Majjhima Nikaya 39
Mahaassapurasuttam
The Longer Discourse in Assapura


Thus have I heard:

Once the Blessed One was living in the Anga country, in a town named Assapura. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus.

"Bhikkhus, people call us recluses and you too acknowledge that we are recluses. Bhikkhus, you, who have promised to be recluses, should take upon yourself to live in the ways that make you a true recluse and brahmin. In so doing, your vows will be fulfilled. Then it will be meritorious to those who offer us robes, alms food, dwellings and medicine. Thus our going forth be fruitful and full of results.

"Bhikkhus, what are the things that make you a true recluse and brahmin? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be pure in our bodily actions, open and without a flaw; and we will not praise ourselves or disparage others on account of that purity of bodily actions.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong and our bodily actions are pure.' With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be pure in verbal actions, open and without a flaw; and we will not praise ourselves or disparage others on account of that purity of verbal actions.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, our bodily actions are pure and our verbal actions are pure. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be pure in mental actions, open and without a flaw; and we will not praise ourselves or disparage others on account of that purity of mental actions.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, our bodily actions are pure, our verbal actions are pure, and our mental actions are pure. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be pure in our livelihood, open and without a flaw and we will not praise ourselves or disparage others on account of that purity of livelihood.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, our bodily actions are pure, our verbal actions are pure, our mental actions are pure, and our livelihood is pure. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will guard the doors of our senses: On seeing a form with the eye, we will not grasp at any theme or details by which -- if we were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail us. On hearing a sound with the ear... On smelling an odor with the nose... On tasting a flavor with the tongue... On touching a tactile sensation with the body... On cognizing an idea with the mind, we will not grasp at any theme or details by which -- if we were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the mind -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail us.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, our bodily actions are pure, our verbal actions are pure, our mental actions are pure. Our livelihood is pure and we guard the doors of our senses. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be moderate in eating. Reflecting wisely we will eat our food, not for pleasure, not for indulgence, not for beauty and attractiveness, but only to maintain this body, so that it endures; for keeping it unharmed, for supporting the holy life, so that former feelings [of hunger] are destroyed and new feelings [from overeating] do not arise. Then there will be for us a lack of bodily obstacles and a pleasant abiding.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, pure bodily actions, pure verbal actions, pure mental actions and a pure livelihood. We guard the doors of our senses and we are moderate in our eating. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We shall be devoted to wakefulness. During the day, while walking and sitting, we will purify our minds of obstructing states. In the first watch of the night, while walking and sitting, we will purify our minds of obstructing states. In the middle watch of the night, lying on the right side in the lionís posture, keeping one foot overlapping the other, mindful and aware of the time of waking, we will sleep. In the last watch of the night, while walking and sitting, we will purify our minds of obstructing states.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong, our bodily, verbal and mental actions are pure, our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors of our senses, we are moderate in our eating, and we are devoted to wakefulness. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? Bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will be mindful and fully aware. In going forward and returning, we will act with clear awareness. In looking ahead and looking aside, we will act with clear awareness. In bending and stretching our limbs, we will act with clear awareness. In wearing our robes and cloak and using our almsbowls, we will act with clear awareness. In eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting, we will act with clear awareness. In defecating and urinating, we will act with clear awareness. In walking, standing, sitting, lying down, waking up, speaking, and remaining silent, we will act with clear awareness.' Bhikkhus, it might occur to you: 'We are endowed with shame and fear of doing wrong. Our bodily, verbal and mental actions are pure. Our livelihood is pure. We guard the doors of our senses. We are moderate in our eating. We are devoted to wakefulness. We are mindful and fully aware. With this much, the goal of recluseship has been reached' and you rest satisfied, thinking there is nothing more to do. Bhikkhus, I inform you, I declare to you, there is more to do; do not fall short of the goal of recluseship.

"Bhikkhus, what more needs to be done? "Bhikkhus, A recluse resorts to a secluded dwelling - a forest, the foot of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a cremation ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After returning from his alms-round, following his meal, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and sets up mindfulness before him.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and worry, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and worry. Abandoning doubt, he dwells having crossed over doubt, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of doubt.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick -- in pain and seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals, and there is no strength in his body. As time passes, he eventually recovers from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and there is strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am recovered from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and there is strength in my body.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is a slave, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. As time passes, he eventually is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money and goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. As time passes, he eventually emerges from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money and goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the bhikkhu regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as freedom from debt, good health, release from prison, freedom from slavery, a place of security. When he sees that these five hindrances have been abandoned within himself, gladness arises. When he is gladdened, rapture arises. When his mind is filled with rapture, his body becomes tranquil; tranquil in body, he experiences happiness; being happy, his mind becomes concentrated.

"Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind -- he enters and remains in the first Jhana which is with initial and sustained thinking and is filled with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. He drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with this rapture and happiness so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with rapture and happiness.

