety of ways he dwells pursuing the practice of tormenting and mortifying the body. This is called the kind of person who torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself.

37. “What kind of person, householders, torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others? Here a certain person is a butcher of sheep … (as Sutta 51, §9) … or one who follows any other such bloody occupation. This is called the kind of person who torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others.

38. “What kind of a person, householders, torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself and also torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others? Here some person is a head-anointed noble king or a well-to-do brahmin … (as Sutta 51, §10) … And then his slaves, messengers, and servants make preparations, weeping with tearful faces, being spurred on by threats of punishment and by fear. This is called the kind of person who torments himself and pursues the practice of torturing himself and who torments others and pursues the practice of torturing others.

39. “What kind of person, householders, does not torment himself or pursue the practice of torturing himself and does not torment others or pursue the practice of torturing others – the one who, since he torments neither himself nor others, is here and now hungerless, extinguished, and cooled, and abides experiencing bliss, having himself become holy?

40-55. “Here, householders, a Tathagata appears in the world … (as Sutta 51, §§12-27) [413] … He understands: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’

56. “This, householders, is called the kind of person who does not torment himself or pursue the practice of torturing himself and who does not torment others or pursue the practice of torturing others – the one who, since he torments neither himself nor others, is here and how hungerless, extinguished, and cooled, and abides experiencing bliss, having himself become holy.”

57. When this was said, the brahmin householders of Sala said to the Blessed One: “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent, Master Gotama! Master Gotama has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as though he were turning upright what had been overthrown, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the darkness for those with eyesight to see forms. We go to Master Gotama for refuge and to the Dhamma and to the Sangha of bhikkhus. From today let Master Gotama accept us as lay followers who have gone to him for refuge for life.”


60. Apannaka Sutta – The Incontrovertible Teaching

[1] MA: The Buddha began by asking this question because thevillageofSalawas situated at the entrance to a forest, and many recluses and brahmins of diverse creeds would stay there overnight, expounding their own views and tearing down the views of their opponents. This left the villagers perplexed, unable to commit themselves to a particular teaching.

[2] Apannakadhamma. MA explains this as a teaching that is uncontradictable, free from ambiguity, definitely acceptable (aviraddho advejjhagamt ekarrisagahiko). The term also occurs at AN 3:16/i.113 and AN 4:71 /ii.76.

[3] The three views discussed in §§5, 13 and 21 are called wrong views with fixed evil result (niyata miccha ditthi). To adhere to them with firm conviction closes off the prospect of a heavenly rebirth and the attainment of liberation. For a fuller discussion see Bodhi, Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, pp. 79-83.

The examination of these views unfolds according to the following pattern: The Buddha discloses the wrong view A and its antithesis B. Taking up A for examination first, in A.i he shows the pernicious effect of this view on bodily, verbal, and mental conduct. In A.ii he proceeds from the judgement that the view is actually wrong and elicits additional negative consequences of its adoption.

Then in A.iii he shows how a wise person comes to the conclusion that whether or not the view is true, it serves his best interest to reject it.

Next, position B is considered. In B.i the Buddha describes the wholesome influence of this view on conduct. In B.ii he elicits additional positive consequences of adopting such a view. And in B.iii he shows how a wise person comes to the conclusion that, irrespective of its actual veracity, it serves his best interest to conduct his affairs as though the view is true.

[4] See n.425 for clarification of several expressions used in the formulation of this view.

[5] The Pali terms are susilya and dusTlya. Since “corrupt virtue” sounds self-contradictory, “conduct” has been used in my rendering of the latter expression. INm had used “unvirtuousness.”

[6] He has made himself safe (sotthi) in the sense that he will not be subject to suffering in a future existence. However, he is still liable to the types of suffering to be encountered in this existence, which the Buddha is about to mention.

[7] Natthikavada, lit. “the doctrine of non-existence,” is so called because it denies the existence of an afterlife and of kammic retribution.

[8] His undertaking of the incontrovertible teaching “extends only to one side” in the sense that he makes himself safe with regard to the next life only on the presupposition that there is no afterlife, while if there is an afterlife he loses on both counts.

[9] Atthikavada: the affirmation of the existence of an afterlife and of kammic retribution.

[10] His undertaking “extends to both sides” since he reaps the benefits of his view affirming the afterlife whether or not an afterlife actually exists.

