Saṃyutta Nikāya 44

Connected Discourses on the Undeclared

7. Moggallana

Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Venerable Mahamoggallana and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Venerable Mahamoggallana:

“How is it, Master Moggallana, is the world eternal?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The world is eternal.’”

“Then, Master Moggallana, is the world not eternal?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The world is not eternal.’”

“How is it then, Master Moggallana, is the world finite?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The world is finite.’”

“Then, Master Moggallana, is the world infinite?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The world is infinite.’”

“How is it then, Master Moggallana, are the soul and the body the same?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The soul and the body are the same.’”

“Then, Master Moggallana, is the soul one thing, the body another?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another.’”

“How is it, Master Moggallana, does the Tathagata exist after death?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this: ‘The Tathagata exists after death.’”

“Then, Master Moggallana, does the Tathagata not exist after death?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death.’”

“How is it, then, Master Moggallana, does the Tathagata both exist and not exist after death?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death.’”

“Then, Master Moggallana, does the Tathagata neither exist nor not exist after death?”

“Vaccha, the Blessed One has not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”

“What, Master Moggallana, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ or ‘The world is not eternal’; or ‘The world is finite’ or ‘The world is infinite’; or ‘The soul and the body are the same’ or ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another’; or ‘The Tathagata exists after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death,’ or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death’? And what is the cause and reason why, when the ascetic Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?”

“Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ They regard the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards the ear … the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ Therefore, when the Tathagata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”

Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and approached the Blessed One. He exchanged greetings with the Blessed One …and said to him:

“How is it, good Gotama, is the world eternal?”

All as above down to:

“Vaccha, I have not declared this either: ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’”

“What, Master Gotama, is the cause and reason why, when wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death’? And what is the cause and reason why, when the ascetic Gotama is asked such questions, he does not give such answers?”

“Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye … the mind thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: ‘The world is eternal’ … or ‘The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ But, Vaccha, the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye … the mind thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ Therefore, when the Tathagata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers.”

“It is wonderful, Master Gotama! It is amazing, Master Gotama! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter. Just now, Master Gotama, I approached the ascetic Moggallana and asked him about this matter. The ascetic Moggallana explained this matter to me in exactly the same terms and phrases that Master Gotama used. It is wonderful, Master Gotama! It is amazing, Master Gotama! How the meaning and the phrasing of both teacher and disciple coincide and agree with each other and do not diverge, that is, in regard to the chief matter.”