The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes Teaching The Practice Of Moral Perfection (From Nalaka Sutta) contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

Chapter 11 - Teaching The Practice Of Moral Perfection (From Nālaka Sutta)

(Every time a Buddha appears, there usually emerges a monk who cultivates the practice of moral perfection (Moneyya). At the time when our Infinite and Supreme Buddha of the three worlds appeared, the monk who asked the Buddha about the practice of moneyya and who cultivated it was Monk Nālaka (nephew of Hermit Kāladevila) as already mentioned in Chapter 10 sub-title: Lady Kāḷi became a sotāpanna. The account of the young man, Nālaka, having became an ascetic monk even before the appearance of Buddha has been given there.)

The Buddha (as aforesaid) taught the sermon of Dhammacakka on the full-moon day of Āsāḷha and made the eighteen crores of Brahmās along with the Venerable Koṇḍañña Thera enter the path of emancipation. On the fifth waxing moon of the said month, He taught the five Pañcavaggī the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (the Discourse on the Doctrine of Non-self) and made them realise the Fruition of Arahatship. And on the seventh waxing moon of the month of Āsāḷha, the devas, who had been in the audience listening to the sermon on Dhammacakka and who wished for the welfare of the Venerable Nālaka, reported to him that the Buddha had already appeared and delivered the sermon on Dhammacakka, by saying: “Venerable Nālaka, the Buddha has already delivered the first sermon of Dhammacakka at Isipatana, Migadāya! The Buddha has, in fact, visibly appeared among devas, humans and Brahmās!”

Ever since he became a recluse thirty-five years ago, the Venerable Nālaka had been awaiting for the appearance of the Buddha. He had even abandoned the hereditary practice of immersion in water, bearing in mind: “If there is too much of immersion in water, the ears will get damaged. If the ears are damaged, the words of the Dhamma cannot be heard, thereby depriving me of the Dhamma.” On hearing the news given by the devas, he was delighted and said to himself: “The time has indeed arrived of what my uncle Kāladevila Hermit had advised me.” Then on the seventh waxing moon of the month of Āsāḷha, he left Himavanta and proceeded to Isipatana, Migadaya. On arrival there, he saw the Buddha sitting cross-legged on the eminent Buddha-seat, awaiting and expecting him: “Nālaka Hermit will arrive today. I will teach him the practice of Moneyya.”

Nālaka was very much overwhelmed with faith and devotion, so he respectfully made obeisance to the Buddha and questioned him, reciting two verses:—

Aññatametaṃ vacanam;
Asitassa yathatātham.
Taṃ taṃ Gotama pucchāmi;
Sabbadhammāna pāragum
.

Anagāriyupetassa;
bhikkhācariyam jigīsato.
Muni pabrūhi me puttho;
moneyyaṃ uttarnaṃ padam,

Exalted Buddha of Gotama lineage! I have personally found that the words spoken to me thirty-five years ago by (my uncle) Kāladevila Hermit are perfectly true (now that I can see the Buddha in person, with my own eyes). And so, (in order to learn and practise) please allow me to question you, as Buddha, who has crossed to the other side and is accomplished in all the Dhammas in six ways[1].

Venerable Buddha, Great Sage (Mahāmuni), being many times superior in attributes to the five Sages[2] (Munis)! please be kind enough to teach the noble Path leading to the realisation of the four magga-ñāṇas by the recluse who has renounced worldly life and maintains himself on alms-food.

Thereupon, the Buddha taught the Venerable Nālaka the practice of Moneyya in detail, by means of twenty-three verses beginning with ‘Moneyyam te upannissam!’

(Here, Moneyya means the four magga-ñāṇas. Especially, arahatta-magga-ñāṇa is called Moneyya. So, it should be noted carefully that the noble and genuine practice leading to the realisation of the four magga-ñāṇas is called Moneyya Paṭipadā)

The twenty three verses of Moneyya Paṭipadā thus taught are given below in Pali verses and Myanman paraphrase.

1) Moneyyaṃ te upaññissaṃ;
dukkaraṃ durabhisambhavaṃ.
Handa te nam pavakkhāmi;
santhambhassu daḷho bhava
.

