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Bhaddekaratta Suttaṃ

(M.iii.187)

A Single Excellent Night

272. Thus have I heard ¹ — At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi in Prince Jeta’s grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks: “Monks!” “Venerable sir, those monks replied to the Blessed One.”

“I will teach you, monks, the exposition (uddesa) and analysis (vibhaṅga) of a single excellent night. Listen, and pay careful attention; I will speak.” “Very well, Venerable sir,” those monks replied to the Blessed One. The Blessed One said:–

“Do not long for ² the past, nor anticipate the future.
For the past has been left behind, and the future is yet to arrive.

“The presently arising phenomena, there observe with insight.
Do not get caught up,³ be unperturbed, develop the mind.

“Today do what should be done with ardour, who knows if one will die tomorrow?
There is no bargaining with death, with the grim-reaper (maccunā) and his army.

“Thus, one who abides ardently by day and by night.
It is he who has an excellent night, the peaceful sage has explained.” [188]

273. “How, monks, does one long for the past? ‘I had such material forms in the past,’ there he delights in longing for the past. ‘I had such feelings in the past,’ there he delights in longing for the past. ‘I had such perceptions in the past,’ there he delights in longing for the past. ‘I had such mental formations in the past,’ there he delights in longing for the past.‘I had such consciousness in the past,’ there he delights in longing for the past. Thus, monks, he longs for the past.

“How, monks, does one not long for the past? ‘I had such material forms in the past,’ there he does not delight in longing for the past. ‘I had such feelings in the past,’ there he does not delight in longing for the past. ‘I had such perceptions in the past,’ there he does not delight in longing for the past. ‘I had such mental formations in the past,’ there he does not delight in longing for the past.‘I had such consciousness in the past,’ there he does not delight in longing for the past. Thus, monks, he does not longs for the past.

274. “How, monks, does one anticipate the future? ‘May I have such material forms in the future,’ there he delights in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such feelings in the future,’ there he delights in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such perceptions in the future,’ there he delights in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such mental formations in the future,’ there he delights in anticipating the future.‘May I have such consciousness in the future,’ there he delights in anticipating the future. Thus, monks, he anticipates the future.

“How, monks, does one not anticipate the future? ‘May I have such material forms in the future,’ there he does not delight in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such feelings in the future,’ there he does not delight in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such perceptions in the future,’ there he does not delight in anticipating the future. ‘May I have such mental formations in the future,’ there he does not delight in anticipating the future.‘May I have such consciousness in the future,’ there he does not delight in anticipating the future. Thus, monks, he does not anticipate the future.

275. “How, monks, does one get caught up in presently arising phenomena? Here, monks, an unlearned ordinary person, having no regards for the Noble Ones, ignorant of and untrained in the noble teaching, having no regard for good people, ignorant of and untrained in the teaching of good people, regards material form as self, or the self as having form, regards feeling as self, or the self as having feeling, regards perception as self, or the self as having perception, regards mental formations as self, or the self as having mental formations, [189] regards consciousness as self, or the self as having consciousness — thus monks, one is caught up in the presently arising phenomena.

“How, monks, does one not get caught up in presently arising phenomena? Here, monks, a learned disciple of the Noble Ones,⁴ having regard for the Noble Ones, knowledgeable of and well-trained in the noble teaching, having regard for good people, knowledgeable of and well-trained in the teaching of good people, does not regard material form as self, or the self as having form, does not regard feeling as self, or the self as having feeling, does not regard perception as self, or the self as having perception, does not regard mental formations as self, or the self as having mental formations, does not regard consciousness as self, or the self as having consciousness — thus monks, one is not caught up in the presently arising phenomena.

“Do not long for the past, nor anticipate the future.
For the past has been left behind, and the future is yet to arrive.

“The presently arising phenomena, there observe with insight.
Do not get caught up, be unperturbed, develop the mind.

“Today do what should be done with ardour, who knows if one will die tomorrow?
There is no bargaining with death, with the grim-reaper ⁵ and his army.

“Thus, one who abides ardently by day and by night.
It is he who has an excellent night, the peaceful sage has explained.”

“‘I will teach you, monks, the exposition and analysis of a single excellent night.’ Thus it was said on account of this.”

Thus spoke the Blessed One. Delighted, those monks rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said.

Notes:

1. This discourse is followed by three more Bhaddekaratta Suttas, one by Venerable Ānanda to the monks, one by Mahā Kaccāna to the monks, and one by a deity named Candana to the Venerable Lomasakaṅgiya.

2. The Pāḷi term “nānvāgameyya” (na anvāgameyya) is from the verb anugacchati = to follow.

3. The Pāḷi term “asaṃhīraṃ” is from the verb “saṃhīrati” = to be drawn or caught in; hence do not get caught up in the presently arising phenomena.

4. Often translated as “noble disciple,” but the PTS dictionary gives for ariyasāvaka “A disciple of the noble ones” (= ariyānaŋ santike sutattā, i.e. having learnt in the presence of Noble Ones). Although only the noble disciples are entirely free from regarding material form as self, or the self as having form, etc., anyone who is both knowledgeable and well-trained in the discipline of the Noble Ones will be able to avoid reflecting unwisely regarding the self. The deeply embedded illusion of self-view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi) is already removed to some extent at the early stages of insight such as Purification of View. Direct knowledge gained through insight meditation is radically different to intellectual knowledge, that is why one should stress both knowledgeable (kovido) and well-trained (suvīnito) in the teaching of good people.

5. The grim-reaper or death (maccu) is one of the Five Kinds of Māra; the evil one who deceives living beings, and makes them take delight in things that lead only to suffering.


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