MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

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MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:48 am

MN 61
Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta
Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.061.than.html
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha, at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Feeding Ground.

At that time Ven. Rahula1 was staying at the Mango Stone. Then the Blessed One, arising from his seclusion in the late afternoon, went to where Ven. Rahula was staying at the Mango Stone. Ven. Rahula saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, set out a seat & water for washing the feet. The Blessed One sat down on the seat set out and, having sat down, washed his feet. Ven. Rahula, bowing down to the Blessed One, sat to one side.

Then the Blessed One, having left a little bit of water in the water dipper, said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see this little bit of left-over water remaining in the water dipper?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's how little of a contemplative2 there is in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie."

Having tossed away the little bit of left-over water, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this little bit of left-over water is tossed away?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is tossed away just like that."

Having turned the water dipper upside down, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how this water dipper is turned upside down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is turned upside down just like that."

Having turned the water dipper right-side up, the Blessed One said to Ven. Rahula, "Rahula, do you see how empty & hollow this water dipper is?"

"Yes, sir."

"Rahula, whatever there is of a contemplative in anyone who feels no shame at telling a deliberate lie is empty & hollow just like that.

"Rahula, it's like a royal elephant: immense, pedigreed, accustomed to battles, its tusks like chariot poles. Having gone into battle, it uses its forefeet & hindfeet, its forequarters & hindquarters, its head & ears & tusks & tail, but keeps protecting its trunk. The elephant trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has not given up its life to the king.' But when the royal elephant... having gone into battle, uses its forefeet & hindfeet, its forequarters & hindquarters, its head & ears & tusks & tail & his trunk, the trainer notices that and thinks, 'This royal elephant has given up its life to the king. There is nothing it will not do.'

"In the same way, Rahula, when anyone feels no shame in telling a deliberate lie, there is no evil, I tell you, he will not do. Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself, 'I will not tell a deliberate lie even in jest.'

"What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

"In the same way, Rahula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

"Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to do a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any mental action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it. Feeling distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it, you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Rahula, all those brahmans & contemplatives in the course of the past who purified their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"All those brahmans & contemplatives in the course of the future who will purify their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, will do it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"All those brahmans & contemplatives at present who purify their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, do it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself: 'I will purify my bodily actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental actions through repeated reflection.' That's how you should train yourself."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Rahula delighted in the Blessed One's words.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes

1. Rahula: the Buddha's son, who according to the Commentary was seven years old when this discourse was delivered to him.

2. Samañña. Throughout ancient cultures, the terminology of music was used to describe the moral quality of people and actions. Discordant intervals or poorly-tuned musical instruments were metaphors for evil; harmonious intervals and well-tuned instruments, metaphors for good. In Pali, the term sama — "even" — described an instrument tuned on-pitch. There is a famous passage (in AN 6.55) where the Buddha reminds Sona Kolivisa — who had been over-exerting himself in the practice — that a lute sounds appealing only if the strings are neither too taut or too lax, but "evenly" tuned. This image would have special resonances with the Buddha's teaching on the middle way. It also adds meaning to the term samana — monk or contemplative — which the texts frequently mention as being derived from sama. The word samañña — "evenness," the quality of being in tune — also means the quality of being a contemplative: The true contemplative is always in tune with what is proper and good.

See also: MN 62; MN 147.


