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English translation of
Holy Digha Nikaya

English translation by T. W. Rhys Davids
taken from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/dob/

Potthapāda Sutta

1.
Thus have I heard. The Exalted One was once staying at Sāvatthi in Anātha Pindika's pleasance in the Geta Wood. Now at that time Potthapāda, the wandering mendicant, was dwelling at the hall put up in Queen Mallikā's park for the discussion of systems of opinion--the hall set round with a row of Tinduka trees, and known by the name of 'The Hall.' And there was with him a great following of mendicants; to wit, three hundred mendicants.

2.
Now the Exalted One, who had put on his under garment in the early morning, proceeded in his robes, and with his bowl in his hand, into Sāvatthi for alms. And he thought: 'It is too early now to enter Sāvatthi for alms. Let me go to the Hall, the debating hall in the Mallikā Park, where Potthapāda is.' And he did so.

3.
Now at that time Potthapāda was seated with the company of the mendicants all talking with loud voices, with shouts and tumult, all sorts of worldly talk: to wit, tales of kings, of robbers, of ministers of state; tales of war, of terrors, of battles; talks about foods and drinks, about clothes and beds and garlands and perfumes; talks about relationships; talks about equipages, villages, towns, cities, and countries; tales about women and heroes; gossip such as that at street corners, and places whence water is fetched; ghost stories; desultory chatter; legends about the creation of the land or sea; and speculations about existence and non-existence.

4.
And Potthapāda, the mendicant, caught sight of the Exalted One approaching in the distance. And at the sight of him he called the assembly to order, saying: 'Be still, venerable Sirs, and make no noise. Here is the Samana Gotama coming. Now that venerable one delights in quiet, and speaks in praise of quietude. How well it were if, seeing how quiet the assembly is, he should see fit to join us!' And when he spake thus, the mendicants kept silence.

5.
Now the Exalted One came on to where Potthapāda, the mendicant was. And the latter said to him:

'May the Exalted One come near. We bid him welcome. It is long since the Exalted One took the departure of coming our way. Let him take a seat. Here is a place spread ready.'

And the Exalted One sat down. And Potthapāda, the mendicant, brought a low stool, and sat down beside him. And to him thus seated the Exalted One said:

'What was the subject, Potthapāda, that you were seated here together to discuss; and what was the talk among you that has been interrupted?'

6.
And when he had thus spoken, Potthapāda said:

'Never mind, Sir, the subject we were seated together to discuss. There will be no difficulty in the Exalted One hearing afterwards about that. But long ago, Sir, on several occasions, when various teachers, Samanas and Brahmans, had met together, and were seated in the debating hall, the talk fell on trance, and the question was: "How then, Sirs, is the cessation of consciousness brought about?"

'Now on that some said thus: "Ideas come to a man without a reason and without a cause, and so also do they pass away. At the time when they spring up within him, then he becomes conscious; when they pass away, then he becomes unconscious." Thus did they explain the cessation of consciousness.

'On that another said: "That, Sirs, will never be so as you say. Consciousness, Sirs, is a man's soul. It is the soul that comes and goes. When the soul comes into a man then he becomes conscious, when the soul goes away out of a man then he becomes unconscious." Thus do others explain the cessation of consciousness.

'On that another said: "That, Sirs, will never be as you say. But there are certain Samanas and Brahmans of great power and influence. It is they who infuse consciousness into a man, and draw it away out of him. When they infuse it into him he becomes conscious, when they draw it away he becomes unconscious." Thus do others explain the cessation of consciousness.

'Then, Sir, the memory of the Exalted One arose in me, and I thought: "Would that the Exalted One, would that the Happy One were here, he who is so skilled in these psychical states." For the Exalted One would know how trance is brought about.' How, then, Sir, is there cessation of consciousness?'

7.
'Well, as to that, Potthapāda, those Samanas and Brahmans who said that ideas come to a man and pass away without a reason, and without a cause, are wrong from the very commencement. For it is precisely through a reason, by means of a cause, that ideas come and go. By training some ideas arise. By training others pass away.

