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Khuddakapatha

The Short Passages

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

 


The Khuddakapatha, the first book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, is a collection of nine short passages and may have been designed as a primer for novice monks and nuns. It includes several essential texts that are chanted to this day by laypeople and monastics around the world of Theravada Buddhism.


Contents:


Translator's Introduction

This, the first book in the Khuddaka Nikaya (Collection of Short Discourses), appears to have been designed as a primer for novice monks and nuns. In nine short passages it covers the basic topics that one would need to know in beginning Buddhist monastic life; many of the passages also serve as useful introductions to Buddhist practice in general. Passages 1 and 2 cover the ceremony for taking ordination as a novice. Passage 3 gives preliminary guidance in the contemplation of the body, a meditation exercise designed to overcome lust. Passage 4 introduces many of the basic categories of analysis through which discernment can be developed, beginning with the most basic formulation of the causal principle so central to the Buddha's teaching. Passage 5 gives an overview of the practice as a whole -- beginning with the need to associate with wise people, and ending with the attainment of Unbinding (nibbana/nirvana). This overview is presented in the context of the concept of protective rituals, and makes the point that -- given the nature of human action and its results -- the best protection comes not from rituals but from acting in a generous, moral, and wise manner. Passage 6 expands both on Passage 1 and Passage 5, detailing some of the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, while at the same time elaborating on the practice of meditation and the attainment of Stream Entry -- the point at which the meditator has his/her first glimpse of Unbinding. Passage 7 elaborates on the theme of generosity, showing how gifts to the Sangha can be dedicated to the welfare of one's dead relatives. Passage 8 presents meritorious action in general as an investment more reliable and longer-lasting than material investments. Passage 9 returns to the subject of meditation, focusing on the development of good will and lovingkindness.

These nine passages, in different contexts, are frequently chanted in Theravada countries even today. Lay and ordained Buddhists chant Passage 1 daily, as an affirmation of their refuge in the Triple Gem. Monks will often chant Passages 5-9 as blessings when lay people make merit, and frequently use verses from Passage 5 as sermon themes.

Thus the passages contained in this book serve as a useful introduction both to early Buddhist training and to modern Theravada practices.

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Homage to the Blessed One,
the Worthy One,
the Rightly Self-awakened One


 

1. Saranagamana -- Going for Refuge

I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
I go to the Sangha for refuge.

A second time I go to the Buddha for refuge.
A second time I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
A second time I go to the Sangha for refuge.

A third time I go to the Buddha for refuge.
A third time I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
A third time I go to the Sangha for refuge.

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2. Dasa Sikkhapada -- The Ten Training Rules

I undertake the training rule to refrain from taking life.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from stealing.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from sexual intercourse.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from telling lies.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from intoxicating fermented and distilled beverages that lead to carelessness.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from eating at the wrong time [after noon and before dawn].
I undertake the training rule to refrain from dancing, singing, music, and watching shows.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from wearing garlands and beautifying myself with perfumes and cosmetics.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from high and luxurious seats and beds.
I undertake the training rule to refrain from accepting gold and money.

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3. Dvattimsakara -- The 32 Parts

In this body there is:

hair of the head,
   hair of the body,
nails,
   teeth,
skin,
   muscle,
tendons,
   bones,
bone marrow,
   spleen,
heart,
   liver,
membranes,
   kidneys,
lungs,
   large intestines,
small intestines,
   gorge,
feces,
   gall,
phlegm,
   lymph,
blood,
   sweat,
fat,
   tears,
oil,
   saliva,
mucus,
   oil in the joints
urine,
   brain.

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4. Samanera Pa˝ha -- The Novice's Questions

What is one?

All animals subsist on food. [There are these four nutriments for the establishing of beings who have taken birth or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, consciousness the third, and intellectual intention the fourth. Samyutta Nikaya XII.64.]

What is two?

   Name and form [mental and physical phenomena].

What is three?

   The three types of feeling [pleasant, painful, neither pleasant nor painful].

What is four?

The four noble truths [stress, the origination of stress, the cessation of stress, the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress].

What is five?

The five aggregates [form, feeling, perception, fabrications, consciousness].

What is six?

The six internal sense media [eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, intellect].

What is seven?

The seven factors of Awakening [mindfulness, analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, equanimity].

What is eight?

