Majjhima Nikāya
Suññata Vagga


M 121 Cūḷa Sa\uññatasuttaLesser Discourse on Emptyness
M 122 Mahā SuññatasuttaGreater Discourse on Emptyness
M 123 Mahā AcchāriyabbutasuttaWonderful and Marvellous Qualities of a Buddha
M 124 BakkulasuttaAbout Bakkula
M 125 DantabbhūmisuttaThe Training Ground
M 126 BhūmijasuttaDiscourse to Bhūmija
M 127 AnuruddhasuttaDiscourse with Anuruddha
M 128 UpakilesasuttaDiscourse on Defilements
M 129 BālapaṇḍitasuttaDiscourse on Fools and the Wise
M 130 DevadūtasuttaDiscourse on Deva Messengers

M 121. Cūḷa Suññatasutta
Lesser Discourse Discourse on Emptyness

[176] At Pubbārāma in Sāvatthi. Ven Ananda went to the Buddha and said "Once in the past at Nāgarika in Sākya you told me 'I now abide fully in Emptyness (suññatā)'. Is my recollection correct?". The Buddha assured Ananda that he had remembered it correctly and proceeded to give a talk on Emptiness. He based his example on the concept of the forest to which he generally exhorted monks to retire to. He said that just as this Pubbārāma is void of elephants, cattle, gold and so on so a monk considers the forest to be empty of humans and things associated with a village. He abides with the single perception of forest and finds satisfaction, settlement and indulgence in that single (ekattaṃ) concept. Moreover all the woes, anxieties and worries (darathā) of the village do not manifest themselves there. Then the Buddha postulates a series of states that arise in the further meditation of the forest-bound monk.

[177] The Earth is the next concept which enters the mind of the meditator because he feels that the forest is situated on the earth. But this should also be considered as a single concept which too is empty. All features on the earthy disappears from his view, even the forest.

[178] The Infinitude of Space is what lies beyond earth. But this too has to be considered as it really is, i.e. empty. The woes and worries that would have been present in earlier conceptions of forest and earth vanish. What he sees is the actuality of emptyness undistorted in meaning and pure (avipallatthā parisuddhā suññatāvakkanti bhavati).

[179] Then the meditator progresses into the Infinitude of Consciousness. This too appears pleasing but ultimately it too dissolves into emptyness. But even though the woes and disturbances of the previous states have no longer any effect, this too has finally to be transcended.

[180] Then comes the Sphere of Nothingness. Now the only non-emptiness is the singleness based on the perception of the dimension of nothingness. Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present. And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, and pure.

[181] The singleness based on the dimension of Neither Perception nor non Perception is what is current now. All other woes and disturbances have gone away. But this too is transient and subject to ending.

[182] The next stage is the Sign-less concentration of mind. However this is not described in comprehensible terms. It is said that there is only this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition (kāyam paṭicca salāyatanikam jīvitapaccayā).

[183] Then comes the final Release of Mind. the mind is released from the effluents (taints) of sensuality, becoming and ignorance. He knows "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world."

[184] All recluses and Brahmins who enter into a final state of emptyness enter into this same emptyness. This is what the Buddha said and Ven. Ananda delighted in these words.

Summary Analysis 
The version of emptyness given in this sutta is another way of giving the path of the Aryan disciple who starts his meditation in the forest solitude leaving his village home. That is why the woes of village life are left behind in the solitude of the forest. But this does not give perfect calm and hence the progress in meditation through earth, space, consciousness to the various psychic experiences in the various planes from nothingness to the sign-less concentration of mind and finally to the final release mind. It is the emptyness of the stages encountered in this process that are considered.

The alternative way of looking at emptyness is best illustrated in the Mahāyāna concept of emptyness (ṣunyātā). There it is the emptyness of the components that make up the human being that is considered, particularly the lack of a lasting soul. In Theravada Buddhism this is contained in the notion of anatta to which there is no reference in this sutta

M 122. Mahā Suññatasutta
Greater Discourse Discourse on Emptyness

[185-186] Once when the Buddha was in Kapilavastu in Sakya while on his alms round he stopped at the dwelling of Kālakhemaka and observed that there were many places laid out there as lodgings for recluses. Later he asked Ven. Ananda if there were many monks in Kapilavastu living in this way. He was told that there were indeed many monks living there. He then observed that when a large groups of monks live together they do not shine (no sobhati) as they would be yoked to and delighting in company and society. He thought that monks should relish seclusion, renunciation and peace as this will lead to rapid self-awakening. Most of the remainder of this sutta takes the form of a discourse to Ananda.