'And what is that training?' continued the Exalted One.

[He then sets out the first part of the system of self-training for the Bhikkhu, as translated above, from the Sāmańńa-phala, as follows:--

1. The introductory paragraphs on the appearance of a Buddha, his preaching, the conviction of a hearer and his renunciation of the world.

2. The tract on the Sīlas, the minor details of mere morality.

3. The paragraphs on Confidence.

4. The paragraphs on 'Guarded is the door of his senses.'

5. The paragraphs on 'Mindful and Self-possessed.'

6. The paragraphs on Solitude.

7. The paragraphs on the conquest of the Five Hindrances.

And goes on:]

10.
'But when he has realised that these Five Hindrances have been put away from within him, a gladness springs up within him, and joy arises to him thus gladdened, and so rejoicing all his frame becomes at ease, and being thus at ease he is filled with a sense of peace, and in that peace his heart is stayed. Then estranged from lusts, aloof from evil dispositions, he enters into and remains in the First Rapture (the First Ghāna)--a state of joy and ease born of detachment, reasoning and investigation going on the while. Then that idea, (that consciousness), of lusts, that he had before, passes away. And thereupon there arises within him a subtle, but actual, consciousness of the joy and peace arising from detachment, and he becomes a person to whom that idea is consciously present.

'Thus is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

11.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, suppressing all reasoning and investigation, enters into and abides in the Second Rapture (the Second Ghāna)--a state of joy and ease, born of the serenity of concentration, when no reasoning or investigation goes on, a state of elevation of mind, a tranquillisation of the heart within. Then that subtle, but actual, consciousness of the joy and peace arising from detachment, that he just had, passes away. And thereupon there arises a subtle, but actual, consciousness of the joy and peace born of concentration. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

12.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, holding aloof from joy, becomes equable; and, mindful and self-possessed, he experiences in his body that ease which the Arahats talk of when they say: "The man serene and self-possessed is well at ease." And so he enters into and abides in the Third Rapture (the Third Ghāna). Then that subtle, but yet actual, consciousness, that he just had, of the joy and peace born of concentration, passes away. And thereupon there arises a subtle, but yet actual, consciousness of the bliss of equanimity. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

13.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, by the putting away alike of ease and of pain, by the passing away of any joy, any elation, he had previously felt, enters into and abides in the Fourth Rapture (the Fourth Ghāna)--a state of pure self-possession and equanimity, without pain and without ease. Then that subtle, but yet actual, consciousness, that he just had, of the bliss of equanimity, passes away. And thereupon there arises to him a subtle, but yet actual, consciousness of the absence of pain, and of the absence of ease. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

14.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, by passing beyond the consciousness of form, by putting an end to the sense of resistance, by paying no heed to the idea of distinction, thinking: "The space is infinite," reaches up to and remains in the mental state in which the mind is concerned only with the consciousness of the infinity of space. Then the consciousness, that he previously had, of form passes away, and there arises in him the blissful consciousness, subtle but yet actual, of his being concerned only with the infinity of space. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

15.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, by passing quite beyond the consciousness of space as infinite, thinking: "Cognition is infinite," reaches up to and remains in the mental state in which the mind is concerned only with the infinity of cognition. Then the subtle, but yet actual, consciousness, that he just had, of the infinity of space, passes away. And there arises in him a consciousness, subtle but yet actual, of everything being within the sphere of the infinity of cognition. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

16.
'And again, Potthapāda, the Bhikkhu, by passing quite beyond the consciousness of the infinity of cognition, thinking: "There is nothing that really is," reaches up to and remains in the mental state in which the mind is concerned only with the unreality of things. Then that sense of everything being within the sphere of infinite cognition, that he just had, passes away. And there arises in him a consciousness, subtle but yet actual, of unreality as the object of his thought. And he becomes a person conscious of that.

