2-0 The Sutta

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The Ānāpānasati Sutta

Introductory Section

1] Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in the Eastern Park, in the Palace of Migara’s Mother, together with many very well-known elder disciples—the Venerable Sāriputta, the Venerable Mahā Moggallana, the Venerable Mahā Kassapa, the Venerable Mahā Kaccāna, the Venerable Mahā Koṭṭhita, the Venerable Mahā Kappina, the Venerable Cunda, the Venerable Anuruddha, the Venerable Revata, the Venerable Ānanda, and other very well known elder disciples.

2] Now on that occasion elder monks had been teaching and instructing new monks; some elder monks had been teaching and instructing ten new monks, some elder monks had been teaching and instructing twenty… thirty… forty new monks. And the new monks, taught and instructed by the elder monks, had achieved successive stages of high distinction.

3] On that occasion—the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, on the full-moon night of the Pavārāṇa ceremony [9]-the Blessed One was seated in the open surrounded by the saṅgha of monks. Then, surveying the silent saṅgha of monks, he addressed them thus:

4] “Monks, I am content with this progress. My mind is content with this progress. So, arouse still more energy to attain the unattained, to achieve the unachieved, to realize the unrealized. I shall wait here at Sāvatthī for the Komudi full moon of the fourth month.”

The monks can still practice their meditation or make new robes and prepare to go out wandering or teaching the Dhamma to other monks and laypersons during this extra month. The Kaṭhina Ceremony is also held during this month. This is the time for laymen and laywomen to make extra merit by practicing their generosity by giving robes and other requisites to the saṅgha members.

5] The monks of the countryside heard: “The Blessed One will wait there at Sāvatthī for the Komudi full moon of the fourth month.” And the monks of the countryside left in due course for Sāvatthī to see the Blessed One.

6] And the elder monks still more intensively taught and instructed new monks; some elder monks taught and instructed ten new monks, some elder monks taught and instructed twenty… thirty… forty new monks. And the new monks, taught and instructed by the elder monks, achieved successive stages of high distinction.

7] On that occasion—the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Komudi full moon of the fourth month—the Blessed One was seated in the open surrounded by the saṅgha of monks. Then, surveying the silent saṅgha of monks, he addressed them thus:

8] “Monks, this assembly is free from prattle; this assembly is free from chatter. [10] It consists purely of heartwood. Such is this saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly. Such an assembly as is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, an incomparable field of merit for the world—such is this assembly. Such an assembly that a small gift given to it becomes great and a great gift becomes greater—such is this saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly. Such an assembly as is rare for the world to see—such is this saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly. Such an assembly as would be worthy journeying many leagues with a travel-bag to see—such is this saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly.

9] “In this saṅgha of monks, there are monks who are Arahats with taints destroyed, who have lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached the true goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and are completely liberated through final knowledge—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks.

This is the stage where all of the fetters are destroyed such that they will not ever arise anymore. The ten fetters (saṁyojana) are:

  • Belief in permanent self or soul (sakkāyadiṭṭhi),
  • Doubt in the correct path (vicikicchā),
  • Belief that chanting, or rites and rituals lead one to Nibbāna (sīlabbatapārāmāsa),
  • Lust or greed (kāmarāga),
  • Hatred or aversion (paṭigha),
  • Greed for fine-material existence or immaterial existence (rūparāga),
  • Conceit or pride (arūparāga),
  • Sloth and torpor or sleepiness or dullness of mind (māna),
  • Restlessness or agitation of mind (uddhacca),
  • Ignorance (avijjā).

The final stage of an Arahat is described as follows: (Taken from the Majjhima Nikāya, sutta MN-70:12, the Kiṭāgiti Sutta)

12] “They are the ones who have lived the Holy Life, laid down the burden, reached the true goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and are completely liberated through final knowledge, they have done their work with diligence, they are no longer capable of being negligent.”

From the Ānāpānasati Sutta:

10] “In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who, with the destruction of the five lower fetters, are due to reappear spontaneously (in the pure abodes) and there attain final Nibbāna, without ever returning from that world—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks.

This stage of sainthood is called Anāgāmī where lust and hate no longer even arise in one’s mind. The five lower fetters have been destroyed but there is still work to be done.

11] “In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who, with the destruction of three fetters and with the attenuation of lust, hate, and delusion, are once-returners, returning once to this world to make an end of suffering—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks.

This stage of sainthood is called being a Sakadāgāmī or once-returner. They have given up the belief in a permanent self, belief that one can attain Awakening by chanting and practicing rites and rituals, and they have given up doubt in the path. Also, the person who has attained this stage has tremendously weakened lust and hatred, together with all of the other fetters.

12] “In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who, with the destruction of the three fetters, are stream-enterers, no longer subject to perdition, bound [for deliverance], headed for awakening—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks.

The person who has attained this stage of awakening is called a Sotāpanna or stream-enterer. They have given up the three lower fetters mentioned above; they are never going to be reborn in a low existence again. Their lowest rebirth will be as a human being, and the most lives that they will experience before attaining final Nibbāna, is seven.

13] “In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who abide devoted to the development of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness [11]—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks. In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who abide devoted to the Four Right Kinds of Strivings (efforts)… to the Four Bases for Spiritual Power… to the Five Faculties… to the Five Powers… to the Seven Awakening Factors… to the Noble Eightfold Path—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks.

The Four Right Kinds of Striving, the Four Bases for Spiritual Power, the Five Faculties, the Five Powers, the Seven Awakening Factors, and the Noble Eightfold Path are described in the Majjhima Nikāya, sutta MN-77:16 to 19, the Mahāsakuludāyi Sutta. This shows us how to develop wholesome states. The sutta describes the qualities of the Buddha, which his disciples repeat to honor, respect, revere, and venerate him and live in dependence on him. We will now look into the meanings of these terms. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Seven Awakening Factors and the Noble Eightfold Path will be discussed later in the sutta

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