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Isidatta Suttaṃ

(S.iv.286)

A Discourse by Isidatta Thera

345. At one time many elders were dwelling at Macchikāsaṇḍa ¹ in the mango grove. Then the householder Citta approached the elders; having approached, he paid homage to the elders and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, the householder Citta said to the elders: “Venerable sirs, please consent to accept tomorrow’s meal.” The elders accepted by remaining silent. Then the householder Citta, having understood their consent, rose from his seat, paid homage to the elders, and departed keeping his right side towards them. Then the elders, when the night had passed, put on their robes, and taking their double-robes and almsbowls approached the residence of the householder Citta; having approached, they sat down on seats that had been prepared.

Then the householder Citta approached the elders, and having approached them, paid homage and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, the householder Citta said to the elders: “These various views arise in the world: ‘The world is eternal, the world is not eternal, the world is finite, the world is infinite, the soul is the body, the soul is one thing the body is another, the Tathāgata exists after death, the Tathāgata does not exist after death, the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death, the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.’ These sixty-two views taught in the Brahmajāla Sutta; what exists that they come to be, venerable sirs, what does not exist that they do not come to be?”

When this was said, the elders were silent. A second and a third time the householder Citta repeated the question. For a third time the elders were silent.

Then on that occasion the Venerable Isidatta ² was the most junior of those monks. Then the Venerable Isidatta said to those elders: “Venerable sirs, may I answer the question of the householder Citta?” “Friend Isidatta, please answer the question of the householder Citta.” [287]

“Is this, householder, what you ask? ‘These various views arise in the world: “The world is eternal, the world is not eternal, the world is finite, the world is infinite, the soul is the body, the soul is one thing the body is another, the Tathāgata exists after death, the Tathāgata does not exist after death, the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death, the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.”  These sixty-two views taught in the Brahmajāla Sutta; what exists that they come to be, what does not exist that they do not come to be?’”

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“These various views arise in the world: “The world is eternal, the world is not eternal, the world is finite, the world is infinite, the soul is the body, the soul is one thing the body is another, the Tathāgata exists after death, the Tathāgata does not exist after death, the Tathāgata both exists and does not exist after death, the Tathāgata neither exists nor does not exist after death.”  These sixty-two views taught in the Brahmajāla Sutta; come to be when personality-view exists, they do not come to be when personality-view does not exist.”

“How, venerable sir, does personality-view come to be?”

“Here, householder, an unlearned ordinary person, having no regard 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, regards consciousness as self, or the self as having consciousness. Thus, householder, personality-view comes to be.”

“How, venerable sir, does personality-view not come to be?”

“Here, householder, a learned disciple of the Noble Ones, having high regard for the Noble Ones, knowable of and well-trained in the noble teaching, having high 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, householder, personality-view does not come to be.” [288]

“From where, venerable sir, does the Venerable Isidatta come?”

“I come from Avanti,³ householder.”

“There is, venerable sir, in Avanti, a son of a good family named Isidatta who is my unseen friend.⁴ Have you seen him?”

“It is so, householder.”

“Where, venerable sir, is he living now?”

When this was said, the Venerable Isidatta was silent.

“Are you, venerable sir, Isidatta?”

“It is so, householder.”

“Let the Venerable Isidatta enjoy Macchikāsaṇḍa. Let him enjoy the Mango grove. I will strive to provide robes, almsfood, a dwelling place, medicine for the sick, and medical requisites.”

“That is kind of you to say so, householder.”

Then the householder Citta, having delighted and rejoiced in what the Venerable Isidatta had said, served with his own hand and satisfied the elders with superior hard and soft food. Then when the elders had eaten and withdrawn their hands from the bowl, he got up and left. Then the elder monk said to Isidatta: “Friend Isidatta, you answered the question well. I could not answer the question. Then, friend Isidatta, whenever such a question comes up, you should answer it.”

Then the Venerable Isidatta having set his dwelling place in order, taking his double-robe and almsbowl, departed from Macchikāsaṇḍa, and when he had left, he never returned again.⁵

Notes

1. Macchikāsaṇḍa was a township of Kāsi (Benares), and was the home of Citta gahapati, who was declared by the Buddha as the foremost among householders in teaching the Dhamma.

2. This is the second of two similar discourses given by Isidatta. Though junior, he was no ordinary monk. He ordained under Mahā-Kaccāna and became an Arahant.

3. Avantī is south-west of the Ganges valley, beyond the boundaries of Majjhimadesa, far from Macchikāsaṇḍa and Bārāṇasī (Benares), with its capital at Ujjeni (Ujjain).

4. Isidatta became a friend of Citta through correspondence. They had never met before.

5. After the householder Citta had identified him and made an open invitation to provide him with the four requisites, Isidatta considered that it would be improper to receive requisites because of their special friendship, so he left never to return.