from the study guide
61 Ambalatthikārāhulovāda Sutta Advice to Rāhula at Ambalatthikā v
SUMMARY
In this very clear discourse, the Buddha describes to his son, Rāhula (who is
said to have been seven years old at the time), the way to purify bodily, verbal,
and mental action. The way is to reflect before, during, and after engaging in an
action about whether it will have, is having, or has had painful results or
pleasurable results. This is a popular teaching given on retreats.
NOT ES
[7] To begin the training, the Buddha tells Rāhula not to utter a falsehood even
as a joke. [Ed: The Buddha begins here probably to show that honesty is a
prerequisite for the practice recommended in the remainder of the sutta.]
[818]
The way to purify before an action, during an action, and after
engaging in an action, whether by body, speech, or mind, is to repeatedly reflect:
1. Will this action lead to, is this action leading to, or has this action led to my
own pain, another’s, or both? Is it an unwholesome action with painful
consequences? [Ed: Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu points out that two of the
questions, “is this action leading to, or has this action led to” indicate an
important part of the teaching on karma, that karma can have both
immediate consequences (while you are doing it) or consequences over
time (after it is done).]
2. When reflecting, if one knows that it is unwholesome, one should definitely
not begin doing it or continue doing it. If it is wholesome, then it is all right
to do it in the present, or to continue doing it in the future.
3. If afterwards one realizes one did something wrong, one should confess it
to the Teacher or to one’s wise companions, and should use restraint in
the future. Note 639 points out that unwholesome thoughts do not require
confession as a means of exoneration. Yet one should be repelled,
ashamed, and disgusted by such an action rather than confessing it.
4. If the action leads to pleasant results, then one should “abide happy and
glad, training day and night in wholesome states.”
[Ed: Notice the Buddha encourages us to abide in the pleasure that arises as
a fruit of our wholesome actions. We do not have to be afraid of this.]
PRACT ICE
1. Take time for the reflection suggested in this discourse, using one
unwholesome behavior and one wholesome behavior that you notice in yourself.
2. Consider, or maybe even try, confessing an act of wrongdoing
to a friend or
your teacher. 3. This discourse encourages us to recognize our mistakes, to
admit them, and to learn from them. Remember a mistake you made in the past
and reflect on what you have learned from the action so that you will not repeat
the same mistake in the future. This will bring about wholesome karma.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:30 am

Greetings,

This is an excellent sutta... one that shows that mental development is much more than just formal sitting meditation sessions.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:46 am

As I was reading the Sutta here this morning, I was reminded of the Positive Precepts used in the FWBO which isn't a Theravadin group specifically but leans more towards Mahayana & Vajrayana teachings.

Positive Precepts wrote:With deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body.
With open-handed generosity, I purify my body.
With stillness, simplicity, and contentment, I purify my body.
With truthful communication, I purify my speech.
With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind.


although I think these have no real relevance to the path, outside of a nice feel good thoughts which arent specific enough to be as useful as some similar practices, for instance placed Metta meditation. It occurred to me that in order for these to be useful Reflection of what we are doing is the key.

like in one of my posts in the Metta Meditation Thread I quoted Ajahn Chah
Ajahn Chah wrote:Practice it like this.

When you get free time, just sit on a comfortable place (not really on floor) and start analyzing previous situations where you got Anger, Hate, Sorrow, Disappointment and Fear...

Think about the your own mind, how it reacted on those situations... Not about people or the situation. Just how you reacted! Then think, "Am I still in that situation or Has it faded away?", then, "Why I made all that fuss?", Give yourself a thought, "That was a situation, which occurred due to a reason and faded away when the reason fades away." And now, "I treat myself a peaceful from that situation, happy because I am not in that situation, contended because I am not living in that situation"

Analyze previous incidents in which you got Anger, Hate, Sorrow, Disappointment and Fear...

After analyzing each situation, give yourself a thought, "If I reacted to that situation in a different way, much of a peaceful way, with letting go, my own ******** thoughts (******** means the situation, Anger, Hate....), how different it would result in?" And make yourself, ready to check your reaction in awkward situations.

In your everyday life, observe your own mind! Check yourself in every free time. "How I have been doing?".

This is the practice of mindfulness, the beginning. It would be wonderful.

and to me this is saying the same thing as the Sutta, in order to act, or be naturally a certain way reflect on what you are doing, what the outcome could be, and why you are doing it.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby phil » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:36 am

Hi all

A wonderful sutta that offers crystal clear ethical guidance, so clear that it's hard to know what to say about it. So I'll note that friends at another forum who place great value on the commmentaries discussed this sutta in much subtler terms which I can't recall now because I stubbornly ignored them. I wonder what they were? I think this sutta can be well and properly appreciated without the commentary, but the commentary might help open another deeper dimension to our reflection on it. Can anyone pull a few important points from the commentary?

