Samyukta Āgama (2) 6

Bhikkhu Saṃyutta

Nanda 2—Nanda is praised

Thus have I heard, once, the Buddha was staying at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove, the Anāthapiṇḍika Park.

At that time the venerable Nanda went to the Buddha, paid homage at his feet and sat to one side. There the World-honored One said to the monks: “Among those teaching the Dhamma, Nanda is the best. Among those of good family, upright, endowed with pleasant appearance, he is the best. When it comes to cut off strong desire, Nanda is the best. When it comes to harnessing the senses, to knowing when one has had one’s fill, to practicing the path diligently throughout the night, striving for enlightenment, constantly aware of the present, in these Nanda is the best.

What is meant by saying Nanda harnesses the senses? He does not get attached to any visible form, sound, scent, taste, touch, or any mental phenomena, this is what is meant by sayinghe harnesses his senses.

What is meant by saying Nanda knows when one has had one’s fill? He eats merely to stop hunger, not because he wants to be attractive or strong. In order to practice the path, he restrains himself and is contented. Eating is but like greasing a chariot. It is also like treating a skin disease; one does not do it because one wants to be attractive, to look glossy and strong. This is what is meant by saying Nanda knows when one has had one’s fill.

What is meant by saying Nanda practices the way diligently throughout the night? By day he wanders about calmly, by night he sits in meditation, dispelling the hindrances in his mind. In the first part of the night, having washed his feet, he sits upright, his mind focused in front of him, he enters the stages of concentrative meditation (jhāna). In the middle part of the night he lies down on his right side, leg resting on leg. His mind is focused on clarity, practicing mindfulness. When the last part of the night begins, he again sits upright, his mind focused in front of him. This is how Nanda, with firm mind practices evenly throughout the night. Sons of good family, Nanda has attained highest enlightenment. The mind of the monk Nanda is focused, not distracted, like seeing clearly in every direction: east, south, west, and north. With focused mind he practices insight, does not allow himself to become distracted. Pleasant sensations, unpleasant sensations, or sensations neither pleasant or unpleasant, he knows they are all dependently arisen. He knows the arising and passing away of all these sensations sometimes takes longer, sometimes happens sooner. He also knows that the arising and passing away of all thoughts is according to this or that reason or circumstance, that all mental states are based on this or that reason or circumstance.

May all you monks practice like this, may you harness your senses, know your fill with eating and drinking, throughout the night practice diligently and strive for enlightenment like Nanda.”

The Buddha said to the monks: “I now instruct you to emulate Nanda’s way of practice. And if there should be a monk whose way of practice is just like Nanda’s, then I now instruct you to emulate that also.”

Then the World-honored One spoke this verse:

“If one can harness one’s senses well /
concentrate one’s mind and eat and drink with restraint,
then I call this person a wise person /
knowing well the nature of the arising of the mind;
for this I commend Nanda /
you too should train like this.”

When the Buddha had finished speaking, the monks, having listened to what he had said, were happy and remembered it well.