20- Magga Vagga

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Chapter 20


The Way Or The Path
(Text and Translation by Ven. Nàrada)

 

1. Maggàn’ aññhaïgiko seññho Þ
saccàna§ caturo padà
Viràgo seññho dhammàna§ Þ
dipadàna¤ ca cakkhumà. 273.
2. Eso’va maggo natth’ a¤¤o Þ
dassanassa visuddhiyà
Etamhi tumhe pañipajjatha Þ
màrass’ eta§ pamohana§. 274.
3. Etamhi tumhe pañipannà Þ
dukkhassanta§ karissatha
Akkhàto ve mayà maggo Þ
a¤¤àya sallasatthana§. 275.
4. Tumhehi kicca§ àtappa§ Þ
akkhàtàro tathàgatà
Pañipannà pamokkhanti Þ
jhàyino màrabandhanà. 276.

 

THE EIGHTFOLD PATH IS THE BEST
FOLLOW THIS PATH FOR PURITY
FOLLOWING THIS PATH YOU CAN PUT AN END TO SUFFERING
YOU MUST EXERT YOURSELVES

1. The best of paths is the Eightfold Path. 1 The best of truths are the four Sayings. 2 Non-attachment 3 is the best of states. The best of bipeds is the Seeing One. 273.

2. This is the only Way. There is none other for the purity of vision. Do you follow this path. This is the bewilderment of Màra. 274.

3. Entering upon that path, you will make an end of pain. Having learnt the removal of thorns, 4 have I taught you the path. 275.

4. Striving should be done by yourselves; 5 the Tathàgatas 6 are only teachers. The meditative ones, who enter the way, are delivered from the bonds of Màra. 276.

Story

    When the Buddha returned to the monastery after his preaching tours some bhikkhus were discussing the smooth or the rough state of the paths they had trod. The Buddha remarked that those paths were irrelevant to their emancipation and advised them to follow the Eightfold path.


 

5. Sabbe saïkhàrà aniccà’ti Þ
yadà pa¤¤àya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe Þ
esa maggo visuddhiyà. 277.

 

TRANSIENT ARE CONDITIONED THINGS

5. “Transient are all conditioned things”: 7 when this, with wisdom, one discerns, then is one disgusted with ill; 8 this is the path to purity. 277.

Story

    The Buddha, perceiving that many monks had meditated on impermanence in the past, advised them to continue that meditation.


 

6. Sabbe saïkhàrà dukkhà’ti Þ
yadà pa¤¤àya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe Þ
esa maggo visuddhiyà. 278.

 

SORROWFUL ARE ALL CONDITIONED THINGS

6. “Sorrowful are all conditioned things”: when this, with wisdom, one discerns, then is one disgusted with ill; this is the path to purity. 278.

Story

    The Buddha, perceiving that many monks had meditated on sorrow in the past, advised them to continue that meditation.


 

7. Sabbe dhammà anattà’ ti Þ
yadà pa¤¤àya passati
Atha nibbindati dukkhe Þ
esa maggo visuddhiyà. 279.

 

EVERYTHING IS SOULLESS

7. “All Dhammas are without a soul”: 9 when this, with wisdom, one discerns, then is one disgusted with ill; this is the path to purity. 279.

Story

    The Buddha, perceiving that many monks had meditated on nor-soul in the past, advised them to continue that meditation.


 

8. Uññhànakàlamhi anuññhahàno Þ
yuvà balã àlasiya§ upeto
Sa§sannasaïkappamano kusãto Þ
pa¤¤àya magga§ alaso na vindati. 280.

 

THE SLOTHFUL DO NOT REALIZE THE PATH

8. The inactive idler who strives not when he should strive, who, though young and strong, is slothful, with (good) thoughts depressed, 10 does not by wisdom realize the Path. 280.

Story

Many fellow monks excluding one who remained behind in the monastery, went to the forest and attained Arahantship. when they returned the Buddha exchanged friendly greetings with them but not with the one who had remained behind. This action of the Buddha stimulated him to strive to attain Arahantship. He strove hard in the night but unfortunately met with an accident which brought his fellow monks to attend on him. The Buddha commented on the difficulty of realization by an idler.


 

9. Vàcànurakkhã manasà susa§vuto Þ
kàyena ca akusala§ na kayirà
Ete tayo kammapathe visodhaye Þ
àràdhaye magga§ isippavedita§. 281.

