Home Previous Up Next

The Buddha

What's New?

Classes

Retreats

Videos

Forums

Blog

Books

Mahāsi Sayādaw

Ledi Sayādaw

Other Authors

Bhikkhu Pesala

Discourses

DPPN

Help

Contact Us

Pāḷi Words

Map of India

Related Links

Photos

OpenType Fonts


Parent Folder Previous Page

© You may print any of these books for your own use. However, all rights are reserved. You may not use any of the site content on your own website, nor for commercial distribution. To publish the books, permission must be sought from the appropriate copyright owners. If you post an extract on a forum, post a link to the appropriate page. Please do not link directly to PDF, MP3, or ZIP files. (Updated on 28 October, 2017)




Home Next Page

Jīvaka Suttaṃ

(M.i.368)

A Discourse to Jīvaka

Introduction

There are two discourses of this name; one in the Middle-length sayings (Majjhimanikāya), and the second in the Gradual Sayings (Aṅguttaranikāya). The first is about the eating of meat, and the second is about the good practices for a lay disciple.

The fifty-fifth discourse in the Middle-length sayings explains that meat is allowable for monks, provided that it does not derive from a living-being slaughtered specifically to offer almsfood to the monks. That is, if it is bought in the market place, or slaughtered for some other reason, then it may be offered and accepted. The same applies, of course, to fish, fowl, or any other living-being that can be used for food.

The Buddhist monastic code (Vinaya) makes a specific prohibition for ten kinds of meat that are never allowable for monks — the flesh of human beings, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and hyenas. Human beings, horses, and elephants were regarded as too noble to be used as food. The other types of meat were forbidden either on grounds that they were repulsive (dogs) or that they posed a risk of attack for forest-dwelling monks from wild animals (snakes … hyenas) that might smell the meat that they had eaten.

There is a cultural barrier to eating beef in Burma due to the use of cattle for farming, transport, and providing dairy products. In his Goṇasurā Dīpanī, the Ledi Sayādaw emphases the ingratitude of eating one’s benefactors. However, there is no prohibition in the Vinaya for offering beef to monks. Nor is there any prohibition against eating pork. There is also a prohibition against eating raw meat, so sushi is not allowable for monks.

Translation

Thus have I heard — At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the monastery of Jīvaka-Komārabhacca.¹ Then Jīvaka-Komārabhacca approached the Blessed One, and having approached paid homage and sat down at one side. Sitting at one side, Jīvaka-Komārabhacca said this to the Blessed One: “I have heard it said, Venerable Sir, ‘They slaughter animals for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly partakes of the meat of animals slaughtered for his sake.’ Do those who speak thus, Venerable sir, speak truthfully or do they slander the Blessed One, do they speak in accordance with the Dhamma such that there are no grounds to censure them?”

“Those, Jīvaka, who say: ‘They slaughter animals for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly partakes of the meat of animals slaughtered for his sake,’ slander me by speaking what is untrue and not in accordance with the facts. I say, Jīvaka, that in three cases meat should not be eaten. If it is seen, heard, or suspected [that a living being has been slaughtered specifically to offer meat to the monks]. I say, Jīvaka, that in three cases meat may be eaten. If it is neither seen, heard, nor suspected [that a living being has been slaughtered specifically to offer meat to the monks].

“Here, Jīvaka, a monk dwells dependent on a certain village or market town. He dwells pervading one direction with a mind of loving-kindness, and likewise the second, third, and fourth directions. Thus above, below, across, and in all directions he dwells pervading thoughts of loving-kindness to all beings, the mind being extensive, expansive, immeasurable, without any ill-will or enmity. A householder, or a householder’s son or daughter having approached him invites him for tomorrow’s meal. If he wishes, Jīvaka, the monk can accept the invitation. At the end of the night, early in the morning, having put on his robes and taking his alms bowl, he approaches the residence of that householder or householder’s son or daughter, and having approached, he sits on a suitable seat made ready for him. Then that householder, or householder’s son or daughter serves him with superior almsfood.² It does not occur to him thus: ‘It is good that this householder or householder’s son or daughter serves me with superior food, may they do so again in the future. He just eats the meal without being greedy for it or fettered by it, seeing the disadvantage and the escape from it, he makes use of it [only for the sake of nutrition].’ What do you think, Jīvaka, in that case would a monk be thinking of his own affliction or the affliction of others, or the affliction of both?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Then, Jīvaka, does a monk sustain himself with blameless food on that occasion?”

“It is so, venerable sir. I have heard, venerable sir, ‘Brahmā dwells with loving-kindness.’ The Blessed One is my witness to that for the Blessed One dwells in loving-kindness.”

“Jīvaka, any lust, hatred, or delusion by means of which lust, hatred, or delusion might arise in the future have been cut off at the root and made like a palm-tree stump. If that is what you were referring too, I allow that to you.”

“That is precisely what I was referring to, venerable sir.”

“Here, Jīvaka, a monk dwells dependent on a certain village or market town. He dwells pervading one direction with a mind of compassion … with sympathetic-joy … with equanimity, and likewise the second, third, and fourth directions. Thus above, below, across, and in all directions he dwells pervading thoughts of compassion to all beings, the mind being extensive, expansive, immeasurable, without any ill-will or  enmity. A householder, or a householder’s son or daughter having approached him invites him for tomorrow’s meal. If he wishes, Jīvaka, the monk can accept the invitation. At the end of the night, early in the morning, having put on his robes and taking his alms bowl, he approaches the residence of that householder or householder’s son or daughter, and having approached he sits on a suitable seat made ready for him. Then that householder, or householder’s son or daughter serves him with superior  almsfood. It does not occur to him thus: ‘It is good that this householder or householder’s son or daughter serves me with superior food, may they do so again in the future. He just eats the meal without being greedy for it or fettered by it, seeing the disadvantage and the escape from it, he makes use of it [only for the sake of nutrition].’ What do you think, Jīvaka, in that case would a monk be thinking of his own affliction or the affliction of others, or the affliction of both?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Then, Jīvaka, does a monk sustain himself with blameless food on that occasion?”

