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Mālukyaputta Suttaṃ

(S.iv.71)

A Discourse to Mālukyaputta

Introduction

This teaching on the practice of bare awareness, which was given to both Mālukyaputta and Bāhiya Dārucirya, was frequently taught by the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw to the meditators practising at his meditation centres. An explanation in detail can be found in the Sayādaw’s teaching “A Discourse on the Mālukyaputta Sutta.” It may be described as the shortest possible route to nibbāna.

Since the discourse is not long, I have included the repetitions found in the Pāḷi text that are elided in the translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Thanissaro.

There is another discourse — The Lesser Discourse to Mālukyaputta — about speculative views.

Translation

Then the Venerable Mālukyaputta approached the Blessed One, having approached he paid homage and sat down at one side. Sitting there the Venerable Mālukyaputta said to the Blessed One: “It would be good, venerable sir, if you would teach me the Dhamma in brief. Having heard the essence of Dhamma, I will practise it in solitude, abiding vigilant, strenuous, and with single purpose.”

“Then what shall I say to other bhikkhus when you are making such a request? You are old, having reached the latter part of your life. Even so you ask for just the gist of the Dhamma from me.”

“Venerable sir, although I am old, having reached the latter part of my life, nevertheless please teach me the Dhamma in brief, perhaps I will understand the meaning of the Blessed One’s teaching. Perhaps I will become an heir to the teaching of the Blessed One.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain visible objects that you have never seen before, do not see now, nor hope to see in the future. Could such objects arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain sounds that you have never heard before, do not hear now, and do not hope to hear in the future. Could such objects arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain odours that you have never smelled before, do not smell now, and do not hope to smell in the future. Could such odours arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain flavours that you have never tasted ­before, do not taste now, and do not hope to taste in the future. Could such flavours arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain tangible objects that you have never touched before, that you are not touching now, and do not hope to touch in the future. Could such objects arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, Mālukyaputta? There are certain mind objects that you have never thought of before, which you do not think of now, and do not hope to think of in the future. Could such object arouse desire, lust, or affection in you?”

“Indeed not, venerable sir.”

“Mālukyaputta! As phenomena are seen, heard, thought of, or known, just let them be as they are seen, heard, thought of, or known at that moment. When you see, you just see it; when you hear, you just hear it; when you think, you just think it; and when you know, you just know it. If you note with mindfulness what you see, hear, think, or know, you will not get emotion­ally involved in those phenomena. Since you have nothing whatever to do with them, you will find no foothold on the sense-objects that you perceive. As you have no foothold on them, you are neither here nor there, nor anywhere, and because you exist nowhere it means that you have realised nibbāna where all suffering ceases.”

“Venerable sir, this is how I understand the meaning of what the Blessed One has taught in brief:–

“Having seen a form one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from form, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having heard a sound one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from sound, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having smelled an odour one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from odour, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having tasted a flavour one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from flavour, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having felt a contact one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from contact, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having cognised an idea one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from ideas, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the form that he has seen. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Looking at a visible object, he just sees it and just feels that he sees it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the sound that he has heard. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Hearing a sound, he just hears it and just feels that he hears it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the odour that he has smelled. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Smelling an odour, he just smells it and just feels that he smells it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the flavour that he has tasted. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Tasting a flavour, he just tastes it and just feels that he tastes it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the contact that he has felt. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Feeling a contact, he just feels it and just feels that he feels it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the idea that he has cognised. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Cognising an idea, he just cognises it and just feels that he cognises it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Venerable sir, this is how I understand the meaning of what the Blessed One has taught in brief.”

“Well said, Mālukyaputta! You have understood well, Mālukyaputta, the meaning in detail of what I said in brief.

“Having seen a form one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from form, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having heard a sound one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from sound, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having smelled an odour one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from odour, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having tasted a flavour one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from flavour, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having felt a contact one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from contact, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Having cognised an idea one loses mindfulness. Getting involved in the attraction of it, one feels the onset of desire that tries to imbibe it. A multitude of passions such as covetousness and rage, springing from ideas, torments one who takes a firm hold of it, with the result that his mind becomes burdened with vexation. There­fore, nibbāna remains remote from one who accumulates suffering.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the form that he has seen. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Looking at a visible object, he just sees it and just feels that he sees it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the sound that he has heard. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Hearing a sound, he just hears it and just feels that he hears it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the odour that he has smelled. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Smelling an odour, he just smells it and just feels that he smells it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the flavour that he has tasted. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Tasting a flavour, he just tastes it and just feels that he tastes it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the contact that he has felt. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Feeling a contact, he just feels it and just feels that he feels it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“Passion remains undeveloped in him who recollects with mindfulness the idea that he has cognised. Thus freed from lust, he refuses to imbibe it. Cognising an idea, he just cognises it and just feels that he cognises it, without conceptualising it. With this, suffering ceases. One who practises in this way is said to be near to nibbāna.

“That is how, Mālukyaputta, what I said in brief should be understood in detail.”

Then the Venerable Mālukyaputta, having delighted in and approved of what the Blessed One had said, rose from his seat, paid homage to the Blessed One, and departed keeping him on his right side.

Then the Venerable Mālukyaputta, practised in solitude, abiding vigilant, strenuous, and with single purpose — before long realised for himself the goal of the holy life with direct knowledge, which is visible here and now, for the sake of which clansmen go forth from home to the homeless life: “Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what should be done has been done, there will be no more of this.” And the Venerable Mālukyaputta became one of the Arahants. (S.iv.71)