My dear son Nālaka, I, the Buddha, will teach and make you understand clearly the moneyya paṭipadā which is not only difficult to put into practice even with great effort but also difficult of plunging into it. (What is meant is this: Nālaka, my dear son! the moneyya paṭipadā, questioned by you, is the kind of practice which is difficult of practising and of being accomplished, since it has to be practised without any arising of kilesa in one’s mind and with steadfast zeal, starting from the time when one is still an ordinary worldling (puthujjana).)

My dear son Nālaka (get ready!), I, the Buddha, will teach you the moneyya paṭipadā in detail. (You, my son, have merit (kusala) already accumulated.) So you, my son, exert and practise with steadfastness and unrelenting zeal, keeping yourself firm by means of diligence (vīriya) to do what is difficult of doing.

2) Samanābhāgaṃ kubbetha;
gāme akkutthavanditaṃ.
Manopadosaṃ rakkheyya;
santo anuṭṭato care
.

My dear son Nālaka, you should endeavour to treat (all people) in towns, villages and rural areas equanimously, with no disliking (hatred) and with no love, whether they hurt you by abusing in anger or whether they make obeisance to you with due respect and devotion. One, who is virtuous, should guard against bearing ill-will (because of being hurt and abused). You should endeavour not to become conceited, in the least, because of being treated with due respect and devotion. (What is meant is this: You should check your anger, when the people of towns, villages and rural areas offend and abuse you. You should not become elated with pride, even when a king bows before you respectfully. In this manner, you should treat them all evenly without disliking and without love, whether they abuse you or treat you with respect.)

(With this verse, the Buddha taught abandonment of kilesa which arise in relation to towns and villages.)

3) Uccāvacā niccharanti;
dāye aggisikhūpama.
Nāriyo muniṃ paloghenti;
tā su tam ma palobhayuṃ
.

My dear son Nālaka, in the forest also, various objects of sense burning like flames are apt to appear. (Or, when a forest fire spreads out flames of varied forms, such as flames with and without smoke, flames of blue, yellow and red colours, big or small, etc. Likewise, there are, in a forest, sense objects: some fearful, some pleasant, some detestable and some perplexing, such as humans, ogres, lions, leopards, tigers, various kinds of birds, various sounds or noises produced by them, fruits, flowers and buds. (Of these various kinds of sense objects which appear) women, who have come for merry-making in the parks and forests, women collecting firewood, plucking flowers, plucking vegetables and gathering fruits, are likely to allure the solitary monk with smiles, taunts, tears and garments in disorder. Do not let such women tempt you, my son. (What is meant is this: endeavour to conduct yourself so that such women cannot entice you.)

(With this verse, the Buddha taught for abandonment of kilesa which arise in relation to forest:)

4) Virato methunā dhammā;
hitvā kāme paropare
.
Aviruddho asāratto:
pānesu tasathāvare
.

5) Yathā ahaṃ tathā ete;
yathā ete tathā adam.
Attānaṃ upamaṃ katvā;
na haneyya na ghātaye
.

My dear son Nālaka, besides discarding all kinds of sensual objects (kāma ārāmammanas), good or bad, you, dear son, should also be one who avoids and stays away from sexual intercourse. You should not, in the least, entertain ill-will towards those (belonging to another faction) and you should not, in the least, have liking and attachment to those (belonging to your own faction); and, placing yourself as an example (having fellow-feeling) thus: “Like myself, these beings desire to live long, not to die; they desire happiness, not suffering. Like them, I also desire to live long, not to die; desire happiness, not suffering.” You should not, by yourself, kill or hurt puthujjanas, sotāpannas, sakadāgāmins and anāgāmins who are not yet free from taṇhā (tasa sattas)[3] and arahattas who are already flee from taṇhālobha (thāvara-sattas)[4]. Neither should you employ others to kill or hurt.

(In these verses, the Buddha taught (moral practice of restraint (Indriyasamvarasīla) by means of the phrase: “hitvā kāme paropare —discarding all kinds of sensual objects, good or bad.” The Buddha taught the practice of fundamental precepts, (pātimokkhāsaṃvarasīla) laid down for monks, by means of the remaining words beginning with abstinence from sexual intercourse and abstinence from taking life.)

6) Hitvā icchañca lobhañca;
yattha satto puthujjano.
Cajjgynā patipajjeyya;
tareyya narakaṃ imam
.