[11] This doctrine of non-doing (akiriyavada), in the Samannaphala Sutta (DN 2.17/i.52-53), is attributed to Purana Kassapa. Although on first encounter the view seems to rest on materialist premises, as the previous nihilistic view does, there is canonical evidence that Purana Kassapa subscribed to a fatalistic doctrine. Thus his moral antinomianism probably follows from the view that all action is predestined in ways that abrogate the ascription of moral responsibility to its agent. See Basham, History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas, p. 84.

[12] This is the doctrine of non-causality (ahetukavada) maintained by the Ajivaka leader Makkhali Gosala, and called in the Samannaphala Sutta the doctrine of purification by samsara (saiiasarasuddhi, DN 2.21/i.54). The philosophy of Makkhali Gosala has been examined in detail by Basham, History and Doctrines of the Aftvikas, Chapters 12 and 13. A translation of the Digha commentary on this doctrine will be found in Bodhi, Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, pp. 70-77.

[13] Niyati, destiny or fate, is the primary explanatory principle in Makkhali s philosophy, “circumstance and nature” (sangatibhava) seem to be its modes of operation in external events and in the constitution of the individual, respectively. The six classes (abhijati) are six gradations of human beings according to their level of spiritual development, the highest being reserved for the three mentors of the Ajivakas mentioned at MN 36.5. On the six classes, see Bodhi, Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, pp. 73-75. Also, AN 6:57/iii.383-84.

[14] This is a denial of the four immaterial planes of existence, the objective counterparts of the four immaterial meditative attainments.

[15] These are the gods of the planes corresponding to the four jhanas. They possess bodies of subtle matter, unlike the gods of the immaterial planes who consist entirely of mind without any admixture of matter.

[16] MA: Even though the wise man discussed here has doubts about the existence of the immaterial planes, he attains the fourth jhana, and on the basis of that he attempts to attain the immaterial absorptions. If he fails he is certain of rebirth in the fine-material planes, but if he succeeds he will be reborn in the immaterial planes. Thus for him this wager is an “incontrovertible teaching.”

[17] MA: Cessation of being (bhavanirodha) here is Nibbana.

[18] MA: Even though this person has doubts about the existence of Nibbana, he attains the eight meditative attainments, and then, using one of those attainments as a basis, he develops insight, thinking: “If there is cessation, then I will reach arahantship and attain Nibbana.” If he fails he is certain of rebirth in the immaterial planes, but if he succeeds he reaches arahantship and attains Nibbana.

Majjhima Nikaya 86 Angulimala Sutta


Majjhima Nikaya 86
Angulimala Sutta
To Angulimala.

Bhikkhu Nanamoli & Bhikkhu Bodhi

Thus have I heard.

Once the Blessed One was living at Savatthi in Jeta’s grove, Anathapindika’s park. At that time in King Pasenadi’s kingdom of Kosala there was a robber named Angulimala. He was fierce, with bloody hands, engaged in killing living beings without mercy. At that time he destroyed complete villages, complete hamlets and even whole districts. He killed humans and wore a garland of his victims’ fingers.

Then one morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking bowl and outer robe, entered Savatthi for alms. After going on alms round and returning, and after the meal was over, he set his dwelling place in order, and taking bowl and outer robe, followed the path towards where Angulimala was staying. Cowherds, farmers and travelers, on seeing the Blessed One following the path leading to where Angulimala was staying, said: “Recluse do not follow that path, there lives a robber named Angulimala, a fierce one with bloody hands, engaged in killing living beings without mercy. He has destroyed complete villages, complete hamlets and even whole districts. He kills humans in order to wear a garland of his victims’ fingers. O! recluse, even bands of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or even fifty people going along this path have been killed by this robber Angulimala.” When this was said the Blessed One went silently on. For the second time they said it and the Blessed One went silently on; and for the third time they said it and the Blessed One went silently on.

The robber Angulimala saw the Blessed One coming in the distance and he

thought: “Indeed it is wonderful, people come along this path in bands of ten, or twenty, or thirty, or forty, or fifty, and they all fall into my hands; this recluse comes all alone, without another; maybe he thinks he can overcome me. What if I kill this recluse?” The robber Angulimala took out his sword and armor and fixed his bow and arrow and followed close behind Blessed One. Then the Blessed One performed feat of supernormal power such that the robber Angulimala, pursuing the Blessed One with all his might, could not catch the Blessed One. Then the robber Angulimala thought: “It is indeed amazing! Earlier, I could overtake a running elephant, a running horse, a moving chariot; here running with all my might, I cannot catch up to this recluse.” He stopped and called to the Blessed One. “Stop, Recluse! Stop!”

