Samyukta Āgama (2) 16

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

The conversion of Aṅgulimāla

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was traveling in the Tao-he forest in Magadha.

On his way there he met a herdsman who said: “In this forest lives the bandit Aṅgulimāla, who might harm you.” The Buddha told the herdsman: “The bandit is unlikely to harm me,” and went along. He met another herdsman who told him the same and the Buddha answered as before. This happened three times, and the Buddha said: “This evil person will not harm me!” When he had entered the forest, Aṅgulimāla saw him coming from afar and, scabbard in the left hand, sword in the right, charged forward. But though he was running quickly and the Buddha calmly walked along, he could not catch him. When Aṅgulimāla became exhausted, he called to the Buddha: “Stop! Renunciant, stop!” The Buddha replied: “I have already stopped, it is you who have not stopped.”

Then Aṅgulimāla spoke a verse:

“This renunciant keeps on walking /
but says: ‘I have already stopped.’
I now have stopped /
and he says I have not.
Why does he say he has stopped /
and I have not?”

Then the Buddha spoke a verse:

“For long have I abstained /
from treating others with violence.
You trouble them /
persist in your evil ways.
Therefore I say I have stopped /
and you have not.

I have abandoned causing, out of spite and evil /
harm to all endowed with form.
It is you who do not cease your evil ways /
always doing unwholesome deeds.
Therefore I say I have stopped /
and you have not.

I have abandoned all forms of harm /
towards living beings.
You harm the living /
have not abandoned the dark deeds.
Therefore I say I have stopped /
and you have not.

I enjoy my state /
the mind concentrated tirelessly.
You do not see the four truths /
and nowhere do you stop.
Therefore I say I truly have stopped /
and you have not.”

There Aṅgulimāla spoke a verse:

“Long have I dwelt in this wilderness /
never have I seen such a man;
the Bhagavant has come here /
to teach me the good Dhamma.

Long have I followed evil ways /
today I will abandon them.
Now that I have heard you speak /
I follow the Dhamma and cut off all evil.

Having spoken thus he sheathed the sword /
and cast it into a deep pit
and bowed his head to pay homage /
and took refuge in the World-honored One.

Filled with deep faith /
he set his mind on going forth.
Then the Buddha let compassion arise /
for the benefit of all beings in the world
invited him: ‘Come!’/ so he became a renunciant.”

There Aṅgulimāla, a son of good family, shaved off his hair and beard, put on the robes and went forth. From then on he he dwelt in empty, silent places, his mind striving tirelessly, focused on his practice, diligent in his efforts, by concentration he focused his mind in true insight. He practiced supreme abstinence, reached the end of suffering and attained realization within this present world, within his own very body. He clearly understood his nature. He knew: for me birth is ended, the holy abode is established, done is what had to be done, there will be no further rebirth for me. When the venerable Ahiṃsaka became an Arahat and attained the joy of liberation he spoke this verse:

“My name is Ahiṃsaka one who does no harm /
but later I committed great cruelties.
Now however my name has come true /
truth is not to harm.

Now I abstain from doing harm with body /
speech and mind.
Who never harms others /
is truly called Ahiṃsaka.

I was steeped in blood /
so they called me Aṅgulimāla.
I was like one carried away by a strong current. /
Therefore I have taken refuge in the Buddha.

I received ordination /
and attained the three knowledges;
fully understanding the teachings of the Buddha /
I respect and practice it.

In this world, usually, those who tame /
or control, do so with violence,
with iron hooks and whips and bridles /
dealing out cuffs and blows.

The World-honored One, the great tamer /
has done away with evil methods,
has abandoned violence. /
This is the true way of taming.

To cross water, one needs a bridge or a boat; /
to straighten arrows, one needs a fire;
the carpenter needs an adze, /
the wise develop themselves by wisdom.

A person who at first committed evil /
then stops, doing so no more:
he shines upon the world /
like the moon when the clouds have disappeared.

A person who was slothful at first /
then stops being lazy:
whole-heartedly he abandons thorns and poison /
focusing on crossing to the other shore.

Once evil deeds are done /
one is bound to be reborn in evil realms.
Meeting the Buddha purged my guilt /
I escaped the fruit of my evil actions.

All those who grasp what I say /
will liberate their minds from the bonds of hatred,
through patience will attain pure vision. /
Victory without fighting is the teaching of the Buddha.”