My dear son Nālaka, the worldly remain attached to the four requisites of robe, alms-food, lodging and medicine which are objects of sensual pleasure for the ascetics. You, dear son, should abandon the desire (icchā) for the four requisites of robe, alms-food, lodging and medicine which are objects of sensual pleasure for ascetics before they are obtained. If they are already acquired, you should do away with greed (lobha) which hinders the wish to give them away in charity. Being one possessing the eye of wisdom, you should endeavour to cultivate the noble moneyya paṭipadā, which has already been taught, is being taught and is to be taught. If you thus endeavour to practise, you can overcome the craving for the four requisites which leads to wrong livelihood (micchajiva) called naraka abyss because of difficulty in filling it.

(With this verse, the Buddha taught the moral practice of living a life of purity (Ājīvapārisuddhisīlā) with special reference to the removal of attachment and craving for the four requisites.)

7) Unūdaro mitāhāro;
appicchassa alolupo.
Sadā icchāya nicchāto;
aniccho hoti nibbuto
.

My dear son Nālaka, an ascetic desirous of cultivating the moneyya paṭipadā should have a lean stomach (by eating four or five morsels less of the almsfood legitimately received (dhammniyaladdha). (It is not enough by merely eating four or five morsels less), but you should also be one who eats the food only after due reflection on the advantages and disadvantages of the food eaten (paccavekkhanā). (Still it is not enough yet) you should also be one who is endowed with the four kinds of contentment, which is desiring little or nothing (appiccha), namely, (1) having little or no greed concerning the four requisites (paccaya-appiccha);(2) having little or no desire to let others know that you are practising the noble paṭipadā (dhutaṅga-appiccha); (3) having little or no desire to let others know that you possess wide knowledge and learning of the Teaching (pariyatti-appiccha); (4) having little or no desire to let others know that you have realised the extra-ordinary Dhamma of magga-phala (adhigama-appiccha). (Still it is not enough.) By means of arahatta-magga you should strive for the total removal of selfindulgence (taṇhā). When you have become one who is thus free from greed and craving (loluppa-taṇhā) you will become one with no desire and excessive craving (icchā-lobha-taṇhā) for the four requisites, unlike one who is perpetually afflicted with extreme hunger and you are then devoid of hunger (kilesa). With no such affliction, you emerge as an individual in whom all the heat of kilesa has been extinguished.

[With this verse the Buddha taught the precept regarding dependence on requisites, Paccayasannissita Sīla (OR, (precept regarding possession of requisites, Paccayaparibhoga Sīla) beginning with knowledge of moderation regarding food (bhojane mattannuta).]

8) Sa piṇḍacāraṃ caritvā:
vanantamabhihāraye
.
Upatthito rukkhamūlasmim:
āsanūpagato Muni
.

9) Sa Jhānapasuto diro;
vanante ramhito siya.
Jhāyetha rukhamūlasmim;
attānamabhitosayam
.

My dear son Nālaka, the ascetic, who practises the moneyya paṭipadā, should go only to his place in the forest after going round for alms and after eating his meal (without staying long to talk to the people, etc.). The monk, who practises moneyya paṭipadā, should remain sitting at the foot of a tree or in his own place (on reaching the forest).

(Here, by means of the words: “after going round for alms-food”, Piṇḍapātādhutaṅga is indicated. The monk who practises ukkaṭṭha-piṇḍapātā-dhutaṅga has also to practise sapadānacārika-dhutaṅga, ekasanika-dhutaṅga, pattapindikadhutaṅga, khalupacchābhattika-dhutaṅga, ticīvarika-dhutaṅga and paṃsukūlikadhutaṅga and so the six dhutaṅgas are also being indicated thereby.)

(By means of the words: “should go only to his place in the forest”, Arannikañgadhutaṅga is indicated. By means of the words: “should remain sitting at the foot of a tree or in his own place”, Rukhamūlika-dhutaṅga and Nesajjika-dhutaṅga are indicated. Since these ten dhutaṅgas are taught in regular order, the three dhutaṅgas, namely Abbhokasika-dhutaṅga, Yathasanthātika-dhutaṅga and Susānadhutaṅga, are also being appropriately indicated. This being so, the Buddha taught Nālaka Thera the thirteen dhutaṅgas[5] by means of this verse).

