To Māluṅkyaputta
Māluṅkyaputta Sutta  (SN 35:95)

Then Ven. Māluṅkyaputta, who was ardent & resolute, 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: “It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone in seclusion: heedful, ardent, & resolute.”

“Here now, Māluṅkyaputta: What will I say to the young monks when you—aged, old, elderly, along in years, come to the last stage of life—ask for an admonition in brief?”

“Lord, even though I’m aged, old, elderly, along in years, come to the last stage of life, may the Blessed One teach me the Dhamma in brief! May the One Well-Gone teach me the Dhamma in brief! It may well be that I’ll understand the Blessed One’s words. It may well be that I’ll become an heir to the Blessed One’s words.”

“What do you think, Māluṅkyaputta? The forms cognizable via the eye that are unseen by you—that you have never before seen, that you don’t see, and that are not to be seen by you: Do you have any desire or passion or love there?”

“No, lord.”1

“The sounds cognizable via the ear…

“The aromas cognizable via the nose…

“The flavors cognizable via the tongue…

“The tactile sensations cognizable via the body…

“The ideas cognizable via the intellect that are uncognized by you–the you have never before cognized, that you don’t cognize, and that are not to be cognized by you: Do you have any desire or passion or love there?”

“No, lord.”

“Then, Māluṅkyaputta, with regard to phenomena to be seen, heard, sensed, or cognized: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how your should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Māluṅkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.”2

“I understand in detail, lord, the meaning of what the Blessed One has said in brief:

Seeing a form

—mindfulness lapsed—

attending

to the theme of ‘endearing,’

impassioned in mind,

one feels

and remains fastened on it.

One’s feelings, born of the form,

grow numerous,

Greed & annoyance

injure one’s mind.

Thus amassing stress,

one is said to be far

from unbinding.

Hearing a sound…

Smelling an aroma…

Tasting a flavor…

Touching a tactile sensation…

Knowing an idea

—mindfulness lapsed—

attending

to the theme of ‘endearing,’

impassioned in mind,

one feels

and remains fastened on it.

One’s feelings, born of the idea,

grow numerous,

Greed & annoyance

injure one’s mind.

Thus amassing stress,

one is said to be far

from unbinding.

Not impassioned with forms

—seeing a form with mindfulness firm—

dispassioned in mind,

one knows

and doesn’t remain fastened on it.

While one is seeing a form

—and even experiencing feeling—

it falls away and doesn’t accumulate.

Thus   one fares mindfully.

Thus   not amassing stress,

one is said to be

in the presence of unbinding.

Not impassioned with sounds…

Not impassioned with aromas…

Not impassioned with flavors…

Not impassioned with tactile sensations…

Not impassioned with ideas

—knowing an idea with mindfulness firm—

dispassioned in mind,

one knows

and doesn’t remain fastened on it.

While one is knowing an idea

—and even experiencing feeling—

it falls away and doesn’t accumulate.

Thus   one fares mindfully.

Thus   not amassing stress,

one is said to be

in the presence of unbinding.

“It’s in this way, lord, that I understand in detail the meaning of what the Blessed One said in brief.”

“Good, Māluṅkyaputta. Very good. It’s good that you understand in detail this way the meaning of what I said in brief.”

[The Buddha then repeats the verses.]

“It’s in this way, Māluṅkyaputta, that the meaning of what I said in brief should be regarded in detail.”

Then Ven. Māluṅkyaputta, having been admonished by the admonishment from the Blessed One, got up from his seat and bowed down to the Blessed One, circled around him, keeping the Blessed One to his right side, and left. Then, dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time entered & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, directly knowing & realizing it for himself in the here & now. He knew: “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.” And thus Ven. Māluṅkyaputta became another one of the arahants.

Notes

1. It is possible, of course, to have desire for a sight that one has not seen. However, strictly speaking, the desire is not “there” at the unseen sight. Rather, it’s there at the present idea of the unseen sight. This distinction is important for the purpose of the practice.

2. See Ud 1:10, where the Buddha gives these same instructions to Bāhiya of the Bark-cloth.

See also: MN 18; SN 23:2; SN 35:63; AN 6:63