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December 2018
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LESSON 2836 Dec 12 Wed 2018 Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center, This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma nad Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your assignment at the earliest. Thank you. - Buddha Datta Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action: MAHABODHI RESEARCH CENTER No 14 Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, Bengaluru -560009 1st Assignment [20 Marks] Paper V -Life of Buddha Diploma in Buddhist Studies (DTBS)
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka, ಅಭಿಧಮ್ಮಪಿಟಕ, ವಿನಯಪಿಟಕ, ತಿಪಿಟಕ (ಮೂಲ)
Posted by: site admin @ 8:25 pm
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Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka, ಅಭಿಧಮ್ಮಪಿಟಕ, ವಿನಯಪಿಟಕ, ತಿಪಿಟಕ (ಮೂಲ)
Posted by: site admin @ 5:48 am
LESSON 2835 Dec 12 Tue 2018 
Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center,

This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma nad
Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your
assignment at the earliest. Thank you.
- Buddha Datta
Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji
Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action:
No 14 Kalidasa Road, Gandhinagar, Bengaluru -560009
1st Assignment [20 Marks]
Paper V -Life of Buddha

Diploma in Buddhist Studies (DTBS)

Digha Nikaya
The Long Discourses
© 2005

The Tipitaka (Pali ti, “three,” + pitaka, “baskets”), or Pali canon,
is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the
doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the
paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together
constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.

The Pali canon is a vast body of literature: in English translation
the texts add up to thousands of printed pages. Most (but not all) of
the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although
only a small fraction of these texts are available on this website,
this collection can be a good place to start.

The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:

Vinaya Pitaka
The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the
daily affairs within the Sangha — the community of bhikkhus (ordained
monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of
rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of
each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha’s solution to the
question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse
spiritual community.
Sutta Pitaka
The collection of suttas, or discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a
few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of
Theravada Buddhism. (More than one thousand sutta translations are
available on this website.) The suttas are divided among five nikayas
Digha Nikaya — the “long collection”
Majjhima Nikaya — the “middle-length collection”
Samyutta Nikaya — the “grouped collection”
Anguttara Nikaya — the “further-factored collection”
Khuddaka Nikaya — the “collection of little texts”:
Sutta Nipata
Nettippakarana (included only in the Burmese edition of the Tipitaka)
Petakopadesa ( ” ” )
Milindapañha ( ” ” )
Abhidhamma Pitaka
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles
presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a
systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the
nature of mind and matter.
For further reading

Where can I find a copy of the complete Pali canon (Tipitaka)? (Frequently Asked Question)
Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature
Pali Language Study Aids offers links that may be useful to Pali students of every level.
Handbook of Pali Literature, by Somapala Jayawardhana (Colombo:
Karunaratne & Sons, Ltd., 1994). A guide, in dictionary form,
through the Pali canon, with detailed descriptions of the major
landmarks in the Canon.
An Analysis of the Pali Canon, Russell Webb, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society, 1975). An indispensable “roadmap” and outline of
the Pali canon. Contains an excellent index listing suttas by name.
Guide to Tipitaka, U Ko Lay, ed. (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications,
1990). Another excellent outline of the Tipitaka, containing summaries
of many important suttas.
Buddhist Dictionary, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society, 1980). A classic handbook of important terms and
concepts in Theravada Buddhism.
Digha Nikaya
The Long Discourses
© 2005
The Digha Nikaya, or “Collection of Long Discourses” (Pali digha =
“long”) is the first division of the Sutta Pitaka, and consists of
thirty-four suttas, grouped into three vaggas, or divisions:

Silakkhandha-vagga — The Division Concerning Morality (13 suttas)
Maha-vagga — The Large Division (10 suttas)
Patika-vagga — The Patika Division (11 suttas)
For a complete translation, see Maurice Walshe’s The Long Discourses of
the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya (formerly titled: Thus
Have I Heard) (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1987).

A selected anthology of 12 suttas from the Digha Nikaya, Handful of
Leaves, Volume One, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, is distributed free of charge
by Metta Forest Monastery. It is also available to read online and in
various ebook formats at

The translator appears in the square brackets []. The braces {}
contain the volume and starting page number in the PTS romanized Pali

DN 1: Brahmajāla Sutta — The All-embracing Net of Views {D i 1}
[Bodhi | Thanissaro]. In this important sutta, the first in the
Tipitaka, the Buddha describes sixty-two philosophical and speculative
views concerning the self and the world that were prevalent among
spiritual seekers of his day. In rejecting these teachings — many of
which thrive to this day — he decisively establishes the parameters of
his own.
DN 2: Samaññaphala Sutta — The Fruits of the Contemplative Life {D i 47}
[Thanissaro]. King Ajatasattu asks the Buddha, “What are the fruits of
the contemplative life, visible in the here and now?” The Buddha replies
by painting a comprehensive portrait of the Buddhist path of training,
illustrating each stage of the training with vivid similes.
DN 9: Potthapada Sutta — About Potthapada {D i 178} [Thanissaro]. The
wandering ascetic Potthapada brings to the Buddha a tangle of questions
concerning the nature of perception. The Buddha clears up the matter by
reviewing the fundamentals of concentration meditation and showing how
it can lead to the ultimate cessation of perception.
DN 11: Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta — To Kevatta {D i 211} [Thanissaro].
This discourse explores the role of miracles and conversations with
heavenly beings as a possible basis for faith and belief. The Buddha
does not deny the reality of such experiences, but he points out that —
of all possible miracles — the only reliable one is the miracle of
instruction in the proper training of the mind. As for heavenly beings,
they are subject to greed, anger, and delusion, and so the information
they give — especially with regard to the miracle of instruction — is
not necessarily trustworthy. Thus the only valid basis for faith is the
instruction that, when followed, brings about the end of one’s own
mental defilements. The tale that concludes the discourse is one of the
finest examples of the early Buddhist sense of humor. [TB]
DN 12: Lohicca Sutta — To Lohicca {D i 224} [Thanissaro]. A non-Buddhist
poses some good questions: If Dhamma is something that one must realize
for oneself, then what is the role of a teacher? Are there any teachers
who don’t deserve some sort of criticism? The Buddha’s reply includes a
sweeping summary of the entire path of practice.
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta — The Great Causes Discourse {D ii 55}
[Thanissaro]. One of the most profound discourses in the Pali canon,
which gives an extended treatment of the teachings of dependent
co-arising (paticca samuppada) and not-self (anatta) in an outlined
context of how these teachings function in practice. An explanatory
preface is included.
DN 16: Maha-parinibbana Sutta — Last Days of the Buddha/The Great
Discourse on the Total Unbinding {D ii 137; chapters 5-6} [Vajira/Story |
Thanissaro]. This wide-ranging sutta, the longest one in the Pali
canon, describes the events leading up to, during, and immediately
following the death and final release (parinibbana) of the Buddha. This
colorful narrative contains a wealth of Dhamma teachings, including the
Buddha’s final instructions that defined how Buddhism would be lived and
practiced long after the Buddha’s death — even to this day. But this
sutta also depicts, in simple language, the poignant human drama that
unfolds among the Buddha’s many devoted followers around the time of the
death of their beloved teacher.
DN 20: Maha-samaya Sutta — The Great Assembly/The Great Meeting {D ii
253} [Piyadassi | Thanissaro]. A large group of devas pays a visit to
the Buddha. This sutta is the closest thing in the Pali canon to a
“Who’s Who” of the deva worlds, providing useful material for anyone
interested in the cosmology of early Buddhism.
DN 21: Sakka-pañha Sutta — Sakka’s Questions {D ii 276; chapter 2}
[Thanissaro (excerpt)]. Sakka, the deva-king, asks the Buddha about the
sources of conflict, and about the path of practice that can bring it to
an end. This discourse ends with a humorous account about Sakka’s
frustration in trying to learn the Dhamma from other contemplatives.
It’s hard to find a teacher when you’re a king.
DN 22: Maha-satipatthana Sutta — The Great Establishing of Mindfulness
Discourse {D ii 290} [Burma Piṭaka Assn. | Thanissaro]. This sutta sets
out the full formula for the practice of establishing mindfulness, and
then gives an extensive account of one phrase in the formula: what it
means to remain focused on any of the four frames of reference—body,
feelings, mind, and mental qualities—in and of itself. [The text of this
sutta is identical to that of the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10), except
that the Majjhima version omits the exposition of the Four Noble Truths
(sections 5a,b,c and d in part D of this version).] [TB]
DN 26: Cakkavatti Sutta — The Wheel-turning Emperor {D iii 58}
[Thanissaro (excerpt)]. In this excerpt the Buddha explains how skillful
action can result in the best kind of long life, the best kind of
beauty, the best kind of happiness, and the best kind of strength.
DN 29: Pāsādika Sutta — The Inspiring Discourse {D iii 117}
[Thanissaro]. Toward the end of his life, the Buddha describes his
accomplishment in establishing, through the Dhamma and Vinaya, a
complete holy life that will endure after his passing. Listing some of
the criticisms that might be leveled against him and his Dhamma-Vinaya,
he shows how those criticisms should be refuted. [TB]
DN 31: Sigalovada Sutta — The Buddha’s Advice to Sigalaka/The Discourse
to Sigala {D iii 180} [Kelly/Sawyer/Yareham | Narada]. The householder’s
code of discipline, as described by the Buddha to the layman Sigala.
This sutta offers valuable practical advice for householders on how to
conduct themselves skillfully in their relationships with parents,
spouses, children, pupils, teachers, employers, employees, friends, and
spiritual mentors so as to bring happiness to all concerned.
DN 32: Atanatiya Sutta — Discourse on Atanatiya {D iii 194} [Piyadassi].
One of the “protective verses” (paritta) that are chanted to this day
for ceremonial purposes by Theravada monks and nuns around the world.
See Piyadassi Thera’s The Book of Protection.

Jai Bheem Sukhihothu, visited What Boonyawad Forest Monastery, Thailand, Namo Buddhaya.

Who is Buddha?

Assignment Choice Any Two

Write Answers in 3-5 pages

Q.1. Who is Buddha? Why He is called a Buddha? What are requirements for becoming a Buddha?

The Buddha grew up a prince in India. Until he was a young man, hehad
never encountered aging or death. When he happened to hear astory of a
servant’s death, he became very disillusioned about hisposh life.
Leaving the palace and his princely lifestyle, he beganhis historic
journey towards enlighten…
Buddha means the Fully Enlightened One. He became the Buddha through the
realisation of the intrinsic / true nature of all things in the
universe, including existence / mind & body / life.

Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and Me 

Q.2. Bodhisatta Ideal

Bodhisattva ideals

The bodhisattva ideal
The teachings of Buddhism are about your life, about being the person
you are. The practices of Buddhism are about being willing to be
intimate with yourself, with your idiosyncrasies. So when we talk about
compassion and the ideal of the bodhisattva, we are talking about how we
as ordinary people—with this body, this mind, this life, these
problems—can find generosity, effort, and wisdom right here and now. We
realize that they are always available.

Bodhisattvas are beings who are dedicated to the universal
awakening, or enlightenment, of everyone. They exist as guides and
providers of relief to suffering beings. We will be learning about the
lives of some bodhisattvas who are well known in the Buddhist tradition.
They are models who exemplify lives dedicated to eradicating suffering
in the world. But as we go along, it is important to remember that as
soon as you are struck with the urge or intention to take on such a
bodhisattva practice, you are included in the ranks of the bodhisattvas.
Bodhisattvas can be awesome in their power, radiance, and wisdom, and
they can be as ordinary as your next-door neighbor. Bodhisattvas appear
wherever they can be most helpful.

