Vipassana Fellowship © 2012
      Home
Vipassana Fellowship - Calm and Insight meditation inspired by the early Buddhist tradition.
Mindfulness meditation from the Theravada tradition for the spiritual development of people of all faiths & none. Online courses & support since 1997

Majjhima Nikaya 61

Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta

Instructions to Rahula

Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Rajagaha, at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Feeding Ground.

At that time Ven. Rahula[1] was staying at the Mango Stone. Then the Blessed One, arising from his seclusion in the late afternoon, went to where Ven. Rahula was staying at the Mango Stone. Ven. Rahula saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, set out a seat and water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat set out and, having sat down, washed his feet. Ven. Rahula, bowing down to the Blessed One, sat down to one side.

Then the Blessed One, having left a little bit of the remaining water in the water dipper, said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see this little bit of remaining water left in the water dipper?"

"Yes sir."

"That's how little of a contemplative[2] there is in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie."

Having tossed away the little bit of remaining water, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this little bit of remaining water is tossed away?"

"Yes, sir."

"Whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is tossed away just like that.

Having turned the water dipper upside down, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this water dipper is turned upside down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is turned upside down just like that."

Having turned the water dipper right-side up, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how empty and hollow this water dipper is?"

"Yes, sir."

"Whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is empty and hollow just like that.

"Rahula, it's like a royal elephant: immense, pedigreed, accustomed to battles, its tusks like chariot poles. Having gone into battle, it uses its forefeet and hind feet, its forequarters and hindquarters, its head and ears and tusks and tail, but will simply hold back its trunk. The elephant trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has not given up its life to the king.' But when the royal elephant... having gone into battle, uses its forefeet and hind feet, its forequarters and hindquarters, its head and ears and tusks and tail and his trunk, the trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has given up its life to the king. There is nothing it will not do.'

"The same holds true with anyone who feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie: There is no evil, I tell you, he will not do. Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself, 'I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest.'

"How do you construe this, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

"In the same way, Rahula, bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts are to be done with repeated reflection.

"Whenever you want to perform a bodily act, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily act I want to perform -- would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily act with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily act of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then any bodily act of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are performing a bodily act, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily act I am doing -- is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to affliction of others, or both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having performed a bodily act, you should reflect on it.... If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily act with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed and joyful, training day and night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to perform a verbal act, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal act I want to perform -- would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal act with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal act of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful verbal action with happy consequences, happy results, then any verbal act of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are performing a verbal act, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal act I am doing -- is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having performed a verbal act, you should reflect on it.... If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal act with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed and joyful, training day and night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to perform a mental act, you should reflect on it: 'This mental act I want to perform -- would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful mental act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful mental act with painful consequences, painful results, then any mental act of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful mental action with happy consequences, happy results, then any mental act of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are performing a mental act, you should reflect on it: 'This mental act I am doing -- is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful mental act, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having performed a mental act, you should reflect on it.... If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental act with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, and disgusted with it. Feeling distressed... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful mental action with happy consequences, happy results, then you should stay mentally refreshed and joyful, training day and night in skillful mental qualities.

"Rahula, all those priests and contemplatives in the course of the past who purified their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts in just this way.

"All those priests and contemplatives in the course of the future who will purify their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts, will do it through repeated reflection on their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts in just this way.

"All those priests and contemplatives at present who purify their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts, do it through repeated reflection on their bodily acts, verbal acts, and mental acts in just this way.

"Therefore, Rahula, you should train yourself: 'I will purify my bodily acts through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal acts through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental acts through repeated reflection.' That is how you should train yourself."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Rahula delighted in the Blessed One's words.


Note

1. Rahula: the Buddha's son, who according to the Commentary was seven years old when this discourse was delivered to him. [Go back]

2. Evenness: samañña. [Go back]

Source: ATI - For Free Distribution Only, as a Gift of Dhamma.

Dhamma Essay:
To Control One's Mind by Ayya Khema


Meditation | Resources | Pali Canon | Training | Parisa
Audio | Links | Books | Newsletter | Feedback | Donate
to know - to shape - to liberate
Site Copyright © 2014, Vipassana Fellowship Ltd.     [Terms of Service]