The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Fourth Chapter for Recitation]

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[28: The Four Great Referrals]

Then the Gracious One, after living near Bhaṇḍagāma for as long as he liked, addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying):

“Come Ānanda let us approach Hatthigāma (Elephant Village), Ambagāma (Mango Village), Jambugāma (Rose-Apple Village), Bhoganagara (Wealthy Village).”

“Very well, reverend Sir,” venerable Ānanda replied to the Gracious One. Then the Gracious One together with a great Community of monks arrived at Bhoganagara. There the Gracious One lived near Bhoganagara at the Joyous Shrine.

There the Gracious One addressed the monks, (saying): “I will teach these Four Great Referrals, Parse as mahā + apadesa. It should not be translated as authority, the authorities are actually stated below to be the Teaching and the Discipline (Dhammavinaya).01 monks, listen to it, apply your minds well, and I will speak.”

“Very well, reverend Sir,” those monks, replied to the Gracious One, and the Gracious One said this:

  1. “Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘I have heard this directly from the Gracious One, friends, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher's Dispensation.” ’ That monk's speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline. The Commentary has a hard time here explaining what is comprehended by Sutta and Vinaya, because the Abhidhamma is not mentioned explicitly. Eventually it settles on the following definition: Sutte ti Tepiṭake Buddhavacane otāretabbāni. Vinaye ti etasmiṁ rāgādivinayakāraṇe saṁsandetabbānī ti; alongside the Discourses, they should be laid alongside the Buddha's word in the Three Baskets. With the Discipline, they should be compared with the means of disciplining passion.02

    If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One's word, it is not well learned by that monk,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare (well) with the Discipline, you may come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One's word, it is well-learned by that monk.’ This, monks, is the first Great Referral you should bear in mind.

  2. Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place lives a Community with elders and leaders, I have heard this directly from that Community, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher's Dispensation.” ’ Those monks' speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

    If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One's word, it is not well learned by that Community,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One's word, it is well-learned by that Community.’ This, monks, is the second Great Referral you should bear in mind.

  3. Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place live many elders, very learned, who have learned the traditions, who are bearers of the Teaching, bearers of the Discipline, bearers of the Tabulation, Commenting on this phrase the Commentary to AN (PTS 2:189) says: Dhammadharā ti Suttantapiṭakadharā, Vinayadharā ti Vinayapiṭakadharā, Mātikādharā ti Dvemātikādharā. The last item in defined therefore as being bearers of both the Bhikkhu- and Bhikkhuṇī-Pātimokkhā.03 I have heard this directly from those elders, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher's Dispensation.” ’ Those monks' speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

    If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One's word, it is not well learned by those elders,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One's word, it is well-learned by those elders.’ This, monks, is the third Great Referral you should bear in mind.

  4. Here, monks, a monk might speak like this: ‘In a certain dwelling place lives one elder, very learned, who has learned the traditions, a bearer of the Teaching, a bearer of the Discipline, a bearer of the Tabulation, I have heard this directly from that elder, directly I learned it: “This is the Teaching, this is the Discipline, this is the Teacher's Dispensation.” ’ That monk's speech, monks, is not to be rejoiced over, not to be scorned at. Without having rejoiced over it, without having scorned it, after learning those words and syllables well, they should be laid alongside the Discourses, they should be compared with the Discipline.

    If, when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline they do not fit in with the Discourses, they do not compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is not the Gracious One's word, it is not well learned by that elder,’ and, monks, you should abandon it. If when these are laid alongside the Discourses, compared with the Discipline, they do fit in with the Discourses, they do compare (well) with the Discipline, you may here come to this conclusion: ‘Certainly this is the Gracious One's word, it is well-learned by that elder.’ This, monks, is the fourth Great Referral you should bear in mind. These, monks, are the Four Great Referrals you should bear in mind.”

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There also the Gracious One, while living near Bhoganagara at the Joyful Shrine, spoke frequently to the monks about the Teaching, (saying):

“Such is virtue, such is concentration, such is wisdom, when virtue is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to concentration, when concentration is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to wisdom, when wisdom is well-developed the mind is completely liberated from the pollutants, that is to say: the pollutant of sensuality, the pollutant of (craving for) continued existence, the pollutant of ignorance.”