T 1670B Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra

Part 2: Dialogues

2.5. The Aim of Spiritual Life

The king asked, “What should we discuss?”

Nāgasena said, “Your majesty the king, if you want to listen to the truth or the summon bonum, we should discuss that.”

So the king asked, “What is the object, Sir, of your renunciation, what is the summon bonum at which you aim?”

“The aim of our renunciation is that this sorrow may pass away, and that no future sorrow may arise hereafter. That is why we become sramanas. This is our highest aim.”

“Sir, is this the reason that all the members of the sangha have joined?”

“Certainly not Sire, Not all the members of the sangha have joined for the same reason. There are four categories of sramanas.”

“What are the four?” asked the king.

Nāgasena said, “Some joined because of the tyranny of a county magistrate; some have joined due to poverty; some are harassed by debt; and some have genuinely renounced the world for the sole purpose of abandoning and eliminating sorrow and suffering here and hereafter.” Nāgasena continued, “What I refer to are those who sincerely search for the Path and become sramanas.”

The king asked, “Is it because of searching for the Path that you have become a sramana?”

“I became a sramana when I was merely a boy. Due to the Buddha’s Dharma and his disciples who are all wise sramanas, I have learned from the scriptures and disciplines, which have become deeply rooted in my heart. As a result, I understand that the reason for renunciation is to eradicate sorrow here and hereafter.”

“Excellent, Nāgasena.”