 

PURIFY THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS

9. Watchful of speech, well restrained in mind, let him do nought unskilful through his body. Let him purify these three ways of action and win the path realized by the sages. 281.

Story

    A monk, having divided by slander two monks who were friends, was reborn as a hideous Peta. The Venerable Moggallàna saw him and mentioned it to the Buddha, who also had seen him on an earlier occasion. The Buddha thereupon commented on the evil consequences of slandering.


 

10. Yogà ve jàyati bhåri Þ
ayogà bhårisaïkhayo
Eta§ dvedhà patha§ ¤atvà Þ
bhavàya vibhavàya ca
Tath’ attàna§ niveseyya Þ
yathà bhåri pavaóóhati. 282.

 

ACT IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU INCREASE YOUR WISDOM

10. Verily, from meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes. Knowing this twofold path of gain and loss, let one so conduct oneself that wisdom may increase. 282.

Story

    A monk, named Poñhila, though well versed in the Dhamma was constantly addressed by the Buddha as “Empty Poñhila” in order to stimulate him to attain Arahantship. The monk took the hint and went to a distant place to meditate. Accepting the advice of a young novice, he meditated in order to attain Arahantship. The Buddha, perceiving him with His Divine Eye, projected His image before him and uttered this verse.


 

11. Vana§ chindatha mà rukkha§ Þ
vanato jàyati bhaya§
Chetvà vana¤ ca vanatha¤ ca Þ
nibbanà hotha bhikkhavo. 283.
12. Yàva§ hi vanatho na chijjati Þ
aõumatto’ pi narassa nàrisu
Pañibaddhamano va tàva so Þ
vaccho khãrapako’ va màtari. 284.

 

BE WITHOUT ATTACHMENT
MIND IS IN BONDAGE AS LONG AS THERE IS ATTACHMENT

11. Cut down the forest (of the passions 11), but not real trees. 12 From the forest (of the passions) springs fear. Cutting down both forest 13 and brushwood (of the passions), be forestless, 14 O bhikkhus. 283.

12. For as long as the slightest brushwood (of the passions) of man towards women is not cut down, so long is his mind in bondage, like the milch calf to its mother-cow. 284.

Story

    Some old monks wept when an old woman who used to minister unto them died. The Buddha advised them to practise non-attachment.


 

13. Ucchinda sineham attano Þ
kumuda§ sàradika§’ va pàõinà
Santimaggam eva bråhaya Þ
nibbàna§ sugatena desita§. 285.

 

DEVELOP THE PATH OF PEACE

13. Cut off your affection, as though it were an autumn lily, with the hand. Cultivate the very path of peace. Nibbàna has been expounded by the Auspicious One. 285.

Story

    A young monk was meditating on the impurities of the body but with no effect. The Buddha, perceiving his disposition, gave him a lotus as a focus for mental concentration. The monk succeeded in his meditation, gained the jhànas and developing his faculties as advised by the Buddha, later attained Arahantship.


 

14. Idha vassa§ vasissàmi Þ
idha hemantagimhisu
Iti bàlo vicinteti Þ
antaràya§ na bujjhati. 286.

 

THE IGNORANT REALIZE NOT THE FEAR OF DEATH

14. Here will I live in the rainy season, here in the autumn and in the summer: thus muses the fool. He realizes not the danger (of death). 286.

Story

    A merchant with his retinue halted by a river. There was heavy rain and he thought of selling his goods and spending the various seasons there. The Buddha perceived that the man would die in seven days. The Venerable ânanda called on the merchant and informed him of his impending death. He was filled with remorse and, inviting the Buddha and the Sangha, gave them alms. The Buddha advised him to meditate on death. He did so and later attained the first state of Sainthood and passed away as predicted.


 

15. Ta§ puttapasusammatta§ Þ
byàsattamanasa§ nara§
Sutta§ gàma§ mahogho’ va Þ
maccu àdàya gacchati. 287.

 

DEATH SEIZES THE DOTING MAN

15. The doting man with mind set on children and herds, death seizes and carries away, as a great flood (sweeps away) a slumbering village. 287.

