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Ūmibhaya Suttaṃ

(A.iii.123)

The Peril of Waves

“There are four perils, monks, to be anticipated ¹ by one who enters the water. What four? The peril of waves, the peril of crocodiles, the peril of whirlpools, and the peril of fierce fish. These, monks, are the four perils to be anticipated one who enters the water. Similarly, monks, there are four perils to be anticipated by the son of a good family who has gone forth from household life into homelessness in this Dhamma and Vinaya. What four? The peril of waves (ūmi), the peril of crocodiles (kumbhīla), the peril of whirlpools (āvaṭṭa), and the peril of fierce fish (sussukā).²

“And what, monks, is the peril of waves? Herein, monks, one who has gone forth from household life into homelessness thinking: ‘I have fallen into birth, aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair, I have fallen into suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps the end of this mass of suffering can be attained!’ His fellow monks who have gone forth as recluses admonish and exhort him: ‘Go out [for alms] like this, return like this,­³ [124] look ahead like this, look to the side like this, bend your limbs like this, stretch out your limbs like this, wear the robes and carry the almsbowl and double-robe like this.’ He thinks: ‘Formerly, when I was a layman, I used to admonish and exhort others. These who are like my sons and grandsons think they should admonish and exhort me.’ Being angry and displeased, he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This, monks, is a monk who has given up the training due to fear of the peril of waves. The peril of waves, monks, is a metaphor for anger and displeasure. This, monks, is called the peril of waves.

“And what, monks, is the peril of crocodiles? Herein, monks,  one who has gone forth from household life into homelessness thinking: ‘I have fallen into birth, aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair, I have fallen into suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps the end of this mass of suffering can be attained!’ His fellow monks who have gone forth as recluses admonish and exhort him: ‘You may chew that, but not this; you may eat this, but not that;⁴ you may taste this, but not that; you may drink this, but not that; it is allowable to chew this, but not that; it is allowable to eat this, but not that; it is allowable to taste this, but not that; it is allowable to drink this, but not that; it is allowable to chew, eat, taste, or drink at the right time, but not at the wrong time.’ He thinks: ‘Formerly, when I was a layman, I used to chew, eat, taste, or drink whatever I wanted, whenever I wished to, [125] but now when householders with faith give us superior things to chew, eat, taste, or drink outside of the proper time it is as if we have our mouths closed.’ Being angry and displeased, he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This, monks, is a monk who has given up the training due to fear of the peril of crocodiles. The peril of crocodiles, monks, is a metaphor for stuffing the belly. This, monks, is called the peril of crocodiles.

“And what, monks, is the peril of whirlpools? Herein, monks, one who has gone forth from household life into homelessness thinking: ‘I have fallen into birth, aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair, I have fallen into suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps the end of this mass of suffering can be attained!’ Having gone forth thus, he puts on the robes ⁵ evenly all round early in the morning and, taking his almsbowl and double-robe, enters the village or town for alms with his body, speech, and mind unguarded, and without establishing mindfulness of the six sense-faculties. There he sees a householder or a householder’s son possessing, endowed with, and enjoying the five kinds of sensual pleasures.  He thinks: ‘Formerly, when I was a layman, I used to possess, was endowed with, and enjoyed the five sensual pleasures. My family has wealth; I can enjoy that wealth and perform meritorious deeds. What if I give up the training, revert to the lower life, enjoy wealth, and perform meritorious deeds!? He gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This, monks, is a monk who has given up the training due to fear of the peril of whirlpools. The peril of whirlpools, monks, is a metaphor for the five strands of sensual pleasures. This, monks, is called the peril of whirlpools.

“And what, monks, is the peril of fierce fishes? Herein, monks, one who has gone forth from household life into homelessness thinking: ‘I have fallen into birth, aging, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair, I have fallen into suffering, afflicted by suffering. Perhaps the end of this mass of suffering can be attained!’ Having gone forth thus, he puts on the robes evenly all round early in the morning and taking his almsbowl and double-robe enters the village or town for alms [126] with his body, speech, and mind unguarded, and without establishing mindfulness of the six sense-faculties. There he sees a woman improperly dressed, scantily clad. Having seen a woman improperly dressed, scantily clad, lust defiles his mind. With his mind defiled by lust he gives up the training and reverts to the lower life. This, monks, is a monk who has given up the training due to the fear of the peril of fierce fishes. The peril of fierce fishes, monks, is a metaphor for women. This, monks, is called the peril of fierce fishes.

“These, monks, are the four perils to be anticipated by the son of a good family who has gone forth from household life into homelessness in this Dhamma and Vinaya.”

Notes:

1. Pāṭikaṅkhitabbāni = should be anticipated or expected.

2. Sussukā is given in the PTS dictionary as alligators, but the Commentary glosses the term as caṇḍamaccha = fierce fish.

3. Newly ordained monks will be trained in the four foundations of mindfulness and reminded to practise clear comprehension when entering the village for alms.

4. There are two classes of food — hard, or food suitable for biting or chewing (khādaniya), and soft food (bhojaniya) suitable for eating. There are salts or vitamins that, once received, may be kept and then tasted or swallowed at any time. There are drinks that can drunk at the right time (between first light and midday), and others that can be drunk until just before first light on the day after receiving them. There are the five tonics (ghee, butter, oil, honey, and molasses), which once received can be consumed at any time by one who is sick (or famished), until before first light on the eighth day after receiving them. Medicines like sugar cannot be mixed with food that needs to be consumed before midday, life-time medicines like salt, cannot be mixed with either, etc. Unless a new monk is enthusiastic about undertaking the training he may find the rules very fastidious.

5. Monks have a set of three robes: a lower robe, an upper robe, and a double robe. Having dressed in the lower robe and upper robe, they carried the folded double robe over their shoulder. The robes must be worn evenly all round at the bottom, not hanging down at the front or back, and one or two hand-spans below the knee (no more than eight finger-breadths), and tied with a waist-band. The upper robe must then be arranged to cover both shoulders, and must also be even at the bottom. It need not cover the bottom of the lower robe. The lower corners of the upper robe must be tied with a toggle to prevent them being swept up by the wind, which might expose his body. The double-robe is not usually worn in hot climates, so it is folded and carried over the shoulder. A forest monk must keep all three robes near to him as they are hard to replace, and must be protected from thieves, animals, and insects. The almsbowl is usually carried in a cloth case with a strap.