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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

333 – Malunkyaputta



                Malunkyaputta was a disciple of the Buddha who became dissatisfied with the Buddha’s failure to resolve many of the questions about which other teachers had such firm opinions.  So, that evening, he approached the Buddha and, addressing him respectfully, he said:
                “Lord, it has occurred to me, as I was sitting in solitary meditation, that there are many issues which my Lord has not elucidated for the bhikkus.  Such as: whether the world is eternal or finite, whether the atman and body are one or are separate, whether or not there is an existence after death, and many other issues.  I consider these very important issues, and I have decided that if my Lord will not provide me with clear answers to these questions, I will have no choice except to leave the sangha with great regret and resume the life of a layman.”
                “O Malunkyaputta,” the Buddha replied, “did the Tathagata ever say to you that if you led the religious life he would answer these questions?”
                “No, Lord, you did not.”
                “Or, Malunkyaputta, did you say to the Tathagata when you entered the sangha, ‘I will lead the religious life only if you answer these questions’?”
                “No, Lord, I did not.”
                “That being true, Malunkyaputta, why do you come to the Tathagata with these questions at this time?  One who would insist that such questions be answered before he lives the religious life is like a man who has been wounded by a poisoned arrow.  Imagine that such a man’s relatives rush to obtain the services of a physician in order to cure him, but when the physician arrives, this man would say to him, ‘I will not have this poisoned arrow drawn out until I have a physical description of the one who wounded me, his name, caste, and country of origin; I will not have this poisoned arrow drawn out until I know the type of wood used to form the bow from which it was shot and what type of bow-string was used; I will not have this poisoned arrow drawn out until I know the name of the fletcher who fashioned the arrow and am told the type of materials he used.’  Such a man, O Malunkyaputta, would die before learning the answer to these questions.
                “In the same way, one who before agreeing to lead the religious life demands to know whether the world is eternal or finite, whether the atman and body are one or are separate, whether or not there is an existence after death, and so forth, such a one would die before he had achieved liberation.
                “The religious life, O Malunkyaputta, does not depend on these issues.  Whether the world is eternal or finite, whether the atman and body are one or separate, whether or not there is an existence after death—none of these matters are of any importance.  Still there remains suffering, the causes of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path which leads to the cessation of suffering.  These are what the Tathagata teaches.
                “And why, O Malunkyaputta, has the Tathagata taught suffering, the causes of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path which leads to the cessation of suffering?  Because on these the religious life does depend, and because these teachings lead to liberation.”

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