"Just as if a skilled bath attendant or his apprentice would pour soap powder into a metal basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again and again with water, so that the ball of soap powder would be filled with moisture, encompassed by moisture, pervaded by moisture inside and out, yet would not drip; even so, the bhikkhu drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of seclusion so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with rapture and happiness.

"Further, with the stilling of initial and sustained thinking, by gaining inner tranquility and unification of mind, he enters and remains in the second Jhana which is free from initial and sustained thinking and is filled with rapture and happiness born of concentration. He drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with this rapture and happiness so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with rapture and happiness.

"Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from below, having no inflow from east, west, north, or south, and with the skies [not?] periodically supplying it with rain, so that the cool spring-water welling up from below would permeate and pervade, suffuse and fill that lake with cool water, there being no part of the lake not suffused with cool water; even so, the bhikkhu drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with the rapture and happiness born of concentration so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with rapture and happiness.

"Further, with the fading away of rapture, remaining imperturbable, mindful, and clearly aware, he enters the third jhana and experiences within himself the joy of which the Noble Ones declare, "Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness." He drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with this happiness free from rapture so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with happiness.

"Just as in a blue-, white-, or red-lotus pond, there may be some of the lotuses which, born and growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated and pervaded, suffused and filled with cool water from their roots to their tips so that no part of those lotuses is not suffused with cool water; even so, the bhikkhu drenches, steeps, saturates, and suffuses his body with this happiness free from rapture so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused with happiness.

"Further, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain -- as with the earlier disappearance of joy and sorrow -- he enters and remains in the fourth Jhana which is beyond pleasure and pain; and purified by equanimity and mindfulness. He sits, suffusing his body with a pure, bright awareness, so that there is nothing of his entire body not suffused by pure, bright awareness.
"Just as if a man were sitting wrapped from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the bhikkhu sits, suffusing his body with a pure, bright awareness so that there is no part of his entire body not suffused by pure, bright awareness."

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives [literally: previous homes]. He recollects his manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction and expansion, [recollecting], 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus he recollects his manifold past lives in their modes and details. Just as if a man were to go from his home village to another village, and then from that village to yet another village, and then from that village back to his home village. The thought would occur to him, 'I went from my home village to that village over there. There I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I went to that village over there, and there I stood in such a way, sat in such a way, talked in such a way, and remained silent in such a way. From that village I came back home.' In the same way -- with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability -- the bhikkhu directs and inclines it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. He recollects his manifold past lives... in their modes and details.

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees -- by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human [eye] -- beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings -- who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views -- with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings -- who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views -- with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus -- by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human -- he sees beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma. Just as if there were two houses with doors, and a man with good eyesight standing between them were to see people entering and leaving these houses and walking along the street. The thought would occur to him, 'These people are entering a house, those people are leaving it and walking along the street.' In the same way -- with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability -- the bhikkhu directs and inclines it to knowledge of the passing away and re-appearance of beings. He sees -- by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human -- beings passing away and re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their kamma...

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the bhikkhu directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the taints. He discerns, as it really is, 'This is dukkha... This is the origination of dukkha... This is the cessation of dukkha... This is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha... These are taints... This is the origination of taints... This is the cessation of taints... This is the way leading to the cessation of taints.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the taint of sensuality, the taint of becoming, the taint of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen -- clear, limpid, and unsullied -- where a man with good eyesight standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, 'This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting.' In the same way -- with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability -- the bhikkhu directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the taints. He discerns, as it really is, 'This is dukkha... This is the origination of dukkha... This is the cessation of dukkha... This is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha... These are taints... This is the origination of taints... This is the cessation of taints... This is the way leading to the cessation of taints.' His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the taint of sensuality, the taint of becoming, the taint of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu like this is truly a recluse, a brahmin, one who has been washed, one who has attained to knowledge, one mentally well, a noble one, a arahant.

"Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu become a recluse?. He has quieted evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes a recluse.

"How does the bhikkhu become a brahmin? He has expelled evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes a brahmin.

"How does the bhikkhu become a one who has been washed? He has washed away evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes one who has been washed.

"How does the bhikkhu become one who has attained to knowledge? He has known evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes one who has attained to knowledge.

"How does the bhikkhu become mentally well? He becomes sharp about evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes mentally well.

"Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu become a noble one? He moves far away from evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes a noble one.

"Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu become an arahant? He moves far away from evil, unwholesome states which defile, bring renewal of being, are troublesome, ripen in dukkha, and lead to future birth, decay and death. That is how a bhikkhu becomes an arahant."

The Blessed One said this and those bhikkhus delighted in the words of the Blessed One.


Translation of MN 39 from Access to Insight. Translator Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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