Brahmā Sahampati’s Request

SN 6.1
PTS: S i 136 CDB i 231
Ayacana Sutta
(Brahmā Sahampati’s Request)

Thus have I heard.

On one occasion, the Blessed One was dwelling at Uruvelā on the bank of the river Nerañjarā at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree just after his self-awakening. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: “This Dhamma that I have discovered is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful, sublime, not within the sphere of reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, takes delight in attachment, rejoices in attachment. For a generation that delights in attachment, takes delight in attachment, rejoices in attachment, this state is hard to see, that is, specific conditionality, dependent origination. And this state, too, is hard to see, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna. If I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be wearisome for me, that would be troublesome.”

Thereupon these verses, not heard before, occurred to the Blessed One:

aaaaaaaa“Enough now with trying to teach
aaaaaaaaWhat I found with so much hardship;
aaaaaaaaThis Dhamma is not easily understood
aaaaaaaaBy those oppressed by greed and hate.

aaaaaaaa“Those fired by greed, obscured by darkness,
aaaaaaaaWill never see this profound Dhamma,
aaaaaaaaDeep, hard to see, subtle,
aaaaaaaaGoing against the stream.”

As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.

Then Brahma Sahampati, having become aware with his own mind the reflection in the Blessed One’s mind, thought: “The world is lost! The world is to perish! The mind of the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Sammāsambuddha, inclines to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.” Then, just as quickly as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm, Brahmā Sahampati vanished from the Brahmā world and appeared before the Blessed One. He arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, knelt down with his right knee on the ground, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation towards the Blessed One, and said to him: “Venerable One, let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma! Let the Fortunate One teach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.”

This is what Brahmā Sahampati said. Having said this, he further said this:

aaaaaaaa“In the past there appeared among the Magadhans
aaaaaaaaAn impure Dhamma devised by those still stained.
aaaaaaaaThrow open the door to the Deathless! Let them hear
aaaaaaaaThe Dhamma that the Stainless One discovered!

aaaaaaaa“Just as one standing on a mountain peak
aaaaaaaaMight see below the people all around,
aaaaaaaaSo, O wise one, universal eye,
aaaaaaaaAscend the palace fashioned of the Dhamma.
aaaaaaaaBeing free from sorrow, behold the people
aaaaaaaaSubmerged in sorrow, oppressed by birth and decay.

aaaaaaaa“Rise up, hero, victor in battle!
aaaaaaaaO caravan leader, wander without debt in the world.
aaaaaaaaTeach the Dhamma, O Blessed One:
aaaaaaaaThere will be those who will understand.”

Then the Blessed One, having understood Brahmā’s request, out of compassion for beings surveyed the world with the eye of an Awakened One. As he did so, the Blessed One saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much dust in their eyes, those with keen faculties and those with dull faculties, those with good qualities and those with bad qualities, those easy to teach and those difficult to teach, and a few who dwelt seeing blame and fear in the other world. Just as in a pond of blue or red or white lotuses, some lotuses might be born in the water, grow up in the water, and thrive while submerged in the water, without rising up from the water; some lotuses might be born in the water, grow up in the water, and stand at an even level with the water; and some lotuses be born in the water and grow up in the water, but would rise up from the water and stand without being soiled by the water—so too, surveying the world with the eye of an Awakened One, the Blessed One saw beings with little dust in their eyes and those with much dust in their eyes, those with keen faculties and those with dull faculties, those with good qualities and those with bad qualities, those easy to teach and those difficult to teach, and a few who dwelt seeing blame and fear in the other world.

Having seen this, he answered Brahmā Sahampati in verse:

aaaaaaaa“Open to them are the doors to the Deathless:
aaaaaaaaLet those who have ears show their faith.
aaaaaaaaPerceiving trouble, O Brahmā, I did not speak
aaaaaaaaThe refined, sublime Dhamma among human beings.”

Then Brahmā Sahampati, thinking, “The Blessed One has given his consent to teach the Dhamma,” paid homage to the Blessed One and, circumambulated the Blessed One keeping him on the right, and disappeared right there.

aaaaaaaa

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