The Buddha’s Insight: Eight Thoughts of a Great Being

AN 8.30
PTS: A iv 228
Anuruddha Sutta

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. Now on that occasion the Venerable Anuruddha was dwelling among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. While the Venerable Anuruddha was alone in seclusion, a course of thought arose in his mind thus:

(1) “This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires. (2) This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. (3) This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company. (4) This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy. (5) This Dhamma is for one who is mindful, not for one who is unmindful. (6) This Dhamma is for one whose mind is concentrated, not for one whose mind is unconcentrated. (7) This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise.”

The Blessed One knew with his own mind the course of thought in the Venerable Anuruddha’s mind. Then, just as a strong man might extend his bent arm or bend his extended arm, the Blessed One vanished from among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove, and appeared before the Venerable Anuruddha among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. The Blessed One sat down on the seat prepared for him. The Venerable Anuruddha then paid homage to him and sat down to one side, and the Blessed One said to him: “Good, good, Anuruddha! It is good that you have reflected on these thoughts of a great person, namely: ‘(1) This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires. (2) This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. (3) This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company. (4) This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy. (5) This Dhamma is for one who is mindful, not for one who is unmindful. (6) This Dhamma is for one whose mind is concentrated, not for one whose mind is unconcentrated. (7) This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise.’ Therefore, Anuruddha, also reflect on this eighth thought of a great person: (8) ‘This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation.’

“When, Anuruddha, you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome mental states, you will enter and dwell in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and happiness born of seclusion, accompanied by initial and sustained application of mind to an object.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the subsiding of initial and sustained application of mind to an object, internally purified, you will enter and dwell in the second jhāna, which has unification of mind and consists of rapture and happiness born of concentration, without initial and sustained application of mind to an object.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the fading away as well of rapture, dwelling in equanimity, mindful and fully aware, experiencing happiness with the body, you will enter and dwell in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare: ‘He who has equanimity and mindfulness dwells happily.’

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person, then, as much as you wish, with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and sadness, you will enter and dwell in the fourth jhāna, wherein there is neither pain nor pleasure, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.

“When, Anuruddha, you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your robe of rags will seem to you as a chest full of variously colored garments seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your scraps of almsfood will seem to you as a dish of rice cleaned of black grains and served with many gravies and curries seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and they will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your dwelling place at the foot of a tree will seem to you as a house with a peaked roof, plastered inside and out, draft-free, with bolts fastened and shutters closed, seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your bed and seat made of straw will seem to you as a couch spread with rugs, blankets, and covers, with an excellent covering of antelope hide, with a canopy above and red bolsters at both ends, seems to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.

“When you reflect upon these eight thoughts of a great person and gain at will, without trouble or difficulty, these four jhānas that constitute the higher mind and are pleasant dwellings in this very life, then, while you dwell contentedly, your medicine of fermented cow’s urine will seem to you as various medicaments of ghee, butter, oil, honey, and molasses seem to a householder or a householder’s son; and it will serve for your delight, relief, and ease, and for entering upon nibbāna.

“Therefore, Anuruddha, you should also spend the next rains residence right here among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park.”

“Yes, Venerable Sir,” the Venerable Anuruddha replied.

Then, having exhorted the Venerable Anuruddha, just as a strong man might extend his bent arm or bend his extended arm, the Blessed One vanished before the Venerable Anuruddha among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park and reappeared among the Bhaggas at Suṃsumāragira, in the deer park at Bhesakalā Grove. He then sat down on the seat prepared for him and addressed the bhikkhus: “I will teach you, bhikkhus, the eight thoughts of a great person. Listen and attend closely. I will speak.”

“Yes, Venerable Sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“And what, bhikkhus, are the eight thoughts of a great person? (1) This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires. (2) This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. (3) This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company. (4) This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy. (5) This Dhamma is for one who is mindful, not for one who is unmindful. (6) This Dhamma is for one whose mind is concentrated, not for one whose mind is unconcentrated. (7) This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise. (8) This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation.

(1) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, when a bhikkhu is one with few desires, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one with few desires.’ When he is content, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who is content.’ When he resorts to solitude, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who resorts to solitude.’ When he is energetic, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be energetic.’ When he is mindful, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be mindful.’ When his mind is concentrated, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one whose mind is concentrated.’ When he is wise, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be wise.’ When he delights in non-proliferation, he does not desire: ‘Let people know me to be one who delights in non-proliferation.’ When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one with few desires, not for one with strong desires,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(2) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is content with any kind of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicines and provisions for the sick. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(3) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, when a bhikkhu resorts to solitude, bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, female lay followers, kings, royal ministers, heads of other sects, and disciples belonging to other sects approach him. In each case, with a mind that slants, slopes, and inclines to seclusion, withdrawn, delighting in renunciation, he gives them a talk invariably concerned with dismissing them. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who resorts to solitude, not for one who delights in company,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(4) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu has aroused energy for abandoning unwholesome qualities and acquiring wholesome qualities; he is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is energetic, not for one who is lazy,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(5) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is mindful, not for one who is unmindful,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, one who remembers and recollects what was done and said long ago. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is mindful, not for one who is unmindful,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(6) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one whose mind is concentrated, not for one whose mind is unconcentrated,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome mental states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and happiness born of seclusion, accompanied by initial and sustained application of mind to an object; with the subsiding of initial and sustained application of mind to an object, internally purified, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the second jhāna, which has unification of mind and consists of rapture and happiness born of concentration, without initial and sustained application of mind to an object; with the fading away as well of rapture, dwelling in equanimity, mindful and fully aware, experiencing happiness with the body, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare: ‘He who has equanimity and mindfulness dwells happily’; with the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and sadness, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna, wherein there is neither pain nor pleasure, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one whose mind is concentrated, not for one whose mind is unconcentrated,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(7) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu is wise; he possesses the wisdom that discerns arising and passing away, which is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who is wise, not for one who is unwise,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.

(8) “When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation,’ with reference to what was this said? Here, a bhikkhu’s mind launches out upon the cessation of proliferation, becomes placid, settles down, and is liberated in it. When it was said: ‘This Dhamma is for one who delights in non-proliferation, who takes delight in non-proliferation, not for one who delights in proliferation, who takes delight in proliferation,’ it is with reference to this that this was said.”

Then the Venerable Anuruddha spent the next rains residence right there among the Cetis in the eastern bamboo park. Dwelling alone, withdrawn, heedful, ardent and resolute, in no long time the Venerable Anuruddha realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, that unsurpassed consummation of the spiritual life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness, and having entered upon it, he dwelled in it. He directly knew: “Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no further becoming beyond this.” And the Venerable Anuruddha became one of the arahants.

On that occasion, when he had attained arahantship, the Venerable Anuruddha spoke these verses:

aaaaaa“Having understood my thoughts,
aaaaaaaaaathe unsurpassed teacher in the world
aaaaaaaaaacame to me by psychic potency
aaaaaaaaaain a mind-made body.

aaaaaa“He taught me more
aaaaaaaaaathan my thoughts contained:
aaaaaaaaaathe Buddha, delighting in non-proliferation,
aaaaaaaaaainstructed me in non-proliferation.

aaaaaa“Having learned his Dhamma,
aaaaaaaaaaI delighted in his teaching.
aaaaaaaaaaI have gained the three true knowledges;
aaaaaaaaaathe Buddha’s teaching has been done.”

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