Saṃyuktāgama

108. [Discourse on the West]

This have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying among the Sakyans at Devadaha. At that time there was a group of many monks from the west who wished to return to the west for the rains retreat. They approached the Blessed One, paid respect with their heads at the Buddha’s feet, and withdrew to sit at one side.

At that time the Blessed One taught them the Dharma, instructing, teaching, illuminating, and delighting them. Then, having in various ways been instructed, taught, illuminated, and delighted, the group of many monks from the west rose from their seats and, with palms held together [in respect] towards the Buddha, they said: “Blessed One, our group of many monks from the west wishes to return to the west for the rains retreat. We now ask respectfully to take our leave.”

The Buddha said to the monks from the west: “Have you so far not taken leave from Sāriputta?”

They replied: “We have so far not taken leave from him.”

The Buddha said to the monks from the west: “Sāriputta genuinely cultivates the holy life. You should respectfully take leave from him. This will enable you to benefit and be at peace for a long time.”

Then the monks from the west, being discharged, wished to leave. The venerable Sāriputta was then sitting under a solid tree not far away from the Buddha. The monks from the west approached the venerable Sāriputta, paid respect with their heads at his feet, withdrew to sit at one side, and said to the venerable Sāriputta:

“We wish to return to the west for the rains retreat. Therefore we have come to take our leave respectfully.”

Sāriputta said: “Have you so far not taken leave from the Buddha?”

They replied: “We have already taken leave from him.”

Sāriputta said: “Returning to the west and being in various places in different countries, with various types of different communities, you will certainly be asked questions. Having now heard the well spoken Dharma from the Blessed One, you should receive it well, remember it well, contemplate it well, and enter into it well.

“Is it sufficient to enable you to teach and declare it to others com­pletely, without misrepresenting the Buddha? On being closely ques­tioned by those communities, will this not make you be rebuked and fall into an occasion of being defeated?”

The monks said to Sāriputta: “We have approached the venerable one in order to hear the Dharma. May the venerable one explain it to us completely, out of compassion.”

The venerable Sāriputta said to the monks: “The people of Jambudīpa are clever and with sharp faculties. Be they warriors, or brahmins, or householders, or recluses, they will certainly ask you: ‘What is the teaching given by your great teacher? With what instruction does he instruct you?’

“You should answer: ‘The great teacher just teaches the disciplining of desire and lust, with this instruction he instructs us.’

“They may ask you again: ‘In relation to what phenomena does one discipline desire and lust?’

“You should again answer: ‘The great teacher just teaches the disci­plining of desire and lust for bodily form, the disciplining of desire and lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness. Such are the teachings given by our great teacher.’

“They may ask you again: ‘What is the fault in desire and lust, where­fore the great teacher teaches the disciplining of desire and lust for bodily form, the disciplining of desire and lust for feeling … percep­tion … formations … consciousness?’

“You should again answer: ‘If desire for bodily form has not been abandoned, lust for it has not been abandoned, craving for it has not been abandoned, [fondly] thinking of it has not been abandoned, thirst for it has not been abandoned, when that bodily form changes, when it becomes otherwise, worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain arise. Feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is also like this.

“Because of seeing such a fault in desire and lust, therefore desire and lust for bodily form are to be disciplined, desire and lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness are to be disciplined.’

“They may ask again: ‘What is the benefit in seeing desire and lust abandoned, wherefore the great teacher teaches the disciplining of desire and lust for bodily form, the disciplining of desire and lust for feeling … perception … formations … consciousness?’

“You should again answer: ‘If desire for bodily form has been aban­doned, lust for it has been abandoned, [fondly] thinking of it has been abandoned, craving for it has been abandoned, thirst for it has been abandoned, when that bodily form changes, when it becomes other­wise, worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain do not arise.’ Feeling … per­ception … formations … consciousness is also like this.

“Venerable ones, if because of experiencing unwholesome states one would dwell happily in the present, without pain, without being ob­structed, without vexation, without fever, and on the breaking up of the body, with the end of life, one would be reborn in a good realm, the Blessed One would certainly not say: ‘You should abandon un­wholesome states’, and he would not teach people the cultivation of the holy life in the Buddha’s Dharma to attain the eradication and making an end of dukkha.

Since experiencing unwholesome states one dwells painfully in the present, being obstructed, feverish, and vexed, and on the breaking up of the body, with the end of life, one will fall into an evil realm, there­fore the Blessed One says: ‘You should abandon unwholesome states’, and [he teaches] the cultivation of the holy life in the Buddha’s Dharma evenly to eradicate dukkha, to make a complete end of dukkha .

“If because of experiencing wholesome states one would dwell pain­fully in the present, being obstructed, feverish, and vexed, and on the breaking up of the body, with the end of life, one would fall into an evil realm, the Blessed One would certainly not say: ‘You should ex­perience and uphold wholesome states’, and [he would not teach] the cultivation of the holy life in the Buddha’s Dharma evenly to eradicate dukkha, to make a complete end of dukkha.

“[Since] by experiencing wholesome states one dwells happily in the present, without pain, without being obstructed, without vexation, without fever, and on the breaking up of the body, with the end of life, one will be reborn in a good realm, therefore the Blessed One com­mends and instructs people to experience wholesome states and [teaches] the cultivation of the holy life in the Buddha’s Dharma evenly to eradicate dukkha, to make a complete end of dukkha.

When the venerable Sāriputta spoke this teaching, the monks from the west by not clinging attained liberation from the influxes in their minds. When the venerable Sāriputta had spoken this teaching, the monks rejoiced and were delighted, paid respect and left.