Majjhima Nikàya 82

Ratthapala Sutta

About Ratthapala

(excerpt)

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

...

Then King Koravya said to his gamekeeper: "Clean up the Migacira pleasure garden. I am going there to see the beautiful grounds."

"As you say, your majesty," the gamekeeper responded to the king. As he was cleaning up Migacira he saw Ven. Ratthapala sitting in the shade of a certain tree for the day's abiding. On seeing him, he went to the king and said, "Migacira has been cleaned up for you, your majesty. And the clansman Ratthapala -- the son of the leading clan in this Thullakotthita, of whom you have often spoken highly -- is there, sitting in the shade of a certain tree for the day's abiding."

"In that case, my dear gamekeeper, never mind about the pleasure garden for today. I am now going to pay my respects to that Master Ratthapala."

Then, saying, "Give away all the staple and non-staple foods that have been prepared," King Koravya had auspicious vehicles harnessed. Mounting an auspicious vehicle he set out from Thullakotthita accompanied by other auspicious vehicles in full royal pomp to see Ven. Ratthapala. Going as far by vehicle as the ground would permit, he dismounted and went to Ven. Ratthapala, accompanied by many eminent members of his court. On arrival, he exchanged courteous greetings with Ven. Ratthapala. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he stood to one side. As he was standing there, he said to Ven. Ratthapala, "May Master Ratthapala sit here on the elephant rug."

"Never mind, great king. You sit there. I am sitting on my own seat."

So King Koravya sat down on the seat prepared. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ratthapala, "There are cases where, having suffered these four kinds of loss, men shave off their hair & beard, put on the ochre robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness. Which four? Loss through aging, loss through illness, loss of wealth, & loss of relatives...But Master Ratthapala has suffered none of these. What did he know or see or hear that Master Ratthapala went forth from the home life into homelessness?"

"Great king, there are four Dhamma summaries stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard them, I went forth from the home life into homelessness. Which four?

"'The world[1] is swept away. It does not endure': This is the first Dhamma summary stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard it, I went forth from the home life into homelessness.

"'The world is without shelter, without protector': This is the second Dhamma summary...

"'The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind': This is the third Dhamma summary...

"'The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving': This is the fourth Dhamma summary...

"These, great king, are the four Dhamma summaries stated by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened. Having known & seen & heard them, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"Master Ratthapala, you say, 'The world is swept away. It does not endure.' Now how is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king: When you were twenty or twenty-five years old -- an expert elephant rider, an expert horseman, an expert charioteer, an expert archer, an expert swordsman -- were you strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare?"

"Yes, Master Ratthapala, when I was twenty or twenty-five years old...I was strong in arm & strong in thigh, fit, & seasoned in warfare. It was as if I had supernormal power. I do not see anyone who was my equal in strength."

"And what do you think, great king: Are you even now as strong in arm & strong in thigh, as fit, & as seasoned in warfare?"

"Not at all, Master Ratthapala. I'm now a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life, 80 years old. Sometimes, thinking, 'I will place my foot here,' I place it somewhere else."

"It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: 'The world is swept away. It does not endure.' Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala. It's astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: 'The world is swept away. It does not endure.' For the world really is swept away, Master Ratthapala. It does not endure.

"Now, in this royal court there are elephant troops & cavalry & chariot troops & infantry that will serve to defend us from dangers. And yet you say, 'The world is without shelter, without protector.' How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king: Do you have any recurring illness?"

"Yes, Master Ratthapala, I have a recurring wind-illness. Sometimes my friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, stand around me saying, 'This time King Koravya will die. This time King Koravya will die.'"

"And what do you think, great king: Can you say to your friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, 'My friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen are commanded: all of you who are present, share out this pain so that I may feel less pain'? Or do you have to feel that pain all alone?"

"Oh, no, Master Ratthapala, I can't say to my friends & advisors, relatives & blood-kinsmen, 'All of you who are present, share out this pain so that I may feel less pain.' I have to feel that pain all alone."

