Saṃyutta Nikāya 22
Connected Discourses on the Aggregates
Then the Blessed One, having dismissed the bhikkhus for a particular reason, dressed in the morning and, taking bowl and robe, entered Kapilavatthu for alms. When he had walked for alms in Kapilavatthu and had returned from the alms round, after his meal he went to the Great Wood for the day’s abiding. Having plunged into the Great Wood, he sat down at the foot of a beluva sapling for the day’s abiding.
Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: “The Saṅgha of bhikkhus has been dismissed by me. There are bhikkhus here who are newly ordained, not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline. If they do not see me there may take place in them some alteration or change. Just as when a young calf does not see its mother there may take place in it some alteration or change, so too there are bhikkhus here who are newly ordained, not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline. If they do not see me there may take place in them some alteration or change. Just as when young seedlings do not get water there may take place in them some alteration or change, so too there are bhikkhus here who are newly ordained, not long gone forth, recently come to this Dhamma and Discipline. If they do not see me there may take place in them some alteration or change. Let me assist the Saṅgha of bhikkhus now just as I have assisted it in the past.”
Then Brahma Sahampati, having known with his own mind the reflection in the Blessed One’s mind, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his drawn-in arm or draw in his extended arm, disappeared from the brahma world and reappeared before the Blessed One. He arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation towards the Blessed One, and said to him: “So it is, Blessed One! So it is, Fortunate One! The Saṅgha of bhikkhus has been dismissed by the Blessed One. There are bhikkhus here who are newly ordained … as above, including the similes … If they do not see the Blessed One there may take place in them some alteration or change. Venerable sir, let the Blessed One take delight in the Saṅgha of bhikkhus! Let the Blessed One welcome the Saṅgha of bhikkhus! Let the Blessed One assist the Saṅgha of bhikkhus now just as he has assisted it in the past.”
Then in the evening the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to Nigrodha’s Park. He sat down in the appointed seat and performed such a feat of spiritual power that the bhikkhus would come to him, alone and in pairs, in a timid manner. Then those bhikkhus approached the Blessed One, alone and in pairs, in a timid manner. Having approached, they paid homage to the Blessed One and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to them:
“Bhikkhus, this is the lowest form of livelihood, that is, gathering alms. In the world this is a term of abuse: ‘You alms-gatherer; you roam about with a begging bowl in your hand!’ And yet, bhikkhus, clansmen intent on the good take up that way of life for a valid reason. It is not because they have been driven to it by kings that they do so, nor because they have been driven to it by thieves, nor owing to debt, nor from fear, nor to earn a livelihood. But they do so with the thought: ‘I am immersed in birth, aging, and death; in sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair. I am immersed in suffering, oppressed by suffering. Perhaps an ending of this entire mass of suffering might be discerned!’
“It is in such a way, bhikkhus, that this clansman has gone forth. Yet he is covetous, inflamed by lust for sensual pleasures, with a mind full of ill will, with intentions corrupted by hate, muddle-minded, lacking clear comprehension, unconcentrated, scatter-brained, loose in his sense faculties. Just as a brand from a funeral pyre, burning at both ends and smeared with excrement in the middle, cannot be used as timber either in the village or in the forest, in just such a way do I speak about this person: he has missed out on the enjoyments of a householder, yet he does not fulfil the goal of asceticism.
“There are, bhikkhus, these three kinds of unwholesome thoughts: sensual thought, thought of ill will, thought of harming. And where, bhikkhus, do these three unwholesome thoughts cease without remainder? For one who dwells with a mind well established in the four establishments of mindfulness, or for one who develops the signless concentration. This is reason enough, bhikkhus, to develop the signless concentration. When the signless concentration is developed and cultivated, bhikkhus, it is of great fruit and benefit.
“There are, bhikkhus, these two views: the view of existence and the view of extermination. Therein, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple reflects thus: ‘Is there anything in the world that I could cling to without being blameworthy?’ He understand thus: ‘There is nothing in the world that I could cling to without being blameworthy. For if I should cling, it is only form that I would be clinging to, only feeling … only perception … only volitional formations … only consciousness that I would be clinging to. With that clinging of mine as condition, there would be existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair would come to be. Such would be the origin of this whole mass of suffering.’
“What do you think, bhikkhus, is form permanent or impermanent? … Is feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?”—“Suffering, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”—“No, venerable sir.”