Simile of the Cloth

MN 7
PTS: M i 36
Vatthupama Sutta
(Simile of the Cloth)

1. Thus have I heard.

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling 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, imagine a cloth that is defiled and stained, and a dyer dips it in some dye or other, whether blue or yellow or red or orange; because of the impurity of the cloth, it would look poorly dyed and impure in color. So, too, when the mind is defiled, an unhappy destination may be expected.

“Bhikkhus, imagine a cloth that is pure and bright, and a dyer dips it in some dye or other, whether blue or yellow or red or orange; because of the purity of the cloth, it would look well dyed and pure in color. So, too, when the mind is undefiled, a happy destination may be expected.

3. “What, bhikkhus, are the defilements of the mind? Covetousness and unrighteous greed, ill will, anger, malice, contempt, insolence, envy, stinginess, deceit, fraud, obstinacy, rivalry, conceit, arrogance, vanity, and negligence are defilements of the mind.

4. “Knowing that covetousness and unrighteous greed are a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons them. Knowing that ill will is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that anger is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that malice is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that contempt is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that insolence is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that envy is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that stinginess is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that deceit is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that fraud is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that obstinacy is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that rivalry is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that conceit is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that arrogance is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that vanity is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it. Knowing that negligence is a defilement of the mind, a bhikkhu abandons it.

5. “When a bhikkhu has known that these are defilements of the mind and has abandoned them, he acquires unwavering confidence in the Buddha thus: ‘The Blessed One is accomplished, perfectly enlightened, perfect in knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable trainer of those who wish to be trained, teacher of gods and humans, awake and blessed.’

6. “He acquires unwavering confidence in the Dhamma thus: ‘The Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, visible here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation, leading onwards, to be experienced individually by the wise.’

7. “He acquires unwavering confidence in the Sangha thus: ‘The Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples has practiced well, practiced directly, practiced insightfully, practiced with integrity; that is the four pairs, the eight kinds of noble beings; these are the Blessed One’s disciples, worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world.’

8-11. “When he has given up, removed, let go, abandoned, and relinquished the defilements in part, he considers thus: ‘My confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha is unwavering, and the defilements have in part been given up, removed, let go, abandoned, and relinquished by me,’ and he gains enthusiasm for the goal, gains inspiration in the Dhamma, and gains gladness connected with the Dhamma. When he is glad, rapture arises; experiencing rapture, the body becomes tranquil; the body being tranquil, he feels happiness; happy, the mind becomes concentrated.

12. “Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu of such virtue, such concentration, and such wisdom eats almsfood consisting of choice hill rice along with various sauces and curries, even that will be no obstacle for him. Just as cloth that is defiled and stained becomes pure and bright with the help of clear water, or just as gold becomes pure and bright with the help of a furnace, so, too, if a bhikkhu of such virtue, such concentration, and such wisdom eats almsfood consisting of choice hill rice along with various sauces and curries, even that will be no obstacle for him.

13. “He abides pervading one quarter of the world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he abides pervading the entire universe with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, and boundless, free from enmity and ill will.

14. “He abides pervading one quarter of the world with a mind imbued with compassion, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he abides pervading the entire universe with a mind imbued with compassion, abundant, exalted, and boundless, free from enmity and ill will.

15. “He abides pervading one quarter of the world with a mind imbued with sympathetic joy, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he abides pervading the entire universe with a mind imbued with sympathetic joy, abundant, exalted, and boundless, free from enmity and ill will.

16. “He abides pervading one quarter of the world with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he abides pervading the entire universe with a mind imbued with equanimity, abundant, exalted, and boundless, free from enmity and ill will.

17. “He understands thus: ‘There is this, there is the inferior, there is the superior, and beyond there is an escape from this whole field of perception.’

18. “When he knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated from the āsava of sensual desire, from the āsava of becoming, and from the āsava of ignorance. When liberated, there is the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ And he knows: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no further becoming into any state of being.’ Bhikkhus, this bhikkhu is called one bathed with the inner bathing.”

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