Majjhima Nikāya

The Middle Length Sayings

Dhammadāyāda Suttaṃ

3. Discourse on Heirs of Dhamma

Thus have I heard:

One time the Lord was staying near Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. While he was there the Lord addressed the monks, saying:

“Monks.”

“Revered One,” these monks answered the Lord in assent. The Lord spoke thus:

“Monks, become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things. I have sympathy with you and think: How may disciples become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things? If you, monks, should become heirs of material things, not heirs of Dhamma, not only may you become in consequence those of whom it is said: ‘The Teacher's disciples are heirs of material things, not heirs of Dhamma,’ but I too may become in consequence one of whom it is said: ‘The Teacher's disciples are heirs of material things, not heirs of Dhamma,’ But if you, monks, should become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things, then you may become in consequence those of whom it is said: ‘The Teacher's disciples are heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things,’ and I too may become in consequence one of whom it is said: ‘The Teacher's disciples are heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things,’ Therefore, monks, become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things.

I have sympathy with you and think: How may disciples become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things? Take a case where I, monks, may have eaten and be satisfied, (the meal) ended, finished, I having had enough, as much as I pleased. But it may be that some of my alms-food is over and is to be thrown away, when two monks may arrive worn out with exhaustion and hunger. If I should speak to them thus: ‘I, monks, have eaten and am satisfied (the meal) ended, finished, I having had enough, as much as I pleased. But some of my alms-food is over and is to be thrown away. Do eat it if you (so) desire; if you do not eat it I will now throw it away where there is no grass or I will drop it into water that has no living creatures in it.’

Then it may occur to one monk: ‘Now, the Lord having eaten and being satisfied (the meal) ended, finished, having had enough, as much as he pleased. But this alms-food of the Lord's is to be thrown away; if we do not eat it, the Lord will now throw it away where there is no grass or he will drop it into water that has no living creatures in it. But this was said by the Lord: Monks, become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things. But this is a material thing, that is to say, alms-food. Suppose that I, not having eaten this alms-food, in spite of this hunger and exhaustion, should pass this night and day thus?’ He, not having eaten that alms-food, in spite of that hunger and exhaustion, may pass this night and day thus.

Then it occurs to the second monk, thus: ‘Now, the Lord having eaten and being satisfied (the meal) ended, finished, having had enough, as much as he pleased. But this alms-food of the Lord's is to be thrown away; if we do not eat it, the Lord will now throw it away where there is no grass or he will drop it into water that has no living creatures in it. Suppose that I, having eaten this alms-food, having driven away this hunger and exhaustion, should pass this night and day thus? He, having eaten that alms-food, having driven away that hunger and exhaustion, may spend that night and day thus.

Although, monks, that monk, having eaten that alms-food, having driven away this hunger and exhaustion, should pass this night and day thus, he, having eaten that alms-food, having driven away that hunger and exhaustion, may spend that night and day thus, yet that first monk is for me the more to be honoured and the more to be praised. What is the reason for this? It is, monks, that it will conduce for a long time to that monk's desirelessness, to his contentment, expunging (of evil), to his being easily supported, to his putting forth energy. Therefore, monks, become my heirs of Dhamma, not heirs of material things. I have sympathy with you and think: How may disciples become my heirs of Dhamma, and not heirs of material things?”

Thus spoke the Lord; when the Well-farer had spoken thus, rising from his seat, he entered the dwelling-place. Thereupon the venerable Sāriputta, not long after the Lord had gone away, addressed the monks, saying:

“Reverend monks.”

“Your reverence,” these monks answered the venerable Sāriputta in assent. Then the venerable Sāriputta spoke thus:

“In what respects, your reverences, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, do disciples not follow his example of aloofness? And in what respects, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, do disciples follow his example of aloofness?”

“We would come even from afar to learn from the venerable Sāriputta the meaning of this that is said. It were good indeed if the meaning of this that is said should be spoken out by the venerable Sāriputta, so that monks, having heard the venerable Sāriputta, might master it.”

“Very well, your reverences, listen, attend carefully, and I will speak.”