A buddha, or awakened one, is a being who has fully realized
liberation from the suffering of delusions and conditioning. This
awakening is realized through deep experiential awareness of the
undefiled nature of all beings and all phenomena, which are seen to be
essentially pristine and clear. Buddhas see that everything is all
right, just as it is. This insight in some sense liberates all beings,
who may not yet realize this truth of openness and freedom themselves
because of their own confusion.

A bodhisattva is a being who carries out the work of the buddhas,
vowing not to personally settle into the salvation of final buddhahood
until she or he can assist all beings throughout the vast reaches of
time and space to fully be free. A bodhisattva is a buddha with her
sleeves rolled up.

On the bodhisattva path, we follow teachings about generosity,
patience, ethical conduct, meditative balance, and insight into what is
essential, so we can come to live in a way that benefits others. At the
same time, we learn compassion for ourselves and see that we are not
separate from the people we have imagined are estranged from us. Self
and other heal together.

The bodhisattva is the ideal of Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism,
the dominant branch of Buddhism in North Asia: Tibet, China, Mongolia,
Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, as well as Vietnam in Southeast Asia. This
tradition is now spreading and being adapted to Western cultures. The
word bodhisattva comes from the Sanskrit roots bodhi, meaning
“awakening” or “enlightenment,” and sattva, meaning “sentient being.”
Bodhisattvas are radiant beings who exist in innumerable forms,
functioning in helpful ways right in the middle of the busyness of the

Q.3. How did the Buddha explain the nature of Supremely Awakenewd One to asectic Upaka? What d you understand from His explanation? Write Clearly.

Q.4mFrom what has been saidso far about Budhahoodin Buddha’s own words. Is it possible to describe te Buddha as a god, an incarnation(avatara) or a prophet, Messaiahof a god? If so why?If not why not ? Explain.

Q.5 Dhammapada - Any One

Write the First Five Gathas from citta vaggain Pali, with word to word translation and explaining the meaning of each.


Explain the Dhp stanza no38 & 39with its background story and explain ?

Q. Explain the eight cases in Paligrammer withexamples (20 M)

Q. Explain the six Buddhist Councilsin detail (20 M)

Q. The reasonable attitude of taking refuge to the Triple Gems (20 M)


Q. Ways of sacrifice with reference of Kutadanta Sutta.

Q.One topic from Gihi Vinaya { Topic was given by Bhante Ji (20 M)

Pattern of doing this assignment

Name :

1. What is Abhidhamma Pitaka? (5M)
2. List and explainseven books of Abhidhamma(20 M)
3. What is Mind ? Defin2 Mind according to philosophy, scienceand Abhidhamma view (10 M)
4. Explain Lobha ( 5 M)
5.Expliain Dosa (5M)
6. Explain Moha (5M)
7. List and explain kamavacara akusala lobbamula,dosamula, mohamula cittas (10M )
8. List and explain kamavacara ahetuka akusala vipaka cittas (10 M)
9. List and explain kamavacara ahetuka kusala vipaka cittas (10 M)
10. List and explain kamavacara sobnakusala citta (10M)
11. List and explain kamavacara sobana vipaka citta (10 M)
13. List and explain kamavacara sobana kiria citta (10M)
14. List and explain Rupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
15. List and explain Rupavacara vipaka citta (10 M)
List and explain Rupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
16. List and explain Rupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
17. List and explain Arupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
List and explain Rupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
18. List and explain Arupavacara vipaka citta (10 M)
19. List and explain Arupavacara kiria citta (10 M)
20. List and explain Lokutara  magga citta (10 M)
21. List and explain Lokutara  phala citta (10 M)
22. What is Jhana ? List and explain Jhana factors and nivaranaas (10 M)
List and explain Arupavacara kusala citta (10 M)
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LESSON 2834 Dec 11 Tue 2018 PRACTICE BUDDHA VACANA for PEACE (PBVP) Do Good Be Mindful People all over the world may practice Buddha Vacana the words of the Buddha from Tipitaka for Bahujan Hitaya Bahujan Sukhaya i.e., for the welfare, happiness and peace for all societies and to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal. After Visiting Bangkok Buddha’s Relics was handed over to Venerable Ananda Bhante Ji by Venerable Sukadananda who lead the team consisting Upasakas Kumar, Hanumanthraya, Ramesh Babu and Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan. On Tuesday the 11th December 2018 It was received by Monks 12.55 AM at Bangalore Airport in a grand manner and proceeded to Maha Bodhi Society. Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center, This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma nad Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your assignment at the earliest. Thank you. - Buddha Datta Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action:
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka, ಅಭಿಧಮ್ಮಪಿಟಕ, ವಿನಯಪಿಟಕ, ತಿಪಿಟಕ (ಮೂಲ)
Posted by: site admin @ 12:44 am
LESSON 2834 Dec 11 Tue 2018


Do Good Be Mindful People all over the world may practice Buddha Vacana
the words of the Buddha from Tipitaka for Bahujan Hitaya Bahujan
Sukhaya i.e., for the welfare, happiness and peace for all societies and
to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal.

After Visiting Bangkok Buddha’s Relics was handed over to Venerable
Ananda Bhante Ji by Venerable Sukadananda who lead the team consisting
Upasakas Kumar, Hanumanthraya, Ramesh Babu and Jagatheesan
Chandrasekharan. On Tuesday the 11th December 2018 It was received by
Monks 12.55 AM at Bangalore Airport in a grand manner and proceeded to
Maha Bodhi Society.

Dear Students of Mahabodhi Research Center,
This is to inform that the last date of submission of Diploma nad
Certificate Assignment on 15-12-18. You are requested to submit your
assignment at the earliest. Thank you.
- Buddha Datta
Most Venerable Buddha Datta Ji
Following Assignment is submitted for your kind favorable action:

Long Discourses of the Buddha ( Digha Nikaya) Walshe. Pdf

Digha Nikaya : DN 03 - Ven. Dhammavuddho Mahathera

喬達摩佛寺Vihara Buddha Gotama
Published on May 14, 2012
DN 03- Ambattha: About Ambattha
Pride Humbled

Day 3: 18-07-2011

Venue: Vihara Buddha Gotama, Temoh
People & Blogs
DN 03- Ambattha: About Ambattha Pride Humbled Day 3: 18-07-2011 Venue: Vihara Buddha Gotama, Temoh…
of the
A Translation of the
Digha Nikaya
Maurice Walshe
of the
of the
Digha Nikaya
Maurice Walshe
(1911–98) was born
in London and studied
German at the universities of
London, Berlin, Vienna, and
Freiburg. Following his retire-
ment as a professor of
German languages and litera-
ture in 1979, he became
deputy director of the
Institute of Germanic Studies, London. An active
Buddhist and Pali scholar since 1951, he was vice presi-
dent of the Buddhist Society and an early chair of the
English Sangha Trust, helping to found the monasteries
of Cittaviveka and Amaravati in Great Britain. In addi-
tion to translating the present book, first published in
1987 under the title
Thus Have I Heard
, and writing
numerous articles on Buddhism, he also wrote
for Today
M edieval German Literature
Introduction to theScandanavian Languages
and translated the complete works of the thirteenth-
century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart (1979–87).
, a nonprofit publisher, is dedicated to
making available authentic Buddhist works for the benefit of all.
We publish translations of the sutras and tantras, commentaries
and teachings of past and contemporary Buddhist masters, and
original works by the world’s leading Buddhist scholars. We
publish our titles with the appreciation of Buddhism as a living
philosophy and with the special commitment to preserve and
transmit important works from all the major Buddhist traditions.
a complete translation of
Dıgha Nik›ya
, the long discourses of the
Buddha, one of the major collections of texts
in the Pali Canon, the authorized scriptures of
Therav›da Buddhism. This collection—
among the oldest records of the historical
Buddha’s original teachings, given in India two
and a half thousand years ago—consists of
thirty-four longer-length
, or discourses,
distinguished as such from the middle-length
and shorter suttas of the other collections.
These suttas reveal the gentleness, compassion,
power, and penetrating wisdom of the
Buddha. Included are teachings on mindful-
ness (
M ah›satipa ̨ ̨h›na Sutta
); on morality,
concentration, and wisdom (
Subha Sutta
); on
dependent origination (
M ah›nidr›na Sutta
on the roots and causes of wrong views
Brahmaj›la Sutta
); and a long description of
the Buddha’s last days and passing away
M ah›parinibb›na Sutta
); along with a wealth
of practical advice and insight for all those
travelling along the spiritual path.
Venerable Sumedho Thera writes in his fore-
word: “[These suttas] are not meant to be
‘sacred scriptures’ that tell us what to believe.
One should read them, listen to them, think
about them, contemplate them, and investi-
gate the present reality, the present experience,
with them. Then, and only then, can one
insightfully know the truth beyond words.”
Introduced with a vivid account of the
Buddha’s life and times and a short survey of
his teachings,
The Long Discourses of the
brings us closer in every way to the
wise and compassionate presence of Gotama
Buddha and his path of truth.
ISBN 978-0-86171-103-1 US$45.00
Long Discourses Jacket Wisdom_Long Dis Cover to press 8/7/13 2:22 PM Page 1

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of the


A Translation of the


Digha Nikaya


Maurice Walshe


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A Translation ofthe

Digha Nikaya


Translated from the Pali
Maurice Walshe


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© Maurice Walshe, 1987, 1995, 2012

ISBN 978-0-86171-103-1
eBook ISBN 978-0-86171-979-2
17 16 15 14 13
13 12 11 10 9

Printed in the United States of America.

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To the Sangha
East and West

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List of Illustrations
1 1
Preface 13
TechnicalNotes 15
Introduction 19
SummaryoftheThirty-FourSuttas 55


  1. 1  Brahmajiila Sutta: The Supreme Net

    What the Teaching Is Not 67

  2. 2  Siimaiiiiaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Homeless

    Life 91

  3. 3  Ambattha Sutta: About Ambattha

    Pride Humbled 111

  4. 4  So1Jada1J4a Sutta: A b o u t Sm).adaiJ.<;ia

    The Qualities of a True Brahmin 125

  5. 5  Kutadanta Sutta: About Kutadanta

    A Bloodless Sacrifice 133

  6. 6  Mahiili Sutta: About Mahali

    Heavenly Sights, Soul and Body 143

  7. 7  Jiiliya Sutta: AboutJaliya 149

  8. 8  Mahiislhaniida Sutta: The Great Lion’s Roar 151

  9. 9  Pofthapiida Sutta: About Potthapada

States of Consciousness 159

  1. 10  Subha Sutta: About Subha

    Morality, Concentration, Wisdom

  2. 11  Kevaddha Sutta: About Kevaddha

    What Brahma Didn’t Know 175


1 7 1

1 0

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division three: the pāṭika division

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Index 627

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List of Illustrations

Map of India at the time of the Buddha, drawn by C.R. Shaw,
Totnes, Devon, 1986. 6
The road
between Rajagaha and Nalanda, drawn by Pang
Chinasai, London, 1986. 66

Statue of Buddha Sakyamuni, Burma, 18th century. By courtesy
of the trustees of the Victoria
and Albert Museum (I.M. 65-
1912). 110
Flying monk, from a Thai
paper folding-book, about mid-19th
century. By permission of the British Library (OR 13703
ho). 150

The past Buddhas, drawn by Pang Chinasai, London,
1986. 198
Monk in meditation, from a Thai paper folding-book, about
mid-19th century. By permission of the British Library (OR 13703
f45). 222

Statue of Buddha Sakyamuni, Burma, possibly 17th century. By
courtesy of the trustees of
the Victoria and Albert Museum (I.S.
21 & A.-1970). 278
Deva, from a Thai
paper folding-book with coloured paintings,
1830-40. By permission of the British Library (ADD 15347
f48). 314

The Charlatan, drawn by Pang Chinasai, London, 1987. 370
Statue of Sariputta, Burma,
about 1850. By courtesy of the
trustees of the Victoria
and Albert Museum (I.S. 11 (22)-
1969). 416

The Four Great Kings, from Buddhist Cosmology, Thonburi
Version, 1982. Fine Art Department of Bangkok, Thailand.