[187-188] The Tathagata praises seclusion as it is a form of internal emptiness (ajjhatta suññatā). A monk who cultivates internal emptyness finds that his mind does not take pleasure, find satisfaction, grow steady, or indulge in internal emptiness. From there he moves on to external emptyness (bahiddhā suññatā). In this way he develops the imperturbable mind (āneñjāya citta). Whatever he does whether sitting, standing or lying down no covetousness or sadness, no evil, unskilful qualities will take possession of him. In this way he is alert there.

[189-191]While in this mood he is inclined to speak he resolves not to engage in vulgar talk that is talk about kings, robbers, armies, food, clothing, furniture, relatives; vehicles; villages, towns, the creation of the world etc. [Several others are listed not reproduced here.] If his mind inclines to thinking he will avoid thinking about such matters. What he will speak and think are about things that are are noble, onward-leading, of renunciation, of no ill will, and of harmlessness. Then he examines himself with respect to the five clinging masses (upādānakkhandā). He abandons the conceit "I am" with respect to these five.

[192-195] [NOTE: These sections deal with the relation between the Teacher and the disciple who has reached this stage in his development.] It is not proper for a disciple to follow after the Teacher to hear discourses and, verses. But if the talk is on few desires, satisfaction, seclusion, non attachment, concentration, wisdom, knowledge of release it is suitable that the disciple should follow the Teacher even when chased. If a teacher while in seclusion is enticed by Brahmin householders with talk of sensuality and the like it is a misfortune for the teacher. It will also be an undoing for the students of that teacher.

[196] Students can engage with teachers as opponents or as friends. If when a teacher is teaching good things but the students disregard his teaching that is being in opposition to the teacher. If they do follow his teaching that is treating him as a friend. The Buddha concluded: "Ananda engage with me in friendliness not opposition".

Summary Analysis
In this sutta Emptyness is used as a means of demonstrating the passage of a noble disciple to the release his Mind. In this it shares the same ground as in the lesser discourse of the same name (M 121). The comments made in the Abstract of that sutta applies here too.

This sutta makes a distinction between internal and external Emptyness. However the difference is not made clear.

M 123. Mahā Acchariyabbhutadhammasutta
Wonderful and Marvellous Qualities of the Buddha

[197-198] When the Buddha wa living at the Jetavana in Sāvatthi the bhikkhus after their mid-day meal assembled at the Assembly Hall. Then it was said: "How wonderful it is that the Buddha knows in detail about the virtues of the Enlightened Ones of yore". Then Ananda said: "Indeed the Buddha is endowed with them all". Just then the Buddha came to the Hall and when he asked was told of the conversation.

[199] Then the Buddha told Ananda: "If so Ananda, for the great pleasure of many declare the wonderful and surprising things of the Tathagata". Then Ananda gave a list of the various wonderful and surprising things about the Buddha prefacing each remark with the statement "Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them".