“Yes, your reverence,” these monks answered the venerable Sāriputta in assent. Then the venerable Sāriputta spoke thus:

“This is a case, your reverences, where, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples do not follow his example as to aloofness, they do not get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, they are ones for abundance and are lax, taking the lead in backsliding, throwing off the yoke of seclusion.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are elders become contemptible in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples do not follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are elders become contemptible. (2) If they do not get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are elders become contemptible. (3) If they are ones for abundance and are lax, taking the lead in backsliding, throwing off the yoke of seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are elders become contemptible. So, your reverences, monks who are elders become contemptible in these three ways.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are of middle standing become contemptible in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples do not follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are of middle standing become contemptible. (2) If they do not get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are of middle standing become contemptible. (3) If they are ones for abundance and are lax, taking the lead in backsliding, throwing off the yoke of seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are of middle standing become contemptible. So, your reverences, monks who are of middle standing become contemptible in these three ways.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are newly ordained monks become contemptible in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples do not follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become contemptible. (2) If they do not get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become contemptible. (3) If they are ones for abundance and are lax, taking the lead in backsliding, throwing off the yoke of seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become contemptible. So, your reverences, monks who are newly ordained monks become contemptible in these three ways. In these respects, your reverences, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, do disciples not follow his example as to aloofness.

But in what respects, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, do disciples follow his example as to aloofness? This is a case, your reverences, where, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples follow his example as to aloofness and get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, they are not ones for abundance, they are not lax, they throw off the yoke of backsliding and take the lead in seclusion.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are elders become praiseworthy in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are elders become praiseworthy. (2) If they get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are elders become praiseworthy. (3) If they are not ones for abundance, if they are not lax, if they throw off the yoke of backsliding and take the lead in seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are elders become praiseworthy. So, your reverences, monks who are elders become praiseworthy in these three ways.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are of middle standing become praiseworthy in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are of middle standing become praiseworthy. (2) If they get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are of middle standing become praiseworthy. (3) If they are not ones for abundance, if they are not lax, if they throw off the yoke of backsliding and take the lead in seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are of middle standing become praiseworthy. So, your reverences, monks who are of middle standing become praiseworthy in these three ways.

Among them, your reverences, monks who are newly ordained monks become praiseworthy in three ways: (1) If, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, disciples follow his example as to aloofness, this is the first way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become praiseworthy. (2) If they get rid of those things of which the Teacher has spoken of getting rid, this is the second way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become praiseworthy. (3) If they are not ones for abundance, if they are not lax, if they throw off the yoke of backsliding and take the lead in seclusion, this is the third way in which monks who are newly ordained monks become praiseworthy. So, your reverences, monks who are newly ordained monks become praiseworthy in these three ways. In these respects, your reverences, while the Teacher is staying in seclusion, do disciples follow his example as to aloofness.

Herein, your reverences, greed is evil and ill-will is evil; for getting rid of greed and for getting rid of ill-will there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, anger is evil and malevolence is evil for getting rid of greed and for getting rid of ill-will there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, hypocrisy is evil and spite is evil for getting rid of hypocrisy and for getting rid of spite there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, envy is evil and stinginess is evil for getting rid of envy and for getting rid of stinginess there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, deceit is evil and treachery is evil for getting rid of deceit and for getting rid of treachery there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, obstinacy is evil and impetuosity is evil for getting rid of obstinacy, for getting rid of impetuosity there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, arrogance is evil and pride is evil for getting rid of arrogance and for getting rid of pride there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.

Herein, your reverences, conceit is evil and indolence is evil for getting rid of conceit and for getting rid of indolence there is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to awakening, to Nibbāna. And what, your reverences, is this Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna? It is this Ariyan Eightfold Way itself, that is to say, perfect view, perfect thought, perfect speech, perfect action, perfect mode of livelihood, perfect exertion, perfect mindfulness, perfect concentration. It is this, your reverences, that is the Middle Course which, making for vision, making for knowledge, conduces to tranquillity, to super-knowledge, to Nibbāna.”

Thus spoke the venerable Sāriputta. Delighted, these monks rejoiced in what the venerable Sāriputta had said.

Discourse on Heirs of Dhamma: The Third