'Thus also is it that through training one idea, one sort of consciousness, arises; and through training another passes away. This is the training I spoke of,' said the Exalted One.

17.
'So from the time, Potthapāda, that the Bhikkhu is thus conscious in a way brought about by himself (from the time of the First Rapture), he goes on from one stage to the next, and from that to the next until he reaches the summit of consciousness. And then he is on the summit it may occur to him: "To be thinking at all is the inferior state. 'Twere better not to be thinking. Were I to go on thinking and fancying, these ideas, these states of consciousness, I have reached to, would pass away, but others, coarser ones, might arise. So I will neither think nor fancy any more." And he does not. And to him neither thinking any more, nor fancying, the ideas, the states of consciousness, he had, pass away; and no others, coarser than they, arise. So he touches cessation. Thus is it, Potthapāda, that the attainment of the cessation of conscious ideas takes place step by step.

18.
'Now what do you think, Potthapāda? Have you ever heard, before this, of this gradual attainment of the cessation of conscious ideas?'

'No, Sir, I have not. But I now understand what you say as follows: [and he repeated the words of section 17.]'

'That is right, Potthapāda.'

19.
'And does the Exalted One teach that there is one summit of consciousness, or that there are several?'

'In my opinion, Potthapāda, there is one, and there are also several.'

'But how can the Exalted teach that there both is one, and that there are also several?'

'As he attains to the cessation (of one idea, one state of consciousness) after another, so does he reach, one after another, to different summits up to the last. So is it, Potthapāda, that I put forward both one summit and several.'

20.
'Now is it, Sir, the idea, the state of consciousness, that arises first, and then knowledge; or does knowledge arise first, and then the idea, the state of consciousness; or do both arise simultaneously, neither of them before or after the other?'

'It is the idea, Potthapāda, the state of consciousness, that arises first, and after that knowledge. And the springing up of knowledge is dependent on the springing up of the idea, of the state of consciousness. And this may be understood from the fact that a man recognises: "It is from this cause or that that knowledge has arisen to me."'

21.
'Is then, Sir, the consciousness identical with a man's soul, or is consciousness one thing, and the soul another?'

'But what then, Potthapāda? Do you really fall back on the soul?'

'I take for granted, Sir, a material soul, having form, built up of the four elements, nourished by solid food.'

'And if there were such a soul, Potthapāda, then, even so, your consciousness would be one thing, and your soul another. That, Potthapāda, you may know by the following considerations. Granting, Potthapāda, a material soul, having form, built up of the four elements, nourished by solid food; still some ideas, some states of consciousness, would arise to the man, and others would pass away. On this account also, Potthapāda, you can see how consciousness must be one thing. and soul another.'

22.
'Then, Sir, I fall back on a soul made of mind, with all its major and minor parts complete, not deficient in any organ.'

'And granting, Potthapāda, you had such a soul, the same argument would apply.'

23.
'Then, Sir, I fall back on a soul without form, and made of consciousness.'

'And granting, Potthapāda, you had such a soul, still the same argument would apply.'

24.
'But is it possible, Sir, for me to understand whether consciousness is the man's soul, or the one is different from the other?'

'Hard is it for you, Potthapāda, holding, as you do, different views, other things approving themselves to you, setting different aims before yourself, striving after a different perfection, trained in a different system of doctrine, to grasp this matter!'

25-27.
'Then, Sir, if that be so, tell me at least: "Is the world eternal? Is this alone the truth, and any other view mere folly?"'

'That, Potthapāda, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion.'

Continued...

[Then, in the same terms, Potthapāda asked each of the following questions;--

2. Is the world not eternal?--

3. Is the world finite?--

4. Is the world infinite?--

5. Is the soul the same as the body?--

6. Is the soul one thing, and the body another?--

7. Does one who has gained the truth live again after death?--

8. Does he not live again after death?--

9. Does he both live again, and not live again, after death?--

10. Does he neither live again, nor not live again, after death?--

And to each question the Exalted One made the same reply:--]

'That too, Potthapāda, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion.'