The noble eightfold path [right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration].

What is nine?

The nine abodes for beings [seven stations of consciousness and two spheres:

There are beings with diversity of body and diversity of perception, such as human beings, some devas, and some beings in the lower realms. This is the first station of consciousness.

There are beings with diversity of body and singularity of perception, such as the devas of the Brahma hosts generated by the first [jhana]. This is the second station of consciousness.

There are beings with singularity of body and diversity of perception, such as the Radiant Devas. This is the third station of consciousness.

There are beings with singularity of body and singularity of perception, such as the Beautifully Lustrous Devas. This is the fourth station of consciousness.

There are beings who, with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, thinking, 'Infinite space,' arrive at the sphere of the infinitude of space. This is the fifth station of consciousness.

There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of space, thinking, 'Infinite consciousness,' arrive at the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the sixth station of consciousness.

There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, thinking, 'There is nothing,' arrive at the sphere of nothingness. This is the seventh station of consciousness.

The sphere of non-percipient beings and, second, the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. These are the two spheres. {Maha Nidana Suttanta, D.15}]

What is ten?

Endowed with ten qualities, one is called an arahant [the right view of one beyond training, the right resolve of one beyond training, the right speech of one beyond training, the right action of one beyond training, the right livelihood of one beyond training, the right effort of one beyond training, the right mindfulness of one beyond training, the right concentration of one beyond training, the right knowledge of one beyond training, the right release of one beyond training {Mahacattarisaka Sutta, M.117}].

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5. Mangala Sutta -- Protection

[Note: This sutta also appears at Sn II.4.]

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's park. Then a certain deva, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta's Grove, approached the Blessed One. On approaching, having bowed down to the Blessed One, she stood to one side. As she stood to one side, she addressed him with a verse.

Many devas and humans beings
give thought to protection,
desiring well-being.
Tell, then, the highest protection.

[The Buddha:]

Not consorting with fools,
consorting with the wise,
paying homage to those worthy of homage:
   This is the highest protection.

Living in a civilized land,
having made merit in the past,
directing oneself rightly:
   This is the highest protection.

Broad knowledge, skill,
well-mastered discipline,
well-spoken words:
   This is the highest protection.

Support for one's parents,
assistance to one's wife and children,
consistency in one's work:
   This is the highest protection.

Generosity, living in rectitude,
assistance to one's relatives,
deeds that are blameless:
   This is the highest protection.

Avoiding, abstaining from evil;
refraining from intoxicants,
being heedful of the qualities of the mind:
   This is the highest protection.

Respect, humility,
contentment, gratitude,
hearing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
   This is the highest protection.

Patience, composure,
seeing contemplatives,
discussing the Dhamma on timely occasions:
   This is the highest protection.

Austerity, celibacy,
seeing the Noble Truths,
realizing Unbinding:
   This is the highest protection.

A mind that, when touched
by the ways of the world,
is unshaken, sorrowless, dustless, secure:
   This is the highest protection.

Everywhere undefeated
when acting in this way,
people go everywhere in well-being:
   This is their highest protection.

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6. Ratana Sutta -- Treasures

[Note: This sutta also appears at Sn II.1.]

Whatever spirits have gathered here,
    -- on the earth, in the sky --
may you all be happy
& listen intently to what I say.

Thus, spirits, you should all be attentive.
Show kindness to the human race.
Day and night they give offerings,
so, being heedful, protect them.

Whatever wealth -- here or beyond --
whatever exquisite treasure in the heavens,
does not, for us, equal the Tathagata.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Buddha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

The exquisite Deathless -- ending, dispassion --
discovered by the Sakyan Sage in concentration:
There is nothing to equal that Dhamma.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Dhamma.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

What the excellent Awakened One extolled as pure
and called the concentration
of unmediated knowing:
No equal to that concentration can be found.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Dhamma.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

The eight persons -- the four pairs --
praised by those at peace:
They, disciples of the One Well-Gone, deserve offerings.
What is given to them bears great fruit.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who, devoted, firm-minded,
apply themselves to Gotama's message,
on attaining their goal, plunge into the Deathless,
freely enjoying the Liberation they've gained.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