Story

A young mother named Kisà Gotami, lost her only child. As she had never come across an instance of death she carried the corpse on her hip believing the child to be ill and searching for a remedy. A wise man directed her to the Buddha who advised her to collect some mustard seed from a household where none had died. She got mustard but found no household where none had died. The Truth dawned upon her. When she returned, the Buddha preached the Dhamma to her. She became a nun. One day she observed the flickering of a lamp and reflected on the impermanence of life. The Buddha projected His image before her and uttered this stanza comparing life to a flickering lamp.


 

16. Na santi puttà tàõàya Þ
na pità na’ pi bandhavà
Antakenàdhipannassa Þ
natthi ¤àtisu tàõatà. 288.
17. Etam atthavasa§ ¤atvà Þ
paõóito sãlasa§vuto
Nibbànagamana§ magga§ Þ
khippam eva visodhaye. 289.

 

NO PROTECTION FROM ANY AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH

16. There are no sons for one’s protection, neither father nor even kinsmen; for one who is overcome by death no protection is to be found among kinsmen. 288.

17. Realizing this fact, let the virtuous and wise person swiftly clear the way that leads to Nibbàna. 289.

Story

    A woman, named Pañàcàrà, lost her near and dear ones under tragic circumstances. She went mad and was running about the street. The Buddha had compassion on her and consoled her, uttering these verses.


End Notes

1 The Eightfold Path is the Middle Way discovered by the Buddha for the realization of Nibbàna. It consists of: right understanding(sammà diññhi), right thoughts (sammà saïkappa), right speech (sammà vàcà), right action (sammà kammanta), right livelihood (sammà àjãva), right effort (sammà vàyàma), right mindfulness (sammà sati), and right concentration (sammà samàdhi).

This is the unique path of Enlightenment. From a philosophical stand-point these eight factors are the eight mental states found in the supramundane consciousness which has Nibbàna for its object.

2 They are the four Noble Truths – suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the path leading to the destruction of suffering. The first truth of suffering is to be comprehended, the cause of suffering (which is craving) is to be eradicated, the destruction of suffering (which is Nibbàna) is to be realized, the path leading to the destruction of suffering (which is the Eightfold Path) is to be developed. Whether the Buddhas arise or not these four truths exist in the world. It is the Buddhas that reveal them to mankind.

3 Viràga = Nibbàna.

4 Of lust etc.

5 That is, to control passions in order to realize Nibbàna.

6 When the Buddha refers to Himself He employs the term Tathàgata which means “who thus hath come”.

7 Saïkhàra is a multisignificant term. Here it is used in the sense of things conditioned by causes. Supermundane Nibbàna is not included in saïkhàra as it is not conditioned by any cause. It is causeless and timeless.

8 Suffering caused by attending to the five Aggregates.

9 Impermanence (anicca), sorrow (dukkha) and no-soul (anatta) are the three characteristics of all things conditioned by causes. It is by contemplating them that one realizes Nibbàna. The aspirant may choose any characteristic that appeals to him most.

Anattà or no-soul is the crux of Buddhism. The term saïkhàra which is applied to any conditioned thing is used in the two previous verses, while in the third verse the term dhamma is used. The commentator interprets dhamma as the “aggregates” (khandhà). The same interpretation he gives to saïkhàra too. If by dhamma is meant saïkhàra, there is no reason for the Buddha to make a differentiation in the third verse.

Saïkhàra is applied only to those things conditioned by causes. Dhamma can be applied to both conditioned and unconditioned things and states. It embraces both conditioned and unconditioned things including Nibbàna. In order to show that even Nibbàna is free from a permanent soul the Buddha used the term dhamma in the third verse. Nibbàna is a positive supramundane state and is without a soul.

“All the elements of being are non-self. When one by wisdom realizes (this), he heeds not (is superior to) (this world of) sorrow, this is the path to purity”. Radhakrishnan.

10 Sa§sannasaïkappamano literally, mind with right thoughts depressed.

11 Here vana means forest of such passions as lust, hatred, and delusion.

12 When the Buddha said, “Cut down the forest”, some newly ordained monks erroneously gave the expression its literal meaning. The Buddha, reading their thoughts, corrected them, stating that what he meant was not actual trees but passions.

13 Vana means big trees and vanatha means smaller trees. Here vana means the powerful passions and vanatha means the lesser passions.

14 Having eradicated all passions by means of the four Paths, be passionless.

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