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Saṁyutta Nikāya — The Connected Discourses

SN12: Connected Discourses on Causation

SN12:17 The Naked Ascetic Kassapa

1Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Rājagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel Sanctuary. sn.ii.19 Then, in the morning, the Blessed One dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Rājagaha for alms. The naked ascetic Kassapa saw the Blessed One coming in the distance. Having seen him, he approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him. When they had concluded their greetings and cordial talk, he stood to one side and said to him: "We would like to ask Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would grant us the favour of answering our question."

"This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses."[n.36] Spk: Why does the Blessed One refuse three times? In order to inspire reverence; for if theorists are answered too quickly they do not show reverence, but they do so if they are refused two or three times. Then they wish to listen and develop faith. Also, the Master refused in order to create an opportunity for the ascetic's faculty of knowledge to ripen.


2A second time and a third time the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: "We would like to ask Master Gotama about a certain point, if he would grant us the favour of answering our question."

"This is not the right time for a question, Kassapa. We have entered among the houses."

Then the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: "We do not wish to ask Master Gotama much."

"Then ask what you want, Kassapa."


3"How is it, Master Gotama: is suffering created by oneself?"

"Not so, Kassapa," the Blessed One said.

"Then, Master Gotama, is suffering created by another?"

"Not so, Kassapa," the Blessed One said.

"How is it then, Master Gotama: is suffering created both by oneself and by another?"

"Not so, Kassapa," the Blessed One said. sn.ii.20

"Then, Master Gotama, has suffering arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another?"[n.37] Of the four alternatives, the first and second, as will be shown, are respectively implicit formulations of eternalism and annihilationism. The third is a syncretic solution, perhaps a form of partial-eternalism (ekaccasassatavāda; see DN I 17–21). The fourth is the doctrine of fortuitous origination (adhiccasamuppannavāda; see DN I 28–29).

"Not so, Kassapa," the Blessed One said.


"How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no suffering?"

"It is not that there is no suffering, Kassapa; there is suffering."

"Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see suffering?"

"It is not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering."


4"Whether you are asked: ‘How is it, Master Gotama: is suffering created by oneself?’ or ‘Is it created by another?’ or ‘Is it created by both?’ or ‘Is it created by neither?’ in each case you say: ‘Not so, Kassapa.’ When you are asked: ‘How is it then, Master Gotama: is there no suffering?’ you say: ‘It is not that there is no suffering, Kassapa; there is suffering.’ When asked: ‘Then is it that Master Gotama does not know and see suffering?’ you say: ‘It is not that I do not know and see suffering, Kassapa. I know suffering, I see suffering.’ Venerable sir, let the Blessed One explain suffering to me. Let the Blessed One teach me about suffering."[n.38] Spk points out that the change of address, from the familiar bho Gotama to the respectful bhante bhagava, indicates that he has acquired reverence for the Teacher.


5"Kassapa, if one thinks, ‘The one who acts is the same as the one who experiences the result,’ then one asserts with reference to one existing from the beginning: ‘Suffering is created by oneself.’ When one asserts thus, this amounts to eternalism.[n.39] Spk glosses adito sato as adimhi yeva, and explains it as meaning "(if) at the beginning (one thinks)…." It seems to me more likely that this phrase is part of the eternalist view itself and means "of one existing from the beginning," i.e., of a being that has always existed. This interpretation can marshal support from the fact that the phrase is omitted just below in the corresponding restatement of the annihilationist view, which is otherwise constructed according to the same logic and thus, if Spk were correct, should include adito sato. Spk says "it should be brought in," but the fact that the text replaces it by another phrase is strong evidence that it does not belong there; see n. 40.
Spk: If at the beginning (one thinks), "The one who acts is the same as the one who experiences (the result)," in such a case the belief (laddhi) afterwards follows, "Suffering is created by oneself." And here, what is meant by suffering is the suffering of the round (vaṭṭadukkha). Asserting thus, from the beginning one declares eternalism, one grasps hold of eternalism. Why? Because that view of his amounts to this. Eternalism comes upon one who conceives the agent and the experiencer to be one and the same.

