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Aṅguttara Nikāya - The Numerical Discourses

6: The Book of the Sixes

38. Self-Initiative

1Then a certain brahmin approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had exchanged greetings and cordial talk, he sat down to one side and said to the Blessed One:


"Master Gotama, I hold such a thesis and view as this: ‘There is no self-initiative; there is no initiative taken by others.’"[n.1308] Natthi attakāro, natthi parakāro. Lit., "There is no self-doing, there is no other-doing." The Buddha refutes him just below by pointing out the obvious fact that the brahmin has come of his own free will (sayaṁ) and will depart of his own free will.


"Brahmin, I have never seen or heard of anyone holding such a thesis and view as this. For how can one who comes on his own and returns on his own say: ‘There is no self-initiative; there is no initiative taken by others’?


2(1) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of instigation exist?"[n.1309] Ārambhadhātu. Mp: "The energy that occurs by way of beginning (an activity)" (ārabhanavasena pavattaviriyaṁ). The next two elements mentioned just below, nikkamadhātu and parakkamadhātu, can be understood respectively as the energy needed to persist in an action and to consummate it. The three are proposed as the antidote to dullness and drowsiness at 1:18 and SN 46:51, V 105,28 –106,2, and as means of nurturing the enlightenment factor of energy at SN 46:2, V 66,9–15, and SN 46:51, V 104,14–20.

"Yes, sir."

"When the element of instigation exists, are beings seen to instigate activity?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to instigate activity because the element of instigation exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


3(2) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of persistence exist?"

"Yes, sir."

"When the element of persistence exists, are beings seen to persist in activity?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to persist in activity because the element of persistence exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


(3) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of exertion exist?"

"Yes, sir."

"When the element of exertion exists, are beings seen to exert themselves in activity?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to exert themselves in activity because the element of exertion exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


(4) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of strength exist?"[n.1310] Mp does not differentiate the next three factors mentioned here—thāmadhātu, ṭhitidhātu, and upakkamadhātu—but says merely that they are various names for energy.

"Yes, sir."

"When the element of strength exists, are beings seen to be possessed of strength?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to be possessed of strength because the element of strength exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


(5) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of continuation exist?"

"Yes, sir."

"When the element of continuation exists, are beings seen to continue in an action?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to continue in an action because the element of continuation exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


(6) "What do you think, brahmin? Does the element of force exist?"


"Yes, sir."

"When the element of force exists, are beings seen to act with force?"

"Yes, sir."

"When beings are seen to act with force because the element of force exists, this is the self-initiative of beings; this is the initiative taken by others.


4"Brahmin, I have never seen or heard of anyone holding such a thesis and view as yours. For how can one who comes on his own and returns on his own say: ‘There is no self-initiative; there is no initiative on the part of others’?"


5"Excellent, Master Gotama! Excellent, Master Gotama! Master Gotama has made the Dhamma clear in many ways, as though he were turning upright what had been overthrown, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the darkness so those with good eyesight can see forms. I now go for refuge to Master Gotama, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Let Master Gotama consider me a lay follower who from today has gone for refuge for life."

1Atha kho aññataro brāhmaṇo yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavatā saddhiṁ sammodi. Sammodanīyaṁ kathaṁ sāraṇīyaṁ vītisāretvā ekamantaṁ nisīdi. Ekamantaṁ nisinno kho so brāhmaṇo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: 


"ahañhi, bho gotama, evaṁvādī evaṁdiṭṭhi:  ‘Natthi attakāro, natthi parakāro’"ti.


"Māhaṁ, brāhmaṇa, evaṁvādiṁ evaṁdiṭṭhiṁ addasaṁ vā assosiṁ vā. Kathañhi nāma sayaṁ abhikkamanto, sayaṁ paṭikkamanto evaṁ vakkhati:  ‘Natthi attakāro, natthi parakāro’ti.


2Taṁ kiṁ maññasi, brāhmaṇa, atthi ārabbhadhātū"ti?

"Evaṁ, bho".

"Ārabbhadhātuyā sati ārabbhavanto sattā paññāyantī"ti?

"Evaṁ, bho".

"Yaṁ kho, brāhmaṇa, ārabbhadhātuyā sati ārabbhavanto sattā paññāyanti, ayaṁ sattānaṁ attakāro ayaṁ parakāro.


3Taṁ kiṁ maññasi, brāhmaṇa, atthi nikkamadhātu … pe …


… atthi parakkamadhātu …


… atthi thāmadhātu …


… atthi ṭhitidhātu …


… atthi upakkamadhātū"ti?


"Evaṁ, bho".

"Upakkamadhātuyā sati upakkamavanto sattā paññāyantī"ti?

"Evaṁ, bho".

"Yaṁ kho, brāhmaṇa, upakkamadhātuyā sati upakkamavanto sattā paññāyanti, ayaṁ sattānaṁ attakāro ayaṁ parakāro.


4Māhaṁ, brāhmaṇa, evaṁvādiṁ evaṁdiṭṭhiṁ addasaṁ vā assosiṁ vā. Kathañhi nāma sayaṁ abhikkamanto sayaṁ paṭikkamanto evaṁ vakkhati:  ‘Natthi attakāro natthi parakāro’"ti.


5"Abhikkantaṁ, bho gotama … pe … ajjatagge pāṇupetaṁ saraṇaṁ gatan"ti.


Aṭṭhamaṁ.