Numerical Discourses of the Buddha

An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya

Author : Nyanaponika Thera and Bodhi, Bhikkhu

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Numerical Discourses of the Buddha

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Synopsis

An abridged translation of the five volume Buddhist sutra from the Pali canon. The original translation was by Nyanaponika Thera, and these 208 selected discourses have been revised and given an introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

The Anguttara Nikaya is one of the main collection of suttas from the Pali Canon, the authorized recension of the Buddha`s word for followers of Theravada Buddhism. These particular discourses are called numerical because they retain the structure of the original Anguttara Nikaya. Sayings are organized not by topic, but by numbers mentioned in the texts. This organizational scheme, common in ancient Indian literature, can give the reader a haphazard view of the Buddha`s teachings. To balance this tendency Bhikkhu Bodhi provides a systematic introduction to the Buddha`s teaching in the Anguttara Nikaya. The translators also provide notes, a glossary, and another introduction placing the Anguttara in the context of the larger Theravada Buddhist Canon. This readable but precise translation will be welcomed by both students of Theravada Buddhism as well as anyone wishing to learn from the Buddha`s teachings.

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Meghiya

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Calika, on the Calika hill. There the Venerable Meghiya, who was at that time the Blessed One's attendant,' approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and said to him while standing at one side:

"Lord, I wish to go to Jantugama for alms."
"You may do as you think fit, Meghiya."

Then the Venerable Meghiya, dressing himself in the morning and taking robe and bowl, entered Jantugama for aIms. Having made the alms round and taken his meal, he went to the bank of the Kimikalä River.

There, while walking around to stretch his legs, he saw a pleasant and beautiful mango grove. Seeing it, he thought: "Pleasant, indeed, is this mango grove; it is beautiful. Truly, it is fit for a clansman who wishes to strive in meditation. If the Blessed One allows it, I shall return to this mango grove to strive in meditation."

Then the Venerable Meghiya approached the Blessed One ... and said to him: "Lord, after my alms round in Jantugama, when I had taken my meal, I went to the bank of the Kimikala River. While walking there I saw a pleasant and beautiful mango grove which I thought to be fit for a clansman who wishes to strive in meditation. If the Blessed One permits me, I shall go there and strive."

"Wait a while, Meghiya. We are now alone here. First let another monk come."

But the Venerable Meghiya repeated his request, saying: "Lord, for the Blessed One there is nothing further to achieve and no need to consolidate what he has achieved. But as for me, Lord, there is still more to achieve and the need to consolidate what I have achieved. If the Blessed One permits me, I shall go to that mango grove and strive."

Again the Blessed One asked him to wait and again the Venerable Meghiya made his request for a third time. (Then the Blessed One said:)

"As you speak of striving, Meghiya, what can we say? You may do now as you think fit."

The Venerable Meghiya then rose from his seat, saluted the Blessed One, and keeping him to his right, left for the mango grove. Having arrived, he went deeper into the grove and sat down under a tree to spend the day there. But while staying in that mango grove, three kinds of evil, unwholesome thoughts constantly assailed him: sensual thoughts, thoughts of ill will and thoughts of violence.

Then he thought: "Truly, it is strange, it is amazing! I have gone forth from home into the homeless life out of faith, and yet I am harassed by these three kinds of evil, unwholesome thoughts: sensual thoughts, thoughts of ill will and thoughts of violence."

Then the Venerable Meghiya went back to the Blessed One, and having saluted him, he told him what had occurred and exclaimed:
"Truly it is strange, it is amazing! I have gone forth from home into the homeless life out of faith, and yet 1 am harassed by those three kinds of evil, unwholesome thoughts."

"If, Meghiya, the mind still lacks maturity for liberation, there are live conditions conducive to making it mature. What five?

"The first thing, Meghiya, for making the immature mind mature for liberation is to have a noble friend, a noble companion, a noble associate.

"Further, Meghiya, a monk should be virtuous, restrained by the restraint of the Patimokkha, perfect in conduct and resort, seeing danger in the slightest faults. Having undertaken the training rules, he should train himself in them. This is the second thing that makes the immature mind mature for liberation.

"Further, Meghiya, the talk in which a monk engages should befit an austere life and be helpful to mental clarity; that is to say, it should be talk on fewness of wishes, on contentment, on solitude, on seclusion, on application of energy, on virtue, concentration, wisdom, liberation, and on the knowledge and vision of liberation. If a monk finds opportunities for such talk easily and without difficulty, this is the third thing that makes the immature mind mature for liberation.

"Further, Meghiya, a monk lives with his energy set upon the abandoning of everything unwholesome, and the acquiring of everything wholesome; he is steadfast and strong in his effort, not shirking his task in regard to wholesome qualities. This is the fourth thing that makes the immature mind mature for liberation.

"Further, Meghiya, a monk possesses wisdom; he is equipped with that wisdom which sees into the rise and fall of phenomena, which is noble and penetrative, leading to the complete destruction of suffering. This is the fifth thing that makes the immature mind mature for liberation.

"When, Meghiya, a monk has a noble friend, a noble companion and associate, it can be expected that he will be virtuous ... that he will engage in talk befitting the austere life and helpful to mental clarity that his energy will be set upon the abandoning of everything unwholesome and the acquiring of everything wholesome that he will be equipped with the wisdom that leads to the complete destruction of suffering.

"Then, Meghiya, when the monk is firmly grounded in these five things, he should cultivate four other things: he should cultivate the meditation on the foulness (of the body) for abandoning lust; he should cultivate loving-kindness for abandoning ill will; he should cultivate mindfulness of breathing for cutting off distracting thoughts; he should cultivate the perception of impermanence for eliminating the conceit 'I am'. In one who perceives impermanence, the perception of non-self becomes firmly established; and one who perceives non-self achieves the elimination of the conceit 'I am' and attains Nibbana in this very life.

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