Spk-pṭ: Prior to the belief that suffering is created by oneself there are the distortions of perception and of mind (saññacittavipallasa) in the notion, "The one who acts is the same as the one who experiences (the result)," and then a wrong adherence to these distortions develops, namely, the belief "Suffering is created by oneself" (a distortion of views, diṭṭhivipallasa).
On the three levels of distortion with their four modes, see AN II 52.
But, Kassapa, if one thinks, ‘The one who acts is one, the one who experiences the result is another,’ then one asserts with reference to one stricken by feeling: ‘Suffering is created by another.’ When one asserts thus, this amounts to annihilationism. [n.40] In this passage the phrase ādito sato found in the preceding statement of eternalism is replaced by vedanābhitunnassa sato, which countermands Spk's proposal that ādito sato should be brought in here. Spk interprets the sentence as stating that the annihilationist view is held by one who experiences the feeling associated with the view, but I understand the point to be that the view is held with reference to one "stricken by feeling," perhaps by painful feeling.
Spk: If at the beginning (one thinks), "The one who acts is one, the one who experiences (the result) is another," in such a case afterwards there comes the belief, "Suffering is created by another," held by one stricken by—that is, pierced by—the feeling associated with the annihilationist view that arises thus: "The agent is annihilated right here, and someone else (‘another’) experiences (the results) of his deeds." Asserting thus, from the beginning one declares annihilationism, one grasps hold of annihilationism. Why? Because the view one holds amounts to this. Annihilationism comes upon him.
Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: [n.41] Spk: The Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle without veering to either of these extremes—eternalism and annihilationism—having abandoned them without reservation. He teaches while being established in the middle way. What is that Dhamma? By the formula of dependent origination, the effect is shown to occur through the cause and to cease with the cessation of the cause, but no agent or experiencer (kāraka, vedaka) is described. ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness … . Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. sn.ii.21 But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness … . Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’"


6When this was said, the naked ascetic Kassapa said to the Blessed One: "Magnificent, venerable sir! Magnificent, venerable sir! The Dhamma has been made clear in many ways by the Blessed One, as though he were turning upright what had been turned upside down, revealing what was hidden, showing the way to one who was lost, or holding up a lamp in the dark for those with eyesight to see forms. I go for refuge to the Blessed One, and to the Dhamma, and to the Bhikkhu Saṅgha. May I receive the going forth under the Blessed One, may I receive the higher ordination?"[n.42] The going forth (pabbajja) is the initial ordination as a novice (sāmaṇera); the higher ordination (upasampada) admits the novice to full membership in the Saṅgha as a bhikkhu.


7"Kassapa, one formerly belonging to another sect who desires the going forth and the higher ordination in this Dhamma and Discipline lives on probation for four months. At the end of the four months, if the bhikkhus are satisfied with him, they may if they wish give him the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu. But individual differences are recognized by me."[n.43] For details on the ordination of a wanderer formerly belonging to another sect, see Vin I 69–71. Spk: The candidate is actually given the going forth and lives as a novice during the probationary period, after which the bhikkhus give him the higher ordination if they are satisfied with him. The Buddha, however, is entitled to waive the usual procedure when he recognizes that the candidate is sufficiently competent and need not be tested. In Kassapa's case he had the going forth given to him; then, immediately after, Kassapa was brought back to him and he called an assembly of bhikkhus and administered the higher ordination.


8"If, venerable sir, one formerly belonging to another sect who desires the going forth and the higher ordination in this Dhamma and Discipline lives on probation for four months, and if at the end of the four months the bhikkhus, being satisfied with him, may if they wish give him the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu, then I will live on probation for four years. At the end of the four years, if the bhikkhus are satisfied with me, let them if they wish give me the going forth and the higher ordination to the state of a bhikkhu."

9Then the naked ascetic Kassapa received the going forth under the Blessed One, and he received the higher ordination. And soon, not long after his higher ordination, dwelling alone, withdrawn, diligent, ardent, and resolute, the Venerable Kassapa, sn.ii.22 by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life entered and dwelt in that unsurpassed goal of the holy life for the sake of which clansmen rightly go forth from the household life into homelessness. He directly knew: "Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being." And the Venerable Kassapa became one of the arahants.[n.44] See I, n. 376.

1Evaṁ me sutaṁ—​ ekaṁ samayaṁ bhagavā rājagahe vihārati veḷuvane kalandakanivāpe. Atha kho bhagavā pubbaṇhasamayaṁ nivāsetvā pattacīvaramādāya rājagahaṁ piṇḍāya pāvisi. Addasā kho acelo kassapo bhagavantaṁ dūratova āgacchantaṁ. Disvāna yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavatā saddhiṁ sammodi. Sammodanīyaṁ kathaṁ sāraṇīyaṁ vītisāretvā ekamantaṁ aṭṭhāsi. Ekamantaṁ ṭhito kho acelo kassapo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "puccheyyāma mayaṁ bhavantaṁ gotamaṁ kañcideva desaṁ, sace no bhavaṁ gotamo okāsaṁ karoti pañhassa veyyākaraṇāyā"ti.

"Akālo kho tāva, kassapa, pañhassa; antaragharaṁ paviṭṭhamhā"ti.


2Dutiyampi kho acelo kassapo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "puccheyyāma mayaṁ bhavantaṁ gotamaṁ kañcideva desaṁ, sace no bhavaṁ gotamo okāsaṁ karoti pañhassa veyyākaraṇāyā"ti.

"Akālo kho tāva, kassapa, pañhassa; antaragharaṁ paviṭṭhamhā"ti. Tatiyampi kho acelo kassapo … pe … antaragharaṁ paviṭṭhamhāti.

Evaṁ vutte, acelo kassapo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "na kho pana mayaṁ bhavantaṁ gotamaṁ bahudeva pucchitukāmā"ti.