My dear son Nālaka, the ascetic, who is engaged in the thirteen dhutaṅgas and practises the noble moneyya paṭipadā, strives hard to realise the mundane jhāna whichis not yet realised and to exercise control, with five-fold masteries (vasibhāvas), over mundane jhānas that he has already acquired. Attaining thereby Absorption Concentration (appanā-samādhi), he should take delight in the quietude of the forest, away from human noise. (It will not yet do by merely cultivating the mundane jhāna only.) He should dwell at the foot of a tree in the forest also, delighting himself with absorption in the supramundane jhāna associated with sotāpatti-magga, etc.

(By means of this verse, the Buddha taught the joy of living in the forest-dwelling by strenuously cultivating mundane and supramundane jhānas as well as arahattaphala.)

The Venerable Nālaka, on hearing these discourses became exceedingly enthusiastic to enter the forest and practise the paṭipadā, even without taking food. It is not, however, possible to devote oneself to the practice of the Dhamma without taking food. True, he who practises the Dhamma without taking food cannot live long. In fact, one should search for food without causing kilesa to develop. Thus, searching for food without developing kilesa is a proper act in the sāsana. So, being desirous of preaching Venerable Nālaka the practice of going round for alms-food and with a view to assure him: “In the days to follow, you can enter towns and villages and go round for alms; but you should not let kilesa develop”; the Buddha recited the following six verses, which could finally enable him to realise arahatta-phala.

10) Tato ratyāvivasāne;
gāmantamabhihāraye.
Avhānam nābhinaandeyya;
abhihārañca gāmato
.

My dear son Nālaka, when the practice of moneyya paṭipadā (by going only to his place in the forest after collecting food) is over, in the days that follow too, the ascetic should proceed to the village for collecting alms-food. After night time has passed and day time sets in, prior to going on alms-round, he should attend to duties such as those to be performed in his dwelling place or concerning the stupa precincts (cetiyangawa vatta), etc., and observing physical (kāya) and mental (citta) aloofness (viveka)[6], he should cultivate meditation on the way to and back from the village of his alms-round.

On arrival in the village, you should not delight in and accept the meal offered by invitation: “Venerable sir! Kindly come and have alms-food in our house.” (i.e. the alms-food received while thinking and doubting: “Will this house offer or not offer alms-food to me? Will good food or bad food be offered?”) If, in case, the donors offer alms-food by snatching the almsbowl and filling it to the full, you may take such alms-food to sustain your practice of the Dhamma. It will not affect the practice of dhutaṅga. But you should not enter the village with the expectation of receiving such alms-food.

[The alms-food with a variety of dishes brought by donors and offered to the moneyya ascetic without inviting him to their houses after he enters the village and even before he goes round for alms from house to house is called Abhihara food. Not a single particle of such alms-food should be accepted (even though it is offered with many hundreds of dishes). (What is meant is that the alms-food should be obtained only by going round from house to house.)]

11) Na Munī gamamagāmma;
kulesu sahasā care.
Ghāsesanaṃ chinnakatho;
na vācaṃ payutaṃ bhaṇe
.

My dear son Nālaka, when the ascetic, practising the Moneyya Paṭipadā, has entered the village, he should not mix with the male and female donors who are not compatible with the sāsana in weal or woe. He should behave like a dumb person and should not give hints, speaking indirectly with signs and tricks in order to have alms-food.

12) Alattham yadidaṃ sādhu;
nālatthaṃ kusalaṃ iti.
Ubhayeṅeva so tādi;
rukkhaṃ vupanivattati
.

My dear son Nālaka, when the ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, enters the village and goes round for alms, he should consider that “It is good” if he receives even a small quantity of food and that “it is not bad” if no food is received: he should not be affected by receiving or not receiving alms. Being possessed of tādi guṇa (quality of being like the earth, namely, endurance or forbearance and quality of being like a mountain, namely, steadiness or fortitude), he should depart from the donor’s house (with equanimity and entertaining neither hatred nor love for not receiving or for receiving alms, in the same way as a man, looking for fruit, approaches a tree and departs from it without liking or disliking for getting or not getting fruit).

13) So pattapāni vicaranto;
amūgo mūgasammato.
Appaṃ dānaṃ na hīḷeyya;
dātāraṃ nāajāniyā
.