An Indra pillar,[1] planted in the earth,
that even the four winds cannot shake:
that, I tell you, is like the person of integrity,
who -- having comprehended
the noble truths -- sees.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who have seen clearly the noble truths
well-taught by the one of deep discernment --
regardless of what [later] might make them heedless --
will come to no eighth state of becoming. [2]
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

At the moment of attaining sight,
one abandons three things:
   identity-views, uncertainty,
   & any attachment to precepts and practices. [3]
One is completely released
from the four states of deprivation, [4]
and incapable of committing
the six great wrongs. [5]
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever bad deed one may do
-- in body, speech, or in mind --
one cannot hide it:
an incapability ascribed
to one who has seen the Way.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Like a forest grove with flowering tops
in the first month of the heat of the summer,
so is the foremost Dhamma he taught,
for the highest benefit, leading to Unbinding.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Buddha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Foremost,
foremost-knowing,
foremost-giving,
foremost-bringing,
   unexcelled, he taught the
foremost Dhamma.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Buddha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Ended the old, there is no new taking birth.
dispassioned their minds toward further becoming,
they,          with no seed, no desire for growth,
the prudent,    go out like this flame.
   This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha.
   By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever spirits have gathered here,
    -- on the earth, in the sky --
let us pay homage to the Buddha,
the Tathagata worshipped by beings
human and divine.
   May there be
   well-being.

Whatever spirits have gathered here,
    -- on the earth, in the sky --
let us pay homage to the Dhamma
& the Tathagata worshipped by beings
human and divine.
   May there be
   well-being.

Whatever spirits have gathered here,
    -- on the earth, in the sky --
let us pay homage to the Sangha
& the Tathagata worshipped by beings
human and divine.
   May there be
   well-being.

Notes:

1. Indra-pillar: A tall hardwood pillar, planted at the entrance to a village. [Go back]

2. The person who has reached this stage in the practice will be reborn at most seven more times. [Go back]

3. These three qualities are the fetters abandoned when one gains one's first glimpse of Unbinding at Stream-entry (the moment when one enters the stream to full Awakening). [Go back]

4. Four states of deprivation: rebirth as an animal, a hungry shade, an angry demon, or a denizen of hell. In the Buddhist cosmology, none of these states is eternal. [Go back]

5. The six great wrongs: murdering one's mother, murdering one's father, murdering an Arahant (fully Awakened individual), wounding a Buddha, causing a schism in the Sangha, or choosing anyone other than a Buddha as one's foremost teacher. [Go back]

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7. Tirokudda Kanda -- Hungry Shades Outside the Walls

Outside the walls they stand,
   & at crossroads.
At door posts they stand,
   returning to their old homes.
But when a meal with plentiful food and drink is served,
   no one remembers them:
Such is the kamma of living beings.

Thus those who feel sympathy for their dead relatives
give timely donations of proper food and drink
    -- exquisite, clean --
[thinking:] "May this be for our relatives.
      May our relatives be happy!"

And those who have gathered there,
   the assembled shades of the relatives,
with appreciation give their blessing
for the plentiful food and drink:
   "May our relatives live long
   because of whom we have gained [this gift].
   We have been honored,
   and the donors are not without reward!"

For there [in their realm] there's
   no farming,
   no herding of cattle,
   no commerce,
   no trading with money.
They live on what is given here,
   hungry shades
   whose time here is done.

As water raining on a hill
flows down to the valley,
   even so does what is given here
   benefit the dead.
As rivers full of water
fill the ocean full,
   even do does what is given here
   benefit the dead.

"He gave to me, she acted on my behalf,
   they were my relatives, companions, friends":
Offerings should be given for the dead
when one reflects thus
on things done in the past.
For  no weeping,
   no sorrowing
   no other lamentation
      benefits the dead
      whose relatives persist in that way.
But when this offering is given, well-placed in the Sangha,
it works for their long-term benefit
and they profit immediately.

In this way    the proper duty to relatives has been shown,
      great honor has been done to the dead,
      and monks have been given strength:

   The merit you've acquired
      isn't small.

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8. Nidhi Kanda -- The Reserve Fund

A person stashes a fund away,
deep underground, at the water line:
"When a need or duty arises,
this will provide for my needs,
for my release if I'm denounced by the king,
molested by thieves,
in case of debt, famine, or accidents."
With aims like this
   in the world
a reserve fund is stashed away.

