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Of Compassion, Faith and Contentment: Excerpts From the Sutta Nipata, Part 2 of 2

2024-02-13
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Hemavatasutta The Buddha teaches Sâtâgira and Hemavata, the Devas.

“Hemavata said: ‘Who in this world crosses the stream (of existence)? Who in this world crosses the sea? Who does not sink into the deep, where there is no footing and no support?’ The Blessed One said: ‘He who is always endowed with virtue, possessed of understanding, well composed, reflecting within himself, and thoughtful, crosses the stream that is difficult to cross. He who is disgusted with sensual pleasures, who has overcome all bonds and destroyed joy, such a one does not sink into the deep.’”

Alavakasutta Discourse to Alavaka

“[…] A fourth time the demon Âlavaka said this to the Blessed One: ‘Come out, O ascetic!’ ‘I shall not come out to thee, O friend, do what thou please.’ ‘I shall ask thee a question, O ascetic, if thou cannot answer it, I will either scatter thy thoughts or cleave thy heart, or take thee by thy feet and throw thee over to the other shore of the Ganges.’ ‘I do not see, O friend, any one in this world nor in the world of gods, [demons], [beings in the heavenly realms], amongst the beings comprising gods, men, [ascetics], and [seekers of truth], who can either scatter my thoughts or cleave my heart, or take me by the feet and throw me over to the other shore of the Ganges; however, O friend, ask what thou please.’

Then the demon Âlavaka addressed the Blessed One in stanzas: ‘What in this world is the best property for a man? What, being well done, conveys happiness? What is indeed the sweetest of sweet things? How lived do they call life the best?’ The Blessed One said: ‘Faith is in this world the best property for a man; Dhamma, well observed, conveys happiness; truth indeed is the sweetest of things; and that life they call the best which is lived with understanding.’

Âlavaka said: ‘How does one cross the stream (of existence)? How does one cross the sea? How does one conquer pain? How is one purified?’ Blessed One said: ‘By faith one crosses the stream, by zeal the sea, by exertion one conquers pain, by understanding one is purified.’

Âlavaka said: ‘How does one obtain understanding? How does one acquire wealth? How does one obtain fame? How does one bind friends (to himself)? How does one not grieve passing away from this world to the other?’ The Blessed One said: ‘He who believes in the Dhamma of the venerable ones as to the acquisition of Nirvana, will obtain understanding from his desire to hear, being zealous and discerning. He who does what is proper, who takes the yoke (upon him and) exerts himself, will acquire wealth, by truth he will obtain fame, and being charitable he will bind friends (to himself). He who is faithful and leads the life of a householder, and possesses the following four Dhammas (virtues), truth, justice, firmness, and liberality, such a one indeed does not grieve when passing away. Pray, ask also other [ascetics] and [seekers of truth] far and wide, whether there is found in this world anything greater than truth, self-restraint, liberality, and forbearance.’”
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