Monk, from a Thai
paper folding-book, about mid-19th century.
By permission of the British Library (OR 13703 h7). 524
Monk preaching to laity, from a Thai manuscript, 1868. By
permission of the British Library (OR 6630 f71). 626


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It is with much pleasure that I write this brief foreword to Mr
Walshe’s translation of the
D!gha Nikiiya. The translator is a
devout Buddhist whose Pali scholarship is backed up by per-
sonal practice of meditation. His translation work is therefore a
most important contribution to the study of Buddhism.

Mr Walshe has been active in the Buddhist world of Great
Britain for many years. Long before I came to Britain, his name
was known to me through his essays in ‘The Wheel’ series of
the Buddhist Publication Society of Sri Lanka. In 1977 my
venerable teacher, Tan Ajahn Chah Subhatto and I arrived in
London at the invitation of the English Sangha Trust of which
Mr Walshe was one of the Trustees. This Trust had been
established in 1956 in order to bring about a Western Sangha in
Britain, and towards this end, Mr Walshe has consistently
worked for nearly thirty years. At one time he combined this
with the post of Vice-President of the Buddhist Society of Great
Britain, his career at the Institute of Germanic Studies in
London University (of which his translations of the sermons of
Meister Eckhart are a testimonial), as well as studying Pali in
his spare time.

Even though Pali scholars have produced quite accurate
literal translations of the Pali Canon, one often feels the lack of
profound insight into these remarkable scriptures. The Suttas
need to be studied, reflected on, and practised in order to
realise their true meaning. They are ‘Dhamma discourses’, or
contemplations on the ‘way things are’. They are not meant to
be ’sacred scriptures’ which tell us what to believe. One should
read them, listen to them, think about them, contemplate them,
and investigate the present reality, the present experience with


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12 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

them. Then, and only then, can one insightfully know the Truth
beyond words.

In this new translation of the long discourses Mr Walshe has
kindly offered us another opportunity to read and reflect on the
Buddha’s teachings.

May all those who read them, benefit and develop in their
practice of the Dhamma.
May all beings be freed from all suffering.
May all beings be enlightened.

Great Gaddesden

January 1986

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The two main reasons for making this translation of some of
the oldest Buddhist scriptures are:
(1) The spread of Buddhism
as a serious way of life in the Western world, and of even more
widespread serious interest in
it as a subject worthy of close
study, and
(2) the fact that English is now effectively the world
language, the most widespread linguistic vehicle for all forms
of communication. True, the Pali scriptures have already been
translated in almost their entirety into English, mainly through
the devoted efforts of the Pali Text Society, which has now
entered into the second century of its activity. But existing
translations are now dated stylistically as well as containing
many errors and a modem version has therefore become

First, and foremost, the entire merit for this translation
belongs to the Venerable Balangoda Anandamaitreya Maha
Nayaka Thera, AggamahapaJ.!.9.ita (though he has, of course, no
need of such
puiifia) for having convinced me that I could, and
therefore of course should, undertake this task. To me there
remains merely the demerit of its many imperfections. Work-
ing on it has provided me with much joy, solace and

My particular thanks for help and encouragement are due,
besides the illustrious and (in all senses) venerable gentleman
just mentioned, to the Yen. Dr H. Saddhatissa, a friend of many
years’ standing from whom I have learnt so much, the Yen.
Nyal).aponika who inspired an earlier, more modest venture in
translation, the Yen. Dr W. Rahula who guided my early,
faltering steps in Pali, as well as the Yen. P. Vipassi and Messrs
K.R. Norman and L.S. Cousins, whose collective brains I have


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14 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

picked on knotty points. It is fitting also to pay tribute here to
the Yen. Achaan Cha (Bodhiilal}a Thera) and his illustrious
pupil Achaan Sumedho, whose efforts in establishing a
flourishing branch of the Sangha in Britain have made such
translation work all the more necessary; and - others please
note! - much remains to be done in this field.

My principles of translation are briefly discussed in the
Introduction. I am aware of a few trifling inconsistencies as
well as a few repetitions in the notes. The former will, I think,
cause no inconvenience: they were hard to avoid altogether in
this, quite possibly the last, translation these scriptures will
receive without benefit of electronic gadgetry. And as for the
repetitions, these can perhaps be overlooked in connection
with a text which is itself so repetitious.

My sincere thanks are due to Wisdom Publications for pro-
ducing this book so splendidly, and to the Buddhist Society of
Great Britain for a generous donation towards costs.

St Albans

January 1986

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This translation is a ’substantive’ translation because it is
complete as to substance. Nothing has been omitted except the
more wearisome of the very numerous repetitions which are
such a striking feature of the original.

The Pali scriptures here translated are from the ‘Triple
(Tipitaka), a collection of the Buddha’s teachings regard-
ed as canonical by the Theravada school of Buddhism, which is
found today in Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand, and was until
recently equally strong in Laos and Cambodia. It is now also
well established in Britain and other Western countries. The
claim of this school is to have preserved the original teaching of
the Buddha, and there are good grounds for at least considering
that the doctrine as found in the Pali scriptures comes as close
as we can get to what the Buddha actually taught. In any case
the Pali
Tipitaka is the only canon of an early school that is
preserved complete.
It is not, however, in the true spirit of
Buddhism to adopt a ‘fundamentalist’ attitude towards the
scriptures, and it is thus open to the reader, Buddhist as well as
non-Buddhist, to regard the texts here translated with an open
and critical mind.


Siddhattha Gotama (in Sanskrit, Siddhartha Gautama), who
became the Buddha, the Enlightened One, may have lived from
about 563-483 B.C., through many modern scholars suggest a later
dating.l Oriental traditions offer a number of alternative datings,
that favoured in Sri Lanka and south-east Asia being 623-543.

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20 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

was on this basis that the 250oth anniversary of his passing into
final Nibbana was celebrated, as
Buddha Jayanti, in the East in
1956-57. He belonged to the Sakya clan dwelling on the edge of
the Himalayas, his actual birthplace being a few miles north of
the present-day Indian border, in Nepal. His father, Sud-
dhodana, was in fact an elected chief of the clan rather than the
king he was later made out to be, though his title was
term which only partly corresponds to our word ‘king’. Some of
the states of North India at that time were kingdoms and others
republics, and the Sakyan republic was subject to the powerful
king of neighbouring Kosala, which lay to the south.

Disentangling the probable facts from the mass of legend
surrounding Gotama’s life, we may assume the following to be
approximately correct. Though brought up to a life of luxury,
the young prince was overcome by a sense of the essentially
sorrowful aspect of life, and he decided to seek the cause and
cure of this state which he termed
dukkha (conventionally but
inadequately rendered ’suffering’ in English). At the age of
twenty-nine he renounced the world, going forth ‘from the
household life into homelessness’ in accordance with an al-
ready well-established tradition, thus joining the ranks of the
wandering ascetics
(sama1Jas: seep. 22). He went successively to
two teachers, .Nara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, who
taught him how to attain to high meditative states. Realising,
however, that even the attainment of these states did not solve
his problem, Gotama went off on his own and practised severe
austerities for six years, gathering a little group of five ascetics
around him. However, finding that even the most extreme
forms of asceticism likewise did not lead to the goal, he
abandoned these excesses, and sat down at the foot of a tree by
the river Neranjara, at the place now known as Bodh Gaya,
determined not to arise from the spot until enlightenment
should dawn. During that night he passed beyond the medi-
tative stages he had previously reached, and attained to com-
plete liberation as the Buddha-the Enlightened or Awakened
One. He spent the remaining forty-five years of his life wan-
dering up and down the Ganges Valley, expounding the doc-
trine that he had found and establishing the Sangha or Order of
Buddhist monks and nuns, which still exists today.

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Introduction 2 1


‘Ascetics and Brahmins’

India in the Buddha’s day did not yet suffer from the grinding
poverty of the present time. The modem caste system had not
fully developed, but we find its germ in the division of society
into four groups or ‘colours’ (Pali
varJrJii). The designation
betrays the origin of the distinction, being based on the con-
quest of northern India in about t6oo B.C. by the comparatively
light-skinned Aryans, who looked down on those of darker
hue they found there. In the context of Buddhism, where this
racial and aristocratic term (literally ‘noble’) is applied to the
nobility of the spirit, we shall use the form Ariyan, based on

The Brahmins were the guardians of the religious cult
brought into India by the Aryans. In later, non-Buddhist
sources we always hear of the Brahmins as taking the leading
place in society. Buddhist sources, however (Sutta 3, for exam-
ple), assert the supremacy of the Khattiyas (Skt.
the Noble or Warrior class to which Gotama belonged. It
appears that while further west the Brahmins had already
established their supremacy, this was not yet the case in the
Ganges valley. In the third place came the Vessas (Skt.
or merchants, and finally the Suddas (Skt. sudra) or workers.
Below these there were certainly some slaves (we even hear of a
Sudda having a slave), and some unfortunates of the class who
w~re later to become known as ‘untouchables’. But in addition
to these groupings, there were considerable numbers of
people, including at least a few women, who had opted out of
conventional society.

In the texts we frequently meet with the compound samarJa-
which we render ‘ascetics and Brahmins’. While the
Pali Text Society dictionary correctly states that this compound
expression denotes quite generally ‘leaders in religious life’, it
is also true that the two groups were usually rivals.

The religious situation in northern India around 500 B.C. is
very interesting, and was undoubtedly exceptionally favour-
able to the development of the Buddhist and other faiths.

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wanderer who had indeed ‘abandoned the world’ to lead a more

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Introduction 23

whose only austerity probably consisted in their detachment
from family ties and, in theory at least, their observance of
chastity. Many of the bizarre and often revolting practices of the
first group are detailed
in Sutta 8, verse 14. As pointed out in a
note to that Sutta, the practice of extreme austerity
should not be called ‘penance’ because the motivation is entire-
ly different from that of a Christian penitent, to whom such
people might be superficially compared. The word
tapas, which
basically means ‘heat’, is used both for the austere practices
in and for the result they are intended to achieve,
which is power, that is, the development of various paranormal
powers. The belief was that these could be achieved by means
of such practices and, in particular, by sexual restraint. Thus, so
far from practising austerity like the Christian penitent, to atone
for past sins, they undertook these practices
in the hope of
future powers, including, perhaps, those very joys that had
been temporarily renounced.

