Anathapindikovada Sutta: Advice to A Dying Man

Here I have included two versions.

Anathapindikovada Sutta: Advice to A Dying Man (excerpt)
translated from the Pali by
Andrew Olendzki
© 2006

Translator’s note: This systematic exploration of the phenomenal field of human experience is a powerful exercise in non-attachment. No need to wait until lying on your death bed to undertake it. Put aside an hour, find a quiet place, and try working through this map of the inner landscape, step by step.

On one occasion the householder Anathapindika was afflicted, suffering, and gravely ill. The venerable Sariputta dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, went to the residence of Anathapindika with Ananda as his attendant. Having gone there, he sat down on a seat made ready and said to Anathapindika: “I hope you are getting well, I hope you are comfortable. I hope your painful feelings are subsiding and not increasing.”

“Venerable Sariputta, I am not getting well, I am not comfortable. My painful feelings are increasing, not subsiding. Just as if a strong man were splitting my head open with a sharp sword, so too violent winds cut through my head. Just as if a strong man were tightening a tough leather strap around my head as a headband, so too there are violent pains in my head. Just as if a skilled butcher or his apprentice were to carve up an ox’s belly with a sharp butcher’s knife, so too violent winds are carving up my belly. Just as if two strong men were to seize a weaker man by both arms and roast him over a pit of hot coals, so too there is a violent burning in my body. I am not getting well, I am not comfortable. My painful feelings are increasing, not subsiding.”

“Then, householder, [said Sariputta,] you should train thus:

I will not cling tothe eye; the ear; the nose; the tongue; the body; the mindand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
the eye; the ear; the nose; the tongue; the body; the mind
I will not cling toforms; sounds; smells; tastes; touches; mind-objectsand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
forms; sounds; smells; tastes; touches; mind-objects
I will not cling toeye-consciousness; ear-consciousness; nose-consciousness; tongue-consciousness; body-consciousness; mind-consciousnessand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
eye-consciousness; ear-consciousness; nose-consciousness; tongue-consciousness; body-consciousness; mind-consciousness
I will not cling toeye-contact; ear-contact; nose-contact; tongue-contact; body-contact; mind-contactand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
eye-contact; ear-contact; nose-contact; tongue-contact; body-contact; mind-contact
I will not cling tofeeling born of eye-contact; feeling born of ear-contact; feeling born of nose-contact; feeling born of tongue-contact; feeling born of body-contact; feeling born of mind-contactand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
feeling born of eye-contact; feeling born of ear-contact; feeling born of nose-contact; feeling born of tongue-contact; feeling born of body-contact; feeling born of mind-contact
I will not cling tothe earth element; the water element; the fire element; the air elementand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
the earth element; the water element; the fire element; the air element
I will not cling tomaterial form; feeling; perception; formations; consciousnessand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
material form; feeling; perception; formations; consciousness
I will not cling tothe sphere of infinite space; the sphere of infinite consciousness; the sphere of nothingness; the sphere of neither perception nor non-perceptionand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
infinite space; infinite consciousness; nothingness; neither perception nor non-perception
I will not cling tothis world; the world beyondand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
this world; the world beyond
I will not cling towhat is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, encountered, sought after, and examined by the mindand my consciousness
will not be dependent on
what is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, encountered, sought after, and examined by the mind

When this was said, Anathapindika wept and shed tears. Then Ananda asked him, “Are you foundering, householder, are you sinking?”

“I am not foundering, Ananda, I am not sinking. But although I have long waited upon the Teacher and bhikkhus worthy of esteem, never before have I heard such a talk on the Dhamma.”

“Such talk on the Dhamma is not given to lay people clothed in white, but only to those who have gone forth.”

“Well, then, Sariputta, let such talk on the Dhamma be given to lay people clothed in white. There are people with little dust in their eyes who are wasting away through not hearing such talk on the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand.”

Then, after giving Anathapindika this advice, Sariputta and Ananda rose from their seats and departed.

Soon after they had left, the householder Anathapindika died and reappeared in the Tushita heaven.

©2005 Andrew Olendzki.
You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Transcribed from Insight Journal, Fall 2005, with permission from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Last revised for Access to Insight on 2 November 2013.


Anathapindikovada Sutta: Instructions to Anathapindika
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2003

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi, in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. And on that occasion Anathapindika the householder was diseased, in pain, severely ill. Then Anathapindika the householder said to one of his men, “Come, my good man. Go to the Blessed One and, on arrival, pay homage to his feet with your head in my name and say ‘Lord, Anathapindika the householder is diseased, in pain, severely ill. He pays homage with his head to the Blessed One’s feet.’ Then go to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, pay homage to his feet with your head in my name and say ‘Venerable sir, Anathapindika the householder is diseased, in pain, severely ill. He pays homage with his head to your feet.’ Then say: ‘It would be good if Ven. Sariputta would visit Anathapindika’s home, out of sympathy for him.'”

Responding, “As you say, lord,” to Anathapindika the householder, the man went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said, “Lord, Anathapindika the householder is diseased, in pain, severely ill. He pays homage with his head to the Blessed One’s feet.” Then he went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, bowed down to him and sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said, ‘Venerable sir, Anathapindika the householder is diseased, in pain, severely ill. He pays homage with his head to Ven. Sariputta’s feet.” Then he said, “It would be good if Ven. Sariputta would visit Anathapindika’s home, out of sympathy for him.” Ven. Sariputta acquiesced through silence.

Then Ven. Sariputta, having put on his robes and, taking his bowl & outer robe, went to the home of Anathapindika the householder with Ven. Ananda as his attendant. On arrival, he sat down on a prepared seat and said to Anathapindika the householder: “I trust you are getting better, householder? I trust you are comfortable? I trust that your pains are lessening and not increasing? I trust that there are signs of their lessening, and not of their increasing?”