My dear son Nālaka, the said Moneyya ascetic, going round for alms, hugging the alms-bowl, should behave in such a way that the people will think he is dumb although he is not (What is meant is that he should not make random talk.) When only a little is given in charity, it should not be despised and the donor should not be (condemned) for giving merely a little.

14) Uccā vacā hi paṭipadā;
Samaneṇa pakāsitā.
Na pāraṃ diguṇaṃ yanti;
nāyidam ekaguṇaṃ mutaṃ
.

My dear son Nālaka, when the moneyya ascetic becomes fully accomplished in the mode of conduct in receiving alms, he should not be content with this much but he should endeavour and become accomplished in the practice of the paṭipadā which is exceedingly noble. (True! The sāsana has, as its essence, the practice of paṭipadā. What is meant is: The practice of paṭipadā is the essence of the sāsana. Only when paṭipadā is practised, the essence of the sāsana will be attained.) The Buddha has taught the said noble practice leading to magga in two ways, superior and inferior.

(To elucidate: The period, from the moment the ascetic Dhamma is first developed and practised, up to the moment the five hindrances (nīvaraṇas) are removed, is called Paṭipadā Khetta, the domain of paṭipadā. If, in this period, the five nivaranas are removed with ease and without trouble, it is called Sukha-paṭipadā. If the nīvaranas have to be removed after practising strenuously and with difficulty, it is called Dukkha-paṭipadā. The period, from the moment the five nivaranas have been removed to the moment magga-ñāṇa is realised, is called Abhiññākhetta, the domain of abhiññā (vipassanā-ñāṇa-paññā). The vipassanā-ñāṇa, which realise magga-ñāṇa quickly after the five nivaranas have been removed, are called Khippābhiññā. If magga-ñāṇa is realised rather tardily, the said vipassanā-ñāṇas are called Dandhābhiññā.

(1) When some individuals practise the ascetic Dhamma, they realise magga-ñāṇa quickly, after having removed the five nīvaraṇas without trouble and with ease. The paṭipadā of such individuals is called Sukhapaṭipadākhippābhiññā. (The Buddha taught that this kind of paṭipadā is the superior type.) (2) Some, however, realise magga-ñāṇa tardily, after having removed the five nīvaraṇas with ease. The Paṭipadā of such individuals is called Sukhapaṭipadādandhābhiññā. (3) Some realise magga-ñāṇa quickly, after having been able to remove the five nīvaraṇas by practising strenuously and with difficulty. Their paṭipadā is called Dukkhapaṭipadākhippābhiññā. (4) Some realize magga-ñāṇa tardily, after removing the nīvaranas by practising strenuously and with difficulty. Their paṭipadā is called Dukkhāpaṭipadādāndhābhiññā. (The Buddha preached that these three kinds of paṭipadā, numbered 2,3,4, are the inferior types.)

My dear son Nālaka, in reaching the other Shore, which is Nibbāna, by means of these two superior and inferior types of paṭipadā, it is not that Nibbāna is achieved twice through single magga-ñāṇa. (Just by realising magga-ñāṇa once, the kilesa which it should eradicate is completely removed; and therefore that kilesa will not again occur in the continuum of the Aggregates, Khanda santāna, hence the Buddha’s teaching: “It is not that Nibbāna is achieved twice through single magga-ñāṇa). Nor Nibbāna is the kind of Dhamma which can be completely realised only once (by means of single magga-ñāṇa). (All the kilesas cannot be totally removed by means of single magga-ñāṇa; they can be done so separately and respectively only by means of the four magga-ñāṇa, each annihilating its share of kilesa, leaving nothing unannihilated. Hence the Buddha means to say: “Nibbāna, together with the realization of arahatta-phala, cannot be attained once and for all, by means of one single stroke of magga-ñāṇa). This can be accomplished only by means of four-fold magga-ñāṇa.

15) Yassa ca visatā natthi;
chinnasotassa bhikkhuno.
Kiccākiccappahīṅassa;
pariḷāho na vijjati
.

My dear son Nālaka, a certain moneyya ascetic, who has practised the paṭipadā, which is appropriate for him out of the two types already stated, till the attainment of arahatship, is free from one hundred and eight kinds of expansive, wide ranging taṇhā (having completely removed them by means of the arahatta-magga). In the mind continuum of the moneyya ascetic, who has thus completely cut off the current of kilesa (through arahatta-magga) and who has also done away with all acts of merit and demerit, there is not the slightest heat generated by rāga and by dosa.