But no matter how well it's stored,
deep underground, at the water line,
it won't all always serve one's need.
The fund gets shifted from its place,
or one's memory gets confused;
   or -- unseen --
   water serpents make off with it,
   spirits steal it,
   or hateful heirs run off with it.
When one's merit's ended,
it's totally destroyed.

But when a man or woman
has laid aside a well-stored fund
of generosity, virtue,
restraint, and self-control,
   with regard to a shrine,
   the Sangha,
   a fine individual,
   guests,
   mother, father,
   or elder sibling:
That's a well-stored fund.
   It can't be wrested away.
   It follows you along.
When, having left this world,
   for wherever you must go,
   you take it with you.
This fund is not held in common with others,
& cannot be stolen by thieves.

So, prudent, you should make merit,
the fund that will follow you along.
This is the fund
that gives all they want
to beings human, divine.

Whatever devas aspire to,
   all that is gained by this.
A fine complexion, fine voice,
a body well-built, well-formed,
lordship, a following:
   all that is gained by this.
Earthly kingship, supremacy,
the bliss of an emperor,
kingship over devas in the heavens:
   all that is gained by this.
The attainment of the human state,
any delight in heaven,
the attainment of Unbinding:
   all that is gained by this.
Excellent friends,
appropriate application, [1]
mastery of clear knowing and release: [2]
   all that is gained by this.
Acumen, [3] emancipations, [4]
the perfection of disciplehood:
   all that is gained by this.
Private Awakening, [5]
Buddhahood:
   all that is gained by this.

So powerful is this,
   the accomplishment of merit.
Thus the wise, the prudent,
   praise the fund of merit
   already made.

Notes:

1. Proper practice of the Dhamma. [Go back]

2. Clear knowing = knowledge of previous lives, knowledge of the passing away and arising (rebirth) of beings, knowledge of the ending of the mental effluents: sensual passion, becoming, views, ignorance. Release = release from the cycle of rebirth. [Go back]

3. Acumen = acumen with regard to the Dhamma, to its meaning, to language, and to quick-wittedness. These four talents are found in some, but not all, Arahants. [Go back]

4. Emancipations. The Maha Nidana Suttanta [D. 15] describes the eight emancipations as follows:

"Possessed of form, one sees forms. This is the first emancipation.

"Not percipient of form internally, one sees forms externally. This is the second emancipation.

"One is intent only on the beautiful. This is the third emancipation. With the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, thinking, 'Infinite space,' one enters and remains in the sphere of the infinitude of space. This is the fourth emancipation. With the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of space, thinking, 'Infinite consciousness,' one enters and remains in the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the fifth emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, thinking, 'There is nothing,' one enters and remains in the sphere of nothingness. This is the sixth emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of nothingness, one enters and remains in the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. This is the seventh emancipation.

"With the complete transcending of the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception, one enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. This is the eighth emancipation.

"Now, when a monk attains these eight emancipations in forward order, in reverse order, in forward and reverse order, when he attains them and emerges from them wherever he wants, however he wants, and for as long as he wants, when through the ending of the mental fermentations he enters and remains in the fermentation-free release of awareness and release of discernment, having directly known it and realized it in the here and now, he is said to be a monk released in both ways. And as for another release in both ways, higher or more sublime than this, there is none." [Go back]

5. Private Awakening: Awakening as a Private Buddha, one who can gain Awakening without relying on the teachings of others, but who cannot formulate the Dhamma in the way a Full Buddha can. [Go back]

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9. Karaniya Metta Sutta -- Good Will

[Note: This sutta also appears at Sn I.8.]

This is to be done by one skilled in aims
who wants to break through to the state of peace:
Be capable, upright, and straightforward,
easy to instruct, gentle, and not conceited,
content and easy to support,
with few duties, living lightly,
with peaceful faculties, masterful,
modest, and no greed for supporters.

Do not do the slightest thing
that the wise would later censure.

Think: Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
   weak or strong, without exception,
   long, large,
   middling, short,
   subtle, blatant,
   seen and unseen,
   near and far,
   born and seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, and all around,
unobstructed, without hostility or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
   as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
   here and now.

Not taken with views,
but virtuous and consummate in vision,
having subdued desire for sensual pleasures,
   one never again
   will lie in the womb.

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Source: Access-to-Insight, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ , 5 July 1998


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