The wanderers (paribbiijakas), some of whom were Brahmins,
wore clothes (unlike many of the others, who went completely
naked), and they led a less uncomfortable life. They were
‘philosophers’ who propounded many different theories about
the world and nature, and delighted in disputation. The Pali
Canon introduces us to six well-known teachers of the time, all
of whom were older than Gotama. They are Purat:ta Kassapa, an
amoralist, Makkhali Gosrua, a determinist, Ajita Kesakambali, a
materialist, Pakudha Kaccayana, a categorialist, the Nigat:ttha
Nataputta (the Jain leader known to us as Mahavira), who was a
relativist and eclectic, and Saitjaya Belatthaputta, an agnostic
sceptic or positivist (I borrow most of the descriptive epithets
from Jayatilleke). Their different views are quoted by King
Ajatasattu in Sutta 2, verses 16-32.

Besides these there were the propounders of the originally
secret teaching incorporated in the Upani1?ads which came to be
grafted on to orthodox Brahmanism, and whose doctrines were
later to form the core of the Vedanta system. For them, the
impersonal Brahman is the supreme reality, and the goal of the
teaching is the realisation that the individual human soul or self
(iitman) is ultimately identical with the universal Self (.Atman),
which is another term for Brahman (the capitalisation here is

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24 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

merely for clarity: the teaching was at first and for long oral, and
even when written down in an Oriental alphabet, such a
distinction could not be made, since capital letters do not exist
in any Eastern script). These
aupani$adas are not mentioned in
the Pali Canon, though it is almost (but not, perhaps, quite)
certain that Gotama was acquainted with their teachings.

It has been urged that ‘at depth there is no contradiction
between the greatest insights of the
Upani~ads and the Bud-
teaching’- a view that would be contested by many. We
shall return very briefly to this point later (page 31). Suffice it to
say here that any theory that the Buddha taught a doctrine of a
supreme Self can only be said to fly in the face of the evidence.
Nor is it true, as is sometimes said, that in ancient India every-
body believed in karma (the law of moral cause and effect) and
rebirth, or indeed in anything else. There were, as we have
seen, materialists, sceptics and equivocators, and all sorts of
fantastic theorists. Neither can we accept the statement that the
Buddha was ‘a Hindu who sought to reform the ancient reli-
gion’. Apart from the anachronistic use of the term ‘Hindu’, this
is wrong because he rejected the claims of the Brahmins as
religious authorities and, while not totally denying the exist-
ence of their gods, assigned to these a fundamentally unimpor-
tant role in the scheme of things. In so far as he belonged to any
existing tradition, it was that of the, and like them he
taught as he saw fit. As a teacher he was not beholden to
anyone: he agreed or disagreed with tradition or the views of
others entirely in accordance with his sovereign perception of
the truth.
It is, however, correct to say that the situation in India
in his time was particularly favourable to the spread of his
teaching, while the Teacher’s long life enabled this to become
firmly established in his lifetime and under his direction.


The main points of the Buddha’s teaching need only be briefly
summarised here. In his first sermon (Samyutta Nikaya 56.11)
the Buddha taught that there were two extremes to be avoided:
over-indulgence in sensuality on the one hand, and self-torture

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Introduction 25

on the other. He had had personal experience of both. Buddh-
ism is thus the middle way between these extremes, and also
between some other pairs of opposites, such as etemalism and
annihilationism (see Sutta 1, verse 1.3off. and verse 3.9ff.).

The Four Noble Truths

The most succinct formulation of the teaching is in the form of
the Four Noble Truths:
1. Suffering (dukkha);
2. The Origin of Suffering (dukkha-samudaya), which is craving

3· The Cessation of Suffering (dukkha-nirodha);
4· The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering (dukkha-

nirodha-giiminz-patipadii), which is the Noble Eightfold Path
(ariya-atthangika-magga). This consists of:

(1) Right View (sammii-ditfhi) (N.B. singular, not Right Views!)
(2) Right Thought
(3) Right Speech (sammii-viicii)
(4) Right Action (sammii-kammanta)

(5) Right Livelihood (sammii-iijzva)
(6) Right Effort (sammii-viiyiima)
(7) Right Mindfulness (sammii-sati)
(8) Right Concentration (sammii-samiidhi).

For a full account of these, see Sutta 22, verses 18-22.
The eight steps can be subsumed under the three heads of
Morality (sua) (steps 3-5), II. Concentration (samiidhi) (steps
6-8), and III. Wisdom
(paiiiiii) (steps 1-2). It will be noticed
that in this arrangement the order is different. This is because,
while some preliminary wisdom is needed to start on the path,
the final flowering of the higher wisdom follows after develop-

ment of morality and concentration (cf. Sutta 33, verse 3.3(6)).
Stages on the Path

Progress on the path leading to the cessation of suffering, and
hence to Nibbana, is described in many places, notably in Sutta
2, in a long passage which is repeated verbatim in the following
2 The most fundamental meditative exercise is set forth

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26 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

in Sutta 22. The breakthrough to the transcendental is achie-
ved in four stages, each of which is subdivided into two: path
(magga) and fruition (phala). By attaining the first of these
stages one ceases to be a mere ‘worldling’
(puthujjana) and be-
comes a noble person
(ariya-puggala). The stages or ‘path-
moments’ are designated in terms of the successive breaking of
ten fetters. Standard descriptions of these stages are given at
many places.

At the first stage, one ‘enters the Stream’ and thus becomes a
(sotiipanna) by an experience also referred to
(for example, in Sutta
2, verse 102) as the ‘opening of the
Dhamma-eye’. The first path-moment is immediately followed
by the fruition
(phala), and likewise with the other three paths.
At First Path, one is said to have ‘glimpsed Nibbiina’
Visuddhimagga 22.126), and thereby three of the five lower
fetters are discarded for ever:
1. personality-belief (sakkiiya-
that is, belief in a self; 2. doubt (vicikicchii) and
attachment to rites and rituals (sllabbata-pariimiisa). In other
words, having had a glimpse of reality and perceived the falsity
of the self-belief, one is unshakeable and no more dependent
on external aids. One who has gained this state can, it is said,
no longer be born in ’states of woe’ and is assured of attaining
Nibbiina after, at the most, seven more lives.

At the second stage, one becomes a Once-Returner (sakadiigii-
in whom the fourth and fifth lower fetters are greatly
weakened: 4· sensual desire
(kiima-riiga) and 5· ill-will (vyiipii-
Such a person will attain to Nibbiina after at most one
further human rebirth.
It is interesting to note that sensuality
and ill-will are so powerful that they persist, in however
attenuated a form, for so long.

At the third stage, one becomes a Non-Returner (aniigiiml), in
whom the fourth and fifth fetters are completely destroyed. In
such a person all attachments to this world have ceased, and at
death one will be reborn in a higher world, in one of the Pure
Abodes (see
Cosmology p. 42), and will attain Nibbiina from
there without returning to this world. It may be mentioned that
in Samyutta Nikiiya
22.89 the Venerable Khemaka actually
gives some account of what it feels like to be a Non-Returner.

Finally, at the fourth stage, one becomes an Arahant (Sanskrit

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Introduction 27

Arhat, literally ‘worthy one’), by the destruction of the five
higher fetters:
6. craving for existence in the Form World
(riipa-riiga), craving for existence in the Formless World
(ariipa-riiga) (seep. 42 for more about these), 8. conceit (miina),
(uddhacca), 1 0 . ignorance (avijjii). For such a one, the
task has been completed, and that person will attain final
Nibbana ‘without remainder’ at death.

It should perhaps be added that there are two different ideas
that are widely circulated in the East. One is that in this
degenerate age it is not possible to become an Arahant. The
other, less pessimistic view is that while lay persons can attain
to the first three paths, only monks can become Arahants. There
is no scriptural authority for either idea.
It should also be
mentioned that the Arahant ideal is one that is perfectly valid
for all schools of Buddhism. Likewise, the concept of the
Bodhisattva, who renounces the enjoyment of Nirval)a in order
to bring all beings to enlightenment, which is considered the
hallmark of the Mahayana schools as opposed to the Hinayana,
in fact exists in Theravada Buddhism as well. The difference of
schools is one of emphasis, and does not constitute the un-
bridgeable gap imagined by some, chiefly in the West. But it
cannot be our task to enter further into these matters here.

Nibbiina or Nirvii7J.a

The Sanskrit form is better known in the West than the Pali
Nibbiina. There are, not surprisingly, many misapprehensions
about this. In fact it has been said by one witty scholar that all
we have to go on is our misconception of Nirval)a, because
until we have realised it we cannot know it as it really is. But if
we cannot say much about what it is, we can at least say
something about what it is
not. Robert Caesar Childers, in his
famous and still useful Pali dictionary (1875), devoted a whole
long article, in fact a short treatise, to proving to his own
satisfaction that Nibbana implies total extinction, and this
view, though certainly erroneous, is still to be met with among
some Western scholars. And yet,
it would be odd indeed if
Buddhists were supposed to have to tread the entire path right
up to the attainment of Arahantship merely in order to finish

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28 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

up with that total obliteration which the materialists, and many
ordinary people today, assume to occur for all of us, good, bad
and indifferent, at the end of our present life.
It is true, some
colour is given to this idea by the etymology of the term
(nir +
Vvii = ‘blowing out’ as of a lamp). Contrasted with this,
however, we find other very different descriptions of Nibbana.
Thus in Sutta
1.3.20 it is used for ‘the highest happiness’,
defined as the indulgence in the pleasures of the five senses -
obviously a non-Buddhist use of the word, though it is not
otherwise attested in pre-Buddhist sources. We thus find two
apparently contradictory meanings of Nibbana:
1. ‘extinction’,
2. ‘highest bliss’. And while these were wrongly used in the
examples quoted, they both occur in authentic texts.

In considering this problem, it is as well to note the words of
the Venerable Nyar:tatiloka in his
Buddhist Dictionary:

One cannot too often and too emphatically stress the
fact that not only for the actual realization of the goal
of Nibbana, but also for a theoretical understanding
of it, it is an indispensable preliminary condition to
grasp fully the truth of Anatta, the egolessness and
insubstantiality of all forms of existence. Without
such an understanding, one will necessarily miscon-
ceive Nibbana - according to one’s either mater-
ialistic or metaphysical leanings - either as anni-
hilation of an ego, or as an eternal state of existence
into which an Ego or Self enters or with which it

What this in effect means is that in order to ‘understand’
Nibbana one should have ‘entered the Stream’ or gained First
Path, and thus have got rid of the fetter of personality-belief.
While scholars will continue to see it as part of their task to try
to understand what the Buddha meant by Nibbana, they
should perhaps have sufficient humility to realise that this is
something beyond the range of purely scholarly discussion. In
the systematisation of the Abhidhamma (seep. 52), Nibbana is
simply included as the ‘unconditioned element’
but with no attempt at definition. Nibbana is indeed the

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Introduction 29

extinction of the ‘three fires’ of greed, hatred and delusion, or
the destruction of the ‘corruptions’
(iisavii) of sense-desire,
becoming, wrong view and ignorance. Since the individual
’self entity is not ultimately real, it cannot be said to be
annihilated in Nibbana, but the
illusion of such a self is des-

Very oddly, in the Pali-English Dictionary, it is said that
Nibbana is ‘purely and simply an ethical state
It is therefore
not transcendental.’ In fact it is precisely the one and only
transcendental element in Buddhism, for which very reason no
attempt is made to define it in terms of a personal god, a higher
self, or the like.
It is ineffable. It can, however, be realised, and
its realisation is the aim of the Buddhist practice. While no
description is possible, positive references to Nibbana are not
lacking: thus at Dhammapada
2 0 4 and elsewhere it is called ‘the
highest bliss’
(paramam sukham), and we may conclude this
brief account with the famous quotation from Udana 8.3:

There is, monks, an Unborn, Unbecome, Unmade,
U n c o m p o u n d e d
(ajiitam abhiitam akatam asankha-
If there were not this Unborn , then there
would be no deliverance here visible from that
which is born, become, made, compounded. But
since there
is this Unborn, Unbecome, Unmade, Un-
compounded, therefore a deliverance is visible from
that which is born, become, made, compounded.