[200-208] Then Ananda stated the following:
  1. The one aspiring enlightenment abode with the gods of happiness, until the end of that life span. æ He disappeared from the gods of happiness, and descended into the mother' womb with mindful awareness.
  2. When this happened in the world of gods and men, Māras, Brahmās, recluses and Brahmins there arose an immeasurable effulgence. The dark uncovered recesses between the world systems there arose an immeasurable effulgence. The ten thousand-fold world system shivered and trembled on account of that immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods.
  3. When he was born to this world from the mother's womb the Four Gods stood guarding the four directions. They thought may the one aspiring enlightenment or his mother be not hurt by a human, non human or anyone in the world.
  4. His mother by nature was virtuous, abstaining from destroying living things, taking the not given, misbehaving sexually, telling lies and not taking intoxicating drinks.
  5. From the day that he descended to the mother's womb, sensual desires about men did not arise in her mind. She had risen above attachment to thoughts of any man
  6. When he was born to this world his mother was endowed and provided with the five sense pleasures.
  7. When he was born to this world his mothercould see the one in her womb complete with all limbs large and small.
  8. Seven days after his birth his mother passed away and was born with the Happy Gods.
  9. His mother bore him in her womb for the full ten months,
  10. His mother gave birth standing.
  11. When he was born in this world first the gods accepted him and next humans.
  12. When he was born in this world, before he placed a foot on earth, four gods accepted him and placed him in front of the mother saying, 'Queen be happy, you have given birth to a powerful son'.
  13. When he was born he was born pure uncontaminated with water in the passage, phlegm, blood or any impurity.
  14. After he was born he stood on his feet, and while the white umbrella was borne over him, went seven steps to the north, looked in all directions and utterred majestic words. 'I am the chief in this world, the most accepted and the most senior.This is my last birth, I will not be born again'.
  15. When he was born as born in this world, in the world of gods and men, Māras, Brahmās, recluses and Brahmins there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Even the dark uncovered recesses between the world systems where the resplendent moon and sun do not shine there arose an immeasurable effulgence transcending the splendour of the gods. Beings born there saw each other on account of that effulgence and knew that there were other beings born there. The ten thousandfold world system shivered and trembled on account of that immeasurable effulgence transccending the splendour of the gods.

M 124. Bakkulasutta
About Bakkula

[209] Once when Ven. Bakkula was living in Rajagaha Acela-Kassapa his friend during his Household years visited him, exchanged greetings, and sat down. Then the following conversation took place between the two:
KASSAPAFor how long was venerable Bakkula a homeless one?
BAKKULA   Friend, I was homeless for eighty years
KASSAPADuring these eighty years, how many times did you indulge in sexual things?
BAKKULA[210] You should question me thus, during these eighty years, how many times did sexual perceptions arise to you?
KASSAPADuring these eighty years, how many times did sexual perceptions arise to you?
BAKKULADuring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of a single sexual perception that has arisen to me?
KASSAPAI bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.
BAKKULADuring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of a single angry, hurting thought that has arisen to me.
KASSAPAI bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.
BAKKULADuring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of accepting a robe from a householder.
KASSAPA[211] I bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.
BAKKULAduring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of cutting the robe with an instrument or sewing the robe with a needle or dyeing the robe with dye or sewing the katina robe.
KASSAPA I bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.
BAKKULADuring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of sitting inisde a house,...partaking food inside a house, .... observing even the minor sign of a woman, ... teaching a woman at least the four lines of a verse, .... approaching the attendance hall of the bhikkhunis, ... teaching the bhikkhnis, ...teachingthe trainee novices female or male.
KASSAPA I bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.
BAKKULADuring these eighty years of homeless life, I do not know of ordaining someone, ... confering the higher ordination to someone, ... providing requisites to someone or attending to a novice, ... taking a steam bath , ... using bathing powder to bathe, ... employing a co-associate to massage the body, ...the arising of an ailment even for a short while, ... partaking of some medicine for a sickness, at least some green porridge, .... sleeping turned to the wrong side, ... observing rains at the end of the village.
KASSAPA [212] I bear this as a wonderful and surprising thing of venerable Bakkula.

Then Acela-Kassapa said: "Friend, Bakkula, may I obtain the going forth and the higher ordination in this Dispensation.? This request was given to Kassapa. Not long after Kassapa reached the goal and became one of the perfect.

Not long afterwards Ven. Bakkula went from door to door saying, "Friends, come! Today, will be my final extinction". Ven. Bakkula attained final extinction in the midst of the Community of bhikkhus seated.

M 125. Dantabhūmisutta
The Training Ground

[213] This sutta is set in Rajagaha. Prince Jayasena meets a novice monk called Aciravata (also referred to as Aggivessana). After the usual greetings the following conversation ensues:

JAYASENAI have heard that if a monk is abiding here diligent, ardent, self-resolute, he may attain one-pointedness of mind.
AGGIVESSANA  That is so.
JAYASENAIt is good if reverend Aggivessana were to teach me dhamma as he has heard and mastered it.
AGGIVESSANAI cannot do so for if I did and you do not understand it then it would be weary for both of us.
JAYASENAIf you do teach me Dhamma perhaps I could understand the meaning of what you say.
AGGIVESSANA If you were to understand that would be good; if not you must remain as you are and not question me further.
JAYASENAIf I do not understand I will not question Ven. Aggivessana again.

