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SABBASÂVA SUTTA.

INTRODUCTION

DR. MORRIS, who had borrowed the Phayre and Turnour MSS. of the Magghima Nikâya from the India Office Library, has been good enough to transcribe the text of this Sutta for me.

I had hoped from the Rev. David da Silva's analysis of the Sutta in the Ceylon Friend for 1872, that it would determine the exact meaning of the difficult word Âsava as used in the theory of Arahatship, and in the important passage (the Faith, Reason, and Works paragraph) repeated so often in the Mahâparinibbâna Sutta. It will be seen that this is scarcely the case, but as it does throw light on the ideas wrapped up in the word, and contains a very interesting passage[1] on the especial value attached in Buddhism to the mental habit we should now call agnosticism, I have adhered to the intention of including it in this volume.

The word Âsava seems in this Sutta to be used in a general sense,--not confined only to the Âsavas of sensuality, individuality, delusion, and ignorance, but including the more various defilements or imperfections of mind, out of which those especial defilements will proceed.

Incidentally reference is made to the well-known Buddhist doctrine, that the right thing is to seek after the Nirvâna of a perfect life in Arahatship, and not to trouble and confuse oneself by the discussion of speculative questions as to past or future existence, or even as to the

[1. 9, 10.]

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presence within the body of a soul. Buddhism is not only independent of the theory of soul, but regards the consideration of that theory as worse than profitless, as the source of manifold delusions and superstitions. Practically this comes, however, to much the same thing as the denial of the existence of the soul; just as agnosticism is, at best, but an earnest and modest sort of atheism. And we have seen above that anattam, the absence of a soul or self as abiding principle, is one of the three parts of Buddhist wisdom (viggâ)[1] and of Buddhist perception (saññâ)[2]. The reconciliation of these two doctrines, of the agnosticism and of the denial, is, I think, that the absence of soul is only predicated of those five Aggregates of parts and powers to which a good Buddhist should confine his attention. These alone he should consider; and he does wrong to care whether beyond and beside them a soul has, or has not, any real existence.

I may add that the importance of the Âsavas appears from the fact that elsewhere the knowledge of them, of their origin, of their cessation, and of the way that leads to their cessation is placed on the road to Arahatship immediately after, and parallel to, the knowledge of Suffering, of its origin, of its cessation, and of the way that leads to its cessation--the knowledge, that is, of the four Noble Truths[3].

The Âsavas there meant are sensuality, individuality (or life), and ignorance; and the expressions 'to him who knows, to him who sees' (gânato passato) are used there much in the same way as they are in our 3. Perhaps this was the passage which Burnouf had in his mind when he wrongly said[4] that he had found in the Mahâparinibbâna Sutta an enumeration of three classes of Âsavas, whereas that Sutta always divides them into four classes.

I am unable to suggest any good translation of the term itself--simple though it is. It means literally 'a running or flowing,' or (thence) 'a leak;' but as that figure is not

[1. See above, p. 162.

2. See above, p. 9.

3. Sâmañña Phala Sutta, p. 152.

4. Lotus de la Bonne Loi, p. 823.]

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used in English in a spiritual sense, it is necessary to choose some other figure and it is not easy to find one that is appropriate. 'Sin' would be very misleading, the Christian idea of sin being inconsistent with Buddhist ethics. A 'fault' in the geological use of the word comes somewhat nearer. 'Imperfection' is too long, and for 'stain' the Pâli has a different word[1]. In the Book of the Great Decease I have chosen 'evil;' here I leave the word untranslated.

[1. Rago. See the verses translated in 'Buddhist Birth Stories,' p. 164.]

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ALL THE ASAVAS.

SABBÂSAVA-SUTTA.

1. Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once staying at Sâvatthi, at the Getavana, in Anâtha Pindika's park.

There the Blessed One addressed the brethren, and said, 'Bhikkhus.'

'Yea, Lord!' said those brethren, in assent, to the Blessed One.

Then the Blessed One spake:

2. 'I will teach you, O brethren, the lesson of the subjugation of all the Âsavas. Listen well, and attend, and I will speak!'

'Even so, Lord!' said the brethren, in assent, to the Blessed One.

Then the Blessed One spake:

'I say that there is destruction of the Âsavas, brethren, to him who knows, to him who sees; not to him who knows not, to him who sees not. And what do I say, brethren, is the destruction of the Âsavas to him who knows, to him who sees? It is (a matter of) wise consideration, and of foolish consideration.

3. 'In him, brethren, who considers unwisely, Âsavas which have not arisen spring up, and Âsavas which have arisen are increased. In him, brethren, who considers wisely, Âsavas which have not arisen

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spring not up, and Âsavas which have arisen do not increase.

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4. 'There are Âsavas which should be abandoned, brethren, by insight, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by subjugation, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by right use, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by endurance, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by avoidance, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by removal, there are Âsavas which should be abandoned by cultivation.

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5. 'And which, brethren, are the Âsavas which should be abandoned by insight[1]?'