This is, at the same time, perhaps the best answer we can give
concerning the
Upani~?adic Atman. Buddhism teaches no such
thing-nevertheless the above quotation could certainly be
applied to the
Atman as understood in Vedanta, or indeed to the
Christian conception of God. However, to the followers of those
faiths it would be an insufficient description, and the additions
they would make would for the most part be unacceptable to
It can, however, be suggested that this statement
represents the fundamental basis of all religions worthy of the
name, as well as providing a criterion to distinguish true
religion from such surrogates as Marxism, humanism and the

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30 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

The Three Marks (tilakkharya)

The formula of the three marks (also referred to as ’signs of
being’, ’signata’, etc.) is found in many places (in expanded,
versified form Dhammapada 277
-9). It runs:

1. ‘All sankhiiras4 (compounded things) are impermanent’: Sab-
be sankhiirii aniccii

2. ‘All sankhiiras are unsatisfactory’: Sabbe sankhiirii dukkhii
3· ‘All dhammas (all things including the unconditioned) are

without self’: Sabbe dhammii anattii

The first and second of these marks apply to all mundane
things, everything that ‘exists’
(sankhiira in its widest sense).
The third refers in addition to the unconditioned element
(a-sankhata, that is, not a sankhiira, thus Nibbana). This does not
‘exist’ (relatively), but IS.

Thus, nothing lasts for ever, all things being subject to change
and disappearance. Nothing is completely satisfactory:
conventionally rendered ’suffering’, has the wide meaning of
not satisfying, frustrating, painful in whatever degree. Even
pleasant things come to an end or cease to attract, and the
painful aspect of life is too well-known and ubiquitous to need

The first two marks can perhaps be appreciated without too
much effort, even though their profound penetration is more
It is the third mark that has provoked much con-
troversy and misunderstanding.

An-attii (Skt. an-iitman) is the negative of attii/iitman ’self’. So
much is clear. In ordinary usage
attii is a pronoun used for all
persons and genders, singular and plural, meaning ‘myself’,
‘herself’, ‘ourselves’, ‘themselves’, etc.
It has no metaphysical
implications whatsoever. This, then, is the self of daily life,
which has a purely relative and conventional reality if only
because it is an almost indispensable expression in everyday
speech. As a noun,
attii to the Buddhist means an imaginary
entity, a so-called ’self’, which is not really there. The five
khandhas or aggregates, the various parts that make up our
empirical personality (see Sutta
22, verse 14), do not constitute
a self, either individually or collectively. Our so-called ’self’,

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Introduction 31

then, is something bogus. It is, however, a concept that we cling
to with great tenacity. See further, p.

It was said earlier that any theory that the Buddha taught
such a doctrine as the
Upani~adic Higher Self can only be said
to fly in the face of the evidence. This is borne out by the third
mark: all
dhammas are without self. The term dhamma here
includes Nibbana, the Buddhist ultimate. Thus this is expressly
stated not to be any kind of ‘Higher Self’. There are those who
believe that what the Buddha taught and what the
taught must agree. Be that as it may at some deeper level, the
expression is certainly different.
It is arguable that the Buddha
considered the term ’self’, which to him was something evanes-
cent, to be ludicrously inappropriate to the supreme reality,
whatever its nature. To pursue such arguments as this any
further is surely fruitless.

Levels of Truth

An important and often overlooked aspect of the Buddhist
teaching concerns the levels of truth, failure to appreciate which
has led to many errors (seen.
220). Very often the Buddha talks
in the Suttas in terms of conventional or relative truth
or vohiira-sacca), according to which people and things exist
just as they appear to the naive understanding. Elsewhere,
however, when addressing an audience capable of appreciating
his meaning, he speaks in terms of ultimate truth
according to which ‘existence is a mere process of
physical and mental phenomena within which, or beyond
which, no real ego-entity nor any abiding substance can ever be
(Buddhist Dictionary under Paramattha). In the
Abhidhamma, the entire exposition is in terms of ultimate
It may also be observed that many ‘Zen paradoxes’ and
the like really owe their puzzling character to their being put in
terms of ultimate, not of relative truth. The full understanding
of ultimate truth can, of course, only be gained by profound
insight, but it is possible to become increasingly aware of the
distinction. There would seem in fact to be a close parallel in
modem times in the difference between our naive world-view
and that of the physicist, both points of view having their use

Acquired at

32 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

in their own sphere. Thus, conventionally speaking, or accord-
ing to the naive world-view, there are solid objects such as
tables and chairs, whereas according to physics the alleged
solidity is seen to be an illusion, and whatever might tum out to
be the ultimate nature of matter, it is certainly something very
different from that which presents itself to our senses. Howev-
er, when the physicist is off duty, he or she makes use of solid
tables and chairs just like everyone else.

In the same way, all such expressions as T, ’self’ and so on
are always in accordance with conventional truth, and the
Buddha never hesitated to use the word
attii ’self’ (and also with
plural meaning: ‘yourselves’, etc.)
5 in its conventional and
convenient sense. In fact, despite all that has been urged to the
contrary, there is not the slightest evidence that he ever used it
in any other sense except when critically quoting the views of
others, as should clearly emerge from several of the Suttas here

In point of fact, it should be stressed that conventional truth
is sometimes extremely important. The whole doctrine of karma
and rebirth has its validity only in the realm of conventional
truth. That is why, by liberating ourselves from the viewpoint
of conventional truth we cease to be subject to karmic law.
Objections to the idea of rebirth in Buddhism, too, are some-
times based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the two
truths. As long as we are unenlightened ‘worldlings’, our minds
habitually operate in terms of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, even
if in theory
we know better. It is not until this tendency has been complete-
ly eradicated that full enlightenment can dawn. At Samyutta
22.8~ the Venerable Khemaka, who is a Non-Returner,
explains how ‘the subtle remnant of the T-conceit, of the
T-desire, an unextirpated lurking tendency to think: ‘I am'’,
still persists even at that advanced stage.

Probably the best account of the Buddha’s attitude to truth is
given by Jayatilleke in
The Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge
(1963, 361ff.). It may be mentioned that for those who find this
work hard going, his second, posthumous book,
The Message of
the Buddha
(1975), makes for easier reading. Jayatilleke has been
attacked for equating the philosophy of Buddhism too closely

Acquired at

Introduction 33
with the modem school of logical positivism. In this connection

it is perhaps best to let him speak for himself:

The Buddha, again, was the earliest thinker in his-
tory to recognise the fact that language tends to
distort in certain respects the nature of reality and to
stress the importance of not being misled by linguis-
tic forms and conventions. In this respect, he fore-
shadowed the modem linguistic or analytical philo-
(The Message of the Buddha, 33).

It seems hard to find any fault with that. Jayatilleke goes on:

He was the first to distinguish meaningless ques-
tions and assertions from meaningful ones. As in
science he recognised perception and inference as
the twin sources of knowledge, but there was one
difference. For perception, according to Buddhism,
included extra-sensory forms as well, such as tele-
pathy and clairvoyance. Science cannot ignore such
phenomena and today there are Soviet as well as
Western scientists, who have admitted the validity
of extra-sensory perception in the light of ex-
perimental evidence.

Probably most readers will concede the possibility that the
Buddha knew a few things which modem science is only now
beginning to discover, or accept. We will leave it at that.


The Sanskrit form of this word, karma, is more familiar to
Westerners, but as its meaning in non-Buddhist contexts is not
necessarily always the same as in Buddhism, there is some
advantage in using the Pali form kamma here. The literal
meaning of the word is ‘action’, and at Anguttara Nikaya 6.63
the Buddha defines
it as volition (cetanii). It is therefore any
deliberate act, good or bad (in Pali
kusala ’skilful, wholesome’ or
akusala ‘unskilful, unwholesome’). A good act will normally
lead to pleasant results for the doer, and a bad act to unpleasant

Acquired at

34 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

ones. The correct Pali (and Sanskrit) word for such results is
vipiika (’ripening’), though karma/kamma tends in practice to
be used loosely for the results as well as the deeds that pro-
duced them - even sometimes by those who really know
better. But it is as well to be aware of the correct distinction.

The question is sometimes asked whether there is free-will
in Buddhism. The answer should be clear: each karmic act is
the exercise of a choice, good or bad. Thus though our actions
are limited by conditions, they are not totally determined.

In this computerised age, it may be helpful to some to think
of kamma as ‘programming’ our future. Thus the ‘karma-
(sankhiiras) mentioned below are the ‘programme’
which we have - through ignorance - made in past lives. The
aim of the practice, of course, is to get beyond all kamma. An
account of how to progress towards this aim is given in many
Suttas, and especially in the first division of the Oigha Nikaya.

The Twelve Links of the Chain of Dependent Origination

This famous formulation is found in many places in the Canon,
and is also represented visually in Tibetan
thangkas in the form
of a twelve-spoked wheel. The Pali term
paficca-samuppiida (Skt.
pratltya-samutpiida) is usually rendered ‘dependent origination’,
though Edward Conze preferred ‘conditioned co-production’.
has been much debated by Western scholars, some of whom
produced some strange theories on the subject. The usual
formulation is as follows:

1. Ignorance conditions the ‘Karma-formations’ (avijjii-
paccayii sankhiirii)

2. The Karma-formations condition Consciousness (sankhiira-
paccayii viiiiiiirJam)

3· Consciousness conditions Mind-and-Body (lit. ‘Name-and-
viiiiiiirJa-paccayii niima-riipam)

4· Mind-and-Body conditions the Six Sense-Bases (niima-
riipa-paccayii sa/iiyatanam)

5· The Six Sense-Bases condition Contact (sa!iiyatana-paccayii

6. Contact conditions Feeling (phassa-paccayii vedanii)
Feeling conditions Craving (vedanii-paccayii tarJhii)

Acquired at

Introduction 35

8. Craving conditions Clinging (tm:zhii-paccayii upiidiinam)

9· Clinging conditions Becoming (upiidiina-paccayii bhavo)
1 0 . Becoming conditions Birth (bhava-paccayii jiiti)
11. Birth conditions (12) Ageing-and-Death (jiiti-paccayii jarii-


This is best understood if taken in reverse order. In Sutta 15,
2 the Buddha says to Ananda: ‘If you are asked: “Has
ageing-and-death a condition for its existence?” you should
answer: “Yes.”
If asked: “What conditions ageing-and-death?”
you should answer: “Ageing-and-death is conditioned by
birth”‘, and so on. Thus,
if there were no birth, there could be
no ageing-and-death: birth is a necessary condition for their

According to the usual view, which is certainly correct but
p~rhaps not the only way of regarding the matter, the twelve
(nidiinas) are spread over three lives: 1 - 2 belonging to a
past life,
3-10 to this present life, and 11-12 to a future life.
Thus the development of our ‘karma-formations’ or behaviour
patterns is due to past ignorance (that is, the fact that ‘we’ are
not enlightened). These patterns condition the arising of a new
consciousness in the womb, on the basis of which a new
psycho-physical complex
(niima-rupa) comes into being, equip-
ped with the six sense-bases (of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting
and touching, with mind as the sixth sense). Contact of any of
these with a sense-object (sight, sound, etc.) produces feeling,
which may be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. On the basis of
pleasant feeling, desire or craving arises. The links from con-
sciousness to feeling are the results of past actions
whereas craving, clinging and/the process of becoming are
volitional (that is,
kamma), and will therefore have results for the
future. In fact they set in train the same process of (re)birth (due
to ignorance) that we witnessed before, and birth must inevit-
ably lead to death. This is the continuous process in which we,
as unenlightened beings, are caught up.