28.
'But why has the Exalted One expressed no opinion on that?'

'This question is not calculated to profit, it is not concerned with the Norm (the Dhamma), it does not redound even to the elements of right conduct, nor to detachment, nor to purification from lusts, nor to quietude, nor to tranquillisation of heart, nor to real knowledge, nor to the insight (of the higher stages of the Path), nor to Nirvāna. Therefore is it that I express no opinion upon it.'

29.
'Then what is it that the Exalted One has determined?'

'I have expounded, Potthapāda, what pain is; I have expounded what is the origin of pain; I have expounded what is the cessation of pain; I have expounded what is the method by which one may reach the cessation of pain.'

30.
'And why has the Exalted One put forth a statement as to that?'

'Because that question, Potthapāda, is calculated to profit, is concerned with the Norm, redounds to the beginnings of right conduct, to detachment, to purification from lusts, to quietude, to tranquillisation of heart, to real knowledge, to the insight of the higher stages of the Path, and to Nirvāna. Therefore is it, Potthapāda, that I have put forward a statement as to that.'

'That is so, O Exalted One. That is so, O Happy One. And now let the Exalted One do what seemeth to him fit.'

And the Exalted One rose from his seat, and departed thence.

31.
Now no sooner had the Exalted One gone away than those mendicants bore down upon Potthapāda, the mendicant, from all sides with a torrent of jeering and biting words, saying: I Just so, forsooth, this Potthapāda gives vent to approval of whatsoever the Samana Gotama says, with his: "That is so, O Exalted One. That is so, O Happy One." Now we, on the other hand, fail to see that the Samana Gotama has put forward any doctrine that is distinct with regard to any one of the ten points raised.' And they went through them all in detail.

But when they spake thus Potthapāda, the mendicant, replied: 'Neither do I see that he puts forward, as certain, any proposition with respect to those points. But the Samana Gotama propounds a method in accordance with the nature of things, true and fit, based on the Norm, and certain by reason of the Norm. And how could I refuse to approve, as well said, what has been so well said by the Samana Gotama as he propounded that?'

32.
Now after the lapse of two or three days Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, and Potthapāda, the mendicant, came to the place where the Exalted One was staying. And on their arrival Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, bowed low to the Exalted One, and took his seat on one side. And Potthapāda, the mendicant, exchanged with the Exalted One the greetings and compliments of courtesy and friendship, and took his seat on one side, and when he was so seated he told the Exalted One how the mendicants had jeered at him, and how he had replied.

33.
'All those mendicants, Potthapāda, are blind, and see not. You are the only one, with eyes to see, among them. Some things, Potthapāda, I have laid down as certain, other things I have declared uncertain.

The latter are those ten questions that you raised, and for the reasons given I hold them matters of uncertainty. The former are the Four Truths I expounded, and for the reasons given I hold them to be matters of certainty.

34.
'There are some Samanas and Brahmans, Potthapāda, who hold the following opinion, indulge in the following speculation: "The soul is perfectly happy and healthy after death." And I went to them, and asked them whether that was their view or not. And they acknowledged that it was. And I asked them whether, so far as they were in the habit of knowing or perceiving it, the world (that is, the people in the world) was perfectly happy, and they answered: "No."

'Then I asked them: "Or further, Sirs, can you maintain that you yourselves for a whole night, or for a whole day, or even for half a night or day, have ever been perfectly happy?" And they answered: "No."

'Then I said to them: "Or further, Sirs, do you know a way, or a method, by which you can realise a state that is altogether happy?" And still to that question they answered: "No."

'And then I said: "Or have you, Sirs, ever heard the voices of gods who had realised rebirth in a perfectly happy world, saying: 'Be earnest, O men, and direct in effort, towards the realisation of (rebirth in) a world of perfect happiness. For we, in consequence of similar effort, have been reborn in such a world.'" And still they answered: "No."

