“I ask the Kinsman of the Sun, the Great Seer,
about seclusion & the state of peace.
Seeing in what way is a monk unbound,
clinging to nothing in the world?”
“He should put an entire stop
to the root of objectification-classifications:
‘I am the thinker.’1
He should train, always mindful,
to subdue any craving inside him.
Whatever truth he may know,
within or without,
he shouldn’t, because of it,
make himself hardened,
for that isn’t called
unbinding by the good.
He shouldn’t, because of it, think himself
Touched by contact in various ways,
he shouldn’t keep theorizing about self.
Stilled right within,
a monk shouldn’t seek peace from another,
from anything else.
For one stilled right within,
there’s nothing embraced,
so how rejected?2
As in the middle of the sea
it is still,
with no waves upwelling,
so the monk—unperturbed, still—
should not swell himself
“He whose eyes are open has described
the Dhamma he’s witnessed,
Now tell us, sir, the practice:
the Pāṭimokkha & concentration.”
“One shouldn’t be careless with his eyes,
should close his ears to village-talk,
shouldn’t hunger for flavors,
or view anything in the world
When touched by contact,
he shouldn’t lament,
shouldn’t covet anywhere any
states of becoming,
or tremble at terrors.
When gaining food & drink,
staples & cloth,
he should not make a hoard.
Nor should he be upset
when receiving no gains.
Doing jhāna, not footloose,
he should refrain from restlessness,
shouldn’t be heedless,
should live in a noise-less abode.
Not making much of sleep,
ardent, given to wakefulness,
he should abandon weariness, deception,
& all that goes with it;
should not practice casting spells,3
interpret dreams, physical marks,
the stars, animal cries;
should not be devoted to
doing cures or inducing fertility.
A monk shouldn’t tremble at blame
or grow haughty with praise;
should dispel stinginess, greed,
divisive speech, anger;
shouldn’t buy or sell
or revile anyone anywhere;
shouldn’t linger in villages,
or flatter people in hope of gains.
A monk shouldn’t boast
or speak with ulterior motive,
shouldn’t train in insolence
or speak quarrelsome words;
shouldn’t engage in lies
or knowingly cheat;
shouldn’t despise others for their
Annoyed on hearing many words
or ordinary people,
he shouldn’t respond harshly,
for those who retaliate
Knowing this teaching,
a monk inquiring
train in it mindfully.
Knowing unbinding as peace,
he shouldn’t be heedless
of Gotama’s message—
for he, the Conqueror unconquered,
witnessed the Dhamma,
not by hearsay,
but directly, himself.
So, heedful, you
should always do homage & train
in line with that Blessed One’s message,”
the Blessed One said.4
1. On objectification-classifications and their role in leading to conflict, see Sn 4:11 and the introduction to MN 18. The perception, “I am the thinker” lies at the root of these classifications in that it identifies oneself as a being. Because a being requires food, both physical and mental (see SN 12:63–64 and Khp 4), this creates conflict with others seeking food. Because an identity as a being also involves attachment (see SN 23:2), this perception involves internal conflict as well, as whatever one identifies with will inevitably change. The conceit inherent in this perception thus forms a fetter on the mind. To become unbound, one must learn to examine this perception—to see that it is simply an assumption that is not inherent in experience, and that we would be better off learning how to drop it.
2. This reading follows the version of the verse given in the Thai edition of Nd I, as well as an alternative reading given as a footnote to the Sri Lankan edition of Sn 4:14: n’atthi attaṁ kuto nirattaṁ vā. The Burmese and Sri Lankan editions of this verse read, n’atthi attā kuto nirattā vā: “There is no self, so how what’s opposed to self?” The Thai edition of Sn 4:14 reads, n’atthi attā kuto nirattaṁ vā: “There is no self, so how what’s rejected?” This last reading makes no sense; the Burmese and Sri Lankan readings depend on the notion that nirattā is an actual word, although it appears nowhere in the Canon except in two other verses of the Aṭṭhaka Vagga, where it is cited as a possible alternative to niratta (Sn 4:3 and Sn 4:10). Because the Buddha in SN 44:10 refuses to take the position that there is no self, and because he says in MN 2 that the questions, “Do I exist? Do I not exist?” are unworthy of attention, all of the readings of this verse that say n’atthi attā would appear to be wrong. Thus I have adopted the reading given here.
3. Āthabbaṇa. Some scholars have identified this term with the Atharvaveda, but the identification is uncertain. It could also be a generic term for casting spells and curses of any sort. Nd I interprets this term simply as referring to spells for bringing about calamities and diseases for one’s enemies.
4. The Chinese version of the Aṭṭhaka Vagga adds, at the end of this sutta, the verses in Sn 1:9.
See also: DN 2