Curiously, in the Digha Nikaya we do not find the twelve
links. The steps from feeling to ageing-and-death are men-
tioned in Sutta 1, verse 3.71, while in the two main expositions
in this book, the process in reverse is traced back only to its

Acquired at

36 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

starting-point in this life, that is, to consciousness arid mind-
and-body, which are said to condition each other mutually.
Thus, in Sutta 14, we have a set of ten steps instead of the usual
twelve, while in Sutta 15, still more remarkably, the six sense-
bases are omitted, thus making a total of only nine links. In
other parts of the Canon there are occasional expansions
beyond the twelve links give here, but this is the standard
It seems that the repeaters (bhii1J-akii) of the Dlgha had a
tradition of their own to which they firmly adhered.

While we should certainly not make Ananda’s mistake (Sutta
15, verse
1) of thinking the whole thing easy to understand, we
can get some general grasp of
it, especially if we regard the links
in reverse order, which is the way the Buddha explained it to
Ananda. At least we shall find that it is not so arbitrary or
nonsensical as some Western scholars have supposed.


There are some people in the West who are attracted in many
ways to Buddhism, but who find the idea of rebirth a
stumbling-block, either because they find
it distasteful and/or
incredible in itself, or in some cases because they find it hard to
reconcile with the ‘non-self’ idea. Some such considerations as
any of these sometimes even lead people to declare that the
Buddha did not actually teach rebirth at all, or that
if he did so,
this was only for popular consumption, because his hearers
could not have accepted the truth. All such views are based on
various kinds of misunderstanding.

It should be noted, incidentally, that Buddhists prefer to
speak, not of reincarnation, but of rebirth. Reincarnation is the
doctrine that there is a transmigrating soul or spirit that passes
on from life to life. In the Buddhist view we may say, to begin
with, that that is merely what appears to happen, though in
reality no such soul or spirit passes on in this way. In Majjhima
Nikaya 38 the monk Sati was severely rebuked for declaring
that ‘this very consciousness’ transmigrates, whereas in reality
a new consciousness arises at rebirth
dependent on the old.
Nevertheless there is an illusion of continuity in much the same
way as there is within this life. Rebirth from life to life is in
principle scarcely different from the rebirth from moment to

Acquired at

Introduction 37

moment that goes on in this life. The point can be intellectually
grasped, with a greater or less degree of difficulty, but it is only
at the first path-moment, with the penetration of the spurious
nature of what we call self, that it is clearly understood without
a shadow of doubt remaining.

It cannot be the purpose of this book to argue in favour of a
belief in rebirth, but sceptics might do well to read
Rebirth as
Doctrine and Experience
by Francis Story (Buddhist Publication
Society 1975), which has an introduction by Ian Stevenson,
Carlson Professor of Psychiatry in the University of Virginia.
This book contains some case-histories from Thailand and
elsewhere which are difficult to explain except on the rebirth
hypothesis, and Prof. Stevenson, too, has published several
volumes of research-findings of a similar nature from various
parts of the world.
It may be that the excessive credulity which
characterised some previous ages has, in the present time,
given way to equally excessive scepticism.


If we even provisionally accept the idea of rebirth, this almost
necessarily requires acceptance of some kind of spirit-world or
worlds. In the Buddhist scriptures we find a scheme of post-
mortem worlds which, while having much in common with
general Indian ideas, is in many of its details unique. Here,
there are no eternal heavens or hells, though some of both are
said to be tremendously long-lasting; but all is in an eternal flux
in which worlds and world-systems are born and perish, and
living beings are continually born, die and are reborn according
to their karmic deserts.
It is a grandiose, but ultimately frighten-
ing and horrifying vision. Deliverance from it is only possible
through the insight engendered by following the path taught
by one of the Buddhas who occasionally arise on the scene. For
those who fail to gain this insight there can be a happy rebirth
for a long time in one of the temporary heaven-worlds, but no
permanent deliverance from the perils of birth-and-death. This
samsara or cyclic existence, the ‘on-faring’.

All existence in the various realms of samsara is in one of the
three worlds: the World of Sense-Desires
(kama-loka), the World
of Form (or the ‘fine-material world’:
riipa-loka) and the Form-

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38 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

less (or ‘immaterial’) World (ariipa-loka)_-the latter two of which
are inhabited by those who have attained, in this life, the
corresponding mental absorptions
(jhiinas) frequently described
in the texts. Beyond all this lies the realm of the Supramundane
(lokuttara) or Nibbana - the ‘other shore’, the only secure
haven. And this, though it can be experienced, cannot be

There are thirty-one states in which, it is said, one can be
reborn, distributed over the three worlds. The lowest of the
three, the World of Sense-Desires, consists of the first eleven
states, of which human rebirth is the fifth. Below this are the
fourfold ’states of woe’: hells, the world of asuras (sometimes
rendered ‘titans’), of hungry ghosts
(petas), and of animals,
while above it are the six lowest heavens. Above these are the
sixteen heavens of the World of Form, and above these again
the four heavens of the Formless World.

Special importance attaches to the human condition, since it
is next to impossible to gain enlightenment from any other
sphere than this: the realms below the human are too miser-
able, and those above it too happy and carefree for the neces-
sary effort to be easily made.

The list as it stands show signs of late elaboration, but many
of the spheres shown, or their inha,bitants, are mentioned in the
Suttas of this collection.


(Reading from below)
The Formless World

31. Sphere of Neither-
Perception (devas of)


31. Nevasaii.ftanasaii.ftayataniipaga

30. Sphere of No-Thingness 30. Akiftcaftftayataniipaga

(devas of)
29. Sphere of Infinity of Con-

sciousness (devas of)
28. Sphere of Infinity of Space

(devas of)

29. Viftftar:taftcayataniipaga

28. Akasanaii.cayatanupaga


Acquired at

The World of Form


Introduction 39
27. Akanittha deva

26. Sudassi deva
2 5 . Sudassa deva

24. Atappa deva
23. Aviha deva
2 2 . Asafui.asatta
2 1 . Vehapphala deva
zo. Subhakil)l)a deva
19. Appamal)asubha deva
18. Parittasubha deva

17. Abhassara deva
16. Appamal)abha deva
15. Parittabha deva

14. Maha Brahma
13. Brahma-Purohita deva
12. Brahma-Parisajja deva


Peerless devas
Clear-Sighted devas
(or Clearly
ble) devas
Untroubled devas
Devas not Falling Away
Unconscious beings

2 1 .
Devas of Refulgent Glory
19. Devas of Unbounded Glory
18. Devas of Limited Glory

17. Devas of Streaming

16. Devas of Unbounded

15. Devas of Limited

14. Great Brahmas
13. Ministers of Brahma
12. Retinue of Brahma

The World of Sense-Desires

Very Fruitful devas

Devas Wielding Power
over Others’ Creations
Devas Delighting in Crea-

Contented devas
Yama devas
The Thirty-Three Gods
Devas of the Four Great
The animal world
The world of hungry
The asuras (’titans’)

Nimmanarati deva

Tusita deva
Yama deva
Tavatimsa deva
Catumaharajika deva

Tiracchana Yoni
Peta Loka


1 1 .



1. Hells




1 .


Acquired at


40 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

The World of Sense Desires

1. Hells. The hell-states are often rendered ‘purgatory’ to indi-
cate that they are not eternal. See n.244. Descriptions of the
hells, their horrors and the length of time supposedly spent
there, became increasingly lurid as time went on. In the Digha
Nikaya there are no such descriptions, the kind and duration of
suffering in such ’states of woe’ being left quite vague. Jaya-
(The Message of the Buddha, 251) quotes from the Samyut-
ta Nikaya 36.4
(= S iv.2o6):

When the average ignorant person makes an asser-
tion that there is a Hell
(piitiila) under the ocean, he
is making a statement that is false and without basis.
The word ‘hell’ is a term for painful bodily sensa-

This certainly deserves more credence as a saying of the Bud-
dha than the late Suttas Majjhima Nikaya 129, 130. See also
Visuddhimagga 13.93ff. for more on the first four abodes.

2. Asuras. See n.512. Rebirth among the asuras or titans is
sometimes omitted from the list of separate destinations. In the
Mahayana tradition they are often regarded more favourably
than in the Pali Canon - perhaps a reminiscence of their earlier
status as gods.

Hungry ghosts. These unhappy creatures are depicted with
enormous bellies and tiny mouths. They wander about the
world in great distress, which can, however, be alleviated by
generous offerings. The Petavatthu, the seventh book of the
Khuddaka Nikaya and one of the latest portions of the Canon,
has many strange tales about them.

The animal world. The animal kingdom, together with the
human realm, constitutes the only realm of beings normally
visible to human sight and therefore indisputably existing
(Ajita Kesakambali, like any modem rationalist, disbelieved in
all the rest). There are those today in the West who object
strongly to the idea that the Buddha taught that we can be
reborn as animals, though at first sight the evidence is all
against them. However, since
tiracchiina, normally meaning

Acquired at

Introduction 41

‘animal’, is used in Sutta 1 in the compounds tiracchiina-kathii,
meaning ‘low talk’, ‘base art’, it is just possible
that as a ‘destination’ for humans
tiracchiina-yoni can be taken
as a low rebirth. Some confirmation is provided by the case of
Khorakkhattiya (Sutta 24, verse 9 and n.244).

The human world. Rebirth as a human being is regarded as
a great opportunity which should be seized, since it may not
easily recur, and it is almost impossible to ‘enter the Stream’
and so start on the path to Nibbiina from any other condition
(but see n.6oo). Beings in the states below the human are too
miserable, fearful and benighted, and those above it are too
happy to make the necessary effort. In the human world we
encounter both joy and sorrow, often very evenly balanced, and
it is also possible to attain to a state of equanimity which is
favourable to progress. Nevertheless, most human beings are
very much under the sway of sense-desires, as indeed are the
inhabitants of the worlds immediately above this one.

6. The Realm of the Four Great Kings. These kings are the
guardians of the four quarters, and a lively account of existence
on their plane is given in Sutta 20, to which reference should be
made. The beings from here on are called devas, or in some
cases alternatively Brahmiis. Various kinds of non-human
beings, not all of whom are beneficent, are supposed to be
located in or associated with this realm, and are mentioned in
Sutta 20. Since the inhabitants of this sphere (especially the
gandhabbas, heavenly musicians and attendants on the kings
and their followers) are still addicted to sense-pleasures, it is
considered disgraceful for a monk to be reborn there. However,
as we are told in Sutta 21, verse
11, it is possible for such to
progress to a much higher plane if they make the effort.

The Thirty-Three Gods. Their heaven had once been the
abode of the asuras, who had been expelled from it. No list of
the thirty-three exists, but their chief is Sakka (Sankrit
who is either a reformed Indra or, as Rhys Davids considered, a
Buddhist replacement for him. Many good people were reborn
in this realm.

