Vipassana Fellowship © 2012
Vipassana Fellowship - Calm and Insight meditation inspired by the early Buddhist tradition.
Mindfulness meditation from the Theravada tradition for the spiritual development of people of all faiths & none. Online courses & support since 1997

Sutta Nipata IV.13

Maha-Viyuha Sutta

The Great Array

"Those who, dwelling on views,
dispute, saying, 'Only this is true':
    do they all incur blame,
    or also earn praise there?"

"[The praise:] It's such a little thing,
not at all appeasing.[1]
I speak of two fruits of dispute;
and seeing this, you shouldn't dispute --
    seeing the state
    where there's no dispute
    as secure.
One who knows
doesn't get involved
in whatever are
One who is uninvolved:
when he's forming no preference
for what's seen, for what's heard,
why would he get

Those for whom precepts
are ultimate
say that purity's
a matter of self-restraint.
Undertaking a practice,
they devote themselves to it:
'Let's train just in this,
and then there would be purity.'
Those who say they are skilled
are [thus] led on to becoming.
But if one of them falls
from his precepts or practice,
    he trembles,
having failed in his actions.
He hopes for, longs for, purity,
like a lost caravan leader
    far from home.

But one who's abandoned
    precepts & practices[2]
        -- all --
things that are blamable, blameless,[3]
not hoping for 'pure or impure,'[4]
would live in compassion & peace,
        without taking up peace,[5]

on taboos, austerities,
or what's seen, heard, or sensed,
they speak of purity
through wandering further on
through becoming & not-,
their craving not gone
for becoming & not-.[6]
For one who aspires has longings
& trembling with regard to preconceptions.
But one who here
has no passing away & arising:
Why would he tremble?
For what would he long?"

"The teaching some say is 'supreme,'
is the very one others call 'lowly.'
Which statement is true
when all of these claim to be skilled?"

"They say their own teaching is perfect
while the doctrine of others is lowly.
Thus quarreling, they dispute,
each saying his agreed-on opinion
        is true.
If something, because of an opponent's say-so,
    were lowly,
then none among teachings would be
for many say
that another's teaching's inferior
when firmly asserting their own.
If their worship of their teaching were true,
in line with the way they praise their own path,
    then all doctrines
    would be true --
for purity's theirs, according to each.

The brahmin has nothing
led by another,
when considering what's grasped
among doctrines.
Thus he has gone
beyond disputes,
for he doesn't regard as best
    the knowledge of a teaching,
    any other mental state.[7]

'I know. I see. That's just how it is!' --
Some believe purity's in terms of view.
    But even if a person has seen,
    what good does it do him?
Having slipped past,
they speak of purity
in connection with something
        or somebody     else.
A person, in seeing,
sees name & form.
Having seen, he'll know
only these things.
No matter if he's seen little, a lot,
the skilled don't say purity's
in connection with that.

A person entrenched in his teachings,
honoring a preconceived view,
isn't easy to discipline.
Whatever he depends on
he describes it as lovely,
says     that it's purity,
    that there he saw truth.

The brahmin, evaluating,
isn't involved with conjurings,
doesn't follow views,
isn't tied even to knowledge.[8]
And on knowing
whatever's conventional, commonplace,
he remains equanimous:
    'That's what others hold onto.'

Having released the knots
that tie him down,
the sage here in the world
doesn't follow a faction
when disputes have arisen.
At peace among those not at peace,
he's equanimous, doesn't hold on:
    'That's what others hold onto.'

Giving up old fermentations,
not forming new,
neither pursuing desire,
nor entrenched in his teachings,
he's totally released
from viewpoints,

He doesn't adhere to the world,
is without self-rebuke;
is enemy-free[9]
with regard to all things
seen, heard, or sensed.           

His burden laid down,
the sage totally released

    is improper / is free from conjuring
    hasn't stopped / isn't impassioned
isn't worth wanting / doesn't

            the Blessed One said.


1. Or: Not enough to appease (the defilements, says Nd.I). [Go back]

2. Nd.I: Abandoning precepts & practices in the sense of no longer believing that purity is measured in terms of them, the view discussed in the preceding verse. [Go back]

3. Nd.I: "Blamable, blameless" = black and white kamma (see AN IV.232, 234, 237-238, quoted in The Wings to Awakening, section I/B. [Go back]

4. Nd.I: Having abandoned impure mental qualities, and having fully attained the goal, the arahant has no need to hope for anything at all. [Go back]

5. "In compassion & peace, without taking up peace" -- a pun on the word, santimanuggahaya. [Go back]

6. The word bhavabhavesu -- through/for becoming & not- becoming -- here is a lamp, i.e., a single word functioning in two phrases. [Go back]

7. "The knowledge of a teaching, any other mental state" -- a pun on the word, dhammamaññam. [Go back]

8. According to Nd.I, this compound -- ñana-bandhu -- should be translated as "tied by means of knowledge," in that the arahant doesn't use the knowledge that comes with the mastery of concentration, the five mundane forms of psychic power (abhiñña), or any wrong knowledge to create the bonds of craving or views. However, the compound may also refer to the fact that the arahant isn't tied even to the knowledge that forms part of the path to arahantship (see MN 117). [Go back]

9. See note 7 under Sn IV.4. [Go back]

10. "Is improper / is free from conjuring, hasn't stopped / isn't impassioned, isn't worth wanting / doesn't desire" -- a series of puns -- na kappiyo, nuparato, na patthiyo -- each with a strongly positive and a strongly negative meaning, probably meant for their shock value. For a similar set of puns, see Dhp 97.

[Go back]
See also: AN X.93; AN X.96
Source: ATI - For Free Distribution Only, as a Gift of Dhamma.

Dhamma Essay:
Ideal Solitude by Ayya Khema

Meditation | Resources | Pali Canon | Training | Parisa
Audio | Links | Books | Newsletter | Feedback | Donate
to know - to shape - to liberate

Site Copyright © 2017, Vipassana Fellowship Ltd.     [Terms of Service]