Samaññaphala Sutta


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Unformatted text preview: 1 Home » Tipitaka » Sutta » Digha » About | Index | Abbrev | Glossary | Help | DN 2 Samaññaphala Sutta The Fruits of the Contemplative Life Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu PTS: D i 47 Source: Transcribed from a file provided by the translator. Copyright © 1997 Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight edition © 1997 For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish, however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and other derivative works be clearly marked as such. Translator's Introduction This discourse is one of the masterpieces of the Pali canon. At heart, it is a comprehensive portrait of the Buddhist path of training, illustrating each stage of the training with vivid similes. This portrait is placed in juxtaposition to the Buddhist view of the teachings of rival philosophical teachers of the time, showing how the Buddha — in contradistinction to the inflexible, party-line approach of his contemporaries — presented his teaching in a way that was pertinent and sensitive to the needs of his listeners. This larger portrait of the intellectual landscape of early Buddhist India is then presented in a moving narrative frame: the sad story of King Ajatasattu. Ajatasattu was the son of King Bimbisara of Magadha, one of the Buddha's earliest followers. Urged on by Devadatta — the Buddha's cousin, who wished to use Ajatasattu's support in his bid to take over the Buddha's position as head of the Sangha — Ajatasattu arranged for his father's death so that he could secure his own position on the throne. As a result of this evil deed, he was destined not only to be killed by his own son — Udayibhadda (mentioned in the discourse) — but also to take immediate rebirth in one of the lowest regions of hell. In this discourse, Ajatasattu visits the Buddha in hopes that the latter will bring some peace to his mind. The question he puts to the Buddha shows the limited level of his own understanding, so the Buddha patiently describes the steps of the training, beginning at a very basic level and gradually moving up, as a way of raising the king's spiritual horizons. At the end of the talk, Ajatasattu takes refuge in the Triple Gem. Although his earlier deeds were so heavy that this expression of faith could have only limited consequences in the immediate present, the Commentary assures us that the king's story would ultimately have a happy ending. After the Buddha's death, he sponsored the First Council, at which a congress of arahant disciples produced the first standardized account of the Buddha's teachings. As a result of the merit coming from this deed, Ajatasattu is destined — after his release from hell — to attain Awakening as a Private Buddha. 2 I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Rajagaha, in Jivaka Komarabhacca's mango grove, with a large community of monks — 1,250 monks in all. Now at Komarabhacca's mango grove, with a large community of monks — 1,250 monks in all....
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This note was uploaded on 09/29/2010 for the course RELIGION 43 taught by Professor Prasad,l during the Fall '08 term at Duke.

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