8. Yiima devas. These devas are usually only mentioned in
passing. The name is said to mean ‘those who have attained to
divine bliss’, but may also relate to Yama, king of the dead.

Acquired at

42 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

Contented devas. It is in their heaven that Bodhisattas
reside before their last birth, and Once-Returners are also
sometimes born here.

10, 11. Devas Delighting in Creation; devas Wielding Power over
Others’ Creations.
The former can create any shape they like, the
latter delight in things created by others, to get them in their
power. These two are the highest in the World of Sense Desires.

The World of Form (Fine-Material World)

12. The Retinue of Brahmii. The inhabitants of abodes 12-21 are
known as devas or Brahmas. Rebirth in these worlds is depen-
dent on experience of the lower jhanas as well as moral be-
haviour. Those who live in them are free from sensual desire,
though in most cases only by suppression through the jhanas,
not by eradication.

13-14. Ministers of Brahmii and Great Brahmiis. See below.

15-21. These are all worlds in which those who have experi-
enced the lower jhanas may be reborn according to their
development: thus the highest sphere, number 21, is inhabited
by those who have had a strong experience of the fourth jhana,
and so on downwards.

22. Unconscious beings. See n.65.

23-27. These are the Pure Abodes in which Non-Returners
are reborn, and whence they gain Nibbana without returning
to earth.

The Formless World (Immaterial World)

28-31. These correspond to the four higher jhanas of the
Formless World, and rebirth in these realms depends on the
attainment of these jhanas, as for numbers 12-21. Gotama
attained to the Sphere of No-Thingness under his first teacher,
.Nara Kalama, and to the Sphere of Neither-Perception-Nor-
Non-Perception under his second teacher Uddaka Ramaputta.
He thus reached the highest state attainable without breaking
through to the Supramundane
(lokuttara) which is ‘beyond the
Three Worlds’.

Acquired at



In Buddhism there is not one Brahma or Great Brahma but
many, and they are not immortal. The origin of the belief in
Brahma as creator of the world is given in Sutta
1, verse 2.2££.,
and a satirical picture of the boastful Great Brahma (who
nevertheless is a true follower of the Buddha) is given in Sutta
11. But though not almighty or eternal, Brahmas are powerful
and benevolent beings who are still believed, in Oriental
Buddhist countries, to be able to bestow mundane favours (for
example the Brahma shrine outside the Erawan Hotel in Bang-
kok). One Great Brahma, Sahampati, begged the newly-
enlightened Buddha to teach those who had ‘little dust on their

There is no certain or even probable trace of the neuter
Brahman in Pali scriptures. In Sutta 13 two young Brahmins
consult the Buddha on how to attain to ‘union with Brahma’ or
more correctly ‘fellowship with Brahma’. Rhys Davids has been
accused of mistranslating
sahavyatii here as ‘union’, thus im-
plying a mystical union rather than merely belonging to the
company of Brahma. But the Brahmins had explained to the
Buddha that they were puzzled because different teachers
interpreted the path to Brahma in different ways. Thus both
interpretations may well be implied here.


This is of course a generic term, not a proper name: Gotama
was ‘the Buddha’, not just ‘Buddha’ (the same should apply to
Christ ‘the Anointed’, but usage is against this).
It is a past
participle form meaning ‘awakened’, thus ‘enlightened’. Bud-
dhas appear at vast intervals of time. Besides the fully-
enlightened Buddha who teaches Dhamma to the world
(Sammii-Sambuddha) there is the ‘private Buddha’ (Pacceka-
who is enlightened but does not teach. As time went
on, a more and more elaborate Buddhology developed, the first
beginnings of which can be seen here in Sutta 14.
It was under
the Buddha Dipankara, vast ages ago, that the Brahmin

Acquired at

Introduction 43

44 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

Sumedha first made the determination to become a Buddha,
which he finally did as the historical Buddha Gotama. See
especially Sutta 14.


This word is difficult to translate, and in general I have retained
the Pali form, though in the case of the Thirty-Three Gods I
have called them such, since they constitute something of a
pantheon like that found in ancient Greece and elsewhere, even
though few of them are individually named. As will be seen
from the table, the term deva is applied to the inhabitants of all
or any of the states above the human, though those in the
World of Form can also be called Brahma - a term which is
probably better restricted to the inhabitants of realm No. 14.
The etymological meaning of
deva is ‘bright, shining’ (related to
deus, dlvus), but the word is popularly associated with the
div ‘to play’.

Devas are said to be of three kinds: 1. Conventional, that is,
kings and princes, who are addressed as ‘Deva!’ (hence the
Indian idea of the ‘god-king’ - a title adopted by the kings of
Cambodia but misapplied in modem times to the Dalai Lama!),
2. purified, that is, Buddhas and Arahants, and 3· spontaneous-
ly born
(uppattidevii), that is, devas in the sense as used here.
Besides the form
deva (which is uncommon in the third sense
in the singular), we find the abstract noun
devatii used much
like ‘deity’ in English.
It should be noted that though this noun
is grammatically feminine, it does not necessarily imply female
sex. When it is wished to indicate the sex, the words
‘deva’s son’ and devadhltii ‘deva’s daughter’ may be used,
though as most devas are spontaneously reborn this should not
be taken literally (however, there are some indications of sexual
reproduction occurring in the lowest heavens: we learn from
20 and 21 that the gandhabba chief Timbaru had a

Devas have all been human, and may be reborn again in
human form, which in fact would be good fortune for them, as
it is so much easier to gain enlightenment from the human
state. In view of their former human state, it has been suggest-

Acquired at

Introduction 45

ed that they are not unlike spirits (in the Spiritualist sense);
another suggested translation is ‘angels’, but on the whole it
seemed best (with one slight exception noted) to retain the Pali
term for these beings. (The word
Devachan used by Theoso-
phists is not in fact derived from
deva, but is the Tibetan word
bde-ba-can ‘land of bliss’, rendering the Sanskrit Sukhiivatl.)


Celestial musicians (see Suttas 20, 21), subject to Dhatarattha,
the Great King of the East, they act as attendants on the devas,
and are still much addicted to sense-pleasures.

It was formerly thought that gandhabbas also presided at
conception, but this is due to a misunderstanding of a passage
in Majjhima Nikaya 38 where it is stated that a ‘gandhabba’
must be present in addition to a man and a woman for
conception to take place. The word here means, as the commen-
taries explain, ‘being about to be born’, that is the new con-
sciousness arising dependent on that of a being who has died.


These are giant birds, ever at war with the nagas (except when,
under the Buddha’s influence, a truce is called: Sutta
20, verse
11). The garu9a
(khruth) is the royal badge of Thailand. In
Indian legend,
Vi~Du rode on a garu9a.


The most interesting and difficult of the various classes of
non-human beings. Basically the term seems to apply to snakes,
in particular the king cobra, but nagas are also associated with

elephants, probably on account of the snake-like trunk. They are
very wise and powerful, though they suffer terribly from the
attacks of the garu9as. The term is often used for a great man,
including the Buddha. But as Malalasekera writes
(Dictionary of
Pali Proper Names
ii, 1355): ‘In the accounts given of the nagas,
there is undoubtedly great confusion between the nagas as
supernatural (sic!) beings, as snakes, and as the name of certain
non-Aryan tribes, but the confusion is too difficult to unravel.’

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46 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

The word generally used by the Buddha in referring to himself
or to other Buddhas, though it seemingly can apply to any
Arahant. Etymologically it means either -
tathii-iigata ‘thus
come’ or
tathii-gata ‘thus gone’. It would seem to be a way of
indicating that ‘he who stands before you’ is not like other
beings. For commentarial explanations, see Bhikkhu Bodhi’s
separate translation of Sutta
1 (see n.n). The Digha commen-
tury (seep. 50) gives no fewer than eight different explanations,
and the Mahayana schools have many more.


Yakkhas, who are subject to Vessaval)a, Great King of the
North, are curiously ambivalent creatures, for reasons explained
in Sutta 32, verse
2. Some are believers in the Buddha, but
others, not wishing to keep the precepts, are hostile to the
Dhamma, and they are in fact in the majority. Among the ‘good
yakkhas’, however, we find (Sutta 19) Janavasabha, who had
been King Bimbisara of Magadha and a Stream-Winner! Later
tradition insists more and more on the bad side of the yakkhas,
who come to be regarded as ogres or demons pure and simple
- with the female of the species being more deadly than the


According to tradition, the text of the Pali Canon was settled at
a Council held at Rajagaha immediately after the Teacher’s
passing, having been memorised by leading Elders, who were
highly realised practitioners of the Dhamma. In fact it is clear
that the collection as we have it originated over a longer period.
The Canon was preserved in oral form until the first century
B.C., when it became apparent that the sacred texts might
vanish from the earth
if they were not recorded in writing. They
were accordingly written down under King Vattagamani at this
time in Sri Lanka, though some portions may already have
been committed to writing earlier. The feat of memory involved

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Introduction 47

in preserving such an extensive body of text orally for so long
may seem extraordinary to us, but was quite usual in ancient
India. Writing was certainly known in India in the Buddha’s
time, but was not used for such purposes. It must, however, be
remembered that in the course of forty-five years the Buddha
preached, doubtless often in a standardised form (see p. 49), to
many thousands of people, and that many of the monks and
nuns had trained minds and memories, and will have known
full well the meaning of what they were repeating.

From about the time of the Second Council, held at Vesali a
century after the Buddha’s passing, we hear of divisions and
the formation of sects within the Order. This led eventually to
the rise of the Mahayana schools. An up-to-date account of
these developments can be found in
A.K. Warder’s Indian
Here we need merely note that the Theravada type of
Buddhism was carried early to Ceylon, and later to Burma,
Thailand and other parts of south-east Asia, whereas the forms
of Buddhism that spread to Tibet, China, Japan and other more
northerly regions were of the developed, Mahayana type. Por-
tions of the early scriptures of some of the schools that arose
have been preserved, either in Sanskrit or, very often, in
Chinese and/or Tibetan translations. The Sanskrit of these texts
is often very bad, but the attempt was clearly made to lend
dignity to the teaching by using the classical language. We thus
find that Buddhist terms are found in both Pali and Sanskrit
forms, and while the Pali terms are doubtless older, the Sanskrit
forms are sometimes better known to the Western reader. Thus
karma is more often used by Westerners than Pali
kamma, Sanskrit dharma and nirviirJa than Pali dhamma and



Strictly speaking, the word Pii/i means ‘text’. But the expression
Pii/ibhiisii, meaning ‘language of the texts’, was early taken to be
the name of the language itself. Its use is practically confined to
Buddhist subjects, and then only in the Theravada school. Its
exact origins are the subject of learned debate. While we cannot

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48 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

go too deeply into the matter here, it may be said that the
traditional equation with the language of the ancient kingdom
of Magadha, and the assertion that Pali is, literally and precise-
ly, the language spoken by the Buddha himself, cannot be
sustained. All the same, the language the Buddha actually spoke
was in all probability not very different from Pali.

