To Nakulapitar
Nakulapitar Sutta  (SN 22:1)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Bhaggas at Crocodile Haunt in the Bhesakaḷā Forest at the Deer Park. Then the householder Nakulapitar [Nakula’s father] went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, I am a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life. I am afflicted in body & ailing with every moment. And it’s only rarely that I get to see the Blessed One & the monks who nourish the heart. May the Blessed One teach me, may the Blessed One instruct me, for my long-term benefit & happiness.”

“So it is, householder. So it is. The body is afflicted, weak, & encumbered. For who, looking after this body, would claim even a moment of true health, except through sheer foolishness? So you should train yourself: ‘Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.’ That is how you should train yourself.”

Then the householder Nakulapitar, delighting in & approving of the Blessed One’s words, rose from his seat and—bowing down to the Blessed One and circumambulating him, keeping him to his right—went to Ven. Sāriputta and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Sāriputta said to him, “Your faculties are clear & calm, householder, your complexion pure. Have you had the opportunity of listening to a Dhamma talk in the presence of the Blessed One today?”

“How could it be otherwise, venerable sir? I have just now been sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk.”

“And how were you sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk?”

“Just now I went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As I was sitting there I said to him, ‘Lord, I am a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life. I am afflicted in body & ailing with every moment. And it is only rarely that I get to see the Blessed One & the monks who nourish the heart. May the Blessed One teach me, may the Blessed One instruct me, for my long-term benefit & happiness.’

“When this was said, the Blessed One said to me, ‘So it is, householder. So it is. The body is afflicted, weak, & encumbered. For who, looking after this body, would claim even a moment of true health, except through sheer foolishness? So you should train yourself: “Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.” That is how you should train yourself.’ That’s how I was sprinkled by the Blessed One with the deathless ambrosia of a Dhamma talk.”

“But why didn’t it occur to you to question the Blessed One further: ‘In what way is one afflicted in body & afflicted in mind? And in what way is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind?’

“I would come from a long way away to hear the explication of these words in Ven. Sāriputta’s presence. It would be good if Ven. Sāriputta himself would enlighten me as to their meaning.”

“Then in that case, householder, listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, venerable sir,” the householder Nakulapitar responded to him.

Ven. Sāriputta said: “Now, how is one afflicted in body & afflicted in mind?

“There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person—who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for people of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma—assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is seized with the idea that ‘I am form’ or ‘Form is mine.’ As he is seized with these ideas, his form changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

“He assumes feeling to be the self, or the self as possessing feeling, or feeling as in the self, or the self as in feeling. He is seized with the idea that ‘I am feeling’ or ‘Feeling is mine.’ As he is seized with these ideas, his feeling changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

“He assumes perception to be the self, or the self as possessing perception, or perception as in the self, or the self as in perception. He is seized with the idea that ‘I am perception’ or ‘Perception is mine.’ As he is seized with these ideas, his perception changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

“He assumes fabrications to be the self, or the self as possessing fabrications, or fabrications as in the self, or the self as in fabrications. He is seized with the idea that ‘I am fabrications’ or ‘Fabrications are mine.’ As he is seized with these ideas, his fabrications change & alter, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over their change & alteration.

“He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. He is seized with the idea that ‘I am consciousness’ or ‘Consciousness is mine.’ As he is seized with these ideas, his consciousness changes & alters, and he falls into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair over its change & alteration.

“This, householder, is how one is afflicted in body and afflicted in mind.

“And how is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind? There is the case where a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones—who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for people of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma—doesn’t assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is not seized with the idea that ‘I am form’ or ‘Form is mine.’ As he is not seized with these ideas, his form changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

“He doesn’t assume feeling to be the self….

“He doesn’t assume perception to be the self….

“He doesn’t assume fabrications to be the self….

“He doesn’t assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. He is not seized with the idea that ‘I am consciousness’ or ‘Consciousness is mine.’ As he is not seized with these ideas, his consciousness changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

“This, householder, is how one is afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind.”

That is what Ven. Sāriputta said. Gratified, the householder Nakulapitar delighted in Ven. Sāriputta’s words.

See also: MN 75; MN 109; SN 36:6; Sn 5:16; Thig 5:8