'Now what think you as to that, Potthapāda? That being so, does not the talk of those Samanas and Brahmans turn out to be without good ground?'

35.
'Just as if a man should say: "How I long for, how I love the most beautiful woman in the land!"

'And people should ask him: "Well! good friend! this most beautiful woman in the land, whom you so love and long for, do you know whether that beautiful woman is a noble lady, or of priestly rank, or of the trader class, or of menial birth?"

'And when so asked, he should answer: "No."

'And people should ask him: "Well! good friend! This most beautiful woman in the land, whom you so love and long for, do you know what her name is, or her family name, or whether she be tall, or short, or of medium height; whether she be dark or brunette or golden in colour; or in what village, or town, or city she dwells?"--

'And when so asked, he should answer: "No."

'And people should say to him: "So then, good friend, whom you know not, neither have seen, her do you love and long for?"

'And when so asked, he should answer: "Yes."

'Now what think you of that, Potthapāda? Would it not turn out, that being so, that the talk of that man was witless talk?'

36, 37.
'Then just so also, Potthapāda, with the Samanas and Brahmans who talk about the soul being perfectly happy and healthy after death. It is just, Potthapāda, as if a man were to put up a staircase in a place where four cross roads meet, to mount up thereby on to the upper storey of a mansion. And people should say to him: "Well! good friend! this mansion, to mount up into which you are making this staircase, do you know whether it is in the East, or in the West, or in the South, or in the North? whether it is high, or low, or of medium size?"

'And when so asked, he should answer: "No."

'And people should say to him: "But then, good friend, you are making a staircase to mount up into a mansion you know not of, neither have seen!"

'And when so asked, he should answer: "Yes."

'Now what think you of that, Potthapāda? Would it not turn out, that being so, that the talk of that man was witless talk?'

'For a truth, Sir, that being so, his talk would turn out to be witless talk.'

38.
'[Then surely just so, Potthapāda, with those Samanas and Brahmans who postulate a soul happy and healthy after death. For they acknowledge that they know no such state in this world now. They acknowledge that they cannot say their own souls have been happy here even for half a day. And they acknowledge that they know no way, no method, of ensuring such a result.] Now what think you of that, Potthapāda. That being so, does not their talk, too, turn out to be without good ground?'

'For a truth, Sir, that being so, their talk would turn out to be without good ground:

39.
'The following three modes of personality, Potthapāda, (are commonly acknowledged in the world):--material, immaterial, and formless. The first has form, is made up of the four elements, and is nourished by solid food. The second has no form, is made up of mind, has all its greater and lesser limbs complete, and all the organs perfect. The third is without form, and is made up of consciousness only.

40 - 42.
'Now I teach a doctrine, Potthapāda, with respect to each of these, that leads to the putting off of that personality; so that if you walk according to that doctrine, the evil dispositions one has acquired may be put away; the dispositions which tend to purification may increase; and one may continue to see face to face, and by himself come to realise, the full perfection and grandeur of wisdom.

'Now it may well be, Potthapāda, that you think: "Evil dispositions may be put away, the dispositions that tend to purification may increase, one may continue to see face to face, and by himself come to realise, the full perfection and grandeur of wisdom, but one may continue sad." Now that, Potthapāda, would not be accurate judgment. When such conditions are fulfilled, then there will be joy, and happiness, and peace, and in continual mindfulness and self-mastery, one will dwell at ease.

43 - 45.
'And outsiders, Potthapāda, might question us thus: "What then, Sir, is that material (or that mental, or that formless) mode of personality for the putting away of which you preach such a doctrine as will lead him who walks according to it to get free from the evil dispositions he has acquired, to increase in the dispositions that tend to purification, so that he may continue to see face to face, and by himself come to realise, the full perfection and grandeur of wisdom?" And to that I should reply (describing it in the words I have now used to you): "Why this very personality that you see before you is what I mean."