[214] The the novice Aciravata instructed Prince Jayasena but the latter said that it is impossible, it cannot come to pass that a monk abiding diligent, ardent, self-resolute, should attain one-pointedness of mind. After that Aciravata went to the Buddha and related his conversation with Prince Jayasena. The Buddha saidc that Prince Jayasena infatuated as he was with sense pleasure would not understand what can be attained by renunciation.

[215-216] Then the Buddha gave two parables to explain Prince Jayasena's failure to understand. On is the parable of the taining of a a pair of elephants or of horses or oxen. He said that if they are properly trained they will pass the training ground (dantabhūmi), otherwise they will fail it. The second parable was of two men one able to climb to the top of a mountain the other remaining at the foot of the mountain. The latter will not see what the former sees. Prince Jayasena is like the untamed animals or theman at the bottom of the mountain as he is hemmed in by sense desires.

[217] Then the Buddha develops on the training of elephants. He says that a king instructs his elephant trainer to take the Royal Elephant into the forest and catch a forest elephant an tie it to a post and then subdue the captured elephant's forest ways (āraññakānañceva sīlānaṃ abhinimmadanāya), by subduing his forest memories, and aspirations and by subduing his yearning for the forest, by making him pleased with the villages and by accustoming him to human ways.

[218] [NOTE: From here on there is no further mention of Prince Jayasena. Instead there is an account of the path of the Aryan disciple toward the final goal.] A Tathagata arises in the world and preaches the Dhamma. Hearing him faith arises in a householder. He gets rid of his wealth and his relations, shaves his head and beard, dons the yellow cloth, and goes into homelessness.

His training invilves the usual steps. These are :
  1. Trainng in Morality. The Tathagata trains him by reminding him of the five strands of sense pleasure and urging him to live by the monastic rules (pātimokkhasaṃvara). Even the slightest violation of these rules carries great danger to his reaching the final goal.
  2. [219] Sense Control This is the training not to be entranced by sights in general or in details, otherwise covetousness, dejection and evil and unskilful states occur. The same consideration are then applied to sounds, smells, tastes and touches. The mind should also be controlled.
  3. Moderation in Eating. Food should taken after reflecting carefully, not for fun or indulgence or personal charm or beautification, but taking just enough to keep the body going for furthering the Brahma-faring.
  4. Vigilance. In day time should be vigilant in walking sitting or standing, iat night adopting the lion's posture in sleeping and so on.
  5. [220] Mindfulness and clear consciousness. These should be practiced for all the activities for which vigilance is recommended.
  6. Overcoming the Five Hindrances. Here the recommendation is solitary lodging prefereably in the forest setting. Then coetousness, ill will should be avoided and benevolence and compassion for all creatures should be adopted.
  7. The four applications of Mindfulness. This is the next step recommended by the Tathagata.
  8. Jhāna. The four jhānas should be cultivated after the above steps have been done. These are described using the streotyped formula reached.
  9. [221] The threefold Knowledge. The first of these involves the recollection of previous births, the second in developing the Divine Eye, and the third which is most important which involved ridding oneself of the āsavas. This completes the path to the release of mind and to extinction.
[222] In this final section the Buddha returns the problem posed to him by the novice Aciravata. He told him " If, Aggivessana, a king's elephant dies in old age, untamed, untrained, then it is reckoned as one that has died untamed. If a monk who is an elder dies with the cankers not destroyed, he is reckoned as one that has died untamed. This applies to all other monks whatever their standing even to n0vices who die with their cankers undestroyed. On the hand any monk, even a newly ordained monk dies with cankers destroyed, that monk is reckoned as one that has died tamed."

Thus spoke the Lord. Delighted, the novice Aciravata rejoiced in what the Lord had said.

Summary Analysis This is basically a sutta on the training of monks. The introduction of Prince Jayasena seems to be a foil that leads to the topic of training. Trsvhing the goal is seen as a product of the right training.

The metaphor of the training of an elephant to explain the training of a monk may be questioned. There is considerable cruelty in the training of elephants and other animals. As the sutta says they have to treated cruelly and their natural instincts for the freedom of the forest destroyed. How this conforms to the practice of compassion towards all life given in the section on ridding oneself of the hindances is not stated. The way to release described here is an oft repeated theme in many of these suttas.

