The Book of the Threes
“Master Gotama, I have heard: ‘The ascetic Gotama says: “Alms should be given only to me, not to others; alms should be given only to my disciples, not to the disciples of others. Only what is given to me is very fruitful, not what is given to others; only what is given to my disciples is very fruitful, not what is given to the disciples of others.”’ Do those who speak thus state what has been said by Master Gotama and not misrepresent him with what is contrary to fact? Do they explain in accordance with the Dhamma so that they would not incur any reasonable criticism or ground for censure? For we do not want to misrepresent Master Gotama.”
“Those, Vaccha, who say: ‘The ascetic Gotama says: “Alms should be given only to me … only what is given to my disciples is very fruitful, not what is given to the disciples of others,”’ do not state what has been said by me but misrepresent me with what is untrue and contrary to fact. One who prevents another from giving alms creates an obstruction and stumbling block for three people. What three? He creates an obstruction to the donor’s acquiring merit, to the recipients’ gaining a gift, and already he has maimed and injured himself. One who prevents another from giving alms creates an obstruction and stumbling block for these three people.
“But, Vaccha, I say that one acquires merit even if one throws away dishwashing water in a refuse dump or cesspit with the thought: ‘May the living beings here sustain themselves with this!’ How much more, then, does one acquire merit when one gives to human beings! However, I say that what is given to one of virtuous behavior is more fruitful than what is given to an immoral person. And the most worthy recipient is one who has abandoned five factors and possesses five factors.
“And what five factors does he possess? The virtuous behavior, concentration, wisdom, liberation, and knowledge and vision of liberation of one beyond training. These are the five factors that he possesses.
Among cattle of any sort,
whether black, white, red, or golden,
mottled, uniform, or pigeon-colored,
the tamed bull is born,
the one that can bear the load,
possessing strength, advancing with good speed.
They yoke the burden just to him;
they are not concerned about his color.
So too, among human beings
it is in any kind of birth—
among khattiyas, brahmins, vessas,
suddas, caṇḍālas, or scavengers—
among people of any sort
that the tamed person of good manners is born:
one firm in Dhamma, virtuous in conduct,
truthful in speech, endowed with moral shame;
one who has abandoned birth and death,
consummate in the spiritual life,
with the burden dropped, detached,
who has done his task, free of taints;
who has gone beyond all things of the world
and by non-clinging has reached nibbāna:
an offering is truly vast
when planted in that spotless field.
Fools devoid of understanding,
do not attend on the holy ones
but give their gifts to those outside.
Those, however, who attend on the holy ones,
on the wise ones esteemed as sagely,
and those whose faith in the Fortunate One
is deeply rooted and well established,
go to the world of the devas
or are born here in a good family.
Advancing in successive steps,
those wise ones attain nibbāna.