(By this verse, the benefit of the Patipadā is indicated.)

On hearing these verses, the Venerable Nālaka thought thus: “If the moneyya paṭipadā is only this much, it is quite easy and not difficult. I might perhaps be able to fulfill it without difficulty, without discomfort but with ease.” Therefore, the Buddha, who desirous of letting the Venerable Nālaka know that it is otherwise, said: “My dear son Nālaka, the moneyya practice is not as easy as you have thought. It is a practice which is really difficult,” recited this verse:

16) Moneyyaṃ te upannissaṃ;
Khuradhārūpamo tave.
Jivhāya tālū māhacca;
udare saññāto siyā
.

My dear son Nālaka, I will let you know more about the moneyya paṭipadā. The ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, should be one comparable to the blade of a razor. (The meaning is: As a person, licking the honey smeared on the blade of a razor, has to be careful and guard himself against the risk of his tongue being cut, the moneyya paṭipadā ascetic, who makes use of the four requisites righteously acquired by him, should guard his mind against the danger of it being defiled by kilesa. True! It is difficult to acquire the four requisites by pure means. Having acquired them, it is also difficult to make use of them in a blameless manner. So, the Buddha taught only Paccaya-sannissita sīla repeatedly.)

My dear son Nālaka, the ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, should restrain his stomach by pressing his tongue against the palate (i.e. by making a clicking sound with his tongue), doing away with the desire for taste (rasataṇhā) and not using the four requisites obtained by wrongful mode of livelihood (micchā-jīva). (It means to say that if alms-food to be acquired righteously (dhammiyaladda) is not available for the stomach, he should forbear by avoiding rasa-taṇhā by grinding his teeth making clicking sound with the tongue. By no means should he make use of requisites obtained wrongfully.)

17) Ālinacitto ca siyā;
Na cāpi bahu cintaye.
Nirāmagandho asito;
Brahmacariyaparāyato
.

My dear son Nālaka, the ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, should be one who is diligent, engaging himself incessantly in deeds of merit. He should not trouble his mind with diverse problems relating to friends and relatives and towns and villages. Without the foul odour of kilesa and without being attached to various existences through craving and wrong view, he should be one who leans and rely on the noble paṭipadā which is the three sikkhas[7] (training in morality, mentality and wisdom) taught by the Buddha.

18) Ekāsanassa sikkheya;
Samaṇūpasanassa ca.
Ekattaṃ monamakkhātaṃ;
Eko ce ahhiramissasi
.
Atha bhāhisi dasa disa.

My dear son Nālaka, the ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, should endeavour and practise to stay quietly in solitude, without any companion, and to contemplate (repeatedly and strenuously) the thirty-eight objects for meditation (kammaṭhānā ārammaṇa)[8] of the ascetics. [Here, the Buddha taught the physical seclusion by staying alone, (kāya-viveka), and the detachment of the mind by contemplating the meditation objects (cittaviveka)]. Thus I, the Buddha, teach that staying alone by maintaining kāyaviveka and citta-viveka is the moneyya paṭipadā. My dear son Nālaka, if you can take delight in staying alone, without any companion, maintaining kāyaviveka and citta-viveka, you will become renowned in all the ten directions.

19) Sutvā dhīrāna nighosam;
Jhāyiñam kamcāginam.
Tato hirīnca saddhañca;
bhiyyo tubbatha māmako
.

My dear son Nālaka, if and when you hear the cheers and praises of the wise and noble people, who have done away with material objects of sensual pleasure (vatthu-kāmas) and defilements of sensual pleasure (kilesa-kāma) by repeated contemplation of objects (arammanupanijjhāna) and close observation of their characteristics (lakkha-ṇupanijjhāna), you, dear son, should not be distracted by these cheers and praises but should, more strenuously than before, develop moral sense of shame (hirī) and should also have absolute faith (saddhā) in this moneyya paṭipadā as the noble practice for complete freedom from saṃsāra and develop the practice of final emancipation (niyyānika). If you do so, you will become a genuine son of mine, the Buddha’s.

20) Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha;
sobbhesu padaresu ca
.
Saṇatā yanti kusobbhā,
Tuṇhi yantimahodadhi
.