M 126. Bhūmijasutta
Discourse to Bhūmija

[223] This sutta is set in Rajagaha. Ven. Bhūmija went to see Prince Jayasena and after the usual courtesies the Prince asked the question: "Some recluses and Brahmins are of the opinion that leading the holy life wishing to get some attainment they do not get any result; similarly if they do not wish; or both wish and do not wish; or neither wish nor not wish they still do not get results. [NOTE: See comment on the four-fold logic at the end.] What is your teacher's opinion on this?"

Ven Bhūmija said: I have not asked this directly from the Buddha but it is possible that he will answer this as follows: "If one follows the holy life inappropriately no results will be obtained in the four circumstances stated. But if one follows the holy life appropriately results will be obtained in all the four circumstances stated". Prince Jayasena then said that if the Buddha's view is as stated he would have struck those recluses and Brahmins on the head.

[224] Ven Bhūmija then went to the Buddha and reported the entire incident and asked if he had answered Prince Jayasena in accordance with the Dhamma. The Buddha then assured him that what he had said was correct and in accordance with the Dhamma. Recluses and Brahmins endowed with wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, and wrong concentration will not get results from their wish entertained in any of the four logical ways.

[225-226] Here the Buddha gives several metaphors as illustrations. In the first a man seeking oil puts earth and water in a tub and pounds it but he will not get any oil. In the second a man wanting milk tries to get from a cow by milking its horn but no milk comes out. In the third a man needing butter puts earth and water in a container and churns it but no butter results. In the fourth a man trying to light a fire rubs his fire-stick on a wet stick but no fire results. The Buddha compares the wishes made by these recluses and Brahmins to these futile acts .

[227-228] Here the Buddha says that recluses and Brahmins endowed with the right view, resolve, ..., concentration will get results from a wish they may make in any of the four ways allowed by the Buddhist logic. Then he gives the correct versions of the four similes to illustrate his point. Thus the man seeking oil uses sesame seeds and gets oil, the man seeking milk milks the udder of the cow and gets milk, the man trying to make butter churns milk and gets his butter and finally the man wanting fire rubs his fire-stick gainst hard wrood and makes the fire.

Finally the Buddha tells Bhūmija that if he had given these four similes to Prince Jayasena that he would have understood. Then Bhūmija says that he could not hve done that because thjese similes had never been heard before the Buddha uttereed them. But he delighted in the words of the Blessed One.

Summary Analysis
The implicit argument in this sutta that a person endowed with all the factors in the Noble Path (from Right View to Right Concentration) can get get any of his wishes fulfilled while a person not so endowed will not see any results from his wishes is not stated anywhere as a property of the Path. The normal claim is that this Path will see the end of suffering and rebirth.

Thje four-fold logic stated in many places in the Canon is that there are four possibilities regarding a single proposition. It can be true; it can be false; it can be both true and false; it can be neither true nor not true. Normal logic allows only the first two of these possibilities (except in complex propositions which can have parts true and parts false).

M 127. Anuruddhasutta
Discourse with Anuruddha

[229-230] This sutta is set in Sāvatthi. The carpenter Pañcakaṅga sent a message to Ven Anuruddha inviting him with three others for the meal next day which the monk accepted. So the next Anuruddha came to the carpenter's house and was served with the meal. After the meal the carpenter said this to Anuruddha: "Some elder monks told me 'Householder, develop limitless release of mind'. But other monks told me 'Householder develop the widespread release of mind. Are they different in meaning and different in words or are the same in meaning and only different in words?" Anudruddha then asked as a counter question what do you think. The carpenter said that he thought they were the same in meaning but only different in words. Then Anuruddha said that they were different in meaning and different in words.

Ven Anuruddha said that there was limitless release of mind when the bhikkhu pervades all directions, indeed the whole world, with thoughts of loving kindness, compassion, intrinsic joy and equanimity without ill-will and anger.

[231] The widespread release of mind happens when the bhikkhu seated under a tree pervades one tree, then two trees, three trees and so on; then one village, two villages and so; then the whole kingdom; and then the earth bound by the sea. In this way the difference in meaning and the difference in words occurs.