[Anathapindika:] “I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening. Extreme forces slice through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword… Extreme pains have arisen in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban on my head with a tough leather strap… Extreme forces carve up my stomach cavity, just as if an expert butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox with a sharp butcher’s knife… There is an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, seizing a weaker man with their arms, were to roast and broil him over a pit of hot embers. I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening.”

[Ven. Sariputta:] “Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to the eye; my consciousness will not be dependent on the eye.’ That’s how you should train yourself. ‘I won’t cling to the ear… nose… tongue… body; my consciousness will not be dependent on the body.’ … ‘I won’t cling to the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on the intellect.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to forms… sounds… smells… tastes… tactile sensations; my consciousness will not be dependent on tactile sensations.’ … ‘I won’t cling to ideas; my consciousness will not be dependent on ideas.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to eye-consciousness… ear-consciousness… nose-consciousness… tongue-consciousness… body-consciousness; my consciousness will not be dependent on body-consciousness.’ … ‘I won’t cling to intellect-consciousness; my consciousness will not be dependent on intellect-consciousness.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to contact at the eye… contact at the ear… contact at the nose… contact at the tongue… contact at the body; my consciousness will not be dependent on contact at the body.’ … ‘I won’t cling to contact at the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on contact at the intellect.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to feeling born of contact at the eye… feeling born of contact at the ear… feeling born of contact at the nose… feeling born of contact at the tongue… feeling born of contact at the body; my consciousness will not be dependent on feeling born of contact at the body.’ … ‘I won’t cling to feeling born of contact at the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on feeling born of contact at the intellect.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to the earth property… liquid property… fire property… wind property… space property; my consciousness will not be dependent on the space property.’ … ‘I won’t cling to the consciousness property; my consciousness will not be dependent on the consciousness property.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to form… feeling… perception… thought-fabrications; my consciousness will not be dependent on thought-fabrications.’ … ‘I won’t cling to consciousness; my consciousness will not be dependent on consciousness.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to the dimension of the infinitude of space… the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness… the dimension of nothingness; my consciousness will not be dependent on the dimension of nothingness.’ … ‘I won’t cling to the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception; my consciousness will not be dependent on the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to this world; my consciousness will not be dependent on this world… I won’t cling to the world beyond; my consciousness will not be dependent on the world beyond.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

“Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to what is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on that.’ That’s how you should train yourself.”

When this was said, Anathapindika the householder wept and shed tears. Ven. Ananda said to him, “Are you sinking, householder? Are you foundering?”

“No, venerable sir. I’m not sinking, nor am I foundering. It’s just that for a long time I have attended to the Teacher, and to the monks who inspire my heart, but never before have I heard a talk on the Dhamma like this.”

“This sort of talk on the Dhamma, householder, is not given to lay people clad in white. This sort of talk on the Dhamma is given to those gone forth.”

“In that case, Ven. Sariputta, please let this sort of talk on the Dhamma be given to lay people clad in white. There are clansmen with little dust in their eyes who are wasting away through not hearing [this] Dhamma. There will be those who will understand it.”

Then Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Ananda, having given this instruction to Anathapindika the householder, got up from their seats and left. Then, not long after they left, Anathapindika the householder died and reappeared in the Tusita heaven. Then Anathapindika the deva’s son, in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and stood to one side. As he was standing there, he addressed the Blessed One with this verse:

This blessed Jeta’s Grove,
home to the community of seers,
where there dwells the Dhamma King:
        the source of rapture for me.

Action, clear-knowing, & mental qualities,[1]
virtue, the highest [way of] life:
        through this are mortals purified,
        not through clan or wealth.

Thus the wise,
seeing their own benefit,
investigating the Dhamma appropriately,
should purify themselves right there.

As for Sariputta:
        any monk who has gone beyond,
        at best can only equal him
        in discernment, virtue, & calm.

That is what Anathapindika the deva’s son said. The Teacher approved. Then Anathapindika the deva’s son, [knowing,] “The Teacher has approved of me,” bowed down to him, circled him three times, keeping him to his right, and then disappeared right there.

Then when the night had past, The Blessed One addressed the monks: “Last night, monks, a certain deva’s son in the far extreme of the night, his extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, came to me and, on arrival, bowed down to me and stood to one side. As he was standing there, he addressed me with this verse:

This blessed Jeta’s Grove,
home to the community of seers,
where there dwells the Dhamma King:
        the source of rapture for me.

Action, clear-knowing, & mental qualities,
virtue, the highest [way of] life:
        through this are mortals purified,
        not through clan or wealth.

Thus the wise,
seeing their own benefit,
investigating the Dhamma appropriately,
should purify themselves right there.

As for Sariputta:
        any monk who has gone beyond,
        at best can only equal him
        in discernment, virtue, & calm.

“That is what the deva’s son said. And [thinking], ‘The Teacher has approved of me,’ he bowed down to me, circled me three times, and then disappeared right there.”

When this was said, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, “Lord, that must have been Anathapindika the deva’s son. Anathapindika the householder had supreme confidence in Ven. Sariputta.”

“Very good, Ananda. Very good, to the extent that you have deduced what can be arrived at through logic. That was Anathapindika the deva’s son, and no one else.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Ananda delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

Note

1.
The Thai edition, which I have followed here, reads dhammaa: mental qualities. Other editions read dhammo: the Dhamma. The Commentary maintains that mental qualities conducive to concentration are intended here.

©2003 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
The text of this page (“Anathapindikovada Sutta: Instructions to Anathapindika”, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of the license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Transcribed from a file provided by the translator. Last revised for Access to Insight on 30 November 2013.

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