“It is so, venerable sir. I have heard, venerable sir, ‘Brahmā dwells with compassion … sympathetic-joy … equanimity.’ The Blessed One is my witness to that for the Blessed One dwells in compassion … sympathetic-joy … equanimity.”

“Jīvaka, any lust, hatred, or delusion by means of which lust, hatred, or delusion might arise in the future have been cut off at the root and made like a palm-tree stump. If that is what you were referring too, I allow that to you.”

“That is precisely what I was referring to, venerable sir.”

“Whoever, Jīvaka, deprives a living-being of life for the sake of a Tathāgata or his disciples makes much demerit in five ways. If a householder says: ‘Go and fetch that living-being [for slaughter],’ this is the first way that he makes much demerit. While that living-being is being fetched it experiences pain and distress, this is the second way that he makes much demerit. If he says: ‘Go and slaughter that living-being,’ this is the third way that he makes much demerit. While that living-being is being slaughtered it experiences pain and distress, this is the fourth way that he makes much demerit. If he offers to the Tathāgata or to his disciples what is not allowable for them, this is the fifth way that he makes much demerit. Whoever, Jīvaka, deprives a living-being of life for the sake of the Tathāgata or his disciples makes much demerit in these five ways.”

When this was said, Jīvaka-Komārabhacca said to the Blessed One: “It is wonderful, venerable sir, it is marvellous, venerable sir! The monks sustain themselves with allowable food, the monks sustain themselves with food blamelessly. It is excellent, venerable sir. From today onwards may the Blessed One regard me as a disciple, as one who has gone for refuge as long as I shall live.”

Jīvaka Suttaṃ, Aṅguttaranikāya

(A.iv.222)

At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the monastery of Jīvaka-Komārabhacca. Then Jīvaka-Komārabhacca approached the Blessed One, and having approached paid homage and sat down at one side. Setting at one side, Jīvaka-Komārabhacca said this to the Blessed One:³ “In what way, venerable sir, is one a lay disciple?”

“When, Jīvaka, one has gone to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha for refuge, then one is a lay disciple.”

“In what way, venerable sir, is one a virtuous lay disciple?”

“When, Jīvaka, he abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, from taking intoxicants that lead to heedlessness, then one is a virtuous lay disciple.”

“In what way, venerable sir, does a lay disciple practice for his own benefit, not for the benefit of others?”

“When, Jīvaka, a lay disciple has faith, but does not strive to arouse faith in others; has morality, but does not strive to arouse morality in others; is generous, but does not strive to arouse generosity in others; wants to visit the monks, but does not encourage others to visit the monks; wants to listen to the Dhamma, but does not encourage others to listen to the Dhamma; learns the Dhamma by heart himself, but does not encourage others to learn the Dhamma by heart; investigates the meaning of the Dhamma he has heard, but does not encourage others to examine the meaning; practices in accordance with the Dhamma himself, but does not encourage others to practice in accordance with the Dhamma.”

“In what way, venerable sir, does a lay disciple practise for his own benefit, and for the benefit of others?”

“When, Jīvaka, a lay disciple has faith, but does not strive to arouse faith in others; has morality and strives to arouse morality in others; is generous and does not strive to arouse generosity in others; wants to visit the monks and encourages others to visit the monks; wants to listen to the Dhamma and encourages others to listen to the Dhamma; learns the Dhamma by heart himself and encourages others to learn the Dhamma by heart; investigates the meaning of the Dhamma he has heard and encourages others to examine the meaning; practices in accordance with the Dhamma himself and encourages others to practice in accordance with the Dhamma. In this way, Jīvaka, a lay disciple practises for his own benefit, and for the benefit of others.”

Notes:

1. He was known as Jīvaka-Komārabhacca. “Komāra” means a youth, “bhacca” means one who is a master. The PTS dictionary notes that the ephitet would mean that he was an expert in the medical treatment of infants, i.e. a pediatrician. I see no evidence for this. I think the epithet derives from him being an orphan. He was brought up by Prince Abhaya and sent to study medicine at Taxila. He became the physician of King Bimbisāra, and offered his services to the Buddha and the Saṅgha.

2. Superior food (paṇītabhojana) is covered by another training rule for monks. Unless he is sick, he may not request superior food. For the sake of this rule, superior food means ghee (sappi), butter (navanītaṃ), oil (telaṃ), honey (madhu), palm sugar (phāṇitaṃ), fish (maccho), meat (maṃsaṃ), milk (khīraṃ), or curd (dadhi). The first five are allowable as seven-day medicine for sick monks who cannot digest regular food, and can be used to suppress hunger pangs when famished due to hard work, going on a long journey, etc. Once offered, they can be stored and made use of until the eighth dawn, after which they must be offered again in order to be used. In brief, a monk should be content with grains, pulses, vegetables, and fruit. If superior food is offered he can accept it.

3. The same discourse was also given to Mahānāma at Kapilavatthu, in Nigrodha’s monastery.