From the point of view of the non-specialist, we can think of
Pali as a kind of simplified Sanskrit. Its development, like that
of other early Indian dialects, can be thought of as similar to an
early form of Italian just breaking away from Latin. A close
parallel is found in the word for ’seven’, where Latin
septem has
become Italian
sette, the pt being simplified by assimilation to
tt. The Sanskrit equivalent sapta is in Pali satta, and similar
types of simplification are found in hundreds of words. The
grammar, too, has been slightly simplified, though not nearly so
much as that of Italian.
6 But the two languages are still so close
that it is possible to convert whole passages of Sanskrit into Pali
simply by making the necessary mechanical transpositions?
See p. 17 for more details about the relationship between Pali
and Sanskrit.


The text on which this translation is based is the Pali Text
Society edition by T.W. Rhys Davids and J.E. Carpenter
volumes, ISgo-1910).8 I have made some slight use of the Thai
translation as well as of Franke’s German one, and have also
made a few corrections following the Ven. Buddhadatta,
moli and others, as indicated at the appropriate places.

It must be pointed out that any translator of the Pali Canon is
faced with peculiar difficulties,
if only owing to the repetitive-
ness of the originals. Even the manuscripts contain numerous
abridgements, and any translator must necessarily abridge a
great deal more. I have dealt with repetitions in three ways.
Long sections have been condensed into a few lines, which
appear in italics and include the Sutta and verse numbers of the
omitted passages. Where it is clear from the context what is
being omitted I have simply used ellipses; where it is not clear I

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Introduction 49

have used ellipses as well as the Sutta and verse number. In
doing so I have ensured that nothing of substance has been
omitted. I have made no excisions on account of real or alleged
lateness or inauthenticity or the like: such matters are left to the
reader’s judgement, with an occasional note for guidance. I
have as far as possible avoided the use of masculine nouns and
pronouns where both sexes are implied. I have, however,
always been guided by my understanding of the text, bearing
in mind the many admonitions addressed specifically to
monks, as well as the words of Brahmins and others who were
undoubtedly ’sexist’. I have also kept the masculine gender in a
few cases where to do otherwise would have produced intoler-
able awkwardness or (in verse) spoilt the scansion. I have tried
to convey as much as possible the style of the original, render-
ing it into an English which is, I hope, neither too archaic nor
too hypermodern.

I have permitted myself a few syntactic abridgements.
Phrases like
Bhagavatii saddhim sammodi sammodan!yam katham
siiriiJJ!yam vltisiiretvii,
which Rhys Davids renders: ‘He ex-
changed with the Blessed One the greetings and compliments
of politeness and courtesy’, have been cut down, in this case to
‘exchanged courtesies with him’. As regards the designation
Bhagavii, I have used ‘the Lord’ in narration, varied occasionally
in quoted speech with ‘the Blessed Lord’. Other translators
have ‘the Blessed One’, ‘the Exalted One’, and so on.

The repetitions in the Canon have probably two distinct
It is extremely likely that the Buddha himself de-
veloped a standard form for sermons, which he doubtless
uttered verbatim, or nearly so, many thousands of times during
his forty-five years’ ministry. He would seem to have gone on
the principle which many teachers use and recommend to this
day: ‘First tell them what you are going to say, then say it, then
tell them what you have said.’ His disciples will then have
extended this principle into a system of rigidly stereotyped
phrases. The second source of repetition will have been inhe-
rent in the oral tradition itself, as is witnessed by oral literature
all over the world. This is always characterised by long repeti-
tive passages and stereotyped epithets and descriptions. This
tendency will in the present instance have been reinforced by

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50 The Long Discourses of the Buddha

the wish to preserve the Master’s words as accurately as possi-
It should also be remembered that it was not all a mere
matter of
mechanical repetition, though this undoubtedly occur-
red occasionally too.


Certainly, not all parts of the Pali Canon are equally old or can
be literally taken to be the Buddha’s precise words. This is plain
common sense and does not mean completely rejecting their
authenticity. Recent research has gone far to vindicate the claim
that the Pali Canon holds at least a prime place among our
sources in the search for ‘original’ Buddhism, or, in fact, ‘what
the Buddha taught’. No attempt can be made here to go into
any detail concerning questions of authenticity, or of the chro-
nological stratification of the materials found in the Digha
Nikaya. Some indications of scholarly opinion on this subject
can be found, especially, in Pande,
Studies in the Origins of
(1967), though not all his findings are equally accept-
able. Personally I believe that all, or almost all
doctrinal state-
ments put directly into the mouth of the Buddha can be
accepted as authentic, and this seems to me the most important


An invaluable aid to the understanding of the Pali Canon is
provided by the old Commentaries
(AHhakathii). These need to
be used with caution, and they certainly contain numerous
pious fabrications. Without them, however, our understanding
of the Suttas would be woefully deficient. The two chief com-
mentaries have been published in Pali by the Pali Text Society.
The earliest is called
Sumangalaviliisinz (’Effulgence of the Great
Blessing’), but is usually known more prosaically as the Digha
Nikaya Commentary
(Dighanikiiy-aHhakathii or DA, 3 volumes,
1886-1932, reprinted 1971). This is by the great Buddhaghosa,
who lived in the sth century C.E. The second, or Sub-
(tlkii), called Dlghanikiiy-atthakathii-tlkii-Unattha-

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Introduction 51

varyrynanii ‘Explanation of Obscurities in the Oigha-Nikaya
Commentary’ or OAT for short
(3 vols., ed. Lily de Silva, 1970),
is a commentary on the commentary. Extensive extracts from
these two commentaries on Suttas
1 and 15 (with further
passages from a third, called the ‘New Sub-Commentary’) are
given by Bhikkhu Bodhi in his separate translations of those
Suttas, and similar extracts are given by Soma Thera in his
version of Sutta
22. Some scanty comments are also quoted
(sometimes without translation!) by Rhys Davids at intervals. I
have added a few more extracts in my notes where it seemed
necessary, besides occasionally clarifying or correcting Rhys
Davids’s notes.

Buddhaghosa was an Indian scholar-monk of amazing erudi-
tion who spent many years in Sri Lanka, where he wrote
Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga),
a comprehensive guide to
docbne and meditation, splendidly translated into English by
the Ven. Nal)amoli and published by the Buddhist Publication
Society, Sri Lanka (1956+
). His version is a great improvement
on the older one published by the Pali Text Society as
The Path
of Purity.
It appears that the old commentaries on the Pali
Canon, some of which seem to have been very ancient, were
translated into Sinhalese and the Pali originals lost, and that
Buddhaghosa made from these a new Pali version. In general it
is clear that he is recording traditional opinions and interpreta-
tions, holding back, except on rare occasions, from expressing a
personal opinion with admirable self-effacement.
It is to be
expected that in due course the major commentaries will be
translated into English from their rather difficult late Pali lan-


The Pali Canon is divided into three main sections (Tipitaka:
the Three Baskets).

1. Vinaya Pitaka

This deals with monastic discipline, for monks and nuns.
Translated by I.B. Homer as
The Book of Discipline (6 volumes,
PTS 1938-66).

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52 The Long Discourses of the Buddha
2. Sutta Pitaka

The ‘Discourses’ (Suttas): the portion of the Canon of most
interest to lay Buddhists (see below).

Abhidhamma Pitaka

The ‘further doctrine’, a highly schematised philosophical com-
pendium in seven books, most of which have now been
translated into English by the PTS.

The Sutta Pitaka consists of five collections (nikiiyas). The pre-
sent translation is a new version of the first of these.

(1) D!gha Nikiiya (’long collection’, i.e. collection of long
discourses). Translated by T.W. and C.A.F. Rhys Davids (SBB, 3
volumes, 1899-1921) as ‘Dialogues of the Buddha’. The Pali text
(ed. T.W. Rhys Davids and J.E. Carpenter, PTS, 3 volumes,
1890-1910) is referred to here as D, the translation as RD (see
Note on References).

(2) Majjhima Nikaya (’medium collection’). The Teachings of the
Buddha: The Middle Length Discourses of Buddha: A New Translation of
the Majjhima Nikaya.
Original translation by Bhikkhu Nanamoli,
edited and revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Boston
1995. [MN]

(3) Smhyutta Nikiiya (’collection of groups’, i.e. according to
subject-matter). Translated by C.A.F. Rhys Davids and F.L.
(PTS, 5 volumes, 1917-30) as ‘Kindred Sayings’.

(4) Anguttara Nikiiya (’collection of expanding groups’, i.e.
single things, twos, threes, and so on up to elevens). Translated
by F.L. Woodward and E.M. Hare (PTS,
5 volumes, 1932-36) as
‘Gradual Sayings’. [AN]

(5) Khuddaka Nikiiya (’lesser collection’), a heterogeneous
collection in 15 divisions of very varying interest to the modem

(i) Khuddaka Piitha (’minor text’-used as a novice’s hand-
book). Translated with its commentary by Ven. Nar:tamoli (PTS
196o) as ‘Minor Readings and Illustrator’. [Khp]

(ii) Dhammapada (’verses on Dhamma’), one of the most
famous of Buddhist scriptures, an anthology in 26 chapters and

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Introduction 53

423 stanzas. Of the more than 30 English translations, the prose
version by Narada Thera (various editions, including one by
Murray, London 1972) is recommended for the serious student.
The Penguin translation by J. Mascaro, though very readable, is
marred by serious errors of interpretation. [Dhp]

(iii) Udiina (’solemn utterances’), translated by F.L. Wood-
ward (SBB 1935) as ‘Verses of Uplift’
(!). [Ud]

(iv) Itivuttaka (’thus it was said’), translated by Woodward
together with (iii) as ‘Thus
It Was Said’. [It]

(v) Sutta Nipiita (’collection of suttas’), verse translation by
E.M. Hare (SBB 1935) as ‘Woven Cadences’; prose translation by
K.R. Norman (PTS 1984) as ‘The Group of Discourses’ [Sn]

(vi) Vimiinavatthu (’stories of the [heavenly] mansions’),
translated by I.B. Homer (PTS 1974) as ‘Stories of the Mansions’.

(vii) Petavatthu (’stories of the departed’ (or ‘of hungry
ghosts’)), translated by H.S. Gehman as ‘Stories of the Departed’
and included with (vi). [Pv]

(viii) Theragiithii (’songs of the male elders’, i.e. Arahants)
[Thag] and (ix).
Ther!giithii (’songs of the female elders’, i.e.
Arahants) [Thig]. Verse translation of (viii) and (ix) by C.A.F.
Rhys Davids (PTS, 2 volumes, 1909, 1937) as ‘Psalms of the Early
Buddhists’; prose translation of (viii) and (ix) by K.R. Norman
(PTS, 2 volumes, 1969, 1971) as ‘The Elders’ Verses’.

(x) Jiitaka (’birth-stories’, i.e. tales (547) of former lives of the
Buddha). Much used as parables, otherwise mainly of interest
as folklore. Translated (PTS 1895-1907, 1913 in 6 volumes, re-
printed 1981 in 3 volumes) under editorship of E.B. Cowell

(xi) Niddesa (’exposition’), an old commentary, ascribed to
Sariputta, to parts of (v). No English translation exists. [Nid]

(xii) Patisambhidii Magga (’path of discrimination’). Transla-
tion by the late Ven. Na:t!amoli edited by A.K. Warder (PTS
1982). [Pts]

(xiii) Apadiina (’tradition’, i.e. legend). Tales of Arahants
similar to (x). No English translation exists. [Ap]

(xiv) Buddhavamsa (’chronicle of Buddhas’) Translated by I.B.
Homer (PTS 1975). [Bv]

(xv) Cariyiipitaka (’basket of conduct’) Translated by I.B. Hor-
ner together with (xiv). [Cp]

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