“Should one see a wise man, who, like a revealer of treasure,
points out faults and reproves;
let one associate with such a wise person;
it will be better, not worse, for him who associates with such a one. 76
The Obedient Pupil
Venerable Sāriputta admitted an elderly poor man into the Saṅgha as a mark of gratitude for a ladleful of food offered to him. The new monk was extremely obedient to his teacher and was so eager to receive advice that he soon attained Arahantship. The Buddha praised his humility and exhorted the monks to emulate him. Venerable Sāriputta said that he would be glad to have a hundred disciples like him, who were humble and easy to instruct.
“Let him advise, instruct, and dissuade one from evil;
truly pleasing is he to the good, displeasing is he to the bad.”77
The Shameless Monks of Kīṭāgiri
Two shameless monks residing at Kīṭāgiri, Assaji and Punabbasukā, corrupted householders in many ways by giving them gifts, misbehaving, and associating intimately with them in ways unsuitable for monks. When a modest monk went for alms in Kīṭāgiri the people thought he was supercilious, so gave him nothing. The Buddha sent his two chief disciples with the Saṅgha to banish the shameless monks from Kīṭāgiri.¹ When the order of banishment was imposed on them, the monks were stubborn and accused the Chief Disciples of having evil wishes. On being told of this, the Buddha said that advisers are not loved by the ill-disciplined.
1. This is one of several formal acts that the Saṅgha can perform to censure and restrain wicked monks. Most of the offences listed under the heading of “corrupting families” are only minor, but the cumulative effect of many such actions are very harmful. Lay people who have been corrupted by such misbehaviour do not respond to instruction from scrupulous monks and so have no hope of learning the true Dhamma. They become shameless by association with shameless monks. Their loss is very grave as virtuous monks will not visit that area. Shameless monks will take a lot, but will give no useful teaching.
This formal act banishes the monks from an entire town or district to break their association with the householders living in that area. They are not expelled from the Saṅgha, and are still monks, nor are they excommunicated. In the precedent that led to the first banishment order, the monks argued with the Chief Disciples, and thus fell into a more serious offence requiring a formal meeting of the Saṅgha to impose probation and reinstatement.
This kind of corruption is common nowadays. Having no desire for the training, shameless monks only think of various ways to get offerings. They should only be concerned with teaching the Dhamma.
“Associate not with evil friends, associate not with mean men;
associate with good friends, associate with noble men.”78
The Stubbornness of Venerable Channa
The Venerable Channa, who was formerly the charioteer of Prince Siddhattha, was very conceited and stubborn. He even dared to rebuke the two Chief Disciples. Three times the Buddha admonished him and spoke on the benefits of good friendship, saying that the two Chief Disciples were his great friends. Yet, as long as the Buddha was alive Channa remained just as stubborn. Just before his demise, the Buddha told Venerable Ānanda to impose a penalty (Brahmadaṇḍa) on Channa. He was to be ostracised and not admonished nor spoken to by any other monk. When the Saṅgha imposed this penalty, Venerable Channa reformed his attitude and soon attained Arahantship.
“He who imbibes the Dhamma abides in happiness with mind
pacified; the wise man ever delights in the Dhamma revealed
by the Noble Ones.”79
The Bliss of Nibbāna
King Kappina became a monk (Mahākappina). After attaining Arahantship he repeatedly exclaimed, “Oh what bliss! The monks told the Buddha that he was apparently remembering pleasures he had enjoyed before as a king. The Buddha said that he was rejoicing in the bliss of nibbāna.
“Irrigators lead the waters; fletchers straighten arrows;
carpenters shape the wood; the wise control themselves.”80
The Novice Who Controlled His Mind
A seven year old boy entered the Saṅgha. One day as the novice accompanied his teacher for alms he noticed irrigators, fletchers, and carpenters at work and asked his teacher how they controlled inanimate things. He thought to himself “If inanimate things could be so controlled, why could I not control my own mind?” He turned back from almsround, retired to his cell, meditated, and attained Arahantship.
“As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind,
even so the wise are not ruffled by praise or blame.”81
The Elder Lakuṇḍakabhaddiya
Not knowing who he was, some novices teased the elder Lakuṇḍakabhaddiya who was a dwarf, but he never showed any anger. When the Buddha heard that Bhaddiya had shown no resentment, he remarked that Arahants always behave like that — unmoved by praise or blame.
“Just as a deep lake is clear and still, even so, on hearing the
teachings, the wise become exceedingly peaceful.”82
The Mother of Kāṇu
A young woman was rejected by her suitor as her mother sent her to him empty-handed, having spent everything she had on the monks. The disappointed woman reviled the monks so much that they avoided that street. The Buddha preached the Dhamma to her and her anger was appeased. Hearing about the woman’s attainment of Stream-winning, the king arranged for her marriage to a noble from his court, and thereafter she gave alms to any monks or nuns she could find.
“The good give up everything; the peaceful do not prattle about
sensual pleasures: whether affected by happiness or by pain,
the wise show neither elation nor depression.”83
The Famine at Verañjā
At the invitation of a brahmin the Buddha and his disciples spent the three month rainy season in Verañjā. The brahmin neglected to offer food to the monks as there was a shortage of food, but the monks were content with the coarse porridge offered by horse traders. On returning to Sāvatthi after the rainy season they were served with sumptuous meals, but they were not elated. The Buddha said that the wise are neither elated nor depressed by changing circumstances.
“Neither for oneself nor for the sake of another;
one should not desire sons, wealth, or a kingdom;
one should not seek success by unjust means.
Such a one is truly virtuous, wise, and just.”84
The Story of the Elder Dhammika
An honest householder wished to enter the Saṅgha. When he told his wife about it, she asked him to wait until she had given birth. When the child was able to walk, he again expressed his wish to go forth. She asked him to wait until the child came of age. He decided to go forth anyway. Before long he attained Arahantship, and return to teach Dhamma to his son, who also went forth. His wife also entered the Saṅgha and attained Arahantship. The Buddha praised them.
“Few are there amongst men who go beyond;
the rest of mankind only run about on the bank.”85
The devout residents of a certain street decided to give alms to the monks and listen to the Dhamma throughout the night. However, overcome by passions, some returned home, while others remained, but fell asleep in their seats. On being told about this, the Buddha explained the nature of worldlings.
“Leaving home for homelessness,
the wise should abandon dark states and cultivate the bright.
They should seek delight in seclusion, so hard to enjoy.
Giving up sensual pleasures, with no impediments,
the wise should cleanse the mind of impurities.”87-88
Five Hundred Visiting Monks
Five hundred monks came to visit the Buddha after spending the Rains elsewhere. After listening to their experiences during the retreat he admonished them.