“Angulimala, I have stopped. You stop too!” The Blessed One said.

Then the robber Angulimala thought: “These recluses, the sons of the Sakyas

 

talk the truth and are established in the truth. Yet while walking why does he say, ‘I have stopped and Angulimala you too stop!’ What if I ask about it from the recluse?” Then the robber Angulimala spoke this verse to the Blessed One:

‘While walking the recluse says “I have stopped,”

when I have stopped, he says I have not stopped.
Recluse, explain this to me,
how have you stopped and I have not stopped.’

‘Angulimala I have stopped for good,
I have given up harming living beings.
You are not restrained towards living beings,
therefore I have stopped and you have not stopped.’

‘For a long time to fulfill a vow, I have been honoring Shiva.
You have arrived in the forest speaking truth.
So I shall give up my thousand crimes,
for I have heard your verse which teaches what is right.’ 1

Then and there the robber threw away his weapons
into the depths of the forest;
He fell at the feet of the Blessed One
and begged for the going forth.

The Blessed One, the sage
with compassion, for the whole world,
Gave him the going forth saying: ‘Come O! bhikkhu!’
and that was his going forth.

Then the Blessed One, with venerable Angulimala as his attendant, journeyed back to Savatthi and arrived at the monastery given by Anathapindika in Jeta’s grove. At that time at the entrance to the palace of king Pasenadi of Kosala there was assembled a large gathering, making much noise: “Lord, there is a robber Angulimala, in the kingdom. He is fierce, with bloody hands, he has no compassion for living beings, he destroys, hamlets, villages and districts. He kills humans and collects their fingers to wear as a garland around his neck. Lord he should be punished.”

Then king Pasenadi of Kosala left his palace with about five hundred riders on horse back and approached the monastery. He went as far as he could in his carriage and then approached the Blessed One on foot. After paying homage to the Blessed One he sat down to one side. The Blessed One said to king Pasenadi of Kosala: “Great king, has king Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha risen against you, or have the Licchavis of Vesali risen against you?”

“No, venerable sir, neither has king Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha risen against me, nor have the Licchavis of Vesali risen against me. Yet there is a robber in my kingdom, by the name Angulimala, fierce, bloody handed, without compassion for living beings. He destroys hamlets, villages and districts, killing humans to collect their fingers to wear as a garland around his neck. Venerable sir, I shall never be able to put him down.”

“Great king, if you were to see Angulimala, with shaved head and beard, wearing yellow robes, gone forth to the homeless life, abstaining from destroying life, from taking what is not given, from telling lies, eating one meal a day, and virtuous, what would you do to him?”

“Venerable sir, I would rise from my seat on his arrival, invite him to be seated, arrange to provide the four requisites of life – robes, alms food, shelter and medicine when ill – and provide him righteous protection. Yet venerable sir, how could such virtues come to an evil doer, like him?”

At that time venerable Angulimala was seated close to the Blessed One, and the Blessed One extended his right arm and said to king Pasenadi of Kosala: “Great king, that is Angulimala.”

Then king Pasenadi of Kosala was frightened and his hairs stood on end. The Blessed One, knowing that king Pasenadi of Kosala was frightened and that his hairs were standing on end, said: “Great king, do not fear, there is nothing to fear now.” Then all the fear vanished from the king and he approached the venerable Angulimala and said: “Venerable sir, are you Angulimala?”

“Yes, great king, I’m Angulimala.”

“Of what clan is the venerable one’s father and of what clan is the venerable one’s mother?”

“Great king, my father is Gagga and my mother Mantani.”

“Venerable sir, venerable Gaggamantaniputta, may you find happiness in the Blessed Ones Dispensation. I will provide you with the requisites of life, such as robes, alms food, shelter and medicines when ill.” At that time venerable Angulimala was dependent on alms food, a forest dweller, a rag robe wearer and confined to three robes. So venerable Angulimala said to king Pasenadi of Kosala. “That is not necessary, great king, my three robes are complete.”