[232] There are four ways in which beings arise: (1) a being pervades with limited light and after death he is born with the gods of limited light; (2) a being pervades with limitless light, and is reborn with the gods of limitless light; (3) a being pervades with impure light, he is reborn with the devas of impure light; (4) a being pervades with pure light and is reborn withe the gods of pure light. When these gods assemble together differences in beauty (colour) are evident but not differences in light. Wherever these gods dwell they enjoy themselves

[233] Then Kaccāna (another monk who had come for the meal) had a conversation with Anuruddha as follows:

KACCANAAre all gods with light with limited light or are there some gods with limitless light?
ANURUDDHA  In due order there are certain gods with limited light and others with limitless light.
KACCANAof these gods born in the same category, why are some with limited light and others with limitless light?
ANURUDDHAI will counter question you on this. The bhikkhu that indulged in pervading one root of a tree and the other that indulged in pervading two or three roots of trees, of the two which one's mental development is superior?
KACCANAThe mental development of the bhikkhu that indulged in pervading one village and its fields is superior to the mental development of the bhikkhu that indulged in pervading two or three roots of trees.
ANURUDDHAThe bhikkhu that indulged in pervading two or three roots of trees and the bhikkhu that indulged in pervading a single village and its fields, of the two which one's mental development is superior?
KACCANAThe mental development of the bhikkhu that indulged in pervading two or three roots of trees is superior to the mental development of the bhikkhu that indulged in pervading a single root of a tree.
ANURUDDHAThis is the reason that, of gods born in the same category a certain god has limited effulgence and another limitless effulgence.
KACCANA[234] Good venerable sir, Anuruddha, I have a further question. Are all gods with impure effulgence or are there some gods with pure effulgence?
ANURUDDHAIn due order there are certain gods with impure effulgence and others with pure effulgence.

[235] Then Kaccāna said to Anuruddha: "Friend Anuruddha you did not say 'I heard this, or it should be like this', but said those gods were thus and thus. It occurs to me that venerable Anuruddha should have lived, spoken, discussed and associated them earlier". Anuruddha responded: "Friend, Kaccāna you speak words close upon praise. Yet I will explain it to you. In the past I have lived, spoken, discussed and associated these gods." Then Ven Kaccāna said to the carpenter Pañchakanga "Householder, it is great gain, we dispelled our doubts hearing this discourse."

Summary Analysis
This sutta must be one of the least inspiring in this collection of the Canon. The two monks here who have not attained any distinction are speaking of mythical gods as if they are real persons. One even says he had lived with these gods. They have not been able answer the question posed by the carpenter if any difference existed between 'limitless' release of mind and 'widespread' release of mind. The carpenter's view that this was only a difference of words and not any difference of meaning is probably the correct one.

M 128. Upakkilesasutta
Discourse on Defilements

[236-237] This sutta begins with a visit of the Buddha to Kosambi staying at the Ghosita mnonastery. The monks there quarrelling and disputing an cutting each other verbally. One monk asks the Buddha to resolve the disputes. The Buddha made a plea to stop the disputation but was answered by: "Venerable sir, the lord of the Teaching, be unconcerned, keep away! May the Blessed One abide in pleasantness here and now! It is we that will be known in this quarrel, dispute and using rough words" Furthre appeals had the same result. The next day after the alms round and the meal the Buddha uttered a number of stanzas on discord and unity and departed on a tour round Kosambi.

[238-240] The Buddha first visited an old monk Bhagu living alone and found that he was well and then went to Eastern Royal Park in which three monks Anuruddha, Nandiya and Kimbalawewa had taken up residence. On inquiry he found that these monks were living in perfect amity unlike the monks at the Ghosita monastery. In their words they were living like three bodies with one mind. They had divided the daily chores between them amicably. They got along like milk and water. If anyone thinks differently he discards his thoughts in favour of those of the others.

[241] In answer to the question whether they had acquired anything beyond normal human capability (uttarimanussadhamma) they said that in meditation they was a light and beautiful form which soon vanished. They did not understand what it signified. The Buddha then said that he too had the same experience when he was a seeker for enlightenment. On trying to find the cause for this phenomenon he came to the conclusion that it was due to the fading of concentration due to doubts arising. Further investigation showed that the lack of concentration leading to the phenomenon was due to other defilements too. The Buddha said that like a man in search of one treasure was to come across many the same time.