"It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: 'The world is without shelter, without protector.' Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala. It's astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: 'The world is without shelter, without protector.' For the world really is without shelter, Master Ratthapala. It is without protector.

"Now, in this royal court there is a great deal of gold & silver stashed away underground & in attic vaults. And yet you say, 'The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.' How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king? As you now enjoy yourself endowed & replete with the pleasures of the five senses, can you say, 'Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way, endowed & replete with the very same pleasures of the five senses'? Or will this wealth fall to others, while you pass on in accordance with your kamma?"

"On, no, Master Ratthapala, I can't say, 'Even in the afterlife I will enjoy myself in the same way, endowed & replete with the very same pleasures of the five senses.' This wealth will fall to others, while I pass on in accordance with my kamma."

"It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: 'The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.' Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala. It's astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: 'The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.' For the world really is without ownership, Master Ratthapala. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.

"Now, Master Ratthapala, you say, 'The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.' How is the meaning of this statement to be understood?"

"What do you think, great king: Do you now rule over the prosperous country of Kuru?"

"That is so, Master Ratthapala. I rule over the prosperous country of Kuru."

"What do you think, great king: Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours were to come to you from the east. On arrival he would say to you, 'May it please your majesty to know, I have come from the east. There I saw a great country, powerful & prosperous, populous & crowded with people. Plenty are the elephant troops there, plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, & infantry troops. Plenty is the ivory-work there, plenty the gold & silver, both worked & unworked. Plenty are the women for the taking. It is possible, with the forces you now have, to conquer it. Conquer it, great king!' What would you do?"

"Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala, I would rule over it."

"Now what do you think, great king? Suppose a trustworthy, reliable man of yours were to come to you from the west...the north...the south...the other side of the ocean. On arrival he would say to you, 'May it please your majesty to know, I have come from the other side of the ocean. There I saw a great country, powerful & prosperous, populous & crowded with people. Plenty are the elephant troops there, plenty the cavalry troops, chariot troops, & infantry troops. Plenty is the ivory-work there, plenty the gold & silver, both worked & unworked. Plenty are the women for the taking. It is possible, with the forces you now have, to conquer it. Conquer it, great king!' What would you do?"

"Having conquered it, Master Ratthapala, I would rule over it, too."

"It was in reference to this, great king, that the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened, said: 'The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.' Having known & seen & heard this, I went forth from the home life into homelessness."

"It's amazing, Master Ratthapala. It's astounding, how well that has been said by the Blessed One who knows & sees, worthy & rightly self-awakened: 'The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.' For the world really is insufficient, Master Ratthapala. It's insatiable, a slave to craving."

That is what Ven. Ratthapala said. Having said that, he further said this:

I see in the world
    people with wealth
who, from delusion,
    don't make a gift
    of the treasure they've gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean's near shore,
    longs for the ocean's
    far shore as well.

Kings & others
    -- plenty of people --
go to death with craving
    unabated. Unsated
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world's sensual pleasures.

One's relatives weep
& pull out their hair.
'Oh woe, our loved one is dead,' they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
    on a pyre,
    then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died --
    not relatives,
    friends,
    or companions.

His heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one --
    not children, wives,
    dominion, or riches.

Long life
can't be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing --
    impermanent,
    subject to change.

The rich & the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish & wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don't tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth --
for those who haven't reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
    out of delusion,
    doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
& to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
    -- one thing
    after another --
while those of weak discernment,
    trusting in one,
also go to a womb
& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
    is destroyed
    by his own act,
so evil people
-- after dying, in the next world --
    are destroyed
    by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures --
    variegated,
    enticing,
    sweet --
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that's why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
    -- young & old --
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
    I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
        for sure.


Note

1. For the meaning of the word "world" in this discourse, see  [Go back]


Revised: Fri 15 October 1999
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/majjhima/mn82.html