Then king Pasenadi of Kosala approached the Blessed One, paid homage, sat down to one side, and said: “Indeed, it is wonderful, how you tame the untamed, how you appease the unappeased, how you liberate the unliberated. You tame without stick or weapon those that we could not tame with sticks and weapons. Now we have much work to do, we must be going. Then king Pasenadi of Kosala got up from his seat, paid homage and circumambulated the Blessed One, and went away.”

Then in the morning, the venerable Angulimala dressed, and taking bowl and robes, entered Savatthi for alms. While going on alms round in Savatthi, he saw a woman in the pains of childbirth. It occurred to him: Great indeed is the suffering of beings. Then after finishing the alms round and after eating his meal, venerable Angulimala approached the Blessed One, paid homage, sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, when I was going for alms this morning, I saw a woman suffering from the pains of childbirth and it occurred to me: ‘Great indeed is the suffering of beings.'”

“Then Angulimala go to Savatthi, approach that woman and tell her. ‘Sister, since my birth I have not knowingly destroyed a living being; by this truth may you be well and may your child be well.'”

“Venerable sir, won’t that be knowingly telling a lie? I have knowingly destroyed many living beings.”

“Then Angulimala go to Savatthi and approach that woman and tell her. ‘Sister, since I was born in the noble birth I have not knowingly destroyed a living being; by this truth may you be well and may your child be well.'”

Then venerable Angulimala agreed, went to Savatthi and approached the woman and told her. “Sister, since I was born in the noble birth I have not knowingly destroyed a living being; by this truth may you be well and may your child be well.” Then she became well and the child was also well.

Before long, dwelling alone, secluded, diligent, ardent and resolute Angulimala realized for himself that for which sons of clansmen rightfully leave the household life and become homeless: the noble end of the holy life. He knew: birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, what should be done is done. There is nothing further to do.

Then in the morning, the venerable Angulimala dressed, and taking bowl and robes, entered Savatthi for alms. Then a clod was thrown by someone and it hit venerable Angulimala. A stick was thrown by someone, it hit venerable Angulimala. A stone was thrown, it hit venerable Angulimala. Venerable Angulimala came to the Blessed One with a split head and blood dripping, with his bowl broken and his robes torn. The Blessed One seeing venerable Angulimala approaching in the distance said: “Bear it, Brahmin, bear that. Because of your actions you would have been reaping results for many years in hell, for many hundreds of years, for many thousands of years. Brahmin, bear the results of your actions here and now.”

Venerable Angulimala experienced the pleasantness of release in his seclusion, and then these verses occurred to him:

“The negligent one
became diligent,
and illuminates the world
like the moon freed from clouds.

When his merit
covers up the demerit,
he illuminates the world
like the moon freed from clouds.

The young bhikkhu yoked
to the Dispensation of the Blessed One
illuminates the world
like the moon freed from clouds.

My enemies, listen to the Teaching,
be yoked to the Dispensation of the Blessed One.
My enemies, associate with friends
who show the peaceful Teaching.

My enemies, with patience
and with aversion dispelled,
listen to the Teaching
and live according to the Teaching.

Do not hurt me
or anybody else for any reason,
attain to the highest peace
and protect the firm and the infirm.

Irrigators lead water,
fletchers bend arrows,
the carpenter bends wood
but the wise seek to tame themselves.

Some are tamed with a stick,
or hook or whip,
I was tamed by a such one
without a stick or weapon.

Earlier when I was a hurter,
my name was non-hurter,
now am true to my name
I do not hurt anyone.

Earlier I was a robber
known as Angulimala,
and was carried away by the flood
Now I take refuge in enlightenment.

Earlier I was known as Angulimala
with bloody hands,
look at the refuge I have found
the bond of being is destroyed.

Having done many actions
leading to birth in hell,
touched by the results of such actions
I now partake food without a debt.

Fools are yoked
to negligence,
the wise protect diligence
as the highest wealth.

Do not be yoked to negligence,
and sensual pleasures,
concentrate diligently
to attain the perfect bliss.

Go to increase, not to decrease,
this is good advice,
reach the highest
of the analytical knowledges.

Go to increase, not to decrease,
this is my good advice,
I have attained the Three knowledges
and done the dispensation of the Enlightened One.”