[242-243] Here the Buddha lists the minor defilements of the mind (upakkilesa) mentioned in the title of this sutta. These were: (1) doubts; (2) non attention; (3) sloth and torpor; (4) fear; (5) jubilation; (6) wickedness; (7) too much aroused effort; (8) too little effort; (9) various perceptions; (10) thinking too much about forms. The Buddha said that he repelled all these. While dispelling these the Buddha continued to see light and forms. With limited knowledge he saw limited light and limited forms. When his concentration is limitless, and knowledge is limitless he saw limitless light and saw limitless forms, throughout the night, throughout the day and throughout the night and day.

[244-245] The Buddha concluded by saying: "When these minor defilements were dispelled, it occurred to me to develop concentration which is equanimity. Then knowledge and vision arose and I knew that my release is unshakeable. This is my last birth. There is no more rebirth". The Blessed One said thus and venerable Anuruddha and the other two monks delighted in the words of the Blessed One.

Summary Analysis
This sutta contrasts the discord amongst monks at the Ghosita monastery in Kosambi with the unity amongst the three monks in the Royal Park. Otherwise there is little new with regards to doctrine or practice. The occurrence of light and forms during meditation is somewhat unusual and it s not stated elsewhere that it occurs during meditation in similar situations.

M 129. Bālapaṇḍitasutta
Discourse on Fools and the Wise

[246] Once the Buddha was living in the Jetavana in Sāvatthi. Then he told the bhikkhus that there were three marks, characteristics and attainments of the fool. These are:
  1. [247] The fool has foolish thoughts, words and actions. This is how the wise man knows him as fool. If he destroyed living things, took the not given, misbehaved sexually, told lies and took intoxicating drinks, he thinks people talk about this. Thus he experiences unpleasantness and displeasure.
  2. [248] He sees an offender taken by the king and tortured cruelly he thinks if the king gets hold of him he too will be subjected to these same punishments. This is the second instance that the fool experiences unpleasantness and displeasure.
  3. [249] Even when he is relaxing he think of his misbehaviours and they press on him severely. He thinks that he will suffer for the evil he has done. This is the third instance that the fool experiences unpleasantness and displeasure.
[250-252] The Buddha then said that the tortures that the fool will suffer at the hands of the King cannot be compared to what awaits him in hell. Then the Buddha gives a description of the tortures in hell. Again he will be reborn as an animal like those eating excreta, or animals destined to live and die in the dark or in water or in excreta. If he falls into hell it will take him longer to get out as a blind turtle in the wide ocean will accidentally put its had through the hole in a plough-share thrown at random to the ocean.

[253] There are three marks, characteristics and attainments of the wise man. These are:
  1. The wise one thinks for the well being, speaks good words and acts wisely. He experiences pleasantness and pleasure here and now in three ways. He thinks that people in the street know that he abstains from destroying living things, does not take the not given, does not misbehave sexually, does not tell lies and does not take intoxicating drinks and are talking well of him . This is the first instance that the wise one experiences pleasantness and pleasure.
  2. [254] The wise man sees an offender taken and tortured by the King. He knows that as he does no evil he will never be subjected to such punishment. This is the second instance that the wise one experiences pleasantness and pleasure.
  3. Again when he relaxes he can relax pleasantly thinking that he will reap the benefits that will come as a result of his good deeds. This is the third instance that the wise one experiences pleasantness and pleasure.

[255] The wise man conducting well by body, speech and mind, after death will be born in heaven. This will be completely welcome and agreeable to him. It is not easy to give a comparison for that pleasures of heaven.

[256] Then a bhikkhu asked "Venerable sir, is it possible to give a comparison [to the pleasures of heaven]. Then the Buddha said it is like the pleasures of a Universal Monarch endowed with the seven treasures and the four powers. [NOTE: The rest of the sutta consists of a description of the (mythical) Universal Monarch and does not have any relation to the subject of this sutta. These will be noticed very briefly in this Ahstract.]