"Puccha, kassapa, yadākaṅkhasī"ti.


3"Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, ‘sayaṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti?

‘Mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti bhagavā avoca.

‘Kiṁ pana, bho gotama, paraṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti?

‘Mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti bhagavā avoca.

‘Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, sayaṅkatañca paraṅkatañca dukkhan’ti?

‘Mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti bhagavā avoca.

‘Kiṁ pana, bho gotama, asayaṅkāraṁ aparaṅkāraṁ adhiccasamuppannaṁ dukkhan’ti?

‘Mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti bhagavā avoca.


‘Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, natthi dukkhan’ti?

‘Na kho, kassapa, natthi dukkhaṁ. Atthi kho, kassapa, dukkhan’ti.

‘Tena hi bhavaṁ gotamo dukkhaṁ na jānāti, na passatī’ti.

‘Na khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhaṁ na jānāmi, na passāmi. Jānāmi khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhaṁ; passāmi khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhan’"ti.


4"Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, ‘sayaṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti vadesi. ‘Kiṁ pana, bho gotama, paraṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti vadesi. ‘Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, sayaṅkatañca paraṅkatañca dukkhan’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti vadesi. ‘Kiṁ pana, bho gotama, asayaṅkāraṁ aparaṅkāraṁ adhiccasamuppannaṁ dukkhan’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘mā hevaṁ, kassapā’ti vadesi. ‘Kiṁ nu kho, bho gotama, natthi dukkhan’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘Na kho, kassapa, natthi dukkhaṁ, atthi kho, kassapa, dukkhan’ti vadesi. ‘Tena hi bhavaṁ gotamo dukkhaṁ na jānāti na passatī’ti iti puṭṭho samāno ‘Na khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhaṁ na jānāmi na passāmi. Jānāmi khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhaṁ; passāmi khvāhaṁ, kassapa, dukkhan’ti vadesi. Ācikkhatu ca me, bhante, bhagavā dukkhaṁ. Desetu ca me, bhante, bhagavā dukkhan"ti.


5"‘So karoti so paṭisaṁvedayatī’ti kho, kassapa, ādito sato ‘sayaṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti iti vadaṁ sassataṁ etaṁ pareti. ‘Añño karoti añño paṭisaṁvedayatī’ti kho, kassapa, vedanābhitunnassa sato ‘paraṅkataṁ dukkhan’ti iti vadaṁ ucchedaṁ etaṁ pareti. Ete te, kassapa, ubho ante anupāgamma majjhena tathāgato dhammaṁ deseti: ‘avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā; saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṁ … pe … evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti. Avijjāya tveva asesavirāganirodhā saṅkhāranirodho; saṅkhāranirodhā viññāṇanirodho … pe … evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hotī’"ti.


6Evaṁ vutte, acelo kassapo bhagavantaṁ etadavoca: "Abhikkantaṁ, bhante, abhikkantaṁ, bhante. Seyyathāpi, bhante, nikkujjitaṁ vā ukkujjeyya … pe … ‘cakkhumanto rūpāni dakkhantī’ti; evamevaṁ bhagavatā anekapariyāyena dhammo pakāsito. Esāhaṁ, bhante, bhagavantaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi dhammañca bhikkhusaṅghañca. Labheyyāhaṁ, bhante, bhagavato santike pabbajjaṁ, labheyyaṁ upasampadan"ti.


7"Yo kho, kassapa, aññatitthiyapubbo imasmiṁ dhammavinaye ākaṅkhati pabbajjaṁ, ākaṅkhati upasampadaṁ, so cattāro māse parivasati. Catunnaṁ māsānaṁ accayena āraddhacittā bhikkhū pabbājenti upasampādenti bhikkhubhāvāya. Api ca mayā puggalavemattatā viditā"ti.


8"Sace, bhante, aññatitthiyapubbo imasmiṁ dhammavinaye ākaṅkhati pabbajjaṁ, ākaṅkhati upasampadaṁ, cattāro māse parivasati. Catunnaṁ māsānaṁ accayena āraddhacittā bhikkhū pabbājenti upasampādenti bhikkhubhāvāya. Ahaṁ cattāri vassāni parivasissāmi, catunnaṁ vassānaṁ accayena āraddhacittā bhikkhū pabbājentu upasampādentu bhikkhubhāvāyā"ti.

9Alattha kho acelo kassapo bhagavato santike pabbajjaṁ, alattha upasampadaṁ. Acirūpasampanno ca panāyasmā kassapo eko vūpakaṭṭho appamatto ātāpī pahitatto vihāranto nacirasseva – yassatthāya kulaputtā sammadeva agārasmā anagāriyaṁ pabbajanti tadanuttaraṁ – brahmacariyapariyosānaṁ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṁ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja vihāsi. "Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā"ti abbhaññāsi. Aññataro ca panāyasmā kassapo arahataṁ ahosīti.

Sattamaṁ.