'Now what think you of that, Potthapāda. That being so, would not the talk turn out to be well grounded?'

'For a truth, Sir, it would.'

46.
'Just, Potthapāda, as if a man should construct a staircase, to mount up into the upper storey of a palace, at the foot of the very palace itself. And men should say to him:

'"Well! good friend! that palace, to mount up into which you are constructing this staircase, do you know whether it is in the East, or in the West, or in the South, or in the North? whether it is high or low or of medium size?"

'And when so asked, he should answer: "Why! here is the very palace itself! It is at the very foot of it I am constructing my staircase with the object of mounting up into it."

'What would you think, Potthapāda, of that? Would not his talk, that being so, turn out to be well grounded?'

'For a truth. Sir it would.'

47.
'Then just so. Potthapāda, when I answer thus to the questions put to me.'

48.
Now when he had thus spoken, Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, said to the Exalted One: 'At that time, Sir, when a man is in possession of any one of the three modes of personality, are the other two unreal to him then? Is it only the one he has that is real?'

49.
'At the time, Kitta, when any one of the three modes of personality is going on, then it does not come under the category of either of the other two. It is known only by the name of the mode going on.

'If people should ask you, Kitta, thus: "Were you in the past, or not? Will you be in the future. or not? Are you now, or not?"--How would you answer?'

'I should say that I was in the past, and not not; that I shall be in the future, and not not; that I am now, and not not.'

50.
'Then if they rejoined: "Well! that past personality that you had, is that real to you; and the future personality, and the present, unreal? The future personality that you will have, is that real to you; and the past personality, and the present, unreal? The personality that you have now, in the present, is that real to you; and the past personality, and the future, unreal?"--How would you answer?'

'I should say that the past personality that I had was real to me at the time when I had it; and the others unreal. And so also in the other two cases.'

51.
'Well! Just so, Kitta, when any one of the three modes of personality is going on, then it does not come under the category of either of the other two.

52.
'Just, Kitta, as from a cow comes milk, and from the milk curds, and from the curds butter, and from the butter ghee, and from the ghee junket; but when it is milk it is not called curds, or butter, or ghee, or junket; and when it is curds it is not called by any of the other names; and so on--

53.
'Just so, Kitta, when any one of the three modes of personality is going on, it is not called by the name of the other. For these, Kitta, are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations in common use in the world. And of these a Tathāgata (one who has won the truth) makes use indeed, but is not led astray by them.'

54.
And when he had thus spoken, Potthapāda, the mendicant, said to the Exalted One:

'Most excellent, Sir, are the words of thy mouth; most excellent! Just as if a man were to set up that which has been thrown down, or were to reveal that which has been hidden away, or were to point out the right road to him who has gone astray, or were to bring a light into the darkness so that those who had eyes could see external forms,--just even so has the truth been made known, in many a figure, by the Exalted One. And I, Sir, betake myself to the Exalted One as my guide, to his Doctrine, and to his Order. May the Exalted One accept me as an adherent; as one who, from this day forth as long as life endures, has taken him as his guide.'

55.
But Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, though he made use of the same words, concluded with the request: 'And may I be permitted to go forth from the world under the Exalted One; may I receive admission into his Order.'

56.
And his request was granted, and he was received into the Order. And from immediately after his initiation Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, remained alone and separate, earnest, zealous, and resolved. And e'er long he attained to that supreme goal of the higher life for the sake of which the clansmen go forth utterly from the household life to become houseless wanderers--yea! that supreme goal did he, by himself, and while yet in this visible world, bring himself to the knowledge of, and continue to realise, and to see face to face! And he became conscious that rebirth was at an end; that the higher life had been fulfilled; that all that should be done had been accomplished; and that, after this present life, there would be no beyond!

So the venerable Kitta, the son of the elephant trainer, became yet another among the Arahats.

Here ends the Potthapāda Suttanta.

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-- Book 9 --





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