[257-258] This is a description of the seven Treasures of the Universal Monarch. These are:
  1. Wheel treasure. This wheel rolls in all directions and the territory over which it travels comes under the sovereignty of the Universal Monarch.
  2. Elephant Treasure. This is a royal elephant named Uposatha of extra-ordinary power.
  3. Horse Treasure. This horse named Valāha has super-normal powers.
  4. Gem Treasure. This is a perfect lapis gem of incalculable value.
  5. Woman Treasure. This is the Monarch's consort of extraordinary beauty.
  6. Householder Treasure. This is a householder with the extra-ordinary power of spotting gold and other valuables which are used to fill the Monarch's treasury.
  7. Advisor Treasure. This is an extremely clever advisor to the Monarch.
[259 This gives the powers of the Universal Monarch. They are four in number:
  1. Is handsome, pleasant, and has the highest beauty.
  2. Has long life, longer than any other being.
  3. Has few ailments, few disorders and a good digestive system.
  4. Is dear to the Brahmin householders.
[260] The Buddha said that the pleasures enjoyed by the Universal Monarch is small fraction of the pleasures in heaven. The wise man will enjoy the pleasures of heaven. After a very long time he will be born to a rich family in one of the higher castes. He will have much wealth, riches, gold, silver and grains. After death he will again be born in heaven.

Summary Analysis
Both the bad man and the good man are depicted as extreme types. The bad man has all the vices and none of the virtues. The good man has all the virtues and none of the vices. This is not the way of human beings. They are composed with both vices and virtues, the proportions only differing between individuals.  The description given in this sutta does not correspond to such beings.

The sutta seems to concentrate on the torments of hell and the pleasures of heaven. From a rational point of view both these cannot be taken as real. At best they are only metaphorical but the exaggeration do not make them good metaphors either.

M 130. Devadūtasutta
Discourse on Deva-Messengers

[261] In this sutta the Buddha addresses the bhikkhus in Jetavana in Sāvatthi about the destiny of persons after death as he has seen by the exercise of the Divine Eye. There are five destinations as determined by kamma. These are:
  1. Heaven. Good conduct in body, speech and mind; not scoffing at noble ones; developing right view; bearing right view of actions.
  2. Humans. Good conduct in body, speech and mind; not scoffing at noble ones; developing right view; bearing right view of actions.
  3. Ghosts. Misconduct in body, speech and mind; blaming noble ones; developing wrong view; bearing wrong view of actions.
  4. Animals Misconduct in body, speech and mind; blaming noble ones; developing wrong view; bearing wrong view of actions.
  5. Hell. Misconduct in body, speech and mind; blaming noble ones; developing wrong view; bearing wrong view of actions. Most of this sutta deals with this destination.
[NOTE: (1) and (2) have same requirements but there could be differences in kamma. Similarly (3) to (5) have the same requirements but there could be differences in kamma. This is not explicitly stated in the sutta.]

[262-266] The hell-bound wrong doer is seized by the warders and brought before the King of the underworld (yamassa rañño) He is asked successively whether he heeded the first four divine messengers. [NOTE: Who these messengers were is not stated in the sutta.] Each time man says that he did not heed them due to negligence. When he says this the King says: "That evil action was done by you and you will experience the results". When asked about the fifth divine messenger the man remains silent.

[267] Then the King pronounces the verdict and his punishment begins. The warders send hot iron spikes through is palms, this feet and his chest. Then they hammer him. Next he is put upside down and cut with a knife. Next he yoked to a cart and made to pull it to-and-fro on a flaming and blazing ground. Next he is made to ascend and descend a rock of burning ambers. Next he is thrown into a pot of molten scum. But he does not die until his demerit finishes.

[268-271] Next he is sent to the Great Hell (mahāniraya), from there to the Excreta Hell (gūthaniraya), next to the Simbali forest. The tortures in all these places are given in excruciating detail. When he says he is hungry this mouth is opened with pincers and hot iron balls poured in. He is then sent back to the Great Hell.

[272] At the end of this recitation the Buddha says: "Bhikkhus, I say this not hearing from another recluse or brahmin, this is what I have myself known and seen and so I say it." The sutta concludes with a stanza by the Buddha that the message of the divine messengers should not be left unheeded.

Summary Analysis
Needless to say all this description of the tortures of Hell is pure imagination even though the authority of the Buddha is evoked. While this kind of thing can be rejected as pure imagination we are not sure how much of the rest is also later elaborations. That is why a rational analysis of everything that is in Pali Canon should be undertaken. The Buddha says the Kālāma sutta that all what is in holy books (piṭaka sampadāya) should not be accepted uncritically.