Two Kinds of Thinking

MN 19
PTS: M i 114
Dvedhāvitakka Sutta
(Two Kinds of Thinking)

1. Thus have I heard.

On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s Park. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.”—“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this:

2. “Bhikkhus, before my self-awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, this thought occurred to me: ‘Suppose that I divide my thoughts into two kinds.’ Then on one side I set thoughts of sensual desire, thoughts of ill will, and thoughts of cruelty, and on the other side I set thoughts of renunciation, thoughts of non-ill will, and thoughts of non-cruelty.

3-5. “As I abided thus, diligent, ardent and resolute, thoughts of sensual desire, ill will, and cruelty arose in me. I understood thus: ‘These thoughts of sensual desire, ill will, and cruelty have arisen in me. These thoughts lead to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; they obstruct wisdom, cause difficulties, and lead away from Nibbāna.’ When I considered: ‘These thoughts lead to my own affliction,’ they subsided in me. When I considered: ‘These thoughts lead to others’ affliction,’ they subsided in me. When I considered: ‘These thoughts lead to the affliction of both,’ they subsided in me. When I considered: ‘These thoughts obstruct wisdom, cause difficulties, and lead away from Nibbāna,’ they subsided in me. Whenever thoughts of sensual desire, ill will, and cruelty arose in me, I set them aside, abandoned them, and let them go.

6. “Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and dwells upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of sensual desire, he has abandoned the thought of renunciation to cultivate the thought of sensual desire, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of sensual desire. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of ill will, he has abandoned the thought of non-ill will to cultivate the thought of ill will, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of ill will. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of non-cruelty to cultivate the thought of cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of cruelty.

7. “Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would guard his cows by constantly tapping and poking them on this side and that with a stick to check and curb them. Why is that? Because he sees that he could be flogged, imprisoned, fined, or blamed if he let them stray into the crops. So, too, I saw in unwholesome mental states danger, degradation, and defilement, and I saw in wholesome states the blessing of renunciation and the promoting of cleansing.

8-10. “As I abided thus, diligent, ardent and resolute, thoughts of renunciation, non-ill will, and non-cruelty arose in me. I understood thus: ‘These thoughts of renunciation, non-ill will, and non-cruelty have arisen in me. These do not lead to my own affliction, or to others’ affliction, or to the affliction of both; they aid wisdom, do not cause difficulties, and lead to Nibbāna. If I think and ponder upon these thoughts even for a night, even for a day, even for a night and day, I see nothing to fear from them. But with excessive thinking and pondering I might tire my body, and when the body is tired, the mind becomes strained, and when the mind is strained, it is far from concentration.’ So I steadied my mind internally, quieted it, brought it to unification, and concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind should not be strained.

11. “Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and dwells upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of renunciation, he has abandoned the thought of sensual desire to cultivate the thought of renunciation, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of non-ill will, he has abandoned the thought of ill will to cultivate the thought of non-ill will, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-ill will. If he frequently thinks and dwells upon thoughts of non-cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of cruelty to cultivate the thought of non-cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-cruelty.

12. “Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been brought inside the villages, a cowherd would guard his cows while staying at the root of a tree or out in the open, since he needs only to be mindful that the cows are there. So, too, there was need for me only to be mindful that those states were there.

13. “Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified.

14. “Having abandoned sensual pleasures, detached from unskillful mental states, I entered and dwelled in first jhāna, wherein there is rapture and happiness born of detachment, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.

15. “With the subsiding of directed thought and evaluation, internally purified, I entered and dwelled in second jhāna, wherein there is rapture and happiness born of concentration, having unification of mind that is free from directed thought and evaluation.

16. “With the fading away as well of rapture, dwelling in equanimity, mindful and clearly comprehending, experiencing happiness with the body, I entered and dwelled in third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare: ‘He who has equanimity and mindfulness dwells happily.’

17. “With the abandoning of happiness and suffering, and with the previous passing away of joy and grief, I entered and dwelled in fourth jhāna, wherein there is neither happiness nor suffering, but the purity of mindfulness and equanimity.

18. “When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives.

19. “This was the first true knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute.

20. “When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings. With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate. I understood how beings pass on according to their actions thus: ‘These beings who were ill conducted in body, speech, and mind, revilers of noble ones, wrong in their views, giving effect to wrong view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, after death, have reappeared in a state of deprivation, in a bad destination, in perdition, even in hell; but these beings who were well conducted in body, speech, and mind, not revilers of noble ones, right in their views, giving effect to right view in their actions, on the dissolution of the body, after death, have reappeared in a good destination, even in the heavenly world.’ Thus with the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I saw beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and I understood how beings pass on according to their actions.

21. “This was the second true knowledge attained by me in the middle watch of the night. Ignorance was banished and true knowledge arose, darkness was banished and light arose, as happens in one who abides diligent, ardent, and resolute.

22. “When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the āsavas. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is dukkha.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of dukkha.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of dukkha.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of dukkha.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘These are the āsavas.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the origin of the āsavas.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the cessation of the āsavas.’ I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of the āsavas.’

23. “When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the āsava of sensual desire, from the āsava of becoming, and from the āsava of ignorance. When it was liberated, there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no further becoming into any state of being.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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