'In the first place, brethren, the ignorant unconverted man, who perceives not the Noble Ones, who comprehends not, nor is trained according to the doctrine of the noble ones; who perceives not good men, who comprehends not, nor is trained according to the doctrine of good men; he neither understands what things ought to be considered, nor what things ought not to be considered; the things that ought not to be considered, those he considers; and the things that ought to be considered, those he does not consider.

6. 'And which, brethren, are those things which he should not consider, which he nevertheless considers?

'There are things which, when a man considers them, the Âsava of Lust springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Lust, which had sprung up, grows great; the Âsava of

[1. Dassanâ.]

p. 298 Life springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Life, which had sprung up, grows great; the Âsava of Ignorance springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Ignorance, which had sprung up grows great.

'These are the things which ought not to be considered, things which he considers.

7. 'And which, brethren, are those things which should be considered, which he nevertheless does not consider?

'There are things, brethren, which, when a man considers them, the Âsava of Lust, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Lust, which had sprung up, is put away; the Âsava of Life, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Life, which had sprung up, is put away; the Âsava of Ignorance, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Ignorance, which had sprung up, is put away.

'These are the things which ought to be considered, things which he does not consider.

8. 'It is by his consideration of those things, which ought not to be considered; and by his non-consideration of those things, which ought to be considered, that Âsavas arise within him which had not sprung up; and Âsavas which had sprung up, grow great.'

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9. 'Unwisely doth he consider thus:

'"Have I existed during the ages that are past, or have I not? What was I during the ages that are past? How was I during the ages that are

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past? Having been what, what did I become in the ages that are past? Shall I exist during the ages of the future, or shall I not? What shall I be during the ages of the future? How shall I be during the ages of the future? Having been what, what shall I become during the ages of the future?"

'Or he debates within himself as to the present:

Do I after all exist, or am I not? How am I? This is a being; whence now did it come, and whither will it go?

10. 'In him, thus unwisely considering, there springs up one or other of the six (absurd) notions[1].

'As something true and real he gets the notion, "I have a self!"

'As something true and real he gets the notion, "I have not a self!"

'As something true and real he gets the notion, "By my self, I am conscious of my self!"

'As something true and real he gets the notion, "By myself I am conscious of my non-self!"

'Or, again, he gets the notion, "This soul of mine can be perceived, it has experienced the result of good and evil actions committed here and there: now this soul of mine is permanent, lasting, eternal, has the inherent quality of never changing, and will continue for ever and ever!"

11. 'This, brethren, is called the walking in delusion, the jungle of delusion[2], the wilderness of delusion, the puppet show of delusion, the writhing of delusion, the fetter of delusion.

12. 'Bound, brethren, with this fetter of delusion,

[1. Khannam ditthînam.

2. Ditthi-gahanam, with allusion, doubtless, if the reading is correct, to gahanam.]

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the ignorant unconverted man becomes not freed from birth, decay, and death, from sorrows, lamentations, pains, and griefs, and from expedients[1]--he does not become free, I say, from pain.

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13. 'But the wise man, brethren, the disciple walking in the Noble Path, who perceives the noble ones; who comprehends, and is trained according to, the doctrine of the Noble Ones; who perceives good men, who comprehends, and is trained according to, the doctrine of good men; he understands both what things ought to be considered, and what things ought not to be considered--and thus understanding, the things that ought to be considered those he considers; and the things that ought not to be considered, those he does not consider.

14, 'And which, brethren, are those things which ought not to be considered, and which he does not consider?

'There are things which, when a man considers them, the Âsava of Lust springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Lust, which had sprung up, grows great; the Âsava of Life springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Life, which had sprung up, grows great; the Âsava of Ignorance springs up within him, which had not sprung up before; and the Âsava of Ignorance, which had sprung up, grows great.

'These are the things which ought not to be considered, things which he considers.

[1. That is, the practice of rites and ceremonies and the worship of Gods.]

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15. 'And which, brethren, are those things which should be considered, and which he does consider?

'There are things, brethren, which, when a man considers them, the Âsava of Lust, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Lust, which had sprung up, is put away; the Âsava of Life, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Life, which had sprung up, is put away; the Âsava of Ignorance, if it had not sprung up before, springs not up within him; and the Âsava of Ignorance, which had sprung up, is put away.

'These are the things which ought to be considered, things which he does not consider.

16. 'It is by his not considering those things which ought to be considered, and by his considering those things which ought not to be considered, that Âsavas which had not sprung up within him spring not up, and Âsavas which had sprung up are put away.

17. 'He considers, "This is suffering." He considers, "This is the origin of suffering." He considers, "This is the cessation of suffering." He considers, "This is the way which leads to the cessation of suffering." And from him, thus considering, the three fetters fall away--the delusion of self, hesitation, and the dependence on rites and ceremonies.

These are the Âsavas, brethren, which are to be abandoned by insight.

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18. 'And which are the Âsavas to be abandoned by subjugation (samvarâ)?

'Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu, wisely reflecting,

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remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Sight. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of sight Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of sight the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

19. 'Wisely reflecting, he remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Hearing. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of hearing Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of hearing the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

20. 'Wisely reflecting, he remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Smell. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of smell Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of smell the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

21. 'Wisely reflecting, he remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Taste. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of taste Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of taste the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

22. 'Wisely reflecting, he remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Touch. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of touch Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of touch the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

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23. 'Wisely reflecting, he remains shut in by the subjugation of the organ of Mind. For whereas to the man not shut in by the subjugation of the organ of mind Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress, to the man shut in by the subjugation of the organ of mind the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by subjugation.

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24. 'And which are the Âsavas to be abandoned by right use[1]?

'Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu, wisely reflecting, makes use of his robes for the purpose only of warding off the cold, of warding off the heat, of warding off the contact of gad-flies and mosquitoes, of wind and sun, and snakes; and of covering his nakedness[2].

25. 'Wisely reflecting, he makes use of alms, not for sport or sensual enjoyment, not for adorning or beautifying himself, but solely to sustain the body in life, to prevent its being injured, to aid himself in the practice of a holy life--thinking the while, "Thus shall I overcome the old pain, and shall incur no new; and everywhere shall I be at ease, and free from blame."

26. 'Wisely reflecting, he makes use of an abode; only to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the contact of gad-flies and mosquitoes, of wind and sun, and snakes; only to avoid the dangers of the climate, and to secure the delight of privacy.

[1. Patisevanâ.

2. Compare Dickson's Kammavâkâ, p. 7, where the reading, however, is wrong.]

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27. 'Wisely reflecting, he makes use of medicine and other necessaries for the sick; only to ward off the pain that causes injury, and to preserve his health.

28. 'For whereas, brethren, to the man not making such right use, Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress; to the man making such right use, the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by right use.

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29. 'And which, brethren, are the Âsavas to be abandoned by endurance[1]?

'Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu, wisely reflecting, is patient under cold and heat, under hunger and thirst, under the contact of gad-flies and mosquitoes, of wind and sun, and snakes; he is enduring under abusive words, under bodily suffering, under pains however sharp, rough, severe, unpleasant, disagreeable, and destructive even to life.

30. 'For whereas, brethren, to the man who endureth not, Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress; to him who endures, the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by endurance.

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31. 'And which, brethren, are the Âsavas to be abandoned by avoidance[2]?

'Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu wisely reflecting, avoids a rogue elephant, he avoids a furious horse, be avoids a wild bull, he avoids a mad dog, a snake, a stump in the path, a thorny bramble, a pit, a precipice, a dirty tank or pool. When tempted to

[1. Adhivâsanâ.

2. Parivagganâ.]

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sit in a place where one should not sit, or to walk where one should not walk, or to cultivate the acquaintance of bad companions, he is skilled to shun the evil: and wisely reflecting he avoids that, as a place whereon one should not sit, that, as a place wherein one should not walk, those men, as companions that are bad.

32. 'For whereas, brethren, to the man who avoideth not, Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress; to him who avoids, the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by avoidance.

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33. 'And which, brethren, are the Âsavas to be abandoned by removal[1]?

'Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu, wisely reflecting, when there has sprung up within him a lustful thought, that he endureth not, he puts it away, he removes it, he destroys it, he makes it not to be; when there has sprung up within him an angry thought, a malicious thought, some sinful, wrong disposition, that he endureth not, he puts it away, he removes it, he destroys it, he makes it not to be.

34. 'For whereas, brethren, to the man who removeth not, Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress; to him who removes, the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by removal.

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35. 'And which, brethren, are the Âsavas to be abandoned by cultivation[2]?

[1. Vinodanâ.

2 Bhâvanâ.]

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'[1]Herein, brethren, a Bhikkhu, wisely reflecting, cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Mindfulness, dependent on seclusion, dependent on passionlessness, dependent on the utter ecstasy of contemplation, resulting in the passing off of thoughtlessness.

36. 'He cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Search after Truth, he cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Energy, he cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called joy, he cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Peace, he cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Earnest Contemplation, he cultivates that part of the higher wisdom called Equanimity--each dependent on seclusion, dependent on passionlessness, dependent on the utter ecstasy of contemplation, resulting in the passing off of thoughtlessness.

37. 'For whereas, brethren, to the man who cultivateth not, Âsavas may arise, full of vexation and distress; to him who cultivates, the Âsavas, full of vexation and distress, are not.

'These, brethren, are called the Âsavas to be abandoned by cultivation.

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38. 'And then when a Bhikkhu has by insight put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by insight, and by subjugation has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by subjugation, and by right use has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by right use, and by endurance has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by endurance, and by avoidance has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by avoidance,

[1. Compare Mahâparinibbâna Sutta I, 9.]

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and by removal has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by removal, and by cultivation has put away the Âsavas to be abandoned by cultivation--that Bhikkhu, brethren, remains shut in by the subjugation of the Âsavas, he has destroyed that Craving Thirst, by thorough penetration of mind he has rolled away every Fetter, and he has made an end of Pain.'

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39. Thus spake the Blessed One; and those Bhikkhus, glad at heart, exalted the word of the Blessed One.

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End of the Sabbâsava Sutta.