The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The First Chapter for Recitation]

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[11: The Advantages of Virtue]

Then the Gracious One, after living near Nāḷandā for as long as he liked, addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “Come Ānanda let us approach Pāṭaligāma.” The modern Patna, it was also known as Pāṭaliputta and Pāṭaliputra. It became the capital of the Magadhan state some time after the Buddha's Parinibbāna, and before King Asoka's reign.01

“Very well, reverend Sir,” venerable Ānanda replied to the Gracious One. Then the Gracious One together with a great Community of monks arrived at Pāṭaligāma.

The laymen of Pāṭaligāma heard: “The Gracious One, it seems, had reached Pāṭaligāma.” Then the laymen of Pāṭaligāma approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, they sat down on one side. While sitting on one side, the laymen of Pāṭaligāma said this to the Gracious One: “May the Gracious One consent, reverend Sir, to (stay in) our rest house.” The Commentary to the Udāna explains that this rest house had never been used before and they wanted the Buddha to bless it by being the first person to stay there. Even now in Buddhist countries it is quite common to ask monks to bless a new house by staying there first before the owners move in.02 The Gracious One consented by maintaining silence.

Then the laymen of Pāṭaligāma, having understood the Gracious One's consent, after rising from their seats, worshipping and circumambulating the Gracious One, approached their rest house, and after approaching, and spreading (the mats) so that the rest house was spread all over, and preparing the seats, setting up the water-pot, and lighting the oil-lamp, they approached the Gracious One, and after approaching and worshipping the Gracious One, they stood on one side. While standing on one side, the laymen of Pāṭaligāma said this to the Gracious One:

“The rest house is spread with mats all over, reverend Sir, the seats are prepared, the water-pot is set up, and the oil-lamp is lit, now is the time, reverend Sir, for whatever the Gracious One is thinking.”

Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the evening time, after picking up his bowl and robe, together with the Community of monks, approached the rest house, and after approaching, washing his feet, and entering the rest house, he sat down near to the middle pillar, facing the East, and the Community of monks, after washing their feet, and entering the rest house, sat down (behind the Gracious One) near the West wall, facing the East, having the Gracious One in front (of them). Also the laymen of Pāṭaligāma, after washing their feet, and entering the rest house, sat down (in front of the Gracious One) near the East wall, facing the West, having the Gracious One in front (of them).

Then the Gracious One addressed the laymen of Pāṭaligāma, (saying): “There are these five dangers, householders, for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

What are the five?

  1. Here, householders, one lacking in virtue, one who has lost his virtue, because of being heedless undergoes a great loss of riches. This is the first danger for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

  2. Furthermore, householders, for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue, a bad report goes round. This is the second danger for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

  3. Furthermore, householders, one lacking in virtue, one who has lost his virtue, whatever assembly he approaches, whether an assembly of Nobles, or an assembly of brahmins, or an assembly of householders, or an assembly of ascetics, he approaches without confidence, with confusion. This is the third danger for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

  4. Furthermore, householders, one lacking in virtue, one who has lost his virtue, dies bewildered. This is the fourth danger for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

  5. Furthermore, householders, one lacking in virtue, one who has lost his virtue, at the break-up of the body, after death, arises in the lower world, in an unfortunate destiny, in the fall, in the nether regions. This is the fifth danger for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

These are the five dangers, householders, for one lacking in virtue, for one who has lost his virtue.

There are these five advantages, householders, for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue. The dangers (ādīnavā) and advantages (ānisaṁsā) are often mentioned as antonyms in the discourses; what follows are the exact opposite of the dangers listed above.03

What are the five?

  1. Here, householders, one who is virtuous, one accomplished in virtue, because of being heedful obtains a great mass of riches. This is the first advantage for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.

  2. Furthermore, householders, of one who is virtuous, of one accomplished in virtue, a good report goes round. This is the second advantage for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.

  3. Furthermore, householders, one who is virtuous, one accomplished in virtue, whatever assembly he approaches, whether an assembly of Nobles, or an assembly of brahmins, or an assembly of householders, or an assembly of ascetics, approaches with confidence, without confusion. This is the third advantage for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.

  4. Furthermore, householders, one who is virtuous, one accomplished in virtue, dies without bewilderment. This is the fourth advantage for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.

  5. Furthermore, householders, one who is virtuous, one accomplished in virtue, at the break-up of the body, after death, arises in a fortunate destiny, in a Heavenly world. This is the fifth advantage for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.

These are the five advantages, householders, for one who is virtuous, for one accomplished in virtue.”

Then the Gracious One, after instructing, rousing, enthusing, and cheering the laymen of Pāṭaligāma for most of the night with a talk about the Teaching, The Commentary explains that this was a teaching and a blessing that was not recorded by the elders at the First Council.04 dismissed them, (saying): “The night has passed, householders, now is the time for whatever you are thinking.”

“Very well, reverend Sir,” said those laymen of Pāṭaligāma, and after replying to the Gracious One, rising from their seats, worshipping and circumambulating the Gracious One, they went away.

Then the Gracious One, not long after the laymen of Pāṭaligāma had gone, entered an empty place. The Commentary explains that the monks screened off an area of the rest house, and the Buddha lay down in the lion's posture (sīhāsana) to rest for a while.05