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Samyutta Nikaya XXII.1

Nakulapita Sutta

To Nakulapita


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Bhaggas at Crocodile Haunt in the Bhesakala Grove at the Deer Park. Then the householder Nakulapita went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "Lord, I am a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life. I am afflicted in body & ailing with every moment. And it is only rarely that I get to see the Blessed One & the monks who nourish the heart. May the Blessed One teach me, may the Blessed One instruct me, for my long-term benefit & happiness."

"So it is, householder. So it is. The body is afflicted, weak, & encumbered. For who, looking after this body, would claim even a moment of true health, except through sheer foolishness? So you should train yourself: 'Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.' That is how you should train yourself."

Then the householder Nakulapita, delighting in & approving of the Blessed One's words, rose from his seat and -- bowing down to the Blessed One and circumambulating him, keeping him to his right -- went to Ven. Sariputta and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Sariputta said to him, "Your faculties are clear & calm, householder, your complexion pure. Have you had the opportunity today of listening to a Dhamma talk in the presence of the Blessed One?"

"How could it be otherwise, venerable sir? I have just now been sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk."

"And how were you sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk?"

"Just now I went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As I was sitting there I said to him, 'Lord, I am a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life. I am afflicted in body & ailing with every moment. And it is only rarely that I get to see the Blessed One & the monks who nourish the heart. May the Blessed One teach me, may the Blessed One instruct me, for my long-term benefit & happiness.'

"When this was said, the Blessed One said to me, 'So it is, householder. So it is. The body is afflicted, weak, & encumbered. For who, looking after this body, would claim even a moment of true health, except through sheer foolishness? So you should train yourself: "Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted." That is how you should train yourself.' That's how I was sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk."

"But why didn't it occur to you to question the Blessed One further: 'In what way is one afflicted in body & afflicted in mind? And in what way is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind?'

"I would come from a long way away to hear the explication of these words in Ven. Sariputta's presence. It would be good if Ven. Sariputta himself would enlighten me as to their meaning."

"Then in that case, householder, listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, venerable sir," the householder Nakulapita responded.

Ven. Sariputta said: "Now, how is one afflicted in body & afflicted in mind?

"There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person -- who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma -- assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is obsessed with the idea that 'I am form' or 'Form is mine.' As he is obsessed with these ideas, his form changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

"He assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling. He is obsessed with the idea that 'I am feeling' or 'Feeling is mine.' As he is obsessed with these ideas, his feeling changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

"He assumes perception to be the self, or the self as possessing perception, or perception as in the self, or the self as in perception. He is obsessed with the idea that 'I am perception' or 'Perception is mine.' As he is obsessed with these ideas, his perception changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

"He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self, or the self as possessing fabrications, or fabrications as in the self, or the self as in fabrications. He is obsessed with the idea that 'I am fabrications' or 'Fabrications are mine.' As he is obsessed with these ideas, his fabrications change & alter, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over their change & alteration.

"He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. He is obsessed with the idea that 'I am consciousness' or 'Consciousness is mine.' As he is obsessed with these ideas, his consciousness changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

"This, householder, is how one is afflicted in body and afflicted in mind.

"And how is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind? There is the case where a well-instructed noble disciple -- who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma -- does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is not obsessed with the idea that 'I am form' or 'Form is mine.' As he is not obsessed with these ideas, his form changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

"He does not assume feeling to be the self...

"He does not assume perception to be the self...

"He does not assume fabrications to be the self...

"He does not assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. He is not obsessed with the idea that 'I am consciousness' or 'Consciousness is mine.' As he is not obsessed with these ideas, his consciousness changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

"This, householder, is how one is afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind."

That is what Ven. Sariputta said. Gratified, the householder Nakulapita delighted in Ven. Sariputta's words.

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

Dhamma Essay:
Association with the Wise by Bhikkhu Bodhi


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