Metta,
Phil
p.s I edited out the comments about Bhikkhu Bodhi and the commentaries. Not relevant here.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby phil » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:23 pm

phil wrote:Hi all

A wonderful sutta that offers crystal clear ethical guidance, so clear that it's hard to know what to say about it. So I'll note that friends at another forum who place great value on the commmentaries discussed this sutta in much subtler terms which I can't recall now because I stubbornly ignored them. I wonder what they were? I think this sutta can be well and properly appreciated without the commentary, but the commentary might help open another deeper dimension to our reflection on it. Can anyone pull a few important points from the commentary?

Metta,
Phil
p.s I edited out the comments about Bhikkhu Bodhi and the commentaries. Not relevant here.

Hi again

OK, rather than digging out passages from the commentary, let's just look at this from the sutta: "Rahula, all those brahmans & contemplatives in the course of the past who purified their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way."

If we look at the sutta with out current level of understanding (I assume)it's all about people doing, saying and thinking things. But surely we (so to speak) are meant to go deeper in our reflection on the dhammas involved, for example. So does the above mean that one's actions etc are purified by becoming perfectly managed in a way that would be approved by any decent person, Buddhist or not, or does it mean that understanding of the actions deepen so that there is insight into the fleeting nature of the mental moments involved, the annataness of them etc? After all, we know that the Buddha described his Dhamma as deep and contrary to the ways of the world. A conventional reading of this sutta doesn't lead us to see that. What's missing in a conventional reading of this sutta?

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:46 pm

Greetings Phil,

I wouldn't say "missing" per se, just not within the scope of the sutta.

The following... (I've removed reference to 'mental', 'verbal' or 'bodily' to make it generic and applicable to all)

"While you are doing an action, you should reflect on it: 'This action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it."

... is a worthy enough Dhamma teaching in-and-of-itself... one that supports sila, and develops panna. It is an excellent guide to living life off the meditation cushion.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby phil » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:29 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Phil,

I wouldn't say "missing" per se, just not within the scope of the sutta.

The following... (I've removed reference to 'mental', 'verbal' or 'bodily' to make it generic and applicable to all)

"While you are doing an action, you should reflect on it: 'This action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it."

... is a worthy enough Dhamma teaching in-and-of-itself... one that supports sila, and develops panna. It is an excellent guide to living life off the meditation cushion.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro and all

It's interesting. When I was at DSG (where you made a brief visit, I think) I would praise this sutta as being utterly clear and have my common-sense, conventional interpretation more or less rejected in favour of the deeper, commentarial based interpretation. Now I am here at Dhammawheel, and I find myself wanting to go deeper! And I think that is fine, in my opinion it is only within a strong framework of conventional morality that one can afford to go deeper. At DSG I felt I was always encouraged to look to deeper meanings too soon and often and the conventional interpretation was terribly underappreciated. I will visit and ask Sarah, Jon, Scott and all for some help with what the commentary says about this sutta and post what I learned - but I don't know when. The wonderful thing about people there is no matter how often I quit in a huff, they always welcome me back - very generous and friendly Dhamma friends. :smile:

Metta,

Phil
p.s yes, I would say "missing", because if we completely neglect the commentary, we are sure to be missing something. To what degree will we be missing something that really ties the meaning of the sutta together, I don't know. But we will surely be missing something, whether invaluable or not.

Anyways, back to the sutta.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:56 am

i think the only thing that may be missing is the how we should let go of these things.

i was brought up to basicly be self loathing and self condeming i would love to find away to drop these mental attitudes instilled in me by parents who expected a perfect child. i've yet to find any way to do it though, i can stop for short periods of time, but i've never been able to totally up root the problem. :cookoo:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby Tex » Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:34 pm

I like this sutta a lot, especially the striking analogy about the importance of honesty. To me, this is especially important when analyzing the potential outcomes of actions. During and after the action, the negative outcome is harder to deny, but in evaluating outcomes beforehand it's all too easy to tell ourselves what we want to hear to justify doing what we want to do, even if we know better.
Last edited by Tex on Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:39 pm

it's like a deeper version of the golden rule
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:16 pm

Greetings JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:it's like a deeper version of the golden rule


Do you mean "do unto others...."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: MN 61. Ambalaṭṭhikārāhulovāda Sutta

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:58 am

yeah
i think this is better than that, this tells you to think it out, not just do....

also i'm closing this thread. thanks all for taking the time to join in! :buddha1:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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