My dear son Nālaka, you should know that the subject matter of the exhortation (namely, “You should not be distracted by the cheers of the wise but you should develop more and more hirī and saddhā in greater momentum”), as already taught by Me, must be understood by the examples of large rivers and by small creeks and streams. The water in small creeks and stream flow noisily. The water in such large rivers as Gaṅga, however, flow silently without making any noise. (What is meant is that: One who is not a genuine son of mine, the Buddha’s, like small creeks and streams is agitated and excited: “I am one who practises the moneyya paṭipadā.” One who is a genuine son of mine, the Buddha’s, however, cultivate these two Dhammas of hirī and saddhā and like large rivers, remains silent, humble in mind.)

21) Yandūnakaṃ taṃ saṇati;
yaṃ pūram santameva taṃ.
Addhakumbhūpamo balo;
Rahado pūrova paṇḍito
.

My dear son Nālaka, (What I, the Buddha, should like to give one more example and point out in another way is:) a jar, which is not full with water and deficient, makes noise with the water splashing from side to side. That which is full with water is quiet without making noise. A foolish person is like the jar making noise with half-filled water. A wise man is like a large jar full of water.

Here, there is the likelihood of the question being raised thus: “If a foolish person is not quiet and makes noise like a jar not full with water and if a wise man does not make noise and is quiet like a large jar full of water, why is it that the Buddha talks much in His endeavour to teach the Dhamma?”; and so, the Buddha delivers these last two verses:-

22) Yaṃ samaṇo bahuṃ bhāsāti;
upetaṃ atthasañhitam.
Janaṃ so dhammaṃ deseti;
janaṃ so bahuṃ bhāsati
.

23) Yo ca jānaṃ sanyatatto;
jānaṃ na bahu bhāsati.
Sa munī monam arahati;
sa munī monamajjhagā
.

My dear son Nālaka, I, the Buddha, a noble ascetic as I am, speak mostly words which are full of sense and meaning and beneficial. It is not that these words are spoken with a fickle mind which is distracted (uddhacca). In fact, I, the Buddha, as a noble ascetic, discerning through knowledge and wisdom what is profitable and what is not and teach only the (profitable) Dhamma. (Even though the Dhamma is sometime taught all day long, it is not purposely done so just to pass the time.) In teaching the Dhamma, it is done only by knowing distinctly: “This Dhamma is for the benefit and welfare of this person. That Dhamma is for the benefit and welfare of that person.” (What is meant is: It is not that the Buddha utters unsubstantial words just because He is by nature talkative.)

My dear son Nalaka, the ascetic, practising the moneyya paṭipadā, is deserving of the practice only if, understanding the Dhamma analytically, discerned and taught by Me (by means of knowledge and wisdom capable of breaking up the kilesa (Nibbedhābhagiya ñāṇa paññā) and taking care to keep it well guarded, he does not talk too much (speaking words which he knows cannot be of benefit to beings). (It is not merely that he deserves). In fact, the moneyya ascetic can surely realise arahatta-magga-ñāṇa.

In this manner, the Buddha concluded the delivery of the noble Dhamma concerning the moneyya paṭipadā which has arahatta-phala as its ultimate achievement.

The Three Instances which Venerable Nālaka having Little Desire

Upon hearing the Buddha’s discourses on moneyya paṭipadā which has arahatta-phala as the ultimate achievement, the Venerable Nalaka Thera became one who had little desire to engage in three matters: (1) Seeing the Buddha; (2) Hearing the Dhamma; and (3) Asking questions concerning the moneyya paṭipadā. To elaborate:

(1) At the end of his hearing of the Dhamma concerning the moneyya paṭipadā, the Venerable Nālaka Thera was very much pleased and delighted and, after making obeisance to the Buddha to his heart’s content, he entered the forest. After entering the forest, such a wish as: “It will be good if I can once again see the Buddha!” did not occur in his mind continuum even once. This is the instance of him having little desire to see the Buddha.

(2) In the same way, such a wish as: “It will be good if I can once again listen to the Dhamma!” did not occur in the mind continuum of the Venerable Nālaka Thera even once. This is the instance of him having little desire to hear the Dhamma.

(3) Likewise, such a wish as: “It will be good if I can once again address and question the Buddha on the moneyya paṭipadā!” did not occur in the mind continuum of the Venerable Nālaka Thera even once more. This is the instance of him having little desire to question on the moneyya paṭipadā. Being the one and only individual and disciple of distinction (Puggala-visesa and Sāvaka-visesa) who emerges with the appearance of each Buddha, he was contented and his wish was fulfilled even with seeing the Buddha just once, with hearing the Dhamma also only once and with asking about the moneyya paṭipadā also only once; and so he had no more wish to see the Buddha, to listen to the Dhamma and to ask questions again. It is not for want of faith that he had no more wish to see the Buddha, to listen to the Dhamma and to ask questions.

The Venerable Nālaka becoming An Arahatta

In this manner, the Venerable Nālaka Thera, being endowed with the three instances of having little desire, entered the forest at the foot of the mountain and stayed in one grove only for one day, not remaining there for two days; stayed at the foot of a tree also only for one day, not for two days, and went round for alms in a village only for one day, not repeating the round the next day. In this way. he wandered about from one forest to another forest, from the foot of one tree to the foot of another tree and from one village to another village and practised the moneyya paṭipadā, suitable and appropriate for him; and before long he attained the arahatta-phala.

The Three Kinds of Individuals practising Moneyya Paṭipadā and The Venerable Nālaka Thera’s Parinibbāna

There are three kinds of individuals practising the moneyya paṭipadā, namely;

(1) Ukkaṭṭha-puggala practising the paṭipadā with the greatest effort;
(2) Majjhima-puggala practising it with medium effort and
(3) Mudum-puggala practising it with only little effort.

Of the said three kinds,

(1) Ukkaṭṭha-puggala practising the paṭipadā with the greatest effort lives only for seven months;
(2) Majjhima-puggala practising it with medium effort lives only for seven years; and
(3) Mudum-puggala practising with only little effort lives only for sixteen years.

Of the said three kinds of moneyya-puggalas, Venerable Nalaka was an ukkaṭṭhā-pūggala who practised the paṭipadā with the greatest effort. Reflecting and knowing that he would live only for seven months and that his āyusaṅkhāra [continuum of life vitality (jivitindriya)] would soon come to an end, so he took a bath to keep his body clean. And then wearing the lower robe correctly and neatly and girdling it with the waist-belt and then putting on the upper robe together with the big robe, he faced the direction of Rājagaha where the Buddha was dwelling and made obeisance to the Him in the five-fold posture of worship, i.e., the two hands. the two knees and the forehead touching the ground. And then raising the joined hands in adoration, standing erect and leaning against the mountain by the name of Hingulaka, he attained Parinibbāna which was the cessation and the end of existence.

Construction of a Shrine (Cetīya) over The Relics

Thereupon, the Buddha, knowing the Venerable Nālaka Thera’s attainment of Parinibbāna, proceeded to the said place in a company of bhikkhus and had the remains cremated under His personal supervision. And then, after supervising the collection of the relics and the construction of a shrine over them, the Buddha returned to Rājagaha city.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Six ways:

1. Abhiññā: knowing with penetrative insight,
2. Pariññā: knowing with full comprehension,
3. Pahāna: Abandonment,
4. Bhāvanā: Development,
5. Sacchikiriyā: Realization,
6. Samāpatti: Attainment.

(Aṅguttara Conunentary vol II)

[2]:

Six kinds of Sages. (Muni)

1. Agāramuni - Lay people having faith in the teaching of the Buddha.
2. Anāgāramuni - Monks.
3. Sekhamuni - Seven kinds of noble disciples who have realised one of the stages of the four Supermundane Paths (Magga) and the three lower Fruitions (Phala).
4. Asekhamuni - Arahats.
5. Paccekatnuni - Private Buddhas.
6. Munimuni - Buddhas.

Read also Anudīpanī.

[3]:

Tasā sattas - Frightened beings.

[4]:

Thāvarā sattas - Unfrightened beings (Arahats).—Read Chapter VI (Prefections).

[5]:

For thirteen dhutaṅgas, read Chapter VII: (a) the components of faith.

[6]:

Three kinds of viveka, read Chapter VII.

[7]:

Three sikkhas: read Chapter VII.

[8]:

The subjects of mcditation are given as 40 in the Piṭaka namely: Kasiṇa 10, Asubha 10, Anussadi 10, Brahmavihāra 4, Arūpayatona 4, Aharepatikūlasaññā 1, and Catudhātuvavatthāna 1.

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